Llama Max-1 problems


December 15, 2008, 05:50 PM
To put it simply, my Llama Max-1 is giving me trouble. When I take it to the range, it jams every two two three rounds. THe spent case sticks and doesn't fully come out of the chamber, and the next round pushes it up against the top of the slide so that the only way to clear it is to remove the magazine first, and then rack the slide, but the magazine is difficult to remove under these circumstances. I have replaced the recoil spring and the extractor with ones bought from "E-GunParts.com" and it still jams. I have one magazine that came with the gun, and I have four "Chip McCormick" brand magazines. All of them give the same performance. In order to figure out if the magazine was the problem, I put a thin strip of electrical tape along each side of one of the Chip McCormick magazines, and it offered no better performance. I use Winchester white box ball ammo.

Is my problem the gun itself or the magazines? How do I fix this? THe problem has stumped five of my friends, two of whom are familiar with pistols and three of whom are police officers.

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Jim K
December 15, 2008, 07:42 PM
Has the gun always done this, or did it just start?

The first advice in this kind of condition is to change ammo. If that doesn't work, or if the gun has always had an extraction problem, the chamber might be rough or dirty. The solution to the latter problem is obvious.

But if everything is clean, and as a last resort, you might try polishing the chamber using some 600 grit or finer paper on a split dowel rod chucked in a hand drill. Go easy, it won't take much to polish the chamber enough and you don't want to go too far.


P.S. I have had a couple of those guns apart and consider them well shaped and pretty junk. The outside is nice but the internals show signs of a lot of handfiling; in spite of (or because of) that, fitting is sloppy.


December 16, 2008, 12:42 AM
I bought the gun used for pretty cheap, and it has always done this. None of my tinkering with it has changed what it does. Any suggestions other than polishing the chamber?

December 16, 2008, 01:12 PM
Some thoughts:
Any burrs (or other imperfections) on the extractor or the cut for it in the slide that could cuase the extractor to hang up?
Did you replace the extractor spring when you replaced the extractor?
Perhaps the extractor needs some adjustment/fitting; these instruction apply to the internal extractor on a 1911, but I think the guidelines they provide in regards to the function of correct tension and positioning of the extractor would still apply (in your case, there will be different methodology involved if adjustments are needed, but they should still give you an idea what to look for) : http://www.m1911.org/technic2.htm.


Jim K
December 16, 2008, 08:19 PM
"I bought the gun used for pretty cheap..."

Now you know why.


February 27, 2009, 09:05 PM
It's two months later, and I'm going to resurrect this thread. I've polished the chamber and examined for stuff that might be hanging up the extractor. The spring is good, but the gun still won't cycle properly. Anything else that could be the problem that I haven't thought of already? A friend of mine suggested simply replacing all of the upper parts, including slide and barrel, but this sounds a bit extreme. What should I do now?

Hungry Seagull
February 27, 2009, 09:09 PM
Toss the gun and get another GOOD gun.

February 27, 2009, 09:30 PM
have you tried a new extractor or increasing tension on the old one? its possible the extractor claw is worn or broken... just thinking out loud...

February 28, 2009, 12:45 AM
H.S. - I'd rather not do that. I prefer to try to fix the things I do have than buy new. I don't intend it for a self-defense firearm. I use revolvers for that because I know they work. I mainly bought the Llama as my "token" semi-auto, and it was cheap, but I'd like it to work properly.

February 28, 2009, 01:36 AM
Does it feed and extract when operated by hand? What do the fired cases look like,... any abnormal marks, swelling?

February 28, 2009, 02:27 PM
When operated by hand, it feeds and extracts better than when fired. When I first bought an aftermarket magazine for it, I tested the magazien with some orange plastic dummy rounds, and it fed and extracted just fine with those. With the original extractor, the rim of the cases had a ripped notch in them, presumably from the extractor, but with the new extractor the marks have mostly disappeared, but the problem remains.

February 28, 2009, 02:46 PM
Have you tried it with other ammo?
Have you let anybody else try it? Preferably someone who has 1911 experience.

March 1, 2009, 10:47 AM
I have let a friend of mine shoot it. He is one of the aforementioned people who are stumped by the way this gun behaves. He has his own 1911 too and shoots it regularly, but he still can't figure this out.

I've tried two different kinds of ammo, actually. American Eagle 230 gr. roundnose .45 ACP, and Winchester white box bulk 230 gr. round nose .45 ACP. I've heard that Llamas shoot best with ball ammo, so ball is what I've bought.

March 1, 2009, 04:06 PM
If you go to the trouble to fix the problem you will have gained twice. You will have a good functional reliable all steel handgun and the developed understanding of what makes one work well.

March 1, 2009, 10:33 PM
I've noticed the magazines with those sit slightly higher when all the way in...almost imperceptably... this combined with a "sticky'chamber maybe the problem,as the rounds still leftin mag are slightly higher, pushing up somewhat more on the casing to be drawn out of the chamber post-firing... two things to try...polish chamber with find steelwool... also, wrap rubber bands around bottom of mag so it is harder to seat magazine... (so you really gotto push in in the get it to lock... if this is the case you may want to look for some actual llama mads orget weaker magazine springs forthe chip mccormicks... my two cents.

the rips in the spent casing are from the extractor "working harder" to pull the casing with resistance from both the magazine rounds and subsequenlty the top of the chamber where the brass is be pressed more against...

March 1, 2009, 11:46 PM
matthew - that sounds like a good idea. I remember that when the gun jams, the spent case is always stuck just forward of the nose of the next round. Maybe if the rounds weren't as high up in the gun, the problem would be solved?

Anybody else got an opinion on this idea?

March 2, 2009, 09:57 PM
Just a thought about the maazine idea as described above - if I put the rubber bands (or something like them) on the end of the magazine to lower the rounds a bit, would the magazine still click into place?

(I'm wondering because I'm not home right now, and won't be for a few days, so I have a few days to think about this before getting the chance to do it.)

March 9, 2009, 06:42 AM
It sounds to me like a tolerance stack (a few things being a little out of whack to make the end result a lot out of whack). I own a Llama Max-I. I've had to shim here, and take off there. I'm actually addressing similar issues right now. mine ejects EVERYWHERE. Best advice I can give you is to hit M1911.org and do some reading on how these great guns are SUPPOSED to work. Theorize from there with the pistol in your hands. My 4 cents. (to long to be 2 :-P )

March 11, 2009, 08:31 PM
a weaker magazine spring may help too... or put a "slight" bend in the magazine spring so there is less up-pressure on the forward part of the rounds..

thin rubber bands...

March 12, 2009, 02:36 AM
ok. I don't want to make anyone mad here, but a weaker mag spring will make things worse. A lot of common problems in 1911s are associated with WEAK MAG SPRINGS. A most common suggestion from "tuners" for feeding and cycling problems is STIFFER MAG SPRINGS. Honestly, it's a 1911. EVERY part must be fitted to YOUR gun. Logically, there is a tolerance issue with the extractor. It's not grabbing the case hard enough. Same issue I had with mine, though not as extreme a case. Check out http://www.m1911.org/technic2.htm ... is a very helpful article written by Bill Wilson.

March 13, 2009, 12:50 PM
calling a llama a 1911 is like calling a taurus 85 a model 60... I know what u mean though...

I had one, there were counter-intuitive things I had to do to it to get in running reliable, in reference to other guns I had...

March 30, 2009, 11:07 PM
Laugh if you want or just ignore this but with my full size Llama .45 I actually turned the mag spring around when inserting it in the mag. The High side rests against the back of the mag. It seems to lower the tip and raise the rear ever-so-slightly. Try it! You have nothing to lose. If it's the same or worse, put it back the other way. Just a hint that worked for me.

Rex B
April 2, 2009, 04:02 PM
Despite the mostly undeserved reputation of Llama pistols, those Max-1s are known as reliable and accurate, especially for the money. You have received some pretty good advice here. You can also search 1911-specific sites and forums, lots of great diagnostic info for 1911s.
One thing that happens a lot with Llamas is incorrect homebrew repairs. People don't mind tinkering with a $200 gun, but they might take an $800 pistol to a pro. Maybe the previous owner installed a new barrel incorrectly, or even a barrel link of the wrong size.
One area that is worth looking at is the gap between the chamber entrance and the feed ramp machined into the frame. You would think it should be a continuous smooth ramp with no transition. But the experts have decided there needs to be a 1/32" step there. The barrel/chamber edge just a little ahead of the top edge of the frame ramp.
Load an empty case in the chamber by sliding it under the extractor. Make sure the extractor can hold the case in place against the breechface - it should be able to. Then run the slide slowly forward so the cartridge seats in the chamber. Insert mag with a dummy round in the top. (A dummy round should have a real 230 gr bullet in an empty case) Then retract the slide slowly, watching the case to see if it hangs anywhere or does any unexpected movement. See if it contact the ejector at the right place in the cycle and makes the empty case point toward to the port.

Hope that helps. and good luck

April 8, 2009, 11:33 AM
crazyjennyblack,,,will this gun function with out the mag.???

put the mag into the gun load a round ,,take the mag. out and fire the gun,,will it eject the fired case???

if it doesn't then you may have a mechanical problem,,,if it does then you may have a mag problem,,just something to try,,to narrow the trouble shooting process

my .02


May 17, 2009, 12:36 PM
It's been a while since I looked at this thread, but to answer ocharry's question, the pistol ejects the fired case perfectly when a round is in the chamber but there is no magazine.

So does this narrow it down to a magazine problem? I tried matthew's idea with small rubber bands and tape, to keep the magazine from riding so high, but when I did that the mag refused to click in place.

Should I try buying a different brand of magazine and see if that helps?

Any other suggestions?

May 17, 2009, 07:50 PM
I firmly believe and have also experienced that the mag is usually the culprit in the Llama 1911 clones. If you have 10 mags, 4 or 5 mag always function properly and the others have various feed ailments. If you find a brand that is compastible with your specific Llama, no matter who makes it, you should be able to find that you get better results if you stick with the same style.

The top-of-the-line 1911 mags seem to offer the best chance of success. Personal experimentation has shown me that the finnicky Llamas prefer 7 rounds instead of 8 in the 8 round mags and like the 7 round mags the best.

The same goes for the brand of ammo. If one brand consistently runs fine and you have troubles with a different brand or brands then stick with the ones that work the best. Even if they look the same (shape) doesn't mean it feeds the same.

May 17, 2009, 08:08 PM
larry - I have one 7 round mag that came with the gun, and 4 8 round mags I bought. They all perform alike: they stink.

So, if I were to buy another brand of magazine, I might make it a 7 round from a better brand? The brand I use now is Chip McCormick. What is considered "top of the line?"

Rex B
May 17, 2009, 08:59 PM
I use generic stainless Colt mags in my Llama MiniMax.
I have not fired my Max-1, but the original mags are generally considered throwaways

Rex B
May 17, 2009, 09:04 PM
double post

May 17, 2009, 09:38 PM
Chip McCormick and the Wilson Combat are considered in the best category. Have you tried 7 rounds in the 8 round mags?

My Llama .45 is an IX-B built in '87. It loves the Promag 8 round mags and I have 6 that are flawless. The original 7 rounder is hit and miss. I do use 8 in each with no problems.

I have worked on others that don't like the exact mags that work in mine. It seems like each gun has it's own personality.

If it's not the mag it could be the ammo. If you don't use ball or RN ammo, try that first. Mine loves the WWB ammo. It hiccups when I use the Ranger ammo that is still around. The WWB HPs also perform flawlessly but Rems didn't go as well. I just stick with my Promags with the WWB and it's 100% every time. I don't try to force square pegs into round holes. Why try to make it accept a certain brand ammo if it tells you time and again it doesn't like it? Some see that as a challenge.... to make it work. I just like it to be 99.99% reliable. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The barrel bushing can also be suspect. Try sliding the barrel only thru the bushing (off the gun) and see if it hangs up anywhere along the way. Any hesitation, however small, could cause it to not go into full battery. Changing the recoil spring by more than + or - 1# also proves to cause either a failure to go into battery or it stovepipes if too strong.

Just some areas to check. These Llamas are finnicky but once you solve their personalities they sure are fun. However, along the way it gets frustrating. Don't give up!

May 17, 2009, 11:47 PM
Haven't tried 7 rounds in an 8 yet. Currently not home right now, but when I get home after a while I might be able to get to the range to try it.

Will the Llamas take regular Colt recoil springs? I changed the recoil spring on mine, hoping it would help, but I got a Llama factory spring. How do I figure out what # they are, and whether getting a different one will do me any good?

Rex B
May 20, 2009, 04:48 PM
Picking a correct recoil spring is a bit of an art, near as I can tell.
The best advice I saw went something like this:

Too light and empties fly far away.
Too stiff and you get FTFs
Just right and it drops empties 3 ft from your right foot

May 20, 2009, 07:46 PM
I agree that finding the perfect recoil spring for your personal gun can be frustrating. Wolff sells packs with different tensions. Yes, the colt springs work fine. If you have a government size 5" then you can try the 16# as standard and deviate from that. 15#, 16#, 17# & 18# would be a good sample. Try them all at the range on the same day with the same mags and the same ammo and see which seems to work the best for your gun. It is hit and miss but once you find your gun's nirvana you will be happy!

June 5, 2009, 07:54 AM
Well, I got up bright and early this morning and got to the range just after dawn. I bought a Pro-Mag magazine as well as a Wilson Combat Magazine. Tested both, as well as using only seven rounds in the Chip McCormick mags and the result was "bang jam bang jam bang jam" just like usual.

Noticed a couple of things - first, the empty case seems to be getting caught on the nose of the next round behind it. Second, on the last round, sometimes the empties fail to eject and simply sit on top of the mag.

What might these observations point to? Any suggestions on what to do next?

Rex B
June 5, 2009, 11:21 AM
I'm assuming proper lubrication exists.
We've covered recoil spring.

Extractor spring good, tension-wise?
Extractor hook correctly shaped?
Take the slide off and set a case in the chamber, hook under the rim. Does it look secure?
Move the barrel out of battery and out of the slide as in a normal recoil.
If you can do this with the spring installed, do so. Then remove the spring and try it again.
Is there any undue motion as the case comes out of the chamber? Does the extractor lose it's grip?
Try it (carefully) with a live round.

Look at the profile of the ejector. Is it full-length, nothing missing?

October 16, 2009, 12:54 PM
I have a LLama MAX ll 45 C/F that has given me the same ejection "stove piping" problems. I had it polished the ramp reworked, changed springs and the best advice is to use only the Llama mag, change ammo till you find the best for your gun and above all hang on to it when you fire. If you relax your grip it will kick back at the same time the slide is moving and the combination can cause (sometimes) ejection problems. This came from a long time gunsmith that has taken care of my guns for many years. He also gave me some good sage advice. He said, "There is a reason these guns are so inexspensive"
Think about it!!

When I am firing using the two handed standard grasp, I push with my strong side hand,(the one i pull the trigger with) and pull with the other. The push keeps the gun in position and the pull holds the gun down so it does not to kick up. This does two positive things, it ejects every time and it gives faster target aquisition.

January 15, 2010, 11:34 AM
Alright. I will throw in my two cents. I have owned my MAX-1 since 02. I have had the same extraction problem as well. Here's a list of things I did to solve the problem.

1 - Don't shoot steel cased ammo ( WOLF ) is notorious for eating up your extractor.
2 - Get new extractor ( buy extra just in case limited quantities )
3 - Get extractor spring as well as the extractor pin.
4 - Get a new recoil spring ( If you can find a spring of the same size that has 18-19 pounds of pressure, USE IT.
5 - Get a mini polishing tool like the dremel and polish the loading breech ( Good for about 1000 rounds before having to polish again.
6 - Polish the feed ramp

Other than that The llama is the baddest little dependable .45 1911 clone you can get for your money. I maybe biased but thats just the way it goes.

January 15, 2010, 11:53 AM
If the recoil springs did not solve the problem then, as advised, look at the extractor. Maybe the barrel itself where the cutout is for the extractor is not deep enough to get a positive grip each time. A new extractor could solve the problem or, if it acts the same, check the barrel cut-out. It may only take a swipe or two with a file to remove a tiny burr or to allow the hook to engage the rim. If you are not the original owner, maybe the previous owner changed the extractor spring and now it's not the proper one. If you have a lot of different 1911 mags, try them all. There are at least 3 different lip designs and not all work with every gun. You can also try the Wolff springs +10% to see if that helps. If you find one that does work, check the lips and follower and try to get other mags with the same configuration. If you only have a few and always use the same ones then it could be a mag issue. It seems that 90% of these issues are mag related. However, that does leave that 10% of another issue. I just checked and Numrich has the extractors, pins and springs in stock. If you own a Max-1 then I suggest picking one up because it's only a matter of time until they're gone.

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