Para-Ordnance Tac-Five

A 1911-Style, DAO Pistol with 18+1 Capacity

by William Bell

Photography by William Bell

January 21st, 2007




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 ( 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 “Wonder-9.”  It 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 mantra…shot placement!

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 accuracy.

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 presentation.  You 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 cavity.  Lastly, 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 anybody.

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 target.

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.

William Bell


Para-Ordnance Tac-Five Specifications

 Caliber 9mm Luger (9X19)

1911-type action with LDA double-action trigger

Cartridge capacity 18+1

8.5” overall length

5.75” height

1.33” width

5” barrel

Empty w3eight 37.5 oz.

White dot front and adjustable rear sight

Spurless hammer

Manual safety, grip safety and internal firing pin safety

Covert Black finish

Product Code CTX189B


Tac-Five 9mm Luger Performance Table

Cartridge Velocity (FPS) Energy (FPE) Best Group Average Group
Federal PD 135 gr. HS-JHP 1092 357 2.91" 3.71"
Magtech 115 gr. GG-JHP +P 1262 407 2.63" 3.43"
Remington 124 gr. GS-HP +P 1146 362 2.66" 3.49"
Speer 124 gr. GD-HP 1176 381 2.52" 3.39"
Winchester  124 gr. SXT HP +P 1234 419 3.50" 3.51"

NOTE:  Velocity measured in feet per second with Oehler Model 35P chronograph; energy calculated by velocity x velocity x bullet weight ÷ 450240 = foot pounds; group measurement from 25 yards, bench-rest, 3 attempts


Product Chart

Para-Ordnance Mfg. Inc.

980 Tapscott Rd.

Scarborough, ON, Canada M1X 1C3



Blackhawk Products Group

4850 Brookside Court

Norfolk, VA  23502



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Click pictures for a larger version.


The next Tac-Five from Para-Ordnance was built for the Tactical Team still wedded to the 9mm Luger cartridge that wanted a high-capacity handgun with the LDA double-action trigger, all in a 1911 configuration.



Set up with controls just like the 1911, the LDA Tac-Five has a trigger pull that feels more like the trigger on a tuned DA revolver, except the LDA is not a true DAO system as slide movement resets the trigger.



Disassembly of the Para Tac-Five is much the same as on the GI 1911A1 as there is no recoil spring guide.  Be careful however, as the author found the trigger bar will come loose…best read the owner’s manual for instructions.



Each Para Tac-Five comes in a plastic carrying case with an extra magazine, necessary tools, owner’s manual, security padlock and even a VHS tape on safety and operation.



The Tac-Five was tested with 5 different brands of 9mm Luger cartridges; some of the top-of-the-line ammo available today.  The author got light primer hits with the Remington and Speer loads.



One of the author’s favorite holsters for packing 1911-type pistols is the Blackhawk CQC molded carbon-fiber rig.  It is fully adjustable and has the exclusive Serpa handgun retention device.



As with all service-style 1911 pistols, reliability of function is paramount and groups with this gun averaged around 3-1/2”.  Testing was done from the bench at a distance of 25 yards.



This insert from a B-27 type silhouette target shows the 30/30 hits scored by the author in a combat qualification course.  The Para shot a little low and left and was 100% with the Winchester Ranger 9mm ammo.