When these came out years ago, these Chinese made 1911s were perceived to be cheap foreign unreliable imitations of the real thing. However, Bill Wilson of Wilson Combat made a statement which gave the Norinco a big boost in credibility. If memory serves correctly he said the Norinco slides and frames were of good (very good?) quality and his shop put out customized Norincos. In addition other gunsmiths also used the Norinco as a basis for customized 1911s, further boosting credibility. I bought several because they were so inexpensive compared to what was available. If memory serves, they were around the $200 mark at introduction. Several years after its introduction, some event occurred and import of Chinese weapons to the US ceased.
I had bought a few to hold in storage and then sold them off. Others I took and used to develop skills to customize 1911s. Being low cost, I could afford to make mistakes on them. The last Norinco I had I ended up do the full custom job to my ability including tighten slide frame fit, custom fit match barrel and bushing, install C&S ignition parts, install Videcki trigger, checker front strap at 30 lpi, serrate slide rear, install Wilson front and rear sight, flatten mainspring and checker, and bevel magazine well.
All the Norincos shot like champs. I never did shoot so many rounds through any particular one to determine the reliability but I never did have a misfeed or malfunction. Stock triggers were mushy but tolerable. The stock sights made shooting for accuracy a concentrated affair.
Looking back it was a valuable lesson and I enjoyed it but ultimately I didn’t have the innate ability to make a career of it. I eventually sold all the specialized 1911 tools.
Alas all the Norincos are now out of my hands. Foolish youth again…