Latest Para-Ordnance 1911 With New Power Extractor®
by Phil W. Johnston
The typical thought that often comes to mind is "another 1911, .45 ACP semi-auto; why?" Rather than moving on to another piece in these pages, however, you might do well to stick around for a bit just the same. Indeed, this semi-auto seems to me to be exactly what John Browning had in mind just over 100 years ago.
Anyone remotely familiar with firearms is well acquainted with the 1911 service pistol. Designed by John Moses Browning, this old war horse gave a good account of itself in World Wars I and II and it's been used in every conflict since, as well-not just by US forces but by many other nations as well.
A blowback semi-auto, the 1911 is about as simple as it gets and, when one of 'em is left "loose," it'll keep functioning with little care or cleaning. On the other hand, a good gunsmith can work magic on a 1911, making it fully capable of shooting into 2 inches at 50 yards with the very best match grade ammunition.
These days there are several players in the 1911 game. The last couple of days I've had the pleasure of running over 250 rounds through a new Para-Ordnance 1911 and I'm really going to hate sending this one back. Equipped with a brand new Para Power Extractor dubbed the "PXT," this 1911 should have the ability to pull about anything from the chamber.
In fact, Kerby Smith told me that the new Power Extractor will pull the rim off a stuck case rather than breaking. If the 1911 has a weak point it might be the original spring-steel extractor. I've replaced a few of them during my competitive career and I always carried at least two of 'em in my gun box. It appears that Para-Ordnance's new Power Extractor should make carrying spares unnecessary.
Para's 1911 is shipped in an attractive green plastic, lockable box. In addition to the proverbial "fired case," the pistol is shipped with two magazines and a cable-style gun lock. The gun lock is designed to be run down the barrel and out the ejection port. There's also a composite barrel bushing wrench, three Allen wrenches, and a great, color owner's manual. This is an attractive package, all the way around. In fact the new 1911 looked great right off the bat, too.
Para's PX745E is a full-sized, no-frills 1911. Constructed as Browning designed it, it features all the typical 1911 controls in all the typical 1911 places. This pistol sports a blue steel receiver and slide, and both of them start off as investment castings. The 5-inch barrel is forged, and Para says the barrel ends up being "the most accurate production barrel in the world."
While this pistol may be the one Browning designed, he'd be impressed with the manufacturing processes these days. In addition to using investment castings for the big pieces, Para-Ordnance relies on metal injection molding (MIM) for some of the small pieces, too. MIM processes allow smaller precision pieces to be cast quickly while strength matches that of conventionally constructed pieces.
Para-Ordnance says that quality is their aim and in that light every pistol they sell goes with a lifetime warranty to the original buyer. The chance you'll have to send one of these rigs back is slim, too. Para says that they hold their manufacturing process so tight that each pistol is built to match grade standards with tolerances being held to .0004 inches! And of course, no pistol leaves Para's Canadian plant without being test fired, either.
Finished in an attractive matte blue, the pistol looks neat with the operational controls all left "in the white." The grips are checkered cocobolo and they're attached with stainless steel Allen-headed screws. The hammer is skeletonized and also left in the white. This is a good looking package, indeed.
Para says that each pistol leaves the factory with a trigger pull between 4 and 6 pounds. Out-of-the-box, this sample averaged 3 pounds, 15 ounces on my Lyman Digital trigger gauge. The trigger breaks like ice and is about as good as a trigger can be. Take-up is virtually non-existent as is overtravel.
Sights are semi-fixed, low drag offerings equipped with the proverbial 3 white dots. Out-of-the-box the pistol shot about 5 inches low at 25 yards and about 2 inches right. It took but a few seconds to loosen the rear sight and move it to the left to correct windage but there was little I could do to correct the elevation. This pistol is so accurate that I'd slip an adjustable rear sight in the dovetail, were it mine to keep.
Takedown of the pistol is also exactly as Browning had in mind. Para-Ordnance even decided to keep the rotating link that cams the breech down to unlock it from the slide during recoil. While some might consider the small, rotating link prone to breakage I've never seen one of 'em break nor have I heard of one breaking, either. I suspect that eliminating the link may be more a case of eliminating small pieces in the interest of lowering manufacturing costs. At any rate, it takes but a few seconds to field strip this baby for routine cleaning.
While quality is without question on anything built by Para-Ordnance since 1988, this pistol is fresh because it sported Para's new, two-piece Power Extractor. This new extractor grabs 50% more of the case rim during the firing cycle and it is designed to offer unparalleled extraction over the life of the pistol.
This new extractor is standard fare on any of Para's new models and it can be retrofitted to older pistols at the factory, as well. My pet carry gun is a Para Companion equipped with the LDA trigger and I'm going to ship this one back for the new extractor one of these days. Sporting tritium night sights and a tack driver to boot, I'm fully willing to stake my life on this little gem, day in and day out.
By the same token, this full-sized 1911 performed well, out-of-the-box, too. Over the course of a long afternoon, I ran over 250 rounds through this rig, making no effort to clean it or cool it down along the way. First, I ran 150 rounds of Black Hills Ammunition's 230-grain JHPs and WW Ball loads through it, working on my dueling tree and swinging targets in the back yard. After I got a feel for the sights and learned that it shot a bit low for me, the targets were little trouble at 10 yards or so. It's sure fun to mess around with a good .45.
The more formal shooting session took place on my 25-yard range. I ran the pistol off a Dog-Gone-Good sandbag system while seated on my BR Pivot shooting bench. I arranged the Oehler 35P Skyscreens 15 feet from the muzzle and used 3-inch Birchwood Casey Shoot-N-C targets downrange, at 25 yards. I picked four additional loads for this range work, looking at loads that one might choose for more serious social work, if you get my drift.
In that light and in alphabetical order I started things off with Cor-Bon's newest solid copper Barnes X 185-grain +P JHP load. This steamy load launches the solid copper Barnes JHPs at 1,047 feet-per-second (fps) from this 5-inch barrel, accounting for 450 foot-pounds (FP) of instrumental energy (fpe). The five 5-shot groups averaged 3.23 inches center-to-center, and this 1911 didn't miss a beat with this load. I've run this load into ballistic gelatin and you can bank on the slug expanding to well over .70 caliber, while retaining all of its starting weight, too. It'll penetrate deeply at the same time.
Hornady's excellent Custom +P 200-grain XTP JHP load followed. This load left the 5-inch semi-auto doing 1,010 fps, accounting for 452 fpe as well. Down range this load proved to be exactly what the pistol was looking for, averaging less than 2 inches at 25 yards. Impressive!
MagTech's Guardian Gold +P 185-grain JHPs left the Para 1911 doing 1,064 fps, accounting for 464 fpe. Twenty-five of these averaged 2.13 inches center-to-center.
Finally, WW's old 185-grain Silvertips brought up the rear. This load was the most sedate of the bunch, leaving at just over 900 fps, churning up just shy of 350 fpe in the process. This load averaged 3.48 inches, center-to-center at 25 yards.
While it might be easy to dismiss this pistol as "just another .45," I suggest that you resist this urge and take one of these to your local range. I have yet to see a Para-Ordnance that doesn't shoot and function perfectly. This one didn't miss a beat and it's capable of shooting into 2 inches with the best ammo, to boot. Carrying a suggested retail price of $749, I'd call it a bargain. I'm also impressed with the new Para Power Extractor.
For more information contact Para-Ordnance at: 980 Tapscott Rd., Dept. GWK, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M1X 1C3, or you can hit 'em on the Internet at: www.paraord.com.
I don't think you'll be disappointed in their offerings. Next I'd like to look at their new Warthog. That's not "just another .45," either!
@ 15 Feet
|Instrumental Energy @ 15 Feet||Smallest 5-Shot
@ 25 Yards
@ 25 Yards
@ 25 Yards
|Black Hills Ammo
|830/62/15 fps||351.8 FP||2.42"||3.77"||3.0"|
185-Grain +P JHP
|1,039/69/16 fps||443.4 FP||1.84"||6.04"||4.56"|
185-Grain +P JHP
|1,085/114/27 fps||483.5 FP||1.51"||2.95"||2.35"|
165-Grain Expanding FMJ
|1,040/70/20 fps||396.2 FP||1.97"||4.84"||3.79"|
|817/45/12 fps||340.8 FP||2.21"||3.44"||2.69"|