Compromise is something most people who carry concealed are used to, especially if their caliber of choice is .45 ACP. If carrying the big stick is your preference, you either have to compromise on capacity and ease of handling (resulting from a shortened grip frame) or, with a longer barrel and larger grip frame, ease of concealment. Para USA, one of America’s leading custom builders of 1911s for concealed-carry use, has found the perfect, pardon the expression, compromise between the two extremes: a full-feature, handcrafted semi-auto that has both the capacity of a full-size 1911 and the shorter barrel and slide length of a micro-sized compact. Priced at $1,399, the gun is appropriately named the Executive Carry. But for the money, Para delivers a concealed-carry pistol that exceeds every expectation.

“Compared to other 1911s, the Executive Carry provides the perfect balance between barrel length, capacity and ease of use. It offers comfort, manageable recoil, superior sighting capability, ease of carry options, 8+1 capacity and Para’s traditional quality fit, finish and reliability.”

The Executive Carry has a barrel length of just 3 inches and a slide that barely exceeds 5 inches in length, combined with a Government Model-sized grip and an eight-round, single-stack magazine. The North Carolina armsmaker builds its handcrafted 1911s for specific end-user requirements, and thus there are numerous short-barrel/short-slide variations throughout the Para USA line. None, however, are more dedicated to combining concealment and capacity in a traditional 1911 platform (Click Here to view Para Ordnance Executive Carry 1911 .45 ACP | VIDEO ) than the Executive Carry. With its very short 3-inch, match-grade, ramped stainless steel bull barrel, 5.125-inch-long slide and full-length Government Model grip frame, the Executive Carry is a uniquely shaped 1911 that looks like a capital “L” if you turn it upside down. Described by Para as “the baddest concealed-carry 1911 on the planet,” the Executive Carry is hand-built to implant the best operating features of Para’s full-size 1911s into one of its smallest guns. The gun’s uncanny proportions are further accentuated by an Ed Brown Bobtail mainspring housing that rounds off the bottom edge of the grip frame, a small, rounded palm swell grip safety and upswept beavertail. One might call it a “VCQB” (very close-quarter battle) pistol. As a top-end model, the gun is fitted with Trijicon night sights, a skeletonized match-grade trigger and a non-reflective, durable IonBond anodized finish on the slide and lightweight aluminum alloy frame. The Executive Carry fills your hand but not your holster.

While it looks like it is going to be unwieldy, the gun has an uncanny sense of balance. The leggy 1911 grip frame, fitted with machined VZ grips matched to the angle of the Ed Brown Bobtail mainspring housing, sits firmly in the hand, and the lower profile of the rounded grip safety melds smoothly into your grasp. Pick it up, and the Para points naturally. The Executive Carry uses a heavy-duty recoil system and full-length guide rod design to reduce recoil and make follow-up shots more consistent. The compromise (there’s always one) is greater effort to cycle the slide when chambering the first round or clearing the gun, but it is a fair tradeoff, as this is one sweet-shooting .45.

The operative word in concealed carry is “concealed,” and that has always been just a bit more demanding when the gun being carried is a 1911. Since the Para Executive Carry has a very specific profile, it requires holsters that best suit the gun’s unusual barrel and grip frame relationship. The full-length grip rules out pocket carry, but the short 3-inch barrel makes the gun ideal for carry in a shoulder holster like the Galco Miami Classic. Drawing with the holster’s thumb-break safety is smooth, and the gun presents quickly as the situation dictates. DeSantis offers a variety of holsters suited to this 1911 configuration, including the Cozy Partner IWB rig, the legendary DeSantis Speed Scabbard belt holster with multiple loops to adjust cant, and an open-top belt rig, the Mini Scabbard. The Mini Scabbard is contour fit to the gun, so it will stay put even though it is an open-top holster.

For the Para Executive Carry test, three leading defensive brands of ammunition were used: the heavy-hitting Federal Premium 230-grain Hydra-Shok jacketed hollow point (JHP), Hornady Critical Defense 185-grain FTX, and Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection 185-grain hollow point (HP). All three functioned flawlessly in the Para, which also has an oversized, flared ejection port on the shortened slide. Recoil/muzzle lift was fairly even across the board with all rounds striking very close to POA. Sighting in took only a few rounds, as the gun proved very consistent, regardless of ammo.

Fired through a 3-inch barrel, the 230-grain Hydra-Shok traveled down range at an average of 777 feet per second (fps), 185-grain Hornady at 880 fps and Speer at 860 fps. All of the velocities were commensurate with the shorter barrel length. Out of 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 placed 15 yards from the firing line. All shots were fired in five-round strings at 1-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 surprisingly accurate and predictable, with a precise trigger pull that averaged 3.8 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. For a concealed carry 1911, the Executive Carry is a definitely a pro’s gun. The best five-round group measured 1.40 inches with Speer 185-grain (aimed just left of the 9 ring at 10 o’clock, with two double hits under 0.5 inches). Federal averaged 1.75 inches (aimed opposite side at two o’clock), and Hornady punched five rounds into the 10 and X, with two overlapping, for a 2-inch spread.

Over the years, I have carried numerous 1911s, including a full-sized Government Model Colt, an Officer’s Model and a Para Warthog (another 3-inch-barreled model but with a wider, shorter custom grip frame built for a 10-round, double-stack magazine). Compared to other 1911s, the Executive Carry provides the perfect balance between barrel length, capacity and ease of use. It offers comfort, manageable recoil, superior sighting capability, ease of carry options, 8+1 capacity and Para’s traditional quality fit, finish and reliability. A .45 ACP intended for concealed-carry use, the Executive Carry is a compromise I can live with.


Para USA or call 888-999-9386

DeSantis Gunhide or call 800-424-1236

Galco Gunleather or call 800-874-2526

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