View Full Version : Norinco Rebuild & Face Lift From The Ground Up [Project Completed January 2012]

04-05-2012, 01:38 PM
This original post will chronicle my M14 build as it progresses, Enjoy!

Hey Gents,

So as some of you may know I'm in the process of re-building and re-finishing a Norinco M14/M305 (CanAm Shorty 18.5). My motivation for doing this was to see if I could build a Springfield M1A comparable rifle for substantially less money. Technically my build will be closer to that of a Socom M1A so the costs to do a Standard M1A comparable build could be lowered even more. This rifle for all intensive purposes will be my new come everywhere truck gun.

Based on some research I've been doing, it appears that the Norinco/Polytech models have two wins over the Springfield M1A. One being the forged receiver and the other a chrome lined barrel. So with that in mind I've set out to re-build this rifle from the ground up around those two wins.

Cost Breakdown

OK, so obviously I went above and beyond with upgrades so my costs will be skewed a bit. My overall plan was to build a Norc that's comparable to a Standard M1A, however I went a little nuts and bought some upgrade parts that aren't necessary for the comparison. Heres how it breaks down...

The Foundation
-Norinco Forged Receiver
-Norinco CL Barrel
-Norinco Forged OP Rod
-Norinco Forged Bolt

The Internals
-SA OP Rod Guide Assembly
-SA OP Rod Spring Guide
-SEI Pro Spring Kit
-SA Chromed Piston
-SA Spindle Valve Assembly
-SA Gas Cylinder Assembly
-SA Cylinder Lock
-SA Gas Cylinder Plug
-SA Muzzle Brake Assembly
-SA Castle Nut/Set Screw
-SA Clip Guide Assembly
-SA Roll Pins

The Sights
-SA NM Windage Knob Assembly
-SA Elevation Knob Assembly
-SA Sight Base Assembly
-SA Rear Sight Aperture
-SA Metal Sight Cover
-SEI Match Front Sight

The Chassis
-SA M1A Black Synthetic Stock
-SA Extended Recoil Pad
-SA Standard Handguard

The Finish
-Rough Sand w/Emery Cloth
-Glass Bead Blast
-Manganese Parkerize
-Arma-Coat Black

So the above represents a refinished Norc M14 with Springfield parts that IMO would directly match or beat the Springfield Armory Standard M1A in comparison. (Again, my opinion) The total cost to complete the above ran me approx $1,250 (rounding up)

Now, I've took this build one step further so the additional upgrades I added will obviously affect the price. With my upgrades it jumps my total all in build price to $1,675

The Upgrades
-SA National Match Gas Cylinder (+$50)
-SA National Match OP Rod Spring Guide (+$25)
-Ultimak M8 Handguard Rail (+$200)
-SEI Extended Mag Release (+$35)
-SEI Extended Bolt Stop (+$55)
-VP Picatinny Rail/Sling Mount (+$60)

In the end I'm still ahead in terms of value for the money. My completed build with the upgrades IMO will now directly compete with the closest M1A model available. I will have also saved about 800 bucks plus any money I get for selling all the Norinco factory parts. I'm guna call this a win...

*All parts pricing and price comparisons shown are rounded up to reflect taxes and shipping, YMMV but these costs will be pretty damn close*

Step 1: Sand & Prep For Parkerizing

I completed the first step today which was sanding down the receiver and getting it ready for parkerizing. I used some metal sand paper (emery cloth) and a little elbow grease, I got all the rough edges and tooling marks out and shes baby smooth now. This is the most important step, the more detail, the better.


Step 2: Park & Arma-Coat

Well, I spent the better part of the day with Barrett over at Arma-Coat/Barrett Arms today. I gotta say, Barrett has himself a nice little operation for firearms refinishing. Simply put, his work is not only impressive but it's affordable. A big thanks to him for his efforts today, it's always nice to get something done in the same day.

Going into this, I new that the parkerizing on it's own may not give me the shade of black I wanted. The shade and consistency really depends on the type of metal. Barrett's own three step process, first step bead blast, second step parkerizing and third step Arma-coat is IMO a grade above all others. Having the parkerizing underneath the Arma-coat not only makes for a beautiful finish but it gives the metal some serious back-up protection. I think this system really does raise the bar in-terms of quality and durability. In the end I got the shade of black I was looking for and I'm blown away by the outcome, I never thought I'd ever see such a pretty Norinco. :p


Step 3: Mock Up & Parts Compatibility

(This step will be updated as parts come in)

Stock vs Receiver

So the first step in this section is stock fit. I purchased a Springfield Armory black fiberglass stock from a nice American fellow from M14forum.com, I actually lucked out because this gentlemen already did all the necessary trimming for the Chinese receiver. The barreled action fit very snug into the stock, I thought I was guna break the trigger guard when I closed it, but it did lock down and pass the safety check. The only exterior trimming this guy did was lengthen the cutout on the top of the stock to the right of the receiver. I believe this little detail is what makes the stock fit so well to the Chinese receiver, it looks factory. I also added an extended recoil pad to the stock but I'm not 100% happy with it. The pad is pretty flimsy and it doesnt mount very solid, I may ditch it.

Note: The finish is not that glossy, I just applied a light film of grease to keep everything lubricated.


Extended Bolt Release

I got this piece today too, It's built by Smith Enterprises and appears to be of high quality. There is one minor problem though, the supplied roll pin is too tight inside the release. Now the spring doesn't have enough strength to fully manipulate the release. It will still work, it just works like a light switch now (on/off) thinking about it now it may be a little easier to operate this way, but we'll see. Worse case I take the pin out and squish the center of it down a bit or it may loosen up over time, for now I'll run with it. Overall I'm happy, it's alot easier to use then the factory piece and it does what it's supposed to do.


Extended Mag Release

Installation was pretty easy and took me about 10 minutes. The one problem I had with this piece is that the roll pins were originally manufactured for the M1A (different sizes) I still made it work but for others it may be best to use the NEA version as they're spec'd for the larger Chinese pin. Overall this piece is a nice upgrade, there's alot more surface area to work with now and I find it helps make mag changes alot more smoother and quicker. Definitely worth the $40 bucks.


Barrel vs Ultimak M8 Rail

OK this was not a simple install there was some modifying that needed to be done. The CanAm shorty barrels seem to have a thicker profile towards the end which is what caused an issue when mounting this rail. The M8 rail attaches directly to the barrel, there are 3 grooves in the rail that straddle the barrel and everything is held in place by 4 "saddle cap" pieces (1 in the front, 1 in the middle and 2 side by side in the rear) I had to bore out the forward mounting point to compensate for the thicker profile. I used a long shank carbide bur and ground away little by little, checking my progress along the way. It took me about 4 trys but I finally got it to mount properly.

Here's the final product, I was really surprised at how much metal I had to remove...


Here's a picture of it mounted to the barrel, notice the front strap is pretty much flush with the rail, this is basically the guide you follow, once it's flush your done. (Originally that strap stuck out a good 1/8" on each side) If you end up having to do this mod yourself, you will now notice that the rail will rock front to back on the barrel, this is normal. You have to tighten the very forward mount first, then the middle and then the rear. If you do it this way it will close the gap in the front between the stock and rail, it will also raise the rear of the rail to be flush with the top of the receiver (which will also properly gap the space between the rail and OP rod)


Heres the final product, I'm diggin' it, definitely a nice touch and it puts a modern spin on a classic rifle.


SA National Match Op Rod Spring Guide & Pro Spring Kit

More goodies came in the mail today, I got my spring guide and spring kit. Obviously the install was pretty straight forward and I'm seriously impressed at how much a difference these two components made.

The pro spring has a slightly bigger OD then the Chinese one and it seems to be a little more stronger. It's also about 1.5" longer and it just has that quality feel and look. The NM spring guide is night and day different, it's tubular shaped and designed to take up the entire ID of the spring. Once inside it's fairly snug and the overall design is very heavy duty.






You can clearly see what a difference these parts make and you can also see the difference between an American spring and a Chinese spring. In terms of function... First off, it adds a whole new level of strength and stability to the entire system, after the install the action seems more smooth and positive. The system now has a more stronger and durable feel and I've been told this also helps with accuracy (I can see why) for the $75 (spring & guide) it seems like a worth while improvement.

Springfield Armory Op Rod Guide & Roll Pin

So one of the biggest problems I read about with the Norc M14 is Op Rod alignment and this gun in it's factory configuration was mis-aligned like the rest of them. Not only was there play in the guide piece side to side but there was also play front to back. To help solve these problems I installed a new SA guide with a new SA 1/8" roll pin. The new guide is noticeably tighter around the barrel and there is zero wiggle between the two parts, the roll pin is also damn near the same size as the barrel locking groove. With the guide now installed I notice the play front to back is now gone but the guide can still move about an 1/8" side to side. The assembly as a whole is alot more stronger and solid so initially I wasn't really worried about the movement. Now, with the install complete I noticed that between the NM Op Rod Spring Guide, SA Op Rod Guide and the SA 1/8" roll pin, the alignment issue was now gone. After racking the action and letting it slam forward a few times the Op Rod does not move, the entire assembly seems to stay in-line.


Springfield Armory Muzzle Brake & Smith Ent National Match Front Sight

So the SA muzzle brake kit I got from Brownells was quite the deal at about 80 bucks which also included the allen keys and castle nut wrench. I also bought a new SA castle nut to go with it and I was surprised to find that the Chinese threads on the barrel match the threads on the SA nut. On top of this new brake I installed a new Smith Ent. NM sight, the difference in quality is night and day and overall I'm satisfied with the upgrade. The thinner sight post is a nice touch in that it won't completely cover the target at longer ranges.


Springfield Armory National Match Rear Sight & Clip Guide

So overall the stock Chinese rear sight was rough, the rear aperture hole was not even centered and I was not satisfied with the overall quality. In comes the SA NM sight and again the difference in quality is night and day. The clicks are more positive and the aperture is alot more crisp and clean. As with all of the SA parts this sight just has that quality look and feel. I also installed a new clip guide, not much of a benefit to this swap but in keeping with the removal of the Chinese parts it was necessary. I can say that the new clip guide is alot more smoother and better looking, the Chinese clip guide was really rough and beat up. The benefits were more cosmetic then anything.


Springfield Armory National Match Gas Cylinder, Piston & Plug

Finally got the gas cylinder on backorder from Brownells. As expected the fit and finish is first rate, no rough surfaces and it came parkerized jet black.

The only issue I found with replacing this piece was the lock, the thread pitch is different. (which was odd considering the thread pitch for the castle nut was the same) No big deal, I used the chinese lock and all is well, I didn't even need to shim! I did notice that the entire assembly fit alot tighter around the barrel, the whole unit feels alot more solid and heavy duty. I also replaced the gas plug and piston, which matched up nicely to the cylinder.

Everything functions as it should and I'm happy with the improvement.


The Final Product

So I got the last part in the mail today, the project is now complete.

Some people may think that the smaller parts may not have been worth replacing but I can say that the quality difference was noticeable, everything from roll pins to the castle nut were visually better looking and represented a higher level of quality. I am proud of the end result and I have the peace of mind knowing that every component worth replacing has been upgraded.

Holding this rifle in my hands the quality, fit & finish from day one to now is quite differant. It's definitly M1A comparable now AND I saved about 1000 bucks! I think this project was a success...


04-05-2012, 01:40 PM
50 we gotta talk about where you got some of those parts, I'm looking to upgrade my m14 abit more aswell.
PM sent :D
Btw that rifle is amazing

04-05-2012, 02:18 PM
Well lets talk here,

I got the majority of the internals from Brownells, just use the schematic tool on there site for the Springfield M1A...

The rear sights are SA aswell, I love them, very solid and well built!

04-05-2012, 02:23 PM
Where abouts did you get your rear sights for starters, its the next part i want to upgrade

04-05-2012, 02:38 PM
Rear sights are SA Match and I got from Brownells.... Front Sight is SEI Match and is also from Brownells...

04-05-2012, 02:55 PM
I really like the way that turned out. How does it shoot?

And a question on step 1. If you're going to have it bead blasted anyways, is there a benefit to taking the emery cloth to the finish beforehand?

04-05-2012, 02:59 PM
for the rear sights i am guessing you ordered piece by piece? as i dont see a full set together

04-05-2012, 03:01 PM
She shoots good, just a tank and is the definition of boom stick, lol

I sanded the reciever down to get rid of all the tooling marks, the reciever also need some moderate reshaping, Im very anal and wanted it perfect.... If I could go back I would've spent another couple hours on it, lol ...yes Im very picky

04-05-2012, 03:02 PM
Yup, base, wind, elevation, dust shield...

04-05-2012, 03:03 PM
ok good to know, if i can ask why didn't you go with the hooded peep sight?

04-05-2012, 03:51 PM
No real reason, just trying to keep that stock look

04-05-2012, 07:02 PM
Yeah I'm going to go that way aswell, I've kinda gone for a retro look on mine.

04-08-2012, 01:47 PM
haha I spoke to hungry and he had a set of Rear USGI sights up for grabs :D i'll be getting those in the mail soon

05-03-2012, 06:31 AM
This original post will chronicle my M14 build as it progresses, Enjoy!

Outstanding build!

I really like the Norinco star on the side of your receiver, we don't see those down here.

05-03-2012, 08:44 AM
very nice man, i owned a norc m305 too. i really like those before and after photos you took

05-03-2012, 10:32 AM
Thanks, Fellas

05-03-2012, 02:45 PM
It's ugly ... HAHA ... kidding of course ... that's a seriously sexy build! Two thumbs up!!!

Rankin Inlet, NU

05-03-2012, 03:53 PM

05-03-2012, 04:03 PM
Looks good, WTG!

05-03-2012, 06:15 PM
I really like the Norinco star on the side of your receiver, we don't see those down here.

Up here there's gunsmithing services for guys who want to get that removed and the receiver blanked. Funny to note the differences in gun collecting from country to country.

Fantastic build 50cal, M14's are fun to work with :).

05-04-2012, 08:43 AM
Yeah I was close to getting that removed because of the shame I felt, lol but alas it had to stay I didn't want to hide the fact that it's a Norc... It is what it is.. lol

08-23-2012, 11:01 AM
Great writeup. Thanks.

08-24-2012, 05:38 PM
It looks gorgeous

08-24-2012, 05:54 PM
Too bad he is selling it FORESHAME 50!

08-24-2012, 05:59 PM
Yeah I was close to getting that removed because of the shame I felt, lol but alas it had to stay I didn't want to hide the fact that it's a Norc... It is what it is.. lol

My Norc is one of the originals that doesn't have any markings other than the serial number. It'd make a great candidate for a build. I suppose you could make it read anything you wanted.

08-25-2012, 07:18 PM
you got it ;)
I have a few of those no label receivers stashed away as well.

one of the guys at our last m14 clinic showed of a rifle built on one of those receivers. he sent it in to Casey at Tac Ord to heel engrave it . It was annealed, engraved and rehardened , then resurface finished..... ans is simply outstanding in every detail. cost some cake though ;)

08-26-2012, 08:14 AM
GREAT POST loved the pictures as you did the mods Thanks

09-07-2012, 03:27 PM
Is this restricted? What calliber? Thanks

09-07-2012, 03:54 PM
Is this restricted? What calliber? Thanks

Non-restricted, 308 win.

... and for sale still, lol [shameless plug]

09-07-2012, 04:01 PM
BOOOOOOOO selling a work of art how dare you.

Atleast bring it down for the service rifle match on sunday and give the boys a video on how it runs maybe someone here will want to buy it ;) (not me i got my own)

Non-restricted, 308 win.

... and for sale still, lol [shameless plug]

09-07-2012, 04:07 PM
I'd say it'd be one of the nicest looking chinese M14s around...

10-23-2012, 08:56 AM
Chinese??????? Dat ting 'as more yankee material on her den anyting bye ... ;) :p

Rankin Inlet, NU

10-23-2012, 11:00 AM
How was your accuracy after the upgrades?

10-23-2012, 11:16 AM
How was your accuracy after the upgrades?

Good, although I only test fired this at 25 yards. A quality barrel always trumps everything but with what I've done it's improved the rifle over stock for sure.

10-23-2012, 11:49 AM
One other question, why did you go with the Smith front sight vs the SA sight?

10-23-2012, 11:52 AM
One other question, why did you go with the Smith front sight vs the SA sight?

No reason, both good quality. It just came down to availability.

10-23-2012, 12:07 PM
Somebody's gotta buy this beauty ... ;)

Rankin Inelt, NU