Norinco 1911s - is their steel really that good?


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Min
September 5, 2008, 07:28 PM
Or is this one those internet gun forum myths that's flying around?

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VHinch
September 5, 2008, 08:01 PM
Yes, Norincos are great to build on. Unfortunately, the secret got out, and they aren't around at the good prices they were a couple of years ago.

Evenflo76
September 5, 2008, 08:53 PM
The story I got is that the Chinese used a stronger forging/alloy than Browning or Colt/US ever had in mind. This was apparently an accident... but who benefits? :evil:

Some 1911 frames are forged, and some are cast.

jaysouth
September 5, 2008, 09:50 PM
I'm not smart enough about such matters to make a statement, however, my smith will make milling cuts on Norincos only if you buy him the cutter head.

They do clean up real nice and the hammer, sear and disconnector are as durable as anything called 'bullet proof' or 'hard core' from current manufacturers.

Here's one that I just got back from a smith.

http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y123/jaysouth/HPIM1944.jpg

After firing a couple of hundred reloads, it looks like the trigger pull is going to settle down at about 3 3/4 pounds. When I sent if off, it was very inaccurate. I told the smith to replace the barrel if necessary. Instead, he hand fitted a national match bushing and really tightened up groups.

The only problem that I have ever heard of was poorly fit barrels that had to be replaced. Fit is fine, finish leaves a lot to be desired.

schmeky
September 5, 2008, 10:12 PM
Min,

Yes it is. This has been discussed quite a bit, do a search for "Norinco" and read for yourself. The Chinese used 5100 series chromoly steel in the Norinco's, whereas pretty much everyone else used 4100 series.

Plus the Norinco's are forged. If you look at Norinco's up close, you will typically notice some of the machining is rough. This is usually evident in the slide serrations. 5100 series steel means shorter life for cutters and milling bits, but results in probably the strongest 1911 ever built.

I love my Norinco, it's a keeper. This is my mildly customized Norc.
http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j235/schmeky/IMG_0377.jpg

Mad Magyar
September 5, 2008, 10:17 PM
Tuner says they're good guns...Enough for me...I keep looking for one at the gun shows, scarce....:(

Dobe
September 5, 2008, 10:24 PM
I've got one. Great find for $299.

jon_in_wv
September 6, 2008, 12:48 AM
I just put money down on a nice Norinco. It was 350 bucks and in decent shape. I can't wait to shoot it.

jaysouth
September 6, 2008, 01:45 AM
jon,

The market has gone up on Norks in the past several years. $350 is a steal for one in decent condition.

Realbigo
September 6, 2008, 02:10 AM
I missed my chance on a Norc 1911 and have kicked myself ever since. I keep hearing how great the Norc M14's are as well. I only have a NHM-91, and a knock off Win '98 myself, but I have to wonder, If things ever go really bad w/ the chinese and they do invade, will their troops be shocked as they catch lead from Norc rifles and pistols?? :)

rondog
September 6, 2008, 03:03 AM
If things ever go really bad w/ the chinese and they do invade, will their troops be shocked as they catch lead from Norc rifles and pistols??

Not as shocked as they'd be at all the Bulgarian surplus ammo coming at them from old Russian Mosins!

loop
September 6, 2008, 06:24 AM
Steel is better, specs are better. If it weren't for Norinco I'd have to buy an expensive gun to build one up.

This is my summer project. I have about $800 in it now. The only Norinco parts are the frame, slide, barrel, link and pin, plunger tube, sear, disconnector and ejector.

If you have a Norinco the most important words I have for you are: "Call EGW and order a custom barrel bushing for 25 bucks."

I guess that applies to almost all 1911s.

Norinco is the best non-custom platform to build up a 1911 I know of. I just want more of them for the old $300 price.

Here's my summer project.

http://i508.photobucket.com/albums/s323/GameGame-A-Dude/Norinco.jpg

jon_in_wv
September 6, 2008, 07:42 AM
Jaysouth. I know :) that is why I HAD to get it. I wanted a good GI style 1911. I don't think I would have done better for 350 bucks.

45auto
September 6, 2008, 07:47 AM
That implies the steel in Norinco's is better than Colt/Kimber/Springfield.

Define "better". Last longer, doesn't crack? How would anyone know that?

Mad Magyar
September 6, 2008, 08:48 AM
Loop, that is one fine looking pistol...Good job....
That implies the steel in Norinco's is better than Colt/Kimber/Springfield.

Define "better". Last longer, doesn't crack? How would anyone know that?
I don't think it was used in that context....It's good steel. It reminds me of all the "myths" that surrounded the Argentina Sistemas saying it was inferior steel, made from the sunken "Graf Spree", etc....It was a myth....

Deanimator
September 6, 2008, 09:35 AM
I bought mine used from a friend who got it from his brother who needed money.

It took a little work to get it 100% reliable, but I trust it now. When I first got it, I stripped it and discovered that the leaf spring was 100% bare metal, and BRIGHT red with rust. I replaced it with a GI part. In the end, I think I replaced all of the trigger mechanism parts. I bought it with my $300 first time Bush rebate check. I maybe put not quite $100 more in replacement parts and gunsmithing into it. Well worth the money.

The first time I cleaned the gun, I used Gun Scrubber or Shooter's Choice spray cleaner to flush debris out of the grip frame. I went to put the grip frame down to clean something else... and COULDN'T! It was stuck to my hand! I don't know what the factory grips were made of, but it acted like polystyrene. I peeled the gun off of my hand and replaced the grips with a set I had lying around in a drawer. I eventually bought a set of Ajax fake ivory grips that look very good on it. They fit right the first time too.

I bought this gun as an inexpensive CCW piece.

farscott
September 6, 2008, 11:02 AM
I noticed that the Norinco that I once owned had very hard steel; however, the specs were, shall we say, not so good. I had one of the guns where the barrel locking lugs were peened by the slide due to a poor barrel fit. I could have fixed it with a new barrel and some work; however, I was not inclined to do so. It was a used gun I bought in a local FTF and the seller refunded me my money.

rellascout
September 6, 2008, 11:42 AM
That implies the steel in Norinco's is better than Colt/Kimber/Springfield.

Define "better". Last longer, doesn't crack? How would anyone know that?

Ask anyone who have ever put a novak style sight cut into a Norinco how strong the steel is.

The steel they use is 5100. It has superior hardness characteristics Vs 4100 used by many other manufactures.

It is simply metallurgy.

45auto
September 6, 2008, 12:01 PM
The steel they use is 5100. It has superior hardness characteristics Vs 4100 used by many other manufactures.

It is simply metallurgy.

That's good.

And, that means what for the Norinco?

Lasts longer, won't crack...what?

And, how do you know?

Gordon Fink
September 6, 2008, 12:55 PM
If things ever go really bad w/ the chinese and they do invade, will their troops be shocked as they catch lead from Norc rifles and pistols?

Off topic, but I think that they would be much more surprised that they made it across the ocean at all.

~G. Fink

Lone_Gunman
September 6, 2008, 01:03 PM
I think that they would be much more surprised that they made it across the ocean at all.

It would be easier on them to just invade Alaska, and use it as a staging point for points further south. They avoid a long ocean voyage if they do that.

rellascout
September 6, 2008, 02:40 PM
It is harder out of the box and will last longer. It is also harder to work with. It wears down tooling and cutting equipment faster than softer steel.

It not a point worth arguing.

rellascout
September 6, 2008, 02:42 PM
It is harder out of the box and will last longer. It is also harder to work with. It wears down tooling and cutting equipment faster than softer steel.

It not a point worth arguing.

As for how do i know I have owned a Norinco. I have also shot several that were worked on by Wilson Combat. Used to be they only worked on Colts and Norincos back when Springers were less than stellar.

razorblade31
September 6, 2008, 03:54 PM
well, 5100 alloys are commonly used in knifemaking for applications requiring an especially tough blade. The only use 4100 alloys see in knifemaking is that some hammers are made out of them. so assuming proper heat treat, 5100 alloys are superior in toughness, abrasion resistance, and hardness.

45auto
September 7, 2008, 10:25 AM
Okay, sounds like the Norinco does use better steel than the 1911s we buy here.

That's good!

AndyC
September 7, 2008, 04:43 PM
It might be worthwhile reposting this again - from a thread over at 1911forum.com (http://forums.1911forum.com/showthread.php?t=145099)

There is nothing wrong with Norinco 1911's you can be sure of that. Here is a copy of a post from a friend of mine who is an engineer in Ottawa that will give you some idea of the quality of the steel in Norincos:

"Allright, well let me first start by explaining a few things about steel in general, including Ordnance grades of steel. Hardness does not necessarily equate to brittleness, that is a function of heat treating and alloy. Even softer steels can crack and be brittle, it's a matter of how the internal stresses are relieved, or not, by annealing and hardening processes, as well as upon carbon on other constituent elements found in the steel.

Also should mention, I'm comparing apples to apples, so only the CroMo Colt is being compared to the CroMo Norinco here. The stainless guns have their own quirks (like spalling problems, corrosion resistance benefits, etc.)

In layman's terms, the more important characteristics to crafting firearms is the toughness of the steel and modulous of elasticity of the steel. You want steel that is ductile enough to flex at the microscopic level and return to its original shape but hard enough to have good wear resistance and, in higher end guns, be able to take and keep the desired finish without dinging up too easily.

Now if we want to talk about relative hardness of steels, Norincos are made from a different steel formulation than Colts are. Comparing Rockwell hardnesses really won't tell you much, but as a general observation, on average the Norincos are at least 30% harder on the surface than most other 1911's, including the Colt. This does not mean they are more brittle - it means that the alloy used to Make the Norincos (5100 tool steel*) results in a much harder surface when heat treated than does the Colt alloy (4140 Ordnance grade tool steel*).

*Although the exact alloy formulations are "industrial secrets", destructive testing done in the USA by the DCM (circa 1997) determined that Colt uses 4140 and the Chinese formulation used in 1911's and M14S receivers is an exact match to AISI 5100 series steel.

Perhaps this is the time to mention something else about Colts. Colt does not use the same alloy today it used in WW2 and earlier. In WW1, the guns were not even given what we think of today as "heat treating". Those older guns were only spot-treated at high stress areas and today have a rather high incidence of slide cracking using full factory loads due to a number of factors, including metal fatigue, crack propagation, creep, etc. coupled with the fact that vast portions of the slide and frame have no treatment at all. That being said, the steel is very ductile and in the event of failure, it should just bend and crack - not fracture like a grenade. A good thing, but at the same time - these babies should be collected and admired more than turned into a range marathon pistol!

I could get further into heat treating, including annealing, case hardening, gas carburizing, cyanide dips, etc. and the resulting pearlitic and/or martensitic grain structures, but frankly, unless you work in a foundry or have a mechanical engineering degree and understanding of materials science, it would be way too far over everyone's head so I'll try to keep this explanation understandable for the average fellow

Now for a short note on Chinese steel "quality". The Chinese are as advanced as we are in Steel production. Is Chicom steel of poorer quality on average on a gross domestic production basis? Yes, absolutely. This is because the majority of China's manufacturing is devoted to the Wal-Marts of the world at a very low price point, so cheaper steels are generally produced and used for those products. The steel used in their weapons, however, is every bit as up to snuff as North American steel is.

So now we get into the 5100 alloy Norinco 1911 in particular. 5100 is an EXCELLENT receiver material. It hardens very well on the surface but maintains an adequately ductile core. This gives great wear resistance and great resistance to plastic deformation (deformation that causes the parts to permanently deform or warp). The one achilles heel to 5100 series alloys is that they are notoriously hard to machine. Norinco, I suspect, machines their parts with carbide cutters prior to heat treating. On a finished gun the only way you're going to cut it with HSS mill bits is if you spot-anneal the steel with a torch first. Most smiths have to buy carbide mill bits to work the steel, and even then there's a very high tool wear rate. This is probably why so few smiths will do Novak cuts to a Norinco slide - they probably only have HSS tooling!

5100 alloy is, most probably, the alloy most manufacturers WOULD chose to build receivers if tool bits were cheap and labor costs were low. It really does have better end-product properties than 4140 steel does, and it's also easier to smelt at the steel mill and forges beautifully. Virtually all Cro-Mo guns made in the west that aren't cast, however, are made of 4140 or other 4100 series alloys. 4140 is an entirely adequate steel for use in guns, it also wears tools at a much slower rate and can still be machined easily after hardening. The Chinese are fortunate in that they make many of the tool steel bits on the market (cheap supply) and lobor costs are very low. This makes 5100 steel actually cheaper for them to use b/c of the lower costs associated with making the steel stock.

All this to say, you can complain about the design, fit, finish, and economics of a Norinco 1911. But frankly, trashing the steel is a bigotted and unfounded arguement based on ignorance and reliance on the Go-USA writings of most internet experts "

I hope this gives you a better perspective of the Norinco 1911.

Take Care

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