is this an abused colt?


April 20, 2009, 05:55 PM
i saw this picture on some website and i couldnt really recognize it
any body know what make and model it is?

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April 20, 2009, 05:56 PM
Looks like a chopped GI 1917 to me.

It was a very popular pass-time back in the 50's & 60's to buy them for $20 bucks and make Fitz Special belly guns out of them.

Note the chopped barrel, hammer, and front of trigger guard missing.

The friction tape grip wrap is really classic!


April 20, 2009, 06:00 PM
thanks RC how did they reattatch the front sight if they chopped the barrel tho?

April 20, 2009, 06:05 PM
Same exact way Colt did it on SAA's.

Grind a slot for it and silver-solder it back on.


April 20, 2009, 06:34 PM
i can only assume they bobbed the hammer too right?

April 20, 2009, 06:48 PM
That's not abused, just "well-used" :D .

April 20, 2009, 07:15 PM
That's not abused, just "well-used" .

It does look pretty freakin' mean, doesn't it? Awesome.

Actually, I've seen this pic on THR before, I think it belongs to a member.

April 20, 2009, 07:19 PM
That's not abused, just "well-used" .

You are joking right, that poor thing has been bubbaed by a monster. it is horrible.

April 20, 2009, 07:29 PM
Depending on who you're asking, that's a very classic piece.

Do a search here for the "Fitz Special" and learn a bit of history.

Or just check out this thread:

This generation doesn't remember the era that produced guns like this and the men who carried them. But your dads (maybe) and grandpops knew them.

I say, it is cool for what it is. Sure, a pristine example has obvious appeal, but one like this is a tool that had an important job and a distinguished history in it's own way.


April 20, 2009, 07:31 PM
I'd take it in a minute.:p

We're so used to seeing a bunch of never-fired, tarted-up, prettyguns we turn our noses up at what, to many people, was just another tool.

The stories that piece could tell!

April 20, 2009, 08:00 PM
It has character...and to me, is charming, just as it is.

Nickel Guns, would have the 'White' adhesive Tape option chosen for their cracked Grips...from old time First Aid Kits...which Tape used to come in a little can...really showed dirt-from-use too, that White Tape...and would harden on here like a rock...


The one pictured, I think belongs to XavierBreath...

April 20, 2009, 08:07 PM
A cousin - (

April 20, 2009, 08:10 PM
Isn't it illegal in most areas without a trigger guard, though?

April 20, 2009, 08:17 PM
Isn't it illegal in most areas without a trigger guard, though?

Say WHAT? I sure don't know all the state laws on all the books throughout the land, but it isn't in the NFA '34 or it's spawn, and I've never heard of such a rule anywhere I've lived.

Do you know of places where such a rule IS in effect?


April 20, 2009, 08:44 PM
You are joking right, that poor thing has been bubbaed by a monster. it is horrible.

Well, to each his own I guess...

Gizamo's Fitz is the envy of scores of snub-aholics.


April 20, 2009, 09:26 PM
I'm pretty sure that belongs to XavierBreath.

Old Fuff
April 20, 2009, 10:11 PM
The late Col. Charles Askins Jr. was an honest-to-goodness-gunfighter. During his early years he served with the U.S. Border Patrol in El Paso Texas. At the time the name of the game was smuggling liquor from Old Mexico because Prohibition was still the law of the land. Because of his somewhat risky occupation he was sometimes involved in several shoot-outs a week. Just before World War Two started he switched services and went into the Army as a 2nd, Lt.

He fought through North Africa, Italy, and Europe, and occasionally left bodies in his wake. Following the war he remained in the Army, and on one assignment at least, he added to his personal body count in French Indo-China. By the time he passed away it was said that the total was somewhere around 40 – give or take.

When I was much younger – and therefore knew everything that anyone needed to know – I had an opportunity to meet him. I knew that during his Border Patrol days and part of the war years, what you might say was his most “active” period in the shooting business, he had carried a Colt New Service .38 Special that was extensively modified. It had a King ventilated rib with an adjustable rear sight, fancy ivory stocks, and the front of the trigger guard was cut away.

So I approached this gunfighting legend and ask him, “Wasn’t it ah… well… dangerous to carry that revolver with the trigger guard cut away?”

He looked me up and down for a few seconds, and I got a distinct feeling that I might have said something that I shouldn’t have. :uhoh:

Then he spoke. Well he said, “If you ever happen to get into a fuss, you will quickly learn if you survive, that there are a lot of things that happen in a gunfight that are far more dangerous then a cut-away trigger guard.”

What you are looking at in the first posted picture is not something that is supposed to look cool, and it is not a butcher job. It is a professional piece of equipment designed for the sole purpose of fighting, and getting its owner out of trouble in one piece. During its time it was made for, and carried by, some other noteable fighting men who are still remembered for their exploits.

In my view this revolver needs no further endorsements.

April 20, 2009, 10:53 PM
i saw this picture on some website and i couldnt really recognize it

This web site, maybe? Sure looks like the pic Gizamo posted June '08.

I like it.

April 20, 2009, 10:59 PM
Yup, I think that is Giz's Fitz special.

The feller that carried that gun was plumb serious about his tools.

That's a dandy.

Revolver Ocelot
April 21, 2009, 05:45 AM
I like it, it has character

April 21, 2009, 08:14 AM
It's a cut down M1917 owned by forum member Gizamo. As I recall he got it cheap somewhere and bought it because he enjoyed the look of this old warhorse.

Revolver Ocelot
April 21, 2009, 09:15 AM
This web site, maybe? Sure looks like the pic Gizamo posted June '08
Actually I believe it began on xavier breath's site.

edit: my mistake, the gizamo post predates xaviers blog on the gun, not to mention it seems gizamo actually owns it.

still some interesting info on the fitz special colts

April 21, 2009, 11:14 AM
see thats what i meant by guns with character in my other post but i ended up getting pics of alot of engraved nickle safequeens oh well

thanks for all the info i like the gun thats why i grabbed the picture i think its the most beautiful snubbie ive seen in a while because its raw tool like set up with no "extra" "tactical" "gunsmithers name here endorsed" junk on or done to it its when a gun was well... a gun

p.s. nice spot on the cut trigger gaurd ive looked this pic over alot and i never noticed that

Jim K
April 21, 2009, 12:20 PM
I agree with Fuff. The barrel has been cut and the hammer bobbed, but it is not "butchered" or a "bubba job."

It is quite well done and the friction tape on the stock is not because the stock is cracked, but to give a better grip for control in rapid fire.

That gun was made for, and probably used by, someone who knew exactly what he wanted and what he wanted it for.

I am pretty sure it was used for what I sometimes call "serious purposes".


Revolver Ocelot
April 21, 2009, 12:47 PM
I agree 100% Dimis, if I ever saw a gun like that I'd buy it in a heart beat, yo can tell by looking at it that it has quite a history to it.

Jim Watson
April 21, 2009, 12:53 PM
I can handle everything but the cut away trigger guard. I don't touch the front of the trigger guard as I draw, even if I don't get a perfect grip; and consider that part of the Fitz mods to be unnecessary. If you have long fingers, look at the Jordan cut which just narrows the guard on the strong side.

I somewhat agree with Chick Gaylord who said people who cut down guns like that were expecting "an affair of honor in a telephone booth."

April 21, 2009, 01:34 PM
Noble old Colt. The taped grips made me grimace a tad, but people did do such things for very good reason way back when. A real "Fitz" is a pricy collector's item.

April 21, 2009, 01:43 PM
Were this my gun and assuming not an historic piece such as belonging to someone like Frank Hamer,I would first replace the trigger guard, do a matt blue finish and install a set of Bill Jordan combat grips on it. I would change nothing else about it.

Revolver Ocelot
April 21, 2009, 02:12 PM
jim watson, if my memory serves me corectly (if I am incorrect someone please chime in) the cut away trigger guard also served the purpose of if you needed to get your fnger on the triger quickly and it is in a confined area such as a jacket pocket, it would require less effort to get your finger on the trigger.

for my methods of carry however I'd view it as both unecassary and a safety hazard

Old Fuff
April 21, 2009, 02:12 PM
Many "professional" and other users, both back-when and now, object to the cut away trigger guard. They have a right to their opinions of course, but at the same time I have found it interesting that a number of very capable, informed and experienced individuals endorsed it.

They included, but were not limited to the previously mentioned Col. Charles Askins, William E. Fairbairn of Fairbairn and Sykes fame, Col. Rex Applegate, who carried one while part of a special Military Police detail that was assigned to help protect president Franklin Roosevelt for a short period after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and Paul B. Weston who for may years was in charge of handgun training at New York City’s Police Academy. I could name others, but enough is enough.

None of them lacked experience, or were armchair theorists. All of them understood that the likely outcome of a shooting would depend on which of the protagonists landed the first hit that would so disable the other(s) that they couldn’t continue to be a threat. Sometimes only a few milliseconds made the difference, and because of usual rules-of-engagement imposed on the good guys the bad ones would get to start the festivities. Therefore the wise ones were willing to try anything that might increase the odds in their favor, and in their experienced opinion the cut-back trigger guard was one such feature, especially when the revolver was likely to be pocket carried.

Jeff Cooper once made the point that everyone has a right to have an opinion about anything – but that the value of it was directly proportional to they’re experience and knowledge of the issue or subject.

Colt’s John H. Fitz-Gerald (spelling taken from his business card) designed his Fitz Specials for a small and select group of people. Colt never cataloged it, but made it on special order, most of which were submitted through Fitz-Gerald himself. Neither the designer nor the Colt Company intended it to be something for anybody and everybody. It should be noted that far more were made outside the factory then within. That said, most of those that owned the genuine article had the experience and knowledge Cooper was referring to, and even today what they believed and advocated is still meaningful.

Revolver Ocelot
April 21, 2009, 02:40 PM
very interesting info old fuff, I just personally wouldn't do it as I generally do appendix carry and I could see reholstering going very badlly

Old Fuff
April 21, 2009, 03:37 PM
I generally do appendix carry and I could see reholstering going very badlly

Back during the dark ages appendix carry was more popular then it is today. While the Fitz Special was designed and intended to be side-pocket carried, they were also found in belt or shoulder holsters. The cutaway trigger guard didn't pose any problems with quality holsters that were made to accommodate the modification. First it would be difficult to rotate the trigger all of the way back against an average trigger pull of 10 pounds, and hold it there while the hammer fell, and second, doing it any other way would cause the revolver's “positive” hammer block safety to stop the hammer before the firing pin could go far enough to hit the primer.

Last but not least, neither Fitz-Gerald nor his selected users were fools. These things were thought out well in advance. Of course Colt had no control over those that had copies made by private gunsmiths, nor the people that carried them. Still, there doesn’t seem to be any period literature that’s been left to us with a documented history of problems, and for many years I’ve looked for it.

Revolver Ocelot
April 21, 2009, 03:45 PM
This could just be my vivid imagination but my fear was that in holster iwb I would manage to get my waist band caught inside the open trigger guard and it would push the trigger.

April 21, 2009, 03:49 PM
Ever tried pulling the DA trigger on a 1917 Colt?

More then likely, you would notice it, just before you ripped your pants clean off!

BTW: The only problem I ever heard about was an anecdotal story about somebody whacking a low-life over the head with one during a struggle.
And bending the remnant trigger guard spur up to where the trigger no longer could be pulled to get off a shot.

As luck would have it, getting hit over the head with a 1917 belly gun ended the fight before any shooting was necessary.

I think Bill Jordan was the one with the story, and he refused to completly cut the guard. He did slim it on the front right side for easier trigger finger access.
But he had hands way bigger then most.


Old Fuff
April 21, 2009, 04:04 PM
Well I'll offer two more observations:

The trigger pulls on Colt made Fitz Specials were a bit better then what was usually found; and the kind of people that got these revolvers through Fitz-Gerald seldom if ever used them to hit someone. Put frankly, they weren't the sort of individuals who hit-people-over-the-head, but some of the folks that they delt with might have wished that they were... :eek: :evil:

April 21, 2009, 04:10 PM
This is true.

However, many of the cut-down 1917's probably didn't have the Fitz personal trigger job.

Back in the early 60's I had a friend in the pawn shop business who was cranking out 1917 belly-guns like the one in the OP about one a month. He sure wasn't doing any Fitz grade trigger jobs on them!


Old Fuff
April 21, 2009, 04:16 PM
Oh, I didn't mean to dispute what you said about 1917 trigger pulls, just point out that the genuine ones were better.

Those that knew what they were doing always straightened the trigger finger before they either drew or reholstered. Unfortunately some Glock owners haven't learned to do this yet... :uhoh:

dagger dog
April 21, 2009, 04:52 PM
I can remember seeing a Colt snub nose revolver in .38 Special, that Charles Lindberg AKA Lucky Lindy owned, it had the cut away tigger guard, and a note with the gun stated, it was cut away for use with gloved hands.

I have also seen trigger gaurds that were cut to 1/2 the original width at the front portion, for eaiser acess to the trigger. When looked at from the front the trigger was exposed more on the right side, but still retained the full guard.

Old Fuff
April 21, 2009, 06:43 PM
I can remember seeing a Colt snub nose revolver in .38 Special, that Charles Lindberg AKA Lucky Lindy owned, it had the cut away tigger guard, and a note with the gun stated, it was cut away for use with gloved hands.

Fitz-Gerald personally presented that revolver to him, and trained him how to use it. All this happened after Lindberg's baby son was kidnaped and murdered. It is said that sometime thereafter when he and his family moved to England he took the gun with him.

Times have sure changed... :(

April 21, 2009, 09:39 PM
I will note that many people who have a bit of experience unholstering and holstering their gun will place their thumb on the hammer when reholstering.

It would be difficult to crank off a shot when reholstering this gun if your thumb was on the bobbed hammer.

FWIW, this one is Giz's gun. He graciously allowed me to use the photo. I understand this particular gun does have an interesting history. I'll let Giz post it if he likes, as it was still being verified when I spoke with him.

April 21, 2009, 10:20 PM
who ever owns it that thing is gorgious and im jealous lol

April 21, 2009, 10:37 PM
Anyone who could acuate the Double Action mechanism of any open Trigger Bow DA Revolver by trying to Draw, or, re-Holster, would be too incompetant for any sort of Firearm, anyway, "period".


Lol even, I s'pose...

Jim K
April 21, 2009, 10:53 PM
At that time, it was common to carry a revolver in a holster with the trigger guard exposed, and draw the gun with the finger on the trigger. The cutaway trigger guard just made that easier.

Somewhere, I have a picture of myself drawing and firing a Model 19 DA from a Bucheimer Federal Man holster. The gun is at about a 45 degree angle but the hammer is half way back; it would fall when the gun came level on the target.

Today, we are not allowed to even think about touching the trigger until the gun is on the target and permission has been obtained from the police chief, the range officer, OSHA, and Josh Sugarman.


Big Daddy Grim
April 21, 2009, 10:56 PM
Either way I bet it made someone happy for many many years.

Baba Louie
April 22, 2009, 08:04 AM
Either way I bet it made someone happy for many many years.It still does, I bet. :D

Puts a smile on my face just looking at it. Almost guilty of coveting... must not covet... must... simply enjoy smile on face and history lessons learned. And I'm not almost guilty... I am... guilty as can be.

Old Fuff
April 22, 2009, 10:03 AM
I don't know about happiness, but one can do wonders for elevating feelings of self-security.... :cool:

April 22, 2009, 10:20 AM
It is amazing how this being done by someone as respected as Fitz-Gerald is a thing of beauty but the same thing done by Joe-Blow in his garage is a Bubba-special. Go figure.

April 22, 2009, 04:13 PM
I dont think its abused. I like it a lot. Back when that gun was probably modified people didnt have a lot of money to go buy new guns. They modified what they had at the time to suit their needs.

April 22, 2009, 07:14 PM
it's not abused, it's a beauty, like this one here:

gotta love those Fitz treatments. i tried convincing my mom to do that to hers.

PS - the gun pictured isn't mine, but i wish it could be.

April 22, 2009, 07:39 PM
This almost makes my mind up about what to do with a somewhat funky not very collectible S&W M1917.

Can't cut the barrel quite so short because the Smith hasn't got the Colt 'free standing' ejector rod, but a cut right in front of the rod holder thing would leave it with a 3 1/4" barrel that is 2 1/4" in front of the frame.

Take out the lanyard loop, round the butt slightly, round the butt of a pair of Ahrend's grips to fit, and cut off the cocking part of an old double action only hammer that this gun originally had.

Then I'd have to think hard about whether to cut away the front of the trigger guard but the electrician's tape is easy.

Not this Smith - another one like it but not as clean.

April 22, 2009, 07:43 PM
Looking at my photo of the S%W I'm not sure how successful a chop job would be. There are important differences in how the frame lines go.....hmmm.

Jim Watson
April 22, 2009, 08:01 PM
I have seen pictures of S&Ws mutilated in that manner. There has to be a nubbin of the front end of the trigger guard left because of the cylinder stop screw.

I'm against it, I don't care what Fitz did.

Old Fuff
April 22, 2009, 09:01 PM
Relative to Smith & Wesson, Jim's comment is correct. While I have seen S&W revolvers that had the trigger guard cut fully away, it is more common to see them with the guard slimmed and narrowed.

The problem is, as Jim observed, the spring that tensions the cylinder stop is located in an area where if you cut the frame fully away it would leave a very thin amount of metal at a critical point.

Taurus makes the only revolvers being currently manufactured that would allow a true Fitz conversion. However I highly doubt that they have any intention of coming out with anything along these lines.

Jim is not alone in his opinion concerning a cut-away trigger guard. But nowhere is it written that he or anyone else has to have the operation performed if they don’t want it. On the other hand those that did favor it made up an interesting and very gunfight-proficient group. It might be a mistake to ignore their proven expertise… ;)

Old Fuff
April 22, 2009, 09:24 PM

It should be understood that Mr. Fitz-Gerald designed his Fitz Special around the concept of being carried in a pocket. This was the rationale behind the short barrel, bobbed hammer shortened/rounded butt, and cut-away trigger guard. When holster-carry was expected, it was less likely that an extra short barrel would be employed and the hammer wasn’t always bobbed.

An N-frame S&W is a little much for pants-pocket carry, although is does work in some coats. I wouldn’t shorten the barrel below 3 1/8”, but would round the butt and possibly bob the hammer spur. A cut-away or narrowed trigger guard would be optional, but only if it might be carried in a coat pocket.

April 22, 2009, 10:57 PM
Men's Trousers were somewhat different years ago, were cut and proportioned different, from now.

Front Pockets were larger, much larger than now...up even through the 1950s.

Even an average size man could carry a four inch S&W M&P in a front pants Pocket...and or a short Barrel Large Frame Revolver, such as a Colt New Service, Merwin and Hulbert .44, or as may be.

For reasons others have already mentioned, S & W Hand Ejectors were less likely to be shortened radically, than Colts.

Although, when they were, they were usually 2-1/2 or 3 Inch, unless wishing to allow the Ejector Rod to pay Homage to the Model of 1899, where, it was free-floating.

Those who did front Pocket Carry as a habit, usually had their Seamstress or Tailor re-inforce the intended Pocket, or, install a Leather or stout Canvas or Buckram for substiuting or augmenting the Trouser Pocket material.

Now-a-days, men's Trousers are high-tight crotch, small shallow the old days, no one would have bought such style pants anyway, nor found them comfortable or pratical if they had.

April 22, 2009, 11:08 PM
On the other hand those that did favor it made up an interesting and very gunfight-proficient group. It might be a mistake to ignore their proven expertise…


I have a benign view towards those that pin the grip safety of 1911s and suspect that many that read Jeff Cooper repeatedly might have a similar view.

This is THR and we remain mindful that noobs and the uninitiated may be reading so I believe we tend to err on the side of caution. Who knows what might come up if we knew the musings were private? Heck, I might even admit that the trap club I belonged to in New York in the 70s had a bar on the premises.

April 22, 2009, 11:36 PM
Men's Trousers were somewhat different years ago, were cut and proportioned different, from now.

Front Pockets were larger, much larger than now...up even through the 1950s.

Even an average size man could carry a four inch S&W M&P in a front pants Pocket...and or a short Barrel Large Frame Revolver, such as a Colt New Service, Merwin and Hulbert .44, or as may be.

Pocket carrying a K frame snub is a whole different kettle of fish from your full on I frame Colt. A New Service is a very large revolver! This is not so much a pocket gun, no matter how masterful the chopping may be.

April 23, 2009, 12:00 AM
If wearing old style Trousers, and, having stout-enough front Pockets, it is fine.

When I routinely dressed up for work and liesure, it was always pre-War Clothes, and, my two-inch New Service in .45 ACP/LC, was fine in the right front Pocket.

If you are walking briskly, and graze a Chair back or other with your Pocket-area, there's a good, audible 'clunk', indeed!

If you graze the head of a child with your Pocket area while walking briskly, it could of course knock them for a loop.

Regular Pocket fabric is not usually strong enough for continuous carry of a short Barrel large Frame Revolver, and will seperate or tear through fairly soon.

April 23, 2009, 12:22 AM
it was to my understanding that Mr FitzGerald himself carried a pair of these modified revolvers one in each front pocket
but i guess if he were a spokesperson/repairman for colt he could afford new pants regularly

Old Fuff
April 23, 2009, 01:28 AM
He did indeed, at least some of the time, but they weren't all built on the .45 New Service platform. He owned several built on smaller frames.

That said, he enjoyed pulling out one or two .45 Colt (caliber) New Service guns with his own modifications, and telling someone that had no idea he was armed that, "You should never send a boy to do a man's job..." :evil: :D

April 23, 2009, 10:40 AM
I've carried this model 24 during the cool months (most of the year up here) in a jacket pocket. It's an M24 .44 Special and should satisfy my every urge to go around weighted with a boat anchor in my pocket but the second .45 M1917 could be a much more carefree carry.

This model 24 is a Lew Horton version and in perfect condition - not something I'd want to get caught in my car door.

So, I will purchase a Colt for such mangling; they're more deserving anyway, IMO.

April 23, 2009, 11:21 AM
I thought that I was the only one that rebuilt my pants pockets for pocket carry!

Anyway, I'm in close pursuit of a battered and butchered '17 Colt to experiment upon (cue: maniacal laughter). It was shortened, simplified, and nickel plated back in the '50's, so it's pretty cheap.

Wish me luck, guys!

Old Fuff
April 23, 2009, 11:38 AM
I make a point to check pocket depth and size when I purchase pants, and I have had pockets modified to make them deeper. But rather then to make the pocket fit the gun I use a pocket holster. Otherwise the pocket may be worthless for any purpose except carrying a gun, and a particular one at that.

During Fitz-Gerald's day most pocket holsters were made to fit, and be used in hip pockets. I tried that method, and quickly abandoned it when I found it to be very uncomfortable when sitting down. Anyway I think that's the reason special side pockets were popular in certain circles.

April 23, 2009, 08:36 PM
My trick is to sew and rivet a patch pocket to the inner surface of the regular front pocket of my slacks. The new pocket is sized to be a tight fit for my pocket holster. It holds the holster in a steady position and allows me to keep keys-and-comb in the outer pocket (which reduces printing).

Works for me!

April 23, 2009, 10:04 PM
curse you KRS I have a thing for .44 spl's so went and did a search for your model 24 and found this.

a little rich for my blood right at the moment but maybe some day.

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