1911 Conversions/Modifications

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piperl12

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Apr 7, 2012
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About a month ago I traded a local guy at our gun club an older 30-30 rifle. I had more rifles kicking around than I needed. Anyway he traded me for a Norinco 1911 in .45ACP I have owned lots of pistols but never a 1911 style. My tastes usually lean more toward H&K's and Walther's. I wanted this gun as a IPSIC pistol and as a project that I can cut my teeth on some simple gun smithing. I am looking for ideas on what do with it, what is the most important jobs first? I have already ordered new grips for it but not sure what next steps should be to make it more accurate, feed better ect. The Norinco is a great platform to begin with because it is made with excellent steel something that seems counter intuitive for Chinese guns. I already own one of there M4A1 replicas and it works amazingly well for under $600.00 I am nearly 30000 rounds fired with never a stove pipe, misfire or feed issue. My Colt AR15 cannot boast those types of results. So fire away gun nuts this is a winter project. I also hear they qualify me to do cowboy action range work given its calibre and action.

 

teufelhund

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Mar 5, 2013
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St. Louis, MO
First thing I would do is look for a plug that can be pressed with a finger to turn the barrel bushing for disassembly. Maintenance is what you'll be doing most often so making disassembly possible without that stupid specialty tool would be essential for me. I hate that thing. After that replace the factory magazines. Wilson Combat are by far the most reliable in my opinion. After that just a tune up to make sure it's functioning well i.e. spring adjustments for reliable feed, no jams etc. After that it's just bells and whistles; it has the best natural point of aim of any handgun I have ever owned. I practice reflex shooting so sights aren't high on my list, but I might spring for night sights. Good luck to you.

 

piperl12

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Apr 7, 2012
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Thanks teufelhund what's your thoughts on trigger work? It has little take up but doesn't break as sharply as my H&K P30 does. Love the way it feels in my hand though. So far it eats most everything I have thrown at it including the 500 rounds of ball ammo that came from Norinco.

 

lochinvar

Preferred Member
Oct 22, 2013
1,337
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Definitely need to get good mags, Wilson or McCromick. Then I might change out the whole spring set. I have seen Norincos that ran and ran, but I have heard of a few that had sub-par mainsprings, recoil springs, etc. Make sure the recoil spring is a 16lb (the standard) if you are doing normal shooting, 18 if you want extra punchy loads.
I really like the Norincos, they are a good plain jane 1911 and can be the platform for a really great custom pistol.

 

teufelhund

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Mar 5, 2013
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St. Louis, MO
All you need is a file to take down those factory stampings and that will smooth your pull and that's about as much as you can do besides skeletonize it, but it really doesn't remove a noticable amount of weight. Make sure you consult with a text or gunsmith (Plenty of videos on the internet about how to clean up all the factory stampings) so as not to damage your pistol. Other than that just keep it clean. The single action isn't really going to have the same definitive break as double action or two stage triggers on newer designs. Just practice and it'll become second nature.

 

smokeybear

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Dec 21, 2012
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Brampton,Ontario,Canada
I was training for IPSIC for three years was using a Glock 35 completely modded 40 S&W.
All my mods were specific to two things trigger pull and recoil compensation.
For trigger pull:
Not to sure what's out there for 1911's but I'm sure there are plenty of trigger mods to lighten the pull on your trigger. You would want it to be between 1.5 to 2.5lbs due to the high caliber the idea is to re acquire your target easier by minimizing the movement of your trigger finger and pressure you apply on trigger while shooting.
Recoil:
Many ways going about doing this trigger job is one but the most important is your grip on the pistol you want to ensure your hand does not slip or slide on the grip causing you to lose sight of your target.
Other adjustments can be porting your barrel but the can be costly due to all the custom work and you can't undo that work, this is why I would recommend a barrel attached compensator this will really reduce the muzzle lift on your pistol and it is easily removed when you don't want it.
Sights:
Same idea you can mount a micro dot with a little custom work but if you find you don't like it then your SOL.
I would use a mounted weaver attachment that allows you to mount any sight to your liking and also can be easily removed to return to your iron sights.
I hope that helped good luck with it it's a great hobby and lots of fun.
Be safe

 

vigil

Junior Member
Nov 12, 2013
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1911's are heavy, rugged, durable, easy aiming pieces of machinery. Mine is a Colt but many of the suggestions so far are quite good. The Wilson Mags are very nice and will make life easier for you. And smoothing out the stamping lines are the only trigger work I would suggest.
Getting the specialty tool for teardown is a must as well. Even if you mod it, having that tool just makes life easier (if a tad awkward til you get the hang of it).
Tearing it down, cleaning it, reassembly won't affect it at all. Well, other that like any tool, taking care of it and keeping it clean just makes life easier.
And, just like tearing down and cleaning your pipes, you'll avoid the nasties and have a whole lot more fun with it.

 

petes03

Preferred Member
Jun 23, 2013
5,245
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I've shot several 1911's, owned a couple, and still do own one, and it's my humble opinion that the ones with polished feed ramps and barrel throats tend to feed smoother and more reliably. The mags have a lot to do with that as well, and some good brands have already been mentioned, but for me, I like stainless Colt 7 round factory mags.

 

kanaia

Senior Member
Feb 3, 2013
468
18
Norks are great weapons. I've heard that many a gunsmith won't work on them because they are made out of recycled railroad tracks which is some of the hardest steel made. That being said I believe they are great 1911's shoot lots and enjoy.

 

flmason

Preferred Member
Oct 8, 2012
1,131
1
You may want to look into these modifications:
Full length guide rod and spring kit. I believe Wilson Combat makes these.
Have an adjustable trigger installed by a gunsmith and ask for a trigger job to be done so the pull is a quarter pound or less. You want to be able to shoot rapidly during timed competitions.
Have the ejection port widened. This will help lessen the stovepipe effect.
If allowed in competition get extended capacity magazines with bumper pads on the bottom.
You may also want to change the gun barrel if the rifling is not to your liking to achieve tighter shot groups.

 

instymp

Preferred Member
Jul 30, 2012
2,039
9
Not familiar with Norks, mine was a Colt & never should have sold it

Sights, Wilson mags, Beavertail, reliability work by a qualified gunsmith...then the rest of the $100's that you "have" to have. :lol:

 

madmick

New member
Oct 31, 2012
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I not familiar with Norinco, but I do like the 1911. I'm a Deputy Sheriff and the 1911 is what we are issued for our duty weapon. The best things I've done to help me is an extended beavertail with a bobbed hammer, an extended grip safety, "ergo" grips and of course Wilson Combat 8 round mags. Most of the parts I ordered are from Brownells. 1911's are a great pistol and 1,001 ways to make it to your own liking.

 

piperl12

Preferred Member
Apr 7, 2012
971
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Thanks guys lots of great info! I am trying to take it all in and formulate a plan and do most of the work myself.

 

erichbaumer

Preferred Member
Dec 4, 2012
739
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Illinois
I've never done any modifications beyond grips, but one thing I really appreciated with my Kimber was that it came with a very well-checkered grip frame, especially on the front. To me, it makes a huge difference in control, especially with follow-up shots. It also came with a ramped mag well, which I discarded but may be a good idea for the style of shooting you're looking at. I know these are "bells and whistles" mods, but they may be something to think about. Everyone else seems to be spot on with the more important stuff.

 

teufelhund

Preferred Member
Mar 5, 2013
1,499
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St. Louis, MO
Also just a heads up; when polishing feed ramps and what not a 400 grit sand paper is recommended followed by a buff with some Flitz or other polish. A dremel with a buffing pad works well for this step. Exercise caution.

 

chispa

Senior Member
Sep 18, 2011
300
0
Start with quality mags and better than the stock plastic Norinco grips. After that shoot 1,000 more rounds and see how you like the trigger. Maybe consider just keeping it stock!!
First mod should be some better sights than those small 3 dot sights. While you are breaking it in look around for a good 1911 smith to do a trigger job to your liking. A beaver tail grip safety is a big improvement and can prevent the hammer from biting your hand. If you don't already I suggest getting into reloading. 45acp is the easiest caliber to start with. You can install a flat checkered mainspring housing yourself and maybe some grip tape on the front grip area.
You're gonna love that 1911. Don't let the "made in China" bother you. Norinco made a good product for $250 back before ole Willie from Hope banned their importation back in 1994. Where are the pics?!

 

houndstooth

Member
Nov 28, 2013
112
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I have a Les Baer Thunder Ranch Special. I haven't had to do much in the way of modifying it, as it came pretty perfect from the factory. I did, however, put in a full length stainless steel guide rod and spring, and also a pair of VZ Grips (a thinnish pair) that make the grip feel perfect for my hand.
I shoot IDPA with it regularly. I've shot somewhere around 5K rounds through it, with zero FTF or FTE events. I shoot a combination of factory and hand loads.
I also am a big fan of Wilson mags.
I ordered mine custom with no roll marks on the slide. I absolutely love the gun. If I were to do it over again, I would also have ordered it w/o the serrations on the front of the slide. I never do press checks that way, and I think it would have an even cleaner look without the front serrations.

 

mattguss

New member
Apr 14, 2011
20
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Seattle Pipe Club
No offense meant but it seems like beginner gunsmithing is a dangerous hobby and will potentially fuck up your weapon beyond repair. The "dangerous" part is more important though. That said, I understand that may be why you got the gun. There are easier mods to put your toe in the water like grips, fitting a new bushing, guide rods etc i.e. things that don't involve a whole lot of skill. I am not a gunsmith myself at all. However my 1911 Gold Cup has had all the mods done to it by a pro. And believe me there are plenty of 'pros' who mess up guns. Drop in parts seldom do. First thing you should do is join the 1911 forum. http://forums.1911forum.com/index.php There are tons of pros,amateurs,great information and stickys on every conceivable topic. While many of the mods discussed here might make a better gun for you (or might not) most of them should be done by a pro or perhaps as a project if you were taking a gunsmithing class. Not a good idea to underestimate the skill required to make it all go bang every time and accurately. Hard to put back metal you took off. ALL that said, I love 1911's and welcome to your new addiction. The amazing gun that was designed by a genius (John Browning) over 100 years ago and is unarguably one of the best guns ever created.

 
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