Custom Fitz'ed Colt Official Police .38


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mm6mm6
February 22, 2011, 04:01 PM
I always thought the old Fitz-Colts were really neat. The cutaway trigger guard, bobbed hammer, and shortened barrel always lit my imagination. Original revolvers actually made at the Colt factory by J.H. Fitzgerald sell today for thousands of dollars.

A few years ago a friend gave me a box of old gun parts and inside was a 2 1/2" Colt Official Police barrel. It had been custom cut down and its muzzle was expertly re-crowned. It read "icial" over "lice" and then .38 Special. Apparently it had been a 4" Official Police before it was shortened.

It took me a few years, but I finally bought a 1948 Colt Official Police .38 Special off Gunbroker for a reasonable price. The gun was tight and functioned well, but its finish was rather poor. It had lots of scratches, holster wear, and some browning patches of patina. Its 5" barrel's bore wasn't very good either.

Here is the Official Police when I first received it:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPolice001.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPolice002.jpg

I left the Colt with my FFL and gunsmith, Mario Matelli ( http://bullseyefirearms-il.com/ ) and he completely disassembled it for a deep cleaning:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficalPolice3.jpg

Mario is a great guy and a fantastic gunsmith. He installed the short barrel:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficalPolice2.jpg

Then Mario bobbed the hammer and cut the trigger guard the way Fitz did it way back when:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficalPolice.jpg

Mario also went over the action and smoothed it out. His work on the hammer and trigger guard is outstanding! We talked about front sights and I wanted to see if we could re-use the original front sight from the factory 5" barrel. Mario did an amazing job of removing the old sight and then installing it on the custom 2 1/2" barrel. Here's how the Colt looked when I got it back from Mario:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPolice009.jpg

I've got big hands so I didn't want to shorten the grip. I sent a period correct pair of Colt medallions to Patrick Grashorn ( http://www.grashornsgunworks.com/ ) and he installed them in a pair of his handsome American Elk Stag handles.

Then I had the Colt re-blued by a local guy who does great work. He kept the matte blue finish on the top strap, and the front and rear of the grip strap areas. The rest of the gun was polish blued. He didn't lose the Rampant Colt emblem on the left side of the frame, but he did polish off the "Icial Lice" on the left front of the barrel at my request. Now all it says is .38 Special.

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPoliceFitz001.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPoliceFitz003.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPoliceFitz005.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPoliceFitz006.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPoliceFitz008.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPoliceFitz009.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPoliceFitz010.jpg

I made a custom case out of an old cigar box to hold my Fitz'ed Colt:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPoliceFitz018.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtOfficialPoliceFitz011.jpg

I'm very happy with the way the old beater Colt turned out. I've breathed new life into a Colt that wasn't much to look at when I got it and wouldn't have been much of a shooter either. I won't ever carry this gun, but I will shoot it just to say that I did.

But I'm going to wait to fire it until it's totally finished. It has one more trip to make to Michael Gouse ( www.mtart.com ) in about two months. I called him and got put in line on his waiting list to have this revolver engraved. I think I'm going to go with about 75% Nimschke style engraving. I definitely want to have the bottom of the frame engraved where the trigger guard used to be and I want some scroll under the portion of the trigger guard that still remains.

I'll be sure to add photos when it comes back from Gouse, but that's 3 months or so away....

-Steve

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Searcher1970
February 22, 2011, 04:15 PM
Way to breathe new life into the old gal. I love it!

bannockburn
February 22, 2011, 04:26 PM
Wow Steve, that's one beautiful restoration and customization project you have there. You and your fellow gunsmiths and artisans have done a fantastic job of recreating a Fitz-Gerald Special. Also enjoyed all the before and after photos too; really adds a lot to the perspective of the story. Looking forward to seeing it after you have it engraved. Should be quite the showpiece.

Zundfolge
February 22, 2011, 04:53 PM
That's just beautiful.

Fitzgerald would be proud.

WC145
February 22, 2011, 05:15 PM
I love it, that really came out great. The vintage look it had when you got it back from Mario was super cool but the finished product is just fantastic. Color me jealous.

silversport
February 23, 2011, 07:24 AM
gorgeous...thanks for doing that and letting us see it...
Bill

HoosierQ
February 23, 2011, 09:54 AM
I will dissent on this one. That's a shame:barf:.

I think that old gun had lots of serious potential in its original form.

Fitz special?...really?.

But as they say...it's your gun.

Old Fuff
February 23, 2011, 11:17 AM
I admit to being a fan of Mr. FitzGerald's "Special," and given the condition the revolver was in - particularily the bore - I have no objections to the conversion being done, perhaps because I've done the same. The Official Police model was one of Colt's best sellers, and is by no means scarce or rare.

I did notice that it still has it's single-action trigger pull, which I see as a mistake on bobbed hammers. Once cocked they can be tricky to lower, and a mistake can result in a BANG! if the trigger for whatever reason doesn't follow the hammer down. My opinion is backed by personal knowledge of two incidents where I was requested to do away with the single-action notch on the hammer after a "BANG! happened. Fortunately no one was hurt, but the roof of a police car in one case suffered a serious wound, and a stake-out operation was ruined. :uhoh:

earlthegoat2
February 23, 2011, 11:26 AM
Despite that fact many dont like the Fitz in its technical terms, I do.

You took a worthless (as a collector or generally fine example) revolver and made something of what I consider equal monetary value and a significant historical reproduction.

I agree with Old Fuff on the single action notch. Im not sure however if original fitz specials retained them. Which brings up my other issue, the top of the bobbed hammer is not checkered as was the case with many Fitzs. No big deal in either case but if you wanted to keep the single action notch intact then by all means checker the top of the hammer.

Enough critique though as this was a fine transformation and bravo to your gunsmith as many these days will not undertake such a task as this.

Old Fuff
February 23, 2011, 12:13 PM
I agree with Old Fuff on the single action notch. Im not sure however if original fitz specials retained them.

Most of the Fitz Special revolvers made by the Colt factory retained the single-action trigger pull, and the hammers were checkered by "coining" (stamping) rather then cutting.

However most of them were sold to customers that knew Mr. FitzGerald personally, and he went to great lengths to explain the correct way (in his view) to lower the hammer. It can be done of course, but when under stress it's easy to make a mistake. Given that the "Special" was intended to be carried as a short range pocket revolver I doubt that any of the original users resorted to the single-action pull, except possibly at a shooting range with the gun carefully pointed in a safe direction.

CraigC
February 23, 2011, 12:41 PM
Very cool, I was always a fan of the concept and Taffin's articles on them. I managed to snag his book "Shooting" in the leatherbound edition from Palladium Press several months ago. Haven't had a chance yet but looking forward to reading it.

Standing Wolf
February 23, 2011, 01:57 PM
Outstanding!

george29
February 23, 2011, 02:30 PM
I would never carry one but that is a beautiful gun.

rdrancher
February 23, 2011, 07:03 PM
Very nice! Can't wait to see it engraved.

Lucky Derby
February 23, 2011, 07:15 PM
Very cool.

Dr.Rob
February 23, 2011, 07:57 PM
That is just fantastic!

SaxonPig
February 24, 2011, 08:49 AM
I still can't believe you ruined that revolver.

CraigC
February 24, 2011, 10:11 AM
I still can't believe you ruined that revolver.
People sure are weird about custom guns! What is it that is so sacred about a factory gun that one should never do what one wants with one's own property???

Mizar
February 24, 2011, 01:56 PM
I like the Fitzed version better. Shame on me...:neener: Does the OP have plans for installing a bright polished brass T-grip? That will add a real nice finishing touch!

Boris

earlthegoat2
February 24, 2011, 02:35 PM
I still can't believe you ruined that revolver.

It still does everything it did originally.

aryfrosty
February 24, 2011, 04:28 PM
That Colt doesn't look ruined to me. It looks like a classic example of Fitz' influence. I'd be a little wary of carrying it with the trigger guard chopped but I admire your idea. I'd like to have one just like it.

Guillermo
February 24, 2011, 06:06 PM
An old Official Police with a bad bore was turned into a cool custom...the only problem is that it is not going to be carried.

If I lived in yankeeland and spent more time in coats you can bet your bottom dollar that I would pocket carry that baby.

SaxonPig
February 24, 2011, 06:28 PM
CraigC- Butchering is not the same as customizing.

I hope John Fitzgerald is burning in Hell for inspiring people to cut up their revolvers.

Jim Watson
February 24, 2011, 06:34 PM
I agree.
Mr Fitzgerald thought he had a solution to his needs of a long time ago.
Most of the conditions no longer apply, if they ever did.
The gun is ruined to my mind. The only thing I have seen worse was a set of three 6.5" target sighted S&Ws with the trigger guards cut away. How weird and ugly.
There are a lot of lesser modifications that would draw screams of indignation at the desecration of an old gun, not to mention the Safety Patrol.

And he stole Elmer Keith's hammer, too.

CraigC
February 24, 2011, 07:47 PM
Butchering is not the same as customizing.
One man's custom dream gun is another's butcher job. You could (and people do) say the same thing about virtually any custom gun that could be built on anything but a brand new model. It's a gun, a well worn and rather common Colt with a bad bore, not the Shroud of Turin. Most importantly, it ain't yours!!! Let us maintain some perspective gents.


I hope John Fitzgerald is burning in Hell for inspiring people to cut up their revolvers.
Seriously, you would wish eternal damnation on someone who was dedicated to our sport over inanimate objects???

Guillermo
February 24, 2011, 08:11 PM
Most of the conditions no longer apply, if they ever did.

Jim,

it is my understanding that the main purpose of the Fitz was to be able to quickly reach into a pocket and perhaps shoot without drawing.

since we still have pockets you must be talking about something else.

Your points are usually well thought out so I look forward to your response.

pharmer
February 24, 2011, 08:56 PM
Conk somebody on the head with that once and it's out of action. Oh forgot, today's cops neither carry revolvers nor conk perps on the head. Nevermind. Joe

WC145
February 24, 2011, 09:30 PM
CraigC- Butchering is not the same as customizing.

I hope John Fitzgerald is burning in Hell for inspiring people to cut up their revolvers.

Geez. Lighten up, Francis. It's just a gun, and a common one at that. You may not like or appreciate the work that's been done on it but instead of crapping on someone else's project, why not do like your Mom used to tell you - "If you don't have anything good to say, just don't say anything at all".

mm6mm6
February 25, 2011, 09:21 AM
Thank you to all of you who took the time to type out your appreciation for my Colt. It was very enjoyable for me to get my dream gun finally put together. I love the guns of the past and my tastes generally run to blued steel and leather as opposed to polymer and kydex. (However, I do have polymer and kydex too!)

For some reason, there are those who view guns only as monetary investments and believe they should remain as they came from the factory. As others have mentioned, Colt made many, many Official Police .38's and they are far from rare. I would never have modified a 100% original, in the box, Colt OP. But this gun's finish was gone and its bore was almost unsafe to shoot. I'm sure the bullets would have keyholed.

I have modified many of my guns to my own tastes. I won't be selling them anytime soon. I shoot them all (which also drives some people crazy and I admit to finding that rather pleasurable) and enjoy them every day.

Here's a few more examples of guns I have "butchered":

Decimated value of ultra rare Colt Combat Elite by hacking the frame to accomodate an Ed Brown bobtailed mainspring housing (but it feels so much better in my hand when I shoot it!):

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtBobtail004-1.jpg

Hacked down barrel to 16" Marlin 336 from the 100th Anniversary 1870-1970 with a Leupold Scout Scope (blasphemy on a lever action rifle!)...but it works so darn well on dangerous game!

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/BoarHunt078-1.jpg

Marlin 1894 .44 Magnum with hacked barrel, custom John Wayne big loop lever, and all scratched up:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/Marlin031.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/FortyFours033.jpg

Ruger Super Single Six destroyed by non-factory scratching:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/Rugers003-2.jpg

Absolutely factory original Colt 1903 .32 Pocket Hammerless. Orange rust coated and pitted bore and zero finish left over:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtHammerless.jpg

Horrifically re-blued but without losing any writing or the Rampant Colt horse:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/GouseEngraving033.jpg

Then scratched all to heck (this one was definitely a mistake since Colt made over 1 million of them and they are therefore so rare, especially in such terrible condition):

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/GouseEngraving017.jpg

I wish I had the before photos of this poor little S&W .32 Safety Hammerless when I first purchased it. The nickel plating was all but gone and the gun looked terrible. I tried really hard to bring it back. Not sure if I succeeded though. I might have to throw this butchered gun in the garbage:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/Breaktops011.jpg

A few more guns all scratched up and their value destroyed:

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/WaltherCamilllus003.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/SW624g002.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/Skeeter001.jpg

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/Skeeter013.jpg

An example of a gun you should never ever ever shoot. 1986 Colt 150th Anniversary Engraved Sampler with factory elephant ivory grips. Geez, it shoots right to point of aim with sights just the way they are!

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/ColtSampler010.jpg

Here's another one. S&W Performance Center .45 Schofield Model of 2000. Too valuable to ever shoot. Very rare. But cocking it fast and shooting it in Cowboy Action Shooting matches sure is fun!

http://i136.photobucket.com/albums/q187/mm6mm6/Schofield006.jpg

All of the above obviously tongue in cheek and for the appreciation of those who understand that, yep they're my guns, nope I'm not selling 'em, yep I'm shooting the daylights out of 'em, and yes sir I'm happy doing it and living my gun life to its fullest!

Thanks again for your kind comments!

Guillermo
February 25, 2011, 09:30 AM
mm6mm6

thanks for sharing pics of your collection.

while I am not generally a fan of engraved guns you have some awfully nice stuff.

of course the coolest thing is not the guns but rather how much fun you are having with them

keep your powder dry

Jim Watson
February 25, 2011, 09:33 AM
it is my understanding that the main purpose of the Fitz was to be able to quickly reach into a pocket and perhaps shoot without drawing.

since we still have pockets you must be talking about something else.

I never heard that Fitzgerald figured on shooting through his pocket. And even if he did, I fail to see what advantage chopping out the trigger guard offered. Elmer Keith said Mrs Fitzgerald liked jewelry and Mr Fitzgerald meant to protect his investment, so was always seen with a hand in a pocket on a gun butt.

Clothing styles change. I can't reasonably carry my S&W M12 in a pants pocket whereas Fitzgerald was said to carry a sawn off New Service in EACH front pants pocket.

Look at a Bill Jordan trigger guard for improved access by a very long trigger finger without completely exposing the trigger to snagging or a stub guard to bending.




What's next mm6? A Lone Wolf Gonzaullas 1911?

I gotta say, while I think chopping the trigger guard is a bad move, I admire your gumption in actually shooting engraved guns. I do too, even though I only have one.

CraigC
February 25, 2011, 10:38 AM
Wonderful collection and great post!

earlthegoat2
February 25, 2011, 10:48 AM
What a great collection and you sir have excellent taste in firearms.
-------------------------
You know what they say about shooting engraved guns?

You look even stupider if you cant hit what you are shooting at.

Newb223
February 25, 2011, 10:48 AM
I must admit, that turned out looking really good.

Guillermo
February 25, 2011, 10:51 AM
Jim,

Most of what I know about Fitz modifications I learned at the feet of Old Fuff. (the information is worth the smell :neener:)

I went back to read and did not come across him saying anything about shooting from the pocket. Guess I imagined it.

I did come across him saying this.
the Fitz Special was intended to be carried in a pocket, and the design was dictated by the purpose. At the time it was far less controversial then it is now, but even then some knowledgeable people didnít approve of it. On the other hand some very experienced individuals such as Charles Askins, Rex Applegate and William Fairbairn did, and these gentlemen all knew their way around a gunfight. It still remains as an innovate solution to a particular situation that was favored by some, and rejected by others. You could say the same about any defensive handgun that was ever made.

I found it persuasive. After all, Askins', Applegate's and Fairbairn's opinions are worthy of respect and consideration.

It is important to note that I did not find this persuasive enough to take a hacksaw to my old Colts.
:what:

dogrunner
February 25, 2011, 10:54 AM
Yup, a 1948 version of 'tacticool'.

mm6mm6
February 25, 2011, 11:12 AM
"You know what they say about shooting engraved guns? You look even stupider if you cant hit what you are shooting at."

That is just classic! And oh so true!

JEB
February 25, 2011, 11:57 AM
you are one lucky guy! i didnt see one gun in this thread that wasnt drop dead sexy! i am very glad that you actually shoot your collecton, there are way too many people that buy guns to look at and never really enjoy them.

btw: that .44 marlin.....very nice! just love it!

Searcher1970
February 25, 2011, 01:51 PM
Those lever actions are sweet. I love those "scratched" up guns too..lol

Spec ops Grunt
February 25, 2011, 03:32 PM
How much is engraving? Or do you do that yourself?


God I love the Colt Pocket Hammerless's.


And the engraving? *le sigh* :o

mm6mm6
February 25, 2011, 04:12 PM
Michael Gouse's website is www.mtart.com (for Montana Art) and I think you'll find his engraving prices less than you would expect. He can do all the styles, from American Scroll (my favorite) to German Oak Leaves and Acorns and everything in between.

When he engraved my Colt Pocket Hammerless, it only cost $300 for 75% coverage American Scroll....

1KPerDay
February 25, 2011, 05:17 PM
I dig your attitude mm6mm. who did the engraving onj the stainless single six?

cool fitz, too. I respect and admire saxonpig and his collection but I disagree about your OP being ruined. and you do have taste...

Zundfolge
February 25, 2011, 05:34 PM
mm6mm6, geez you butchered the crap out of that Colt 1903 ... but I'm not one to hold such a thing against a person, so if you'd like to send it to me I can give it a proper burial and maybe ease your conscience a bit.

mm6mm6
February 25, 2011, 08:09 PM
1KPerDay: Thanks for the kind words! The Ruger was engraved by Jeff Flannery of Union, Kentucky.

Zundfolge: :)

CoastieShep
February 25, 2011, 08:21 PM
Looks great.
Can I please come to your house and hold every last one? I just want to look and drool on them please. Those sure are some beautiful suckers.

MagicD
February 25, 2011, 10:28 PM
Spectacular reclamation of the 1903 Colt Hammerless,may I inquire who did the work? I have an old favorite that I sure would like to help out in just the same way.

MagicD
February 26, 2011, 12:15 AM
Thought this might be of interest....

dhfenno
February 26, 2011, 12:25 AM
What a fantastic gun.
I usually take the Hippocratic oath when it comes to firearms preservation "first do no harm".
I do not generally believe in modifying a piece of history or Americana but what you have had done is something altogether different.
You took a couple pieces that separately had no soul and brought them together in a representation of one of the neatest firearm modifications ever devised.
Well done sir.

SaxonPig
February 26, 2011, 08:46 AM
All of the guns that still have their trigger guards intact look great.

That Colt auto is one of the most beautiful handguns I have ever seen and I have said that before.

I love a well done custom gun.

I abhor butchery like hacking away a trigger guard. That is an abomination IMO.

silversport
February 26, 2011, 08:51 AM
Ohmigosh...did you do the engraving???...BEAUTIFUL...everyone...WOW...thanks for sharing.
Bill

CraigC
February 26, 2011, 09:06 AM
I abhor butchery like hacking away a trigger guard. That is an abomination IMO.
Yeah, I think we got that message the first time, the second time and the third time. Luckily, it's not your gun and you're not required to do the same to your own but you knew exactly what you were gonna see when you clicked on the link. So why click on a thread you knew was gonna feature an "abomination" and then proceed to pee in somebody's cornflakes????????

Art Eatman
February 26, 2011, 12:02 PM
Believe it or not, there was time when many grown men wore coats as a standard item and whose pants had pockets which were "baggy" by today's standards.

Some of them carried some form of pocket pistol.

I won't say I saw a lot of the Fitz-type modifications when I was a kid, but they were in no way unique. Nor was the particular model of handgun a rare item, for that matter.

If a person is happy with a modification and it works as he intended for it to do, it appears to me that while one is always welcome to his opinion, negative commentary is definitely superfluous. Further, if one absolutely must be negative or else be soul-sick, a polite, courteous comment would be quite sufficient--and within High Road parameters.

MartinS
February 26, 2011, 02:05 PM
You commit blasphemy on poor, dumb metal and now you smile as you slide your hand down and touch your bare, naked trigger. You think God can't see into your pockets sir?
Flames await.

Old Fuff
February 26, 2011, 03:03 PM
You commit blasphemy on poor, dumb metal and now you smile as you slide your hand down and touch your bare, naked trigger. You think God can't see into your pockets sir?

Ah.... Well I think he said something, but I'm not sure what. :confused: :D

Oyeboten
February 26, 2011, 03:51 PM
It is so funny how ignorance and pre-judice combine so neatly, and passionately, when-ever the matter of the open Trigger Bow comes up.


A controversy which arise entirely from the inability of some to elect or manage a rational analysis, and, then the efforts or illuminations offered, if to no avail, by those who can.


If inadvertently actuating a full cycle of the Revolver's Double Action Mechanism while attempting to draw or return an open Bow Revolver to their Pocket, is a danger for the quality of Motor co-ordinations or dexterity or wit of some people, then, would it not be easy for them to simply elect Revolvers for themselves, which have the features they feel comfortable with?

And, to allow others to do likewise?


Seems easy enough to me...




Lol...

savit260
February 26, 2011, 04:14 PM
When he engraved my Colt Pocket Hammerless, it only cost $300 for 75% coverage American Scroll....

Beautiful guns!!

I see you've had the "Fitz" re-blued before it has gone out to be engraved.

Is that normal?

I'm interested in having a blue revolver of mine engraved in the future, and just assumed that it would need to be re-blued after the engraving. Is that the case?... or do they just touch up the engraved areas after the engraving is done?

mm6mm6
February 26, 2011, 06:12 PM
savit260: If you have Gouse (www.mtart.com) engrave your blued firearm, there is no need to have it reblued. Just check out the photos and info on his website.

Oyeboten: You magnificent words are arranged in such a proper order conveying pure sense that I thank you for taking the time to type them out. Outstanding!

Guillermo
February 26, 2011, 10:48 PM
Well I think he said something, but I'm not sure what

I think that Martin's post was funny as hell

sixgunner455
February 26, 2011, 11:40 PM
Some gorgeous guns there. That Fitz came out great, too.

moby clarke
February 27, 2011, 12:14 AM
Thanks for sharing the pics. You have some very fine looking pistols there.

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