When it comes to concealed carry, there are two basic options. Carry big and deal with barrel length and grip size, or carry small and sacrifice barrel length, magazine capacity and even caliber sometimes. With 1911-style .45s you either carry a Government-, Commander- or Officer-sized model (with requisite magazine capacities) or any of a variety of custom-built 1911s that have been scaled down with shorter barrels, slides, grip frames and lower magazine capacities to become ideal concealed carry handguns.

At the forefront of the custom-built market is Para USA, which specializes in handcrafted 1911 models in all sizes and calibers, from Government Model target pistols to one of the smallest high-capacity carry guns made, the aptly named Warthog, which has a shorter grip frame that has been widened to accept a double-stack magazine carrying 10 rounds. It has a 3-inch barrel and a 5.13-inch slide length but is otherwise rather stout due to the shortened and modified grip frame.

Ideally, a 1911 dedicated to CCW use would be a combination of the Warthog and a standard Government Model with an eight-round, single-stack magazine (a nine-round total capacity) carried cocked and locked. And that is exactly what Para USA had in mind when it created the Executive Carry.

Next-Gen 1911

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The gun has a 3-inch Match Grade ramped stainless steel bull barrel, and a target single-action trigger that averaged 3.8 pounds .

This is a full custom Para model combining a short 3-inch, match-grade, ramped, stainless steel bull barrel, a slide length of just 5.13 inches and a full-length 1911 grip frame packing an eight-round magazine. The Executive Carry combines all of the company’s best full-size 1911 operating features into a unique 1911 with somewhat uncanny proportions, all of which are accentuated by an Ed Brown Bobtail mainspring housing, a trim palm swell grip safety and an upswept beavertail.

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Designed specifically for concealed carry, the gun is fitted with Trijicon night sights and a skeletonized match-grade trigger. It also features a non-reflective, durable Ionbond/anodized finish on the slide and lightweight aluminum alloy frame. While the Executive Carry looks a little awkward—it’s very “leggy” with the grip frame being longer than the slide and barrel—the gun actually handles a lot better than you’d expect. It has an uncanny sense of balance in the hand that translates into a gun that draws quickly from concealment and points naturally. And despite the short sight radius, the ramped Trijicon night sights are easy to acquire under all lighting conditions and right at point of aim (POA) at a combat distance of 15 yards. The grip frame is fitted with machined VZ G10 grips matched to the angle of the Ed Brown Bobtail mainspring housing, and the gun sets firmly in the hand. The lower profile of the rounded palm swell grip safety also melds smoothly into your grasp for a rock-solid grip that fills your hand.

One of the issues with 1911s that have been “cut down” to concealed carry size is heavy recoil. The Executive Carry utilizes a heavy-duty recoil system and full-length guide rod design to mitigate some of the harsh recoil, which is surprisingly manageable for a .45 ACP with a 3-inch barrel. Part of that can easily be attributed to the full-length grip, which allows a better hold than models where the little finger ends up tucked under the base of the magazine well. The heavy-duty recoil system does require more effort when chambering the first round or clearing the gun, but it is a fair trade considering the ease of use and accuracy of the Executive Carry.

Range Report

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Three leading defensive brands of ammunition were used for this test: heavy-hitting Federal Premium 230-grain Hydra-Shok JHP, Hornady Critical Defense 185-grain FTX and Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection 185-grain GDHP. All three functioned flawlessly in the Para, which also has an oversized, flared ejection port on the shortened slide.

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Recoil/muzzle lift was fairly even across the board with all rounds striking very close to POA. There was a prevailing wind averaging 11 mph, bright sun (reflected on snow) and an average temperature of 52 degrees. Sighting in took only a few rounds as the gun proved very consistent regardless of ammo. With a 3-inch barrel, the Hydra-Shok traveled downrange at an average of 777 fps, Hornady Critical Defense at 880 fps and Speer Personal Protection cleared the chronograph’s traps at an average of 860 fps. All of the velocities were commensurate with the shorter barrel length. With a 5-inch barrel, factory velocities are 900 fps, 1,000 fps and 890 fps, respectively.

The target was a standard Speedwell B-27 silhouette at a range of 15 yards from the firing line. All shots were fired in five-round strings at one-second intervals using a Weaver stance and a two-handed hold. Shooting off-hand with a 3-inch barrel and .45 ACP ammo lowers one’s expectations, but the Para is a surprisingly accurate and predictable gun with a precise trigger pull that averaged 3.75 pounds and broke cleanly from shot to shot with a mere 0.125 inches of travel. The factory-adjusted, skeletonized, match-grade trigger had zero overtravel and almost instantaneous reset. If this were a full-size target pistol you wouldn’t complain about that trigger. The best five-round group measured 1.4 inches with Speer 185-grain (aimed just left of the 9-ring at 10 o’clock,) Federal averaged 1.75 inches (aimed opposite side at 2 o’clock), and Hornady punched five rounds into the 10- and X-rings (which was POA with that round) with a group at an even 2 inches.

Dedicated Carry

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For a dedicated concealed carry pistol, the Executive Carry is no lightweight at a solid 26 ounces (unloaded) or in price, with an MSRP of $1,399. But if you want to carry the big stick you have to pay the commensurate price for all the requisite features. The Para Executive Carry delivers on every requirement with an alloy frame, match-grade barrel, target trigger, combat night sights and the full Ed Brown treatment for the grip frame and safety. It is a handcrafted 1911 in every respect, and compared to some of the competition in that class, the Executive Carry is a relative bargain and specs out as one of the best concealed carry 1911s available.

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For more information on the pistol, visit http://www.para-usa.com or call 888-999-9386.

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