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My new Para USA Pro Custom P14.45 – Initial Review

Why Para?

I am a 1911 junkie. I enjoy looking at, reading about, holding, collecting, shooting and yes, even cleaning 1911 pistols. I have owned a Para P12 and P13. Recently, I have grown most fond of the P13. I currently own three other brands of 1911’s.

In addition to my fondness for the Para P13 is my unconditional confidence and trust in the service that Para USA provides. Service is an extremely important factor in all of my new firearm purchase decisions. My personal experience is that Para will walk the extra mile and a half, even if the warranty is in that ‘grey’ area. They will make it right; and that’s important to me.

Why the P14.45?

Honestly, I am not really sure. When I was ready for a new 1911 and perused the Para site it became instantly clear that this was going to be a difficult decision. I wanted (and still want) them all. I made my choice through the process of elimination.

I really craved another alloy P13; however that frame is no longer available; scratch that option. The new Executive Carry is very appealing and became my choice as the grip looks very comfortable, but the 3” barrel put me off. I love the look of the Elite series of pistols, however the frames are either all steel and single stack or alloy with the three inch barrel, so carrying one would not be an option for me. Although the Tactical Series Black Ops are another great looking group of pistols, I do not like the idea of hanging anything from the frame of a handgun, so the rail would be superfluous for my use.

I wanted a double stack 45 acp. My choices were limited, so the Pro Custom 14.45 became my choice. While too large and heavy for concealed carry (at least for me), it would seem to make a great shooter, intimidating drawer gun and a very comforting companion for long walks in the desert. Except for the addition of night sights sometime in the future, this gun has it all (maybe after firing it with the fiber optic front sight I’ll choose to keep those; we’ll see.) I’m still not sure that I made the right choice.

First impressions

Wow. Packaging is great. The case is sturdy and well designed. Even before opening it I was impressed. The gun is protectively covered in plastic. Two 14 round magazines add to the value.

The gun itself is impressive. It is large and solid. The finish is all business; flat and dark. Slide to frame fit is very good. It is absolutely solid when in Condition Three (or actually Condition Four, for you Cooper purists) and has just the smallest hint of ‘play’ when in Condition One (don’t understand that. May be due to the hammer impacting the frame). I’m not being picky, as this is not considered a problem to me. This lock up is tighter than any 1911 I currently own.

The trigger exhibits a very small amount of take-up; however, it is fully adjustable and has not yet been fired; more on this at a later time. While no fan of the full length guide rod, I did notice that a take-down tool is also included in the case; I’ll probably need it.

Slide: The slide has both front and rear serrations. I have read where some do not prefer the front serrations. I do; a lot. I will press-check from time to time; besides they also add to the ‘cool factor’.

The adjustable rear sight is massive and appears similar to the older bo-mar type, with the addition of serrations to eliminate glare. They have the added advantage of imprinted directions for moving the round strike up and right. This may not seem an important feature to some, however I have other firearms with adjustable sights that are not so marked. When I want to make adjustments it may cost me both time and money (in ammo) to determine if it has been correctly adjusted. There is plenty of ‘white space’ around the front sight when viewing from the rear.

The front sight has a green fiber insert. I have a Ruger MKIII with this color sight and find it extremely helpful when hunting squirrels, so I may grow to like it on this handgun as well. While the website states that the slide should be a ‘flat top’ design, mine came with a rounded top; not a deal breaker for me, but I do prefer the flat top slide.

Frame & Grips: Although I’m an ivory or wood type of guy, I have to admit that I love the look of the grips; dark to match the frame and slide. The configuration of the imprinting on the grip panels is both attractive and feels great, too. Hex screws complete the look very effectively.

The frame is undercut behind the trigger guard. As a result, when I hold the gun in firing position my hand rides high on the frame. This is an important feature for me, as it allows a firm purchase and will help to reduce muzzle flip which in turn will aid in fast follow-up shots. I have had other 1911’s cut to similar dimensions for just those same reasons. I am guessing that Travis Thomasie had some serious input into implementing this feature.

I love checkering on 1911’s. The Pro Custom displays checkering on the front and backstraps that are both attractive and functional. These are fine enough for stable gripping and have absolutely no sharp edges or uncomfortable feel. The backstrap is of the original 1911 style; without the A1 projection. To be honest, I have both configurations in other guns and find little difference in my ability to hit what I aim at, but then I am not a competition shooter.

The ambidextrous safety is wide enough to allow for easy use by my firing hand; right or left. It locks on and off with little effort, however has a very positive click and sturdy feel as it is placed in the preferred position. I ride my thumb on the safety when I shoot and it is just wide enough to accommodate my shooting style without discomfort.

The grip safety is of the beavertail type with the ‘speed bump’ feature. It takes very little effort to engage it for firing. I like that a lot. There will be no misfires due to the grip safety not disengaging properly (a problem that I have had with other brands).

The magazine well is huge. In all fairness, this is my first 1911 with a competition-type mag well. While it looks a little silly to my untrained eye, I can tell you that a person would have to be asleep or dead drunk to miss properly inserting a magazine; and that, of course, is the reason for its existence. We’ll see how I adjust to the look, over time.

Wish list: For now, the only wish that I have for this model is for it to be offered with the neat slide as provided with the Thomasie Custom. That slide appears to be not only the classiest that I have ever seen on a 1911, but also highly functional as well. Unfortunately, it’s designed for the .40 caliber and I prefer the .45.

Enough for now. . .

When I have the time I will break down, clean and lubricate the weapon. Then I will take it to the range or the desert for some serious wringing out. I intend this gun to be a serious shooter and will give it plenty of time to prove itself. I have various configurations and brands of ammunition handy, so it will have the chance to demonstrate itself worthy of competition (at my low skill level) and personal defense.

Shots fired. . .

Coming soon, I hope!
 

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Thank you for this in-depth review. I’m waiting for the Tomasie Custom, love the slide and bull barrel. Looking forward to hear how she shoots. I’ve been a bit concerned about the feeding problem others have had. Most seem to be fine right out of the box while others have some feeding problem. Hopefully it’s just the brake in of a tight spec pistol.
Keep us informed on how she runs!
 
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