A High Dollar Design For Its Day


I’ve always liked the auto-pistol designs of the late Gary Wilhelm. The one I consider the most beautiful was done for Gabilondo y Compania of Vitoria, Spain: The Llama Omni. It was briefly imported here by the original Stoeger Company, from 1982 to 1986, in 9mm Luger and .45 Auto versions. The relatively brief four-year run qualifies it as an “almost,” but this fact does not detract from its excellence. It was old-style all-steel construction, with high-polish European blue on the side surfaces. Aside from the rakish, slanted trigger-guard, it had a classic auto-pistol appearance. It was nice to look at.

And, it worked perfectly, even though Gary’s designs tended to be a bit complicated. One example of that is the trigger system of the Omni using two separate bars for single and double action. I’ll quickly add this resulted in marvelous trigger-pulls in both modes. This feature also affected the design of the magazines.

One version of the 9mm Omni has a 9-round magazine, and the .45 Auto mags hold seven rounds. Both are single-stack, so no problems with the dual trigger-bars. With the larger-capacity 9mm, though, the magazine couldn’t be double-row to the top. It would have made the frame considerably wider.

To address this problem, a rather weird magazine was designed. The top four rounds are single-row. Then, past the trigger-bars, it expands to double-row, for a capacity of 12 rounds. A figure often given is “13” but this is not correct. The cartridge-count holes in the back are also a little strange, with apertures at 4, 7, 8 and 12 rounds. Anyway, the magazine feeds flawlessly, and I will note there may be some out there that will take the 13th round.


The Llama Omni was a full-sized pistol. Note the flat slide release that was hard to work. The 9mm version shown had fixed sights. Note the tiny take-down latch. Read the instructions!

A Few Odd Bits

The Omni has fine safety systems. Internally, there’s an automatic firing-pin-block cleared only with a complete trigger pull. When turned down to “on-safe” the manual safety does not drop the hammer. It blocks both the hammer and the firing pin. There’s no magazine-disconnect safety. The flat slide latch looks nice, and works perfectly, but is not easy to operate.

The trigger is wide and smooth-faced, and its arc is not only rearward, but also slightly downward, design touches unique to the Omni. As mentioned earlier, the pulls are excellent though. Single-action is a crisp 4-lb. average, and DA a super-smooth 8 lbs. It is, in fact, so slick you shouldn’t try to “stage” it as it will likely surprise you!
The square-picture sights are plain, with no white dots. On the 9mm, the rear sight is dovetail-mounted, and can be moved laterally. The rear sight on the .45 is a nice fully adjustable unit, and the front sight is ramped. The top of the slide is matte-finished, so no glare. On the 9mm, the hammer top has a notch so you can see the rear sight in a first-shot DA pull.

It had been a while since I fired the Omni, so I took the 9mm version out with various loads from SIG, Black Hills and Hornady. Standing, with a two-hand hold, the Omni delivered 3″ and 4″ groups, all in the middle, at seven and 15 yards. With younger eyes and a casual rest, I think it would do about the same at 25 yards.


There’s a 1911-like bushing, and even though the bits look innocent the take-down instructions need to be followed carefully. Wear eye protection!


The .45 ACP version of the Omni had a nice, fully adjustable rear sight.

Take Down

Breaking it apart is a bit complicated and not for the faint of heart. I recommend you go on-line and see if you can find detailed take-down info. Otherwise, just give the bore a good brushing and take it for a “once-a-year” cleaning to your favorite gunsmith. If you insist on taking it down, make sure you wear eye protection. Trust me on this one!

For those who like to have the numbers, the 9mm weighs 38.2 oz., and the .45 version 40.5 oz. For both, the dimensional data are pretty much the same. Overall length, 7.37″ and a height of 5.3″. Width is 1.18″ and barrel length 4.37″. The Omni is a full-sized pistol, certainly not a compact.


The trigger was smooth and polished and showed the sort of engineering care going into the Omni. The $400-$500 1985 price would equal about $1,175 in today’s dollars, contributing to the Omni’s demise.


To clear the unusual twin-trigger bar set-up the top of the mag fed rounds in single file. But it worked fine.


It’s a beautiful pistol, and it works perfectly. Why, then, was its time so brief? One factor was the price, and remember, we’re talking about mid-1980s dollars. Original 1982 price for the plain 9mm was $375. In 1985, the 9mm was $435, and the .45 was $467. There in the ending year, 1986, prices were $500 to $550. Gary Wilhelm’s marvelous but intricate internal parts were costly to manufacture. For grins, a $500 pistol in 1985 would be about the same as a $1,175 pistol today.

Another factor, among pistol-buyers who didn’t know better, was a low opinion of Spanish pistols in general. In the years between World War I and the Spanish Civil War, it seemed every garage in Guernica was a pistol factory. Some of that stuff had quality problems. Some buyers knew this never applied to Llama, Astra, and Star — but, apparently, not enough of them.

If this little essay has left you intrigued by the Llama Omni, and you’d like to have one, good luck. The import figures for the four-year period are relatively small. If you find one at the current Blue Book values, buy it immediately. In excellent condition, my estimate of the values would be around $650 for the 9mm and $750 for the .45 version.

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