New GI Expert 1911 .45 ACP Auto Pistol from Para USA


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

May 11th, 2009




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Para USA, Inc. built their house on the high-capacity double-stack versions of the 1911 pistol design, and they pretty much own that segment of the 1911 market. For almost twenty years now, Para has built and sold 1911 style pistols that hold between twelve and fourteen .45 ACP cartridges. When most shooters think Para USA, they think of a double-stack 1911. However, Para also makes a few single-stack 1911 designs that vary from the norm, and are good, reliable carry guns. Personally, I prefer their single-stack pistols to the higher-capacity double column magazine pistols, as they fit my hand better, as well as my needs. I do not need fourteen .45 ACP cartridges in my handgun, as I am not a competitive target shooter, and a single-stack carries and conceals better for me.

There has been a bit of talk lately of the new Para USA GI Expert. I have already had a few reader inquiries about this pistol, and one arrived here a couple of weeks ago. Upon opening the hard plastic case, I was impressed immediately by two things. One, the fit and finish, while being a matte black, is very good-looking, and better than I expected, as the GI Expert is touted as an entry level pistol. Second, my sample gun has an ambidextrous safety. Being a left-hander, that is very important to me. The GI Expert shown on Para USA's web site has no ambidextrous safety, but an ambidextrous safety is available through Para USA Customer Service. Also, the magazine is a stainless steel unit with a base pad, and holds eight rounds. Para did not “cheap out” on this entry level pistol. The sights are dovetailed into the slide, and have the popular three-dot pattern. As mentioned above, the finish is matte black, which Para USA calls their Covert Black Para Kote. The GI Expert has a grip safety that, while not of the wide beavertail configuration, does provide protection from hammer bite, and has a Rowell or Commander-type lightweight skeletonized hammer. It also incorporates a firing pin block to prevent accidental firing if dropped upon its muzzle. Weighing in at thirty-nine ounces unloaded, the GI Expert has a good solid feel to it, as is expected with a full-sized 1911. The GI Expert has a five-inch stainless steel barrel, and on the sample gun, it was well-fitted to the slide, as the slide was to the frame. The trigger is a lightweight unit with the popular three-hole pattern, and the trigger released very cleanly and crisply at four and three-quarters pounds. There was no perceptible trigger movement on the test gun, just a crisp release. That style of trigger makes for easy target work, releasing the same way, every time, with no hint of travel. The grip panels are black checkered plastic, and have the Para logo molded in. The magazine well is slightly beveled to facilitate a quick reload, and the barrel is throated to assure reliable function with modern hollowpoint ammunition. The GI Expert has a flat, serrated mainspring housing, and a lowered ejection port. In the hand, the GI Expert feels like a quality 1911 should. There is no checkering on the frame, but the grip panels provide a secure hold, and the smooth frame feels like an old friend, the way that a 1911 used to feel back in the old days, but with much-improved sights and trigger.

The GI Expert strips for cleaning just like a 1911 was designed to do, without tools. There is no full-length guide rod or other mechanism to differ the field stripping technique from a familiar 1911 of decades ago. A man who has grown up shooting 1911 pistols can strip and reassemble the GI Expert in the dark.

Shooting the GI Expert was a pleasure. I have been shooting a lot of 1911 style pistols lately, with three different brands arriving the same week. I never get tired or bored with the 1911. It is a classic, and is as popular today as it has ever been. No other pistol design in the free world is as well-respected and chosen by experts as is the 1911. I tried out every brand and type of .45 ACP ammo available to me, from military ball to hollowpoint, and all functioned perfectly. Gone are the days when a man had to spend as much making his 1911 work well as he had to spend on the purchase of the pistol. 

Accuracy was also very good, with the GI Expert favoring Buffalo Bore 185 grain hollowpoint, as do many other .45 ACP pistols that have come through here lately. The GI Expert would group five shots into under one and one-half inches, consistently at the twenty-five yard range. That is target grade accuracy from an entry level pistol. The GI Expert has a suggested retail price of only $599 as of this writing. I usually do not list prices in my reviews, as they stay on for years, and prices do change. However, in this case, the price is a big selling point, as it is a lot of pistol for the money. The market is flush these days with good 1911 pistols at competitive prices, and the GI Expert is one that deserves a close look before making a purchase. It feels good, shoots good, comes in a hard plastic case, and has a lifetime warranty. The GI Expert is made in Canada, but in the US, service is handled by Para USA.

Check out the extensive line of Para products online at, or worldwide at

To order the GI Expert online, go to

Jeff Quinn


To buy this gun online, go to:






The GI Expert carried very comfortably in the Mernickle inside holster, which remains open for easy re-holstering.





Buffalo Bore 185-grain JHP ammo proved to be very accurate in the GI Expert.



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Click pictures for a larger version.



Para USA's GI Expert pistol.



Folks in these states are missing out on some very good guns due to idiotic restrictions.





Pistol comes with a stainless eight-shot magazine.







Sample gun features an ambidextrous thumb safety.