Gunner’s Journal

The 1911 Worlds Finest Handgun!

The Original Mini 1911 The Detonics Combat Master

Posted by Gunner on February 25, 2008

Photo’s Courtesy of Ken Lunde

   The Detonics Combat Master has a had a very interesting history. I’d like to present some history of this pistol before getting on to shooting and handling characteristics. Courtesy of “The Sight 1911”

   The Detonics Story
Material gathered by Rick Brenemen

The Detonics Combat Master was the first really small and compact 1911-pattern pistol to be produced in significant numbers. Law enforcement fell in love with it immediately due to its diminutive size and quality. It received “star quality” when Don Johnson as Sonny Crockett in Miami Vice was seen carrying one in a leg holster in the show. Far more important than the media exposure was the revolutionary reliability work done inside the pistol. The Detonics introduced the bulged barrel end so that the pistol did not require a bushing. It also incorporated double and triple recoil springs. It was the first production 1911-pattern which was throated and ramped for hollowpoints. The high price and limited market for the pistol doomed the company. Those fortunate enough to own a Detonics pistol treasure them.

The Gun

“The concept of the original Detonics was simply a stainless single action pistol. The big guns came after the little gun. Detonics was actually started with the Combat Master. Before Detonics, mini-pistols were all built by hand; they were cut-down Colts. The driving force behind the original company was to build a small, manufacturable production .45 ACP pistol and that was Sid Woodcock’s baby. He was the daddy of the Combat Master. He came up with that idea sitting around on a beach with Chuck Lyford somewhere down in South America in the mid ‘70’s. So Chuck introduced Sid to some money people in Seattle, and Detonics was started.”

Robbie Barrkman, 1991

“(Woodcock) got together with some friends and set about to improve the basic Colt/Browning design in such a manner that a gun could be mass-produced with not only the classic custom modifications already in place, but of a reduced size for easier concealment and reengineered to be more reliable and easily managed than the original. The firm that grew out of this attempt to make good better was Detonics (.45 Associates) of Seattle, Washington. Detonics originally offered a blued, ordnance steel Colt/Browning-style .45 of about the same size as a Walther PP. The gun featured a beveled magazine well, hammers of various peculiar shapes, a pre-pinned grip safety, a butt shortened to handle a six-round magazine rather than a seven (which could still accept full-size magazines as spares), a slide and barrel length much shorter than Colt’s Commander and slicked-up internal parts which allowed the gun to handle hollowpoints and hardball with equal aplomb. The barrel was bulged at the muzzle to facilitate the bushingless design, self-centering to mate with the slide. The (Colt) standard single recoil spring was replaced by a recoil spring guide with (two, and later three) separate counter-wound recoil springs. The six-round magazine featured a loaded magazine indicator. This was advertising hype to compensate for necessity. To give full support for a six-round capacity in so small a magazine, it was necessary that with the gun fully loaded a thumbnail-sized piece would protrude from the rear of the magazine base plate, to disappear again once the magazine went one round lighter. The first of these guns used cut-down Colt parts. The little guns caught on. Soon, various models were offered – adjustable sights, .38 Super and 9mm, etc. Then Detonics did something really radical. Detonics began to offer the little gun – by now known as the Combat Master – in stainless steel.”

Jerry Ahern, Petersen’s Handguns, 7/90

“The Detonics pistol, now in limited production and geared for full production the first of the year (1975) at Detonics .45 Associates, Seattle, is a short, compact, all-steel, single-action, single-column variation of the Browning/Colt of 1911. Various parts (slide-stop and thumb-safety assembly, magazine release, trigger, sear, disconnector, etc.) are interchangeable. While the butt is too short to include the standard seven-shot Colt magazine, such magazines are entirely functional and might be preferably carried as spares. The little gun is 6 ¾” long by 4 5/8″ inches deep, and its width is exactly that of the service auto. The . . . rear sight is set oddly forward, reducing the sight radius to a bare 4 inches. Admitting that this is no target pistol, it does seem odd to deliberately aggravate what is already a drawback. The Detonics pistol is a strong, simple, rather heavy – due to its all-steel construction – example of the type, with the distinct virtue of utilizing many standard Colt parts and employing neither exotic nor untried mechanical systems. Standard price $399.”

Jeff Cooper, Guns & Ammo, 12/74

“This remarkable pistol is the smallest, lowest recoil single action .45 caliber semi-automatic in the world. The Detonics .45 is a premium quality professional tool for the serious handgun expert and combat shooter. It is capable of providing the brute force stopping power of the standard-sized .45 in a size no larger than a snub-nosed .38, or “pocket” 9mm auto. The Detonics .45 has an advanced mechanism which reduces the apparent recoil remarkably below the full-sized .45. This awesomely powerful pistol is smaller, more easily concealed, and has greater short/medium range rapid fire accuracy than any single action .45 weapon available today. This masterpiece of combat design is gaining recognition as the finest defensive handgun in the world today.”

Detonics .45 Instruction Manual, 4/80

“The carbon steel production guns start at (serial) number 2000. The first 1999 numbers have been set aside for presentation and commemorative models. So, to determine the true production number of your pistol, subtract 2000 from your serial number. Stainless steel production numbers start at number 10,000.”

Detonics Instruction Manual

“Although there are six different models available to the general buying public, a Detonics is a Detonics is a Detonics. Only finish, type of material used and adjustable rear sight differentiate one model from another. The plain-Jane entrant is the Combat Master Mark I, attired in a matte blue finish, fixed sights, with a retail price of $369 (1980). Stepping up a notch, the Mark II is a fixed-sight model dressed in a satin nickel finish with a price tag of $390. The Mark III is handsome in its hard chrome appearance with fixed sights and sells for $488. Variation number IV is resplendent in a mirror-bright blue finish and adjustable rear sight, and $499 will allow the buyer to take one home. The Mark V is a brushed-finish, stainless steel model with fixed sights and will sell for $498 ($626, 1983). And, finally, the top-of-the-line model is the Presentation-grade, Professional Mark VI which boosts the price to $575 ($635, 1983)[There was eventually also a sightless Mark VII, also $635 in 1983].”

Art Blatt, Guns & Ammo, 5/80

“The original Detonics pistol, a modified and much smaller version of the Colt Model 1911, made it initial appearance in 1977. Billed as the world’s smallest single-action autoloader chambered for the .45 ACP cartridge, the Detonics Mark I was an instant hit with law enforcement officers. Not content with their original little .45 ACP powerhouse, the Detonics people went back to the drawing board and created a new cartridge that is a real blaster. The .451 Detonics Magnum is virtually identical in (external) dimensions to the .45 ACP, except for case length. The .451 Detonics is only some .050″ longer, but the added capacity is enough to allow considerably heavier powder charges to be used without exceeding safe pressure limits. According to the loading manual, four different propellants will produce velocities exceeding 1,300 feet per second from a 185-grain bullet. The Detonics manual specifically states that seating depth is critical. Overall cartridge length must lie between 1.220 and 1.235 inches, using bullets no longer than .558 inch. Average velocity for all four loads was 1,188fps vs. an average of 1,284 for velocities given in the manual. Since we did not use maximum loads, it may be assumed that velocities in the neighborhood of 1,300fps would be possible with careful load development. If a velocity in excess of 1,300fps is truly attainable with a 185-grain slug, the .451 Detonics would produce a muzzle energy of more than 700 foot pounds – a remarkable improvement of raw power over a factory-loaded .45 ACP. The base price of the pistol is $754 (1984).”

Ralph Glaze, Guns & Ammo, 2/84


Corporate Travail

“Detonics, specialists in stainless-steel for going on two decades, changed hands. An agreement was reached in early December ’86 between Diane McCarthy, Detonics’ General Manager, Ed “Tim” Lasater, Sales Manager and Energy Sciences Corp., for McCarthy and Lasater to take over the complete business, including all the Detonics handguns. McCarthy retains her title, while Lasater becomes President and CEO.”

Combat Handguns, 6/87

“The original Bellevue, Washington company ultimately floundered, and a group of investors led by Lyford bought Detonics assets out of bankruptcy. Lyford knew Robbie (Barrkman) from the latter’s tenure at Gunsite, and contacted him about getting involved with the new company.”

Waldo Lydecker, Guns Magazine, 8/91

“I said, ‘Well, you guys aren’t doing very much. What are you looking for? What are you trying to do? I really didn’t think it would work out, but promised to give it 100 per cent. They agreed, and in July of 1989 New Detonics was in business in Phoenix.

Robbie Barrkman, 1991

Detonics’ line of guns expanded from the Combat Master to include the Commander-sized Servicemaster, Government-sized Scoremaster, and the compensated, race-gun style Compmaster. I don’t really know how or why the company finally failed. All of the reviews of Detonics guns, as late as 1991 were positively glowing. They were VERY expensive. The Combat Master cost $400 when a Colt Commander cost $250. The top-of-the-line Compmaster target pistol, similar to the various custom “pin guns”, was over $1600 in 1991!

  From this point in Detonics history the company once again was closed. Detonics was resurrected again when Jerry Ahern purchased the company and assumed control of the company as CEO. It was renamed Detonics USA and remained in business until 2007 when the company was again sold. The current owners have relocated operations to Milstadt,IL. The press release concerning the new owners may be viewed on Michael Blane’s blog

  My history with the Detonics Combat Master:

    My interest in the Combat Master started from of all things reading Jerry Aherns popular novel series “The Survivalist”. I kept reading about this hero in his books that carried two Detonics Combat Masters. I had read a couple of reviews in gun magazines about this pistol so my curiosity got the better of me. It took a month just to find one and almost chocked when I found out what the price was. In 1983 these pistols were selling for right at $500 which in 1983 dollars was about equal to $1500 or so today if not more. I was finally able to acquire one for a fairly reasonable price. At that time the Sunday Arkansas Democrat ran gun ads which covered almost two pages usually. Ah the good old days:-) I found a used blue steel version which was one of the very early ones from the mid 1970’s. In 1982 I finally found a stainless version which was a Mark IV.
   These guns had some very uniques features which you can discern from reading the history of these guns. I had no problem with the lack of a grip safety since John Brownings original design didn’t have one until the military insisted on it. One thing that I didn’t care for or understand was the rear sight being set so far forward and the top rear of the slide having a cutout. The intent was the designers never intended for this pistol to be carried in condition one or cocked and locked. What you were supposed to do was to draw and use the thumb of the left hand to cock the hammer as you came up on target. Certainly not an idea I would advise never the less that was the intention of the designers. The pistol was also breaking ground in recoil control by incorporating two then three springs in the guide rod. Recoil was surprisingly comfortable for such a small pistol.Of course the 32 oz weight didn’t hurt either. This was also one of the first if not the first to use stainless steel construction. The problem with stainless steels of the time was called gawling or friction between slide and frame. By using two slightly different types of stainless that problem was resolved.
   On to shooting. You would be very surprised at the accuracy of such a short sight radius pistol. At 4 inches that’s a very short sight radius. For the intended purpose it works like a charm. Out to 15 yards you can achieve groups of two inches which for a short range defensive pistol is very good indeed. At distances that most shootings take place (7yards or so) this little pistol points very well and is reliable in the extreme. It’s also very controllable with the addition of the third recoil spring. Recoil I found was about like shooting a 9mm with a +p or +p+ load. As far as holding this little gem you do have to wrap your little finger under the grip.
  As always we shooters tend to do a lot of trading and I’m no exception. These are two guns I wish I had kept. In closing if you ever get a chance to pick one of these up at a reasonable price it’s a good investment. Since many of the parts are interchangeable with standard 1911 parts repair should be of no concern. The only part that one should buy a couple of extras would be the recoil guide and extra springs. I hope you’ve enjoyed the review of the history behind this groundbreaking design.




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89 Responses to “The Original Mini 1911 The Detonics Combat Master”

  1. C. Crocker said

    I have a stainless Mark IV that I am trying to sell. It is in great condition, (less than 100 rounds fired) with customized black Pachymar grips. Any ideas on what I should be selling it for?

    C. Crocker

  2. Gunner said

    This fellow is always looking for Detonics pistols and is willing to buy for top dollar. If yours is an original made in Washington state it should go for around $1600 in the condition you listed at only 100 rounds fired. This guy is willing to pay $2000 for really good ones.
    If this guy isn’t interested then I would put it on Gunbroker or Gunsamerica and ask around $1500 for average condition. If like new you might be able to get $1800.
    Now the newer models made after the originals are going for about $1000 to $1200. I hope this helps. You might also check on Yahoo forums. They have a Detonics collectors forum and that might be a good place to find a buyer.

    Good luck,

  3. Jonathan said

    I have a detonics mark VI I am looking to sell. Only shot once or twice maybe 100 rounds, maybe. How much is wood grips and original box and 2 clips. Serial is 4k something. Any idea what this is worth bluebook says 800. But I think its more from just looking online. Let me know !!!thanks!!!!

  4. Jonathan said

    hey i have a low serial(4k) mark VI that has maybe 100 rounds through it. wood grips there is a slight scratch on the polished ss barrel and a few dinks in the wood but other than that it is a beautiful gun. what is this gun worth??


  5. Jonathan said

    oops double posted sorry

  6. Gunner said

    Well sir I would say about $1000 at most. The earlier models made in Washington state are worth much more. The Mark IV would be about $1200 to $1400 depending on the collector.


  7. John said

    I have a Detonics ServiceMaster .45 ACP (Pendergrass, Ga.); stainless steel, cone ramped bull bell-nosed barrel, integral slide bushing, full length two piece guide rod and triple spring system, traditional serrated stainless trigger with overtravel adjustment, black low profile combat sights, original factory Metalforms stainless magazine (7 shot), match grade skeletonized Commander type hammer, high ride beavertail grip safety, 25 line-per-inch checkered stainless steel mainspring housing, and traditional Walnut Diamond design checkered grips w/Detonics Logo. It’s brand new in its original black plastic case, but I’ve lost the papers/instruction manual. Can you give me an idea of what I might get for it if selling?

  8. Gunner said


    That’s a tough one with prices going all over the board right now. Since it’s a new production I’d say in the area of $900 to $1200. Yahoo has a Detonics group that you might try. Some of these guys are collectors and may pay more than what you might get on

    Good Luck!

  9. vasi said

    i got a detonics .45 that is the original, mkvI made in seattle wa its mint.have any idea were i could get some good money for it. in texas.

  10. Gunner said

    Actually you could sell it on which is like the ebay of guns. Also there is a Yahoo group dedicated to Detonics collectors. The last person who asked that question sold his there. It’s

    Good luck

  11. Bret said

    I looks like this is the place to get real values on the Detonics. like the others I have seen a lot of variation in posted values. I have a mark V serial 11xxx with seattle stampings. I have all of the original paperwork, manual, and catalogs as well as a unique service reciept. This gun was built as an exchange gun on a warrenty claim and was hand built by Peter Dunn who after Detonics closed went on to Dentoics USA and Victory Arms as an engineer with those companies. I have the service reciept that states “no stones unturned in making this sure this baby runs right!” along with other statments saying not to let this gun go and that it was built bottom to top by Peter Dunn; December 1979. I got the gun from the orignial owner and if I didn’t know it had been fired I wouldn’t know. This gun has been in a gun safe since 1980 and looks like new except for the pachmayr grips.

    So any ideas on value?

  12. Gunner said


    Don’t you love folks who buy guns and lock them up forever:-) Well here goes. With the increase in prices since Obama was elected most any quality 1911 will sell for between $700 to $850. These are current production of course.
    Since Detonics Models made in Seattle have a higher value than later models I would say that if you placed this one on Gunbroker or other gun auction website you should begin your price at $1499 with a reserve of $1250. The documentation you have would make a difference with a Detonics collector but not so much with an average buyer so what you’ll look for is a collector.
    There is a group on Yahoo forums of Detonics collectors that you might try. Now some are going to tell you that the price is to high it isn’t that special. Well garbage it’s a very desirable gun and those prices are pretty normal from what I have read. I get a daily mailer from Guns America with guns for sale and Detonics are a brand I watch so this price range is about average for a Seattle gun. If you do list this on a place like Gunbroker I would certainly give a potential buyer a link to see the documentation.

    Merry Christmas and I hope this helps,

  13. Bret said

    thanks Phil, I don’t have a problem asking a collectors price since I really like the gun and don’t “need” the money. I paid an incredable price for it but hate to turn it into a daily carry gun with it being is such good condition.

    It is by far my favorite compact 1911! What a neat gun.

  14. Gunner said


    Heck I’d leave it at the collectors price then! I love those little pistols. My first was a very early blue steel model I carried off duty for a very long time. Next I picked up a stainless one and carried it instead. They were always very reliable as well as selling at the time for the princely sum of $425 in the late 1970’s for the stainless. The blue one was $350 new!
    They always amazed me how accurate they were at even 25 yards with that short barrel and reduced grip from the short grip frame. I used to shoot grapes at 15 yards fairly rapid fire—amazing pistols!


  15. Matt said

    I went by a pawnshop here in Texas this week and saw a Detonics Mark VII with Seattle marks. That’s the model that some people refer to as the CIA model and has no sights. Apparently an older gentleman pawned 11 fine handguns all in one day to include 3 H&K’s, a Colt 1911, S&W 10mm & the Detonics amongst others. Sadly for him, he never picked any of them back up. I saw that little .45 and even though I have lots of handguns I was not familiar with the Detonics brand. I did some research and thought it was something collectible so I went back today ( 3 days later) and negotiated what I consider a fair deal. On a lay-away plan, I paid $700.00 for it even though they had it listed at $999.00 and hope to have it paid off as soon as possible. It is obvious it was put up for safekeeping for many years and really shows none to very little use. There really is not a scratch on it and I am happy to report that I am now or at least soon to be a Detonics “collector”. Thought I would share what I consider my good fortune!

  16. Gunner said


    Thanks very much for sharing your good fortune. besides the Detonics the Colt 1911 in 10mm is also a collectible piece. The Detonics is far and away the best of the lot. That CIA special is a rare one and not that many were made. The exact number made escapes me but they are sure worth hanging onto and in that condition being stored mostly and shot little value goes up. A collector would probably pay much more than you paid for it but from my view I’d sure keep it and shoot it! I was never one not to shoot any gun I bought regardless of value. Believe me you got a deal!!!! Just a best guess is that a collector would pay around $1200 to $1400 for it.
    They are very finally made pistols that were mostly hand fitted especially that model. From my experience they are reliable, accurate and sturdy. Most parts that would need to be replaced which is unlikely are fairly easy to get since the company is still in business in Millstadt,IL. Most that have the Seattle markings were made up until about the early 1980’s. Is it a blue steel one by any chance?
    Enjoy it!

    Happy and Safe Shooting,

  17. Matt said

    That particular Mark VII is a stainless model with the Pachmayer grips. I have seen the replacement wooden grips and will purchase those as well to “dress up” the handgun. I will try and get some pictures of it. Can we post pictures here or simply link them? Thanks for your efforts!

  18. Gunner said


    I’d be glad to post the pictures. If you want to email them to me ay this email I can post them and give you credit for the pics..


  19. Benken said

    I just bought a Series II but cannot get it apart. I removed the slide release pin but it will not free the slide. /what am I doing wrong or is there something terribly wrong.

  20. Gunner said

    Hi give this link a visit. It’s a series of videos for disassembly of the 1911. Chances are it;s nothing big they can just be a little finicky at times. Let me know if you have problems after checking the video.


  21. Krissy kitch said

    Where can you get one of these guns

  22. Gunner said


    The only place to purchase one now is used. They can be found at gunshops as well as checking or
    What has happened is about a year and a half ago Detonics was sold to a person in IL after the last owner, Jerry Ahern, sold out. Since then we have heard nothing about the companies status even though we were told at the time they would be back in business within months. Even with my contacts in the gun industry I haven’t been able to find out when or if they will be back in business.
    You should be able to find one on these gun auction sites.

    Best of luck,

  23. fred said

    i have a detonics combat master 45 made in seattle wa. it’s matte stainless steel with pachmayr black rubber the slide is not polished serial # is cr20162 an i would like 2 know what mark it is an what year it was made

  24. fred said

    i also have a detonics pocket 9 in stainless very nice looking gun

  25. Gunner said


    The records for all the serial numbers and years of production have been scattered to the four winds over the years so all we can do is give an estimate of the year yours was made. Since the Mark isn’t on the slide and judging from the serial number I would imagine it was made around 1978 to 1979. Along about that time they started putting MarkV stampings on the slide so yours sounds like it was made just before that time period.
    I do have contacts with the new owners of Detonics and they verified the lack of serial number information. Some information for you. There will be new Detonics pistols coming out in the next few months with upgrades from the older models..

    I hope this helps!

  26. Gunner said

    That Pocket 9 is a good little pistol also. They only made them a few years and not a whole bunch of them are around so that’s a keeper for sure!


  27. Brandon said

    i need a disconnector spring for my pocket 9 where could i locate one pls help

  28. Gunner said


    That’s going to be a tall order. I’ll do some checking with sources I have but I can tell you it may be a case of having one made. Since they were made for a short time and the company has changed hands several times since they came out there may not be any parts.
    I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.


  29. Brandon said

    thx let me know

  30. Gunner said


    Here is an owners manual if you don’t have one.
    Still looking—-


  31. Gunner said

    The Robar Companies, Inc.
    21438 North 7th Ave,Suite B
    Phoenix, Arizona 85027
    United States


    I’ll give you a bit of history on this pistol. It was made in 1985 and the first part of 1986 with only a few thousand made. In 1992 when the “New Detonics” went out of business all the parts and assets were sold at auction in 1992.
    To be honest the Pocket 9 was not a success for several reasons not the least of which was cost and parts breakage plus a heavy trigger etc.
    Robbie Barkman was one of the investors at the time and he would be the best one to contact to possibly locate that part. Being a spring steel part instead of a coil spring it’s possible to have one made and Robbie could probably tell you who might be able to make one or even they might have the ability to make one for you.
    I’ll be honest it’s a longshot. If I were to attempt to make one I would get a spring for a Sig P226 and since they are shaped similarly you may be able to reshape and cut to length. This part can be purchased from Brownells.

    PS: I contacted the new owners of Detonics and none of the old parts are available for that pistol. I wish I had better news for you.

    The best of luck and if I can help at all please let me know.


  32. Mike Galvin said

    I acquired a Detonics Scoremaster in 1986 from a gunstore in Farmingdale N.Y.. It came with a .451 Detonics mag.barrel. I have yet to fire it in the .451 mode. Also on a trip to Conn. in 1999 I stopped in a gunshop and acquired a Mark IV Combatmaster in .45 acp along with a .451 Detonics Mag. barrel which I also have not shot. The Combatmaster was re-configured to a D/S action by a smith that worked for Seecamp. It has a kit made by AO Swenson of Fall Brook,Ca. to convert it to this configueration. I have never seen an other like it. Has a left and right hand safety also installed. The shop owner said it had belonged to a Detective on a local PD that retired and moved away. Just a luckey find on my part. It came with 2 factory boxes of .451 Det Mag ammo with none used.

  33. Gunner said


    It sounds like you have a good collection there:-) That 451 pack s a punch that’s for sure. Funny you mention the double action conversion. Back in 1976 before Wilson started up his business he did do some work on 1911’s for people in Arkansas who knew about him. A friend of mine sent a Colt 1911 to him and had a double action conversion done on it. That’s the only one I’ve ever seen before or since. The trigger conversion was made by Seecamp at that time.
    Those Detonics you have are getting to be collectors items especially with the 451 barrel.
    Detonics will be coming out with a new line in a few months but the prices will be around the $1800 to $2000 range.

    Thanks for writing!

  34. john said

    i just purchased a detonics servicemaster 2,it says it was made in bellevue wa.serial # crm3475. it has adjustable rear sight ,it has polished slide and rough texture frame,it has pachmyar wrap around grip.can you tell me more about it and how much it is worth?
    thank you for your time on this matter. JOHN

  35. Gunner said


    The Servicemaster doesn’t have as much value as the little Combat Master but it should be worth anywhere from $1000 to $1200 depending on if the buyer is a collector or regular shooter. Many pasts were hand fitted so accuracy is above average unless it’s been shot a lot. It was most likely made around 1980 possibly a little earlier. The records were lost a long time ago when the company was sold the first time so there’s no way to be 100% sure. Yours is an excellent pistol and worth hanging onto.
    They are trying to make a comeback again but the pistols look a good bit different and prices are way up there in the $2000 range.

    I hope this helps,

  36. Tom said

    I have a little Detonics 45, serial 2356 Seattle in excellent shape. I have shoot about a box of ammo and very pleased with it. I bought it about 20 years ago.

  37. Gunner said


    You have a real collectors pistol there. Very few of that age have only had one box of ammo shot through them especially early models like yours.


  38. Terry Lyon said

    I recently aquired a weapon identified as a Detonic 45 Combat Master. It is Stamped “Detonics .45: Seattle, WA.” on the right side and “DETONICS .45 :Combat Master” on the left side. The s/n is stamped on the right side and is CR 19972. What can you tell me about this weapon. Is it for real?

  39. Gunner said


    Oh it’s for real. In fact I trusted this pistol enough back in the early 80’s to use it as my backup gun on duty and my off duty pistol. For it’s size it’s very accurate. Of course super accuracy isn’t a real factor since this pistol is for fairly up close work.
    You have an early one since it’s from Seattle. With that serial number I’m thinking it was made around 1978-1980. As you read it was the first small 1911 and a rather ingenious design. At that time these sold for anywhere from $375-$400 which was a lot of money back then but they still sold well partly due to a popular paperback series called the “Survivalist” by Jerry Ahern. In the 1980s’ the company was sold with little delay between the old owners and the new. It was sold again and purchased by Jerry Ahern who wrote the novels. It was sold again and is now owned by a company in Bellville,IL. They will be releasing an updated version in approx 6 weeks. The little gun just won’t die!
    If you search the Yahoo groups there is a Detonics collector group you might be interested in.

    Happy Shooting,

  40. Ron Foss said

    Have come into possession of a pistol with the following markings: DETONICS .45 on left side of slide; DETONICS ASSOCS. SEATTLE, WA. on right side of frame; serial number D 8458 on right side of frame; Pachmayr grip; fixed sights; matte finish (possibly “hard chrome”). Also three magazines with stylized logo on bottom (looks like it might be a CM). I need to put a value on the pistol for estate probate purposes. Can you give me an idea of value? Thanks.

  41. Gunner said

    Email sent

  42. anthony venditti said

    I just bought a detonics combat master with serial number 2582. I read something on here about subtracting 2000 from the number. If thats so then this is an early model. If anyone knows anything about this, or what it might be worth post an answer. Thanks

  43. Tim Matthews said

    I just got one of these in my happy hands. I have wanted one many years but just couldn’t find one that wasn’t too high or totally shot up. It is a Seattle model, ambi safety, marked Detonics .45 MK. VI , serial number CR12799. Condition is excellent, my only gripe is it has Pachmayrs instead of the wood grips….
    So lads, what do I have here, and what is the worth?? I am a police sergeant and bought it as a back-up and off duty piece, and gave $750.00
    Did I do Okay?

    Thanks in advance

  44. Gunner said


    Sounds like you did well. Most of them in good shape run about $150 more than yours. Yours was made between 1978–1980. Those grips came from the factory and were standard on Seattle guns. The ambi safety is an add on since all Detonics had single side safeties.


  45. Jimbo said

    Hey Guys, new here ive got an unfired detonics combat master mark VI
    wood grips in the original box right side says detonics 45 seattle, wa
    serial number CR17816 the slide is polished no markings on the left side of the slide can you help me

  46. Gunner said


    Your serial number would put it around 1980 or so. All of the serial number records were lost so we have to guess within a range of numbers.
    One that’s unfired with box, papers etc. would range between $800 and $1000 depending on whether it’s a shooter or collector. A collector would pay a bit more. I hope this helps.


  47. Jimbo said

    Thanks so much Phil,
    when did they start engraving the slides as this doesnt have any.
    I also have a Combat Master that says Detonics 45 Seattle ,WA # CR10288
    right side slide is engraved Professional Model and the left side slide is engraved Detonics 45 Mark VI it has pachmayr grips and the original zipper pouch.the only thing I wish I could change on it is that the the main spring housing or backstrap so to speak has the raised back instead of the slimmer back to it any ideas on weather I can switch that out with the slimmer back?

  48. Gunner said

    email sent—–

  49. Jan Herriott said

    I worked for Detonics from 1980-1983. It was a fun time! I was in the marketing department and attended several trade shows for the company around the country. It was really my first experience with guns, particularly handguns, and I became a real fan. Sid Woodcock was a peach of a guy!

  50. Gunner said


    Thanks for sharing that bit of history. I bet it was a fun time indeed! The new Combat Master will be out in a very short time. I’ll have a review of it by the end of the month if all goes according to plan:-)


  51. Frank W Golden said

    I have a Combat Master with a cracked slide. Are there any replacement slides around? Not in to it for anything and would like to fix it. Thanks

  52. Gunner said


    I’m afraid there aren’t any to be had. The new pistol uses a new caliber and barrel arrangement. Where is the crack? It’s possible a skilled gunsmith could repair it if the crack is not in a critical area.


  53. Stephen Browning said

    I have a Detonics 45, stainless steel , #CR12534, made in Seattle WA, It has NO mark numbers, just combat master … It is in super shape … any idea what a fair price would be? …

  54. Gunner said


    It doesn’t have a Mark IV or anything like that on the other side? Can you send me a picture of it?


  55. Paul Frank said

    Just bought a Detonics MK VI off the gunbroker site, this gun has markings as being made in “Bellvue, WA with serial #CA21003.
    can you give me any info about it and where I might obtain a manaul for it.

  56. Gunner said


    I attached a copy of the owners manual. I’ll do some checking on your serial number etc and get back to you later today.

    Take care,

  57. Christopher Rogers said

    Hey. I an looking at purchasing a combat master with the pachmayer grips. I haven’t seen it in person but it is listed as a mkVI with adjustable sights. The serial number is CR11200. Is it the real deal original?

  58. Gunner said

    It sure sounds like it. The adjustable sights are usually on the full size Score Master though. Do you have a link of the listing?


  59. Robert Shaw said

    I was one of the first sales/marketing people working for Detonic’s along with Sid Woodcock, Mike Maye’s (president), and Neil NacDonald (salesmanager). I have a stainless 45 with my name as the serial number. The pistol has been fired very little (maybe 20 times). I would like to know the value of this pistol for insurance.

  60. Gunner said


    For insurance value I would probably place the value a bit higher especially since it’s a one of a kind with your name as the serial number. That and being an original Seattle gun. I would insure it for $1200. Take plenty of photos of it as well.

    Happy Shooting!

  61. rob bransfield said



  62. Gunner said


    Wow that’s going to take a bit of work. I have never heard of such a thing. I’ll do some checking though.


  63. P. R. Fuller said

    I have a Detonics Combat Master, Seattle, “Detonics .45” on the left slide, nothing on the right side, plain checkered walnut grips, black rubber msh, stainless, serial # I 66xx (Looks like the letter I, not 1. I’m curious about the manufacturing year and would appreciate an educated guess. Many thanks!

  64. Gunner said

    Well sir as you may know all the records were lost so it is always an educated guess but from what you gave me I’d say somehwere between 1979 and 1981. I’m thinking closer to 1979. The Seattle guns are very collectible and considered to be better than the other makers products from later dates.

    Take care

  65. Randall Loker said

    I have had a Detonics in my safe for over 20yrs… it out….fired it and I now remember why I put it away……jams every 3rd round even with ball ammo just like it did 20 yrs ago….thats why the original owner traded it to me ….any suggestions.? other than that its a sweet compact

    FYI…this gun is blued Detonics Assocs., Seattle WA, D 75xx



  66. Gunner said


    The blued models are rare and worth a good deal. The right person would pay between $800 and $1000 for it. As far as you feeding problem any reputable gunsmith can contour the feedramp, polish it and have it feeding reliably in fairly short order. One other possible problem is the old springs. I would replace the recoil, hammer and firing pin springs using Wolf brand. Also you can buy original mags and possibly the springs through the new Detonics company in IL.!products/vstc2=fusion-grips

    I know they have extra parts from the past companies who owned Detonics. Anyway, those springs are from back about 1977-78 so they need to be replaced. Between these two suggestions it should run fine after that.

    Take care,

  67. Les said

    Thanks for the great post and follow-up to everyones questions. I’ve read through all of it several times and seem to pick up something new everytime.

    I know the serial number information was lost over the years but hope you could help me identify mine and maybe answer some other questions that I have. The serial number is
    C 208XX

    From reading all of the information and other replies I’m assuming that I can call what I have an early Detonics 45 Combat Master. Mine sounds closest to the last two replies above. It is blued, has Detonics .45 on one side, nothing on the other, checkered walnut grips , and Detonics .45 ACP on the bottom of the mag. I see people posting serial numbers that start with one or more different letters. What does the letter tell you about it’s age? It’s in mint shape with not a scratch on it ot the original grips and checkering. It has fixed sights, and is very picky about what type of ammo it will feed, similar to the last person’s reply above. I’ve shot it very little. The firing pin, spring, and keeper actually flew out the last time I shot it so I’m guessing that’s due to a weak original spring also. Sounds like I need my feed ramp contoured and polished too. Was this needed on all the early models?

    My last question of course is what would you value the gun at in todays market with what I’ve told you?

    Thanks Again!

  68. Les said

    Adding to my earlier reply. My Detonics has the following above the serial number.
    DETONICS .45
    C 208XX.

    Thanks Again,

  69. Gunner said


    Well sir that one was made by the original Detonics in Washington state. They made the blued ones for approx two years when they first started out.That would date it around 1978 at latest since it was number 2000 or so in production. I imagine you got a good buy.As far as the spring and plate coming out that has happened to me as well. You need a new firing pin spring. The current Detonics company has some old parts so you may be able to get a spring from them. That will fix the problem. I don’t have the current phone number for them but they are located in Millstadt, IL. so information should be able to get the number for you.

    Best of luck,

    Les value will vary a good deal depending on the buyer being a collector or just loves the old Detonics. Value could be from $1000 and up because of the condition and few rounds fired. Selling one on is usually the best way to go.

  70. Les said

    Thanks Phil,

    My serial number is in the C 20800’s. I see where it says he stainless ones started with serial number 10000 so I figured they must have been making the blued and the stainless ones at the same time? Unless some of the stainless ones actually look blued??

    If that’s the value of it then I got a good deal for sure. But I’m a shooter and not a collector. I was going to make it my concealed carry weapon but now I’m torn. I would need to replace the original firing pin spring and have the feedramp contoured and polished to make it more reliable. The guy I bought it off of said that he didn’t shoot it much either and he was more of a collector. He told me that it would only feed one type of hornady amo without jamming. It’s has a great feel to it and is extremely accurate for a gun of it’s size. I’ve heard any work on a collectable gun will greatly decrease it’s value so it sounds like I should sell this one to a collector to preserve it and use the money to buy a replacement. There is newer Detonics Combat Master HT CNC for sale online that looks very nice. Say it was made during a very short time between 2010 and 2011. Do you know anything about the accuracy and reliability of this model?


  71. Gunner said


    I would stay away from the completely different model HT. The new company has been changing and dropping models like folks change underwear.
    Over the last two years I’ve seen models dropped, added modified etc which doesn’t give me much confidence. The initial price for instance was right at $2000 then dropped to $900. Something is wrong with this picture!
    By the way that thing has a rotating barrel to handle recoil and cycle the weapon?????


  72. anthony grant said

    It is Beautiful but at ahigh price to high!!!

  73. Gunner said

    I sure can’t argue that point! They have always been very expensive. Even in the mid 80’s they were $450 which would be over $1200 now if not more.

  74. Fletcher said

    Thanks for the info that you have put up here. I stumbled across a combatmaster at the local gun shop yesterday which caused me to do so research last night, and on to this sight. Based on what I learned I decided to go back and buy the gun.
    So now I have some questions. Here is what I got. Left slide says “Detonics .45” pat. pend. Right Frame “Detonics Assocs. Seattle, Wa. sn # 3XXX. The Blueing looks not so much blue, but more of a brown copperish. Is that just the petina or has it been reblued? Second the grip safety doesn’t work. Should it? If so is that an easy fix? And lastly what would the value be? Thanks again.

  75. Gunner said


    It sounds like you have a really nice one there and a very early production model. Those marked with Detonics only and being blued dates it around 1978-1979. In order to give you a value I really need a picture. If you can send one to this email address I’ll try to get a pretty close value for you. A picture will also let me determine if it’s a natural patina from age or a re-blue.
    Now as far as the grip safety none of the Detonics 1911’s have a working safety. They are all pinned in place with the thumb safety being the only safety besides the half cock notch should your thumb slip while cocking the hammer.
    Your very welcome for the information and feel free to contact me anytime:-)

  76. Larry Wilson said

    I have a Combat Master I bought in Sparks, Nevada a a gun show in 1982 and paid 300 dollars. On the left side of the slide it reads DETONICS .45 with COMBAT MASTER below.
    On the right side of the slide there are no markings.
    On the right side of the frame it reads DETONICS .45 SEATTLE , WA
    And the serial number is CR13xxx. I’m guessing manufactured in 1977.
    This is a Matte SS pistol with Pachmayer Grips. It has a black rear sight set with an alan screw and what appears to be a standard hammer, not bobbed as I have seen in other photos.
    Nowhere ar any MARK numbers.
    It came with the Black leather rug and 2 SS magazines. One is marked DETONICS .45 AUTO. and the other is marked DETONICS .45 A.C.P.
    I do not know if I have anything special just wondering what the worth may be to a collector.

  77. Gunner said

    Larry it’s a fairly common model. I imagine the date will be around 1978-79. Depending on condition it could range between $600 for an average one up to $850 for a near new one.

  78. Greg said

    I just purchased of what looks to be an early version of a Detonics Combat Master at auction. Blue slide, nickel frame. No markings on the slide. Frame marked “Detonics Assocs. Seatle, Wa” in two lines on right side. Serial number below is 3161. Magazines marked “Detonics .45 A.C.P.” Currently has Pachmahr wrap around grips and a rubber mainspring housing. Original wood checkered grips were also included along with additional trigger and other parts. Any information on this firearm would be appreciated. Thank you.

  79. Gunner said

    Detonics dating can be a real challenge since it’s been sold and purchased at least 4 times.It appears you have a very early first gen model. The only problem is I have never seen a two tone until the ones made in Georgia came along.
    Try this Detonics group. There are some members who actually worked at the first Detonics plant in Seattle.

  80. Greg said

    Thanks for your help! I will contact the Detonics collectors group and see if they can add any insight. If I learn anything I will post it back here. Thanks again!

  81. Gunner said


    Glad to help anytime at all:-)

  82. Greg Olin said

    Thanks for the very informative and interesting review and history.ive only recently acquired my first Detonics Combat Master but im hooked for not sure why,the history,the gun or to some degree the fact that im from Seattle and enjoy owning a local gun with as interesting a history as any ive heard.i will never sell my Detonics and will continue searching for others to look at,shoot and just enjoy in a way ive never experienced with any firearm ive owned in my thirty years as a shooter .thanks again.i cant imagine how anyone could improve on your article.ive saved it and sent it to my firearm appreciating friends to help them understand my new found love for the Detonics brand

  83. Gunner said

    Thanks very much Greg. I’m glad to hear you got one of these fine little pistols. One place you might want to go is the Detonics Collector room on It’s a group of new and older Detonics fans. Lots of information and parts for sale such as new mags etc.


  84. Lucky said

    I just traded a guy for a Detonics Combat Master 45, i wasnt clear on what I was getting my hands on. He has allegedly had the gun for 20+ years and has shot less than 50 rds. On the one side it has serial # CR 124XX Seattle, Wa. Any idea of worth or background?

  85. Ron Winger said


    I just purchased a combat master at our local gunstore. It appears to be unfired and is in joint condition. It is also in 38 Super. I am have not a owned a Detonics before as I am a colt 1911 diehard. I could not pass it up due to condition and caliber. It also does not have any script about the serial number which after looking at other guns is unusual?
    The serial number is CR138XX. Any help on information and year of manufacture would be most appreciated.

    Thank You!

  86. Paul said

    Just took my Detonics, sn 5472 out of storage. Need info on where to get parts and who can repair it.

  87. […] The Original Mini 1911 The Detonics Combat Master | Gunner … – Feb 25, 2008 · Photo’s Courtesy of Ken Lunde. The Detonics Combat Master has a had a very interesting history. I’d like to present some history of this pistol before …… […]

  88. Blaise Martini said

    I just bought a Detonics .45 Mark VI (printed on the left side of slide) at auction and could use some help figuring out what I bought.

    It has a stainless slide with a brushed frame. Wooden checkered grips and a rubber back strap.

    On the right side of the slide is printed:

    “Professional Model”

    On the frame is printed:

    Detonics .45
    Seattle, WA

    Any info you can give me would be greatly appreciated.


  89. bruce said

    I purchased a detonics 38 super new around 1985. It’s stamped 45 seatle wash. on right side and 38 super on left side on slide. Only fired app. 25 rounds thru it. Have original soft case and manual. looking for the little oil bottle that came with it. serial number is CR17383. What do you think?

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