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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought this pistol today. The seller assumed it was a messed-up Service Ace, but I was able to do some research and find out that this is a U.S. Navy "match conditioned" pistol made at Small Arms Training Unit (SATU) in San Diego in about 1966. I reached out to the Navy who put me in touch with a retired officer (H. J. Walter) who was one of the officers in charge of SATU in 1960s and 1970s. Based on the information he provided and additional leads I followed, I was able to piece together the following.

In the 1960s SATU was led by a Navy civilian employee named Charlie Frazier who was a retired Chief Petty Officer and small arms competitor. He was given the resources by the Navy to improve both the skills and equipment used by the shooting team. The gun I bought was made by Don “Mac” McCoy, another retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, one of Navy’s best-ever shooting competitors and a very talented gunsmith at SATU. He is much better known for building match Garands which he continued doing into the 1980s out of his own shop in San Diego. However, his first love was building 1911s. He was a Pearl Harbor survivor, appeared on the cover of American Rifleman with his personal “match conditioned” 1911 (I am trying to get a copy of picture/article from the NRA), and passed away at age 92 in 2011.

Mac built a few match pistols for individual Navy competitors as far back as the late 1950s. According to H.J. Walter, in about 1966 he made a number of them for the various Navy shooting teams. All these pistols used the SM frames salvaged from the old Service Ace guns and extra hard slides numbered ‪7790314‬ supplied to the Navy by Colt under a CAGE contract for “hardened replacement slides”. These slides were only used on the Navy guns and not on the SA or RIA National Matches or guns occasionally built in-house by other branches of the service. Mac used the same or similar triggers, barrels and bushings that went into the mid-1960s SA National Matches, but did not mark them the same way. The mainspring housing was flat pre-A1 style, and both front and rear stippling was applied. The sights were Bo Mar rear and blade front that looked similar but slightly different than the ones on GI National Matches.

The markings on the guns were the last four of the frame serial applied on a diagonal to the rear right of the slide and the team designation forward of the serial on the right. Walt believes that the “H032” marking on my gun stands for a “house” gun number 32, one of those retained at SATU for training purposes. He is still researching this aspect for me. I am also trying to research through the seller the name of the individual who ended up with this gun in recent years. The seller was only able to tell me that the previous long-time owner was retired from a military career and participated in bulls eye matches during his retirement years. I suspect that after SATU was disbanded, these house pistols got distributed to people associated with the unit. Still need more information to complete the story.

Please let me know if anyone here is familiar with these pistols and can either add to r correct the information I have.
 

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The 7790314 slides were replacement slides furnished to all branches of the military. Late in WWII Ordnance started experimenting with hardened slides, and all manufacturers submitted pistols with hardened slides to Springfield Armory for testing, which was successful. The first contract for hardened slides I am aware of was the early 1950's Colt replacement slides, and the 7790314 slides came after these. The hardened slides used by Springfield Armory and Rock Island Arsenal in the NM program were the 7791435 slides with the NM designation.
 

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That's a nice score. I had the pleasure of meeting Don "Mac" McCoy in 2002. I pulled up in his driveway and saw the special Pearl Harbor Survivor license plate on his car. I handed him my Korean War era M1 and while we started discussing what I wanted done to it he had it torn apart in a matter of seconds without hardly looking at it. I knew that he had been the armorer for the Navy shooting team and even in his early 80's was still a master gunsmith.
 

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Nice to read all this. When I was stationed on a ship in Pearl Harbor in the 1980s I got to shoot and see many old 1911s and M-14s. Once my ship was invited to shoot against the USMC base guard detachment team. We only had our old rattletrap WWII 1911s, but at the last minute the Gunners Mates were able to borrow some adjustable sight ones. I assume they were National Match ones, they looked like it from my memory but at the time I didn't know.

I shot in a few matches. The GMs knew I was a gun nut, so let me join their impromptu ships "team", by waking me up out of my rack one Saturday, saying "hey, you want to shoot against the Marines today?" That's right, no prior practice and I was awakened with about a 30 min notice. I said something like, "Uh...sure, but do we have any accurate guns aboard? We'll look pretty stupid against those guys if not..." They rounded up those better ones. We still got trounced.

Though most sailors only got to qualify at boot camp, and often hardly ever shot after, one way to be around guns more was to volunteer for the shipboard roving guard duty. Me and my friends did that, so we were the ships Roving patrols, and Security Alert Team.

We got to re-qualify every 6 months because of our duty. We'd go to Wheeler AFB I believe it was, sit in bleachers behind the range, and listen to a pre-fire briefing. It was always taught by the same guy. Chief Shores I believe his name was, and he was quite a character. Where Navy chiefs always wore kaki uniforms, he wore cammys. He talked like a drill instructor, loud and brash. He always said the same lines, and some sailors would be quietly finishing his sentences while he was talking, before he said them. He'd roll onto the ground and get in different shooting positions with the M-14, and was an impressive shooter. A few months ago I found an old roll of negatives I'd never printed from my Navy days in Hawaii (I was the ships photographer for a while too). There on one strip were a few pictures of us shooting, all pretty blurry. But one was sharp, and there he was. Hadn't seen him since I was in the Navy in my young twenties.

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Good story here! I was too young in the 80s (high school). When I learned to shoot professionally in the early 90s were were doing thumbs forward on the slide and aggressive forward stance (like downhill skiing). A bit unusual to see a picture like this, but I guess it worked for him.

Nice to read all this. When I was stationed on a ship in Pearl Harbor in the 1980s I got to shoot and see many old 1911s and M-14s. Once my ship was invited to shoot against the USMC base guard detachment team. We only had our old rattletrap WWII 1911s, but at the last minute the Gunners Mates were able to borrow some adjustable sight ones. I assume they were National Match ones, they looked like it from my memory but at the time I didn't know.

I shot in a few matches. The GMs knew I was a gun nut, so let me join their impromptu ships "team", by waking me up out of my rack one Saturday, saying "hey, you want to shoot against the Marines today?" That's right, no prior practice and I was awakened with about a 30 min notice. I said something like, "Uh...sure, but do we have any accurate guns aboard? We'll look pretty stupid against those guys if not..." They rounded up those better ones. We still got trounced.

Though most sailors only got to qualify at boot camp, and often hardly ever shot after, one way to be around guns more was to volunteer for the shipboard roving guard duty. Me and my friends did that, so we were the ships Roving patrols, and Security Alert Team.

We got to re-qualify every 6 months because of our duty. We'd go to Wheeler AFB I believe it was, sit in bleachers behind the range, and listen to a pre-fire briefing. It was always taught by the same guy. Chief Shores I believe his name was, and he was quite a character. Where Navy chiefs always wore kaki uniforms, he wore cammys. He talked like a drill instructor, loud and brash. He always said the same lines, and some sailors would be quietly finishing his sentences while he was talking, before he said them. He'd roll onto the ground and get in different shooting positions with the M-14, and was an impressive shooter. A few months ago I found an old roll of negatives I'd never printed from my Navy days in Hawaii (I was the ships photographer for a while too). There on one strip were a few pictures of us shooting, all pretty blurry. But one was sharp, and there he was. Hadn't seen him since I was in the Navy in my young twenties.

 

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Well if I was WINSTON WOLFE I would call the Secretary of the NAVY on a Sunday and see what he could tell me :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:

Oh I forgot you already did :D :D :D WWWWD......RR
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
I found another one like mine. This one dates 1959 and appears to be on an earlier Ace frame. It's also not marked with an anchor or rack number, most likely because it was a one-off build for a specific individual. Otherwise everything else looks identical and comes with Navy documentation of the service member for whom it was built.

I am not planning to get this one since it's $3,000, and I only paid $1,000 for mine. Will leave it for you guys. :)

Colt Service Ace .45 ACP caliber pistol for sale
 

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Love to have a McCoy-built pistol. Lots of 1911s with a military pistol team provenance are coming out of the woodwork now. The one below was built by the FT Benning AMU in 1971. It has an Ithaca frame and a Colt NM hard slide like JohnnyP mentioned. Wish I had a couple more like it.
Bob

 
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