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Colt Ace

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by Buckwacker, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. Buckwacker

    Buckwacker Member

    A recent debt to me was settled with an unfired in box 1979 Colt Ace. Should I sell it now or keep it over the long haul? I have considered turning it into a shooter. Any thoughts?
  2. Mac Attack

    Mac Attack Well-Known Member


    Is the ACE a full handgun or is it just an ACE conversion unit? Pictures would help. If it is a full original ACE in a unfired condition you can get quite a bit for it. I speculate that $2k isn't out of the question for an unfired example. However, I think they stopped making full ACE handguns well before 1979. If it's just a conversion unit on top of a Colt frame, the ACE unit is still valuable but I would say it would sell in the $800 - $1k range.
  3. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    I like my well used and customized '70s ACE for practice but the collectors and speculators have just ruined them for actual shooting.
    You can probably sell a NIB for enough to buy a good .45 and a Marvel conversion.
  4. cdrt

    cdrt Well-Known Member

    There always seems to be some confusion about what is an ACE and what is just a Colt .22 conversion unit; some of which are not marked as an "ACE" since that is a specific model of pistol. The first commercial ACE pistols were produced from 1931-1941 and then again in 1947. The Service Model ACE pistol was produced from 1935 to 1945 and had a floating chamber. They used a similar but different magazine that is now used in the latter .22 conversions and Marvels.

    You should check a current copy of the Blue Book of Gun Values and see what .22 converison or ACE unit you actually have. The CMP sold a bunch of .22 conversion units about two years ago. I picked up a pretty much NIB box one from them for $300. Prices for an ACE conversion, especially the one that was used to change a .22 Service ACE pistol to .45 ACP can go for over $3500. The ACE conversion to change a .45 to .22 will go for considerably less.

    Some conversion have fixed sights; some have adjustable. There is also an ACE II conversion which is for Series 80 1911s.
  5. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    There were actually two guns and two conversion units.

    The original Colt ACE was .22 LR only. It had no frame mounted ejector and the slide was narrower and lower than the .45 slide as well as being heavily cut out inside to reduce weight. It was pure blowback, with no floating chamber. It was not too reliable (though my two function well) and the very light recoil was not considered good for training those who would use the .45 on duty.

    So Colt came out with the .22 LR caliber Service Model (SM) ACE. Its slide is the same as the .45 slide. In order to work with the heavier slide, it uses a floating chamber that causes more recoil and makes it "kick" more like the .45.

    Then, to convert .45 pistols to .22, Colt made conversion kits using the SM ACE slide and floating chamber. (There were no conversion units for the original ACE.) There were several versions of the conversion unit, with mostly cosmetic changes. There was another conversion unit for those who had bought the SM ACE; that unit converted the SM ACE pistol to a .45.

  6. harmonic

    harmonic member

    Definitely. And only to a man over 6'5" tall, with green eyes and grey hair, college educated and 55 years old or older, and at a sales price of about $500.

    Let's see, that would be...................ME!
  7. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    Rather than edit my previous post, I will correct myself here. I said the SM ACE slide is the same as the .45 slide. It is dimensionally the same, but internally it has special machine cuts to allow use of the slide mounted ejector used with all the ACE and SM ACE pistols. Sorry if I confused anyone.

  8. Quigley

    Quigley Well-Known Member

    I saw a as new in the box sell at the Des Moines gun show for $1250.00
  9. Morris_Code

    Morris_Code Member

    Colt Ace Service Model .22 Long Rifle

    I have read the posts on this forum about the Colt Ace .22 and will check out the Blue Book mentioned.


    I am about to become a proud and happy owner of a Colt ACE Service Model .22 LR pistol. It's in very fine condition and comes with two magazines, also in fine condition.

    I am very curious about the production history of this gun. A brief exam of a COLT Firearms Catalogue stated something about 1931-1945.

    A few WWW searches suggest that the gun was in production long after 1945.

    Can anyone inform and enlighten me on this topic? Any and all advice much appreciated. Thank you.

  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    Colt brought out the Service Model Ace in 1935 and made it up until 1945. I can only think the ones made during WW II went for military training, there are certainly some out there with Army markings, some but not all in parkerized finish.

    They resumed making the Service Model Ace in 1978 and kept on until 1982, according to Blue Book. The action is the same but there are cosmetic differences. The late guns have a matte rib on the slide and Accro or Eliason sights like a Gold Cup.
  11. kwiktech

    kwiktech New Member

    Looking for a ACE

    My Ace was stolen 4 yrs ago and I am now in the market for another 1....Jim K
  12. kwiktech

    kwiktech New Member

    Mine was a 22lr for what it is worth,,..JK
  13. Chief200

    Chief200 New Member

    Colt 22 Service Ace

    The Colt .22 Ace was produced from April 1931 to 1935 with a 4 3/4 " barrel and lightened frame. In 1936 the gun was revamped and renamed the Service Model Ace. Service Model serial number was changed to start with SM to denote the change. The change was a floating piston that caused the .22 to recoil almost the same as a .45. The service Model was made until 1945. The gun was brought back in 1978 starting with serial number SM-14001 and ended in 1982 with serial number SM-43830. According to the Blue Book of gun values a post war Service Model would be ion the $650.00 range. I suppose an unfired gun would bring a higher premium.
  14. Morris_Code

    Morris_Code Member

    Chief; thank you for the clear and succinct history of the Colt .22 Ace Service Model. I have been enjoying my relationship to the pistol and have had several excellent days on the range with it. Last visit to the range, I took my S&W Model 41 and the Ruger Single Six with the Magnum cylinder. I compared recoil across all three guns and decided that the Colt Ace is about 15% less recoil than the .22 magnum but of course, much higher than the Model 41. I am seeking out some drawings of the floating chamber designed by Carbine Williams so that I can develop a deeper understanding of why and how the gun behaves the way it does with .22 LR cartridges.
  15. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Not hard to understand.

    The floating chamber is a very light, large diameter "Piston" that is acted upon by the chamber pressure getting between it and the small-bore barrel.

    That drives it back against the slides breech-face almost as hard as a full diameter .45 ACP case (piston). It then has enough energy transfer to operate the slide.
    (As opposed to the tiny .22 LR case alone (Very small Piston) working on the slide.)

    Last edited: Aug 17, 2009
  16. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Well-Known Member

    A neighbor had one marked US Navy. I shot it several times, and every time the mechanism would lead up to the point it was almost impossible to take apart.

    It may be a collectable, but I'd want no part of it.
  17. Morris_Code

    Morris_Code Member


    Thank you for the clear description of the action of the floating chamber in the Colt Ace. The pistol has been shooting like a champ with each and every visit to the range. I appreciate now knowing what you have shared with me.


  18. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Well-Known Member

    My SM Ace works quite reliably -- if it gets a little sluggish, I know it's time for a good cleaning. Since I have several .22 pistols (including a Colt Woodsman and a Colt Officer's Model Target), it gets little field time. However it gets a workout as an understudy for my Kimber Custom Classic. It's the ideal pistol to practice tracking the front sight through the recoil cycle.
  19. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    I don't know who revived this thread, but the reason the floating chamber works so well is that the .22 LR, in spite of what we usually think, is a pretty high pressure round, going at around 25,000 psi. The overall pressure is low because there are not many (1?) square inches. The floating chamber (a design from the same David M. Williams who designed the M1 carbine) allows that pressure to operate over a larger area, multiplying the effect.


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