If you are new to shotguns understanding what type of gun to buy and which gauge to choose for your survival needs can be difficult. Continuing the Survival Shotgun series, here is a basic rundown of the types and sizes of shotguns you should consider for your survival gear. Read the others: Part 1: 6 Reasons You Need One Part 3: Choosing The Gun Part 4: Understanding Loads Part 5: Myths Explained Part 6: Cleaning and Maintenance The basic operation of a shotgun is to fire a dose of round lead balls (shot) down a smooth bore barrel. Shotguns existed before rifles and pistols, and the concept of blasting shot down a smooth barrel may extend all the way back to ancient China. Modern Man’s innovation has managed to stuff all sorts of things into a shotgun shell, but the basic operation still remains. Quick Navigation Understanding Gauge Choosing a Gauge Type of Shotgun Questions Part 3 Understanding Gauge Shotguns barrels are typically chambered in gauges, not calibers. A gauge is the number of lead balls it takes to roll down the barrel to make a pound. If you’re wondering why that sounds crazy, it’s an imperial measurement created by the English, and they tend to over-complicate things. But it does explain why a 12 gauge has a larger tube than a 20 gauge. The most common chamberings for shotguns are 10, 12, 16, and 20 gauge. There is also .410 bore, which is a newer size based on the .45 Colt. It’s an American invention and is not a true gauge. Choosing a Gauge Why is this important? You need to pick a gauge (or bore) that is suitable for your stature or needs. Recoil is usually the determining factor, but for the prepper you want to also consider availability. Up to 50% of shotguns sold in America are 12 gauge. You will simply have an easier time finding ammunition for a 12 gauge. If you cannot handle the recoil of a 12 gauge, then go with 20 if possible. If you cannot deal with the recoil of a 20 gauge then .410 bore is your last resort. Other gauges like 10 and 16 are available but too rare for a prepper to consider seriously; you are not going to find 16 gauge ammo on the shelf at a superstore. Do You Have Concealed Carry Weapon Insurance? Self-defense can land you into major legal battles, or even jail . USCCA provides top-class CCW insurance plus training for you and your family at $22/mo with $2,000,000 in coverage. Join USCCA For the sake of brevity and to show how versatile the shotgun is, I will stick to 12 gauge for the majority of this series. Birdshot, slugs, and buckshot ammunition are available in 20 gauge. Birdshot and buckshot are available in .410, but you are getting three pellets of 000 buck per shell for the buckshot, versus a 12 gauge 000 load which holds 10 pellets or more. There are also slugs available for .410, usually weighing 1/4 an ounce versus a standard 1 ounce slug in 12 gauge. .410 slug ammunition is also extremely hard to find unless it’s deer season in a shotgun hunting state. Type of Shotgun For most preppers, the standard survival shotgun is going to be a 12 gauge pump shotgun; readily available at your local superstore. Semi-auto shotguns are great, and usually a joy to shoot, but there are issues that should be considered. Semi-autos cost more, usually starting at double the cost of a pump and up. Some of the cheaper models have reliability and quality issues. Parts can and do get worn out more frequently. Some autoloaders will only feed reliably with certain kinds of ammunition, like full power loads. Barring oddball rounds like the Aquila mini-shells, a pump action gun will cycle any load you feed it because of the manual loading process, including reduced recoil loads, light birdshot, and less lethal ammo with no projectile. Autoloaders rely on either recoil or gas to operate the action. Each has it’s advantages, but both systems require more preventative maintenance and cleaning for reliable performance. What a prepper is looking for in the survival toolkit is something cheap, reliable, and versatile. And that is the 12 gauge pump action shotgun. Questions If you have questions, or need help choosing a gun, ask here and we will do our best to point you in the right direction. Part 3 Part 3 of the Survival Shotgun series by mr. Smashy covers Choosing Your Gun Photo by: mr. smashy Save Other interesting articles: Survival Shotgun Part 8: Mossberg M500SP Loadout "Survival Shotgun Part" 6: Cleaning and Maintenance Survival Shotgun Part 3: Choosing the Gun Survival Gear Review: 1887 T-Model 12 Gauge Shotgun
My “tactical” A2 continues to have equipment added to the gun. It is a smooth shooting weapon and I am looking forward to trying hi-power and tactical rifle courses with it… But this year the time crunch has been severe. I am looking for a new job with longer hours so I can have a few more days off per week. This will permit me the time I am looking for to work my blog a bit more and actually go shoot these rifles I have built. However some observations about the A2: the tactical sling works well. The foregrip is a KAC grip and I like the capability it gives me to control the rifle. While a pure verticle grip may be “on its way out” vs the hybrid slanted or AFG type setups, I still think the best grip has merit even further back on the rail. It is a comfortable setup. The rifle is quite capable in the accuracy dept. I don’t know how my target compares to high power shooters, but the grouping was decent. Once your locked into a rifle with a GI web sling, you are a rock and nothing moves. This was a starting zero at 100 yards from prone. The tactical light is not as easy to use I would like. The placement of Streamlight’s controls is suited for a pistol, not a rifle. Something like the Inforce wml is a better product for direct rail attachment. So far I like the direction the A2 is going. It is an incredibly smooth shooting weapon and I think I will be able to keep up with the tactical shooters based on previous experience, but how I can fare next to the high power shooters remains to be seen. Share: Google Twitter Facebook Pinterest Reddit More Tumblr LinkedIn Pocket Email Print
The M1A is a classic battle-tested American rifle, which finds its use in competitions and hunting to this day. The M1A is among the oldest breed of firearms still in use by shooters today, which also means that M1A requires a bit of old-fashioned field stripping for cleaning and maintenance. Servicing your M1A regularly will ensure that you can pass this legacy on as an heirloom to your future generations. Here, we’ll learn about the steps, tips, and tricks involved in properly disassembling and then reassembling an M1A rifle for cleaning and maintenance. We will also take a look at some good M1A servicing and cleaning kits available in the online marketplace. At a Glance: Our Top Picks for M1A Cleaning Kits OUR TOP PICK: John Masen - M1/M14 Mil-spec Cleaning Kit Buttstock Cleaning Kit Springfield Armory M1A Cleaning Kit Comparison of the Best M1A Cleaning Kits IMAGE PRODUCT Our Top Pick John Masen - M1/M14 Mil-spec Cleaning Kit Best M1A disassembly toolkit on the market Unused and authentic GI components direct from the WWII era Includes disassembly tool, rod sections, brushes, and a nylon pouch View Latest Price → Read Customer Reviews Buttstock Cleaning Kit Includes better combo tool for versatility and easy field stripping Dual-reservoir oiler for easy lubrication and carrying lube anywhere Good and compact cleaning kit and can be stored inside the buttstock "View Latest Price" → "Read Customer Reviews" Springfield Armory M1A Cleaning Kit Comes with 100 cleaning patches for better cleaning The plastic case with carry handles helps with easy handling and storage Offers great value for money at its price View Latest Price → Read Customer Reviews Three Main Groups of an M1A Like most other rifles, the M1A can be seen as a combination of three different groups. These include the trigger housing group, the barrelled receiver group, and the stock group. Their names are almost self-explanatory, but let's elaborate the point for the sake of simplicity. First of all, the barrelled receiver group of an M1A includes the action of the rifle. The parts include the receiver, sights, bolt carrier group, gas system, and the barrel. This is the primary component of the M1A and is the part where all the action happens. Springfield M1A Scout Squad ( Source ) Next comes the trigger housing group. This part includes the trigger assembly and the trigger guard. The trigger assembly itself is a combination of many parts such as springs, sear, and hammer. It can be seen as the on/off switch for the rifle. Finally, we’ll consider the stock group . This group is comprised of the stock, which holds all the three groups together. The stock helps with holding and handling the firearm and is also useful for mounting different accessories such as slings , lights, lasers, bayonets, and bipods . Stocks can be made from wood, polymer, or fiberglass composite. But that’s a topic for a different discussion. M1A Disassembly: Step-by-Step Guide The disassembly of the M1A starts by separating the three housing groups of the rifle. Proper disassembly and cleaning of the M1A requires proper tools or preferably, a proper and complete kit. After we learn these steps, we will review the best M1A servicing kits on the market. Apart from that, keep some basic items such as cleaning solvents, rags, and wet and dry cleaning swabs on hand. M1A Complete Disassembly ( Source ) NOTE: Before you strip your M1A rifle, make sure to follow the basic safety rules for the firearm. Ensure that the rifle is unloaded and the chamber is clear. Wear proper eye protection and other protective gear that might be necessary(apron, surgical gloves etc,.). Once you separate the three housing groups, work only on them one at a time and keep the others set aside. Also remember the proper position of the bolts, pins, and other small components you take out of the rifle. Always treat your firearm as if it is loaded, even if it's not. Step 1 Remove the magazine (which you might have already done) from the rifle and close the bolt. To do this, pull the charging handle backward and allow it to move forward freely as it snaps onto the receiver and closes the ejection port. This step ensures that there’s no tension in the bolt carrier spring and the parts are at ease. Step 2 Your next step is removing the trigger housing group. You might want to grab a punch which fits the hole on the rear of the trigger guard. Insert the punch in this hole and pull the trigger guard up, so it opens up like a hinged door. This might require you to apply some pressure, so don’t hesitate. Be careful while opening the trigger guard. Once it has been released, pull of the trigger housing group from the receiver. Step 3 Now, separate the barrelled receiver group from the stock group. In order to achieve this, you must lay the firearm on a flat surface with the sight facing down. Make sure to do this on a smooth surface and ensure that the sights do not get damaged. Now grasp the top grip of the forend and try to pull the action out of the rifle. You can alternatively give a thump to the rifle so these two groups separate. However, thumping is generally required if you have a match-grade firearm which has been glass bedded or has undergone similar treatment. Part 2 - Disassembly of the Barrel and Receiver Group Once all the three housing groups of the M1A have been separated, your next step is to disassemble the barrel and receiver group. The barrel need not be unscrewed from the receiver since it helps with cleaning. The parts you have to disassemble here are the operating rod spring, guide, and rod and bolt from the receiver. The sights over the top can be left intact unless you really want to meddle with them. Disassembly the three main group ( Source ) Step 4 Next, remove the operating rod spring and operating rod spring guide. Place your receiver upside down (sight down) on the table and gently pull the operating rod spring and spring guide to relieve pressure on the connector lock. Now, pull the connector lock toward the side of the rifle where the operating rod handle is located. Slowly remove the rod spring from the action of the M1A. Make sure to carry out this process with patience and precision as the spring is under tension and may fly out. Step 5 Once the recoil spring is removed, the op rod can be removed from the receiver. To do this, slide the op rod back toward the receiver until its guide lug aligns with the assembly notch in the receiver. Now, rotate it upward, pull it out, and you’re good to go. Step 6 Now all that remains in the receiver is the bolt. To remove it, just slide it forward and pull it up to the right. This might require slight wiggling, but make sure not to apply much pressure, forcing the bolt outwards, as this may result in deformation or damage to it. Remember that the bolt doesn’t require cleaning from the inside. Plus, it should not be done, as the reassembly requires special tools and must only be done by a Springfield technician. M1A Reassembly Reassembling the M1A is following the exact reverse procedure of the disassembly. But before you start assembling your M1A, make sure that you have thoroughly cleaned all the required parts. The major parts which require cleaning are the barrel, receiver, trigger assembly, and bolt. If you have disassembled the trigger assembly, it will take some more time to pack it back. Remember not to open up any parts you’re not sure about putting together again. Assembly of Barrel & Receiver Group If you have separated the barrel from the receiver, put it back on by tightening it over the threading. The gas system components and the sights have to be placed back if they were removed while disassembly. Assembling the barrel and bolt receiver group requires putting back the bolt, operating rod, guide, and spring in place. Step 1: Replacing The Bolt Putting back the bolt requires a bit of maneuvering, similar to what is required for pulling it out. To put it back, hold the bolt by the roller and locking lug and place its rear end inside the receiver bridge with the firing pin tang pointed downward. Turn the bolt a bit so it fits inside the receiver with ease. Once it reaches its position, slide it all the way back to the rear end of the receiver. Step 2: Replacing The Operating Rod After the bolt is seated in place, line up the rod with the retaining lug in the rear and the disassembly notch in the rear side of the receiver and guide it into the track. Once these parts align perfectly, push the operating rod forward until the bolt is closed. When done the right way, the rod should move freely and the bolt should move with it. Step 3: Replacing The Operating Rod Spring Guide After the bolt and op rod have been installed, insert the leading edge of the recoil spring into the recoil tube. Push the spring all the way inside the tube, and apply some pressure on it, so the locking connector aligns with the guide. Push the connector lug out to make room for the guide, push the guide inside, and lock it in place. Make sure to apply some pressure, and be careful or the spring may fly out. Step 4: Assembly Of The "Three Main Groups" Now the major and most technical part of assembling the M1A is complete. All that needs to be done now is to combine the three main groups we stripped in the first place. Place the barrel and receiver group (sight down) on a flat surface, and align the stock ferrule with the barrel band. Now, lower the action into the stock so that they fit snugly. Next, pick up the trigger assembly and push it right down the stock. Make sure to properly align the guides on the trigger housing with the grooves in the stock. Finally, push down the trigger guard so it snaps into the stock, and you’re done. Cycle the action to check if everything works normally. M1A Complete Disassembly and Reassembly Video Taking instructions from a text is sometimes a bit difficult. Especially when you have to strip down and put together a complex system like the M1A. So we have included a video to demonstrate how to disassemble and reassemble an M1A rifle. The video will clearly outline the necessary tools you require for servicing the M1A. It will explain, in detail, every step of disassembling and reassembling the rifle, whether it is the trigger assembly, gas system, sights, or other parts that can be opened up. You’ll get insights on some smart tips and tricks that’ll make the job easier. A very important and complex part to service in the M1A is its gas system. So the video has a detailed demonstration of how to work with it. Best M1A Cleaning Kits Due to the mechanism and type of ammunition it uses, the M1A requires regular cleaning. Since you now know the proper process of disassembling and reassembling the rifle, you need to find the right cleaning kit to properly care for your weapon. Disassembly of the three housing groups of an M1A doesn’t involve any special tools, so it quite easy to clean the rifle. Having a good cleaning kit will make the job even easier. Here, we’ll review the best M1A cleaning kits which have been handpicked based upon their quality and usefulness. 1. John Masen - M1/M14 Mil-spec Cleaning Kit Buy Now What’s better and more reliable than having a standard issue GI cleaning kit for your M1A? The same kind soldiers used back in the day. This cleaning kit from John Masen has a combination tool handle, cleaning rod sections, bore brush, patch loop, and cleaning pouch. The rod sections can be easily tightened together to form a cleaning rod for the barrel. The combination tool aids with cleaning the bore and other areas with ease. The compact pouch makes the entire kit fit into a pouch the size of a marker pen, so it is easy to carry and store. The kit, however, has no storage space for patches and swabs which might be a drawback for some. 2. Buttstock Cleaning Kit Buy Now This buttstock cleaning kit from Springfield Co. is an amazing toolkit for your M1A. The kit includes cleaning rod sections, a chamber brush, patch loop tip, a .30 cal bronze bore brush, combo tool, dual reservoir oiler, and a convenient pouch to keep everything together. The combo tool helps with the cleaning and maintenance of the rifle. The brushes along with the patch loop tip and the cleaning rod, allow you to clean the bore with ease. As an extra, the kit includes an oiler which can be used to store and apply grease to different parts of the rifle. All of these components can be easily stored inside a cotton pouch which can easily fit inside the stock of your M1A rifle. Considering its price, and the manufacturer, this is probably the best pick on our list. 3. Springfield Armory M1A Cleaning Kit Buy Now This kit from Springfield Armory is a more organized and manageable solution compared to the compact field-based cleaning kits. The kit includes all the components available in a compact kit, such as a combo tool, cleaning rod sections, bore and patch brushes, and an oiler for applying grease to different parts. It also includes some extras, like 100 cleaning patches, so you don’t have to bother cutting up rags or buying them separately. All of these items come stored inside a plastic case with Springfield Armory imprinted on it. This is more like a kit you keep in your house, rather than the one you can carry inside your stock. However, the carry case has its own benefits. Conclusion The disassembly and assembly of an M1A might seem a very complex task, but with the right tools and information, it is as easy as stripping an AR. The M1A is divided into three housing groups, namely the trigger housing group, the barrelled receiver group, and the stock group. The M1A has to be cleaned regularly to maintain its performance, which is where having a good cleaning kit comes in handy.
Part 1: (A little Background) When thinking about Survival, we all spend a lot of time thinking about weapons . We decided to assist your knowledge by taking a more in depth look at the Survival Carbine. Quick Navigation Definition from Wikipedia: The AK-47 Definition from Wikipedia: A carbine (pronounced /ˈkɑrbiːn/ or /ˈkɑrbaɪn/) (from Greek καραμπινα “carbine”) is a firearm similar to a rifle or musket . Many carbines, especially modern designs, were developed from rifles, being essentially shortened versions of full rifles firing the same ammunition , although often at a lower velocity . I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Smashy’s writeup on the “ Survival Shotgun ” and agree with him about it being the most practical and most versatile weapon available for most any survival situation. I am going to introduce the topic of the survival carbine as a supplement to his eight-part shotgun series. Let me just state before I start that my first purchase for home defense and survival applications, was a shotgun. Talking about weapons, calibers or tactics is a touchy situation. There are a lot of differing opinions out there and most folks have very strong convictions based on personal experience and/or hearsay. Talking about these topics can be as dangerous as treading into a conversation about religion or politics… it usually ends with everyone grumpy and unconvinced about anything other than the person/people with the opposing viewpoint are either stupid or just plain ornery. I’m definitely not putting this article together to convince anyone to step outside of his or her comfort zone with their survival kit. I am just offering some information I thought you all might find useful concerning a tool that has a primary role in my survival arsenal. Feel free to agree, disagree or remain indifferent. Also, feel free to add more information to these articles in the comments. I am not a historian and I’m not an armorer. I have used these weapons a lot. I understand most of the features and can maintain and use them effectively in a variety of situations. I’m actually learning more as I put this series together and encourage you guys to give me some feedback. Do You Have Concealed Carry Weapon Insurance? Self-defense can land you into major legal battles, or even jail . USCCA provides top-class CCW insurance plus training for you and your family at $22/mo with $2,000,000 in coverage. Join USCCA The AK-47 I’m aware of the reliability of the AK platform and the availability of ammunition. I know the sounds that this weapon makes when it is fired at you. It also carries a larger round that can penetrate more effectively through obstacles (i.e. walls, vehicles, cinder-block, body armor, etc.). It requires less maintenance, it’s light, cheaper to build and it and its’ corresponding parts are fairly readily available in most parts of the world. This article is not discounting that fact, it’s just not about the AK. My focus is on the survival weapon I personally feel the most comfortable manipulating, maintaining and applying. This weapon is the modern AR platform . I have an emotional attachment to the weapon, we have been through quite a bit together. My interest in a survival carbine is simply this: I have carried one for most of my adult life; I know it, understand it and feel completely comfortable using it. Having a carbine in my hands is almost like a security blanket and so when I think about TEOTWAWKI or SHTF situations, being able to grab a carbine as my primary weapon makes me feel very warm and safe inside. I know I can wreak a lot of hell on anything that might be looking at me through the opposite end of my sights if I need to do so, whether it’s a four legged meal or a group of unavoidable miscreants determined to cause mortal injury. This article is Part 1 of a series of posts on the Survival Carbine. Read Part 2. (History) Other interesting articles: Part 8: The Best Survival Carbine (AR Style Rifle) Part 5: "The Best Survival" Carbine (AR Style Rifle) Part 2. The Best Survival Carbine (AR Style Rifle) Part 3: The Best Survival Carbine (AR Style Rifle)
Advertisment ‘The Para Ordnance brand made its bones with double stack 1911s. At one time a 1911 that holds 14 rounds of 45 ACP was a rarity, and Para Ordnance was one of the few manufacturers to do so. Over time, Para Ordnance started to expand their line up and included the GI Expert model, which is a simple, entry-level 1911 made to Para’s standards. There are some entry-level 1911s out there that come from Turkey, the Philippines, and Para Ordnance offers one built in the USA. Para was originally a Canadian firm, but are now located in North Carolina. "The Para Ordnance" GI Expert is a high quality 1911 that’s simple and reliable. It’s not just an old school 1911, and it does feature some modern touches that allows it to keep up with modern guns. At its core, it is still a 1911. The GI Expert now comes in 9mm as well as 45 ACP and in blued, stainless, and two-tone finishes. My model is a sweet two-tone handgun that is chambered in 45 ACP. Contents Para Ordnance Overview Specifications Features Fit and Finish Ergonomics On the Range Para Ordnance: Rating Each Category Parting Shots on the Para Ordnance GI Expert "Para Ordnance Overview" What is the purpose of a 1911? It’s an old gun, and the design is over a hundred and seven years old. It’s out of date by most standards, and other 45 ACP guns offer a higher capacity and more modern features and can still be carried in a holster . The gun is still used routinely for concealed carry due to its thin design. The gun is a fan favorite for a variety of purposes, and the Para Ordnance GI Expert can serve a few different roles. In my opinion, every gun collection needs a 1911 just for the historical perspective. The Para Ordnance GI Expert is an affordable and fun gun if you want to add a 1911 to your collection. It’s a fun plinker and target gun as well as a casual competition gun. The GI Expert is also a great starting point for making a custom gun. Specifications Barrel Length – 5 inches Overall Length – 8.5 inches Width – 1.28 inches Height – 5.75 inches Weight – 39 ounces Capacity – 8 rounds The 1911 is a big all-metal gun , made at a time when all guns were big and made of metal. It has a low capacity compared to modern pistols with an 8 round single stack magazine. That being said, you can purchase extended magazines, including the famed Chip McCormick 10 round magazines which are reliable and functional. The GI Expert has a very simple design and doesn’t do anything to change the 1911’s design. It simply improves upon the classic design with a few modern touches. Luckily this doesn’t take away from the 1911 experience, it merely makes it more comfortable and safer overall. Features Para Ordnance packed the GI Expert with features you won’t see in many stock 1911s. The barrel uses a strong and durable stainless steel and has an 11-degree muzzle crown. This helps protect the barrel should it, unfortunately, fall muzzle first. The chamber itself is highly polished to increase reliability and is a standard 1911 barrel and chamber. This does use the series 80 design which incorporates a superior safety system at the cost of a harder to tune trigger. The chamber does have a small cut out that acts as a viewing window to allow the user o see if the chamber is loaded. This is a small feature but a handy one at that. The hammer is also trimmed a bit, not bobbed, but trimmed. This prevents the hammer from coming rearward and striking the web of the palm. This allows the built-in beavertail and safety to keep the hammer from striking your hand. The sights are a simple full size three dot sights that are easy to use and quick to get on target. The trigger guard has a slight undercut that allows you to get a higher grip on the gun and exercise more control over the gun when firing. It makes shooting the gun more comfortable compared to a bone stock 1911. The trigger itself is skeletonized and very comfortable with its slight texturing. The safety is only on one side but is extended and the perfect shelf for resting your thumb. The grip safety has a little extended grip safety that disengages with ease. Fit and Finish The stainless steel and two-tone look are quite attractive. It looks great. The weapon has a consistent finish, and the stainless portions have a slight shine to them. However, over the ten years, I’ve owned this gun the finish has taken a beating. It has plenty of scratches and gouges in the design. It’s a good finish, but I’ve also brutalized this gun quite a bit. When I was young and poor this was the only handgun I had, and I shot it as much and as often as I could afford to do so. The gun sports roll marks on both sides that slightly vain, and you expect vanity from a 1911 design. One side reads Para 1911 and the other as GI Expert. It’s not massive or distracting, but large enough to catch your eye. Thankfully the font isn’t ugly or terrible. The pistol grips uses standard checkered plastic and nothing fancy, but it does match the black finish of the frame. Ergonomics The 1911 has brilliant ergonomics, and no one can take that away from the design. The grips are thin and comfortable in hand and allow for aftermarket customization . The beavertail and undercut under the trigger make it very easy to grip the gun high and tight. Both of these ergonomic features add to your ability to control the gun as well. The slightly bobbed hammer is a great feature for ergos and all-metal, and the textured trigger is very comfortable against the finger. The gun wears only rear serrations, and they are very fine serrations. They make it easy to grip the slide and ready the weapon. The slide feels like it is gliding on ball bearings and goes back extremely easily and smoothly. It’s almost therapeutic to rack this weapon. Whatever Para did to the frame to slide fit should be standard on 1911s. The safety is large and easy to reach and use. It’s extra-large size makes it well suited to rest your thumb on while firing. The safety forms a good shelf to keep the safety down while firing and in a blink, the user can pout the safety back on and end their string of fire. The additions from Para Ordnance to the classic 1911 design have only improved the classic design. It’s easier to handle, more enjoyable to shoot and is overall just a well-built gun. On the Range Shooting the Para Ordnance is just fun, I mean most guns are fun, but the GI Expert is entertaining for a 1911. The top-notch ergonomics make it easy to control and keeps the recoil and muzzle rise more than controllable. Compared to a stock GI style 1911 from Rock Island the GI Expert is so much more comfortable and pleasant to shoot. The recoil is more of a push than a snap. It gradually fills the hand instead of a sudden impact and application of force. It’s comfortable, but it lets you know it’s more substantial than a 9mm. The beavertail is wide and flat and doesn’t dig into your hand as the weapon is fired. The Para Ordnance GI Expert comes with two well-polished 8 round magazines. They slide right out of the gun when you press the magazine release. The magazine release is standard 1911 fare and is easy to reach and use. The safety clicks in and out of place with ease and is quick to reach and access. The hammer is textured to make manually cocking easy and safe. It also seems wider than most 1911 hammers, but that could be my imagination. The GI Expert is plenty accurate as well. It’s not hard to produce 1.5-inch groups at 10 yards with standard FMJ loads. It’s plenty accurate, and the trigger helps with that. The single-action trigger is very light and crisp. It breaks consistently with very little take-up and gives you that famously short and tactile 1911 reset. It’s a trigger company like Hudson try to reproduce with modern handguns. Most fail. Reliability wise the gun is very ammo picky, something not unusual with 1911s. The GI Expert likes standard 230-grain hardball ammo. It’s the most common out there and the cheapest as well. It seems to dislike 185-grain JHPs. I’ve never made it through a magazine of these rounds. 230-grain JHPs are reliable, and I can’t remember any problems with those rounds in this platform in the near ten years I’ve owned it. If you approach the GI Expert with the right ammo it’s a great gun, it functions well when filthy dirty, and after it’s been exposed to the elements it will still run… with the right ammo. Para Ordnance: "Rating Each Category" Looks: 5 out of 5 This two-tone model looks amazing in my opinion. I love it and the appearance. The 1911 itself has classic lines that are hard to beat. The gun is just plain sexy. Para did an amazing job with making this both a functional and good looking gun. Ergonomics: 4 out of 5 The gun does well at adapting the 1911’s famed ergonomics and improving them. The little add-ons here and there make a big difference when it comes to how the gun handles and shoots. It’s tough to beat, and hard to hate. It does lose a point because it’s a 39-ounce gun that holds eight rounds. The only guns that should get away with that have Magnum calibers. This isn’t Para’s fault, its just an issue with a 107-year-old design. Accuracy: 4 out of 5 The Para Ordnance GI Expert is about as accurate as a gun at this price range can get. It’s perfectly capable of defensive use and beyond that. The amazing trigger and great little sights make it very easy to see and hit a target at both distance and with speed. It’s second only to a dedicated competition pistol. Reliability: 3 out of 5 This is a tough category to decide. With the right ammo, it seems to be reliable to a fault in the rain, sand, and dirt the gun guns. Even with cheap steel case ammo the weapon goes bang perfectly fine. The fact it won’t eat one of the more potent self-defense rounds bothers me though, so I had to give the gun a 3. Customization: 5 out of 5 A 1911 is a 1911, and you can customize it to a ludicrous degree. You can add ambi safeties, threaded barrels mounts for red dots, new grips, triggers, and the list goes on and on. The 1911 has been around for over a century, so it’s easy to find parts and customize the gun to your liking. Anything less than a five would be a lie. The only change I made was the addition of my aluminum meme grips. Price: 4 out of 5 I purchased mine for roughly 400 bucks back in the day and enjoyed it immensely since then. Para’s website still exists , but it seems like Remington has absorbed Para and finding their guns is a strictly used market scenario. They aren’t the cheapest 1911 on the market, but with the added features are well worth the price. Parting Shots on the Para Ordnance GI Expert The Para Ordnance GI Expert is a handy dandy little gun. It’s built to last and has lasted me for quite some time. The design is pure 1911 with some distinct features that set it apart in a crowded market. If you can find one, I wouldn’t hesitate to snatch it up if your collection is lacking a 1911. If you want a defensive firearm, I’d suggest something more modern like the SIG P227 or the Glock 21. They offer numerous advanced features with a higher, and their price tags aren’t too high.