Para-Ordnance Black Watch Companion .45 ACP Details
Although not necessarily the latest LDA pistol to be offered by Para, the latest one I’ve got to look over, the Para-Ordnance Black Watch Companion, is a nifty little two-toned pistol. First of all, it’s built on a single-stacked frame giving it slimness for concealability yet girth to match most hands. Even with my big mitts, I still prefer a slimmer frame’s feel to wide-bodied ones. Although I own several high-cap framed guns, these are reserved for competitive use, not carry. My carry pieces, by preference, all have slim frames.
With its slim frame, the Para-Ordnance Black Watch Companion’s magazine holds seven of those big, fat .45ACP rounds. Seven plus one should get you through most situations requiring an armed response. If not, reload with the extra magazine you’re supposed to carry. The Para-Ordnance Black Watch Companion’s frame is equipped with a full beavertail grip safety, even though its hammer lies flush with the back of its slide (no spur or rowel). This may seem an unnecessary appendage on a gun with a bobbed hammer, but frankly, I like it and prefer it over the bobbed grip safety found on Para’s Carry.
Why? Well, one of the things I noticed while putting the Carry through its paces was that, when performing rapid draws from the holster, I occasionally missed that perfect grip with my hand ending up too high on the backstrap with the lack of a beavertail to snuggle up to. When fired with that hasty grip, the bottom of the slide raked the web of my firing hand during recoil and, eventually, after firing several rounds this way, drew blood.
Having drawn a .45ACP from a holster who knows how many times over the years, I’ve just come to prefer the feel and safety afforded by a well-shaped
grip safety. The grips on the Black Watch are fabricated from cocobolo, are slim in profile, and nicely checkered in a double-diamond motif. The width measured straight across this grip was slightly over an inch, giving this pistol a flat profile to aid in surreptitious carry. The width on a normally stocked .45 is usually some 0.20 of an inch wider. The mainspring housing on the Black Watch is flat and checkered and appears to be made of some sort of polymer. Its thumb safety is extended and single-sided, and when in its “on” position disengages the LDA’s trigger mechanism and locks the slide in place. Speaking of safeties, the Para LDA series of pistols are equipped with several safety devices above and beyond the slide lock safety. We’ve already mentioned the grip safety, which on the LDA pistol locks both the hammer and slide from movement until disengaged.
Grasping the Para-Ordnance Black Watch Companion in a normal firing grip disengages the grip safety and, provided the slide lock safety has been disengaged, readies the pistol to fire. The LDA series of pistols are also equipped with two passive-type safeties that are activated automatically, without manual intervention and are designed to prevent accidental discharges. This includes the “inertia firing pin,” a firing pin that, because of its size and position, can’t come in contact with a cartridge’s primer unless subjected to a blow of the hammer, and a “firing pin lock” that physically traps the firing pin until the trigger is intentionally pulled. This is a safe, well-designed little pistol.
The front strap on this little Para wears what Para-Ordnance calls “Griptor” grasping grooves, which are a series of milled horizontal ridges and hollows that serve to provide a much more secure hold over a plain, smooth surface. While I prefer good old hand (or machine) cut checkering on my pistols, I applaud Para for its attention in this area. It does feel good in the hand and seems to provide a more secure gripping surface over a plain strap.
The magazine chute on this pistol has a nice bevel to provide for easier, rapid magazine insertion, and the magazine release button is serrated and of standard height to not extend above the surface of the slimline grips to avoid unintentional activation.
Both frame and slide are manufactured out of stainless steel and are finished in Para’s proprietary sprayed-on/baked-on finish called ParaKote. ParaKote is a chemical coating available in several colors and when applied provides a very durable finish that is impervious to scratching, impact, and the elements. In the case of the Para-Ordnance Black Watch Companion, its main frame is finished in what I’d call OD green, while its slide, hammer, grip and thumb safeties, magazine release, slide release, cross-pins, and screws are a dull, subdued black. I’ve always carried either a stainless gun or one treated to a finish like electroless nickel or hard chrome to protect it from the rigors of continuous carry. I like the idea that one can now start with a gun made entirely of stainless and darken it with a finish like ParaKote to provide a more subdued, less-attention-getting arm.
The Black Watch’s slide has been given the same Griptor grooving treatment at its rear to aid in slide retraction. Its ejection port has been lowered, flared, and opened up considerably. This should aid in the positive ejection of fired cases and also allow for the uninhibited removal of a loaded round from its chamber. The front or muzzle end of the Black Watch’s slide has been tastefully beveled, and this should aid in reholstering. All edges have been given a light “dehorning” treatment, and no sharp edges were left untreated that could cut or abrade. I’ve handled supposed carry pistols in the past that have had edges so sharp that firing them always resulted in blood loss. This shouldn’t be a problem with this pistol.
The recoil spring assembly used to power the Para’s slide is comprised of two separate springs, the outer of conventional diameter containing approximately eight coils, mated to a smaller diameter, multi-coiled inner spring that rides around a captured guide rod. The combination of these two springs provides the necessary force to operate within the limited confines of the shortened Companion’s slide. The trigger on this particular LDA weighed in at 6 pounds even. That may sound heavy by single-action standards, but this is a good, safe, easy, and controllable pull weight for this pistol. And if you haven’t tried one the LDA system, I urge you to try it before passing judgment.
Sights on the Black Watch consist of an excellent set of fixed combat-type sights, the rear being of the snag-free, sloped, Novak style and the front being dovetailed into the slide. Both front and rear sights are appropriately lackened, with the rear sight being serrated to break up possible glare, and both carry white dots to aid with rapid sight acquisition. Even though the sight picture on this Para looks a little fuzzy to me, those white dots are easily discernible and make acquiring a quick sight picture with this little pistol a snap. The rear sight sits in a dovetail and is held in place with a single set screw, making any necessary windage adjustments easy to accomplish.
One effectively has two choices of carry with the LDA pistol. If you subscribe to the theory that a pistol should be carried with a safety employed, should it be wrested from one’s control and turned upon them, then the Companion fits this bill. Or, if you like a piece that’s good to go with just a pull of the trigger, then the Companion can be carried in that manner, too. Fieldstripping the Companion reveals that its barrel is of the integral feed ramp type mated to the slide sans bushing.
In preparation for firing the Black Watch Companion, I rounded up several brands and weights of carry-type rounds from the likes of Winchester, Hornady, Federal, and Speer. The first rounds tried were the white-boxed, Winchester USA brand loaded with full metal-jacketed bullets weighing 230 grains each. With my targets set 20 yards downrange, I was pleased to see the Black Watch’s first five rounds all fall within the 5.5-inch bull upon which I was holding at 6 o’clock.
This first group measured a pleasing 2.3 inches and formed about 3 inches above, and 1.25 inches right of my bottom-of-the-bull hold. That’s encouraging. The next round tried was one of my favorite carry rounds and was also from Winchester. Several five-shot groups fired with this 230-grain SXT-bulleted round averaged 1.8 inches producing 835 feet per second (fps) at the muzzle of the Para’s 3.5-inch tube.
The group of the day was the expanding full metal-jacketed 165-grain offering from Federal’s Personal Defense line. Unlike a revolver whose point of impact varies greatly when bullet weight changes, the little Para put five of these Federal rounds into a group measuring a noteworthy 1.36 inches, all falling within the X- and 10-ring of my 20-yard target. Felt recoil, as you might imagine, was considerably less than what was being experienced when shooting the heavier-bulleted rounds. Velocity recorded with this offering averaged but three feet shy of 1,000 fps.
The Para-Ordnance Black Watch Companion performed flawlessly throughout its testing with nary a hiccup or bobble experienced even when fed several magazines of my lead-bulleted reloads. Extraction was positive and ejection was brisk, most fired cases landing several feet to my right and slightly to my rear. I found the Griptor treatment on the Black Watch’s front strap indeed affords a comfortable, non-slip grip, and overall this gun was quite controllable when firing full duty-type ammo.
I found the model 2145 Compact Undercover holster from the Kirkpatrick Leather Company to be the perfect complement to the Black Watch Companion. Designed originally for the Colt Officer’s Model pistol, it’s constructed of premium vegetable-tanned saddle leather and finished off in a rich, dark brown. Hand molded for a secure fit on the Para and double stitched at all stress points, the Compact Undercover was a comfortable carry. One thing I liked about the Model 2145 was that the back side of the holster extended up and effectively shielded one’s love handles from coming into continued abrasive contact with things like the Para’s extended thumb safety. This is a nice touch and greatly adds to the comfort of long-term carry with this pistol.
To pack the extra reload (that we all should carry), Kirkpatrick included a well-formed, single magazine pouch that held the Para’s extra magazine securely but allowed for easy retrieval for that rapid, smooth reload. I packed the 32-plus ounce Para around in the Kirkpatrick rig on several occasions and found it very comfortable, secure, and concealable while affording a full firing grip and quick access to the pistol. Known primarily for their quality handcrafted Western belts and holsters, the Kirkpatrick Leather Company can also build you a quality, concealable carry rig. Kirkpatrick Leather goods are well-constructed and
So, if you’re looking for a quality carry pistol firing a potent defensive caliber and like the feel and packing qualities of a single-stacked .45, but find condition one, cocked-and-locked carry, somewhat unnerving, the Para-Ordnance Black Watch Companion with its LDA trigger system just might be your pistol. For more information, visit paraordnanceguns.com