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Llama Model XI-B 9MM auto.

* For about half a century, the Spanish-Basque gunmaking firm of Gabilondo has been making auto pistols closely following the Colt/Browning 1911 design under their brand name of "Llama." In fact the "Llama" name is much better known than that of the Gabilondo company, which was formerly located in Elgoibar in Guipuzcoa but moved some years ago to Vitoria in the province of Alava. (The name "Llama" comes from the Spanish word for "flame," rather than the South American animal--just in case you ever wondered.)

The exciting, high-tech double-action Omni is the top gun in the Llama auto pistol line, but probably the guns most familiar to American shooters are their near-duplicates of the Colt Government Model in .45 ACP and .38 Super that have been imported for many years.

In addition to these, Llama used to offer a slightly different auto pistol in 9mm Parabellum known as the Model XI. Although following the basic Colt/Browning design, it was a smaller pistol in all dimensions than the .38 Super and .45 autos, had a slightly different grip profile and lacked a grip safety.

Llama now has a revised version of the Model XI, known as the Model XI-B. This is quite a different pistol from the original Model XI. Also chambered for the 9mm Parabellum, it is closer to the .38 Super and .45 autos; it uses many parts in common with them, and in fact stands in exactly the same relationship to them that the Colt Commander does to the Government Model. For that matter, the Llama XI-B is virtually identical in size to the Combat Commander; overall length is 7-7/8 inches; weight (empty) is 37 ounces, and magazine capacity is nine rounds.

In design this pistol is very similar to the pre-Series 80 Colts. The only major difference is in the slide assembly. On the Llama the extractor and firing pin are held in place by pins through the slide. This set-up is usually more conducive to firing pin breakage than the Colt's floating firing pin, and so I would counsel against excessive dry snapping.

More important, when the hammer is at rest (i.e., in the "down" position), the firing pin protrudes from the breech face of the slide. So do not, I repeat not, attempt to carry this piece in "Condition Two" with the hammer at rest and a live round in the chamber.

Other than that, differences with the Colt are minor and largely cosmetic. The Llama uses a rear sight that is adjustable for windage by tightening and loosening opposing screws. There is a full-length rib atop the slide. This pistol has an extended slide stop. The barrel protrudes slight beyond the bushing. There is cast-in checkering on the arched mainspring housing, and the front strap is serrated for a firmer hold. A long trigger and an original 1911-style wide spur hammer are also used.

The magazine well is bevelled, and magazines have extra-large floorplates for easy, positive insertion. Colt magazines may be used, but look a little peculiar in the Llama's flared magazine well.

Major parts of the gun appear to be investment castings. This is a handsome pistol. Metal surfaces are highly polished and brightly blued, in the manner of most Llama handguns, while the stocks are uncheckered dark Spanish walnut with gold Llama medallions inset.

In firing this pistol at Angeles Shooting Ranges, we found that accuracy ranged from adequate to not-so-hot. (Most nines seem to be temperamental about what ammo they will shoot well with.) We felt somewhat handicapped by the excessively heavy trigger pull, which broke at 7 pounds. (It was quite clean-breaking, however.) Best accuracy was registered by Frontier 115-grain JHPs, which printed groups in the vicinity of 3-1/2 inches at a range of 25 yards.

This pistol proved completely reliable with Federal 123-grain FMJ round-nose, military ball-type ammo, but we encountered two feeding failures with jacketed hollowpoint ammo. A Winchester Silvertip fed high and caught on the barrel hood, and a Frontier JHP stuck on the feed ramp. Possibly a slight polishing of the feed ramp and/or a new magazine would correct this problem. In the meantime, were I relying on this pistol for defense, I'd stick to full metal jacketed bullets, which seemed to work fine.

In all, this pistol seemed like a good, serviceable defensive sidearm. It may not be comparable to the high-tech "wonder-nines" like Llama's Omni, but, then, it costs a lot less than most of them. Suggested retail is $263.95, over $200 less than its Colt counterparts, and these Llamas are often available at substantial discounts, besides. At such prices, the Llama starts making a lot of sense for someone who wants a compact auto pistol but doesn't wish to, or can't afford to, pay a hefty price for one.

The Llama line of pistols and revolvers is imported into this country by Stoeger Industries, Dept. GA, 55 Ruta Court, South Hackensack, NJ 07606.
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Author:Libourel, Jan
Publication:Guns & Ammo
Date:Jun 1, 1985
Words:827
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