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Can a Llama "Especial" in .38 Super be converted to 9x23?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by ApacheCoTodd, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Well-Known Member

    What I'm getting at is can I convert this to go back and forth between its current .38 Super and 9x23 as I can with my .38 Super Colt?

    I scored this with a bunch of other gats in an estate sale this past month and am as pleased as punch with how it performs. I developed an un-likely fondness for them in .38 Super as a kid given its rather mythical stature back then (the caliber more than the Llama) and always hankered after one and here she sits.

    The action has that very singular feeling that well made stainless AMTs have when you rack them and feed & function have been perfect though I didn't have the opportunity to really check accuracy on target beyond hitting every object aimed at; rock, can, wood block... while plinking.

    Then there's the feel. The heft is very reassuring and the slightly outsized grips have given me a new standard to shoot for in making panels for any of my Colts.

    Having read reams of disparaging info on these, I had figured maybe my expectations were too high and kinda lost interest in tracking one down till this one fell into my lap and got shot - nice!

    Seems by proof marks that it's a 1970 model, in decent or better shape and it's got me to thinking about trying to make it run on 9x23 as well as .38 Super like my Colt does.

    Any suggestions on directions to take in getting this done - assuming that like my Colt, it won't require a permanent or semi-permanent conversion. I like the quick change option on the Colt.

    Lovin' me some Llama over here!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  2. CZ57

    CZ57 member

    I think you're talking about a 9 x 23 Largo. The only .38 round it will handle safely if it will function is the .38 Auto, NOT the .38 Super much less 9 x 23mm Winchester. ;)
  3. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Well-Known Member

    I dunno - says .38 super right on the frame. Is that an issue of translation?

    Not too much interest in "Largo" where I sit.
  4. CZ57

    CZ57 member

    No, from the title you used I was thinking the pistol was chambered in 9 X 23mm which from 1970 would have been a Largo. Having said that, I wouldn't shoot 9 X 23 Winchester. The .38 Super's pressure rating is 36,500 PSI whereas the 9 X 23mm Winchester has a pressure rating around 50,000 PSI if I remember correctly. ;)
  5. Rock185

    Rock185 Well-Known Member

    ApacheCoT, Years ago some sellers told buyers that these Llamas, marked .38 Super or 9MM/38, could safely shoot .38 Super, 9X23 Largo and 9mm Para. interchangably. It was not true then or now. While your gun may have a slightly oversized .38 Super chamber, allowing the tapered 9X19 Para. and 9X23MM Winchester to fit, I would strongly caution against shooting either in your Llama. Headspace with the 9X19 would be grossly excessive, and 9X23 Winchester factory ammo pressures are way above what the Llama was designed for. I would only shoot the round the Llama pistol was designed for, and then not any of the Buffalo Bore Or Double Tap stuff. Spanish pistols have a reputation for spotty quality control and materials...ymmv
  6. tipoc

    tipoc Well-Known Member

    I would shoot the gun often in 38 Super but think twice about shooting it in 9x23.

    The slide says 38 Super on the side. First concern would be that the Super runs about 36,500 psi chamber pressure while the 9x23 runs at about 42,000.

    Second the case is a different shape slightly.

    So you would need a second fitted barrel. A second set of recoil springs likely to adapt to the greater slide velocity in the 9x23. You'd also need to keep an eye out for excessive wear to the breech face and slide and frame of the gun with the 9x23. Llama made some fine guns but there were also periods (or so I've read) where the steel in their guns was questionable. Expect more wear if you go to the 9x23.

    I wouldn't do it. I'd use the Llama with the Super. I'd buy a Colt in 38 Super and convert it to a switch barrel with the 9x23. The Colt can handle the extra pressure.

    I also wonder if the barrel of the Llama is set to headspace on the semi rim of the case of the case mouth. The latter is preferable.

  7. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Well-Known Member

    Yeah - probably over thinking it on my end. The point is that I already have the Colt in .38 Super which came with the Colt 9x23 bits in the same package and got to thinking that I might have a more cut-rate version in the Llama if I could safely shoot 9x23 in it with the corresponding conversion parts.

    Hell, I seldom shoot 9x23 as it is in the Colt and from where I sit the differences are minimal.
  8. Onmilo

    Onmilo Well-Known Member

    Since Llama is now out of business I would not consider even trying it.
    The gun is and will be worth more as a collectible if it is left as in original condition.
    Frankly I would caution against trying 9X23 Winchester conversions in any 1911 platform besides one that was set up for 10mm like pressures.
    I do believe the Llama will fail in fairly short order if the conversion was utilized in that platform.
  9. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I'm pulling the plug on the whole notion. It just seemed like an interesting "lark" but no sense pushing my luck with a pistol I've always wanted in its original form.
  10. VAPOPO

    VAPOPO Well-Known Member

    I would take the gun into a gunsmith that you trust and have him give it a good going over. These pistols are known for poor heat treating and you really dont want to have it hand grenade on you. Also have the rear sight firmly staked in place I have seen a couple that have migrated off the slide never to be seen again.

    SHOOT1SAM Well-Known Member

    I just love that you called them "gats" !!!


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