Something wrong with my Norinco 1911-A1?


July 22, 2006, 11:59 PM
I got this Norinco 1911A1 recently from a local seller who had it for many years but shot it only few times. In past few years he shot it maybe 500 rounds and took very good care of it. This is one of 5 1911-A1 pistols I have but the only Norinco.

While cleaning the pistol today I noticed something on the barrel that I never saw on any of my other pistols. On the front portion of the barrel lugs there seems to be impact marks that seems to wear away the chrome plating. The matching lugs on the slide seems to be normal.

Is this normal barrel wear or is something wrong with this pistol? IF this is not normal what is causing it and can I get it fixed?

Attached are couple pics of the problem.

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July 23, 2006, 02:16 AM
Another Norinco barrel flanging the lugs.... ouch

Honestly I can't tell by the pics how bad it is but I'd advise not shooting it any more till the problem's corrected.

July 23, 2006, 02:54 AM

What is the problem and how do I correct it?
Does it require a major fix or something minor?

Old Fuff
July 23, 2006, 03:12 AM
Your problem could be a serious one. SO DON'T SHOOT IT!

Some Norinco's have barrels that are not made to the correct dimensions. As a consequence they have a headspace problem. This can be determined by a gunsmith with a set of .45 ACP headspace gauges. DO NOT TRY TO DETERMINE THE HEADSPACE BY USING A CARTRIDGE AS A GUAGE.

The proper solution if you have this condition is to inspect the slide for damage, and then replace the barrel - and possibly the slide.

For more information, use out search feature and the key words: "Norinco" and "headspace."

Edited to add: Your pictures indicate (but don't confirm) that the slide is still O.K. The barrel should be replaced and the headspace then checked.

July 23, 2006, 06:30 AM
Combination of insufficient vertical lug engagement and barrel-to-slide endplay has beaten the lugs rearward. The headspace is dangerous. The fix will involve swaging the frame rails down to lower the slide and have a new barrel refitted. Use a lug remove the flanging on the slide's lugs.

July 23, 2006, 08:06 AM
Damn, sounds like a serious (read $$$) problem.:scrutiny:
Maybe its better to just put the damn thing away and chalk it up as a lesson learned :mad:
Let me see if I can find someone around locally that knows anything about this problem and how it can be fixed.

July 23, 2006, 08:44 AM
Damn, sounds like a serious (read $$$) problem... Get a reasonably priced barrel like a Storm Lake. ~$70 on their Ebay store. Have it fit by someone who knows what they are doing, i.e. iron the slide lugs and lower the rails first as Tuner suggests, then fit the barrel.
Maybe its better to just put the damn thing away and chalk it up as a lesson learned
That would be a waste of a good basic platform that will provide years of fun/good service. Don't let it go to waste.
Let me see if I can find someone around locally that knows anything about this problem and how it can be fixed.
If the "smith" can't produce the references/proof of capability, don't throw good money after bad. Move on to someone else.

July 23, 2006, 01:40 PM
If the problem is caused by out of spec barrel, can I just put in a pre-fitted barrel/link from Wilson or Chip McCormic? Will that solve the problem or does the barrel have to be fitted to this slide/frame?

July 23, 2006, 03:56 PM
Looking at pics #1 and #2 it certainly shows adequate lug engagement.
We have seen this same problem on Norinco barrels before.
I'll hazard a guess that the barrel was simply too soft. Norinco's triple hard chrome plating of their barrels is perhaps an attempt to mitigate poor material and heat treat.
I'd try a drop-in barrel from any of the bigger name shops. Chances are good that all will be fine.

July 23, 2006, 04:34 PM
I dunno, Chuck...You must see somethin' that I don't. Looks to be about 65-70% from here. 'Course, I'm a wee bit fanatic over vertical engagement...:cool:

July 23, 2006, 07:02 PM
I cleaned up the slide real good and lugs seemed undamaged and I don't feel anything out of the ordinary. The "damage" seems to be limited to the barrel lugs.

How can I tell if the problem can be just fixed with a new barrel? Can I just pull the barrel out of my Colt or the Kimber and put it in and be able to tell? I have couple other 1911-A1 pistols to pull the barrel from and try.

If somebody wants/needs to see a different picture let me know and I'll take it and post it here.

July 23, 2006, 07:06 PM
I think upper lug engagement depth can be over emphasized. Ideally I like to see .045".
The Kimbers that have come through this shop typically exhibit engagement depths of .036" -.038". Although only one or two of the lug surfaces make contact in the horizontal plane, no deformation is seen.
Grind off some of that hardchrome and check the Norinco barrel on a Rockwell hardness tester. I'd wager you'll find some in the upper 20's and lower 30's on the 'C' scale.

July 23, 2006, 07:12 PM
45shooter and I posted simultaneously.
Try one of your other barrels on the Norinco. Check both engagement depth and unlock clearance. Also check headspace in the interest of safety. You can find a post by Tuner describing the required methods.
No one can guarantee the results via long distance, but odds are you'll be fine.
I hope this helps and good luck.

July 23, 2006, 08:11 PM
You're probably right, Chuck. When I first started lookin' hard at the Norincos, I was pretty well impressed...even though they're "Diamonds in the Rough"...but I may have been a little hasty in my rave reviews. The first couple dozen were good. As the guys began to answer my call, and the guns started rollin' in, things weren't quite as good as they seemed on the face of it...and most of the problems centered around the barrels.

.045 inch is IMO, good to go...especially if two lugs are in contact and if there isn't a lot of endplay...which I feel contributes more to lug deformation
than vertical engagement. Better to see .005 inch of endshake with .040 inch than .045 vertical with .015 inch of slap. Most of the Norincos that I checked have that much or more. Not good...

The other problem...though not quite as prevalent...was that the #2 lug in the slides were often mislocated, and caused the #2 barrel lug to engage
with ordnance-spec/drop-in barrels. Not a major problem IF there's full vertical engagement and minimal endshake. Three of mine have required adjustment to get the #1 lug in the game...the other four didn't.

Me? I don't have a single qualm over beatin' on the frame with a hammer. I actually kinda like it.;)

Oh yeah...45Shooter...A long link isn't the way to get increased vertical depth. That usually brings on other problems. I use a set of small feeler gauges stacked together between the hood and slide...about .100-.125 inch thick. A whittled-down popsicle stick will also work. Stick it between the hood and slide and let the slide snap closed from about a quarter of the way back. Use a dial caliper to measure from the top of the slide to the top of the barrel. Take the spacer out and let the slide snap to battery. Lower the hammer. Measure again. The difference is the depth of lug engagement. Take several measurements each way until you get a consistent reading.
You want to see .045-.050 inch...but don't hold your breath on that.
I'll take a wild guess and estimate yours at .035 inch...which will make it about 70% or so, depending on how tall your barrel lugs are, and how
the slide lugs hit the slots between the barrel lugs.

July 23, 2006, 08:19 PM
Hard to believe but the guy who sold me the pistol knew or had suspected this problem. :mad:

Jim Watson
July 23, 2006, 08:44 PM
Hey, how often do you read on the Internet - "The gun didn't work so I got rid of it." Meaning sold it to an unsuspecting buyer in search of a bargain on a Communist Chinese ripoff.

Sorry, guys, I am with Dianne Feinstein on this one. I would dump all Chinese Communist firearms in the ocean and the cheapskates could just eat the price they thought was so great.

July 23, 2006, 09:29 PM
Like you said... "few facts and a lot of opinions" :rolleyes:

July 23, 2006, 10:56 PM
Norinco. Love'em or hate'em, makes no difference to me...but keep this one on-topic and civil, please gentlemen.

July 24, 2006, 01:24 AM
Here are some measurements I took tonight.

The end of the barrel hood to the breech face felt as if there were excessive movement. When the barrel is pushed back with lugs engaged the 0.009" feeler gauge can be inserted and when the barrel is in forward portion the 0.020" feeler gauge can be inserted so the total movement is 0.011".

The engagement surface is only 0.033 - 0.035" when performed per 1911Tuner's instruction above.

It seems the barrel is softer than the slide as edge of the lugs on the slide is still sharp while the barrel lugs have developed a little "step".

My plan is to get a 1911 drop in barrel (one of those roto barrel maybe?) along with link and pin and install it and take new measurements. If measurments seem to indicate everyting is okay I'll take it out and shoot it.

I'll keep my fingers crossed... and keep my legs crossed when shooting it.

July 24, 2006, 08:03 AM
If you're measuring the endshake with the slide off the frame, you may be getting a false reading due to pushing the barrel fully upward in the slide.
The lugs look to be deformed more than .011 inch.

Assemble the gun and use successively thicker gauges between the hood and breechface, letting the slide go to battery slowly on each gauge. Pull the gauge and listen. When you get to the one that doesn't produce a light "clunk" of the slide moving forward, that one is the amount of endshake
that you now have. You may have to place your thumb at the rear of the slide/frame interface and "feel" for the slide to move.

Place your index finger on the barrel and use pressure to hold the barrel forward. Slowly pull the slide back as far as it will go without moving the barrel. You'll feel it hit. The distance that the slide moves is the amount of breech opening that you have when the gun fires...and the distance that
the case backs out of the chamber under pressure.

IMO, .035 inch of vertical lug engagement isn't enough. IF...the barrel that you use engages two lugs in the horizontal and of those is the first lug, and IF...the barrel that you use doesn't have more than about .005 inch of endshake in the'll probably be okay. You may get lucky and get a barrel with a lower lug radius that adds a little extra "lift" to the barrel that gets the lugs deeper into the slide's lugs...even though pushing down on the hood moves the barrel which case, you may be golden. Accuracy won't be sterling, due to the inconsistent return to the same spot between shots...but the lugs will probably be okay. Keep an eye peeled for the lugs flanging just the same. Might be a good idea to use a NO-GO gauge to maintain watch on the headspace. You can have a machine shop make one up for you in a few minutes from plain 1018 (cold-rolled) steel. Have the machinist copy the extractor groove forward angle and rim diameter, and have him cut a beveled "path" for the extractor to slip over. The gauge should be .921 inch long +/- .0005 inch...a half thousandth. That's a thousandth longer than a standard NO-GO gauge. If the slide will go to full battery on it, the headspace has become excessive.


July 24, 2006, 09:18 AM
tagged for later... I think I've got a similar issue with my RIA. I'll try to post pics in a day or two.

ok, I had to print out this thread so I can take it back and do the measurements. For now, here are the pics:
[ hi-res ] (
[ hi-res ] (
[ hi-res ] (
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[ hi-res ] (

July 26, 2006, 05:46 PM
Bump for adding my pictures. I don't have the proper tools to take the measurements suggested by Tuner, so I guess I'm outta-luck for now with getting any hard numbers.

July 26, 2006, 06:53 PM
from what I saw in your photo's the weapon has some serious tolorence issues
head space is probably way off and spit or rupture cases could result, or worse !

July 26, 2006, 08:37 PM
Marc...From the looks of that one, it appears to be either a barrel drop timing
problem, or the lack of clearance between the tops of the lugs and the underside of the slide when the barrel is in bed.

Check for a stretched link. Most Norincos that I've seen have the lower lug located a bit too far rearward, causing the barrel to be stopped by the link instead of the vertical impact surfaces. Most don't cause a problem, but a few that are really badly out of spec cause the link to be stretched to the point that it won't draw the barrel down out of the slide. The barrel hits the VIS with the lugs still vertically engaged, and the lugs get deformed like yours. "Rolled" at the front corners, for lack of a better term.

The slide looks to be salvagable. The barrel isn't. Although the headspace probably hasn't changed, continuing to shoot it in that condition will also kill the slide.

July 28, 2006, 01:28 AM
I pull a Colt 70 Series barrel/link from another pistol and installed it in the Norinco. This is almost virgin barrel (less than 500 rounds) and is very accurate in the Colt. I took some measurements with it in the Norinco and here is what I got:

Lug engagement - 0.036-0.037"
End shake - 0.007"
Breech opening - 0.012"

I don't have a no-go gauge yet but I'm working on that.

This in comparison to the original measurements with the Norinco barrel...

Lug engagement - 0.033- 0.035"
End shake - 0.011"
Breech opening - >0.02"

I'm going shoot the Norinco with this Colt barrel installed this weekend to see what happends to the lugs on the barrel.

Stay tuned...

August 15, 2006, 01:25 PM
Well, I finally got a chance to shoot the Norinco with the Colt barrel/link yesterday. I fired 50-60 rounds of WWB from WalMart.

When I got home I took the barrel out and looked at those top lugs and found the middle lug was starting to get peened (just slightly):mad: The first and the last lug seems to have no sign of peening yet but I guess it could show up later if I shoot it more.

I decided to give up on this pistol and throw it in the back of the safe. No sense to put more money into the cheap pistol. I don't want to sell it to someone in this condition as it is or will become unsafe. Maybe I'll stip it out and sell parts off of it later.

Thank you all for your comments, suggestions and input as I learned a lot from it but for now back to my wheel guns.

Live and learn :banghead:

August 16, 2006, 09:16 PM
Well...With only the #2 lug engaging horizontally, and with approximately 65%
vertical engagement on that one was bound to happen. If you're ever in my neck of the woods, bring it for a look-see. N/C

How did the rear lug face in the slide fare?

August 22, 2006, 05:14 PM
Sorry to bring back this dead horse again but I was given an interesting possible solution last night at the local IDPA match.

One of our club shooter saw this post and suggested I try the pistol with Dwyer Group Gripper spring guide and link system. His reasoning was that since most of the damage looks to be caused by lack of barrel/slide lug engagement the Group Gripper will increase the lug engagement (vertically) by pushing the barrel higher into the slide as the system uses longer barrel link. Does that make sense? Is it a possible short term solution?

BTW the lugs on the slide looks and feels okay. Is the slide harder than the metal used to make barrels?

August 22, 2006, 06:16 PM
If you want my opinion (and who doesn't?), the Group Gripper is another in a long line of gimmick products to try to squeeze performance out of sub-standard guns. You would be better served to bring a gun up to a high quality standard than to install such a thing.

Unless the group gripper can magically alter lug dimensions, you're still not getting good lug contact.

Dale Taylor
August 22, 2006, 07:33 PM
It is indeed a gimmick.

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