Interesting Spanish pistol

On my trip through the mid-west I had a great opportunity to look at a number of great gun collections. At one of the stops I had a chance to come across a unique Spanish pistol. The pistol is not the unique part but the magazine is. It is a double column magazine that was developed in the late 1920’s. This is the write up from Wikipedia information:

Ruby Plus Ultra

The Ruby Plus Ultra was made between 1928 and 1933. It was an improved version of the earlier Ruby but had a 20-round double-stack magazine. Models with an extended 140 mm barrel, but standard length slide were available, as were models with selective fire capability. These features were most popular in the Asian market, and sales to both Chinese warlords and Japanese pilots are recorded. These were not purchased officially by the Japanese forces, but as private purchase weapons through the Japanese equivalent of the Army and Navy Stores. During the Spanish Civil War volunteers in the International Brigade also favoured these early high-capacity weapons.[3]

This is a write up by my friend John D.:

Believe the Plus Ultra had a longer production span than the Wikipedia article states: actually 1925 to 1937, possibly early 1938.  Gabilondo dramatically improved and revised their products in the wake of lost French ‘Ruby’ pistol contracts at the end of WW I to keep their facilities occupied.  The Plus Ultra was introduced with a number of other updated Gabilondo products in 1925.  Never saw Gabilondo material describing it as a ‘Ruby’ either, just Plus Ultra.  Ruby name may have been attached to this pistol by sellers downstream, but Gabilondo was trying to live down the WW I Ruby pistol’s dubious reputation.  It may even have been an attempt to get in on the French RFQ for high capacity handguns which birthed the Browning High Power and the Petter SACM 1935 / SIG P.210.  Or it possibly stimulated the French to RFQ a high capacity handgun!  Regardless, it is the first production handgun with a double column magazine in the grip and there are several references to it in official French military correspondence.

The Llama trademark was registered in 1932 and Plus Ultra pistols were never sold under the Llama brand name, so most authors quote 1933 – the year Llama branded pistols entered production – as the terminal date.  But Gabilondo and their many ‘affiliates’ continued to make and sell non Llama brand pistols into the Spanish Civil War.  You find considerable usage of these pistols by Republicans in the Spanish Civil War and these pistols were not generally available within Spain before the Civil War so there were no stocks on hand.  Firearms parts production in the Basque region only ended with its capture by Nationalists in the middle of 1937.  Assembly operations continued into early 1938 under Nationalist control until parts stocks were exhausted.  Basque region firearms production converts to Spanish standard models under the Nationalists, but their unique designs do not resume production until after the Nationalists vanquish the Republicans in 1939.

There is some confusion over the magazine capacity of these pistols.  My pistol’s magazine holds – and functions well – with 20 rounds of 7.65x17mm, but does not function with 22 rounds although you can stuff it with 22 rounds.  Might be an issue with the semirim on the 7.65x17mm cartridge – the semirims seem to hang up in the case extractor grooves when the magazine holds 22 cartridges.  Spanish 7.65x17mm ammunition may not have had as pronounced a semirim as American produced .32 ACP ammunition.  This is how the 9x23mm Bergman/Largo cartridge evolved from the .38 ACP/Super cartridge.  My pistol might also have a limp magazine spring, Spanish spring steel metallurgy of this era is pretty sad.  Gabilondo reportedly advertised the pistol as having 20, 21, or 22 round capacities during its life.  They might have made some changes to the follower during production, but all the Plus Ultra pistols I saw at Interarms in the 1970’s (where they all entered the USA – from Thailand of all places!) had the same grip frame dimensions and the magazines were interchangeable.

Now on to the Pictures:

The complete pistol first.


DSC_1425sYou will notice that the pistol grip is longer and the barrel is slightly longer as well.


Now to the magazine.


DSC_1426csThe front of the magazine.


The view of the follower.

DSC_1430csThe bottom.


An interesting pistol.

4 comments to Interesting Spanish pistol

  • JB

    I am guessing the only reason for having a long grip is to enforced the use of the appropriate 20 or so round magazine as standard capacity, it would be Fairly pointless to have less with a select fire gun.

  • Mike

    Not sure how practical this would be but I hear the word FUN repeated inside my head.

  • Storm

    Very interesting to see the double stack and double feed also magazine in such an old gun!

    Knowing the incosistency in traditional Basque small workshops which made the same model of gun, but seldom the gun was the same in parts and interchangeable with the others, it is also very understandable that very demanding to make part (that ironically and deceiving, looks very simple in its construction),
    as magazine, is gonna suffer from “20 or 21 or 22″ rounds inconsistencies.

    It is a good choice, since few more rounds can be held (with the same length) in such design, as opposed to “double stack single feed” which 90% of modern pistols use.

  • AC

    I have one on these that the mag has been altered to be a single stack
    Also have capture papers from WWII from Japan
    Have read on the net somewhere that they were a big choice for airplane pilots over there

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