Tag Archives: Bill Jordan

Combat Magnum!

You have to admit, the Model 19 Combat Magnum was about as perfect as it came in a carry revolver. They were also easy on the eyes.

Designed with input from an early legend in the gun community, the Smith & Wesson M19 has been a hit with wheel gun aficionados for generations.

To get the appeal of the Model 19, understand that S&W first debuted their medium-framed swing-out cylinder revolvers, known today as K-frames, back in the late 1890s with the Hand Ejector and Military & Police models. Then came the larger N-frame hog legs in 1907 with the advent of the Triple Lock or New Century. While the “Ks” typically ran in .32 to .38 calibers, the “Ns” were offered in beefier chamberings like .44 Special and .44 Russian. Fast forward to the 1930s and when the dream team of Elmer Keith, Phillip Sharpe, and D. B. Wesson joined forces to create the .357 Magnum cartridge, they developed an N-frame model to run it, the Model 27.

And so, it remained for decades until S&W heard from a WWII and Korean War-veteran Marine officer and U.S. Border Patrol supervisor, William “Bill” Jordan, about the what would make the perfect “combat” duty revolver.

USBP Assnt. Superintendent of Patrol William H. “Bill” Jordan. The gun is his Combat Magnum SW 19 

In short, Jordan advocated a K-frame-sized double-action chambered .357. While today these seems as logical as peanut butter and jelly, it was revolutionary at the time and, after some R&D and trial and error, the K-framed Combat Magnum was created in 1955

Outfitted with a shrouded barrel with an enclosed ejector rod and an adjustable rear sight, the Combat Magnum that hit S&Ws catalog in the mid-1950s was built on a 4-screw frame with a square butt. The frame sported a larger yoke and a fluted cylinder that had been counterbored. Unlike the Model 27 which was offered in numerous barrel lengths, the original Combat Magnum only came in a 4-inch format as standard.

While a nickel finish was offered, most were in Smith’s bright blue finish of the time.

In regular production until 1999, the guns were later made with both square and round butts and in 2.5-, 4-, and 6-inch barrel formats across eight generations.

What’s not to like?

The neat, but probably unwise, Fitz Colt

I’ve always been a fan of the Fitz Special concept, although not a practicing fan. More of an idle curiosity you could say, as I personally think they are unsafe.

Around 1926, retired NYPD cop John Henry Fitzgerald began customizing both full-sized Colt New Service, Police Positive, and Police Positive Special models to make them small concealed handguns, much like Colt’s then-new Detective Special. This modification included shortening the barrel to two inches or less, fitting a new front sight, removing the hammer spur and carefully checkering the top of the now-bobbed hammer, shortening the grip, and—unique to this type—cutting away the front 1/3 of the trigger guard and rounding off the now open edges.

A previously auctioned Fitz Colt

This trigger guard surgery left the bulk of the hammer exposed while carefully shrouding the very bottom and back of it to avoid snagging in the pocket. The open trigger guard allowed faster firing, accommodated large or gloved fingers, and according to some accounts made the weapon easier to fire through a pocket (if needed). While these modifications were done to large frame revolvers, they were performed mainly to the smaller Colt Detectives.

Although Fitz only converted less than 200 Colts, (some say as few as 20), the concept lived on and you see many other guns converted to the same degree.

Like this M1917 .45ACP moon gun:

That’s guaranteed to set the target on fire at close range…

My friend Ian over at Forgotten Weapons got a chance to check out a Colt Fitz at RIAC last week: