First of all, let's establish who I am and who I'm not. I am not a 1911 expert. I think Tamara almost severed a longstanding friendship when she found out that, prior to this weekend, my entire 1911 experience consisted of seven rounds through our old friend Son Tao's custom gun, and that was almost 8 years ago now. I like guns, and I like pistols, but I shoot a SIG and a Glock.
1. What's this 1911 thing really like, anyway? Is any of the hype for real?
2. What's this LDA trigger really like, anyway? Is any of the hype for real?
If you were a 1911 guy, you were probably trying to answer number 2. If you were more familiar with the Glock/XD/M&P or some of the double-action guns out there, then you were probably spending your time on number 1.
Personally, I spent more time on number 1. The gun itself is a Commander-sized pistol, which I found a convenient size, but I can't really compare it to the full-sized 1911. Thanos, the President of Para-USA, spent a lot of time asking whether they'd brought the right size--he seemed concerned that the bloggers would write snarky things about the accuracy of the 4.25" guns, but he knew that most of us were most interested in concealed carry, so they thought that size made the most sense. I don't think anyone had a problem with the accuracy of the guns. After all, Todd Jarrett was shooting little bitty groups with any gun he picked up, and I don't care how good he is, he can't do that with a gun that isn't capable of that accuracy. Now, the consistency of the
I liked the grip on the Para gun a lot. I'd always thought a 1911 clone would feel more or less like my P220 (they're both single-stack .45's, right?) but it's a much flatter, much thinner grip. I have large hands, but they're mostly palm with short, stubby coal-miner fingers, so there was a noticeable difference in the way the gun handled. I still couldn't reach the magazine release with
The sights were beautiful; a red fiber optic in front and big, black, serrated BoMar-style on the rear (what Tamara calls "Faux-Mars.") I did not experience the snagging and tearing others reported from the sight, but I could see on examination how it could be an issue. I'm not terribly worried about it because of my unique situation. When I compete with the gun, it shouldn't be a big deal. When I carry it, because of the Draconian gun laws of this state, I have to carry it inside a case; it won't have the chance to snag on clothing or tear skin in there. I found that the red fiber optic dot really sped up my shooting; I just followed the bouncing ball. Jarrett made a point of telling us up front that his specialty was not pulling a trigger fast, but acquiring targets fast. Unfortunately, I've never been good at either, but at least with the fiber optic I rarely lost sight of my front sight.
Reliability, in my gun, was great. We put between 800-1000 rounds through each gun, I would guess, under hot and dusty conditions. The ammo was much cleaner stuff than I load at home, but that's a lot of crud. I experienced zero failures to fire or eject, although the gun did fail to lock open on an empty magazine once on a slow string from 25 yards. I'm still not sure what happened there; maybe just a typical tight gun, but it never happened again. Late on Saturday, with the guns not having been cleaned or oiled beyond the factory lube, the gun began to balk at going forward into battery. At about the same time, it got harder to seat a magazine--the mag would seem to be fully seated, then
I nodded sagely and continued to load my magazine, although of course she could have blamed it on the Ferkelator and I'd have had the same reaction.
So what about question number 2? The answer, as Tattoo said when the Pend family visited Fantasy Island, is "It depends." If you're not familiar with the LDA, it stands for "Light Double Action" and is supposed to be like a double-action-only trigger with a light pull and a completely surprise break. Para-USA insists that this is not an attempt to make a DA 1911 clone, exactly, because the trigger is so revolutionary that it would make a big difference in most other platforms, too. Well, I liked the trigger, because it met my one and only criterion--I tried it and I got hits. Therefore it is Good. It's not true double -action as I think of it; for one thing, there's no second strike capability. For a guy like me, who shoots a DA/SA SIG in competition and wonders what all the fuss over the DA/SA transition is really about, the LDA is no big deal, just a really good double-action-style trigger. I will say I think it was a little smoother and certainly lighter than my P220, and that's saying something. Is it better than a single-action trigger on a 1911? Maybe. Do you work for a department that demands you carry a double-action? Do you work for a department that won't let you have a cocked-and-locked single action? Do you happen to like double-action triggers better? Are you trying to transition from the Glock or a simlar design? Then the LDA trigger might be a big deal for you. For me, it's just something else to try. After the weekend, I know it can shoot and do it well. Now I want to monkey with it for awhile and see if I come to prefer it. If you, like some of the other bloggers, are a 1911 guy who has good history with the single-action trigger on the 1911, I don't believe I would change that unless someone can show you a good reason. I don't see the LDA as the revolution that will sweep the single-action pistol aside. But I liked shooting it, I got hits with it, and it was safe. That's about all it takes to sell me.
So what didn't I like? Well, a lot of the bloggers griped that there was no need for the safety. I should probably be one of them; I carry guns with similar triggers in holsters with no safeties, and it works fine. Besides, I just told you that I put the safety on and killed my own shooting at least twice that weekend, right? Right, but here's the thing--I kind of like the safety. I'll even train myself to keep my thumb on top of it. You see, I hate re-holstering my weapon. It always seems to involve a little wiggling and experimentation, and the whole time, I'm trying to make sure all my clothing is tucked in and nothing can catch the trigger, causing me to shoot a tunnel throug my leg. With the manual safety, I can put the safety on and holster the weapon without worrying as much, and I like that peace of mind. All in all, I'd probably keep the safety, but if Para made a run with "slick sides" I believe they'd sell some.