Custom Fitz'ed Colt Official Police .38 - Pistolsmith
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Old 02-01-2012, 07:49 AM   #1
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Custom Fitz'ed Colt Official Police .38

I've wanted a Colt Fitz Special since I was a kid and saw one in a copy of one of my dad's gun magazines. I decided it was time to have one in my collection. But since a genuine Fitz is almost impossible to find and just as impossible to afford, I had my own created.

I started with a 1948 Colt Official Police .38 Special with a 6" barrel that I found on Gunbroker. The poor old Colt was really well used with a terrible finish and an even more horrible condition bore. I had a 2" OP barrel that had a mint bore that was found in a friend's aquaintance's grandfather's "gun parts box." Colt made thousands of these Official Police revolvers and this one was in such terrible condition that its value was very little. However, the action was tight and worked perfectly.



My gunsmith, Mario Matelli (Bullseye Firearms and Gunsmithing) disassembled and cleaned the Colt:



Then Mario installed the 2" barrel, bobbed the hammer, and cut away the trigger guard, just the way John H. Fitzgerald did on his Fitz Specials:



Mario reattached the 6" barrel's front sight to the 2" snubby and put everything back together with a little work on the action to make it smooth and light:



Heating the barrel to attach the front sight ruined the blue and some people thought I should leave the gun just like this...they liked the old beat up look of the revolver.

But I had other ideas, which included a pair of American Elk Stag handles from Home) with old original Colt medallions for that factory look:



I'm lucky to have a local gentleman that does excellent re-blueing work without losing a gun's edges and markings. However, he has too much work already and asked me not to publish his info on the internet. Here's how he refinished the Colt:







But I still wasn't done. I shipped the Fitz'ed Colt to Michael Gouse at Gouse Freelance Firearms Engraving & Montana Art Emporium and had in engraved with 75% coverage American Scroll. Gouse engraves after the blueing and I love how his work turns out:







I still wasn't done. I had www.saguaroleather.com make me a custom period style holster with Mercury dimes to match the Colt. By pure coincidence, the years on the dimes are the years my mom and dad were born. That just make this project even more special!

















 
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Old 02-01-2012, 07:53 AM   #2
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The final touch was a cigar box presentation case I made to hold the Custom Fitz'ed Colt, six vintage 158 grain lead rounds, and a Colt Fitz Special patch inside the lid:



I hope you all like it! It's not a gun to be carried, but I did shoot it after all the work was done and it shoots great! Smooth and accurate and with very little recoil shooting old standard velocity .38 Special ammo. Now it's all cleaned up and resting in my safe, but I bring it out to be fondled every so often!

-Steve

Last edited by mm6mm6; 02-01-2012 at 07:58 AM.
 
Old 02-01-2012, 08:22 AM   #3
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Truly awesome looking revolver! I am not very knowledgeable about the "Fitz" and was wondering if you can explain the logic behind the trigger guard modification.

Thank you!

Ray
 
 
Old 02-01-2012, 08:40 AM   #4
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John H. Fitzgerald had really big hands and really big fingers. While wearing gloves during the northeast's winters, he couldn't get his trigger finger inside a standard Colt double action revolver's trigger guard. This was back in the early 1900's and carrying a gun your coat pocket or pants pocket was very common.

Fitz cut away his trigger guards and the idea caught on. Those were the days when lawyers weren't blaming gun manufacturers if someone shot themself accidentally. Many Colt Fitz Specials left the factory with cut barrels, trigger guards, and bobbed hammer so they wouldn't snag on the draw. Colt wouldn't do that today, even for a million dollars! Or perhaps without and iron clad waiver form!

If you go to Google, click on Images, and then type Fitz Colt in the search box, you'll see plenty of examples....
 
Old 02-01-2012, 07:22 PM   #5
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mm6mm6:
The best I can say about your Colt is that John Fitzgerald would love it.
Nice job.

Fitzgerald's personal guns were a pair of New Service .45 revolvers he carried in his front pants pockets.
Back in those days, pockets were bigger, and he had his lined with waxed canvas to make them more stiff for a fast draw.

Most Colt Fitz guns were converted by factory personnel, with Fitz doing them only for VIPs.
On the day that Charles Lindberg testified at the kidnapping and murder trial of his son's killer, he was wearing a Fitz Detective Special in a shoulder holster.
Some of the most rare of the rare Fitz guns are 1911 .45 automatics.
In the Texas Ranger museum in Waco are a pair of profusely engraved and inlaid Colt 1911's owned by Texas Ranger Captain Manuel "Lone Wolf" Gonzales.
They have the trigger guards cut away.

Another HUGE man with catcher's mitt size hands was famed Border Patrolman Bill Jordon. Jordon thought the cut away Fitzgerald trigger guard was too unsafe, and could bend if the gun were bumped, jamming the trigger.
His idea was to cut a half-moon shaped section from the right side of the trigger guard, leaving the other half in place to protect the trigger and prevent the unsupported trigger guard from bending.
 
Old 02-02-2012, 04:29 AM   #6
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TRULY a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Thanks for sharing this remarkablebuild with us, and welcome to the forum......
 
Old 03-08-2012, 01:17 PM   #7
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Outstanding

That is a great looking project. When I was a lot younger I wanted to learn to do that sort of modification and I always asked when I was on patrol if anyone had old junker guns, Owls Heads or the like, they wanted to get rid of. I paid $5 a piece for many of them and worked on cutting the trigger guard and bobbing the hammers and shortening the barrels until I knew the proportions that worked the best. That Colt of yours is as nice an example as ever I've seen. Thank you for letting us see that beauty.
 
Old 03-08-2012, 06:26 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aryfrosty View Post
That is a great looking project. When I was a lot younger I wanted to learn to do that sort of modification and I always asked when I was on patrol if anyone had old junker guns, Owls Heads or the like, they wanted to get rid of. I paid $5 a piece for many of them and worked on cutting the trigger guard and bobbing the hammers and shortening the barrels until I knew the proportions that worked the best. That Colt of yours is as nice an example as ever I've seen. Thank you for letting us see that beauty.
Do you still have any of your projects, Al ? If so, please post some pics. I'm sure we'd all love to see them--esp. the crude ones (as most were).
 
Old 03-12-2012, 03:38 PM   #9
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Fitzing

Quote:
Originally Posted by one eye joe View Post
Do you still have any of your projects, Al ? If so, please post some pics. I'm sure we'd all love to see them--esp. the crude ones (as most were).
Sorry it took so long to get back to you. I haven't made any photos but I do have one of those old wrecks and I will take a picture and post it. It's an old Owl's Head nickeled in .32. Wasn't worth the $5.00. I also have another of the Owls Heads in .22l that was just too nice...hard to believe...to cut on and I'll post it too. It is as tight as the day it came across the counter and shoots very well. Gave $5 for it too. Regards, Al
 
Old 01-09-2014, 09:12 AM   #10
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an absolute work of art!

an heirloom for sure!.....BTW can I be in your will
 
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