Para Expert Stainless and Pro Custom 14.45 1911 45 ACP Semi-Automatic Pistols

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

May 24th, 2013


Click pictures for a larger version.






Stainless Expert



Both pistols come with a polymer bushing wrench.



Double-stack Pro Custom magazine (left) compared to single-stack Expert magazine (right).



Ramped barrel of the Pro Custom (left) compared to the throated barrel of the Expert (right).





It has been a bit over four years now since I last hammered out a review on a Para pistol. Since that time, I have fired a few of them at writer’s events and such, and have been really impressed with the improved quality of Para’s 1911-style pistols. Para has been cranking out their pistols in Charlotte, North Carolina for a while now, and every one of the U.S.-built pistols that I have fired has exhibited excellent craftsmanship and quality.

The two Para pistols shown here represent very well the two price extremes of Para’s line of pistols. The Expert Stainless is priced very competitively with other entry-level 1911 pistols, but is built with the same high-quality materials and hand-fitting as the high end Para pistols. The Pro Custom is built to be a highly-competitive pistol for shooting games or fighting, right out of the box. The Expert Stainless, which is priced near the low end of the scale, still ships with two eight-round magazines, wears upgraded parts such as an expended thumb safety, beavertail grip safety, dovetailed sights, and skeletonized hammer and trigger. As the name suggests, it is built primarily of stainless steel, and wears a natural finish, with the controls and small external parts wearing a black finish. The grips are made of a black checkered hard plastic.

Nearer the upper end of Para’s price scale is the Pro Custom, which is built like a full-blown custom double-stack 1911, at about half the price. It ships with two fourteen-round magazines, has a checkered front strap, black G-10 grips, ambidextrous safety, beavertail grip safety, adjustable target rear sight, ramped barrel, skeletonized hammer and trigger, a huge magazine funnel, extended recoil spring guide rod, and an overall black ionbond PVD finish.

Both pistols have stainless match-grade barrels, lowered and flared ejection ports, extended ejectors, and green fiber-optic front sights. Both pistols also incorporate a firing pin safety that prevents the weapon from firing if dropped.

Critical specifications for the Stainless Expert and Pro Custom pistols are listed in the chart below. The weights are listed in ounces, and linear measurements in inches. The grip and frame widths were measured at their widest points. The maximum width is measured across the grip, and includes the thumb safety on the Stainless Expert. The maximum width of the Pro Custom is across the magazine funnel. The height includes the sights and the magazine base. The trigger pull is listed as pounds of resistance. The weight includes the empty magazine. Length is measured from the muzzle to the tip of the beavertail grip safety. Frame width is measured just above the front of the trigger guard.


Caliber 45 ACP 45 ACP
Weight 36.8 ounces 42.4 ounces
Height 5.85 inches 6.09 inches
Length 8.6 inches 8.6 inches
Slide Width 0.92 inch 0.92 inch
Maximum Grip Width 1.24 inches 1.35 inches
Frame Width 0.77 inch 0.77 inch
Maximum Width 1.38 inches 1.78 inches
Trigger Pull 5.4 pounds 4.6 pounds
Trigger Reach 2.66 inches 2.66 inches
Barrel Length 5.06 inches 5.06 inches
Guide Rod Standard 1911 Extended
Manual Safety Right-Hand Thumb Ambidextrous Thunb
Grip Material Hard Plastic G-10
Magazine Capacity 8 14
Magazines Supplied 2 2
MSRP (May 2013) $713 US $1449 US

I tested for velocity with my chronograph set at ten feet from the muzzle, with an air temperature of eighty-three degrees Fahrenheit and a relative humidity of seventy-two percent. I began testing for velocity firing both pistols, but the velocities were running the same, so I recorded velocities only using the Pro Custom pistol. Velocity readings were taken at an elevation of approximately 541 feet above sea level.  Velocities are listed in the chart below, and are listed in feet-per-second (fps). FMJ is a full metal jacket bullet. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint. DPX and Tac-XP use a Barnes homogenous copper hollowpoint bullet. PB is Pow’RBall. LWSC is a cast lead semi-wadcutter bullet. HC is a hard-cast lead flat-nosed bullet.  LRSP is Buffalo Bore Low-Recoil Standard pressure ammunition. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weights are listed in grains.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Buffalo Bore JHP +P 230 999
Buffalo Bore FMJ +P 230 1011
Buffalo Bore Tac-XP +P 185 1168
Buffalo Bore HC +P 255 990
Buffalo Bore JHP +P 185 1171
Buffalo Bore LRSP FMJ 185 866
Buffalo Bore LRSP Tac-XP 160 941
Cor-Bon JHP +P 200 1080
Cor-Bon JHP +P 230 949
Cor-Bon DPX  +P 185 1089
Cor-Bon  PB +P 165 1178
Stryker JHP 230 821
Atomic JHP  +P 230 986
Atomic JHP  +P 185 1117
Remington FMJ 230 797
Remington JHP 230 869
NPA Frangible 140 1177
Handload  LWSC 200 1003
WCC 1911 Ball FMJ 230 767

I tested both pistols for accuracy resting the pistols handheld over a Target Shooting, Inc. Pistol Rest at a distance of twenty-five yards. Accuracy was very good from both pistols, and the accuracy from the Stainless Expert was every bit as good as the accuracy from the Pro Custom, at least in my hands. A better shooter might be able to discern a difference in accuracy, but I could not. The triggers released crisply, but were both a bit heavier than I prefer for a target pistol. I like mine just slightly under four pounds, but both of these triggers were, again, very good, and both are adjustable for overtravel. The pictures shown represent the best and worst groups fired, ranging from under one inch to as large as two and one-quarter inches. That is excellent accuracy, and as always, is dependant upon the quality of the ammunition.

Reliability was excellent. The first cartridge from the magazine on the Pro Custom failed to feed, but after that, it ran perfectly from then on. The Stainless Expert ran flawlessly from the beginning, and after that first mag, the Pro Custom also ran flawlessly for the duration of all shooting, using each type of ammunition listed above. Both pistols feel very good in my hands, and the fiber-optic front sights are very easy to see, and to get on target quickly.

The Para Stainless Expert represents an excellent value in a quality, American-made 1911 pistol, having many upgraded features for a bare-bones price. Likewise, the Pro Custom is also a good value for a double-stack 1911 that has the quality and features that are usually found only on custom pistols costing many hundreds of dollars more.  With both of these new Para pistols, I am impressed.

Check out the Para pistols online at

To order the Para pistols online, go to

To order quality 45 ACP ammunition online, go to,,, and

Jeff Quinn

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Pro Custom.



These group pics represent the smallest and largest groups fired at twenty-five yards, handheld over a Target Shooting, Inc. Model 1500 Pistol rest. The five-shot groups measured from under one inch up to two and one-quarter inches.