There are so many firearms manufacturers. Some stand out more than others, some are more famous (or infamous) than others. When you get down to it, choosing a firearm is a lot about needs, wants, and personal tastes. Brands matter, but obviously not as much as the actual firearm. When it works – it works. And it doesn’t matter whose name it is on the frame.

Para USA (formerly Para Ordnance) is a company which is well-established and reputable. Does that mean that its weapons are perfect? No. But it does mean that you can give this company the benefit of the doubt, if  necessary, since it has something solid to stand on.

This is a company best known for its handguns, nowadays at any rate, but it has a history of creating other types of quality firearms. Before it decided to focus solely on 1911 handguns, it had a few others under its proverbial belt.

Para Ordnance

Perhaps best known for originating the double-stack 1911 pistol, Para Ordnance was founded in 1985 by Ted Szabo and Thanos Polyzos, in Toronto, Canada. At first, the company started out as a training systems manufacturer, supplying military and law enforcement agencies with paintball-style weapons for drills and ‘war games’.

By the way, if you haven’t had the chance to play paintball, I wholeheartedly recommend it. And to be clear, I mean a good quality paintball facility, not just a place for kids. There was one time, at a work-related thing, where I got the chance to play at a professional paintball arena. It was a lot of fun, I had good teammates, and – cherry on top – I got to shoot my boss. ‘Nuff said.

After the training systems phase, Para Ordnance switched to manufacturing rifles and handguns in the later 80s. They produced an array of pistols, and their reputation preceded them as a firearms manufacturer dedicated to providing its customers with the best weapons around. The double-stack 1911 was the company’s first product, loved by some and hated by others. As if Americans needed more reasons to pick on Canadians, eh?

PARA Ordnance 1911 Stainless
PARA USA 1911 Stainless

The manufacturer from the Great White North set up its U.S.-based headquarters named Para USA, in North Carolina. In 2010, the Canadian company packed up and moved the entire operation to the States, effectively forsaking the name Para Ordnance and embracing Para USA.

In 2012, Freedom Group – probably best known for owning Remington and Marlin – purchased Para USA. Remington is considered to be Para USA’s parent company. As any purchase that Freedom Group makes, the acquisition of Para USA was on point. Freedom now had a dedicated high-quality handgun-producing outfit. The brand was re-launched in 2013, to great fanfare and greater expectations.

In 2015, Remington integrated Para USA into Big Green itself, and moved Para USA from North Carolina to Alabama, to join in with several other companies which Freedom was consolidating under the Remington banner. The name Para USA was eliminated, but Para’s lifetime warranty for its firearms (original purchases only, if I am not mistaken) is still being honored by Remington.

Para Ordnance 1911

So many 1911s, so little time … Para’s collection of 1911 does not stop at the double-stack model. The increased capacity 1911 is one of many variants which the company had manufactured over the years. Its light double action (LDA) models were very popular, as were their different caliber offerings. The company provided shooters with 1911 handguns in 45 ACP, 9mm, 10mm, 40 S&W, and many others.

Para Ordnance Black Ops 1911
Para USA Black Ops 1911

Para USA had several lines of 1911:

  • Executive
    • 45 ACP
    • 3” barrel
    • Trijicon tritium night sights
    • G10 grips
    • 8+1 capacity (two mags included)
  • Competition
    • 45 ACP, 9mm, 40 S&W
    • 5” barrel
    • Adjustable rear sight, fiber optic front sight
    • G10 grips
    • Capacities ranging from 8+1 to 18+1
  • LDA
    • A double action 1911, for those uninterested in carrying cocked and locked
    • 9mm or 45 ACP
    • 3” or 3.5” barrel
    • Trijicon tritium night sights
    • G10 or Crimson Trace grips
    • Capacities ranging from 6+1 to 9+1
  • Elite
    • 10mm or 45 ACP
    • 3”, 3.5”, 4.25”, 5” or 6” barrel
    • Trijicon tritium night sights, rear adjustable/fiber optic front, or rear 2-dot/fiber optic front
    • G10, walnut, or Crimson Trace grips
    • Capacity 6+1 to 9+1
  • Expert
    • 9mm or 45 ACP
    • 3”, 4.25”, or 5” barrel
    • Fiber optic front, or 2-dot/fiber optic front
    • Polymer grips
    • Capacities ranging from 8+1 to 18+1
  • Tactical
    • 9mm or 45 ACP
    • 4.25”, 5”, or 5.5” barrel
    • Trijicon tritium night sights or high-profile
    • G10 grips
    • Capacities ranging from 8+1 to 18+1

That was their lineup at a glance, and now we will go a bit deeper into two specific models: the Warthog and the P14.

Para Ordnance Warthog

The Warthog was built on Para’s 1911 platform, as a shortened, single-action, 10-shot, 45 ACP caliber weapon, available in stainless steel or aluminum frame (double size), with a 3” barrel. It features a skeletonized hammer and trigger, 2-dot rear sight/fiber optic front sight, polymer grips, and classic beavertail (with safety).

This a very small package, with only 6.5” to its overall length. Small guns are definitely not a great fit for everyone, and I feel it is important to know whether or not it’s your style, preferably before you purchase it. It is a highly viable option as a concealed EDC, since it is a relatively tiny gun which carried a big punch.

PARA USA Stainless Warthog
PARA Ordnance Warthog Stainless

For a compact weapon, this gun has some weight. This is truer for its stainless steel variant. The steel model weighs 31 oz, and the aluminum alloy models weighs 24 oz. If you are into small guns and powerful calibers, the warthog may be the one for you.

As a quick aside: there is always going to be a debate on calibers, and certainly there is still an ongoing debate regarding 45 ACP vs 9mm. I am not here to judge, but it seems that both calibers are good at what they do, and that they will both be able to serve the weapon’s operator well, if used properly. Don’t make a fuss, don’t compare ad nauseum. Just pick the one that is right for you, and train with it.

Para USA Warthog
PARA Ordnance Warthog

Para Ordnance P14

This is another 1911 series, and it was first introduced in the early 90s. When Para released this model, the tagline – as it were – was something along the lines of ‘everyone should be able to own a PARA 1911’.

The P14-45 is a model which spawned several variants, but the first one released was a basic 1911-esque design chambered in 45 ACP, which also included a high-capacity magazine of 14 rounds (hence the name 14-45, if I remember correctly).

The P14-45 was renamed 14.45 later on, and more models were manufactured in light of the original’s success. Its variants are:

Expert 14.45Black Ops 14.45Expert 14.45
Stainless
Pro custom 14.45
.45 ACP .45 ACP .45 ACP .45 ACP
5” Barrel 5” Barrel5” Barrel5” Barrel
Fiber Optic
Front Sight
Trijicon
Night Sights
Fiber Optic
Front Sight
Fiber Optic
Front Sight
14+114+114+114+1

The overall length of the 14.45 – in its different models – is 8.5”, and it has a weight of 2.4 lbs. One reservation I have, is the fact that the words “black ops” are actually on the frame of the Black Ops model. What’s the deal, Para?? You make a great gun, give it a cool name, and then take every shred of “coolness” out of it, by placing the words directly on the frame! Come on, man…

In 2011, Para introduced an engraved 100th anniversary edition. This was done to commemorate 100 years since the 1911 was first manufactured by Colt, according to the designs of the legendary John Browning.

I always found it fitting that Browning’s middle name was Moses, since the world can be split into two: before and after him. Moses split the Red Sea, and John Moses split the world of firearms. Get it?

Para Ordnance P14
Para USA P14

Conclusion

When Para Ordnance opened up for business in eastern Canada, I am certain that more than a few eyebrows were raised. I mean, for one thing, Canadians were not exactly known for their capabilities with firearms, and secondly, there was the question of fierce competition coming from south of the border. You’d think that the U.S. had it covered, wouldn’t you?

Nevertheless, Para Ordnance did its best and it did good business. The company grew and expanded, was able to open up its U.S. facility some time later, and eventually – as mentioned – they were bought out by Freedom Group. It seems that this is the death of a brand, but it was one hell of a ride for them, I am sure. Who would have thought that a Canadian manufacturer could add something to what was – at the time – a design which was already 80 or so years old?

The story of Para Ordnance is a one of ambition and success. In some ways, it is a shame that the name of Para will not get to live on. On the other hand, they had their time, and they still live on in some way, albeit now as a part of Remington. You could look at it as a sad story of modern-day capitalism and corporate buyouts, sure, but I choose to see it as an honest-to-goodness maple-syrup-covered story of Canadian triumph!


Sam M

Sam is an avid firearms enthusiast who loves sharing his knowledge and experience with fellow gunivores.

Let us know what you think in the comments section!

For suggestions, collaborations, or requests, contact sam@gunivore.com.

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for this story. I never knew exactly what happened to this company other than Freedom bought them. It’s too bad they were eventually absorbed into Remington.

    At one time I had made up my mind and was ready to buy a Warthog. My LGS told me they could no longer buy them through any of the distributors at that time. I was advised to wait until everything “shook out”, so to speak. Well, the wait never ended and it took quite some time before I could find out any information at all. Eventually I found out Para Ordinance was bought out.

    I figured whomever bought the company would cheapen the quality of the pistol and possibly alter the manufacturing process so I decided to purchase another brand. I now carry a Bond Arms product. No regrets at all.

  2. I’m glad they got bought out, maybe now they can actually make some weapons. I have been looking on every gun site for over a year and have yet to find any of their models in stock. Doesn’t matter how good their products are if you can’t ever find one anywhere. Maybe now it will be possible. There are few makers of good double-stacks out there, so if they got it in gear, they could clean up!

  3. I have the .45 Expert Stainless Steel, 5” barrel. I absolutely love it. It is the smoothest shooting.45 I have shot. The manager at the indoor range asked if he could shoot it and he made me an offer. Sorry, not for sale. Many have tried to buy it from me but i will NEVER sell it. I had some custom elk grips made for it (awesome looking) with added thickness because of my hand size. Feels awesome and even more stable in the Hand. My kids are fussing about who gets it when I’m gone. What a great feeling. Para over Dad!!! Too funny. I would highly recommend the 5” SS Expert to anyone.

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