Rifleman Q & A: Properly Feeding a Llama

posted on November 16, 2017

Example of Llama Extra above courtesy iCollector.com.

 I purchased a Llama Extra in 1969 with markings indicating that it is chambered for “9mm/38.” I was told I could use .38 Spl., but just recently read that this may not be the proper ammunition for this pistol. The seller gave me a box of 9 mm Luger, but I quit using them not long after I purchased the gun because they lodged in the bore. The ammunition was dated 1935, and that is likely why it failed. Can .38 Spl. ammunition be safely used in this gun? I’ve fired it several times with this ammunition and it seems to work fine. Please advise.

A: The “9mm/38” marking is a source of great confusion for shooters. It originated with the Astra 400 that was originally chambered for the 9 mm Largo cartridge. Astra modified the bolt face so it would also accept the semi-rimmed, .38 ACP cartridge. There really are dozens of cartridges with “9 mm” in the name, but many wrongly assume that in this case it refers to the 9 mm Luger. The “38” is emphatically not the .38 Super or .38 Special. If you have fired .38 Spl. ammunition in your pistol I fear someone may have modified it, and my advice is to not shoot it until it is checked by a competent gunsmith. Surplus Spanish ammunition is sometimes available and should always be assumed to have corrosive primers. Brass for handloading is available from Starline. Also, CCI has infrequent runs of 9 mm Largo in its Blazer line of aluminum-cased ammunition.

--Charles E. Petty


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