Forgotten Weapons: Plus Ultra

A little more historical firearm information courtesy of Forgotten Weapons. Next up is the Plus Ultra, a larger version of the earlier Ruby manufactured by Llama. Llama was a Spanish company the full name of which was Llama-Gabilondo y Cia SA (originally Gabilondo y Urresti). The company was founded in 1904 in Basque Country, Spain. After decades of business they began experiencing financial difficulties, eventually going bankrupt in 1992. Despite attempts to save some semblance of Llama on the part of its employees, its run came to a close in 2005.

The Ruby was one of Llama’s earliest pistols. Its design was inspired by Browning’s Model 1903 and chambered in .32 ACP. The French government ended up being interested in The Ruby due in part to their being a bit hard-up for small arms in the early part of World War I. The French ordered 10,000 pistols per month, a number they soon increased to 30,000 and then 50,000. Llama ended up contracting with almost 50 other companies to attempt to meet the French contract’s stipulations.

The Ruby Plus Ultra did not come along until 1928 and was meant to be an improved, larger version of the original Ruby. It was also chambered in 32 ACP and came with a 22-round double stack magazine. There were various versions offered including an extended 140mm barrel model and one with select fire capabilities. Records show the latter was actually favored by and sold to a number of Chinese warlords and Japanese pilots. Those particular sales were made through private purchases at military-supply type stores. The Plus Ultra was only manufactured for a short time and is a fairly rare find today.

Take a look at Ian’s video for a better look at the Plus Ultra. Why do you think this gun was popular in many foreign countries despite its small caliber?



TFB Staffer

TFB Staff, bringing you the latest gun news from around the world for a decade.


  • iksnilol

    High .32 capacity and full auto?

    Sign me up.

    • “Favored by and sold to a number of Chinese warlords” so you know it’s proven.

      • Yallan

        Skorpian vz 61 is still in use by czech special forces suppressed, .32 is very effective in full auto.

  • Anonymoose

    Back in those days .32 ACP wasn’t considered that underpowered. It’s only since the Hi-Power came on the scene that the bar was set at 9mm. Generals in the US military carried .32 ACPs until the 1970s.

    • Tom

      To be fair those generals were not supposed to actually use those pistols, it was essentially a badge of rank. Heck they might as well have issued them swords or daggers.

      That being said .32 ACP was considered adequate for most of the 20th century and before the arrival of the sub compact 9mm handguns if you wanted a concealed peace you had to opt for a revolver or a .32 .380 ACP pistol.

      • iksnilol

        Police in Europe has used .32 acp for decades. Only in the last 30 years or so have they gone over to 9mm.

        It’s a perfectly adequate cartridge. Though I’d recommend being a good shot.

        • De Facto

          I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks so. Seems like most gun owners don’t see the appeal of the cartridge.

  • Topo Solitario

    Quick point on the “Llama” brand. Yo pronunce it like “LAMA” with one L, but actually it is pronunced like “YAMA”. It means flame in spanish 😉
    In spanish, double L was called “lle” letter, and pronunced like “Y” instead of just one “L”.
    See? TFB could be instructional too!! 😀

    • Muchos de nuestros escritores hablan espanol, pero creemos que es mejor pronunciar las palabras en la forma comun.
      Makes it easier on most folks!

      • Don Ward

        Donde esta la bibliotecha?

        • Archie Montgomery

          Sin verguenza!

  • Don Ward

    I don’t know. Why do you think this weapon was popular despite its small caliber?

    • iksnilol

      Because .32 acp is common and cheap (especially in that era). And in a large frame like that very controllable, you can just empty it as fast as possible without losing much control.

      • Don Ward

        I know full well why 7.65 was used. What I want to know is does Katie A? All of these articles are a rehash of other people’s work followed by “What do you think about X”?

        • iksnilol

          Okay, I thought you were asking because you didn’t know. I didn’t it was because you wanted Katie A. to elaborate.

          I’ve really got no dog in that fight. I learned about a cool gun, I’m kinda satisfied.

  • Archie Montgomery

    The .32 ACP or 7.65mm was introduced – depending on source – between 1895 and 1899. The first pistol so chambered (as far as I know) was the FN 1899 pistol; both pistol and cartridge commonly attributed to John M. Browning.

    Antibiotics and such were pretty much unknown, undeveloped (perhaps under development) and just not available until about the Second World War. So any ‘serious’ wound – gunshot – was not a trifling matter. (People died from minor cuts.) Consequently, a wound from a .32 was to be avoided as much as possible. No, a hit from a .32 ACP in those days didn’t take anyone off their feet (anymore than it does now), but the psychological effect was probably greater.

    Military handguns were then (and now) accoutrements of rank. Officers and senior enlisted men were issued handguns as they did not carry rifles, normally. Officers weren’t ‘fighting’ as such, they were directing and leading. At least, according to the official manual. However, even an officer might be physically attacked from time to time and needed something with which to fight back.

    Training probably wasn’t as stringent as it is now. Frankly, a .32 ACP pistol is easier to carry and shoot reasonably well at ‘powder burn’ ranges than something really big, with less range and instructional time. Or at least the high command thought.

    Cost. I’m pretty sure the going price for a Basque made .32 ACP was easier on the budget than a large caliber pistol made by one of the ‘premiere’ companies. Governments had bean counters then as well.

    I collect 7.65mm pistols of that general period. In spite of really bad sights and incredibly bad trigger pulls, most of the pistols were quite reliable. They would usually go bang on cue. Which is a great comfort to the person who quite rightly believes someone is trying to kill.