PARA USA GI Expert .45 ACP

Having a reputation hardened by decades of military service, there…

Having a reputation hardened by decades of military service, there are many LE agencies that still depend on the 1911. In a world where many new to a uniform are just beginning to know the 1911, these freshmen find themselves choosing between numerous custom production pistols that loosely resemble the original and a budget-minded compromise. Representing everything that gave the 1911 its reputation is the new .45ACP GI Expert.

Going back to basics, Para’s GI Expert is an entry level 1911. Like the original, it favors right-handed shooters with the traditional low-profile thumb safety, slide lock lever and magazine release. Vertical serrations are only present at the rear of the slide’s slabs and the sights are the standard fixed three-dots. Even the simple black polymer grips are lackluster, featuring the Para USA logo. It looks and feels like a combat pistol.

What is included doesn’t stand out in appearance. The three-hole polymer trigger on our pistol breaks predictably after 3.5 pounds of pressure without creep. It’s one of the biggest contributing factors to the positive reception from our test group of sheriff deputies.

paragi2.jpgThe grip
safety is subtly contoured for the hammer but not too large. A lightweight skeletonized hammer strikes the firing pin reliably and an empty 8-round magazine drops onto a protective polymer bumper. The barrel fit is superb with the appropriate size barrel link, proper lug engagement and the correct relationship between the chamber and frame. The ejection port is lowered and flared for reliable ejection. With a frame and slide made of carbon steel and finished in Covert Black Para Kote, this pistol is a modern reflection of what many argue a 1911 should be.

Range Time
Right out of the box, I performed a limited technical inspection of the GI Expert and observed light scratches on the barrel hood and some wear on the controls and around the muzzle. Evidence suggests that my test sample had “fired a few shots.” What’s nice about this is that I didn’t need to worry about issues that people commonly blame on a firearm’s break-in.

Gathering a number of partial boxes, the deputies and I dumped leftover .45ACP cartridges into a single plastic bag. It’s a little unorthodox (and a tad bit abusive) for a test but it would reveal whether variations in pressures, bullet weights and types would interrupt the Para’s operation. What was in the bag? We found truncated bullets, ball, Hydra-Shoks, Golden Sabers, a few Silvertips and some questionable reloads. With a handful of paragi4.jpgsurprises, I began stuffing the magazine. I gave the honor of firing the first shot to a deputy who shot at a few steel plates on a target rack 15 yards away. Watching the pistol, the slide’s return was noticeably different from shot to shot. I stepped up and continued the cycle. When the bag was empty, we had fired every shot without finding a squib load or experiencing any type of malfunction.

Moving on to accuracy, we put up Caldwell’s Orange Peel 12-inch bull’s-eye target for visual confirmation of hits 25 yards away. Loading a magazine with just 5 rounds of Winchester WinClean 185-grain cartridges, accuracy testing commenced from a Caldwell Pistolero handgun rest on a bench. Five rounds clustered together with the center measuring just 0.50 of an inch to the right of center. The WinClean earned praise in its ability to punch perfect circles in the target for easy identification. The best group measured a very impressive 1.75 inches center-to-center and held an average of 2.75 inches after a 5-shot group. One aspect that went unappreciated during testing of the Winchester ammunition was the controllability. Follow-up shots were fast and accurate.

Loaded with Federal’s 230-grain Law Enforcement Tactical HST, it took just one shot to realize this was a defense load. Steadily recovering after each shot, I was even more surprised to see the best group of the day result from the first 5-shot group fired with the Federal ammunition. The bullets were not kind to the paper as they ripped through the very center of the target and measured just 1.56 inches, a group rarely seen in testing service pistols. Four targets later, the group average had grown to a respectable 2.51 inches.

paragi3.jpgThe GI Expert’s sights are easy to find during recovery between shots and plain to see. Some deputies noted valid concerns about snagging the rear sight on their uniform. The sights are not staked and the dovetail cuts in the slide make it easy to find and swap in a set of low profile or night sights with the right sight tool. After clearing the holster, presentation was natural for some but a little unusual for those who had only carried a Glock for duty. Unlike so many new introductions in the firearms industry, finding a specific type of holster or thigh rig for the GI Expert is easy.

During a thorough evaluation on the range, the only malfunction we experienced was with a slotted grip screw that backed out on occasion and became noticeably loose in the grip while shooting defensive ammunition. We should have used some Loctite on the threads and put the aggravation to rest. Lesson learned.

The GI Expert isn’t an attempt by Para USA to duplicate the service pistols used in both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam. It is a high value 1911 ready for general issue that’s absent of the overdressed features found on so many “custom” guns. There’s no rail to dangle accessories from under the dust cover and nothing is too tight to cause functioning issues in filthy environments. This Para is fit for dependable service and has what it takes to help obtain an expert badge on qualification day or decisively preserve a life in the line of duty.

Load Comments
  • Sean

    i have fired 200 rounds of Federal .45 Auto 230 Gr. FMJ through my Para USA 1911 GI Expert. only had one failure to eject but i believe that was do to the ammo. the first 100 rounds were the federal .45 Auto 230 Gr. FMJ 50 round boxes and not a single issue. the second 100 was the Federal .45 Auto 230 Gr. FMJ Value box and had only 1 failure to eject malfunction. after buying a new box of each and proper inspection i noticed the 100 round value box has a noticeable protruding ring in the center of the brass that could cause failure to eject problems. word to the wise inspect your ammo and keep using the same stuff.

  • Ray

    Gun ban first, rights second, then it is your life!!!

  • I just took my new GI Expet to the range and put 80 rounds of 230 grain FMJ’s down range. Only one Failure-to-feed, otherwise it performed flawlessly. I will need to put another hundred rounds or so thru it to confirm, but I think I’m really going to like this pistol.

  • DJ Dropshot

    I just bought mine last month and racked about 150rnds already (Corbon 45 Auto Plus P 185gr Self-Defense DPX, that’s all I use) and have had no problems. The first thing I did was kicked it around the snow and mud (that’s right!!) and gave it a quick wipe down and hammered away….WOW!! It did better than my WWI, WWII, & Vietnam Colt’s. Accurate as HELL and feels just like an original in my hand. So no complaints from me. (And don’t worry folks, when I got home I spent the next 2 days cleaning, stripping, and reblueing the whole damn thing to a Milspec blueing. Looks great. 😉

  • GI Jones

    Just purchased the new GI Expert and I am very pleased with the results in both the craftsmanship of the weapon and the accuracy/dependability of the pistol. I am still in the break-in stage with only 200 or so rounds through the gun, but have only experienced two failure-to-feed issues related to the crappy Para mags. Upgraded to Wilson Combat mags and could not be happier. The finish is crappy, after only a couple of days in the holster it shows signs of wear around the corners of the slide. IMO because of the extreme value of this pistol, investing in ceracoat will preserve this gun for generations. BTW, plan to replace the plastic trigger with aluminum, but not necessary. Because I do carry this weapon, night sights are my next investment.

  • Purchased this pistol and ran throths anugh a box of winchester ammo. Pistol shot well and was accurate. Went home and cleaned it with bore solvent and the finish on the slide came off. Called customer service and sent weapon back to N.C. facility. Waited three months and called several times to locate where the weapon was in refinishing. Long story short customer service was awful and therefore I cannot recommend this weapon. By the way the finish is coming off again

  • i just bought a para gi expert,unfotunately were having a gunban here in tne phil.cant wait until nov.10 that the ban will be lifted,hear me then../

  • The comment above is funny, of course it isn’t.