June 22, 2005
Para Ordnance Doberman - Western Arms
Western Arms obviously decided the Para Ordnance range needed a bit of a kick and the Doberman is an unashamed flagship model, in the same way as the Cougar Warrior is, for instance.
As best I can tell, there is no real steel Doberman (and I can't even tell if the Doberman nomenclature is simply to imply mean and tough or has some relevance), but it certainly attracted a lot of attention on the web, when it was launched.
Being an SCW version with the latest gas system (more on that later), it certainly promised to back its aggressive looks up with impressive performance.
In the Box
The Shibuya Custom Works box (plain grey with prominent SCW logo) opens up to reveal a familiar interior.
The gun lies in a polystyrene inner tray, along with a small bag of BBs, two allen keys (one for the rail, one for the hop-up), a tube, hopper and rod loading tool and the usual collection of manuals.
On the outside of the box, only a sticker indicates the content, boldly proclaiming that Doberman ownership is only for a select few.
The Doberman is a big, beefy looking gun. Cutouts in the grip and slide dominate first impressions, but it looks a lot less flashy and gimmicky first hand than the photographs I had seen suggested it might. The frame and slide are made of heavyweight material.
It is a very heavy and well made feeling gun, with a less plasticky feel than some other POs I have experienced in the past. The metal rail helps, as does the heavyweight material slide and frame. The overall finish is a flat black and there are no signs of the rough finish on metal parts, seen on the Hybrid 6" Infinities.
Western Arms resisted the temptation to go overboard with colour on the Doberman and, for me, that was a great decision. The Infinity Ltds are some of the classiest airsoft guns I've ever seen and a great deal of that is down to the understated black and silver finish. The Doberman follows this approach and is all the better for it.
One of the great virtues of John Browning's 1911 design is how good it feels in the hand and the Para-Ordnance designers did a great job of retaining this when swelling the frame to accomodate the 14 round magazine. The Doberman manages to retain the comfortable feel (the grip cut-outs do not cut into your hand) and be well balanced. Although the gun feels heavy, I was surprised just how heavy it was when I weighed it, as it feels as comfortable to use as a 5" Infinity.
As with most Para Ordnance guns, there are few markings. On the left side of the slide, there's the wording Para-Ordnance and on the frame below that (in quite small text and hidden by the rail) "This product is made in Japan by Western Arms Co., Ltd and Para-Ordnance", with "Trade Marks are affixed under license of PARA-ORDNANCE MFG. INC." below that.
On the right side of the slide in a small font is the wording "This product is made in Japan by Western Arms Co., Ltd and Para-Ordnance" and "Trademarks are affixed under license of PARA-ORDNANCE MFG. INC." The chamber is marked with the Para-Ordnance logo and .45 ACP. The grips are marked with the Para Ordnance logo.
At the rear, there is an ambidextrous thumb safety (a big plus for lefties, like me), an extended slide lock (something else I like). The magazine is released with the normal, 1911 style button mag release, which requires determined operation, but is, at least, not easy to engage accidently.
The grip safety's beavertail is somewhat truncated, compared with some other 1911s, including the Para-Ordnance HRT Special.
There is a fixed, skeletonised trigger and a Ring hammer, much like the majority of Para-Ordnances.
There is a bumper on the magazine, but it does not obstruct filling with shorter gas canister fill nozzles, the way the Wilson Combat magazines do. At the base of the grip is a small, black, mag well extension, cut away at the front. There is also a Lanyard ring on the rear of the grip base, which should prevent you losing your Doberman out on the skirmish field.
When I first saw pictures of the Doberman, I wondered if the grooves in the front of the grips were shallow and painted in, but they are full depth cutouts, which allow you to see through to magazine. Not a terribly useful feature, but certainly distinctive.
Up front, the Doberman features a polished metal cone barrel (similar to that found on Infinities). Cutaway grooves in the slide, show it off, whilst a Compensator style extension added to the end of the barrel with more polished outer barrel and cut outs, permit the fitment of a slightly longer inner barrel (as long as the 6" Infinities). The whole unit is topped off with a crown-effect muzzle end.
Under the dramatically styled slide a metal rail, looking quite like an Infinity Xcellerator, is added to frame and extending to support barrel extension and permit the fitting of torches or lasers.
Sights are fairly simple. A Novak style, fixed rear sight and dovetail fitting blade foresight with white dots, providing usable sights even in low lights, but not providing anything special for target work.
Much is made of the, recently introduced, SCW gas system and it impressed me greatly in the WA Colt 1911, but firing a Magna R system Infinity and the Doberman back to back, I was a little disappointed to find that there was no really noticable differnce in felt recoil between the two. This is a very subjective thing, but I could not detect any major difference between the feel of the two systems.
It is important to say, though, that the 'kick' from both guns ranks amongst the strongest, requiring a very firm grip to ensure that the sights stay on target. Whereas the Gigant and Para Ordnance Ultimate Comp supress the recoil, the Doberman positively revels in it.
Carrying out my standard 5m/6 round, off hand test, the Doberman performed well, but not astonishingly so. All 6 rounds fell within a 3.25 inch (8 CM) diameter. With a single outlier discounted, this fell to a more impressive 2 inch (5 CM), all grouped closely in the centre of the target. These shots are shown as circles in the results below, one being overlayed with a crossed square, directly above the "5".
In terms of power, too, the results were good, but inconclusive. Over 10 shots, the Doberman averaged 297fps (using Cybergun Winter gas) indoors (around 10C).
The gun had been stored overnight in a cold room and the magazine was very cold to the touch. Unfortunately, I was unable to complete another test with a room temperature magazine, due to my Chronograph's battery failing. I'd expect to see better results under such circumstances, but even back to back, the results were not noticably higher than with a Magna system Infinity.
Take down, unsurprisingly, is a lot more complex on the Doberman than on a standard Para-Ordnance.
First of all, you need to remove the rail from the frame, by using the provided allen key. Once that is done, you are pretty much left with a standard, bushless, Para-Ordnance.
Remove the magazine, move the slide back until the slide stop can be push through the frame and push the slide and barrel unit forward off the frame.
The outer barrel must be unscrewed and pulled forward out of the slide style and then the chamber/inner barrel can be dropped back out of the frame.
Overall, I have to say I liked the Doberman much more than I expected. It's a big, hefty gun, but remarkably well balanced for its size and weight.
Retaining the comfortable feel of the Para-Ordnance P14-45, but adding a longer barrel and lots of styling, the Doberman will, no doubt, appeal to those looking for a distinctive gun for collecting (its limited edition status making it an almost certain future classic), but it is also a good performer (if not the very best) and would not disappoint as an ISPCC or CQB skirmish pistol.
Purists will not like the Doberman much, anymore than they do the Gigant, but as a bespoke airsoft handgun (viewed more like the Digicon Straight Target) it makes a fair amount of sense. Just be sure to get your order in now, before they are all gone!
Weight : 1,210g