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1911 ACE question

3573 Views 22 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  PineKnot
A cased set of the following items has been brought to me with the question I hope to find help answering here: A 1911A-1 commercial frame with a serial # in the middle 7000 range. It has a checkered arched housing, and a slightly widened hammer spur. Two .45 barrel/slide assemblies, all Colt marked. A .22 ACE slide barrel/assembly (no service model markings), without the floating chamber, with 6 fiber washers on the recoil spring guide, and without any clearance cuts that would allow the slide to be mounted with the normal .45 slide stop in place on the frame. I should emphasize that everything seems to be of similar age and is all Colt marked. The present owner knows that the set dates from 1943 or earlier. The question is, is the .45 slide stop removed to install this ACE slide and then replaced when mounting the .45 tops? The .22 barrel has a bar or rod which snaps into the left side breech area, and extends rearward into the space that would be occupied by the slide stop. Remember that there is no way the .22 slide can be assembled with the .45 slide stop in place. I would like to know how these options should be set up to function properly and safely. Is the .45 slide stop there just as a hold open, or would there be a safety issue firing the gun as a .45 without it? Any help that is offered will be very much appreciated.
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I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "no way it can be installed with the slide stop in place" - you can't install the .45 top end if the slide stop is IN PLACE, either. Your description makes me think it's not the slide stop you are referring to; "the rod extends rearward" makes it sound like you are talking about the ejector. The original Ace was not intended as a conversion, and I don't know if it is even compatible with a standard Government Model frame. There should be a lug on the .22 barrel, through which the slide stop pin passes, to retain the barrel/slide assemply on the frame. No lug? No hole in the lug for the pin? If it is the ejector that you are referring to (fixed to the top, left-rear of the frame), then you might be able to remove it to fit the Ace slide. Is that serial number 7000 or 70000? Serial 7000 might be pre-WWI.
Rick B, Thanks for your reply. As you can tell, I don't know enough about these guns. I have mis-identified the parts. I am indeed talking about the ejector, and that probably explains a lot of my confusion. The .22 barrel has a solid lug with the pin hole. The .22 slide has no cuts at the left rear to clear what you tell me is the ejector. The frame does have the two pin holes at the top left rear for it. Should I assume that the .45 ejector should be installed for those slides, and removed to install the Ace slide? Yes, that serial # is middle 7000 range. Thanks

[This message has been edited by PineKnot (edited 12-05-2001).]
The ejector (flat metal piece with a slight hook on one end) is installed with the slide assembly held upside down in the hand. The hook fits into a groove on the side of the chamber and then lies flat, sliding back and forth as the slide works. Sometimes the ejector is a bit tricky to get into place, but it will go if "jiggle it just right."

As far as I know, an Ace upper can be installed on a standard 1911 lower. in fact, a .45 conversion unit was once made to convert the Ace to a .45.
Pineknot and I have already been discussing this "Ace" slide and 1911 on another site. (Shooters.com) Anyway, while I don't have any experience with the "Ace", I do have a Colt .22 Conversion Unit. Here are some questions for 'collectors' about the "Ace".

1. The Ace (according to my E.J. Hoffschmidt book "Know Your .45 Auto Pistols") was introduced in 1931 as a whole 1911 in .22. It was a 'blowback' operation with a lightened slide and a recoil buffer system. It did not have the 'floating chamber' of the later Service Ace and .22 Conversion Units. Obviously, if the Ace was introduced in 1931 then it would be of the 1911A-1 configuration. Did the "Ace" have it's own Serial number range (which would explain the low serial number of this gun?).

2. Did the "Ace" have a 'different' slidestop like the .22 Conversion Units do?(#2 slidestop) On my .22 Conv Unit there is a #2 slidestop. While it will work with the regular GI slidestop that came with the frame, it doesn't engage the mag follower and the slide won't lock back when the .22 mag is empty. The #2 seems to work okay with the .45 topend, though. So, did the "Ace" have a special slidestop?

3. Sorry, Pineknot, I misunderstood you before. You can't install any slide on the frame with the slidestop installed on the frame already. The slidestop is pushed through the holes in the frame (and barrel link)from left to right, after the slide has been slid onto the frame rails. You also have to line up the relief cut in the slide in the right area to accomplish this. The slide stop is what hold the slide onto the frame. It would be very unsafe to try to fire the 1911 in either .22 or .45 if not properly assembled.

Regards, NAA (aka N.L.)

Colt 1911: Best damn "Government" in the World!
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SaxonPig: It sounds like you may be describing a different version than the one I have. The .22 barrel I have has a snap-in milled bar (left side), as described above, which must be in place before the barrel can be inserted into the slide. On the right side is a slide mounted extractor hook. Is it possible there was more than one Ace configuration?

NAA: First of all, thank you for your continuing interest and for bringing me over to this excellent site; I had been unaware of it. Further, it was I who misled you by my erroneous terminology - it turns out that I was talking the whole time about the .45 ejector, as RickB correctly surmised. That is something I should have been able to figure out, and I can't imagine where it came from other than hearing someone call it that. I regret deflecting your generous efforts to help with such a silly mistake.
For what it's worth the slide stops (for real now) included with the ACE kit and the two .45's in this set appear to be identical, to my eye.
Aside from the other interesting questions surrounding this nifty Colt set, am I on the right track now in thinking that the ACE barrel has its own barrel mounted ejector, and that a frame mounted ejector should be installed when either of the .45 slides is in use? I also am beginning to wonder, as I'm sure you are, if what we have here is a Colt Ace with .45 coversion kits, rather than the other way around. If you guys don't give up on me, I'm going to learn something about these guns!

[This message has been edited by PineKnot (edited 12-06-2001).]

[This message has been edited by PineKnot (edited 12-06-2001).]
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PineKnot, How about some pictures. You have us wondering and in suspense. I'd like to see what your talking about. I've heard of ACE's without the split chamber, but I've never seen one. Educate us on this,
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Your first post left me with the impression that you had a Government Model .45 and an Ace top-end. Now, it seems you have an Ace, with a .45 top end. If there is no ejector on the Ace frame, but the (three) holes necessary for mounting one are present, then you could possibly mount a .45 ejector, the .45 top end, and shoot the gun as a .45. It definitley will not work without an ejector. The Ace (Saxonpig is referring to later Service Ace and/or .22-.45 Conversion Unit in his description of the ejector) slide is very different from the .45 slide, but I don't know that the frame is. As for the Ace slide stop being different from the .45 model, I don't know. If the gun is currently assembled, in whatever caliber, see which slide stop locks the slide back; that's probably the correct one. Hopefully, someone with an Ace will see this thread, and can answer more definitively.
Pineknot - hopefully we're making some progress on assisting you with this project!

My Colt .22 Conversion Unit has the barrel with the floating chamber. It also has the hook device that you describe. That is the "ejector" for the .22 shells that are fired. When mounted on my 1911 frames that have the .45 ejector (mounted on the top left rear of the frame) it is not necessary to remove the .45 ejector for the .22 Conversion Unit to function. The Conversion Unit slide is made to clear this .45 ejector as it slides back and forth. I don't believe that the .45 ejector plays any part in ejecting the .22 shells.

I think Rick B is right on about the slide stops - the one that will lock back the slide with the empty .22 magazine installed is probably the right one. How many slide stops came with all of this, 2 or 3? Chances are you only need 2 - one for the "Ace" and one for the .45 top ends.

The slide markings on the .45 slides with the 1913 patent dates indicate fairly early slides. On the slide with the stock sites, what is the rear site like? If it is rounded on top, it could be a very early slide.

It would now seem that you indeed have a complete Colt "Ace" 1911 in .22 with two Colt .45 topends. And yes, you would have to have the .45 ejector installed for the .45 topends to function properly. I would still like to know if the "Ace" was made in it's own serial number range - that would explain how this "Ace" frame has such a low serial number (7,000 range)and is in the 1911A-1 configuration. Check out the left side bow of the trigger guard - does it have a very tiny "VP" in a triangle stamped on it? This is a Colt "view proof" stamp, indicating a Colt mfg frame.

Also, something you haven't mentioned - what are the magazines like - for both the .22 and the .45's. Are they marked in any way? Like "jm9x23" says - too bad you can't post some pictures. It would be very interesting to see all that you have there!

Best regards, NAA

Colt 1911: Best damn "Government" in the World!
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I'll try to address all the questions.
NAA, The service .45 slide has a very rounded plain dovetail round notch rear sight. Each slide assembly has its own slide stop - they all look identical to me. There is no .45 ejector to be found anywhere (not counting the recent one you already know about). Yes, the VP inside an inverted triangle is there, on the top left front trigger guard. There is a tiny X above it. The .22 magazines are marked COLT ACE .22LR in three lines on the base. I share your curiosity about the serial # question.
RickB, There are two holes for the .45 ejector (thanks again for straightening me out on that), the forward one of larger diameter (approx. 1/8") and deeper than the rear. These are at the top left rear of the frame, behind the magazine well. Again, the ACE slide could not be mounted with anything in this position.
JM9x23, Lacking the ability to get pictures for you at the moment, I can tell you that the barrel has a solid lug through which the slide stop goes, and six thick fiber washers on the recoil spring guide.
I regret that I do not have picture capability. I'll look into that and see if I can't manage something for you all. There is really no doubt in my mind that all this stuff is original Colt, except the King adjustable sights on one .45 slide, and is of similar vintage. As I indicated elsewhere, it is known that this set has been together since at least before 1943, and perhaps a lot longer. I wish you all could see it and the Colt marked walnut boxes that hold the extra slide assemblies.
This is all very helpful and interesting for me!

[This message has been edited by PineKnot (edited 12-06-2001).]
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Is there a number stamped on the inside of the slide stop? Colt used 4 different stops and they were numbered. The 22 had its own.
Pineknot - thanks for more info. Seems like some of the questions are being answered!

To fire this 1911 with the .45 slides installed - as you already know, you'll need the .45 ejector and the small cross pin that secures it to the frame. The ejector has two little legs that go into the holes on the top left of the frame that you have described. One of the ejector legs will have a little 1/2 moon cut in it where a cross pin goes through the frame to secure it.

The .45 slide with the fixed sites with the rear site being rounded with a rounded notch in it would suggest an early Colt 1911 slide. They remained only a short time on the slides with the last patent date of 1913. An earlier Colt slide did not have the 1913 date, but the 1911 date. I once had an early Colt commercial with a 4 digit serial number that had that early slide with the rounded rear site. My 1915 mfg Colt commercial 1911 in .45 has the 1913 patent date on the slide, but the rear site is squared.

As for the .45 slide with the King sites... they were quite early custom sites for various firearms. I am not sure of the barrel. I am not familiar with the markings on the barrel on that slide setup. Are there markings on the barrel with the stock sites?

There is no question that the parts that you have here are pre-WWII. Given that my reference book states that the "Ace" was introduced in 1931 as a whole 1911 supports this. It would be nice to know if the Ace guns had their own serial numbers assigned, and how many they made, then you'd know where this one fit in, and maybe even down to the year of manufacture for the frame and "Ace" slide, etc.

The barrel on the "Ace" did have the solid lug (as opposed to the link & pin on the .45ACP barrels) and did not have the floating chamber as in the Service Model Ace or the .22 Conversion Units. And the "Ace" had the buffers on the recoil spring guide as it functioned as a straight blowback. The "Ace" slide is supposed to be lighter that a regular 1911 .45 slide - can you tell this?

The .22 magazines - do they have fixed floorplates or are they removeabale? My .22 Conv Unit came with a Colt mag with a fixed floor plate. There are replacement Colt mags for the units now that are also Colt marked and have removeable floorplate for disassembly and cleaning.

Hopefully, there is an "Ace" collector out there who can fill in the blanks here! Regards, nAA.

Colt 1911: Best damn "Government" in the World!
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JoeMc, There are 3 slide stops in the set, they are visually identical, and none has a number or other marking.
NMM, Right you are, I think we are getting closer. The .45 ejector holes are there, as described, but no cross-pin hole! Could that indicate that the whole thing was made so the .45 ejector could be easily removeable without tools to accomodate the ACE slide? (I'm beginning to surmise that the original "feeding" complaint might be related to the loss of the .45 ejector).
The apparently stock .45 barrel is marked ".45 Auto" on the left lower chamber quadrant in the same size and face as the "King slide" barrel is marked ".45 Auto Match".
The .22 slide is visibly lighter, with internal metal removal wherever possible.
The magazine floorplates are not easily removable, being secured by a front lip and two transverse pins.
The more I look at this set, the more I'm struck by the fact that it must have been assembled by a real enthusiast who loved his guns as we do. It has been shot quite a bit, but remains in pristine condition. There is a handwritten bill of sale from one junior naval officer to another dated 1943. I pray the original owner survived the war.
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Pineknot - a .45 ejector should stay on the frame without the cross pin, as the slide would always be over it. Usually, it takes some 'thumb pressure' to pop one on the frame anyway and that should hold it on when the slide(s) are off the frame. As you suggest they probably intentionlly left out the cross pin hole on the frame so that the .45 ejector could be popped in and out at will, without tools. Incidently, the detail strip/parts diagram for the "Ace" in my reference book, shows no .45 ejector installed above the frame rails. Although, in the diagram it shows the cross pin hole, on the frame, inside the frame rail (just above the 'plunger tube', on the left side of the frame - this diagram shows from the left side). However, the diagram for the "Service Model Ace" does show the .45 ejector in it's diagram.

So, not I am curious.... for that 'bill of sale' does it mention a price? It would be fun to know what something like this 'went for' in 1943!
Yes, I too hope both of the officers survived the war!

Regards, NAA

Colt 1911: Best damn "Government" in the World!
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NAA, Are you sure you're ready for this?
$250. Still, that was probably a month's pay. Still hope someone will chime in on the serial # question you raised.
Pineknot - give me an e-mail, I'd like to talk to you further off the Forum. I can be reached at:

[email protected]

Regards, Marcus.

Colt 1911: Best damn "Government" in the World!
Another station heard from.

The "original" ACE was numbered in its own range, from 1 to almost 11,000. The pre-war Service Model ACE had a SM prefix. I agree, you probably have an ACE that somebody thought he could convert to .45ACP.

I don't have much in the way of references, but I see nothing to indicate any thought of caliber conversion by Colt until the Service Model came out. They then offered .22-.45 and .45-.22 conversions. Only made 112 for the .22 to .45 route. If you have one of those - the Blue Book says it will have its own serial number on top of the slide - it will be valuable, even though it is not meant for use on the original ACE.

I don't know about you, but I would not be able to resist the temptation to load it up and try it out. See if modern .22s function it better than what was available in the '30s. I don't know about hooking it up in .45, I'd just consider those parts a curiosity. The lack of a .45 ejector in the package says to me that the original owners may not have actually made the switch.

I sure wish I had bought the one I was offered several years ago for about the price of a new Gold Cup.
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Jim, Thanks for your input. Sounds like it definitely is an ACE with .45 conversions. As NAA pointed out elsewhere, that would explain the middle 7000 serial# on a A-1 frame. The .22 slide has no number, and is marked ACE. The two .45 tops, one with a match barrel and King sights, have obviously been shot, as has the .22. Neither .45 slide is numbered anywhere. It looks to me like the present owner has just misplaced the .45 ejector somewhere along the way. His original complaint was a "feeding problem", and since it has been a good while he can't remember which combination was involved. I regret having to send this stuff home - I wish it were mine.
Let me try

the early ACE gun was different
the slide was very light, nearly hollow. There is no provision on the slide for an ejector. you can not put the slide on the frame with an ejector in place. it makes sense that the ejector top holes are drilled as it is probably produced in with the others. But no cross hole as the gun did not need a std ejector.

slide stops #1 45 #2 ace #3 38 super
#4 10 mm

the firing pin is a 2 pc agangment. the firing pin stop has a roller built in the bottom to allow the slide to come back easier. The ejector is unique to the gun and is a machined piece, not the stamping of the latter ace. It to attaches to the barrel. The barrel by the way is 4 3/4" not 5". the ACE did not have the floating chamber.

hope this helps
geo ><>
George, Thanks for your interest. Your information is just what I was looking for, and have arrived at with the help of others by a circuitous process of whittling away my confusion :) The only discrepancy remaining is that none of the slide stops is numbered anywhere. They appear identical and function okay.
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