Saturday, October 28, 2017

Para Ordnance

I have always found the double stack Para Ordnance pistols very attractive: the advantage of .45ACP with the capacity of a 9mm.  I was surprised to find a lot of criticism online of the reliability of the Para Ordnance pistols,  especially the ones made in Florida instead of Canada.   I was also surprised to see similar criticism of the Kimber pistols, which had always thought were high quality products.   Your thoughts?

No, I am not thinking of running out and buying one at the moment.  There are some higher priority purchases at the moment.


  1. Neither Para nor Kimber have a following within the professional community the utilizes the 1911 pattern.

    If you are looking for a reliable .45acp you cannot go wrong with either a Glock model 21 or Glock mode 30.

    The 1911 is an older design that has some inherent issues (think feed-way stoppages). If I were going into harms way and I were forced to carry a 1911 style, Wilson Combat would be my manufacturer, in something along the lines of a Vickers Elite or Hackathorn Special.

    If I could choose my own sidearm for going in harms way, it would be, in order of preference, a Glock 17 or 19, or a Glock 21 or 30.

  2. Go Belgian.
    FNP45 or FNX45.
    Plastic but quite reliable.

  3. And also, relative to the merits/advantages of .45acp:

    With the advent of modern design ammunition, (Winchester Ranger series, Federal HST2, Speer Gold Dot, etc) there is zero practical difference in terminal ballistics between 9mm and .45acp.

    In FMY/hardball, yes, the larger projectile makes sense. In modern design defensive ammunition, no difference that gives .45 an advantage.

    The 9mm round is much more practical in that it is also more economic to train with, and ergonomic, in that the larger capacity pistols offer a slimmer grip than wide-body hi-cap .45's.

  4. I own two Para Ordnance double stack 1911 pattern pistols. I heard negative stuff about them like they used soft metal, and they didn't follow the pattern as they should have, etc. Those comments may be valid but I like mine. I haven't had any problems with them and I found them to be pretty accurate. I have to say that I don't shoot them as much as most of my other guns but that's partially because I have shot bullseye and my POs aren't good bullseye guns. They were probably made in Canada since I bought them probably fifteen years ago.


  5. The problem with Kimber was a change in management some years back. Quality went to h*** in a basket. This same individual did the same at another big name gun maker, either before or after Kimber.

    Prior to this, Kimber had a good name, and was utilized by some of the tactical groups. I haven't heard that quality ever recovered after the ministrations of the money management guru. It may have, I just haven't heard anything about it.

    Early Para O guns had a good reputation, but I think something similar may have hit them.

    Basically, any time you hear of an outside financial wizard being brought in to manage a gun company, bail on them. Don't plan on buying future guns, and consider dumping any stock you may hold.

    Generally, outsiders don't understand the constraints that guns are designed and built under, and think that they can cut corners and bring in cheap workers to make the company more profitable. These methods don't always work in other manufacturing fields, and never work in the firearms arena. This sort of thinking kills gun companies, or damages them so badly that they never recover.
    Reputations are hard won, and easily lost.

  6. "The 1911 is an older design that has some inherent issues (think feed-way stoppages)."

    This is only true if your 1911a1 type is built to original ball ammo specs. When the barrel ramp is updated to hollowpoint spec, it should not be a problem.
    "In FMY/hardball, yes, the larger projectile makes sense. In modern design defensive ammunition, no difference that gives .45 an advantage."

    As Ayoob points out, if that hollowpoint cavity gets packed with some of the typical winter clothing material, it may act exactly like ball ammo. In that case, bigger is better. I'm unclear if he is currently still using .45acp in cold climate carry situations. He now lives in FL, so he's not patrolling NH winter roads any longer.

  7. With the advent of modern design ammunition, (Winchester Ranger series, Federal HST2, Speer Gold Dot, etc) there is zero practical difference in terminal ballistics between 9mm and .45acp.

    That's if they have a chance to perform. Our host lives in Idaho, where it gets rather cold in winter, and if a winter coat etc. plugs up the hollowpoint in Speer Gold Dot (my favorite), you're back to ~FMJ performance and .45 ACP wins hands down. Back when Massad Ayoob lived in New Hampshire he switched to a .45 ACP during the cold season there (he's since retired to Florida as I recall).

    There's a Federal bullet that's flat nosed, sort of a truncated cone if I recall, that should get around this problem, but I don't know overall how well it works.

    I've got an older Kimber Pro Carry, bought a bit before the turn of the century, and even then it wasn't manufactured all that well, the extractor wasn't tensionned. Sent it straight to Wilson for a reliability job plus the installation of tritium night sights (after I'd e.g. replaced the slide stop with Wilson's excellent "Bullet Proof" one (bigger, and have grooves that will engage your thumb nicely), and except for a bit of work I did myself on their advice to file the ejector a bit so it didn't throw brass in my face it's been perfect since then. It's been a long time since I dealt with them except for buying some more of their excellent 47D magazines, but they're still reported to have their act together, Kimber not so much.

  8. Agreed that I too am dubious of Para Ordnance and of Kimber. I carried a nicely smithed Kimber in 9x23 (ample power and extra capacity in a 1911) for many years but I emphasize as modified for carry with custom deburring, refitted stock barrel with a new bushing and other such. With smithing to suit it cost me about as much as Wilson CQB with options I bought as a game gun. At the time, long ago now, the word on Para Ordnance was that it's quite possible to get a good one and equally possible not to - further that a good one didn't need work and a deficient one did not benefit; take it for what it is but don't try to make it something it isn't.

    I'd say that both makers named tried to offer a little more deluxe than they could at the price point. This leads to some few being first rate and many being second rate depending on tolerance stackup.

    Running today's assortment of light weight low recoil loads or +P loads and so a variety of slide speeds and different magazine springs leads to a higher than acceptable proportion of issues - again while some few work perfectly. Volume users with enhanced performance ammunition report unacceptable numbers of failures but again the majority did not fail. Going back to the long ago problems in Denver volume users have not bought large quantities of standard model off the shelf Kimbers.

    See e.g. Hilton Yam repeating that the 1911 is an enthusiasts pistol and an agency should issue something modern be it Glock or the M&P series from S&W or really any of the modern polymer wonders

  9. I would have to echo Jim. I have a P14-45 I probably bought around 1997. It has functioned well. It is one of the Canada ones. I did have a trigger job and a skeletonized hammer put on it, but it has been quite reliable since then. I do remember that it wouldn't chamber Sellier and Bellot .45 ACP for some reason. I would have checked with a caliper, but I didn't have one.

  10. Will and HGA,

    If one selects an ammunition load that passes the IWBA and now FBI testing protocol, including the layered cloth (denim) criterion, the issue of hollow point plugging is obviated.


  12. I have 3 double stack Paras. They had the combination of features I wanted at the time. I've had trouble with all 3 and it seems like when one thing gets fixed something else gives trouble.

    Weak springs in both guns and magazines was a problem early on. A couple seemed to need some break in but I haven't shot them enough to feel confident about that. The gun that seemed the best was purchased at the beginning of the great ammo drought and I've never gone back to it.

    RK Gunsmithing in Nampa says Paras can be tuned to competition dependability, but will need ongoing attention. Like an old Jaguar.

    I would suggest considering STI high caps. They seem to have a good reputation.