In part 3 of the ”Anatomy of a racegun” series, I’ll get deep into the guts of a high capacity Para Ordnance P16-40 ”limited” 1911.
Factory Magazine Capacity
One of many options for Limited division USPSA shooters, the Para holds 16 rounds of .40S&W in a factory length magazine, hence the name. This increase in capacity from 9 rounds in a standard 1911 comes courtesy of a double stack magazine. Unlike the traditional 1911′s ”single stack” magazines that stack rounds on top of each other in a single column, a ”double stack” magazine staggers the rounds on top of each other. Double-stack mags are not without a downside though, they’re wider than single-stack mags and require that the grip on the gun be wider. This means that some 1911 parts will not fit Para Ordnance high capacity pistols, specifically triggers, magazine catches, and grips. The mags will hold up to 20 rounds with an aftermarket extended baseplate such as these Dawson Precisions.
The magazines are also much easier to disassemble:
Slide the side of the plate off and…
brush off the inside of the tube, top of the follower and reassemble.
The traditional 1911 has two safeties, a grip safety and a thumb safety (on the Para this safety is ambidextrous). The Para handguns are what’s known as a ”Series 80” design, incorporating an additional firing pin safety designed to prevent forward motion of the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled.
The additional safety isn’t really necessary in my opinion, and the lever mechanism required for it to work increases trigger pull weight and is a bugger to reinstall after disassembling the frame.
Factory Trigger Pull
Like all 1911′s the Para’s trigger pull weight is adjusted by stoning the hammer and sear surfaces in a jig. The two piece lever required to depress the firing pin safety does increase trigger pull weight. Some Para shooters fix this by using a frame slot filler. The $5.00 filler replaces the lever and allows shooters to simply do away with the additional safety for a lighter competition trigger pull.
The P-16 comes from the factory with an adjustable rear and fiber optic front sight. They work just fine for competition.
Like the traditional 1911, the factory Para barrel is a bushing-type barrel. This means the barrel is thin and straight, held into the slide by a bushing. Accuracy depends on how tight the bushing fits over the slide and barrel, but if the bushing is too tight the barrel will be scratched and the gun may malfunction. Usually a bushing barrel will require a special bushing wrench to remove. Our barrel bushing is super-tight in the slide but loose enough on the barrel that the gun runs. I’ve stripped two plastic bushing wrenches and have to use an anodized aluminum wrench on this barrel.
Dillon plastic bushing wrench
Brownells anodized bushing wrench. Both wrenches are double sided, one side for ”Government”(5” and 4” ) and ”Officer’s”(compact 3”) 1911′s.
A ”bull” barrel is a barrel that tapers out into a thick barrel to fit into the slide. Here is a Bar-Sto bull barrel next to a Para bushing barrel.
The Para bushing has been removed
We traded an AR-15 upper receiver for a heavily used competition Para.
One of the previous owners replaced the factory mainspring housing with a Smith & Alexander Full Mag Guide, as well as replacing the factory recoil spring with a lighter Wolff spring. The lighter spring helps keep the recoil down.
Upon receiving the gun I installed a DP tool-less guide rod which I won at the Rocky Mountain 300 prize table. This guide rod eases disassembly by capturing the recoil spring, plug, and guide rod into one piece with a lever. A normal full-length guide rod requires a bent paper clip be inserted into a hole in the rod to disassemble.
Top: One-piece Tungsten guide rod and plug held together by a paper clip
Bottom:DP tool-less guide rod
After a bit of shooting, the factory sear wore out and had to be replaced with an EGW sear and a Koenig Low-mass hammer. We had a local Grandmaster shooter and gunsmith fit these parts and do a trigger job, bringing the weight of pull down to 2.5 lbs. He also installed a frame slot filler and did away with the ”series 80” safety.
The radically lightened Low-mass hammer
The EGW sear and disconnecter.
Here’s how a 1911 trigger system works: the mainspring pushes up on the hammer strut constantly. The sear catches on a hook in the hammer and stops it from moving forward. The trigger pushes the disconnecter, which pushes the sear out of the hammer hook. The hammer strikes the firing pin, firing pin strikes primer, boom. If the trigger is pulled and the hammer is lowered slowly the sear will catch in the ”half-cock” notch on the sear. The hammer is lowered but is just shy of touching the firing pin. Trigger pull weight is determined by the height of the hammer hooks and weight of the sear. To see a professional gunsmith do a trigger job on a 1911, check out this YouTube video.
Hammer at half-cock. The trigger can’t be pulled at half-cock, and if it could the hammer wouldn’t hit the firing pin hard enough to fire a round.
The slot filler doesn’t move or contact the trigger. This means you can do away with the firing pin safety and allow for a lighter trigger pull.
This is where that pesky safety used to be.
And as you can see I switched the standard bow trigger for a flat one, from Guncrafter. This is more of an experiment, It’s $20.00 at Brownells so I thought I’d try it. It did have a few high spots on the bow, but a little bit of sandpaper took care of that. The benefit of a flat trigger is that it’s fast. I don’t need to move my finger as far into the trigger as with a bowed trigger.