I’ll be the first to admit that I am not a big
fan of 1911-type pistols. I’m
a Gunsite grad, but I used a Glock (sorry Col.
Cooper…who by the way passed to his reward September 25th)
and I carried a 1911A1 as a Platoon Leader with the 438th
Company, 198th Military Police Bn. KYARNG and I also
competed with one on the Kentucky National Guard Combat Pistol
Team. I have also
at times carried one off-duty as a law enforcement officer.
But, right now I only have one Commander-size model in my
gun safe and that’s about all I need.
However, at the 2006 SHOT
Show a 1911 from Para-Ordnance caught my eye,
sparking an interest and a request for a test sample.
The Para I am referring to is the Tac-Five, which
is one of their LDA series of pistols.
I tell you, if you want to be bewildered, just go to the
Para web site (www.paraord.com)
and you will see just how many models and variations they offer
and for a fairly young company this is truly amazing.
It literally took me about five minuets to find the Tac-Five
and get the specifications sheet.
Anyway, you ask what is so significant about this pistol?
Numero Uno this is truly what we once referred to as a
has the capacity for 18+1 rounds of 9mm Luger ammunition, any
kind you want to use, standard pressure, +P or +P+ and with today’s assortment of 9mm anti-personnel cartridges, that is
some significant firepower.
Yes I know the 9mm didn’t look so hot at the FBI Miami
Massacre or the LA bank robbery, but I just cannot say that I
believe a .40 or a 45 would have made a big difference either.
In fact my agency is dropping the current 9mm service
pistol (16+1) for a .40 (11+1) and I just don’t know if that
“silly millimeter” really makes all that much difference,
except for the fact that it will reduce the number of rounds
available by five. My
The Tac-Five also has a 5” barrel that helps to
wring out added velocity from the 9mm Luger cartridge.
The barrel is fashioned from stainless steel and has a
bevel crown at the muzzle.
It has pretty tight lockup and the barrel link allows
very little movement when you push down on the rear of the
barrel through the ejection port.
In a lot of ways it’s a stock 1911, with the old-style
barrel bushing and the recoil spring with the plug at the muzzle
just like John Browning made ‘em nearly 100 years ago. The barrel does flare about an inch from the muzzle, which
gives it a little closer contact with the bushing to aid
The rest of the Tac-Five is anything but standard
in its design. First
it is not a single-action like the Colt 1911 series, but
comes with what Para-Ordnance calls an LDA trigger system.
It stands for light double action and feels much like the
smooth DA pull you would get on a well-tuned DA revolver, but
not exactly. The
LDA is not a true DAO as it uses the reciprocating slide to help
cock the hammer rather than letting the trigger finger do all
the work. When you
do pull back on the trigger, the pull weight is almost
negligible until the trigger reached the end of its arc and then
stacks up just a bit until the sear releases the hammer.
I would estimate the pull weight to be in the vicinity of
5 pounds. The
hammer has no spur and fits flush with the rear of the slide.
When the action has been cycled, the hammer actually juts
out from the rear of the slide about 1/16” letting you know
the pistol is ready to fire.
There is also a tiny port in the top of the barrel at the
breech-end that allows you to see if there is a cartridge in the
chamber. The Tac-Five
is fitted with the Para’s exclusive Power Extractor Assembly
for more positive extraction of empty cases and the ejection
port is lowered and relieved a the rear.
At 37.5 oz empty, the Tac-Five is no lightweight
and the only alloy I could find on the gun was the checkered,
flat mainspring housing and the huge funnel attached at the base
of the grip frame at the magazine well.
Combining the double-column magazine which is tapered at
the top with this gaping mag-well, you almost have to try to
miss during a rapid combat reload.
The sights are both dovetailed into the slide, the front
sight has an inlaid white dot and the rear sight is made by Novak
and is adjustable for elevation.
It can also be moved laterally for windage by loosening
two tiny hex screws, located on either side of the elevation
screw, then moving the sight in the direction you want the shot
to go. The slide is
deeply serrated at the rear for a positive purchase and the
front of the slide is also serrated for those who like to do a
“Press Check.” The
Tac-Five has a passive internal firing pin safety, plus an
extended manual safety leaver and a grip safety sans beavertail;
there is no magazine safety, a plus in my book.
Finish overall is what Para calls “Covert Black” and
the grips are black, checkered plastic affixed to the grip frame
with hex-head screws.
The Para Tac-Five comes in a very nice OD green
plastic carrying case and has an extra magazine, barrel bushing
wrench, sight adjustment tool and hex wrenches for grip removal
and rear sight windage adjustment.
There is the usual printed material with a very nice
color illustrated owners manual and even a VHS video covering
safety and other instructions for the LDA model pistols narrated
by IPSC champion Todd Jarrett.
You also get the ubiquitous safety padlock and the case
itself can be locked with a small padlock if you choose.
Even though the width of the grip is 1.33” it
did not feel like the proverbial 2X4 in my medium-sized hand.
In fact the way it did fit, the Tac-Five was perfectly
positioned in my hand and pointed naturally.
Fortunately, the rest of the frame is pretty conventional
in its measurements, which allows the Para to be carried in most
standard 1911-type holsters.
One of my favorites is the Blackhawk CQC (Close
Quarters Concealment) Model C1311 for 1911 pistols.
This is a molded, carbon-fiber holster with a unique
Serpa retention system in the body of the holster.
The touch of a lever on the holster body releases the
trigger guard lock allowing for a natural and rapid
can adjust this holster every which way to Sunday for the width
of your belt or the angle/tilt that you prefer.
This is one tough holster and I noted that it is now
being issued by some Federal investigative agencies as a saw a
number of these holsters on the belts of trainees at the
Criminal Investigators course at the Federal Law Enforcement
Training Center while I was TDY there for a 5-week course in
July/August this year. This
holster ended up in my shooting bag for a trip to the range.
I mentioned the variety of 9mm Luger (9X19
NATO/9mm Parabellum) ammunition available earlier and the
choices are mind-boggling.
I went to my ammo locker and pulled out some of the more
state-of-the-art cartridges available today and these included
the Federal Personal Defense load that features the 135
gr. Hydra-Shok hollow-point at a moderate velocity for primarily
civilian self-defense. Then
there’s the Magtech Guardian Gold 9mm +P that has a
gold-washed, specially serrated jacketed hollow point that
assures both expansion and proper penetration.
Next is the Remington 124 gr. Golden Saber hollow
point – bonded +P cartridge.
This is my current carry load and the bonded bullet
prevents jacket separation to enhance penetration of the target.
Speer makes the excellent Gold Dot hollow point
and I included the 124 gr. load for testing.
This bullet does not have a conventional jacket, but is
actually plated which means no jacket to separate and a
specially designed hollow point is punched into the bullet nose,
which produces the tiny “Gold Dot” you can see in the
there’s the Winchester Ranger law enforcement load with
the 124 gr. SXT bullet loaded to +P pressures.
The SXT is a lot like the evil Black Talon bullet the
press vilified a number of years ago…so shhhh, don’t tell
This gun went with me to the 2006 Shootists
Holiday and I broke it in shooting at steel animal
silhouette targets on the handgun “silhoueta” range.
I noted that with some of the ammunition I was getting
light hits on the primer, this being especially prevalent with
the Remington and Speer cartridges.
I was not really surprised as that little hammer just
does not seem to have a lot of force when it strikes the firing
pin, but it did OK with the other 3 test loads. This again cropped up when I went to the Sight-In Range to do
some bench-rest accuracy testing.
Of course, this not being a true DAO pistol, you can’t
just pull the trigger again, you have to retract the slide
almost an inch before she’ll go bang again.
On the Remington ammo, some rounds took two hits and same
with the Speer, except for one round that wouldn’t go off
after repeated hits. Yes,
this needs to be addressed with Para and I will do so.
The Para Tac-Five is basically meant for tactical
teams who are still wedded to the 9mm Luger cartridge.
That does not mean anyone else is excluded, but the gun
is designed first and foremost to function reliably (discounting
the aforementioned light primer hits).
This being said, you may not get pin-point accuracy as
the 1911 system is generally a little sloppy so that it will
work. Keep some oil on the rails of most 1911s and they will shoot
as long as you need them to.
I did some shooting from a rest at 25 yards using the
Para Tac-Five and average size groups went to around 3-1/2”
with none of the best groups coming in under 2-1/2”; not bad,
just typical auto-loader performance.
I will catalog the accuracy results in a table along with
muzzle energy figures for the test ammo.
For some combat testing, I strapped on the
Blackhawk CQC holster and loaded up my magazines with Winchester
Ranger 9mm loads as I’d had no misfires with this ammo at all. With both magazines loaded, I had more than enough to run
through my standard 30-round qualification course.
Shooting stars at the 3 yard line with 6 rounds right
hand, 6 rounds left hand, un-aimed point shooting.
The I move back to the 7 yard line and do 3 series of
double-taps from the holster and then two triple-taps.
Finally, I go back to 15 yards and shoot 2 left side
barricade, 2 right side and 2 right side kneeling.
All this is done on time and I beat the buzz of my timer.
As you can see in the photo, the Para Tac-Five scored
well and as tight as those hits were, if I’d been doing my
part, more could have easily impacted the 10 and X-rings of the
I was certainly favorably impressed by the Tac-Five
and it’s 18+1 ammunition capacity would certainly be
comforting if the targets were shooting back.
It has sufficient practical accuracy to assure you hit
your target, so don’t be tempted to “spray and pray, “ and
once that light hit problem is taken care of it should be
sufficiently reliable for any law enforcement officer, special
team member or legal civilian who needs a handgun with the
features the Para Tac-Five has to offer.