A Nurse with a Gun

Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Paraordnance "GI Expert"

In December 2008 Paraordnance has a new single stack 1911 scheduled to appear on the gun market. MSRP is slated to be $599, an obvious move towards the market share capitalized on by Springfield's GI45 and the Taurus PT1911. Click to enlargeParaordnance has long been an innovator in the 1911 world. They were the first company to mass produce a double stack 1911, and they still have a viable double action only 1911 with the LDA series of guns.

I'm going to assume their new plain Jane 1911, dubbed the GI Expert, is a reliable, accurate enough shooter. That should be expected from a new gun from a company of Paraordnance's stature. This post is about asthetics and marketing. I'll progress from there.

It appears that Paraordnance is trying to make a 1911 for the first time 1911 shooter. To keep costs down, they went with a somewhat mil-specky 1911, even calling it a "GI" gun. It isn't. You can not just take a pistol and toss some upright sights on it, finish it in flat black and call it a GI style gun.

The Paraordanace GI Expert no doubt has a cast slide and frame like other Para guns. 1911 style pistols from the Philippines are no different and are half the cost. Click to enlargeThe "upgraded" Armscor guns are just as ugly too.

No GI pistol ever had a skeletonized hammer or a drilled out plastic trigger. No GI pistol ever had a lowered and flared ejection port. GI front sights were staked. GI pistols do have lanyard loops, and their mags do not have plastic finger pads on the bottom.

Now the MEU/SOC 1911 arguably has some of these items, but it is not a GI pistol. It is a custom pistol. GI stands for General Issue. The general issue 1911 was first the M1911, then the M1911A1, and finally rearsenaled mixtures of the two. The Paraordnance "GI Expert" fails at mimicking a GI gun. It fails miserably. It fails in ways that you would expect if the company manufacturing it had no appreciation for what a GI pistol is. If a buyer desires a GI style pistol for between $500 and $600, the Springfield GI45 knocks the Paraordnance GI Expert out in the first round. If the buyer wants a fully appointed 1911 in that price range, the forged frame, beavertailed, Heinie sighted Taurus PT1911 is waiting to eat the Paraordnance GI Expert's lunch and take it's cookie too.

A GI gun is more than an ugly black gun. A GI gun conforms to very specific specifications set by the US Army. Click to enlargeThere will be some who purchase this pistol thinking they are getting a GI styled gun. They are ignorant. There will be gun writers gushing over the latest ordnance from Canada, Charolette, proclaiming it to be an advancement of the GI pistol, picking up where the National Match pistols left off. They should know better.

Here's the deal........ A high speed low drag "expert" would not purchase the Paraordnance GI Expert pistol. The pistol is not "GI" or even close to approximating a general issue military weapon. The entire concept is an attempt to capitalize on a certain segment of the gun market. If this is what Paraordnance wanted to do, they would have been better served taking one of their single action single stack guns and parkerizing it. Then lower the price to compete.

For those who may have forgotten, for those who apparently never knew, and for those who will write glowing articles about the new Click to enlargeGI Expert from our neighbors from the North, this is what a real deal GI 1911 looks like. Take a good look, a close look.

It ain't pretty, and it ain't tacticool with a bunch of drilled out whiz bang Flash Gordon knick knacks on it. It's just a big, heavy, tough as nails war pistol with rattles included, that will reliably shoot when the trigger is pulled and put a big hole somewhere near the area in the sights. That's what a GI pistol is. Others claiming the GI designation are pretenders ......... And pretending is OK. If you are going to pretend though, know the thing you are pretending to be, and imitate it well. Don't try to convince your audience that Elvis had blonde hair, that Marilyn was flat chested, or that a Llama looking conglomeration of parts is a GI pistol.

edited to add: One of my loyal readers educated me that G.I. originally stood for galvanized iron! I was incredulous, but apparently, he is correct!

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Blogger Nate said...

Xavier, in reference to your recent post about the Taurus PT1911 and here in this post, you might want to share with your readers that Taurus is offering a $75 rebate on PT1911s between now and 20 Jan 09. That makes the plain blue model less than a $500 dollar gun. And that is what Santa is bringing me this Christmas season, I put mine on layaway yesterday!

11:04 AM  
Blogger nick said...

I don't know about anyone else, but I think the basic 1911 is an awesome gun, you can say what you want about G.I style guns being ugly, but I think that the 1911 should always have that "tough as nails" military look. the military is where the 1911 started and got it's name, and I think it is just fine with that image

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tell us what you really think dude. Have you shot it yet? Are they going to send you one?

12:21 PM  
Blogger GeorgeH said...

That is what a 1911A1 looks like. A real 1911 is blued and has wood grips. Not to mention shorter trigger, no finger bevel behind the trigger, shorter grip safety tang, etc.

If you want accurate, find one of the new Colt 1911s.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

GI is a term from WWII, so it is more applicable to a M1911A1 than a M1911.

Why purchase a reproduction Colt M1911 when you can buy a M1911A1 for nearly the same price?

FWIW, I own both.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If I didn't already have a gaggle of 1911-style pistolas in the safe, I'd consider it. I have a very difficult time picking up the standard sights on a real 1911....

7:28 PM  
Blogger Jerry The Geek said...

Xavier, I'm surprised that you didn't mention the extended beavertail grip safety.

I had the impression that this was one of your pet peeves about 'custom' 1911's.

8:31 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

It's hard for me to really see which grip safety it has Jerry. It appears to be one similar to the later Commanders. It's neither mil-spec nor a beavertail. I guess if they were going to use that skeletonized hammer instead of a spur hammer, they had to have a grip safety that would work.

Grip safeties don't really matter to me as long as they disengage, and as long as I don't get bit. Some of my 1911s have beavertails (my favorite is the Ed Brown, without a speed bump) and others have a simplr GI style. a couple of my 1911s have a grip safety like the one on this Para.

10:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That was pure poetry!

What a verbal smackdown.

Nice done and well said.


10:46 PM  
Blogger Don said...

Thanos Polyzos is going to have you murdered by Greek ninjas. I'm not saying I approve, I'm just letting you know what happens next. I'll miss you.

Can I have your Mark II's?

7:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am now picking nits: it's ParaUSA these days, and they are no longer our neighbors to the North, unless you live south of the Carolinas.

I would also trust a cast frame from Para before I trusted a forged frame from Taurus, but that's because the Brazilian guns don't have the best track record for heat treating.

Oh yeah, and Don is right. Watch out for Thanos' greek ninjas. Or Todd Jarrett.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Tam said...

As Ahab pointed out, Para is your neighbor to the north only because you live in Louisiana, however they are located to the south of probably half your readers, including me. :)

7:08 AM  
Anonymous Stickler said...

GI doesn't always mean General Issue.


states that:

"The product code for this 1911 tells it all, it stands for Get Innovation in a 45."

1:21 PM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Stickler, actually I learned GI stood for galvanized iron!

Only later did soldiers think it meant general issue, and then it was applied to the soldiers themselves.

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

GI means goverment issue, at least that's what they told us when I was in the army....

11:29 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Hmm, seems like the easiest thing in the world to nit-pick details that are different from the original. If they called it a reproduction that would be different.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Recording Review said...

I purchased a GI Expert last weekend. I'm very very new to the gun world.

In regard to the marketing, I really don't think anyone is going to assume that this is a 1911 used by the Military.

I don't think anyone with hobbyist needs is going to claim that there needs are identical to that military use 1911s. If that were the case, I would have researched exactly what the military is using and purchased an identical model.

So maybe some clarification is order for some, but I doubt if most of us really care if this is a real "GI" or real "1911" gun.


1:58 PM  
Blogger Rodglider11 said...

Xavier, Para GIs may not be an original reproduction, like you have stated. But they are selling like hotcakes. Very hard to find one. Maybe Para has realized what most people want changed and/or modified in their plain jane looking guns. I myself like those mods. I would change grips and trigger after getting one.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Xavier said...

Could be Juan!

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

Xavier, It is a "1911 style" pistol. And that is all it is. No frills, basic functional pistol. We all know the "GI" label is a marketing ploy. I am more turned off by the "expert" word" - just as I am by the gold lettering on the Tauras. But I am still looking seriously to buy one (at a very good price under $478, after a lot of haggeling) and I know it is not a true "GI". I like the hammer/beavertail on it - compact, and the lowered ejection port. I look for a pistol that fits my hand and that actual tests have shown it works and is reliable.

7:26 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm completely happy with my Para. Just planning on a new trigger and grips. Someday I may put a new slide on it simply to spice it up from the completely flat black look..but for now...I'm pleased with it for $485.

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I bought a Para GI Expert and I am extremely happy with it! I changed the grips, hammer, trigger, and had a custom set of night sights installed. I have yet to hit the 500 round break in point, but I am shooting 1" groupings at 45'. All this for a gun that I have less than $650 invested in.... As mentioned before, they are made right here in the U.S. Can it get an better?

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Scott D said...

Day 1 of owning a para 1911 GI Expert I fired 200 rounds. 1 magazine kept causing the round to jam and not fully load. Happened on the 6th round ever time. Other than that issue I love my para. I've fired everything from .22 caliber pistols to moab air airstrikes. This gun is affordable, very accurate with steady hands, and pleasent to look at. I do how ever, hate the drilled plastic trigger. Also, the finish ha! It'll wear right off, esp in the slide grooves.

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Up north of seattle . i went looking for a colt government model. there was 1 brazilian made used colt .45 . And that was across 4 gun stores. ?? Where the heck are the colts? 1200.00 kimbers galore.!!!!! I saw the para experts at 599.00 .... . and a used sig 1911. At 850.00 its kinda sukkin..... there and i didnt cuss. thanx for the info

10:17 AM  
Blogger 1stmdvet said...

So he said the GI 1911 is ugly, but tough and can put someone down...

Dude, I'll get you a mint WWI 1911 "G.I" and I'll see if you can call it ugly.

3:44 PM  

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