Para USA LDA Limited 45 ACP – A Review

Kerby of Para USA was very generous to donate a Para Ordnance LDA (Light Double Action) Limited .45 ACP to the Gun Blogger Rendezvous all the way back in October!  Another big thanks goes to the folks at Hi-Cap Gunworks for holding this pistol for the winner (me) and others to fondle at the GBR shoot.  On top of that, they also paid for shipping!  If you’re a Reno, NV resident, make sure you give him a visit.

Back to the Para.  For the brief time I spent with the pistol I was able to get a feel for the quality, ergonomics and overall function of this 1911 look-a-like.

para usa limited 45acp open slide left para usa limited 45acp open slide rightpara usa limited 45acp looking down the barrel

I must premise by saying that this pistol is in no way sub-par in any of the aforementioned areas of interest. It looks like a 1911 model.  It feels like a 1911 model.  But it’s a Para.  I gave it a good clean, dry practiced from the holster and manipulated the trigger several times – it’s definitely not a 1911.  Honestly, I can’t expect this to be a 1911 – it would be unfair.

Just as a heads up, for those who are 1911 model aficionados or simply spoiled by the crisp break of a single action pistol, you will likely be disappointed and might see this particular Para LDA model addressing a problem that doesn’t exist.  However, if you’re the variety who shoots double action pistols on a regular basis and the ONLY mode of shooting you prefer, then Para’s Light Double Action trigger will amaze you.

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Don’t assume anything.  I have nothing against the LDA trigger.  In fact, I must agree that it is absolutely amazing.  If only revolver triggers could be so light!  The mechanism itself involves the slide setting the hammer spring, an action bar from the trigger to pull back the shaved hammer back, the sear becomes disengaged, and finally the mass of the hammer falls to tap the firing pin igniting the primer.  This pistol is fully cocked and ready to fire as soon as the slide is pulled back and returns forward.  After pulling the trigger however, you must pull back on the slide again if it fails to cycle.  (Defining LDA, davidc).

para usa limited 45acp fiber optic front sight para usa limited 45acp rear sight hammer downpara usa limited 45acp rear sight hammer

The LDA differentiates itself from the traditional double action (DA) trigger.  Most DA triggers have a long and heavy trigger pull.  I recalled my experience with a Sig Sauer P226.  The P226 was fantastic to shoot in single action (SA); however, firing the first shot in DA was really difficult which ultimately made me decide to sell it.  DA only pistols always has a heavy pull – you didn’t have a SA pull to look forward to.  This brings us down to consistency.  The LDA is easy to shoot on the first shot through the last.  Of course, a SA 1911 will do just the same.  If you’re a revolver fan and have yet to fully appreciate the wonders of John Moses Browning’s long-standing creation, then you’re missing out.

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I digress.  I recall others’ experiences that the Para boasts a trigger pull measuring at around 6 lbs.  Quite an amazing feat compared to other DA pistols.  The trigger pivots from the frame, which provides leverage that enhances the perceived light pull of this trigger.  The face of the trigger is smooth, but I didn’t perceive any loss in consistency because of the absence of texture.  The slide stop, magazine release, beavertail safety, grips, front strap and thumb safety are all similar to the 1911 in feel and appearance.  The only exception to this area would be the thumb safety.

para usa limited 45acp slide left para usa limited 45acp open slide right

Though the thumb safety isn’t necessarily a mechanical disaster, I did find that the safety was easily engaged while shooting.  It doesn’t have a positive tactile feel as a 1911 model would either.  You won’t know if the safety is on until the trigger travels long and far, then discover that the gun won’t fire– or you’re very conscious of the gun’s condition to begin with.

I found it interesting that I could not rack the slide without pressing on the beavertail safety.  The pistol must be held correctly to manipulate the slide.  I honestly can’t think of a reason why this would be a problem, but I thought it was worth mentioning.

Another interesting observation is that the Para magazines are wider than the Wilson 47D magazines.  Measuring the magazine right below the magazine release catch, it was .550″ and .538″ wide, respectively.  The magazines wouldn’t drop freely from my Les Baer. This, likely, isn’t an issue for most people.

Focusing back to the trigger, it requires a full reset.  Compared to what I’m used to, the trigger reset was long – my fingers aren’t used to extending that far to stage the trigger for my next shot.  When firing off quick consecutive shots, I found myself pulling the trigger too soon, getting stuck after the first trigger click (two clicks total).  The long trigger makes it difficult to acquire quick follow up shots – for me.  Todd Jerrett obviously doesn’t have this problem.  Joe shared a similar experience after shooting his Gun Blog .45 Para during our Gun Blogger Rendezvous’ show and tell.  As he noted, it’s likely that only training will only rectify this “discomfort.”  I didn’t experience the bug he encountered, however.

The sights that accompanied this particular model are a red fiber optic rod in the front and an adjust rear sight.  An excellent touch!  The rear sight has serrations to prevent any reflected light impeding on front sight focus. The adjustable rear sights have a tendency to tear up my palm. When I release the slide, I don’t use the slide stop. I use an over the slide grip and use my dominant to push the pistol forward.  It has been my observation that many IPSC/IDPA competitors use the slide release to return the slide to battery anyway.

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Notice how well the slide is matched with the ejector and frame.

The frame wasn’t modified – at least in the contemporary 1911 model sense.  The front strap wasn’t raised in for a higher grip nor was it checkered or serrated.  The Para LDA felt good in my hands.  This isn’t a far stretch since I’m comfortable with the 1911 platform anyway.  I didn’t perceive any sharp edges and it was like wearing an old glove.

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One look at the slide, and somebody might recognize something familiar.  It’s worth mentioning that I believe that the slide is a 80s series.  I didn’t have an opportunity to try this out myself, but I’m curious if one could use a slide from another pistol if they desired.  Maybe even set up a shorter barrel?  I’m hoping that David will confirm this, because it would also be cool if you could slap on a .22 conversion kit.  The only reservation I have about this is that the Para slide may have been modified to allow the action bar from the trigger to move freely.

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The slide serrations were interesting, but they didn’t feel great in my hand either.  Maybe I have girly hands?

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The Para can be field stripped without a wrench, but I would recommend one anyway since the spring cap accommodates a one-piece full-length guide rod.

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I fired off about 500 rounds before relinquishing this Para to its’ new owner.  I fired reloads of the 200 gr. LSWC variety and 230 gr. factory loads from Winchester.  While in my possession, I did not have one failure.  One may wish to take this with a grain of salt – 500 rounds is only the break in period.

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While researching for other experiences, Lieutenant Colonel Chuck Santose at the Fire Institute pointed out that stripping the frame can be quite a mystery.  Para Ordinance will not release the instructions to the general public – only those who have taken their armorer’s course.  I didn’t take the chance on this pistol to bring you all a detailed outline.

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Overall, the Para LDA Limited is a very well built, non-custom, accurate .45 ACP pistol that happens to not fulfill my taste. It is my opinion that my favoritism for the 1911 is at fault. This Para is not a 1911. However, the double action on this trigger is absolutely smooth and the break is crisp – not squishy.  The real question is will you like a 1911 better or Para’s LDA variation?  Personally, I wasn’t quite sold on the concept, but that doesn’t mean that this pistol isn’t a bad buy.  It’s simply another valid, well-built, DA option for all of us gun nuts to choose from.

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6 Comments on “Para USA LDA Limited 45 ACP – A Review”

  1. January 10, 2009 at 10:08 pm #

    you should add sub-headers to your lengthy posts 😛

  2. January 15, 2015 at 10:54 pm #

    I’ve been wanting a Para for years now. I’ve been saving but with kids and bills every time I get close something else comes out. Really good review on a solid gun. I love those grips. Can’t wait to get mine.

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