Click pictures for a larger version.
Both pistols come with a polymer bushing wrench.
Double-stack Pro Custom magazine (left) compared to
single-stack Expert magazine (right).
Ramped barrel of the Pro Custom (left) compared to the
throated barrel of the Expert (right).
It has been a
bit over four years now since I last hammered out a review on a
Para pistol. Since that time, I have fired a few of them at
writer’s events and such, and have been really impressed with
the improved quality of Para’s 1911-style pistols. Para has
been cranking out their pistols in Charlotte, North Carolina for
a while now, and every one of the U.S.-built pistols that I have
fired has exhibited excellent craftsmanship and quality.
The two Para pistols shown here represent
very well the two price extremes of Para’s line of pistols.
The Expert Stainless is priced very competitively with other
entry-level 1911 pistols, but is built with the same
high-quality materials and hand-fitting as the high end Para
pistols. The Pro Custom is built to be a highly-competitive
pistol for shooting games or fighting, right out of the box. The
Expert Stainless, which is priced near the low end of the scale,
still ships with two eight-round magazines, wears upgraded parts
such as an expended thumb safety, beavertail grip safety,
dovetailed sights, and skeletonized hammer and trigger. As the
name suggests, it is built primarily of stainless steel, and
wears a natural finish, with the controls and small external
parts wearing a black finish. The grips are made of a black
checkered hard plastic.
Nearer the upper end of Para’s price scale
is the Pro Custom, which is built like a full-blown custom
double-stack 1911, at about half the price. It ships with two
fourteen-round magazines, has a checkered front strap, black
G-10 grips, ambidextrous safety, beavertail grip safety,
adjustable target rear sight, ramped barrel, skeletonized hammer
and trigger, a huge magazine funnel, extended recoil spring
guide rod, and an overall black ionbond PVD finish.
Both pistols have stainless match-grade
barrels, lowered and flared ejection ports, extended ejectors,
and green fiber-optic front sights. Both pistols also
incorporate a firing pin safety that prevents the weapon from
firing if dropped.
specifications for the Stainless Expert and Pro Custom pistols
are listed in the chart below. The weights are listed in ounces,
and linear measurements in inches. The grip and frame widths
were measured at their widest points. The maximum width is
measured across the grip, and includes the thumb safety on the
Stainless Expert. The maximum width of the Pro Custom is across
the magazine funnel. The height includes the sights and the
magazine base. The trigger pull is listed as pounds of
resistance. The weight includes the empty magazine. Length is
measured from the muzzle to the tip of the beavertail grip
safety. Frame width is measured just above the front of the
|Maximum Grip Width
|MSRP (May 2013)
I tested for velocity with my chronograph set
at ten feet from the muzzle, with an air temperature of
eighty-three degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of
seventy-two percent. I began testing for velocity firing both
pistols, but the velocities were running the same, so I recorded
velocities only using the Pro Custom pistol. Velocity readings
were taken at an elevation of approximately 541 feet above sea
level. Velocities are listed in the chart below, and are listed in
feet-per-second (fps). FMJ is a full metal jacket bullet. JHP is
a jacketed hollowpoint. DPX and Tac-XP use a Barnes homogenous
copper hollowpoint bullet. PB is Pow’RBall.
LWSC is a cast lead semi-wadcutter bullet. HC is a hard-cast
lead flat-nosed bullet. LRSP
is Buffalo Bore Low-Recoil Standard pressure ammunition.
Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights
are listed in grains.
Bore JHP +P
Bore FMJ +P
Bore Tac-XP +P
Bore HC +P
Bore JHP +P
Bore LRSP FMJ
Bore LRSP Tac-XP
1911 Ball FMJ
I tested both pistols for accuracy resting
the pistols handheld over a Target
Shooting, Inc. Pistol Rest at a distance of twenty-five
yards. Accuracy was very good from both pistols, and the
accuracy from the Stainless Expert was every bit as good as the
accuracy from the Pro Custom, at least in my hands. A better
shooter might be able to discern a difference in accuracy, but I
could not. The triggers released crisply, but were both a bit
heavier than I prefer for a target pistol. I like mine just
slightly under four pounds, but both of these triggers were,
again, very good, and both are adjustable for overtravel. The
pictures shown represent the best and worst groups fired,
ranging from under one inch to as large as two and one-quarter
inches. That is excellent accuracy, and as always, is dependant
upon the quality of the ammunition.
Reliability was excellent. The first
cartridge from the magazine on the Pro Custom failed to feed,
but after that, it ran perfectly from then on. The Stainless
Expert ran flawlessly from the beginning, and after that first
mag, the Pro Custom also ran flawlessly for the duration of all
shooting, using each type of ammunition listed above. Both
pistols feel very good in my hands, and the fiber-optic front
sights are very easy to see, and to get on target quickly.
The Para Stainless Expert represents an
excellent value in a quality, American-made 1911 pistol, having
many upgraded features for a bare-bones price. Likewise, the Pro
Custom is also a good value for a double-stack 1911 that has the
quality and features that are usually found only on custom
pistols costing many hundreds of dollars more.
With both of these new Para pistols, I am impressed.
Check out the Para pistols online at www.para-usa.com.
To order the Para pistols online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.
order quality 45 ACP ammunition online, go to www.buffalobore.com,
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Click pictures for a larger version.
These group pics represent the smallest and largest
groups fired at twenty-five yards, handheld over a Target
Shooting, Inc. Model 1500 Pistol rest. The five-shot
groups measured from under one inch up to two and one-quarter