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Something wrong with my Norinco 1911-A1?

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by 45shooter, Jul 22, 2006.

  1. 45shooter

    45shooter Well-Known Member

    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.






    Last edited: Jul 25, 2006
  2. JeffC

    JeffC Well-Known Member

    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.
  3. 45shooter

    45shooter Well-Known Member


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

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    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.
  5. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus


    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 iron...carefully...to remove the flanging on the slide's lugs.
  6. 45shooter

    45shooter Well-Known Member

    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.
  7. BBBBill

    BBBBill Well-Known Member

    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.
    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.
    If the "smith" can't produce the references/proof of capability, don't throw good money after bad. Move on to someone else.
  8. 45shooter

    45shooter Well-Known Member

    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?
  9. RogersPrecision

    RogersPrecision Well-Known Member

    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.
  10. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus


    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:
  11. 45shooter

    45shooter Well-Known Member

    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.
  12. RogersPrecision

    RogersPrecision Well-Known Member

    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.
  13. RogersPrecision

    RogersPrecision Well-Known Member

    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.
  14. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Softie Nork Barrels

    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.
  15. 45shooter

    45shooter Well-Known Member

    Hard to believe but the guy who sold me the pistol knew or had suspected this problem. :mad:
  16. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    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.
  17. 45shooter

    45shooter Well-Known Member

    Like you said... "few facts and a lot of opinions" :rolleyes:
  18. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

    Nork Nork

    Norinco. Love'em or hate'em, makes no difference to me...but keep this one on-topic and civil, please gentlemen.
  19. 45shooter

    45shooter Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2006
  20. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus


    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 IF...one 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 slide...you'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 down...in 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.


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