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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'll try to start off with a good example of what I mean.

The Gun:
Norinco Model of the 1911A1

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Some History:
This pea flicker was obviously imported before the Norinco ban. I was never clear from what I read if it was an all Chinese guns ban or a Norinco ban or if Norinco is the only significant Chinese gun maker. Anyway, that's about all the history I have on that subject.

I bought it brand new in the early 90s at a local shop just after the Brady check went into affect. I'm pretty sure I have long since misplaced the original box and manual. I wish I still had that, but its been nearly 30 years, and I bought it for a carry gun. Not a safe queen.

The Reputation:
I have heard stories about reliability and soft frames, but I have had no issue with it. I did ask on the 1911 forum a couple years ago for feedback from anybody with personal direct (not hearsay) experience and noted very little negative. A few owners piped up with mostly positive. The gun smith I bought it from (new) said if I put a buffer pad in it and replaced any parts that showed any problems it should last my lifetime the way I planned to shoot it. A couple range trips a year, and a carry gun until I bought something better.

My Experience:
Well the most memorable are that I have been disarmed by police at gunpoint twice while wearing it. Once I was issued a fuel conservation ticket (less than ten over on a highway), and the other time I they ran my gun and let me go with no ticket. I was riding a motorcycle both times, but never having been a club member I was not wearing colors. I guess being a biker in possession of a gun is enough reason to pull a person over. When Arizona passed concealed carry I quit carrying open and I never got pulled over again on my motorcycle.

Oh! My experiences with the gun. LOL Well, its been dead nuts reliable. I had a major issue with it failing to feed with some practice reload ammo I got from a shooting range when I first got it and I wanted to burn some ammo to get used to it. Turned out it was downloaded for the indoor range and the only way it would cycle was if I changed the spring. I threw that stuff away and have fed it whatever factory ammo I could get and I do not recall ever having a malfunction. To be fair in the years I carried and I practice with the gun it might have seen 3000 rounds. 4000 max. I ran maybe 500-600 rounds the year I bought it and then did a handling an muscle memory re-trainer twice a year thereafter of about 100 rounds each time. I've run a variety of ammo. Mostly hollow points. No issues. I have run steel case and brass with no issues, but brass just makes me feel better. I have bought a number of cheap gun show magazines and had one that would not lock open. I threw that magazine away and never worried about it. They are cheap.

Accuracy:
Not great. I never really got to the point where I could point shoot with it. I grew up shooting wheel guns and most automatic pistols leave me shooting low if I point shoot. The sight picture is neither the best nor the worst I've used. Much better than using the hammer notch on a repro Colt percussion but nowhere near as good as the sights on something like a Taurus PT92. If I practiced with it a little more I can put about one shot per second and a half on the vital gray zone of a full size silhouette (and adjust for the current ammo). A little faster than one per second if I am happy to just hit the paper. That's at 15 yards. I never did (or heard of) the 3/7/10 drills while I carried this gun. If I slow fire every one is well within the vitals. Not a competition gun, but "good enough." I'd guess about my group size, but its been years since have carried or fired this gun. I'd probably exaggerate, get called out, bluster, and get in a pissing match over it. I just don't remember ever putting a tape measure on it. I never even thought that way back when I stilled carried this thing regularly.

The Lore:
The legend is these Norincos were about the most accurate knockoff for their time. I was told (not verified) an old marine corps armorer went through one (not mine) from the same shop and determined every single part except two (well technically 4) would interchange with a real Colt 1911A1. The grip screws and the little adapters the grip screws thread into are reportedly a metric thread. I have not checked any of that. I lightly polished the trigger, installed the recommended buffer pad, and the rest is stock. The closest I came to trying other 1911 parts is temporarily installing a GSG .22LR upper on it for a fun range day using the supplied 10 rd magazine. I ran it with Mini Mags and cheaper Thunderbolts. We ran about 1100 rounds of .22LR through it and I do not recall any issues, although that's more a testament to the GSG slide assembly than the Norinco frame and lower parts group.

Current Condition:
I see lots of holster wear. The closeup of the model marking shows its past due to be cleaned, and the edge of the slide is a little beat up. I wouldn't hesitate to use it today though if it was all I had. In fact its often the gun I "carry" when I go to the range to practice with something else. Its an open air unsupervised public range. The people I've run across have been surprisingly well mannered and practiced decent range etiquette, but I prefer to always have a loaded backup on hand when my practice gun is empty. HA! Who else carries a 1911A1 as a backup gun. It still has a great comfortable easy break 1911 trigger pull. In fact even before I polished it I don't remember any crunchy feeling, but that was... almost 30 years ago.

Air gun Wood Trigger Gun barrel Gun accessory


Summary:
  • Is it worth what I paid for it? Absolutely, but I paid early 90s price when the Norinco ban was still fresh and these were plentiful and cheap.
  • Has it been reliable? Without a doubt, but I never carried it as part of my job. If I was a firearm carrying professional I'd opt for an M9 or a PT92 (I like the the safety on the Taurus better.)
  • Would I trust it as a daily range gun? Not to blow up sure. To run 500 rounds a day every day for years on end. No. Not at all. Not without regular service and the occasional parts replacement.
  • Would I buy one today? Probably not. Not at current market price anyway.. There are lots of options in better carry guns for the same price or even less if you look.
  • Is it a good knockoff? I think so. It feels the same in my inexperienced hand as a real 1911A1, but I've never had the chance to fire the real Colt. Just handle one.
 

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Very cool write-up.

I think I only have one gun that could be considered a knock-off. This Rossi .38 is definitely heavily inspired by the Chief’s Special.
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It was my Dad’s and I got it the hard way, so its not going anywhere. He grew up in the Depression, went off to WWII at 17, then came home and made 7 kids to support on the salary of a small town newspaper copy editor. He was a “just as good as” guy - if a cheaper version of something was just as good as the real thing, he got the cheaper version.
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He might have been right in this case - the little Rossi is well made, shoots great, and has a really nice blued finish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Very cool write-up.

I think I only have one gun that could be considered a knock-off. This Rossi .38 is definitely heavily inspired by the Chief’s Special.
View attachment 800100
It was my Dad’s and I got it the hard way, so its not going anywhere. He grew up in the Depression, went off to WWII at 17, then came home and made 7 kids to support on the salary of a small town newspaper copy editor. He was a “just as good as” guy - if a cheaper version of something was just as good as the real thing, he got the cheaper version.
View attachment 800101
He might have been right in this case - the little Rossi is well made, shoots great, and has a really nice blued finish.
Which way does the cylinder rotate? I'm neither an expert on Smith & Wesson or Colt much less Rossi revolvers, but at a glance it kind of reminds me of some of the Smith & Wesson snub nose 38 specials. I don't mean that in any way to be disrespectful, and I'm perfectly open to being wrong.


A firearm with a personal history is always nice to see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 · (Edited)
When I started this thread I was thinking knockoffs of Colt firearms, but I didn't say that so... I also didn't intend for it to be a 1911 thread. I was just thinking that there are a lot of firearms that were made by Colt that where worthy of copying all the way back to the start.

Light Wood Kitchen utensil Fender Metal


However, since we have diverged here is a Spanish made Astra 357. It looks very much to me like a Smith & Wesson N frame, but they seemed to take a page out of the Colt book when it came to naming it. Its just called an Astra 357. (Like Colt with the Colt 357.) The grips are a nice shape, but with a raised panel for the checkering they feel a little odd after handling other similar size revolvers.

Air gun Wood Trigger Gun barrel Gun accessory


This firearm was handy every day, and carried twice a week by the owner of a country grocery store when he drove into town to the bank to make deposits and pick up money to cash farm worker payroll checks. I don't think it saw 100 rounds during the many years that he owned it, but on the rare occasions when I got to shoot with him he showed he was an excellent shot. I don't know if he could have shot anybody if he had to. He always told his employees there was nothing in the store worth their life. If they were ever robbed to cooperate in every way. In over thirty years they were robbed one time by an organized crew. Sadly one of the ladies working that day had been robbed before at a business closer to the highway and she quit shortly afterwards. Side Note: Her husband was the man who had owned the Colt 357 in my intro post.

I think the holster is of some note. When I was a kid I remember seeing some law enforcement carrying in a holster very similar to this one. Probably county sheriff's deputies. I recall highway patrol wearing a holster with a reinforced standup thumb break.

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I read a few negative or ho-hum comments about the Astra 357 in groups, but as near as I can tell this one is as well made as any other basic double action magnum revolver. Most of the online resources seem to have copied each other as to history of this gun, but I recall reading it was a police service weapon in Spain for years.
 

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Norinco's of many different flavours are super common up here in the land of the Great White North.
I purchased mine well used a few years ago and mainly use it as a host frame for my 1911-.22 Conversion Units. I had a gunsmith install Wilson Combat fire control parts and do a trigger job on it, the slide was already customized with a low mount rear sight and fibre optic front by a previous owner. I can confirm that the grip screw bushings are metric and strip very easily (ask me how I know). Mine have been replaced with oversize standard bushings from Brownells. These are solid pistols despite the "Made In China" roll mark on the frame.

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Interesting subject, I'd venture to say the 1911 is the most copied (knock off) design ever. To date over 100 different companies have or are manufacturing versions of the 1911 pistol.
I have 4, a Cimarron (Rock Island Arsenal), a Springfield Armory, my 1945 all original Ithica and lastly a Springfield Armory EMP .
I'd add my 1903 Pocket Hammerless knock off by Gabilondo and Urresti (Llama) more commonly RUBY.
Spanish made WW1 French side arm.
 

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The Reputation:
Well, I can’t afford, nor justify regularly shooting a 75 plus year old REAL WWII 1911A1, but I found this, was able to afford it. An Auto-Ordnance 1911A1 PKZSE with the parkerized finish. Didn’t know much about the reputation, but it looked the part and would make a fine substitute for the real deal, that I could afford and turn into a shooter range toy.

My Experience:
After getting it home and shooting it a bit, decided it was a keeper and proceeded to change a few things that in my mind made it closer to the Remington Rand 1911A1 that was the very first handgun I fired, at the tender age of 12 years… That is a story for another day.

The trigger didn’t look quite right, although it was the correct A1 shorter length, so I replaced it with a USGI stamped trigger. Also the grips, although nice enough, were replaced with some USGI type grips. The originals were nicely checkered double diamond (rosewood I think) with a big US in an oval in the center. Nice enough looking, but not in keeping with my original intention of a WWII-ish A1 clone. I also replaced the arched mainspring housing, slide stop, & the recoil spring plunger with some USGI parts I had in my parts box. Also cold blued the barrel hood.

After I dismantled it the first time to clean it before firing I found it was series 80, (I didn’t know that when I purchased it), so I bought the filler parts from Brownells and removed the extra series 80 parts and returned it to a series 70, in function if not in reality. It also has a slightly lowered ejection port and a very slight magazine bevel, but neither are obvious enough to take away from it’s USGI appearance at a glance.

I also replaced the extended floorplate 8 round MecGar magazine with a USGI 1911A1 magazine that I had purchased from the CMP a number of years ago when they were available, hoping I might need them some day.

It feeds and functions flawlessly with 230 hardball, which is all I have used in it. And if it should break (which I don’t expect), I haven’t lost anything with real history. The addition of, or I guess removal of, the series 80 parts immediately made the trigger better than any USGI 1911A1 I had used in the Army or in other shooting experiences. The sights are hard to see, just like the real thing, and it lets me scratch an itch in a way that works for me.

Accuracy:
It shoots fine, better than anything USGI I remember from my past experiences, so I’ve never really measured the groups.

Current Condition:
Here are some pictures… Works well enough for me.

Summary:
  • Is it worth what I paid for it? Yes.
  • Has it been reliable? Yes, with 230 grain hardball, which is all I have shot or desire to. A fine shooter range toy.
  • Would I buy one today? Yes, I would if I needed to, but I already have one!
  • Is it a good knockoff? With the few changes I made, I think so. It is a great range toy that lets me relive some of my past and shoot a pistol just like the one that scared a 12 year old boy to death after the first shot all those years ago.
Thanks to Bob the OP for the work you did in formatting your post, which I unabashedly copied for mine. Good job!

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That's a fine-looking two-fer... also an M/40 "knock-off" of an L-35. The M/1907 was a licensed copy, and I believe the M/40 was also.
Not sure if there's a distinction in how the term "knock-off" is used for unauthorized/unlicensed copies, versus licensed copies but there should be I think.

along the 1911 theme... a couple of Randall's...
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