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Thread: Norinco 1911 Tinkering

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    8th July 2008
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    Norinco 1911 Tinkering

    Hi everyone,

    I just bought, and received, a Norinco M-1911A1 'Sport Model' (Two-Tone) .45 ACP. (Great sale btw. Had the pistol in a week. Yes I am Canadian.)

    This is not my first 1911. I also have a Kimber Stainless Target II™ / .45 ACP. To be honest I did not want to toy around with the Kimber as these are my first handguns and I did not want to wreak a fairly expensive, and nice looking, gun.

    So I bought the Norinco with the idea of doing some modifications to it. I can live with giving it a few idiot scratches. I was hoping someone here has done something similar and could give me some pointers. I am not in a major city center and would like to order the mods and do the work myself.

    Any suggestions? If so feel free to link me to the actual parts you are talking about.

    Thanks all!
    I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.
    J.R.R Tolkien

  2. #2
    Join Date
    3rd July 2008
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    I'm sure I've answered this question somewhere in the past, but I'll go through it again...

    Norincos are my favorite guns to modify because they are closer to true military specs than even Colts in most cases. The only drawback is that the metal is so hard it can be very difficult to cut if you need to do so.

    My usual mods to a Norinco start with the trigger. I usually use a Wilson long trigger because my hands are large. If I'm doing it for someone else there may be a wider selection available. Dropping in a new trigger is pretty straight forward, but it may require some work on the disconnector or trigger bar to get a good fit. I usually stone the contact points between the trigger transfer bar and the disconnector.

    Again, the steel of the Norinco is excellent so I don't usually change the disconnector and sear, but I do polish them.

    Hammers are a matter of preference. Sometimes I'll use the tricked out C&S hammers, but usually I stick with a Wilson. Fitting the sear to the hammer can be tricky, but there is a lot of information available on the net about how to do that.

    When you are reassembling the frame the next part to go in is the grip safety. I use the Wilson drop-in extended beavertail. The metal is very hard and will destroy several carbide cutters if you try to radius the frame so the drop-in is the best compromise. It doesn't give you quite as high a grip as if you radius, but it saves quite a bit on the frustration level.

    My favorite thumb safety is the Cylinder & Slide extended, slim tactical. It is longer than the stock safety, but it is actually narrower so it doesn't stick out as far. It also is very easy to operate and when you install it you usually only need two or three file strokes to get a good fit.

    The next part is the sear spring. In general, I don't replace it, but I do some tuning. There is good info on this site on adjusting the sear spring (if I recall correctly). The next part is the mainspring housing. For that I use a Smith & Alexander housing with a magwell. They come checkered (I think it is 20 LPI) and the magwell is really handy for guiding a fresh mag into the gun.

    At this point I should mention that I replace all the pins and springs with an Ed Brown kit. The kits run about $12 and include a new mag catch spring and key, plunger spring and mainspring. I usually replace the 22-pound mainspring with an 18-pounder, though, and toss the two 22s into my box of 1911 junk I'll never use.

    Although it is completely outside of function, I'll mention I replace the grip screws with Allen fitted screws and grips from Esmeralda, her site is http://www.esmeralda.cc/ and it is like soft-core porn the for the 1911 addict.

    On to the slide...

    A new extractor. I like the Wilson bullet-proof, but there are a lot of good ones out there. (Again, extractor tuning info on this site.)

    If you are up for spending a lot of money on a firing pin a titanium pin is nice. I also put in a reduced-power Wolff firing pin spring (it comes with the recoil spring).

    I like to replace the firing pin stop with an EGW. It takes some fitting, but it is worth the time.

    I leave the original barrel and link, but replace the pin.

    A key component is the barrel bushing. I take very careful measurements of the slide ID and the barrel OD. Then I call and order a custom barrel bushing from EGW. It usually only takes a week or two and only costs about $25. If your measurements are very good, you'll need to do some sanding inside and out on the bushing to get it to fit properly. I like a Les Baer type fit. You'll have to use the barrel like a slide hammer to get it out of the slide and a wrench to remove it, but it will really shrink the group size.

    I also use an EGW full-length, one-piece guide rod. And, a Wolff 18 1/2 pound variable power recoil spring. The spring will allow you to use a wide range of ammo reliably. I shoot soft target loads and heavy self defense loads with 100 percent reliability using these springs.

    For sights I generally use King. They have a nice variety of sights that fit the Norinco with no modifications. This is the one area you will probably want to go to the .local smith to fit. A good rear sight tool is about $100 and a front sight staking tool is about $35. Unless you are going to do a lot of guns it is cheaper to pay the smith $30 to install them.

    At this point you should be about ready to mate the slide to the frame. That brings me to the last replacement part (I think). I use an EGW oversized firing pin stop. It is about five one-thousandths oversized on the pin and yields a tighter lockup between the link, frame and barrel. It is also really tough. I wear out a lot of extractors and slide stops so when it comes to them I buy the best I can get.

    For tools you'll need a set of jeweler's files, a couple fairly small honing stones, one coarse, about 100 grit and another fine, about 600. A good set of brass punches are handy. A couple grades of sandpaper finishing out at 00 or 000. A bushing wrench, of course. An old belt that you can cut up and use as a buffer in case you have to hit something with a hammer. A high quality set of small Allen wrenches come in handy. A good set of hollow ground screwdrivers are a must before you begin any work on a gun.

    At this point you've spent more on the parts, etc., than on the gun, but you will end up with a $1,500 pistol once you're done. You'll probably never get that out of it, but you'll have the satisfaction of knowing you made yourself a primo sidearm.

    I've pretty much described the Nork I generally carry, but I finished mine off with a nickel plate job in high polish, including the rounds. That alone ran me another $200. I carry it everywhere, every day and it is always for sale. The price is $1,400 and not a penny less.

    It also wins IDPA matches on an average of twice a month.

    I love Norks. I only work on Norks, Colts and Kimbers. Colts and Kimbers are easier to sell when they are done, but I love working with Norks. The aftermarket parts fit better on them than they do on Colts.

    Good luck. Just remember, be patient. Especially on your first one, be patient. There is no hurry, but once metal is removed it can't be replaced.

    Oh, one more thing. I'll throw in a plug for Brian Enos. The only lube I ever use on a 1911 is Slide Glide. It comes in four viscosities and you can get one appropriate for your climate. It will make your slide-to-frame fit better and smoother the first time you use it. Brian is also very easy to talk to so if you have questions about what is best for your area give him a call. Just an aside note, Brian literally wrote the book on competitive combat-style shooting. He's forgotten more about winning in IPSIC than I'll ever learn.

    That's my initial summation. Wish you the best.

  3. #3
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    3rd July 2008
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    I forgot. I have a pic of my "carry" Nork.

    This is what the end product looks like in a really bad photo.


  4. #4
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    19th February 2008
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    With your police model, this is what I would do:

    1) Long Wilson or Caspian trigger
    2) Flat MSH
    3) traditional single-sided thumb safety

    These first two mods will bring the pistol back into the shape it was designed and fit most hands better, I believe. Unless you are left handed, the ambi safeties sure sound "cool" but don't work that well. They tend to torque and loose their effectiveness if used much on the off side, and mess with grips. They are also pretty superfluous if you are RH - in the rare chance you need to use the gun left handed, it's easy to swipe the safety with your thumb across the frame with just a bit of practice. Ambi safeties tend to hang up on things if carried, and wide ones especially.

    Since you have a commander style hammer and speed bump grip safety, leave them alone. Grips are your choice, I prefer either smooth wood or the double-diamond checker for "classic" looks.

    Sights are what work for you. The tall three-dot type that came on my Norinco originally work great for me. I don't know how those sights on yours are, but they look practical.

    You may want to tweak your main spring to get the trigger release you want, as well as possibly stone the sear/hammer hooks as mentioned. If it works well, don't mess with it, though. Stoning the trigger channels and a little dab of grease in there should help with the trigger if you switch it for a longer one.

    Invest in quality mags after you learn what works. With factory colt, Wilson, or Metlform mags, mine will feed everything from 185gr LSWC to 230gr HP's. Just use quality mags and it should run 100%.

    Here's my well-worn Norinco from 15 years of use, now looks a little different and it's do for a re-blue this summer:

    Last edited by kamerer; 21st April 2009 at 01:40.


  5. #5
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    Nice one kamerer, is that an STI hammer?
    Too many people miss the silver lining because they're expecting gold.
    M. Setter

  6. #6
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    Oddly, I don't know! I got that from a small gun shop in FL a long time ago and I do not recall. It now has a Colt commander "ring" hammer on it since I liked that look better, and had one on a .40 Commander I was going to sell, so I swapped them.

    I also swapped out the internals (sear, disconnector) that was mated to taht hammer. It made no difference with the trigger - with just a bit of tweaking the factory Norinco parts made an excellent trigger that rivaled any custom job I had or ever felt.

  7. #7
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    I agree with the reply posted by ROPE, However keep in mind that the front sight on the POLICE/SPORT model is a dovetail, and I have yet to find an aftermarket drop-in sight to fit the dovetail, it is way too small. If anyone out there have any ideas where to find one, please let me know, or create a new post in this forum.

    Thanks

    Mike

  8. #8
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    6th January 2007
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    Here is another 16 years plus Norinco. A few mods, nothing crazy just made her look nicer and shoot gooder!!! More little tweaks in August.
    Jes Correa
    US Army Retired
    VFW Life Member,OEFx3, OIFx2 Combat Veteran and Range Lizard[/B]

  9. #9
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    Is it me or do the newer Norks have oddly shaped -A1 cuts behind the trigger guard, compared to the older ones?
    Too many people miss the silver lining because they're expecting gold.
    M. Setter

  10. #10
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    6th January 2007
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    I think the cuts are smaller, youre right. Im just glad I still got mine. the One Rope has looks dame good too. Oh since we cant get them in the US anymore, I snagged a complete slide and new barrel at GB for 90 bucks- and that will be the only frankenstein in me safe.
    Jes Correa
    US Army Retired
    VFW Life Member,OEFx3, OIFx2 Combat Veteran and Range Lizard[/B]

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