Para Elite Target Review w/ Photos


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Old 05-24-2013, 11:51 PM   #1
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Default Para Elite Target Review w/ Photos

It finally arrived! I think I actually might be the first person to get their hands on one of these after the SHOT Show. I'm definitely the first dealer to get one in stock. I've tried scouring the internet for anyone else that has one so I can get an idea of where the price is being set right now. But it looks like nobody has one yet.

So here goes my review. Keep in mind that I've never been a fan of the old Para Ordnance guns. I'm definitely not a fan boy. So I'll be honest when I say that it takes a lot to impress me and I can usually pick out the flaws in just about everything I see. So when I mention a flaw that I consider in this gun, but it does have a few, know that you should take the information with a grain of salt. That being said, let's dive into it! :rock:

Initial impressions out of the box were way above average for me. First thing I think when I open the box is "dang that's a sharp looking gun!" The reverse two-tone scheme is really something that I like. I wasted no time in immediately taking the gun to my workbench and doing a good strip, clean, and re-oiling before I start getting too involved in the critique.

First thing that strikes me as odd is that there is some kind of number stamped underneath the right grip pane on the frame. Never seen this before on a 1911 and it doesn't match the serial number of the gun. I have no idea what this is or what it means.





The next thing that really intrigues me is that this gun has a ramped barrel even though it's a .45. Pretty unusual.



So after cleaning all the factory oil off, I start inspecting each piece. I noticed that the barrel bushing is a very tight fit. I needed a bushing wrench to get it to move. The bushing and recoil plug are both nicely finish in IonBond as is the who lower half of the gun. Now this is the REAL IonBond, not some proprietary finish or generic coating. So that gives the gun major points in my book. The IonBond is very nicely done and gives the look of a high end pistol. The slide stop and thumb safety are also finished nicely in IonBond.

Now we get to the first little area of concern for me. The grip safety. It's fitted nicely and operates smoothly. However, it has some noticeable tool marks on the sides that catch my eye and it's only not finished out as nicely in IonBond as the other parts. The finish looks thin and isn't a nice, rich black like the rest. It's just a shade lighter. Now I'll admit that you have to look really closely to see it. I didn't catch it initially myself.



The next part I look at is the barrel. And let me tell you, it's one of the nicest looking barrels I've seen in a 1911. It's machined very nicely and polished like silk. There are no hints of machine marks anywhere. Not even around the lug where most companies will skip in order to cut corners. Just based on looks alone, the barrel is a highlight on this gun.



Then came the slide. The underside of the slide was also very nicely machined. The center channel under the firing pin was polished to a mirror shine. The only tool marks that I could see were along the bottom edges of the slide rails.





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Old 05-24-2013, 11:52 PM   #2
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The outside of the slide is very nicely done in a satin bead blast finish. Another little minor thing that I notice are tool marks inside the cocking serrations on the frame. They are vertical marks from the milling process it looks like. But on the other hand, the rear sight is very nicely fitted. I've a sucker for adjustable target rear sights in a Bo-Mar style and this gun has a very nice one that is serrated on the rear. I also really like the fact that Para recessed the rear sight down into the frame. I've noticed that a lot of companies are offering their "target" models with the rear sight that sits up higher on top of the slide as opposed to be recessed down. I always think that looks goofy and stands out to me like a sore thumb. So I'm impressed that Para took the time to drop the rear sight down on the slide.



The front sight is a truly awesome green fiber optic. I'm also a sucker for a FO front sight. I usually go with red, but I think I might be getting drawn to the green now. One thing I did notice is that the fiber optic is a small diameter and really just appears to used in helping you acquire the front sight quicker. I say this because the dot is smaller than I normally see and you still use the outline and top edge of the front sight as opposed to just using the dot. One thing I did see as a negative is that Para must use the same dovetail for all their front sights. The fiber optic sight is small and doesn't fill up much of the dovetail cuts. So there are open cuts from the dovetail all around the front sight. It doesn't give the look of a quality fitted front sight. Looks like an afterthought thrown on. This is probably my biggest negative that I can say about the gun.





The gun comes with two mags and they are not identified, but the follower looks distinctly like Mec-Gar to me. One thing I did find enjoyable was that the mag release shoots the mags out of the bottom like they're on a rocket! I wasn't prepared when I tried it the first time and I completely missed the mag. Shot right out of my hand.

So overall, I'd say that I'm definitely impressed with the gun. I'd say that it has a lot of features that really make it stand out from the other production guns in its price range, such as true IonBond finish, a nicely ramped, match barrel, fiber optic front sight, target rear sight, and a EGW HD extractor. It's definitely a looker with the reverse two-tone scheme. I would say it's closest competitor would be the Sig Traditional Match Elite. And having handled one of those, I'd probably give a slight edge to the Para. And that's surprising considering I'm a huge fan of the Sig 1911 lineup. So I'm looking forward to seeing and handling more of these Elite series guns from Para. If they can clean up some of the little details, I think they'll have a hands down front runner in the price category. But right now, I'd say they've still got a great product with a lot of high features if you can ignore the small details that seem to jump out at me.









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Old 05-25-2013, 12:03 AM   #3
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Thanks for this investment in time and effort. Well done you!

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Old 05-25-2013, 12:31 AM   #4
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No problem. Figured it was my duty since it's a brand new model and there is no info on them yet. Maybe a mod will move it to the section of the site for reviews.

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