Pachmayr Combat Special? - Pistolsmith

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Old 06-10-2003, 07:33 PM   #1
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Pachmayr Combat Special?

Is anyone familiar with this 1911?
I just wanted to know more about it.
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Old 06-10-2003, 10:57 PM   #2
Join Date: Apr 2001
Posts: 555
Don't know much..had a friend that has one..two tone affair, bomar, ramp front sight, checkered 20lpi front and rear, long was nicely done..this was back in the mid to late 80s.
Old 06-11-2003, 08:14 AM   #3
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Handled one back in the 80's when they had a retail shop in Pasadena. Pretty basic gun by today's gunsmith standards but they were well made. IIRC, the fit and finish were very good, and the gun felt great in the hands.

Also, if you're talking about one made in the mid 80's or earlier, there's a good chance it was built by Paul Liebenberg. Paul knew his stuff. I tried one of his carry comps built around '86. It was one of the best shooting 1911's I've ever shot.
Old 06-11-2003, 09:07 AM   #4
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Actually most of the "Combat Specials" were built by Craig Wetstein at Pachmayr from '73 until '80/ '81. The original Combat Special prints were drawn up and approved in Dec '72 and revised a couple of times to '76. Liebenburg became involved only at the end of the run of the Combat Special and finished up the last of the orders when Wetstein went out on his own at that time and Pachmyer was trying to get out of the 1911 business.

All of them are nice guns, but the earlier guns had Dorhaus (later of Bren Ten fame with Dixon) and Wetstein behind the design of the model. Dorhaus I am told was the innovator when Pachmayr gave Ray Chapman a gun for winning the world championship. Pachmayr had thought Chapman would want a signature model (nice gun but actually better suited for bullseye). When Chapman saw the more basic guns that Dixon was working on in the shop tour he choose what became the signature "combat special". That order was placed in June of '78 and delivered in Jan. '79.

The guns were by no means crude or basic by today's standards. The Wetstein gun I own has seldom been duplicated or bettered by any working smith today.

The typical Combat Special had sharp 20 lpi checkering front and back, a serrated top of the slide and Bomars, a hand made beavertail and a Swenson ambi safety, built on a commercial Colt. Hard chromed lower and blued top end.
Those were full race specs in their day.

The Wetstein gun is all of that and more, beautiful 30 lpi checkering plus serrated and hand mattd on the slide. Rear of the slide is checkered at 50 lpi.

It is an exceptional piece. Craig Wetstein's business after he left Pachmayr was called the AUTO SHOP in Culver City, CA. He built some of the best 1911s I have ever seen by anyone to date. And I have seen or own most of them. But then Mr. Pachmayr trained him fresh out of gunsmithing school so I would expect no less. Craig is still alive and well but no longer with any interest in building 1911s...which is too bad IMO. If I can locate the jpegs I'll post some pictures of the gun I own.

By the copies of the work orders I have, Wetstein built the guns for Chapman in '78, Col. Askins in '78, Ross Seyfried's pair in '79 and Col. Cooper in early '80 among others. I know Ken Hackathorn has one Liebenburg finished later than '81 by conversations with him.

Some of the early Wilson guns were almost exact copies of the original Combat Specials just not as nicely finished in the details.

BTW the Pachmyer guns finished in house at Pachmyer (at some point Liebenburg contracted out the work) typically ran $800 to 900 depending on the details between '78 and '80. After that the guns took incredible price jumps before they were finished and delivered...either you paid the increased prices or your gun was returned untouched

Typical wait in 1980? 6 to 9 months.

Here is one of the last built by Liebenburg built in '83/'84 I believe for Leatham's first World Championship. The 6" barrel is not typical of a Combat Special. Last I hear he was also making a replica of the Combat Special currently.

Old 03-05-2011, 01:34 PM   #5
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The original & first Pachmayr Combat Special was created by Tom Dornaus, built on his own 1911 during lunchtimes & after work all without Frank's knowledge. When Tom showed him the finished pistol along with the costs & profits to be made Frank approved the program. Tom still has his orignal combat special. The pistol would routinely printed 5 round strings you could cover with a quarter at 25 yards in a machine rest. Twice, durning compatitions, he shot under two inches at 50 yards, prone. It has never walfuntioned and he would put it up against any pistol today. Withont Dornaus, the Pachmyr Combat Special would not exist. If anyone is interested, I will continue the story as to why & how the work was done & the reason for them.
Old 03-05-2011, 06:59 PM   #6
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Mike LaRocca was in there somewhere too as I recall.
Old 03-07-2011, 12:54 PM   #7
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I am an old GEEZER, and a computer NITWIT. You must pardon my ignorance, but is it possible to post some pics of these weapons ? ?

Last edited by one eye joe; 03-07-2011 at 07:21 PM.
Old 04-14-2011, 10:04 AM   #8
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I noticed on Brian Enos' forum he posted the build sheet on a Combat Special he never had completed. The main part of the package is listed as Pachmayr Combat System. Anyone know what that all entailed? Did Pachmayr's shop (Wetstein, LaRocca, Dornhaus...) weld up frame rails to tighten slide/frame fit as seems to be more common today?

Old 04-15-2011, 04:59 AM   #9
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Frank Pachmayr's Classic Combat Special | Reviews | Guns & Ammo
Old 04-15-2011, 08:51 AM   #10
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Whatta great article. Thanks for posting it, Grendel..........

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