Inside the Gun Locker: Para Carry 9 Compact, Innovative 1911-style 9mm

The Para USA PXT LDA Carry 9 is another innovative product coming from Para-Ordnance, the Canadian manufacturer of 1911 pistols, doing business in America as Para USA. Innovative on multiple levels, the Carry 9 features a Light Double Action (LDA) trigger, PXT extractor, Para Kote Black finish, and adapts the legendary 1911 profile to the 9mm round.


Here, I must admit that I carry Glocks as my primary self defense pistol. Their reliability, firepower, trigger mechanism and reasonable size make them hard to resist. However, every time I handle or shoot a 1911-style pistol I get the hankering to convert back to the classic. I find the 1911 easier to shoot accurately and it fits my hand more naturally. The Carry 9 may convince me to switch over. Here’s why.

Some would charge that a 9mm-chambered 1911-style pistol is heresy. But there are good reasons for this decision on Para’s part. The 9mm chambering allows shrinking of certain key dimensions for greater efficiency and compactness. The smaller 9mm enables the Carry 9 to have a capacity of nine rounds, versus seven rounds in a similar sized 1911 chambered in .45ACP. And for the purists, it also comes in .45 GAP. I am not going to dredge up the classic debate over 9mm vs. .45 ACP, but modern 9mm loads utilizing the latest bullet technology in +P loading are no longer the automatic second tier of cartridges in terms of effective stopping power. The reduced recoil combined with higher capacity, shooting only a marginally less effective round, indicates to me that Para put some thought into this new design.

The Carry 9 measures 6.5 inches in length by 4.75 inches high, and with its alloy frame weighs only 24 ounces. A 3 inch bull barrel mated to the frame eliminates the need for a bushing. The typical slim 1911 profile translates into comfortable concealed carry. The Carry 9’s hammer is flush with the rear of the slide and helps prevent snagging if drawn from under clothes. The single stack magazine carries eight rounds. For me, the Carry 9 seems to have a slimmer grip than a normal .45ACP 1911 Officer’s Model. The compact grip allows for more efficient recoil control. Combine the low recoil impulse of the 9mm cartridge with the smooth Para LDA trigger, and accurate rapid fire strings come with ease.


The LDA trigger must be experienced to be appreciated. It seems much less than the six pounds listed on my RCBS trigger gauge. I attribute this to the smoothness of the trigger–without any discernible hitches–as it is pulled rearward. The LDA provides a surprise trigger break with the way it rolls over near the end of its length of travel.

Range time with the Carry 9 reinforced all of my initial good impressions. My partner and I fired more than 300 rounds with the Para Carry 9 straight from the box without any issues. I train often with Bill Randolph, owner of Stonewall Arms in Winchester, VA, and often invite him to help test products. His critical eye, experience, and no holds barred opinions are welcomed. I find two or more people doing a range test ensure no nuances go unnoticed and that predetermined opinions do not hold sway when testing a firearm. I use Black Hills Ammunition 115gr FMJ remanufactured ammunition for most of my range testing due to its reliability, reasonable price, and consistent performance. I did however, experiment with a mixture of Black Hills Ammunition 115gr, 124gr, and 147gr hollow point and +P ammunition, and used Hornady 124gr TAP and Federal Tactical 124gr HydraShoks to verify reliability with self defense ammunition. Everything cycled without any problems. The Para Power Extractor (PXT) is a Para signature feature that helps set their 1911 designs apart from the competition. The PXT is 50 percent larger than conventional extractors and helps to insure positive feeding and extraction of cartridges.


The Carry 9 shot with great accuracy, even without considering its short sight radius. This is a credit to the three-dot sights and match grade barrel. Shooters easily kept all rounds within the head area of a B27 silhouette target at 15 yards, and the plate rack did not stand a chance at the same distance. That concluded my accuracy test for the Para Carry 9. Hopefully this does not disappoint readers, but I find no reason to shoot a handgun intended for personal defense from the bench. What is more important over sheer, absolute accuracy is the way a pistol puts together the sum of its parts to produce reliability and the ability to hit a target when it is hurriedly employed from concealment. More than likely a person will be reacting to a hostile threat at close range. This is a true measure of the quality of grips, sights, and trigger. The Carry 9 has this in abundance.

Para’s founder, the late Ted Szabo, designed the rear sight, which is rounded to help prevent snagging on clothing. The numerous serrations at its rear help keep glare down and provide the shooter with a crisp sight picture. The sights are another one of the Para’s difference-makers applied to the 1911 concept.

I carried and tested the Para Carry 9 in a BlackHawk inside the waistband (IWB) holster. Many shooters do not realize that BlackHawk has an extensive line of well-constructed, reasonably priced leather holsters. Any holster designed for the Officer or Commander Model 1911 pistols should work. I suggest testing holsters before buying, especially anything that is custom molded or crafted to tight tolerances.


The only critique voiced at the range involved the rounded beavertail tail. It did not seem to give the same purchase as the extended beavertails found on many other 1911 models in the marketplace. I think it was more of an issue of getting used to it versus a design flaw.

Remember, the Carry 9 is intended for concealment. The reduced grip profile helps to prevent any potential snagging and reduces the overall length of the pistol. The rounded grip safety on the Para Carry 9 helps ensure the grip safety is positively engaged even without having the extended beavertail to anchor the pistol deep in the hand. This is of more importance in my opinion. There will always be pluses and minuses when a full sized model is reduced in size. One last comment on the grip safety is that it must be depressed to cycle the slide.

I feel that even more important than any piece of equipment is the user’s own training and mindset. Every training facility I have attended stresses the mental side of personal defense. Think about it. Hopefully, the day never comes, but when it does you will be reacting to an attack, probably taken by surprise, within an area no larger than a small room in your home.

Reliable equipment is important, but mindset will make the difference no matter if you are carrying a snub nose revolver, pocket pistol, or a Para Carry 9. This pistol instills confidence with its reliability, potent firepower, and handling characteristics. Confidence is a key part of mental preparedness. The Para Carry 9 is a fine personal defense weapon that I recommend based on my experience with it.


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