Getting an unusual Detonics Combat Master ~ 38 Super MKVI

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Getting an unusual Detonics Combat Master ~ 38 Super MKVI

Postby melensdad » Mon Apr 12, 2010 6:48 pm

I know a guy in southern Indiana who has a somewhat smaller collection of Detonics Combat Masters than I have but he has some very unusual and rare examples. He called my cell phone yesterday and offered me a very unusual handgun from his collection. I've seen it, handled it, maybe even drooled on it, now it looks like I'm going to own it.

Oh, he's throwing in 2 extra magazines too. FWIW, one used, but genuine, Detonics 38 Super magazine sells for $100+ on Gunbroker, and they rarely go up for sale. These are NOT for sale. They'll go in my safe!!!

Its a Detonics Combat Master MK VI model in 38 Super. The MK VI model is the deluxe stainless steel model of the Combat Master with high polished slides, polished small parts, and adjustable sights. Each of the MK VI guns were gunsmith built and fitted to the highest levels. Out of all the various models of Combat Masters there were probably about 250 to maybe 300 of them chambered in the 38 Super. I've got an MC2 in 38 Super, its in rough condition but it all I've been able to get. Now it looks like I'll be getting a very nice example of a MK VI Combat Master in 38 Super. This gun will be one of the most unique Combat Masters in my collection.

It also means that I will have MK VI guns in all 4 calibers: 9mm, 38 Super, 45acp and 451 Detonics Magnum :clap:

That's the holy grail collection of MK VI guns!

The 9mm, 38 Super & 451 Det Magnum calibers were ONLY available in MK V, VI and VII guns. From what I can tell there were probably less than 200 451's made in all varieties and less than 300 of each of the other two. I'm excited.

The downside is that I won't get the gun for 2 or 3 weeks because its a long drive to pick it up.

The gun will LOOK like this one, but this is a picture of a 45.
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Postby Globemaster » Mon Apr 12, 2010 8:30 pm

you sure do like those ‘Officer’ size frames! :D
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Postby melensdad » Tue Apr 13, 2010 3:33 am

Globemaster wrote:you sure do like those ‘Officer’ size frames! :D


Yup I do, but these are not actually 'Officer' sized, they are even shorter in the frame than an 'Officer' sized gun.

Combat Masters are just amazing little guns, they incorporated so many innovations, that back in the 1970's when they were produced were unheard of, that they are still modern today. These little guns had something like 30 patents at the time, and many of todays top end and custom guns now use the design features and patents of these little Combat Master pistols like the ramped/coned barrel without any front bushing, multiple recoil springs, captured recoil assemblies, solid guide rods, etc. Detonics even solved the issue of stainless steel galling.
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Postby Ductapeman » Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:05 am

I hate you. :wink: That's a very pretty little thing, and I am both a .38 Super guy and a Detonics lover. I recently picked up my first one, a Mark V in very-close-to-new condition; someday I'd love to come across a Mk VI in 9mm or .38 Super. But I'm content to wait, since I'm also on the list for one of the first three new Bren Tens to hit Washington State. 8)

I've seen photos of parts of your Detonics collection on the 1911 Forum Detonics page and the Yahoo! Detonics Group, and I must say the collection is very impressive. I also saw Col. Gideon's collection at one of the local gun shows not long ago. I'm learning more and more about these little powerhouses all the time. I'd love to find a Mk VII-- odd that they are as scarce as they are. (Who am I kidding-- I want five of each variant!!! :lol: They get addictive. )
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Postby melensdad » Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:32 am

Ductapeman wrote:...I also saw Col. Gideon's collection at one of the local gun shows not long ago. I'm learning more and more about these little powerhouses all the time. I'd love to find a Mk VII-- odd that they are as scarce as they are. (Who am I kidding-- I want five of each variant!!! :lol: They get addictive. )


The late Col. Gideon's collection is my inspiration!

I've just gotten a lead on a 38 Super MK V in near new condition. That would be a sweet addition to my collection. I've recently picked up a few others in 9mm and 45acp. I suppose one of these days I should update my photos and add them to 1911 forum photo thread and the Detonics Collectors photo album. Honestly I sort of lost track of which ones I have pictures of and which I need to shoot photos of.

Other than the obvious innovations and the 'ahead of their time' design features that the Combat Master brought to the gun industry, I just like to shoot them. The fact that they were made in so many variations makes collecting them somewhat addictive because you can search for years for variations you don't currently own.

In terms of calibers, the early guns were only available in 45. There were a few series that were produced in the alternate calibers and I'm of the understanding all of those were stainless only variations. I'll admit to shooting my 9mm variants, but never my 38 Super variants. And I have a couple different 45 variants that I use as carry guns.

When we do "open carry" events at my cigar lounge there is always a Detonics in my holster. Either a fully engraved one or a customized one. They may be small 1911 pistols, but whether they are factory stock or extra fancy, they make a big impression on the people who see them . . . just as they made a big impression on the whole concept of concealed carry, long before it was popular (or legal) for many civilians to carry concealed.
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Postby Ductapeman » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:44 pm

So for the guys who are asking "what the @$#% are they talking about!?!?" I took my Detonics Mark V Combat Master to work, and took some photos against my Colt Officers Model, which is my day-to-day ride, and a MatchMaster 5" borrowed from the shop, so you guys can see why I get excited about them. Here they are together:
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Here's the Detonics against the MatchMaster, complete with flash malfunction (my fault):
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--and here's the Detonics stacked on top of the MatchMaster, which really shows how much smaller these things are. Remember, this is a [b]full power .45 Auto:[/b]
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Postby melensdad » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:58 pm

A couple more comparison photos with some common guns lined up alongside a Combat Master:

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The Combat Master in the pictures is one of my favorite carry guns. Its a non-cataloged custom factory gun, built for a Detonics exec, Mag-na-Ported, with custom giraffe bone grips.
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Postby Evil_Lurker » Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:24 pm

That's a seriously nice carry pistol. I see why you like it. :D
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Postby melensdad » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:05 pm

Evil_Lurker wrote:That's a seriously nice carry pistol. I see why you like it. :D


And I think I may be getting early . . . maybe tomorrow :D At least I hope so!!!
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Postby melensdad » Sat Apr 17, 2010 1:53 pm

Picked up the 38 Super Detonics Combat Master today, completes the set as Detonics made the Combat Master MK VI in 4 calibers.

Most common is the 45acp, the majority of the production was that caliber. Then in very limited quantities they made the gun in 9mm, 38 Super and 451 Detonics Magnum. I have no way of confirming production numbers but I'd suspect that there are less than 75 each in existence in 9mm and 38 Super. Probably a bit more than 100 were made in 451 Detonics Magum.

I've been working on completing this set for several years, today is a good day :)

Starting on the lower left going up to the upper right:
  • 451 Detonics Magnum
  • 45acp
  • 38 Super
  • 9mm

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Same guns, different views:
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Postby Ductapeman » Sat Apr 17, 2010 4:20 pm

Nice-- huge grats!!! 8) 8) 8)
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Postby melensdad » Sun Apr 18, 2010 12:22 pm

Here are the glamor shots of the new gun! Got to love 38 Super!!!

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Postby Thom » Sun Apr 18, 2010 1:21 pm

Very nice score!
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Postby Evil_Lurker » Sun Apr 18, 2010 11:34 pm

Looks brand new. That is a nice pistol, I see why you guys like them.
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Postby melensdad » Tue May 18, 2010 4:04 pm

Ductapeman wrote:I hate you. :wink:


Well there is more of me to hate today :lol: :lol: :lol:

This is an unusual Combat Master that I just purchased. Its in Florida so I have to have it shipped up to me. Its got British "proof marks" on it so that is just plain old odd. I bought it mostly as a curiosity piece for my collection. Its not stainless steel by the way, this one is a brushed nickel plate over a carbon steel steel frame/slide. Chambered in 45acp.
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Postby Thom » Tue May 18, 2010 5:40 pm

Someone set it up for British Import, I wonder if it ever made it there? Could be an interesting story, 'specially if it made it there and back!
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Postby melensdad » Thu May 20, 2010 3:12 am

Thom wrote:Someone set it up for British Import, I wonder if it ever made it there? Could be an interesting story, 'specially if it made it there and back!


Dug up a bit about this "British Proof Marked" gun.

Apparently about 10 guns where shipped to one gun shop in England, the guns that actually made it to England were then proof marked there, they were not proofed here. One of the guns was sold to Stanley Kurbrick (a blue steel gun) and he had problems with it. Parts and guns were exchanged to get his gun working. There were some manufacturing problems related to the frame rails that caused the malfunctions, apparently affecting a batch of guns, and the head gunsmith Peter Dunn was assigned an assistant to repair those guns. At least some of the guns that went to England were from this bad batch.

So my gun is very likely one of the guns that was shipped to England and then shipped back for repair. Very likely they shipped a replacement gun to England and my gun was repaired and entered the US market stream. That said, there are probably only a few of these in the US because there were only about 10 (according to Peter Dunn) that went to the shop in England. Very likely the guns in England were destroyed when England banned handguns from common ownership.

There are also FALSE RUMORS floating around that the British Proof Marked guns were part of a Royal Military test of the Combat Master. There is apparently no truth to the rumor. It goes something like this: Brits wanted a small semi-auto, wanted to test the Combat Master, the Detonics factory shipped them a bunch in 45acp, those guns were rejected because they were not chambered for the 9mm.
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Postby melensdad » Thu May 20, 2010 1:05 pm

Well score #2 for me of rare guns in 1 week.

I just picked up ANOTHER of the MK VII guns. The MK VII is also commonly known as the CIA model ~ despite the fact that rumors linking the MK VII guns to the CIA seem to be blown well out of proportion. Still the MK VII guns are considered the 'holy grail' of Combat Masters and are vary rare indeed.

This gun is slightly different than the one I already have, which is why I bought it. Every once in a while I see a MK VII come up for sale on the collectors market but this is the first one I've seen with this slide serration configuration. I tend not to buy duplicates but I do seek out odd variations of the same gun so having 2 MK VII guns, each slightly different, is a collectors dream.

As Detonics pistols were pretty much hand built by gunsmiths inside the factory, and as one gunsmith was typically assigned to fitting out and finishing a gun, they tended to make some personalized statements to the guns they made. You can tell which guns were finished by Peter Dunn, he was probably the #1 gunsmith in the factory and I have a few of his guns. There were a couple other notable smiths. No idea who built this one, but he made flat bottom wide serrations on the slide instead of the typical angled serrations. Both wood grips and rubber Pachmeyers were standard so either of those is common. Its just the odd serrations that attracted me to this gun and why I picked it up.

You will notice this gun is sightless. It was the first 1911 pattern gun designed for deep concealment and was made as a close range high powered back up gun for when situations got really ugly and you were up close and personal to your assailant. Combat Masters were a favorite of undercover police officers in the late 70's and early 80's.
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