Detonics Combat Master .45ACP


Talk about a classic. You may recognize the Detontics Combat master from Miami Vice. Don Johnson’s character carried it as a back up to his Bren 10.

I forgot the dubious justification for moving the rear sight forward like that and I’m too lazy to look it up right now. It sure wasn’t to improve the looks. I held one back in the 80s but never fired one sad to relate.

As usual this one comes from our boy Karl, master gunsmith of


  1. I have one of this pistol’s brothers and it is my favorite small .45ACP. I was in Washington state when the Seattle factory was going and had several Detonics, small and regular-sized.

    The story I heard about the rear sight was that this was at the suggestion/request of a CIA or other black operative. This person wanted to carry his pistol with the hammer down and be able to thumb cock it, probably on the draw (?). Can’t verify this with any reputable source so it remains a legend more than cold hard fact.

    But, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    Molon Labe.

  2. Looks to me like the slide was designed for an adjustable rear sight, then they decided to go for something cheaper and put in a dovetail for the fixed sights.

  3. Now that you guys have got me thinking (always a dangerous state of mind for me) I decided to do a search and unfortunately came across some sad news. Richard Niemer was, I believe, the head pistolsmith at Detonics, at least in Seattle. If anyone would have known the story, it was him.

    RIP Richard.

  4. I have two. Mark I, carbon steel, and Mark VI, all stainless. I also have a Servicemaster, the Commander size. (No slide bevel.)

    These guns were designed to fire hollow point ammo. Syd Woodcock, one of the contributing designers was a former OSS/CIA operative. The WWII OSS trained their operatives to carry their .45’s with round in the chamber and hammer down. The bevel on the rear of the slide facilitates the draw and cock before presenting and firing the weapon.

    Syd tried to have the designers remove the slide safety, since one of the disarming tactics used by the OSS was to grab the gun, flipping the safety on, and wrenching the gun from the unsuspecting user. Knowing their market, they included the safety.

    The Mark VI is my EDC. You wont find a better 1911.

  5. Oh, and I carry mine as Syd would have wanted. Condition 2, AIWB. Can’t see it. (Use 8 round CMC or Wilson Combat for reload mags.) .

    My Mark VI is one of the few that was manufactured for a .45 auto and also the .451 Detonics Magnum. I just need the DM barrel. (Anyone got one?) The major parts on these are serial numbered to the gun. Slide, barrel, and frame.

    The maniacs at Detonics attempted to find the holy grail of .44 Magnum performance in a semi auto pistol. The .451 DM was their answer.

  6. The story of it all is at:

    Per what he’s saying, he’s the reason for it, and it was because he wanted it to be easier to cock. Not sure I follow that reasoning, but it’s there buried in the verbiage about a third of the way down that page.

    I’m not sure I ever really got on board with Detonics or their ideas. The compact .45 has always seemed a bit of a dubious proposition to me, based on my experiences with one of their early 1980s models that a friend of mine had. The poor thing never seemed to run right, and the beating it gave your hands was something you’d remember long after the range session.

    You want something that small, I say go for a 9mm. A .45 cries out for a larger frame…

  7. Mine shoots smooth and accurate. The front sight posts onto the target. I wasn’t used to this.

    After I bought my first one, (Mk I), I checked into the story. I love Pat’s discussion of the trial and error that made the first guns.

    The hammer cocks harder than a Gov’t 1911, but the bevel on the slide makes it easier to find during the draw stroke.

  8. I have the Detonics .45 and would like to get an additional magazine. Any one know where I might get one or an acceptable substitute?


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