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Custom Fitz'ed Colt Official Police .38

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by mm6mm6, Feb 22, 2011.

  1. mm6mm6

    mm6mm6 Member

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    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:

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

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

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

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    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:

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    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.

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

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    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
     
  2. Searcher1970

    Searcher1970 Member

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    Way to breathe new life into the old gal. I love it!
     
  3. bannockburn

    bannockburn Senior Member

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    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.
     
  4. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Senior Member

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    That's just beautiful.

    Fitzgerald would be proud.
     
  5. WC145

    WC145 Senior Member

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    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.
     
  6. silversport

    silversport Member

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    gorgeous...thanks for doing that and letting us see it...
    Bill
     
  7. HoosierQ

    HoosierQ Senior Member

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    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.
     
  8. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Senior Member

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    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:
     
  9. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Senior Member

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    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.
     
  10. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Senior Member

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    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.
     
  11. CraigC
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    CraigC Senior Member

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    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.
     
  12. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    Outstanding!
     
  13. george29

    george29 Senior Member

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    I would never carry one but that is a beautiful gun.
     
  14. rdrancher

    rdrancher Member

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    Very nice! Can't wait to see it engraved.
     
  15. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Senior Member

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    Very cool.
     
  16. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

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    That is just fantastic!
     
  17. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Senior Member

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    I still can't believe you ruined that revolver.
     
  18. CraigC
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    CraigC Senior Member

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    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???
     
  19. Mizar

    Mizar Member

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    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
     
  20. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Senior Member

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    It still does everything it did originally.
     
  21. aryfrosty

    aryfrosty Member

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    Not to me...

    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.
     
  22. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    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.
     
  23. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Senior Member

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    CraigC- Butchering is not the same as customizing.

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

    Jim Watson Senior Member

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    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.
     
  25. CraigC
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    CraigC Senior Member

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    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.


    Seriously, you would wish eternal damnation on someone who was dedicated to our sport over inanimate objects???
     

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