The Wyoming Arms Parker: A Gun So Ugly, Not Even A Mother Could Love It

I like guns. So much so that I even like the first generation Smith & Wesson Sigma. But the Wyoming Arms Parker .45 Pistol is one gun that’s hard to love. I don’t know if it’s the Cowboy State’s barren emptiness, the relative lack of trees, or the whipping Wyoming winds that drive men insane. Maybe it’s the bitter cold of winter and the scorching heat during summer. Something clearly drove men crazy enough to create such an abomination.

The 1980s was a wild time and many began to view the 1911 pistol as an outdated relic of a bygone era of horse-mounted cavalry charges and blued steel that rusts when exposed to anything remotely related to sweat. Thus, someone in Wyoming took a swig of the worst bottom-shelf rotgut and decided to design a new pistol.

It shipped in a bright yellow box, reminiscent of Ruger’s old packaging.

Once opened, though, there was no way the Wyoming Arms Parker could be mistaken for a Ruger.

It was a solid chunk of stainless steel with all the looks and charm of something I’d drawn in kindergarten. The grips look oversized while the trigger guard looks like it might only accommodate your pinky finger. And if you squint really hard, you might think the front end resembles a 1911 while the rear is looks more like a ComBloc service pistol.

I really wish I could adequately describe the evident lack of quality I felt when I handle this pistol. As Dolly Parton said, it costs a lot to look this cheap. And that’s just how the Parker feels. One reason is its cast slide and frame. The chatter marks on the inside rival the lunar surface. Even the extractor claw is a cast part.

But that didn’t stop Wyoming Arms from proudly marking made in the U.S. of A. I’m just not sure any red-blooded commie-hating American would be proud of this thing.

Last June, I drove through Wyoming and part of my trip included the town of Thermopolis. It was a quaint, nice little place, home to numerous hot springs and rolling scenery. I was awestruck by the natural beauty the area had to offer.  I was equally confused as to how such a place could birth a thing such as this.

Look at it and don’t avert your gaze. The longer you stare, the more its hideousness is revealed.

But looks aren’t the only thing wrong with this gun. If looks were the only issue, we could let it pass. Again, I own a first generation S&W SW9F Sigma and think it is a good pistol. That’s because it works.

But the Parker…

No, the Parker doesn’t work. These guns are the epitome of the jam-o-matic. But even before we get to that problem, let’s look at the safety. Yes, the Parker has a manual safety. What appears to be your typical slide-mounted de-cocker/safety is more of an optical illusion.

You see, boys and girls, the Parker’s safety is really just a manual hammer block.

That’s all it does. It doesn’t lock the slide like a 1911 safety does when it’s engaged. Nor does it disconnect the trigger like a S&W Model 5906 when its safety is engaged. This is just a simple hammer block safety. You can still pull the trigger and the hammer will fall.

Which brings us to the trigger. Oh boy, that trigger. You’d think that this being an attempt to modernize the 1911 that it’d be like its contemporaries and use a double action/single action design.

You’d think wrong. This is still a single action only design and despite that, the trigger is nothing to write home about. It isn’t HK VP70Z bad, but it sure ain’t unmodified Browning Hi-Power good either. Yeah, this makes an unmodified Browning Hi-Power seem good. Really good.

Wyoming Arms didn’t even spring for a metal guide rod. It’s just a length of plastic, something that eventually will give way to wear, chemicals and shoddiness over time.

What about field stripping the gun? Well, to do that, it requires a blood sacrifice. Yeah, the Parker’s slide cuts me when I was taking it apart. Pretty consistently.

At no point during manufacturing were any of the edges of the gun dehorned. All parts left the factory razor sharp. Once the blood sacrifice is made, does the gun allow itself to be taken apart? Yes it does.

And that’s where the biggest issue with the pistol comes in. The ejector isn’t staked. It’s simply held in place by the slide. When you take the slide off, the spring under the ejector launches it into geosynchronous orbit.

That is one of the biggest issues buyers had with these guns back when they were sold. Either they were improperly assembled in the first place and never received the ejector, or the poor unsuspected buyer lost it when they took it apart.

One smart move they made in Thermopolis was designing the Parker to fit standard 1911 mags, and they’ll lock in place. And the OEM magazines were actually quality components.

The magazines for the Parker were made by Metalform, a major OEM contractor for numerous companies in the firearms industry. Colt has used Metalform for a very long time and those magazines are of primo quality. In fact, the magazines and the sights are the only quality parts when it comes to the Parker. In addition to the Metalform mags, the sights were made by Millett and were adjustable.

The period advertisements for the Parker claim that it’s an example of American value and superiority all rolled into one.

The truth of the matter is…that wasn’t true.

Wyoming Arms went out of business around 1992 and I remember these guns languishing on tables at gun shows for most of the rest of that decade. Dealers were trying to blow ’em out for cheap. But no one with any common sense would buy them. Only unsuspecting newbs would fork over $200 to $250 for a Parker. And then they’d take it to the range, only to discover they’d been ripped off and gun show dealer was long gone.

I’m into collecting odd and eclectic firearms, but I can honestly say unless you specifically want one as a curiosity to look at, don’t buy one. They’re known for their missing and easily broken parts. Getting replacements is nearly impossible and they seem to choke on virtually any ammunition you feed them.

To end this horror show, here’s the original owner’s manual, just in case you got stuck with one.


I’d like to thank Red Hills Arms of Tallahassee for allowing me to examin this pistol.

3 Responses

  1. I recently almost bought a Laseraim 10mm which is essentially a Wyoming Arms design but with a more CZ-75 flair. Same issue with the ejector too, which is the first thing I found when researching the gun and made me run far, far away.

  2. Last August, came across one of these at Cabela’s in Billings, MT. 10mm version. They had it on sale for the low price of $649.99. If there was a way, I’d post the picture I took of it. Gun looked to be in great condition for it’s age (but that’s probably due to the fact it more than likely never ever functioned correctly to begin with…)

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