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Old January 20, 2013, 03:44 PM   #1
bricz75
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Para-Ordnance: Trying to decide whether to upgrade or sell

Greetings,

I have a Para GI Expert. It was built a year to a year and a half after they moved from Canada to North Carolina. It has had issues with failures to feed. I sent it back to Para and they did some things like polish some part of the barrel or barrel hood, install a new slide stop, and adjust the extractor. I claimed the sighting was off. They said no, but since getting it back, I noticed it is still off. The failures to feed were worked out but not with the OEM Mec-Gar mags, rather with my good Checkmate mags.

I noticed there is an indentation in the bullet primer when chambering a round. It doesn't look like it's the firing pin but rather the edge of the extractor. Also, the extractor seems adjusted a little or somewhat to close to the firing pin hole located at the back of the slide (I forget what that part is called). Naturally, I'm concerned about this and will need to have it looked at or make it clear to a buyer if I just want get rid of this one 1911.

I'm considering investing funds into it to have a new, good quality extractor put into it and having the sights adjusted. The sights issue may entail a new front or rear sight. It is shooting low and to the left.

Something I don't know about my Para is how close it is to being "in spec" or in relative spec. By in relative in spec, I mean the relationships between pin holes in both the frame and slide, extractor hole, barrel dimensions relative to the slide and frame, angle of feed ramp, and other things of a similar nature. Would anyone know?

My feelings are the following: Aesthetically, I like this model. Also, Gun Tests magazine noticed this model shows hire velocities than it's competitors. On the other hand, I've come to dislike Para the company for a few reasons.

It may come down to how in spec or how in relative spec it is as written above.

Other trivia: The slide on the frame is glass-smooth. I don't have experience shooting h.p.'s though it.

Enjoy, be safe.
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Old January 20, 2013, 03:56 PM   #2
1stmar
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Bricz75, I would post in this forum (http://forums.1911forum.com/forumdisplay.php?f=33) any concerns you have, Travis tomasie frequently visits this forum and of tens resolves any issues you have and answers any questions you have. Personally I am a fan, I love the way they feel (p14) in my hand. If you like the
E gun, I'm sure Travis will help make it right. I dont know how mil spec they are, but I haven't seen any complaints about parts not fitting or failing (other then the power extractor).
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Old January 20, 2013, 04:18 PM   #3
Coltman 77
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FWIW, I live in the Charlotte area. Para-Ordnance is constantly running ads in The Charlotte Observer for customer service reps.

They can't seem to keep them on board. Makes you wonder why?
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Old January 20, 2013, 04:22 PM   #4
dayman
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Before you change the sights have some other people shoot it - or better yet shoot it from a rest.. Low and to the left is pretty a pretty common shooter error to have with .45. If you're unconsciously squeezing the gun a little harder as you pull the trigger in anticipation of the recoil you'll get groups that are low and to the left.
I had exactly the same issue with my 1911. I wound up having to do a lot of practice with longer DA triggers (and a whole lot of dry firing) to get over it. Something about the super short trigger travel seemed to make it harder for me to get over that particular issue.
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Old January 20, 2013, 05:02 PM   #5
BGutzman
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My wife and I over the last couple of years rented two different Para's. We loved the feel of the gun... Neither gun fed reliably and one of the two appeared to be brand spanking new... Had to oil it myself...

Trust me I wish I had confidence in Para reliability but based on the two rentals I'm not sure I will ever drop the coins for one... We loved everything else about it!
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Last edited by BGutzman; January 20, 2013 at 07:44 PM. Reason: cant spell
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Old January 20, 2013, 06:04 PM   #6
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bricz75
I claimed the sighting was off. They said no, but since getting it back, I noticed it is still off.
Both the front and rear sight are dovetailed. Windage is corrected by drifting the sights. Open sights can be perfect for your eyes and waaaaay off for my eyes. Doesn't seem logical, but that's what is.

Quote:
The failures to feed were worked out but not with the OEM Mec-Gar mags, rather with my good Checkmate mags.
I never liked or trusted Mec-Gar mags for the 1911. Didn't know para was using them, I thought they made their own. Stick with the Check-mates.

Quote:
I noticed there is an indentation in the bullet primer when chambering a round. It doesn't look like it's the firing pin but rather the edge of the extractor.
The extractor doesn't reach to the primer at any time in the firing cycle, and has nothing that could dent the primer if it did. What you are describing is impossible. The only thing that could be denting the primer is the firing pin, but the Para has a firing pin safety, so that's effectively impossible, too, unless your pistol is broken.

Quote:
Also, the extractor seems adjusted a little or somewhat to close to the firing pin hole located at the back of the slide (I forget what that part is called).
You cannot evaluate extractor placement by eye. What matters is tension. If the pistol feeds and extracts reliably, don't even think about fixing that which is not broken.

Quote:
I'm considering investing funds into it to have a new, good quality extractor put into it and having the sights adjusted.
What leads you to believe the extractor in your pistol is not a good quality part? Last I knew, Para's extractors were made for them by EGW, which happens to be one of the el primo sources of "good quality" extractors for custom 1911 pistolsmiths.

Quote:
Something I don't know about my Para is how close it is to being "in spec" or in relative spec. By in relative in spec, I mean the relationships between pin holes in both the frame and slide, extractor hole, barrel dimensions relative to the slide and frame, angle of feed ramp, and other things of a similar nature. Would anyone know?
How could anyone know about your particular pistol? Para machines their frames (and slides) on CNC machines that perform all the hole cuts in one setup. The CNC machines are set up to a tolerance of something like .0002", with the goal of holding the tolerances on the completed parts to .002" -- which is as tight as the tightest tolerance on a mil-spec 1911, and better than twice as tight as most of the tolerances on a mil-spec 1911. Is it possible that something might have slipped and that yours might be out of spec? I suppose so ... but it's very unlikely. What is there about your pistol that might make you suspect it might be out of spec?

Quote:
Also, Gun Tests magazine noticed this model shows hire velocities than it's competitors.
That's perhaps the most ridiculous thing I've read all week, but coming from Gun Tests I'm not surprised. Bullet velocity is a function of ammunition and barrel length, not pistol model. ALL firearm barrels are subject to manufacturing tolerances, just like every other part in the gun. Might one barrel be bored and rifled slightly differently from another? Yeah, anything else would be impossible. Will one of those two barrels shoot the same ammo a little faster or slower than the other? Most likely. That's not due to design, or make of firearm or model of firearm. It's due to manufacturing tolerances.

Last edited by Aguila Blanca; January 21, 2013 at 10:38 AM. Reason: typo
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Old January 20, 2013, 07:59 PM   #7
bricz75
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@Aguila Blanca: My GI Expert was made before any EGW extractors were used. Originally, EGW extractors were used to replace faulty "power extractors." I don't know what models currently use EGW extractors. If many models do, I'm curious if that is due to the Para ones not being up to par. I don't know.

The tolerances you mention are after the CNC machine is setup. If there is a mistake with setup, then things will be out of spec, though all products worked on will be within the same spec (I think).

The issue that makes me wonder if mine is within spec or relative spec, for lack of a better term, are failures to feed with conservative ball ammo using the new OEM Mec-Gar mags.

There are variances between firearm models with the same barrel lengths just like a 5" Kimber will have tighter groups than a 5" RIA (not a fan of Kimber).
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Old January 20, 2013, 09:17 PM   #8
Aguila Blanca
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As far as I know, the GI Expert series never used the Power Extractor, so they would not need the new EGW "large bore" replacement. But the GI Expert with a convention extractor is a reversion to before Para went to the Power Extractor, which IIRC was around 2003, well before the move from Canada. I doubt they have the capability to make conventional extractors in North Carolina, so they have to be getting them somewhere. Why not EGW?

I just don't understand why you want to spend money for a "good" extractor with nothing to indicate that yours is bad.

1911s are finicky about magazines. ALL 1911s, not just Paras, and not just GI Experts. If your pistol runs reliably with Check-Mate magazines, there is nothing wrong with your pistol. Toss the Mec-Gars in a drawer, or sell them to someone whose pistol they work in. Stop hunting for problems where they don't exist.

Yes, the tolerances are for setting up the machine to maintain tolerances on the finished parts. Para machines twelve (12) frames at a time, on a "tree" in the CNC machining center. Each frame on the tree is indexed exactly the same, so if one frame is off they'll have twelve that are off. If they were borking frames by the dozen, they'd be out of business.
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Old January 20, 2013, 09:53 PM   #9
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My Para had feeding problems from the start. The feed ramp looked more like a "feed wall" than a "feed ramp" And no bullet could get past it. I replaced the mag springs, recoil spring and the barrel. It now shoots fine, but in hindsight, it was an expensive pain in the butt.
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Old January 20, 2013, 10:08 PM   #10
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I've had many ParO's over the years, never had a broblem with any of them, after a little break in period. I have even done a bit of madifications on them, not out of need but want. I would buy another in a minute if I wanted it. I guess the only downside for Para's are some of their finishes suck.
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Old January 20, 2013, 10:27 PM   #11
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If it were me, I'd sell it and buy something like a Springfield, S&W, or Colt(or shy away from 1911's altogether). 1911's can be finicky and the old adage "you get what you pay for" is especially true for them. It's kinda like owning a classic muscle car: it looks cool, feels great, everyone wants one. But a camry will still get you to work and won't need as much attention to do it.
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Old January 20, 2013, 10:45 PM   #12
Niantician
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Good metaphor. Except, just like muscle car owners, 1911 owners tend to like to work on them and spend money on them. Nobody wants to work on a camry.
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:44 AM   #13
Aguila Blanca
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The thing is, other than a Colt you probably can't find a 1911 that's made closer to original GI dimensions than a Para GI Expert. Yes, I hate that hammer, too -- so I replaced mine with a faux GI wide-spur hammer. The GI Experts, unlike all other Paras, don't use a ramped barrel, they use a ramped frame. Mine feeds everything I throw at it, and I haven't tinkered or polished or anything.

IMHO the GI Expert is one of the true bargains in a 1911. YMMV.
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Old January 21, 2013, 10:58 AM   #14
dsa1115
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I have a GI Expert and it's been a good gun after a rough start when I bought it new. The first time I brought it to the range for a 200 round break in, the ejector broke after 180 rounds or so. Anyway I sent it back to Para, they replaced the ejector, and I've since fired thousands of rounds with a variety of mostly hand loaded ammunition. Since it's break in hiccup, it's been solid. Now IMO, the OEM mags blow. Get some Wilson or Chip McCormick mags.

Last edited by dsa1115; January 21, 2013 at 12:42 PM.
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Old January 21, 2013, 11:25 AM   #15
bird_dog
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Quote:
I've had many ParO's over the years, never had a broblem with any of them, after a little break in period.
I have the GI Expert. I had several FTF's and FTE's in my first hundred rounds. This was only rectified by using mags other than the Para factory mags (kimber).

After that, the gun straightened out, and now feeds reliably (flawlessly for the last 200 rounds) with the factory mags that came with it and with the Kimber after market mags.

I wasn't thrilled at first. Now I am. It's a great, accurate 1911.
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Old January 21, 2013, 06:14 PM   #16
MW surveyor
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My GI Expert has been flawless since I got it over 1500 rounds ago. The factory mags even handle my 200 grain LSWs without any problems.

The gun does shoot low for me so I just compensate by aiming a bit higher. This was tested in a steady rest so I know it's the front sight. May just buy a shorter front sight from Dawson Precision (eventually).

The only problem I have with it is that the bull is shot out of the target after less than one and one half mags.
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