September 24, 2010
LDA all the way!
A few months ago Para's point man, Kerby Smith, called to inform me that Para had a new compact LDA pistol. Being the adroit businessman that he is, Kerby dropped in the fact that "it's chambered for the .45 GAP." I was immediately shocked out of my semi-meditative state and exclaimed, "Whoa there, son, what did you say?" He repeated that its new CCO-GAP pistol was chambered for the .45 GAP cartridge. "Why?" I asked.
The newest addition to Para's line of compact LDA pistols is the CCO-GAP chambered for (what else?) the .45 GAP cartridge. Note the revolver-like trigger, lowered and flared ejection port and sharply checkered grip panels.
Kerby explained that while its .45 ACP compact and subcompact pistols are some of its biggest sellers, a certain percentage of the market found its grips a bit too large to handle comfortably. These people wanted a .45-caliber pistol, but they wanted one they could really get their hands around. The limiting factor in the grip size is the size of the magazine. The limiting factor in the size of the magazine is the size of the cartridge. "Hmm," Para's engineers ruminated. "What can be done?" What was needed was a smaller .45-caliber cartridge. Enter the .45 GAP.
Developed by Speer in 2002, the .45 Glock Automatic Pistol has a case length of .775, essentially the same as the 9x19. This means that OAL is 1.070--compared to the .45 ACP's 1.275. This means that the GAP can be readily adapted to a wide range of compact and subcompact pistols but still provide .45 ACP performance. For shooters with smaller hands who want the performance of a .45, this was a wish come true.
Para-Ordnance PXT LDA CCO-GAP
|Recoil operated with double-action-only trigger
|2 5/8 inches
|Covert black Para Kote
The .45 GAP provides performance equal to .45 ACP with similar-weight bullets. To achieve this, the .45 GAP is loaded to the same maximum average pressures as the .45 ACP+P (23,000 psi), which is still considerably less than 9mm Parabellum and .40 S&W (35,000 psi). What this means is that the CCO-GAP's grip has an overall circumference 1/8 inch (3.2mm) less than the company's .45 ACP CCO. Para's .45 GAP magazine measures 1.250 inches, while an ACP mag comes in at 1.368.
The first thing you notice about an LDA pistol is its revolver-like trigger, but from there on it diverges from other double-action-only pistols on the market. Retracting the slide rotates the hammer, and a cam compresses the mainspring on the hammer strut. As the slide returns to battery, the hammer follows it until twin locking hooks on the hammer engage the sear, stopping its forward movement short of the firing pin and holding it until the trigger is pulled through a full stroke. This cocks the hammer and moves the sear out of its engaged position to allow the hammer to fall.
A return spring pushes the trigger forward when it is released. As the interior (top) end of the trigger moves rearward, it moves a drawbar in the same direction. As the drawbar moves rearward, it is released from underneath the firing-pin safety plunger lever and is then pushed upward by a unit called the platform and platform spring. There it reconnects with the hammer and is aligned in position to re-contact and release the sear the next time the trigger is pulled.
Pulling the trigger pulls the drawbar forward, cocking the hammer. The hammer, near the end of its travel, disengages the internal firing-pin safety plunger, contacts and disengages the sear and allows the hammer to fall to strike the firing pin.
Accuracy testing was conducted from a rest at an intermediate 15 yards. Despite their inexperience with this pistol, the author and friend Butch were able to keep all shots inside of the targets' X- and 10-rings.
While the LDA's trigger stroke is long, it is very light. At the end is a single-action-type let off with almost no noticeable transition. This is the result of the hammer and cam working separately until they are aligned prior to the release of the sear. The LDA system's uniqueness is that the hammer is not under tension from the mainspring until it is cocked and can pick up the cam. Being that no trigger pressure is needed to compress the mainspring, the result is a trigger stroke that has to felt to be believed.
It should be noted that the slide cannot be retracted unless the grip safety is fully depressed.
Now, to the ham-fisted types out there, that might not sound like much of a difference, but it is. The first time I picked up the
CCO-GAP I was, to put it quite bluntly, surprised all to hell at how different it felt. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if those with smaller hands are going to wonder why this wasn't done before.
Disassembly is greatly eased by the bushingless barrel and captive recoil-spring assembly.
As are all of Para's new pistols, the CCO-GAP features the Power Extractor (PXT). A massive claw under constant spring pressure provides 50 percent more contact with the cartridge rim for improved, controlled feeding of cartridges from the magazine and positive extraction and ejection of spent cases.
Other custom features include Griptor grooves on the frontstrap that provide enhanced recoil control even with sweaty hands or when wearing gloves. Recoil control is also enhanced by the small extension on the baseplate of the magazine, allowing a full, four-finger grip.
|CCO-GAP TEST-FIRING RESULTS
|GROUP SIZE (ins.)
|Speer 185-gr. Gold Dot
|W-W 185-gr. Silvertip
|Speer Lawman 200-gr. TMJ
|Remington 230-gr. FMJ
|Speer 230-gr. Hydra-Shok
The Carry Option frame tang, along with the spurless hammer, makes for a snag-free exterior and smooth presentations from concealment, while the extended thumb and grip safeties ensure positive manipulation and disengagement. Sights are the usual three-dot system, but the rear is angled forward and serrated to cut down on glare and allow fast sight alignment. As I discovered later, it worked as advertised.
Fortunately, my storage closet already contained a selection of the proper ammunition, so my friend Butch Simpson and I went to the local range to see what the CCO-GAP could do. For our offhand drills, Gould & Goodrich kindly supplied one of its Yaqui Belt Slide holsters and a mag pouch, while Dave Zimmerman at the Target Barn sent along a supply of NRA D-1 targets for us to perforate.
At the range (after 14 years in this business, this is starting to sound like a broken record), our first chore was to run the CCO-GAP through the mandatory accuracy testing. Considering its intended task in life as a close-range, defensive handgun, we fired a series of five-shot groups with each brand of ammo from a rest at a moderate 15 yards. The Para tended to print a bit high, but once we had the hang of this we were able to produce nicely centered groups ranging from two to 31?2 inches. It showed a definite preference for heavier bullets, with honors going to Remington's 230-grain hardball and Federal Hydra-Shoks a close second.
Now it was time to have some fun; we performed some offhand drills. At Butch's suggestion we each ran a magazine of each brand of ammo through the CCO-GAP, drawing the pistol and performing a series of rapid-fire double taps on a pair of D-1 targets set out at seven yards.
Compare the .45 GAP cartridge (left and right) to the .45 ACP (center).
Aside from accuracy, the two aspects of the CCO-GAP that impressed me the most were how the Griptor serrations enhanced recoil control and how the sights allowed for fast target acquisition and follow-up shots.
We experienced several failures to feed with the Speer Lawman 180-grain truncated-cone bullet, and while I had expected these to disappear as we fired the pistol more, they persisted. Aside from that, the Para gobbled up everything we fed it and spat out the empty shells--very commendable for an out-of-the-box pistol.
Butch's summation: "Shooting the CCO-GAP was an interesting experience for this dyed-in-the-wool 1911 shooter. It was familiar but still different. The controls, grip and magazine were essentially the same as my various iterations of the 1911, but the LDA trigger was decidedly different.
Gould & Goodrich Yaqui Belt Slide proved a very practical, and comfortable, way to carry the mini Para.
"This was my first exposure to the LDA trigger, and my initial impression was very favorable. The trigger pull is unbelievably light and smooth through the entire stroke, with a surprise break at the end, just as it is supposed to do for best control. It only took a few magazines for my straight-pull forefinger to adjust to the pivoting sweep of the LDA trigger and ignore the short rise of the hammer."
The real test of any firearm is in the shooting; this one passed with an A. Five brands in various bullet weights and profiles were sent downrange with expected minor variations in point of impact. Despite the variations, all were judged to be within combat accuracy standards. Anyone planning to carry the CCO-GAP should settle on the most reliable and accurate ammo and practice with it. Speaking of reliability, all magazines for a self-defense pistol must be tested for reliability with the preferred carry ammunition.
Were there any complaints? The only one I could voice is that I found combat reloads a bit difficult and would like to suggest that Para consider beveling the magazine well. Other than that single caveat I think Para has a winner with this addition to its LDA line.
As an afternote, I'd like to suggest that Para offer the CCO in 9x19 and .40 S&W. With its more demure grip dimensions, this pistol is a natural launching platform for these two extremely popular rounds.