Import 1911 Pistols, Bargains or Boondoggles? You Might be Surprised ~ VIDEO

Alien Gear Holsters’ Contributing Editor Sam Hoober muses whether import 1911 pistols are great guns for the money or buy and cry encounters?

Armscor import 1911 pistols are designed and manufactured by Armscor in Marikina, Philippines, and distributed in the United States by Armscor USA, located in Pahrump, Nevada.
Armscor import 1911 pistols are designed and manufactured by Armscor in Marikina, Philippines, and distributed in the United States by Armscor USA, located in Pahrump, Nevada.
Sam Hoober
Sam Hoober

U.S.A.-( There are a few different reasons why people consider an Import 1911 pistols, but one of the biggest is that they come with a little less sticker shock than a Colt, Springfield, Kimber, Sig Sauer and certainly less than, say, an STI, Wilson Combat, Les Baer or other custom shop model.

Heck, some import 1911 pistols producers even offer the same accessories that you’d pay one of the previously mentioned makers a lot of money for.

But are you just getting yourself into a headache handgun? A lot of people will buy a used car to save money, only to find the costs of repairs eats through savings or makes owning it inconvenient. Is that the case with the 1911 imports?

So What’s the Call? Depends On What You Want From Your Gun..

Norconia 1911. Norconia belongs to Norinco, the largest and leading firearms manufacturer in China.
Norconia 1911. Norconia belongs to Norinco, the largest and leading firearms manufacturer in China.

Really, it boils down to what you’re looking to get out of your gun. For the most part, the reviews on most import 1911s reveal a few common threads.

First, they work. The most common complaints are the odd failure to feed or return to battery within the first few hundred rounds, which is common enough with a lot of pistols. That’s your normal break-in period, which some people find is a tad longer with the 1911 platform versus other guns.

Many gun reviews also find import 1911s are accurate. Perhaps not National Match accurate, but definitely accurate enough for a home defense gun or to tote in a concealed carry holster.

Fit and finish is usually where any compromise is to be found on these imported handguns, but then again, if you want a barbecue gun, you get a barbecue gun.

So, the consensus is that they may not be the belles of the ball, but they’ll work when and if you need them to. If you’re looking to get into the 1911 platform but don’t necessarily want a show-quality gun, then that would be a great fit. If you want a project gun, right on the money.

It’s like how a lot of car guys buy Fox-body Mustangs. They aren’t lookers, but they’re cheap compared to the vintage models and it doesn’t take much to turn them into serious hoonmobiles.

But what sort of headaches can you expect?

Common Import 1911 Pistols Issues

Springfield 1911. The Thing is that the common 1911 issues are the common 1911 issues no matter whom you get them from.
Springfield 1911. The Thing is that the common 1911 issues are the common 1911 issues no matter whom you get them from.

Thing is that the common 1911 issues are the common 1911 issues no matter whom you get them from. If you had to blow some cash on upgrades to take them from budget guns to budget guns with good performance, here are some of the things you’d consider.

Just get Wilson Combat 1911 magazines. McCormick or MecGar if you refuse to buy Wilsons, but just get some good magazines. You might also consider upgrading the factory magazine springs and followers to have in the range bag.

Speaking of springs, upgrading the trigger springs and recoil spring could likewise reap serious benefits. Plenty of people have bought a budget 1911 and got it to run as well as guns costing double the MSRP with an upgrade spring kit.

Another common item in 1911s that needs upgrading is the handgun extractor.

Then, you have the sights and this is where things can get a bit complicated. If you buy a model with fixed sights (GI models) then upgrading the sights will require a trip to a machine shop. However, sights that are dovetailed can be upgraded. Some come with Novak cuts from the factory, so that may be a feature to look for. In fact, some even come WITH Novak sights, so depending on the model you get…you may not have to.

Some real turkeys have found their way into buyers hands, though production runs of ANY gun are going to include a couple lemons. However, that’s why there are warranties, don’t be afraid to go back to the manufacturer for any operational issue. Just be reasonable and realistic with your expectations.

So, if you’re looking for a budget gun but aren’t expecting champagne on a Budweiser budget or a project gun, you can actually get spoiled for choice among import 1911 pistols.

Hickock45: Rock Island Armory Tactical 1911

About Sam Hoober

Sam Hoober is the contributing editor for Alien Gear Holsters and Bigfoot Gun Belts. He also writes for the Daily Caller, USA Carry and The Truth About Guns.

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Don B

i actually have 2 .45Cal 1911’s, i have a Girsan MC1911-G2 .45ACP 5″ Turkish Made, and my Smith & Wesson M&P M2.0 45 ACP 4.6, Love Them Both! i actually Love the Girsan Better than the SW, handles better than the SW does, the SW to me is not as heavy so it recoils a lil more in my opinion. and it Cost less also, actually got it for under $400.
Sorry to say i’d Trade the SW for another one before the Girsan.

Fred Flintstone

I shot IDPA for a long time , and for the first two years ran with a stock Kimber. It hated Wilsons (so does a Colt commander that I carry a lot). Literally would not feed FMJ well. Ran like a sewing machine on McCormicks. Sold the Wilsons, can’t trust them. Have too many 1911’s to remember which take Wilsons and which don’t. All take the McCormicks. Loved the Norinco 1911, but why bother mentioning them? Haven’t been imported since Bill Clinton was in office. That embargo probably won’t be lifted. Springfields are imported from Brazil, always have been. Remingtons… Read more »

Calt Ed McCourt USMC {ret}

Ya know I’m an 82 year old retired US Marine, and I’ve found U.S. Made , imports etc only shoot as well or as poor as the operator. I have a 14 gun 1911 collection, and for me WILSON Combat may feel a little better then a Kimber, Colt, Sig etc, but as far as accuracy is concerned especially from 10-15 yds it’s your personal skill set.

Semper Fi
Ed McCourt Capt USMC {ret}


Well said!

James Higginbotham

i own only two model 1911’s, one a Colt the other is a Remington Rand from WW11.
both in 45 ACP they both shoot well and have original GI SIGHTS.
i also have a Sig model 220 in 45 ACP it’s LIGHT has a light trigger and shoots better than i can lol.
I’m still basically a WHEEL GUN MAN, guess i am showing my age because those were the first guns i grew up with and most all are Smith & Wesson’s.

barrie windell

in my early years, after getting away from .22 target shooting, I bought a new Argentinian hi-power in 9 mm. one of the ugliest guns I’ve owned, but a great hobby project. after a variety of trigger jobs, barrels (and the work to them), springs, grips , beaver tails, & hammers, it was my favorite gun. I’m a hobby shooter, so I could afford the time and effort to do all these things. even after several other 9mms came and went, I kept that gun. as with a few nice cars I’ve owned, eventually somebody wanted it bad enough to… Read more »


Barrie, I had one of those too! You aren’t kidding about the exterior “workmanship.” Lots of machine marks, they did not slim the forward portion of the slide as a Belgian, Hungarian, or Israeli one would have been, plastic grips – but it worked and shot well. I never had to touch it mechanically, and I knew that machine shop time would be required to contour the slide, to change the sights to something more visible, install a larger safety lever and so on. The Hungarian has a lot of MIM parts including the hammer, safety, probably the sear as… Read more »


It was my experience that the “American Classic II” pistols made in the Philippines, and ably represented by Laura Burgess Marketing here, are among the best turned-out of the classic “series 70” 1911 pistol (no firing pin lock). With an investment cast frame and a milled from stock slide and barrel, they also use the now-common MIM for all small parts (hammer, sear, disconnector, slide stop, grip and thumb safeties, recoil spring cap, firing pin stop, firing pin, extractor, ejector). If there are any parts that MAY eventually fail, I’d look at the extractor, firing pin and stop, and slide… Read more »


I have been using a Rock Island Tactical (Armscor) 1911 in 9 mm shooting IDPA and Steel challenge with many Most Accurate Shooter Awards for the past 5 years. I did add a 3 1/2 lb. trigger kit, a pair of wrap around Pachmayr grips and a Kensight adjustable Novak sight. The only trouble I have had was feeding round nose cast bullets. Jacketed, plated and lube coated bullets all work fine, it was just the true round nose it didn’t like. McCormick and Meggar magazines both work well. I was impressed enough to buy a second one for a… Read more »


Was hoping for some specifics. Disappointed in the details.

joe martin

I have had a couple of Norinco 1911s for over 20 years and done upgrades on them (new triggers, springs, sights) and they are still two of the best 1911s I have ever owned including Colts and Kimbers. I have a new Rock Island Arsenal 1911 in 9mm that shoots well enough right out of the box that it won’t be traded or sold. The first Colt I bought in 1980, was one of the last runs of the Series 70, and after paying for it, I had to dump another $300.00 into it to get it to group on… Read more »


My first hand gun was a 9 mm from Star. I carried that gun for almost 20 years until an internal part broke and it could not be replaced. It shot well and was quite accurate for defence purposes. I got my monies worth for the less than $300 I paid for it. I now own a Kimber and Beretta and wouldn’t trade for them, but the old Star was a great starter.