Who exactly made my 1911A1?


January 1, 2004, 05:26 PM
Two days ago I picked up an Auto-Ordnance 1911A1 "mil-spec." I thought it was made after Kahr bought the trademark, but upon closer inspection I discovered that it was actually made in 1997, two years before Kahr came along. I read that Numrich owned the Auto-Ordnance trademark up until 1999. My 1911A1 is marked as being made in West Hurley, NY.

So who exactly made my pistol?

If you enjoyed reading about "Who exactly made my 1911A1?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
January 1, 2004, 05:56 PM
Auto Ordnance/Thompson I'd say. Good luck with it.


January 1, 2004, 06:13 PM
If it's any help Numrich is in Hurley NY. I'd say Numrich.

January 1, 2004, 07:22 PM
I've got a like-new Thompson Auto Ordnance, early 80s production...
complete with West Hurley, NY on the frame.

Devonal...Does it have the Thompson bullet logo on the slide?

January 2, 2004, 06:09 PM
Yes, the Thompson logo is there. I was confused as I didn't know Numrich did any actual manufacturing. I thought they were just a parts supplier. Thanks.

January 3, 2004, 11:33 AM
I don't think Numrich manufactures anything, they are more of a parts collection warehouse. I think the parts are purchased from where ever they can get them for the least amount of money, then assembled into a complete firearm. As the saying goes "you get what you pay for" and it frequently shows in Auto Ordnance products.:barf:

January 3, 2004, 01:19 PM
Okay stans, I'll let you know if the next 500 rounds create any problems.

January 3, 2004, 05:26 PM
It's not the first 500 rounds that are so bad, except for the possibility of feeding jams, it's the last 500 rounds that'll get you. Some time ago there was a person on this board who was boasting about how great his new Auto Ord was and that it was just as good as any other 1911 out there. Then, during one of the frequent Auto Ord bashing threads he again posted how nice his was, then several posts down he reported that he had a little over 10,000 rounds through it and the slide was now cracked.

January 3, 2004, 06:16 PM
Intercede for a minute before this one goes to full flame?
Thank yewwwww...

Auto Ordnance gained a certain notoriety over twenty five years for
producing some very bad pistols. This was mainly due to the fact that
Auto ordnance Corporation wasn't a manufacturer per se...but an
assembler of parts supplied by the lowest bidder, and subject to
the quality or lack of same of the parts that it accepted.

The pistol was intended to be a close copy of the USGI pistol at
a price that everybody could afford. Many of them were sold to
WW2 and Korean War veterans who probably wouldn't fire more
than a few boxes of ammunition in the pistols over a decade. They
mainly wanted a .45 like they carried at Ohaha beach or Anzio or Inchon.

Except for the barrel...which is a two-piece affair...springs, and the firing pin, the pistol is composed almost entirely of investment cast parts,
including the slide, frame, and trigger group parts. Most of their early
slides and frames were produced by Essex Arms, and Essex had some
QC issues until just recently. They are much better, but still not up with
Caspian...another parts supplier. Caspian is top-notch while Essex remains
an also-ran. Serviceable slides and frames, but not quite sweet just yet.

Ruger proved that a good investment casting could be very good, and
extremely durable. The problem is that good quality castings and good
quality control programs cost money. That would drive the cost up for
an arms company that doesn't have a very good bottom line to start with.
The quality issues and resuktant bad rep finally drove AO under, and
Kahr bought them out. I have heard that Kahr's 1911 clone is much better,
but still not quite there. Again, cost is the issue.

If your Auto Ordnance is one of the better ones produced between 1982
and the time that Kahr took over, it's probably a serviceable pistol if it's
reliable. I have an early 1980s production example that is remarkable.
Accurate and so reliable that it's almost boring...but I know that it's not
a heavy use pistol. I've seen slides break in as little as 5,000 rounds,
though the frames seem to be more durable. Small parts breakage is
a problem with them, too...and the sights tend to fly off a lot.

Sometimes when the small parts break, it's hard to find another one that
will work, due to the frames being out-of-spec as to hole locations, etc.
I've had the best luck with Colt replacement parts working in the AOs
without much trouble. Springfield magazine catches haven't worked in
a single AO that I've tried them in, but Colt's seem to do okay in most.

I've seen some that were very good...but I've seen some that were absolute junk. So, if your Auto Ordnance is one of the good ones, enjoy it!
Just don't plan on putting 50,000 rounds downrange, even in Kahr. If
you should happen to break a slide, give Essex a call. Their slides are
much better than they used to be, and the price is right.

Cheers all!

January 4, 2004, 01:04 AM
Thank you for your candor. Since I paid $350 for mine (box, papers, mags) a broken slide won't be the end of the world... unless it happens during a SD shoot. Any warning signs to keep my eyes open for, other than peening/uneven wear?

It will probably take me five or six years, but I'll definitely get to 5,000 rounds sooner or later.

January 4, 2004, 01:32 AM
It was made by Eric H. Strecker, SSN 414682239.

January 4, 2004, 01:39 AM
I'm sorry, is my sarcasm detector malfunctioning?

January 4, 2004, 02:01 AM
Sorry, I'm being obnoxious. You asked who exactly made it. So I made up some guy so I could give you an exact answer.

January 4, 2004, 02:53 AM
Far be it from me to disapprove of some humor on THR :D :neener:

January 4, 2004, 08:13 AM
Devonai asked:

. Any warning signs to keep my eyes open for, other than peening/uneven wear

Yessir...and there are a few steps that you can take to prolong its life.

Check the top front of the locking lugs when you field-strip it. I've
seen several AOs that had some linkdown timing issues, and the lugs
were peened or rolled on the corners. The corners should be sharp
and square. A light burr kicked up on the top surfaces is another
indication of this. If caught in time, it can USUALLY be fixed before
a new barrel is needed.

Feel around inside the ejection port for sharp edges. Any that you can find and get to with a scrape, smooth them off and polish with 320-grit
wet or dry paper on your fingertip. Burrs and sharp edges/corners are
where cracks start. If a crack starts in a casting, it travels to a terminal
point quickly....usually all the way to the rail. I had an AO slide break through during a string, and the only indication that something was wrong
was that the pistol suddenly started shooting a foot left.

The tip of a good pocketknife can be used to scrape the edges. No need to
get carried away. Just lightly break the corner and polish. Wet or dry
paper is about a buck a sheet in the auto body section of the auto parts

Watch for a crack to start in the frame at the junction of the rails and the dust cover. If caught in time, it can be check-drilled to stop the crack.
another place is adjacent to the slidestop pin hole...bottom and frong.
Check drill it again. Looks funky, but the pistol is still serviceable. I
have two beaters with check drill holes that have been through two
rebuilds after check drilling.

If you can detail strip the gun, check the hammer hooks and sear for
any sign of cracking or damage. These parts are also castings, and
when they let go, they do it suddenly. If you can't detail strip it, learn how.
It's simple, and can be done quickly. I have a thread on the forum that
outlines the procedure.

Might be a good idea to have a spare trigger handy. Kings is a good one.
They come in different colors. Get the black one. The blue one is Petty Blue
and looks awful. It MAY require fitting...also simple. Most don't require
fitting in Auto Ordnance pistols. I've seen several factory AO triggers break
at the stirrup.

The small parts are all castings, and subject to let go without warning.
mag catch (Colt...18 bucks from Brownells in the Colt section)

Extractor (Wilson Bulletproof...usually requires light fitting to the firing pin stop) 30 bucks from Brownells

Firing pin stop. Brown hardcore. Light fitting required. 15 dollars(?)
Casting again...Breaks occur from the hole to the edge. Breaking
and polishing the sharp corners will help.

Thumb safety...Light fitting is usually required. 20 bucks.

Slidestop. McCormick...20 bucks...MIM, but better than the stock casting and very good for a direct replacement. USUALLY a drop-in, but not guaranteed to be so. Never had one to break.

Good luck with it! The older one that I have will go through a complete
small parts replacement soon. The pistol is a very good example, and
the two-piece barrel is accurate enough to keep intact. No need to fix
what ain't broke. It will be a light-duty shooter/trail gun. The other
one that I have was converted to a Commander clone with an Essex
slide and cut-down Springfield barrel that I installed in the gun after
the original was deemed too badly out-of-spec to save. It's a carry gun,
and dead reliable, though rarely shot any more. I rotate it with my other
pistols for summer carry. A little rust on it won't hurt my feelings.

Take care and shoot straight!


January 4, 2004, 03:26 PM
1911Tuner has, once again, given some excellent advice. My first 1911 was an Auto Ord, early 1980's vintange. I learned a whole lot with that pistol. Learned what to do, what not to do and that some things just can't be fixed.

January 17, 2004, 03:55 PM

Well stans, you get to say "I told you so" on this one. :)

My AO has started to develop feeding problems. About 10% of the time I will experience a failure to feed. I have been advised to polish the feed ramp with 4O steel wool.

Do you and Tuner think that will be enough? Should I use a Dremel attachment or do it by hand?

Oh, and the barrel link pin, obviously a cast part, has started to develop a burr.

By the time I'm done smoothing this thing out it's going to be slicker than a bar of soap! :rolleyes:

Still, a little elbow grease to tune a $350 pistol is still a good deal in my mind.

January 17, 2004, 04:26 PM
Howdy Devonai,

No "I told you so" from us. Describe the feeding failure....Does the round get into the chamber at all..or does it stop before any part of it gets in?
Does it happen on the last round....first round, or at random? Reloading
from slidelock or during the normal cycle?

If the gun was 100% before, something's changed...Recoil spring? Ammo?
Magazine? Will the pistol lock the slide on empty during live-fire?
Has the ejection pattern changed? Reliability turned to malfunction-ability
is a hint that it's something simple.

How long since the pistol has been cleaned? Sometimes a little gunk in the
extractor channel can cause failure to feed/failure to go to full battery.
Easy to get the extractor out to clean the channel and the extractor.
There's a thread over on the gunsmithing section that tells how in steps.
"The Clinic: 1911 Detail Strip"

Check the locking lugs at the front to see itf they're being radiused or damaged in any way. If they are, how easy is the link to remove? It
should require a punch and hammer to drift the pin out, and it should require a bit of force. If the pin hole is loose or wallowed out, barrel linkdown timing will be off some, and maybe cause short-cycling of the slide
if the slide is hitting the locking lugs very hard.

Standin' by...We'll try to help ya on this one.


January 18, 2004, 09:19 AM
Well, 1911Tuner beat me to it, but he covered all the bases. I agree, something has gone wrong since a formerly reliable 1911 has now developed indigestion.

And all Auto Ord pistols are not junk, there are some good ones out there. Unfortunately, Auto Ord turned out so many bad ones that it gave the whole line a bad reputation. Last week, I examined a brand new Auto Ord. The first thing I noticed, as I depressed the mag release button, was that the mag would not drop free of the pistol. It required a pretty hefty pull to get the mag out. Not a good start. I also looked at an Armscor, looking at the barrel feed ramp I can say that it will absolutely feed any type of bullet. Unfortunately, it was so well throated that if the shooter fires a +P round he or she is likely to discover what the phrase "kaboom" really means.:what:

January 18, 2004, 09:22 AM
stans said:

Well, 1911Tuner beat me to it,

Ya gotta get up PER-TY early in the mornin' ta get the worms before ol
Tooner gits'em...:D

January 18, 2004, 09:25 AM
That's ok Tuner, I don't particularly care for the taste of worms!:D

January 18, 2004, 09:31 AM
stans said:

That's ok Tuner, I don't particularly care for the taste of worms!

Well..If ya butter'em up, roll'em in flour and cracker crumbs, add a little
seasoning, and deep-fry'em...they ain't half bad. Sorth alike
fried clams. Grubs are right tasty, too if ya saute' lightly in butter and toss in a few mushrooms.:scrutiny: :D

January 19, 2004, 12:31 AM
The failure to feed is the cartridge jamming 1/2 of the way into the chamber. This is the same failure to feed that happens on any of my pistols if the slide doesn't move forward fast enough during dry cycling. On the AO, a textbook whack with the palm of the hand on the rear of the slide solves the problem, although occasionally I have to draw the slide back a fraction of an inch first.

This malfunction occured at all times, with any number of rounds in the magazine, and with both Chip McCormick and generic magazines (three different followers, in fact, were tried). I wasn't limp-wristing, to be sure, as all of my shots that day went into 4" groups @ 10 yards and were accounted for.

I clean my firearms every time I fire them. The locking lugs look fine and the barrel link pin is secured.

The burr that developed prevents the free swing of the link pin from front to back, and come to think of it, that might be the problem. It still hand-cycles without a problem, but the burr might make a difference in live fire...

January 19, 2004, 05:59 AM
The bur could be the culprit since it is hindering the free movement of the link. The link could be soft and the holes getting out of round, this can also cause feeding problems. Did you check under the extractor and in the extractor tunnel for a build up of crud?

January 19, 2004, 07:26 AM
Stans mighta nailed this one...I think the burr is probably it. Remove the recoil spring and plug, and leave the bushing in. Orient the bushing to its
assembled position and slowly hand-cycle the gun (empty) to see if you
can feel a point of hesitation where the slide starts pushing the barrel
forward and up. If it's there, it may not be the whole problem, but
it will surely be a factor. When you remove the link for deburring, assemble the pistol and repeat the test, just to see if the tight spot

I'm wondering what buggered the link to start with. Check the lower lug
feet on the inside walls...where the ling rides as it swings through its arc.
If there's a burr there, clean it up lightly with a flat Swiss file. Easy...
Just enough to smooth it up. If the link is too wide, don't file the lug.
Lay the link on a medium India stone and move it in a figure-8 pattern to
reduce the thickness. A drop of honing oil will on the stone will help. If
you don't have any honing oil, 3-in-1 or Marvel Mystery Oil will work.
Remember to stone the sharp edges when you're through.

The other point is...If the link was in enough of a bind to cause a feeding
problem, it may have been causing a timing problem on the barrel linkdown, too. Check the front of the locking lugs, right at the corners, They should be sharp and square.

Again...the tight link was a factor, but may not be all that's working here. if there's some stem bind, or an extractor tension issue, it might have simply the straw that broke the camel's back.

Standin' by with my collegue "Stan da Man" 'til we get this bug squashed.


January 19, 2004, 08:49 AM
Remove the recoil spring and plug, and leave the bushing in. Orient the bushing to its assembled position and slowly hand-cycle the gun (empty) to see if you can feel a point of hesitation where the slide starts pushing the barrel forward and up.

Bingo! There is a significant amount of resistance as the slide locks/unlocks the barrel. And, upon closer inspection, there are two burrs on the link. One is where the link would rest against the frame when the slide is locked closed, and the other is where it would rest against the frame when the slide is fully to the rear. Both are preventing the link from moving freely.

Later today I will remove the link and pin and report back. Thank you.

January 19, 2004, 09:02 AM
Devonai said:

Bingo! There is a significant amount of resistance as the slide locks/unlocks the barrel.

Okay...the trick is to watch the barrel to see that it moves freely. What
you're probably feeling is the disconnector as the slide pushes it down
into its channel as you unlock the barrel. If you feel the resistance just as
the barrel swings up into battery, the action of the disconnect doesn't affect that , and the hesitation or resistance is probably coming from the link being in a bind.

"Significant" was the key word that makes me think that's what you're feeling. The only way to take the disconnect out of the equation is to remove the mainspring housing and take the sear spring out, since it puts tension on the disconnect too.

If you want to remove the mainspring housing, there's a Detail Strip thread
on the gunsmithing section that takes it step-by-step.

Standin' by....

January 20, 2004, 01:18 AM
Okay, I smoothed out the link on my India stone, and put a slight bevel on the edges to help prevent the problem from returning. I haven't tried removing the sear from the equation yet, but I tried moving the barrel around as attached to the frame without the slide (just the slide stop). It now moves without resistance.

I may just polish the feed ramp and try again at the range this weekend. Somehow I think that the problem won't be alleviated yet, but I can always try.

January 20, 2004, 03:37 AM
Devonai said:

I may just polish the feed ramp and try again at the range this weekend.

Be careful not to roll the top edge of the ramp or change the angle. Instead of concentrating on the ramp, try this:

Take the tip of a good pocketknife and lightly bevel the corner of the
barrel throat at the top...the part that makes contact with the side of the
case as it breaks over to enter the chamber. Don't remove much metal.
All you want to do is to break the corner, and polish it with some 600
grit wet or dry sandpaper on your fingertip.

If that doesn't do it, there's a chance that your extractor is the problem,
if some crud has gotten into the channel behind the hook, and it can't
spring open to let the rim slip under it easily enough. That'll be the next

Rule 1: It's usually somethin' simple...


January 20, 2004, 12:52 PM
Glad we could help. This is what the internet should be about, not slamming other people, but helping them!:)

January 26, 2004, 12:36 AM

Well, gentlemen, polishing the barrel link and lugs eliminated my feeding problems. :cool: Unfortunately, the AO developed an ejection problem instead! The extractor was "wound too tight," so to speak, and was refusing to let go of the fired case about 5% of the time (five rounds out of 100). So I finally took your advice and detail-stripped the slide. There was a little crud on the extractor and in the channel, but there was more carbon then there was debris.

What surprised me was what I saw when I removed the firing pin/spring. The spring was rather rusty. I removed the rust with WD-40 and thoroughly cleaned the firing pin channel. Is this normal for neglect or should I get another firing pin spring that may be less prone to rust?

I haven't fired the pistol since, but if the extractor problem persists how should I proceed? Is a new extractor in order?

January 26, 2004, 10:05 AM
Odds are that the extractor is either a casting or a MIM part, so it's life expectancy might be fairly short. Buy a quality extractor like an Ed Brown, they seem to hold tension much better.

Rust firing pin spring? Sure it wasn't some ugly colored grease? If it was rusted, then go ahead and get a Wolfe extra power firing pin spring.

If you enjoyed reading about "Who exactly made my 1911A1?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!