Star Z84: A Spanish submachine gun from the last century

Eric Sof

Spanish commandos armed with Star Z84 submachine guns

Star Z84 is a Spanish submachine gun designed and manufactured by Star Firearms. It is one of the oldest Spanish small arms manufacturers, and they have been making submachine guns since the 1930s. Since 1945 a succession of their weapons has equipped the Spanish armed forces, and the latest of these is the Star Z84, introduced in the mid-1980s.


The Star Z84 was developed to correct one or two deficiencies in earlier models and reduce the cost and complexity of manufacture. Much use has been made of steel stampings and investment casting. The feed system has been carefully engineered to feed both jacketed and soft-point bullets without faltering, and its resistance to water damage has led to it being adopted as an assault weapon by Spanish marine and commando units.

STAR Z84 is chambered in 9mm caliber
STAR Z84 is chambered in 9mm caliber (Photo: XY)

The Star Z84 fires from an open bolt, using the “advanced primer ignition” system in which the cartridge is fired while the bolt is still loading it into the breech. This means that the explosion force must first arrest the bolt’s forward movement, then reverse it, and then blow it to the rear. Without this feature, the bolt would have to be much heavier and the weapon correspondingly larger.

The bolt is recessed to wrap around the chamber end of the barrel at the instant of firing; this allows for a maximum barrel length in a compact overall length and reduces the distance needed for the bolt to recoil. The center of balance is above the pistol grip so that it is possible to fire the weapon single-handed with good stability. The magazine fits into the pistol grip so that the gun’s balance does not change as the ammunition is used, and it is possible to change magazines, even in the dark, very quickly.

The interior is sealed against the ingress of dust and dirt; after the cocking handle is pulled to initially cock the weapon, it returns to its forward position and does not move during firing. There is a dust cover in the cocking handle slot, and the weapon’s interior is only open when an empty case is ejected.


Great attention has been paid to safety. There is a conventional safety catch, a sliding button in the trigger-guard, and three safety notch on the bolt to help the hand slip while cocking; the bolt cannot run forward and load a cartridge. An automatic safety lock is applied whenever the bolt is at rest. Dropping the weapon cannot jar the bolt into loading and firing; this is automatically withdrawn when the Star Z84 is cocked and remains out of action while firing.

The Star Z84 is a well-thought-out design and sold to numerous military and security forces outside Spain in the late 1980s.

Technical specifications

Manufacturer: Star Bonifacio Echeverria & Cia, Eibar, Spain
Type: blowback, selective fire
Caliber: 9mm Parabellum
Barrel: 8.45in (215mm)
Weight: 6.6lbs (3kg)
Magazine capacity: 25 or 30 rounds
Cyclic rate of fire: 600 rounds/minute
Effective firing range: 50–100 m sight adjustments

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