The Detonics Combat Master

Posted: February 5, 2012 in Uncategorized

Back in the days before polymer handguns and wide spread concealed carry, if you wanted a big bore gun… you got a big gun.

Or you had someone take a big gun and attempt to make it a smaller gun.

You could get smaller bore pocket sized guns, the S&W J frame comes to mind.

Most police officers were carrying 6 shot revolvers in .38 SPL or .357 Magnum.

If you wanted a 1911 you got a full size government model or a commander.

The full sized government model had a 5″ barrel, the commander a 4.25″, however they both had the same grip size which held 7 rounds in the magazines of the day.

If you are concealing in the waistband of your pants, it is that grip size that is the hardest part to hide.

One of the 1911s strengths for carry is its width. It carrys the loving name of “Old Slabsides”.

In the 1960s a man named Pat Yates started sketching his idea for a carry 1911 in the 1960s.

It featured a shortened barrel/slid and grip.

He took a hacksaw and welder to a few second hand pistols and figured out a way to make John Browning’s design work in a pistol of a scale that it was never intended to.

By the early 70s he had his own concept functional.

Pat sold his concept to Detonics and in 1976 the first production guns were made.

The Combat Master was unlike anything that had been produced at the time.

3.5″ barrel and a grip that had about an inch removed from its length.

The early guns were “cut and weld” guns. They started life as full size components, barrel, slide, frame.

These pieces were cut down, sectioned, and welded back together.

The barrel had a cone shaped piece welded onto the muzzle end, and the design did away with the traditional barrel bushing.

The slide had a matching contour at the muzzle end that mated with the barrel to provide positive lock up.

Instead of the normal guide rod, recoil spring, and plunger set up, this new design featured a captive dual recoil spring set up that is used on many modern pistols.

The grip safety was deleted and replaced with what is basically a filler panel.

Aside from the drastically smaller size, what most people notice is the rear sight and hammer.

The rear sight was moved forward and the rear of the slide slopes down from it to towards the firing pin.

A common thing I hear is “Why would they do that… it makes the sight radius too short?!”

First off, this is not a target gun. It is a personal defense pistol that would more than likely be used at distances that you could smell what the other person had for lunch still on his breath.

as for why it is designed like it is, you have to remember… the gun world today is not what is was 35 years ago.

Many of the people who carried the 1911 got acquainted with them while in the military.

They were taught to carry either with an empty chamber and the hammer down… or with a round in the chamber and the hammer down.

When you drew the pistol you thumb the hammer back.

With the rear of the slide recontoured, it made either thumb cocking or fanning the hammer back like a hollywood gunfighter an easier proposition.

Compared to a large company, Detonics didn’t sell many of these small pistols. But they made an impact.

By 1985 Colt decided that they needed their own compact 1911, so they released the Officers ACP. Essentially a 1911 with a shortened slide/barrel and grip. The shortening of the Colt grip gave it a 6 round capacity.

The grip on the Colt Officers is longer than the Detonics grip, but the Detonics magazine also holds 6 rounds.

Detonics modified the floorplate of the magazine to allow the rear of the follower to protrude thru the bottom.

This allowed 6 rounds AND gave you a tactile affirmation that there was a full magazine in your pistol.

Detonics started the trend of compact large bore concealed carry semi auto pistols that continues to this day.

I have had a lust for a Combat Master since I first saw one, and strangely enough I remember the exact place that was.

I was 14 years old, and it was an article in Combat Handguns Magazine… Feb 1986.

Combat Handguns Feb 1986

It took me almost 26 years but I finally got my Combat Master.

It is an early production blued 1977 pistol, a cut and weld frame with the small hammer.

I picked it up at a local gun shop from a tipoff of a member of a forum I frequent,

It had sat in the store for months with no takers, I got a screaming deal on it.

It had its issues, would feed or eject properly… massively stiff trigger.

I took it to a gunsmith in Va named Paul Aldrich for an action job.

With the trigger handled, I replaced the single recoil spring someone had installed with a current production triple spring set up.

I then cleaned the magazine it came with and installed a new spring.

From Detonics I had ordered the recoil and magazine springs along with a current issue magazine.

After a generous application of slipstream from the little .45 was running like it should.

I have been carrying it regularly since it proved itself to me at the range.

Compared to carrying a full sized 1911, it is a dream.

It is lighter, has a slide that doesn’t go as deep into your pants, and a grip that pretty much disappears under almost any cover garment.

In all, very close to the perfect carry 1911.

While out driving around I passed by the same small gun shop.

My wife and I decided to stop in and look around.

There, sitting in the exact same spot as the last one, was a shiny silver Combat Master.

This one cost me $20 more than the first one, still a steal.

I have to see if it is nickle plated or hard chrome to see if it is a Mk II or a Mk III.

It is about 1700 after my first one in the production order, a mid to late 1977 production model.

I have not taken it to the range yet, more than likely will tomorrow.

However the fit, function, and feel and better than my blued one.

I have high hopes here, it it works as well as I hope… it will be my new carry piece.

And now… a few pictures.

Compared to a full size government model

Combat Master vs 1911 compact.

Magazine with full indicator.

This will give you a good idea about how much the grip was shortened.

And how much shorter than an officers model.

And both of my Combat Masters together.

I will update as life goes on with them, I am fortunate to have found them both for what I have seen just 1 sell for.

I am even more fortunate to have a wife that shares my hobby and works with me to acquire the things I have searched to find for years.



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