Article on Para Ordnance
I didn't see it posted here, but it's pretty interesting.
Canadian gun firm stays low-key
Gardner case gun firm stays low-key
Gift to police board chair puts Para-Ordnance in
Scarborough firm workers charged in 2001 firearms case
Ted Szabo, owner of Para-Ordnance Manufacturing Inc.,
thinks Canada is a tough place to be a handgun maker.
"There is a stigma attached to this business
basically, which is not really the greatest feeling,"
Szabo lamented in an interview yesterday. "You tend to
feel guilty by saying you're a gun manufacturer and we
Szabo, who started the Scarborough company in the
mid-1980s, is feeling more discomfort these days since
Para-Ordnance was thrust into the spotlight over a
controversial gift of a .45-calibre Tac-Four handgun,
a gun the company promotes on its Web site as having
the "ultimate sweet, smooth trigger."
Norm Gardner, chair of the Toronto Police Services
Board, was the recipient of the handgun and it has
landed him in turmoil with his colleagues.
The Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services has
been asked by the police services board to investigate
whether Gardner acted appropriately by accepting the
gun from Thanos Polyzos, Szabo's partner at
Para-Ordnance, in February. Gardner provided Polyzos
with an introduction to help the company get an
exhibitor's booth at a reduced rate at the 2001
International Association of Chiefs of Police
convention in Toronto.
The provincial body is expected to decide some time
this week whether it will look into the incident,
which saw Gardner eventually pay $700 for the gun
after his name surfaced in a wiretap in an unrelated
OPP investigation of a Stouffville sporting goods
store, where the former politician picked up the
firearm. It retails for $1,200 to $1,500 (Canadian).
Gardner has said he did nothing wrong and pointed out
that in the end, Para-Ordnance paid $7,500 (Canadian)
for its exhibitors booth, while many from south of the
border ended up paying only $1,200 (U.S.) for theirs.
Szabo wasn't keen to discuss the matter yesterday. His
only comment was: "I think it's blown out of
Byron Lutcher, past president of the Toronto Revolver
Club, called Para-Ordnance guns the "Corvettes of
"They're very high quality, well sought after
self-loading handguns. They're very popular."
Among handgun enthusiasts, particularly in the United
States, Para-Ordnance is well known by those who enjoy
firing powerful pistols on shooting ranges.
But to most Canadians, the company certainly isn't a
"We're kind of low profile. The majority of our
weapons are sold outside Canada.
"It's not a very popular thing in Canada, so we just
like to keep quiet," Szabo said in a telephone
Although Szabo has in the past shied away from
mainstream media, he has opened his factory door to
tours for writers from U.S. gun magazines, even
offering them test shootings. An article in Guns &
Ammo magazine in 1996 referred to Szabo as a "highly
gifted and ingenious firearms designer."
Tougher gun control laws make Canada "not a hospitable
place to sell handguns," Szabo said.
Szabo, 57, who immigrated to Canada as a child with
his family after the Hungarian uprising in 1956, said
he really doesn't mind that. "I grew up here. I
consider this my home."
In the interview, Szabo spoke of his distress in 2001
when three Para-Ordnance employees were charged,
accused of smuggling gun parts out of the factory and
reassembling the weapons for sale. The charges have
not been proved and the case is still before the
Since then, Szabo said he has tightened security at
his factory. "We have improved all entrances and exits
all through the shop. We put in card readers and no
one can go through any door. Only authorized people
can pass. We have metal detectors and only one exit
and entrance," Szabo said.
Before the 2001 case, Szabo's partner Polyzos appeared
before a House of Commons committee a number of times
to describe the company's safeguards and argue against
some provisions of the gun-control legislation under
review at the time.
Polyzos, who is co-founder and vice-president of
Para-Ordnance and a childhood friend of Szabo's, told
a parliamentary committee in 1995 the company had more
than 100 employees and generated revenues in the "tens
of millions of dollars from export sales."
Szabo started Para-Ordnance with Polyzos in 1985.
Szabo initially started the company by developing a
submachine gun which fired only paintballs.
Para-Ordnance caught the attention of the gun industry
when Szabo introduced a high-calibre pistol which
doubled the ammunition capacity of the classic Colt
Nearly all of the company's handguns are exported
abroad. About 65 per cent of their business is in the
U.S., Szabo said.
"We sell in Canada about 250 to 300 guns a year."
About 50 per cent of the guns are sold to the military
and law enforcement agencies, he said.
In the past, a Para-Ordnance handgun was the weapon of
choice for the FBI's hostage rescue team.
The pistols are also heavily marketed to the
recreational shooting community, particularly
high-precision marksmen. Numerous dealers in the U.S.
sell Para-Ordnance's pistols, and gun publications and
Web sites sing the company's praises.
One delighted new female gun owner raved she was
hooked by the "incomparable sweetness of the trigger.
The grip fits my hand better than a glove," she wrote.
Szabo said he believes Peel Region police are using
some Para-Ordnance weapons.
Surprisingly, Szabo said he isn't much of a gun
enthusiast. "I'm not into weapons. I just make them.
Sometimes I'll shoot them. But I'm more into
motorcycles and cars."