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Thread: Para Ordnance P14-45 by Western Arms

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    29th May 2004
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    Para Ordnance P14-45 by Western Arms

    Introduction

    This is a special pistol for me. Why? Well, for starters, it was my first Western Arms (WA) pistol, and I was really anxious to try it out, having read all those comments about how WA make the best Gas-Blowback pistols in the market.

    Not a good enough reason, to make the pistol special? OK, I agree. Then how about the fact that this pistol was hand-delivered to me personally, by Para Ordnance President, Mr. Ted Szabo himself. Is that a good enough reason?



    It's not every day that Mr. Szabo comes to my house, shares a bottle of wine with me and also brings me a pistol (OK, an airsoft pistol) as a gift. Now you know why I treasure this one. I should have asked him to initialize the box in which the pistol came!

    OK, let's see that I got from Ted.

    The P14-45 needs no introduction to our readers. It was the first pistol that Para Ordnance produced, based on their wide frame, designed by Mr. Szabo. The pistol I got was the "stainless version" and came in a very plain brown cartoon box. I guess it was send to Ted, at some time, as a free sample, when WA and Para Ordnance signed the deal, which gave the first, the rights to produce Airsoft versions of PO's pistols. The pistol came partially disassembled, meaning that the grips were not installed, something which was done in a few seconds. Here is what the pistol looked, with the plastic PO grips installed on it.



    Mind you these are real PO grips, the same ones you get when you buy a real P14-45. Mind you the "Made in Japan" sticker was removed immediately. No manual was included in the box, the WA folks probably thought that the PO people knew enough about this pistol, so they didn't consider a manual as mandatory.

    The pistol is made of high quality plastic and is showing full Para Ordnance logos.







    The pistol's magazine is of course a high-capacity one, 25 BBs can be loaded in it. It adds some significant weight to the otherwise relatively light pistol.



    The magazine has the usual Western Arms switch, at its rear, right below the gas release valve, which has to be pushed down, before any gas is loaded in the mag. If you do not remember to press that switch down, all the gas that you try to load in the magazine, will escape from the upper valve, as it goes in. In and out immediately, not good.



    The pistol uses a standard bushing barrel, and a short recoil spring guide, which is fine by me.



    The sights are of the standard variety, featuring a three-dots pattern, while the grip safety is the one we usually associate with Colt Commanders. This is the only standard grip safety, which does not pinch the web of my shooting hand. The hammer is a round Commander-type as well. Finally, the mainspring housing is arched and the thumb safety is of the standard (not extended) type.




    The finish of the pistol is a little too bright to be realistic, but you can't find any faults in it, there are no seams or anything, high quality plastic used for both the frame and the slide.

    Inside the pistol's box, there was also a small bag of BBs, a bushing wrench, a couple of allen wrenches, and some things I have no idea what they are:



    There is a plastic piece which looks like a small tray and a pipe which fits underneath it. I assume this is a BB loader of some sort. There is also another plastic piece which looks very much like the hazard warning switch in my Cherokee, and a pointing aluminum rod, which I assume can be used to remove a stuck BB from the barrel. Here are these parts assembled.



    Some side notes:

    - I hate Western Arms implementation of the plungers. At least four times, while trying to disassemble the P14-45 and the Colt Lightweight Commander, I lost the thumb safety plunger and the plunger spring. It is next to impossible to remove the thumb safety, without having the plunger fly into the never-to-be-found-again-land. I hear that the latest WA (Western Arms) pistols, can use the real 1911 parts. I have to investigate if the plunger tube on the older ones can be enlarged to take these, as well, since the current setup is a disaster.

    - The pistol is heavy! I guess so is a real P14-45 with 14 rounds of 230 gr JHP loaded in it.

    - This pistol was adjusted for perfect center hold aiming (no 6 o'clock aiming). I like that in a carry gun, even though it makes accuracy testing more difficult.

    In the next page, you can read how to disassemble the pistol and our shooting tests results.

    [BREAK]

    Disassembly

    The pistol strips into its major components, in the usual way. Remove the magazine and press the recoil spring plug in, and turn the barrel bushing anticlockwise (as you look at the muzzle). Remove the recoil spring plug and the recoil spring and then move the slide back to align the disassembly notch if the slide with the slide stop. The slide can then be removed. Alternatively, you can push the slide back to align the notch with the slide stop, remove the slide stop and then remove the slide from the front. I guess this is convenient.



    Here are the pistol components laid out.



    The slide stop is a two parts affair, with a jacket passing over its shaft. This (I think) is a standard Western Arms practice, why they do it? I have no idea.



    Shooting

    When the pistol came, I was involved in a major renovation of my parents apartment. No, don't think of anything really serious, but me and Sergio (our elder son) were repainting the whole apartment. That can be a tiresome activity for someone at my age and physical condition, so I didn't have neither the time, nor the stamina, to do some real serious shooting of this pistol.

    However, while resting on the couch in the evening, I did some comparisons of the P14-45 with a standard WA M-1911 pistol (the Lightweight Commander). Here is a picture of my hand, gripping the Commander.



    And here is one, gripping the P14-45.



    As you can see, due to the width of the wide frame, my fingers have less purchase around the grip of the P14-45, than they have around the standard 1911 grip. It remains to be seen, how this affects my shooting, since this is the first time, I'll be shooting a PO.

    Upon arrival, the P14-45 had a problem, which prevent me from doing extensive firing. The hammer spring of the pistol (main spring as we call it in the real guns) was probably tired, from sitting in Ted's closet for some years, and the blow-back operation was not working properly. You could fire single shots, but you had to rack the slide to load the next BB from the magazine.

    After striping the pistol and finding nothing wrong (yes, the safety plunger got lost for about 30 minutes) I thought that the only possible reason why the blowback mechanism was not working, was because the pistol was not releasing a sufficient quantity of gas, to fully recycle the slide. As a quick test, I changed the mainspring housing with the one from the Colt Lightweight Commander, and the pistol functioned perfectly. Point proven, I needed a new mainspring, so I have ordered a new one from Guns & Guys in Hong Kong.

    While having the two pistols apart, I also installed the Para Ordnance mainspring housing in the Commander, and boy, was I surprised! The Commander works fine with the (supposedly) weaker spring of the PO. Both pistols now work fine. Go figure. It looks as if the Para Ordnance requires a stronger mainspring to function reliably, because its firing pin is located further inside the pistol's frame, than the Commander's one (difference between the first generation of WA pistols and the SCW versions). In any case, I left the two pistols like that, until the new mainspring arrives.

    With the above problem solved, I could do some shooting, to estimate the pistol's accuracy. All shooting was done inside the house, at 10 meters, from a rested position. This pistol's trigger feels a little different than the other WA pistols I've tried. Although I have never fired a PO LDA, the image I created in my mind (from Ted's description), was that this pistol's trigger feels a lot like the LDA's one. It's not heavy or creepy or anything like that, it's just that it does not feel the same as the other WA pistols triggers. In any case, the trigger pull does not affect the shooting at all, as can be seend from the results below. Here is the first group I fired.



    This is a 1.5" 5-shot group, which I think is quite interesting for an out-of-the-box Airsoft 1911 especially since this pistol is of WA previous generation with no hop-up (or at least no hop-up adjustment that I can find).

    I did try this pistol in some IPSC-style shooting, similar to the ones which I've run for the Hi-Capa, and (as expected) it was quite possible to complete the scenarios with all BBs fired, hitting the (ammoman.com) targets in the 5 or in the worst case, the 4 zone. With the maximum distance being around 16 m, this is quite nice.

    From these scenarios, it looks as if the wider grip frame of this pistol, does not have an adverse effect on my shooting. The same -I guess- can be said for the accuracy firing, which produced groups equivalent to the groups the other 1911s tested have produced.

    Poor Man's Chrono Test



    This pistol's power was enough to penetrate the one side of the Coke can, put a hole on the opposite side, but the BB failed to completely exit.

    Overall

    This is a very nice pistol, for those who like wide-frame 1911s. I would prefer the finish to be blue/black, but even this stainless immitation, is well produced, accurate and reliable. I guess I owe a big "Thank You Sir" to Ted Szabo for his gift.


    Note on Gas

    With all Western Arms pistols, you are supposed to use the HFC 134A gas. Using Green gas in them, will cause problems, premature wear etc. HFC 134A is giving slightly less performance (lower BB speed), when compared to Green Gas. Green Gas should not be used in unaltered pistols made in Japan, like the WA ones.

    With the above warning noted, I have to admit that I am testing all pistols using ... propane. Green Gas is in reality propane, with a little silicone oil added, to lubricate the pistols. So instead of paying for Green Gas, I bought a canister of propane, like the ones sold in US for the camping stoves, or flame torches, and a special valve adaptor, which allows me to use the much cheaper propane instead of Green Gas. In this site, you can read more on this issue:

    http://www.airsoft-innovations.com

    The reason I am ignoring the manufacturer's recommendation, as far as gas is concerned, is two-fold. First, I want to have consistent environment for all the tests (some of the pistols we'll test here use HFC 134A, some use Green Gas), and second it's plain difficult to find HFC 134A in Greece. Also, I plan to upgrade all the standard pistols (like this one) so that it is safe to use Green Gas (and thus propane) with them.

    Rating

    Accuracy: 4
    Upgradeability: 3
    Training Capability: 5
    Realism: 4
    Quality: 4
    Power: 2

    Overall: 22
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    http://www.m1911.org
    Last edited by John; 2nd November 2008 at 13:24.


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