Forgotten Weapons: Plus Ultra

TFB Staffer
by TFB Staffer

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?

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TFB Staffer

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

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5 of 16 comments
  • Don Ward Don Ward on Nov 30, 2015

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

    • See 2 previous
    • Iksnilol Iksnilol on Dec 02, 2015

      @Don Ward 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 Archie Montgomery on Dec 03, 2015

    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.