Check out the Details–http://para-usa.com/blackOps1911.php
Buy a Para Black Ops–/para black ops
I’ve got mixed emotions about the way corporate conglomerates gobble up smaller companies. While I understand (and will defend) American capitalism, growth almost always comes with sacrifices of some sort.
In the gun industry, what’s sacrificed is the human touch. I was visiting a high-end 1911 maker last week, for example, that still has one smith make one gun, start to finish. The smith stamps his initials in the steel, and if it ever comes back with problems that same smith is held accountable. It is brilliant. It is also not sustainable on any scale.
Para, by all accounts, is a kick-ass brand. I’ve known several professional shooters who run Paras. These are people with skills and means, who could carry any 1911 on the market, and they carry Paras.
This might explain why I was surprised to see the gun I’m going to chronicle below, a 1911 with some distinct personality issues. It is a Para—and I can find the bones here that would make for a rock solid 1911—but you have to have faith to find them.
Let’s go back a bit. Para Ordnance was founded 30 years ago, in Canada of all places, by Ted Szabo (a Hungarian expat) and Thanos Polyzos (who had immigrated from Greece). The company grew slowly and specialized in 1911s. In 2009, Para USA began domestic production in North Carolina. The Freedom Group bought them in 2012.
The company built its reputation on rock solid, no-frills 1911s. The guns sometimes strayed into more radical designs. Para pioneered double stack single actions, and developed a double action for the 1911 that gained favor with law enforcement. In fact, if you look at the history of the company and the design innovations they developed, you’ll see evidence of a true dedication to the 1911. Think about the time frame we’re talking about here. In the mid-1980s, the American military kicked the old Browning design to the curb. The era of polymer framed double-actions was just ramping up.
Instead of jumping on that band wagon, Para answered the 1911’s critics. You want more capacity? Try the double-stack. You don’t trust single action? They can fix that, too. You want a 1911 that runs reliably, every single time? Pick up a Para. These aren’t titanium framed guns, they don’t have Damascus slides, and they’ve never worn unicorn horn grips.
This is a review, after all, so let’s review a gun already. This pistol here is a Para Black Ops. When I went looking for a Para to review, I wanted something that would be ideal for everyday carry. The Black Ops is exactly that. The gun integrates a lot of features I consider mandatory for a defensive carry gun. Let’s break them out.
- MSRP: $1257.00
- .45 ACP
- 5” Ramped Barrel
- Trijicon® Tritium Night Sights
- Stainless Steel Frame & Slide
- EGW® HD Extractor
- Integral Accessory Rail
- Beaver Tail Grip & Ambidextrous Thumb Safety
- Skeletonized Match Grade Trigger
- IonBond© PVD Finish
- VZ® Operator™ Machined G10 Grips
- Two 8-Round Standard Magazines
Guns are nothing more than the sum of their parts. And 1911s more so, as most companies pick up a lot of parts from a wide variety of manufacturers and cobble them together into something that works. This requires some skill—you can’t just stick good parts together and expect them to work.
I’m going to begin where my interaction with the gun begins-the grip. These black G10 grips are superb. If you’re going to carry a 1911, I’d suggest heavily textured G10. These are VZ Operators.
The other textures on the Black Ops are sufficient. The front strap isn’t checkered, but the mainspring housing is. The slide is serrated both front and rear.
The gun also has an integrated rail, ideal for mounting lights or lasers.
The frame and slide are both stainless steel. The ambidextrous thumb safety and fat beaver-tail safety are both common features on these types of guns. And the whole package is finished in Para’s IonBond PVD finish. It is durable, and slick.
These are the things you can see and feel. First impressions. There’s more to the Para that we need to discuss, both good and bad. The barrel is ramped, which is supposed to help with feeding hollow points. The gun also has a full-length steel guide rod. And, like it or not, it is a series 80 style gun, which means it has a firing pin block to prevent accidental discharge.
But circumstances necessitate a deeper dive into the Black Ops, one that will questions the construction of some of these component parts. When you are making guns out of metal, there are several ways to arrive at finished parts. Parts milled from forgings are almost always the strongest—even when that strength is overkill. But these are also the most expensive to produce.
You want to know why some 1911s are twice (or three times) as expensive as a visually identical gun? Ask some questions. How many of the parts are milled? How many are MIM (metal injection molded—not made in Mexico). How many are cast?
Milled parts have sharp edges. Look at the slide serrations on this dude, and you’ll see what I mean. The wide grooves between the lands allow for a lot of your finger to seat in those grooves, and the sharp milled edges bite like they’re supposed to.
MIM parts are also capable of high definition, but lack the strength of a forging. The actual act of forging aligns the crystalline structure of the metal, making it more resilient to stress and less brittle. A MIM part has a loose crystalline structure, as liquid metal is forced into tight molds. As a process, it produces consistent results and many parts on guns that don’t typically require a lot of strength are produced this way: beaver-tails, back straps, some internal parts.
The problem, though, is that pockets of air can make it into the metal. It is rare. When Para sent us this gun, I did my usual pre-flight on the pistol. Before I’d even gotten a chance to take it apart, I had a couple of hiccups. The first was with the trigger. On the first dry-fire, I pulled the trigger back and it did not return. That doesn’t inspire confidence. After monkeying with it for a while, I couldn’t solve the problem, so I sent it off to my smith (one of those I mentioned earlier who carries a Para). He stripped it down and found a burr on the trigger that had wedged it in place.
He fixed the trigger, but came away with a bigger problem. After he’d gotten the gun back into working order, he hit the ambidextrous safety from the ambidextrous side and it sheered off. Snap. Done.
Back to the drawing board
Nothing will delay a review like a gun that won’t work. Remember when I said that the Para had good bones? This isn’t rocket science. The frame is solid, and the fit is perfect. The parts aren’t so precious that they can’t be replaced, individually, by anyone with a modicum of common sense. And there’s more than a century of documentation on how to fix these beasts.
Still, when I asked for a new safety so I could continue the review, I had to wait a while. When the new safety arrived, it was attached to a whole new pistol. When I began the second half of this review, I had a full 1911, and 99% of a second.
This is what’s wrong with corporate culture. I didn’t begin this review with the intention of shitting on out-of-control growth, but that’s where I’ve ended up. You need a new safety—they send it on another gun.
So the review begins again
Gun #2 works great. I don’t want that message to get lost in my philosophical ramblings. The gun shoots incredibly well. Recoil is typical for the 1911 platform. As the frame is steel (and even a bit heavier with the rail), muzzle flip is easy to hold down. But accuracy is superb. Once all of the parts are working harmoniously, this is a nice tight gun that functions as it should–for the most part.
The Black Ops ships with two 8 round mags—something that should be standard on any 1911 meant for carry. I love that about Para.
What would I change about the gun?
Lets pretend for a moment that this was not simply a review gun, but one I’d intent to carry every day. I’d immediately change out the safety. I don’t care how many of them are out there, working fine and dandy—I won’t trust my life to a part that I know may break this easily. What happens when I grab this gun when I’m pumped up on adrenaline? Or when I drop it? Will that part sheer off again? I’m not going to test it. There are stronger safeties available. Or I’d beat the hell out of it and make sure there were no unseen structural flaws.
I’d also switch out the rear sight. While I like the sight picture, I prefer a squared-off sight, or one with a slight hook to it that I can use for one-handed operation of the slide. After that, I’m open to suggestions. I’d probably want to incorporate a beveled mag well extension.
And I’d also have someone address the problem this particular Black Ops has with feeding the first round. Even with the ramped barrel, it won’t feed when the slide is dropped with the slide stop. The rounds nose-dive into that feed ramp and the pressure from the slide holds them in place. If you slingshot the slide (pulling it back just as you would a slingshot), the round will chamber. During normal operation, the slide’s return has enough force to drive in subsequent rounds. Just don’t hit that slide stop during a mag change. And if you do, don’t try to strip the mag.
Could it be a mag issue? Yes. But I’ve got more 1911 mags than California has idiot politicians, and it does it with most of them.
So what’s going to happen to Para?
We know where the brand is going. The Para name will disappear. Maybe forever. It will go away for a while, at least. The companies that own them often resurrect brands in the name of nostalgia. Or ambitious entrepreneurs bring them back from the grave. Either way, I doubt we’ve seen the last of Para.
And the guns are not going away. The Blackops and other Para guns will be made under the Remington name. For those that want more from the platform, at least in the current configurations, the Black Ops come with some classic Para twists. 14 round double-stacks. 10 round double stacks. Threaded barrels and suppressor height sights. Commander length, and a Commander length 9mm. Options. Lots of options. Looks like Remington will need some more pages in their catalog.
Check out the Details–http://para-usa.com/blackOps1911.php
Buy a Para Black Ops–/para black ops