When I was a kid, I was fascinated by a Fitz-Colt I saw in one of my dad's gun magazines. When John H. Fitzgerald worked for Colt in the early 1900's, the shortest barrel available from the factory was 4". Fitz made snubnoses by cutting factory barrels down to 2 1/2", 2", or even 1 1/2" lengths. He also created the first custom handguns by also bobbing the hammer spur and cutting away the front of the trigger guard (Fitz had huge hands and he coulnd't get his trigger finger inside the trigger guard when wearing gloves) for fast trigger access.
A co-worker gave me a jar of gun parts he found while cleaning out a friend's old home. There was a 2 1/2" cut and re-crowned Colt Official Police .38 barrel in the jar and that's what got me thinking about those old Fitz-Colt revolvers.
I bought a 1948 Colt Official Police .38 Special off Gunbroker (after looking for a very long time) that had a lousy barrel and a terribly worn finish. Colt made tons of these common revolvers and this one had no collector value. I didn't care about the condition of the barrel since I would be having it replaced. This gun had a tight action and functioned well.
I had an old set of Colt grips with factory medallions from the same era as the walnut factory grips that came on the Official Police. I sent those medallions to Patrick Grashorn (http://grashornsgunworks.com/) and he inserted them in a handsome set of his American Elk Stag grips.
I then turned the Fitz'ed Colt over to a local guy that does fantastic re-blueing. He doesn't want more business because he has too much already so he asked me not to put his name out on the internet. He is truly an artist and when the Colt came back, it looked just wonderful!
While the Colt was with Gouse, I looked around for a proper holster to go with the revolver. I couldn't find one that looked vintage but still covered the cut away trigger guard. Then I found Tom Dyer (http://www.saguarogunleather.com/index.html) and ordered one of his custom tooled and dyed leather holsters. I had him use silver Mercury dimes for the hardware. By pure luck, the dimes are dated 1929 and 1927 which are the years my mom and dad were born. Amazing, and it makes this whole project just that much more special to me.
sounds like you had a lot of fun with the project.
it this going to be your daily carry?
August 3, 2011, 09:17 PM
Oh my goodness thats pretty. But I would have thought the engraving was done before the bluing. Shows you what I know. I like it.
August 3, 2011, 09:42 PM
I love everything but the Fitz treated trigger guard. Just not my thing. Minus that, I would love to have that gun to carry.
August 3, 2011, 09:53 PM
What a wonderful project! I don't like the cut trigger guard, but what ever blows up your skirt! People should do more of this kind of thing and buy less plastic and MIM trash IMHO!
August 3, 2011, 11:11 PM
very very nice!
Cocked & Locked
August 3, 2011, 11:31 PM
Looking good Steve...Very Good! :what:
August 3, 2011, 11:34 PM
Turned out great! Beautiful sixgun.
August 3, 2011, 11:36 PM
I won't repeat my previous comment.
August 4, 2011, 09:42 AM
Wow that is one COOL piece. Talk about a labor of love.
I've been thinking of making a .32-20 snubby 'just for fun'. I don't know if I'd go 'full Fitz.. but now I'm tempted.
And THAT my freinds is a Texas BBQ gun.
August 4, 2011, 11:27 AM
I would think it would get blued after the engraving not before...
Can someone please edumacate me? Intuitively, it makes sense that if you put a surface treatment like blueing on a gun, that when to scrape bits off the surface to engrave, you'd be engraving away the blueing... no?
Either way, it's absolutely beautiful.
August 4, 2011, 12:00 PM
It had to have been re-reblued after engraving.
I don't like Fitz mutilated trigger guards, either, but the rest of the job looks sharp.
August 4, 2011, 12:01 PM
I'm sure that the metalwork was done first, then it was blued, then engraved, then reblued. Engravers usually have long lead times and it'd be better to have a serviceable sixgun with a finish than to leave it in the white for several months.
EDIT: The original project thread was posted nearly 6 months ago.
August 4, 2011, 07:46 PM
And thanks for the new wallpaper photos. :D
August 4, 2011, 07:51 PM
Everyone should have at least one gun just the way they want it. Sweet little snubbie
August 4, 2011, 07:59 PM
Really pretty(trigger guard and all.)
August 4, 2011, 08:38 PM
Really nice - And likely an exceptionally good shooter as well as a great example of gunsmithing all around.
August 4, 2011, 08:43 PM
BBQ gun Champion.
And great photography too!
August 4, 2011, 09:44 PM
Wonderful outcome to the project and I agree that's great photography!
August 4, 2011, 09:49 PM
I never liked the look of the Fitz Special.
But then I saw yours. Something about the combination of bluing, engraving, and grips, makes that gun look pretty sweet. Nice work.
August 4, 2011, 09:59 PM
Hello friends and neighbors // A treat to see the process, hats off to you.
Seeing the starting photo makes your Fitz project all the more pleasing to the eye.
Thanks for posting, adding this to my favorites list.
August 4, 2011, 10:08 PM
Well, it might not have started out as a collector item, but it is now. Nice job. Nice resurrection too, real nice.
August 4, 2011, 11:10 PM
That is simply drop-dead gorgeous! Outstanding work in every respect. Enjoy!
August 4, 2011, 11:11 PM
The gun in picture 4 is AWESOME. The gun in picture 9 is pretty. IMHO, of course.
August 5, 2011, 04:20 PM
Thanks everyone, especially SaxonPig!!! :)
I made it to the range today and put 50 rounds of old 158 grain lead roundnose .38 Special ammo through the Fitz'ed Colt. It shot great. The trigger pull measures just a touch over 9 pounds double action and it's short and smooth. The gun shoots about 3" high at 21 feet due to its high front sight. I may file it down and touch up the blue one day to get it to shoot to point of aim. Today, I just aimed a bit high and, if I did my part, the rounds went right in the center.
The range I shoot at only allows strings of 5 rounds at a time. I forgot I should really have just loaded one more round in then next empty cylinder and would have 6 shot groups (since the gun holds 6 rounds). Instead I fired 5 shot groups, double action, standing unsupported, at 21 feet.
By the way, Gouse engraved right over the gun's finish and then he has a process where he just fills in the cut away metal area. If you look at the pictures of guns on his website (www.mtart.com), you'll see factory finishes that he engraves and then touches up.
The really neat thing is that he doesn't have to refinish the entire gun. My friend had Gouse engrave two Colt SAA .44 Specials with blued and case hardened finishes. Looking at photos of the guns before and after, you can see that it's the original Colt blue and factory case hardening.
As an example, here's a factory blue Ruger Blackhawk .44 Special (2009 Lipsey's Exclusive) that Gouse engraved with 75% coverage American Scroll for me. That's the factory, very nice and original, Ruger blue: