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Old September 6, 2013, 04:35 AM   #1
JimmyR
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RIA vs Norinco 1911A1

OK, looking for some insight from the TFL family. I think I know which one I'm going to pick, but I want to get some additional insight.

I want to try the 1911 Kool-Aid.

First, I plan on renting one first. My local indoor range has a Taurus PT1911 that I can rent, to determine how I feel about the platform- won't tell me much about the ones I am looking at, but it's the best I have access to.

That said, for my first 1911, I'm gonna go with a basic version, preferably a 1911A1/GI type. Nothing fancy, just a plain jane 1911.

The two I am looking at most are:

Norinco 1911A1 (used)- wood hogue grips and 1 mag; price is $589 (gun is on consignment, but has been there for a while, and my LGS owner is gonna ask the consigner about dropping the price). Gun feels good, and I know and trust the seller.

RIA GI M1911A1 MilSpec (new)- basic factory Rock Island. I would be ordering this from budsgunshop.com. Price would be between $449.51/$437 (depends on if I pay cash or credit) including my FFL fee.

This would not be a carry gun immediately. I generally carry a SA/DA 9mm/9mm Mak, and the totally different action would need practice. This will initially be a range gun, potentially serving nighstand duty beside my Ruger Security Six, and maybe upping to a car/trunk gun. If I really get bit by this thing, and I feel comfortable with the switch, it may one day become a carry gun.

MY question is this: For the purposes stated above, which do you think would better serve my purposes. Would the RIA hold it's value more than the Norinco? Would scarcity apply an upward push on the Norinco's value anytime in the near future? I'm used to buying used guns, and have had really good luck with them. I know the price is a little high on the Norinco, so what price point would make the Norinco a smarter buy?

This is my first dip into the 1911 pool, so don't splash me too hard...
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Old September 6, 2013, 06:08 AM   #2
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I would recommend a new RIA for someone new to 1911s. RIA has a great reputation for customer service/repair if there are ever any problems with it. Norcs are very good guns, though. I can't speculate on future value but, as you know, there aren't any new ones coming into this country.
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Old September 6, 2013, 06:21 AM   #3
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I personally would go RIA.
New gun, warranty and excellent customer service from a company that stands behind their products.
Neither gun will appreciate much, so that's a moot point.
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Old September 6, 2013, 07:12 AM   #4
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High price on the Norinco

I have a Norinco and although I love it, would not pay that much for it. I agree go for the new gun with a warranty instead. I favor the plain 1911 also.

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Old September 6, 2013, 09:12 AM   #5
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Agreed on that Norinco being priced on the steep side. Either gun is a gamble... There've been amazing out of the box Norincos, and also some whacky ones too.

The Norinco will make for a great build base. Good frame and slide. My slide stop busted... so some of the small parts can be a little sketchy.
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Old September 6, 2013, 09:31 AM   #6
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RIA all the way on this one. A buddy of mine has one and has slowly turned it into a custom for his wife. Really good shooting 1911.
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Old September 6, 2013, 09:35 AM   #7
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If you're into the 1911's and want to start off without hurting your wallet too much. I'd say get the RIA.. Buds Gun Shop has a few for sale for under $500.



My first 1911 was a Springfield Armory Mil-Spec. It made me extremely happy.
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Old September 6, 2013, 01:35 PM   #8
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Offer them $500 for the Norinco. It is a better frame, slide barrel as long as the locking lugs look good. The Norinco is a much better base gun due to these characteristics. These guns will not go down in value they might even go up a little.

Nothing wrong with the RIA it is a good basic 1911 but it is built to hit a price point and not much more. It will lose value as soon as you fire it. I see them selling used in the sub $400 range all the time.

If I were considering one for a duty gun I would get the Nork. Shoot a 1000 rounds get comfortable with it and then send it out for a bit or tasteful custom work to make it a 1 of a kind.

With the cost of 45 ACP ammo these days the initial cost of the gun is the least of your worries... LOL
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Old September 6, 2013, 02:39 PM   #9
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I have generally favorable opinions of RIA. They're meat and potatoes 1911s. A bad one will come along every so often, but all the ones I've handled personally impressed me with decent triggers and tolerances that were tight without bordering on too tight. I'd have no qualms owning one. Like any pistol you should fire a substantial amount of rounds before trusting your life to it, especially if you already have pistols that serve that pistol. I have no experience with Norinco 1911s.
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Old September 7, 2013, 01:35 AM   #10
JimmyR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KyJim
I can't speculate on future value but, as you know, there aren't any new ones coming into this country.
Yeah, and that's really what worries me. I don't wanna miss out on buying a great piece that I might regret missing out on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kev
I personally would go RIA.
New gun, warranty and excellent customer service from a company that stands behind their products.
That's one of the big sticking points pushing me to the RIA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Constantine
If you're into the 1911's and want to start off without hurting your wallet too much. I'd say get the RIA.. Buds Gun Shop has a few for sale for under $500.
I know, that's why i linked to one...

Quote:
Originally Posted by WVsig
Offer them $500 for the Norinco.
It's a consignment gun, so it's a little tougher than just floating an offer by the LGS. I'm not thinking the owner wants to drop his price that much. From what the owner was saying, he's trying to get back what he paid for it.
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Old September 7, 2013, 03:10 AM   #11
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While there is nothing wrong with RIA 1911s, of the two I would go with the Norinco. The slide and frame are forged, while the RIA is cast. Also, as stated by others, there aren't any more Norinco 1911s being imported. Ultimately, the Norinco would be a better base gun should you choose to start customizing it. Just my two cents.
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Old September 7, 2013, 04:04 AM   #12
JimmyR
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IdahoG36
While there is nothing wrong with RIA 1911s, of the two I would go with the Norinco. The slide and frame are forged, while the RIA is cast. Also, as stated by others, there aren't any more Norinco 1911s being imported. Ultimately, the Norinco would be a better base gun should you choose to start customizing it. Just my two cents.
With both in equal condition, I would probably agree with you. However, with the Norinco in used condition and the RIA in new, I think it makes the quality question a little more complex.

I haven't done enough digging through here to see if the "cast v. forged" debate is substantial or just smoke and mirrors.

Your point about them no longer being imported is the biggest reason I have considered the Norinco over the RIA. That said, since I am looking for a 1911 to get started in the platform, I think the RIA is gonna be the winner.

My LGS has 1911s come and go all the time, but this one continues to sit. I think the cost is keeping people away, and from hearing opinions here, I can see why. I may go one of the bigger shops in the area and see if they have a RIA GI that I can put my hands on and see if I wanna drop the money.

Of course, I may rent the PT1911 and decide I don't want to invest in the platform. But I doubt it...
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Old September 7, 2013, 01:51 PM   #13
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Quote:
While there is nothing wrong with RIA 1911s, of the two I would go with the Norinco. The slide and frame are forged, while the RIA is cast. Also, as stated by others, there aren't any more Norinco 1911s being imported. Ultimately, the Norinco would be a better base gun should you choose to start customizing it.
Between the two pistols in question, this is the main reason I would also opt for the Norinco (is the slide of the RIA also cast? I thought that at least the slide was forged on the RIA)-though conceding that there's a lot of question as to how much better a forged frame is when compared to a cast one, everything else being equal. Also, imo, I don't see the Norinco ever becoming a sought after collectable just based on its relative scarcity.
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Old September 7, 2013, 03:12 PM   #14
WVsig
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RIA Frames are cast.

Right from their website: Our 1911 Frames are Cast 4140 Carbon Steel and our Slides are Forged 4140 Steel.

The cast vs forged debate is rooted in some truth but honestly there is nothing wrong with a cast frame at this price point. Caspian frames are cast as were early Dan Wessons. The slide and the barrel is where the real action takes place. It is where the wear and tear really happens on a 1911. RIAs seem to hold up well but in an apples to apples comparison the Nork will hold up better.

While the Nork will never become a collectible it will hold its value better than the RIA. IMHO you could buy the Nork for $550 and sell for the same $$$ years later. If you know the seller and trust that it is in good working order not a lemon being dumped it is the better gun of the 2.
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Old September 7, 2013, 03:39 PM   #15
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^^excellent cast vs forged frame^^^ info by WVsig

I think it is a moot point, especially when you consider we have (we the shooting community, including a 9mm I own) have accepted poly framed pistols.
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Old September 7, 2013, 03:41 PM   #16
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Also
If you are going to judge the entire 1911 world based on a abused rental Taurus, I hope it's one of the good ones they put out.
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Old September 7, 2013, 03:46 PM   #17
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Quite a bit of truth there ^^^ I tried and wrote off 1911s because every time I shot them at the range, I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn (they were worn-the-heck-out). Then I tried my friend's S&W... Game Over.
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Old September 7, 2013, 03:53 PM   #18
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As Kev said, whatever you do- don't judge the 1911 by an abused rental model Taurus...


That, and .45acp ammo isn't too bad anymore. My local academy generally has brass 230g fmjs for around 21 bucks per box of 50. They are also no longer limiting quantities.
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Old September 7, 2013, 10:38 PM   #19
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There aren't any more Norinco's coming into the Country. I own a RIA and would choose the Norinco simply because the limited supply in this Country will only drive prices upward.

That appears a fair price for the Norinco based on what I have seen.
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Old September 8, 2013, 12:37 AM   #20
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I would not place a premium on a forged versus a cast frame. Done properly they will both do the job. I have a cast Essex frame with over 30,000 rounds through it and still going strong. I have a series 70 with a crack above the slide stop hole, a fairly common occurrence and I still shoot the gun. I do like the graphics of the Norinco better than the RIA.
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Old September 8, 2013, 06:42 AM   #21
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1911s are expensive, it's not because they're 1911s and that makes them "magical" but rather they can be either made on the loose end and not as accurate, or hand finished to be tight and accurate. Proper trigger feel, bushing/barrel fit, slide/frame fit, a tight chamber that doesn't result in misfeeds... that all takes time and costs money. If you don't want a fragile gun made of MIM parts, that will also run you more money.

It's not a 1911, any gun that would require this amount of manufacturing and finishing would cost this much to run right and last long. It's just that there's a market for high end 1911s.

People wander into a gun store, buy a 600 dollar RIA or an 800 dollar Ruger (or worse yet a Sig or Taurus) then cry all over forums about how 1911s are unreliable and finicky with ammo and if they really want to get something reliable, they need the Glock--which has a chamber so loose you could probably chamber a cartridge one caliber above and still have it fit. Worse yet, they turn amateur gunsmith and go to town with a dremel tool and try to polish and fit the parts themselves and leave a trail of Jethro-d guns in pawn stores that work sporadically at best.
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Old September 8, 2013, 07:46 AM   #22
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Quote:
1911s are expensive, it's not because they're 1911s and that makes them "magical" but rather they can be either made on the loose end and not as accurate, or hand finished to be tight and accurate. Proper trigger feel, bushing/barrel fit, slide/frame fit, a tight chamber that doesn't result in misfeeds... that all takes time and costs money. If you don't want a fragile gun made of MIM parts, that will also run you more money.

It's not a 1911, any gun that would require this amount of manufacturing and finishing would cost this much to run right and last long. It's just that there's a market for high end 1911s.

People wander into a gun store, buy a 600 dollar RIA or an 800 dollar Ruger (or worse yet a Sig or Taurus) then cry all over forums about how 1911s are unreliable and finicky with ammo and if they really want to get something reliable, they need the Glock--which has a chamber so loose you could probably chamber a cartridge one caliber above and still have it fit. Worse yet, they turn amateur gunsmith and go to town with a dremel tool and try to polish and fit the parts themselves and leave a trail of Jethro-d guns in pawn stores that work sporadically at best.
I could not disagree with this more. 1911s were designed and originally produced at a time when machine work/fitting/tooling cost more than human labor so the pistol was manufactured in a way that needed more hand fitting after machines produced the basic parts. Many have successfully adopted modern machine manufacturing techniques to build the small parts to spec making them as close to drop in as possible. The first to really make this leap successfully was Kimber. The orginal Kimbers were full of MIM but were great out of the box production guns that hand many of the custom features people wanted. Too bad they sort went down hill from there.

MIM filled 1911s are made to hit a price point. The Ruger is a great example. They wanted to sell that gun at $700 MSRP street of around $550 to $600 but they could not keep up with production and had some teething issues. As a result they have bumped the price about $100 which makes it more viable. They have all the features people are looking for in a semi-custom or custom gun at a fraction of the price. For many shooters this is all they want and all they need. This does not make these guns the same as a hand fitted Wilson or even a wartime Colt but if you go in knowing what you are buying with eyes wide open then you are fine. I personally prefer MIM free guns but that does not mean there is not a place for budget shooters like the RIA and Ruger.

The vast majority of guns that come from any manufacturer run right out the box. They never malfunction due to a factory defect and serve their users well. Everyone produces a lemon even guys like Wilson and Baer. I am not a Taurus fan. I am not a huge fan of the Ruger. I don't like the external extractor of the Sig but that is a personal preference. That does not make these bad choices for other shooters if they understand what they are getting.

Also 99% of the time accuracy is all about the Indian not the arrow. Most shooters here are or on any gun board or at any range are the weak link in the chain when it comes to accuracy. Very few of us are really outshooting the mechanical accuracy of our handguns.

There are good 1911s from $450 to $5000+ you just need to understand the limitations and the trade offs of any given price point. Both the RIA and the Nork the OP is considering are fine examples of 1911s within their price points. There was a time if you wanted a custom gun built by Wilson the base gun had to be a Colt or a Nork.... I think that speaks to the quality of the foundation you get with the Nork which is one of the reasons I recommend it over the RIA. YMMV

Shade tree gun smiths destroying 1911 is a topic for another thread.
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Last edited by WVsig; September 8, 2013 at 07:51 AM.
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Old September 8, 2013, 07:50 AM   #23
Baba Louie
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Jimmy,
with the Nork, as you know, you're on your own in terms of warranty, etc, the RIA will have some backing from the maker should it be needed.

In between those two, I'd buy the Chinese "Model of the 1911A1" myself, having owned them before. First, take a look at the top barrel lugs to make sure no rounding/peening issues and a tight lockup there. Mine were/are very accurate for a cheap commie reverse engineering but otherwise delightful 45 auto. (How I envy those north of our border for not having Bill Clinton as their leader in this regard... sorta)

I'd offer $500 for the sale, see if they take it, then spend more money to make up the difference with my LGS to buy magazines, ammo, holster, etc covering any loss he might take on the consignment (typically what? 10-20% of the sale price?)

But I would not turn down my nose to a nice little RIA either. Good value for the price point methinks. As is Ruger's model, when you can find them. You could always save up some more $$ and go with a base Colt or Springfield, Kimber, Remington, etc for a few hundred more. (but I want it now! )
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Old September 8, 2013, 08:12 AM   #24
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Quote:
It's a consignment gun, so it's a little tougher than just floating an offer by the LGS. I'm not thinking the owner wants to drop his price that much. From what the owner was saying, he's trying to get back what he paid for it.
I think the info you have offered above is not related to the negociation. The Norc is worth honestly $475 - 525 depending on condition. This is if it functions 100%. To establish function, you have to know how to judge if the locking lugs are being battered. If they are, value is $400 less than the numbers above, IMHO. Then you can shoot for function.

Then we talk about the RIA. The RIA is a fine gun. There are the issues above, but those are idealist metallurgical issues. Practically, an RIA is a good basic 1911. It could have some minor fit issue which causes function issues. The good thing here is RIA will back their gun and fix it for you. This is the key. You want the RIA for this reason alone.

If you worry about the cast parts or frame, then put more pennies together and get a Dan Wesson.

Frankly, I would buy the RIA.

One last thing. If you want to put a bunch of money into customizing it, don't bother. That is not the point with an RIA. Get a Springfield at minimum if you want to customize it.
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Old September 8, 2013, 08:16 AM   #25
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Quote:
One last thing. If you want to put a bunch of money into customizing it, don't bother. That is not the point with an RIA. Get a Springfield at minimum if you want to customize it.
Why would you choose a SA over the Nork for customization?
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