PARA Exits Tactical Rifle Market

posted on October 5, 2011
ii2015_fs.jpg

This is a story about guns and motorcycles, but it has nothing to do with the Hell’s Angels’. It’s a story about a rifle that begins in the last century in Aldo’s Harley-Davidson shop in Massachusetts and, now, ends another chapter at PARA USA’s factory in North Carolina.

The rifle is the LR-300, an innovative conversion of an AR-15 to a novel operating system. The LR rifle (for Long Range) is the brainchild of Alan Zitta, a blunt-spoken, chisel-jawed Harley rider who owns Aldo’s H-D shop. Zitta licensed the right to manufacture the LR-300 to PARA USA several years ago. PARA marketed the gun as the Tactical Target Rifle until last week, when it was announced that the maker of .45 caliber 1911 pistols will exit the rifle market. The reason: to focus on its core product, the legendary P14-45 pistol.

Thanos Polyzos, CEO of PARA, said, “PARA has some exciting new projects in development that will continue the innovation we started with the high-capacity P14-45 pistol. We want to bring these exciting new major caliber handguns to the firearms market and we need to focus our attention on them.”

Zitta has hoed a tough field with the LR-300 since it debuted in the mid-‘90s. Originally sold as an upper receiver kit to install on a customer’s AR lower, the LR-300’s main claim to fame is that it relocates the bolt carrier return spring into the fore-end, thus eliminating the receiver extension and allowing for a side-folding, collapsible stock.

The LR-300 also boasted a flat-top upper receiver with M1913 Picatinny rail slots for mounting electro-optics, a step ahead of the AR market that was only then discovering the M4. Zitta’s company, Z-M Weapons, marketed the LR-300 as an accessory (not as a complete gun) but it looked like the rifle would make the Big Leagues as a stand-along rifle when Para picked up the design.

It was not to be. Para’s Tactical Target Rifle was introduced in 2008. The rifle was expensive, approaching $3,000, and it was a hybrid—not quite a piston system and not a DGI (direct gas impingement, the traditional operating system of an AR). Production was delayed and by the time the wheels were rolling, the panic buying frenzy on 2008 and 2009had dissipated.

The timing was bad for another reason as well. Ted Szabo, PARA’s co-founder, had died in 2007 at the age of 60. It was an unexpected and devastating loss for the company as Ted had been the principal engineer and firearms designer. I don’t think my good friends at PARA would be insulted if I refer to Ted as the brains of the operation, for that’s what he was.

Without Ted to direct new product developments, taking on the LR-300 as PARA’s entry into the tactical rifle market was the only way (at the time) for the company to enter the market.

No one will ever replace Szabo, but in the ensuing four years, PARA has augmented its engineering team and is now focusing on its pistols. The LR-300 has thus fallen back to Zitta to try again. It’s a good rifle, but it might be “out there” for the average shooter to understand.

Latest

M1C rifle
M1C rifle

Sniping In Korea: 1950-1953

When U.S. forces rushed to stop the North Koreans from overrunning South Korea in 1950, there were almost no American snipers. As the battle lines stabilized, that would change, and the war would become ideal for the employment of well-equipped and well-trained snipers.

Preview: Archangel Mosin Nagant OPFOR

Greatly improve the ergonomics and versatility of your old Russian workhorse with the Archangel Mosin Nagant OPFOR—one of the few replacement stocks on the market compatible with most variants of the storied bolt-action.

The Armed Citizen® September 20, 2021

Read today's "The Armed Citizen" entry for real stories of law-abiding citizens, past and present, who used their firearms to save lives.

Rifleman Q&A: Bullet & Primer Sealant

From the archives of American Rifleman, one NRA member questions the importance of the colorful or black-colored paint-like coating around the cartridge necks and primer pockets of surplus ammunition.

Preview: Zero Tolerance Knives 0357BW

The U.S.-made Zero Tolerance 0357 Black Wash liner lock features a 3.25" blade of hard, wear-resistant CPM 20CV steel treated with a scratch-hiding blackwash finish best suited for everyday carry.

The French FR F2 Sniper Rifle

Conceived during the Cold War and after thirty years of service, the French are beginning to phase out the FR F2 bolt-action sniper rifle, with the surplus rifles available for sale from Navy Arms.

Interests



Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.