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Plus Ultra: The Supersized Ruby Pistol at RIA

The “Plus Ultra” was a variation on the Ruby automatic pistol made by Gabilondo y Urresti (the original holders of the Ruby trademark) just shortly before they changed their name to Llama. The Plus Ultra was a scaled-up Ruby using double stack, 22-round magazines (still chambered for .32ACP). It offered much greater capacity than the standard pistols, and a few were actually made as select-fire guns. They never sold particularly well, though, and are rather uncommon today.

22 comments to Plus Ultra: The Supersized Ruby Pistol at RIA

  • Cherndog

    Maybe the rather large pistol was not a good idea for a gun in 32 ACP. People generally expect big guns to chamber powerful stuff, not pocket gun ammunition… Or am I wrong?

    • Dave Carlson

      A very common caliber for pistols at the time, 7.65mm. Large pistols or service-type handguns in Spain were typically in 9mm largo at the time. Very many of the Ruby pistol manufactories in Euskadi/the Basque country had already made many Ruby pistols for France and Italy in WWI, so…

  • An oft reproduced photo of a Kamikaze pilot adjusting his head scarf shows what appears to be one of these tucked into a belly strap. Quality of reproduction doesn’t show grip markings clear enough to tell. In some uncroped photos the long grip is very noticeable. Any sold to Japan ? Or China ?

    • Ian H

      Hi John,

      The ‘hi-cap’ ruby style Spanish pistols were quite popular in the Asian market. I remember reading somewhere that that the pistol the pilot had tucked away was a Zulaica ‘Royal’ rather than an Astra ‘Plus Ultra’. Japanese officer bought their own pistols until 1943 I believe, Spanish pistols, Colt 1903s, Mauser 1914s, and FN 1910s seem to have been popular.

  • Val

    Seems those models become protégé for Polish PM63,same way barrel get removed….
    Very simple way for disassembly rather than punching retaining pins out of barrel…

  • Bill Sullivan

    Be very careful with any Llama pistols, and perhaps Ruby. They have very soft steel parts, or improperly hardened parts. I have seen safeties that were so soft and squishy that the pistols would fire with the safety in the “on” position.

  • Jacob Morgan

    Is that a double feed magazine?

    And what was the reason for the top ejection port? Did any other pistols try that?

    • Strongarm

      Much of old European service pistols like Mauser C96, Luger, Glisenti1913, Beretta 1915, 1934 and some new Russian samples like GSh18 and Gragh have top mounted extractors and “Push Feed” loading enabling positive ejection even if the magazine is away.

  • Mikawa B

    The wonder .32. Yea twenty two rounds is a lot for a pocket pistol. I wonder how many rounds you could stuff in it if it were chambered for .25? Reminds me of a .22 mag Grendal.

    • JohnK

      I don’t think you should see this as a pocket pistol, it is more of a service weapon to be worn in a belt holster. Spain in the 1920s was a very unstable place, and as well as the various police forces, many landowners and industrialists had their owned armed security guards, and a pistol like this would have been a useful and not too expensive addition to their armouries.

  • Robert L.

    Now all you need is a horse-shoe shaped extended magazine like that from a few weeks ago–figure what? 50 rounds capacity?–and you are ready to rock.

  • Dave Carlson

    Forgot to add that the barrel on the Astra modelo 1921 (400) can be removed the same way, by rotating the barrel 90 degrees until the barrel lugs are outside the recesses in the frame, and then pulled out.

  • Bojan

    This with auto fire and a holster-stock could have been decent PDW. Scorpion before it became cool.

  • Kurt

    I noticed that the slide (behind the rest of the slide legend) has an intertwined “GC” that is also repeated on the grips. Looks a LOT like the Guardia Civil of Spain. Possible this gun was built for a contract with them?

  • My theory on the naming of the Gabilondo Plus Ultra pistol is that it is essentially a commemorative piece memorializing the 1926 long distance flight of an airplane named “Plus Ultra”. Originally, “Plus Ultra” was the national motto of Spain and is derived from the warning engraved on the legendary Pillars of Hercules, which said Ne Plus Ultra or “nothing further beyond”. In the 1500s, the Spanish king Charles V adopted the motto “Plus Ultra” which means “and more beyond” to encourage exploration and colonization of the vast “new world” in pursuit of an expanded Spanish Empire. As I understand it, today, many things in Spain are named “Plus Ultra”. In 1926, Francisco Franco’s brother, Ramon and 3 other Spanish aviators made a 6,400 mile and 59 hour record breaking flight from Spain to Argentina in a Dornier flying boat. This Dornier “Wal” flying boat was named “Plus Ultra”. 1926 or shortly thereafter is the time when the “Plus Ultra” pistol first began to appear and the Plus Ultra pistol is often found with propellers and wings engraved in the slide and sometimes the grips. So I believe that there is a connection between the Plus Ultra pistol and the record breaking flight of 1926 and that the Plus Ultra pistol commemorates that event.

    • Kurt

      Excellent theory on the name – I checked your links to other pictures of the Ultra Plus, and saw the intertwined “GC” under crown on the pistol frame. That means these were DEFINITELY at one time issued to the Guardia Civil in Spain.

      An interesting choice…

  • Thibaud

    I wonder why France was not interested in this pistol.

    France was satisfied with the Ruby pistol (and later MAS 35 A and S). The small caliber with low energy (.32 ACP then 7,65 Longue) was very well-liked because it had low recoil, allowing for rapid succession of shots. This high number of rounds shot in a short time gave the overall impact on the target an energy comparable to a 12 caliber shot.

    Thinking that way, a 22 rounds, already know by the soldiers, cheap and swift to manufacture, reliable pistol would have been the apex off the French doctrine of that time.

    An elongated magazine with 30 or 40 rounds, a foldable stock and possibly a full-auto capability would have been the perfect trench-warfare weapon. If this gun had existed in 1915, I am sure it would have been adopted by French army for trench-cleaners.

  • Kurt

    Many Ruby pistols were poorly enough made that they were often fully automatic by accident. Thus, many French soldiers didn’t realize that the Ruby WAS NOT supposed to empty its magazine with one pull of the trigger.

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