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What Do I Need To Turn A Basic P16.40 Into A Great Limited Gun?


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#1 Revopop

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 05:57 PM

I went to the gunshop today, and they have a used Para P16.40 that's in great shape for $360. It's as basic as they come. I'm thinking that this would be a good base gun for a great Limited blaster. I now shoot a Wilson KZ45 in L10 with a Wilson Leather Tactical Assault holster, and I do reasonably well with it, but there are inescapable limits to this gun, so I've been keeping my eyes peeled for a Para at a good price.

Here's what I've thought of so far:

1. Sights--probably FO red front, fixed black rear.

2. Trigger work, and replacement of parts if necessary.

3. Extended ambi safety.

4. Extended slide release lever.

5. Magwell--probably Dawson Ice.

6. Larger mag release button.

7. Grips--has wraparound Hogues, and they don't work for my tiny girly hands.

8. Beavertail grip safety--I just can't have a 1911 without one.

9. Match barrel, bushing, and guide rod if necessary.

10. Mags, basepads.

11. Belt, holster, and pouches--leaning towards CRSpeed for versatility's sake.


My local USPSA club has a gunsmith who's a Para specialist, so I have a good source for custom work. I plan to do this in increments, probably starting with a belt rig, mags, etc. I'm just wondering exactly what I need to make this a top-notch setup.
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#2 ihatepickles

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 06:11 PM

Slide lightening is wonderful, this really helps with recoil. If you're planning on replacing the barrel, and depending on your personal preference for gun-weight, I'd put a bull barrel in.

Edited to add, if it's a PXT model, run don't walk away from the deal.

Edited by ihatepickles, 04 March 2007 - 07:10 PM.

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#3 wide45

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 06:53 PM

Think silk purse, sow's ear...

I run a Para with most of the upgrades on your list.

If you are going to pay someone to do all that, just get a STI. You will be dollars ahead, and have a better blaster.

If you are determined to get the Para, $360 is a great price. Make sure there is nothing hidden wrong with it. Getting your Para specialist to look at it before you buy would be a good idea.



4. Extended slide release lever. -------------Don't bother. Nobody uses them on a competition gun

5. Magwell--probably Dawson Ice. -------------Only Dawson base pads work with the Dawson mag wells.

9. Match barrel, bushing, and guide rod if necessary. --------------A bull barrel adds weight up front.
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#4 Merlin Orr

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 07:02 PM

Sights
Trigger stuff if/as needed
Magwell
standard grips (sanded) with TruGrip
Big mag button for the small hands
Beavertail? Not a beavertail on the gun now?
Standard barrel should be fine
one pc. guide rod
extra/more mags and pads
Belt, holster and holders as needed.

My .02 :)
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#5 Jaxshooter

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 07:05 PM

The Para's I have ordered for shooters were pretty accurate with the factory barrel. Most of them had the trigger work done first. If it is an older Para without the beavertail grip safety that is a must have. The extended slide release is a waste of money ( most guns are setup so they will not lock open on the last shot). I'd change the sights.

If you can have the gun looked at by the Para gunsmith and it is in good shape you could be ready to go with the grip safety, sights and trigger work. Para hicap factory mags with Dawson or Gram's base pads will work with the Ice magwell.

Hope this helped!
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#6 Revopop

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 07:27 PM

Yes, it is the older model without the beavertail grip safety. It's like the Commander style grip safety and round hammer. I assume that this means it's old enough that it doesn't have the PXT. I think the only reason why it's so cheap is because they've had a NIB one just like it and a few other Paras in stock for at least a year and a half. A hi-cap .40 1911 is kind of a niche gun, not real popular with most shooters. Also, the vast majority of customers at this shop are either good ol' boy hunters or hippie backpackers. They don't move a whole lot of handguns.
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#7 Revopop

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 07:38 PM

With regard to the sights, I don't know what brand I want. Basically, I don't have any major brand loyalty, but I'd like to go with whatever is easiest (read: cheapest) for my gunsmith to install. I have Novak red FO front/fixed black rear on my Glock now, and I really like that type of setup.
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#8 rpmwfo

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 11:01 PM

With regard to the sights, I don't know what brand I want. Basically, I don't have any major brand loyalty, but I'd like to go with whatever is easiest (read: cheapest) for my gunsmith to install. I have Novak red FO front/fixed black rear on my Glock now, and I really like that type of setup.



If it is that old of a gun, it has the staked on front sight. You will probably have to have the slide cut/dovetailed for whatever sights you want. I went a different route on my old P14. I used the Novak high mount competition rear and new staked on front. Came out to something like $40 for new sights. Some day I will cut dovetails or probably just put on a new slide.

#9 sfinney

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Posted 04 March 2007 - 11:38 PM

All good advice so far.

My "take" on the project:

Beavertail, prefer Brown (or Smith & Alexander for less fitting)
Ambi safety, or nice wide Brown single side
Definitely SKIP the extended slide release
Bite the bullet and get the slide milled for Bomars and a Dawson front sight
Dawson magwell
Throw the hammer/sear/disconnector in the trash. Get the best trigger and sear/hammer/disconnector set you can afford - min of STI, Extreme Eng or C&S would be nice - the trigger job makes all the difference on these things
Series 80 conversion plate (to remove the series 70 parts)
Aftec extractor
Guide rod
ISMI 12 to 14 pound recoil spring
Metal mag release, extended one if you have small hands
Spray paint the thing black? with gun kote and bake
Sand the grips down smooth, paint with 5 minute epoxy and pour black hobby sand or balsting media on them - then put a piece of grip tape on the front strap


IF it is shooting horribly sloppy groups after all that, and you determine it to be the barrel or barrel fit, drop a Clark or other "drop in" barrel/bushing combo into it. It doesn't have to make 1 hole groups, just be 100% reliable.

5 factory mags, lose the base pads/springs/followers, insert Dawson base pads, and your choice of new springs/followers (Grams, or Arredondo seem to work well for Para)
Holster rig of your choice

Have fun! B)


Verson B: (lo buck)
Tune the factory trigger best you can
Paint the front sight brite orange or red
Put a drop in beavertail on
bevel the mag opening with a dremel 45 deg
wrap skateboard tape on the grip and front strap
shoot the stock 16 round para mags out of an Uncle Mikes kydex holster rig
Shoot til you burn the barrel out of it, then fix it up then (or buy a new one).
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#10 ken hebert

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 03:50 PM

Only thing I disagree with the above statement is not using stock mag springs and followers. They're all I've ever run in my Para mags (x10) with Dawson +5 pads and no probs. Almost all are a reloadable 21, although I only load 20 just for Murphy factor. Do use 21 in my starter mag. I did a little sanding on the followers, corners+front and back.

F.o. front, fixed rear, Ed Brown single thumb safety and beavertail, full length guide rod, 12 lb spring, bushing barrel (stock), trigger tune up, larger mag release button, mag well (I prefer Smith/Alexander, but that's just personal), grip tape on front strap and on the plastic grips. Mine ran excellent like this for a LONG time, only recently replaced the link and barrel bushing, and this was after I believe 25k rounds, give or take. I don't keep an exact count. Springs changed every season, one extractor. Minor stuff.

Edited by ken hebert, 05 March 2007 - 03:51 PM.

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#11 Revopop

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Posted 05 March 2007 - 07:23 PM

Well, I was figuring out the costs today, and I think if it's still in the store on Friday I'm going to go for it. I spoke to the 'smith today, and his low prices made the decision for me. He said $75 for the trigger job, and I know he does a great job from shooting my buddy's 14.45 he worked over, about $50+labor for replacement parts. He recommended Ed Brown for the replacement small parts. Sign me up!
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#12 foxyyy

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 05:35 AM

Not in order of importance...just choose what you need as of the moment as well as your budget permits.

1) change the front sight with a red Dawon's fiber optic .100 or .90 AND if the rear sight isn't a Bo-mar, change it into one
2) Ed Brown wide-ambi thumb safety
3) Dawson Ice magwell
4) Guncraft extended mag release with button (if the stock is plastic)
5) STi hi-ride beavertail grip safety
6) Bull barrel...any brand will do
7) Tungsten guide-rod
8) Fine tune the springs..mainly the mainspring and recoil spring with the bullet load (PF) you're goin to compete with...you can also add an extended firing pin in there and a shock-buff
9) STI trigger, Doug Koenig hammer, EGW sear & disconnector for the trigger group..but the stock parts are ok for now to play with..upgrade as you progress
10) CR speed belt, Guga Ribas Mag pouches & Ghost holster
11) for the plastic grips..you can just remove them and get the Guncraft grip filler and have the whole grip receiver checkered (need to fill-in metal on those grip holes)
12) Dawson +2basepad, any +1 follower, change mag spring...for maximium magazine capacity

hmmmm...or just built a custom gun from an STI/SVI design

#13 Shawn Knight

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 05:44 AM

Be careful! You don't want to end up with a Frankenpara!

Behold the mighty Frankenpara!!!

Posted Image


Ed Brown match Barrel, Wide single side safety, grip safety, Essex .40 slide, Hienie rear and a Champion FO front. Notice the lack of screws in the grip fillers? I have yet to get theb@lls to drill and tap the holes, the grip tape holds them on just fine right now. That STI for Para long trigger is getting cut down to fit my finger better soon. The gun shoots very well but she is ugly!
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#14 JFD

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 06:27 AM

You definitely want to put another barrel bushing on. That's the only factory part that's broken on my Para. Of course that was one of the few factory parts still on the gun besides the slide, frame, and barrel. I'm also still using the factory extractor and ejector.

For me the best setup for mags is Para tubes, followers & springs + Dawson extensions. Scotch-Brite the inside of the tubes and smooth out the followers and you're good to go with 21 rounds to start, and 20 rounds easily reloadable.
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#15 1911vm

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 07:29 AM

Be careful! You don't want to end up with a Frankenpara!

Behold the mighty Frankenpara!!!

Posted Image


Ed Brown match Barrel, Wide single side safety, grip safety, Essex .40 slide, Hienie rear and a Champion FO front. Notice the lack of screws in the grip fillers? I have yet to get theb@lls to drill and tap the holes, the grip tape holds them on just fine right now. That STI for Para long trigger is getting cut down to fit my finger better soon. The gun shoots very well but she is ugly!

I love ugly guns that shoot well I would love to find one. But I think people do not fell comfortable showing them in public and forget about selling them, to bad.
Could you guess what you have in to the gun at this point?

#16 Shawn Knight

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 09:48 AM


Be careful! You don't want to end up with a Frankenpara!

Behold the mighty Frankenpara!!!

Posted Image


Ed Brown match Barrel, Wide single side safety, grip safety, Essex .40 slide, Hienie rear and a Champion FO front. Notice the lack of screws in the grip fillers? I have yet to get theb@lls to drill and tap the holes, the grip tape holds them on just fine right now. That STI for Para long trigger is getting cut down to fit my finger better soon. The gun shoots very well but she is ugly!

I love ugly guns that shoot well I would love to find one. But I think people do not fell comfortable showing them in public and forget about selling them, to bad.
Could you guess what you have in to the gun at this point?


I found the frame built into a gun with old GI parts at a gunshow. I was able to talk him down to $250. I have probably put close to $650 into it. Another 250 in SPS magazines for para(one won't drop free) and they only hold 20 max. Oh it also has the Cylinder and Slide tactical match kit for internals. It wasn't cut for a ramped barrel and I paid another $100 to get that cut made(Para cut). It has totaled out to maybe 1300+. Not counting the CR speed rig or ammo. The gun runs just fine I had an incident of hammer follow but I think that was the really long trigger bouncing in my hand. I want to get her tuned by a competent smith that is knowledgeable in the para frame. The only downside to her is she is an older alloy material and will be hard to work with.

Edited by theknightoflight, 06 March 2007 - 09:48 AM.

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#17 Flexmoney

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 11:26 AM

You definitely want to put another barrel bushing on. That's the only factory part that's broken on my Para.



I agree. We (gf's gun) had a stock bushing break as well.

When replacing it, be careful what you order. The inside diameter of the Para slide, at the bushing, tends to be big. I ordered the biggest over-sized bushing I could get...fully expecting to hand fit it up nice and tight. It dropped right in (fit pretty nicely as it turns out...but most bushing would have been loose).

Measure twice.

Oh...what about the Para copy of the Bomar rear sight? I'm a bit fuzzy on that...do they tend to have issues ?
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#18 ken hebert

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 12:30 PM

Well, for me at least no issues. I actually have (or rather had I should say) two Para's, almost identical. One with a fixed Novak and the other, the one I kept, with the original Bomar-esque adjustable unit. No probs, knock on wood. This one is my primary blaster, sees action every weekend.

With regard to the bushing, I did change the bushing on the one I ended up selling. Went with the Ed Brown oversize cut-to-fit one, minor fitting and in she went. Really tightened up the groups.

Edited by ken hebert, 06 March 2007 - 12:32 PM.

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#19 JFD

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 03:24 PM

I had the screw on the left work itself out last year. Didn't appear to affect anything, but I called Para and they sent me a new screw for free.

Hopalong had some kind of problem with the sight as well (he was the original owner), as Para repaired it and somehow he talked them out of a spare sight as well. I put the spare on when the screw backed out and have at least 10K through the gun with no issues.

With my Para P-16 40 LTD, most of the original parts were replaced except the slide, barrel, frame, ejector, extractor, rear sight, and slide stop. I don't consider this a waste since those parts are available as spares and I know they work. I replaced the ambi safety recently, but just as a precaution.

With 16 extended mags, I have a lot more money in mags than I do the gun.
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#20 ranger

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 05:53 PM

I have a P14.45 and a P16.40 that I built years ago for Limited - I bought them new and added the types of parts you listed above - it adds up fast. In my experience, I would buy a used P16.40 that another competitor has built rather than taking a "stripped" P16 and spend $50 here and a $100 there until you have spent a surprising amount of money.

I see some nice Paras advertised on this forum regularly that are already "built".

Good luck!

#21 jpl

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Posted 06 March 2007 - 06:41 PM

You've gotten lot's of good advice on way's to go. The folks that advise against the extended slide release are correct. If you have one on a limited gun, you will get to shoot it in Open.

This is from the current rule book, US Appendix D7, Limited Division:

18. External modifications such as weights, or devices to control or reduce
recoil are specifically not allowed, such as but not limited to, thumb rest,
extended slide stops, etc.

-JPL
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#22 Keninaz

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Posted 02 April 2007 - 03:01 PM

I also checkered the front strap on mine 20 lpi.

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#23 ParaGlocker

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 08:52 PM

Most of the above advice sounds good/correct.

If you plan on using a Bomar or similar rear sight (or if you plan on doing much machining work at all on the slide) go ahead and buy a new slide from Caspian that already has all of the work done --- It'll save you $$$ in the long run.
Also, you said you have small hands???? You might want to try eliminating the grip panels entirely. Get a set of the "grip fillers" from Brownell's and then wrap the entire grip in skateboard tape (like on the pics of "Frankenpara" above). You end up with a grip that is feel-wise very similar to a single stack 1911.

As far as internals go, get a Schuemann ultimatch bull barrel for it and replace the hammer/sear/etc with Extreme Engineering parts. And can the cheesy trigger that para installs!!!!!!

Be careful though, or you can end up going WAY further with it than you intended (Like I did on my P16 --- the only part left on the gun from Para is the frame, and that's been modified!! But I'll put it up against any STI any time, any place!!!)

Edited by ParaGlocker, 04 April 2007 - 08:58 PM.

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#24 Sam38

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Posted 04 April 2007 - 09:43 PM

You've gotten lot's of good advice on way's to go. The folks that advise against the extended slide release are correct. If you have one on a limited gun, you will get to shoot it in Open.

This is from the current rule book, US Appendix D7, Limited Division:

18. External modifications such as weights, or devices to control or reduce
recoil are specifically not allowed, such as but not limited to, thumb rest,
extended slide stops, etc.

-JPL



I think the rule is talking about '*thumb rest [generic]*' type wide extended slide stops. An ordnary extended slide stop will not put you into OPEN, I believe. Anybody know for sure?

--Sam Spiteri

#25 TreblePlink

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Posted 05 April 2007 - 05:58 AM

I asked this question of my RO instructor, who is well known. He indicated that the key is the intention to reduce recoil. Apparently there was one on the market some years ago that could be used as a thumbrest, with the intent of holding the muzzle down, which is recoil recovery. That is not allowed. Regular extended slide stops are fine but uncommon in our sport.






"I think the rule is talking about '*thumb rest [generic]*' type wide extended slide stops. An ordnary extended slide stop will not put you into OPEN, I believe. Anybody know for sure?

--Sam Spiteri"




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