Tag Archives: Rex Applegate

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:

One of the best– and most ephemeral– gun museums you could visit

Every trip I get to the NRA Show I like to peruse the selection in “Collector’s Row” where all the auction houses and gun clubs set up a shingle for the event. You really never know what you are going to find and, just like a sandcastle on the beach, it is gone with the next high tide.

This collection of sniper rifles and optics, running from an FN49 used by the army of Luxembourg (top) to a Longbranch No. 4 MKI T Sniper Enfield, L42A1 Enfield, a pair of Winchester P14s on the bottom is superb. And yes, that is an Aldis scope on the last P14.

This is Col. Rex Applegate’s K-22 Outdoorsman from 1946, the only factory 2-inch variant made in this configuration.

If this beautiful .270 Weatherby Magnum, complete with a vintage K2.5 Weaver with 6x Litschert attachment and Redfield mount look and custom inlays on a California mesquite stock look like they could grace a gun magazine cover, you are right– it was featured in American Rifleman’s December 1946 issue back when the Dope Bag was edited by Maj. Gen. Hatcher, and the Weatherby club had it on display

More in my column at Guns.com

5 Decent tactical folders I’ve found useful for under $50

A good tactical folder for the purpose of this installment is a knife that can accomplish all your classic “penknife” or “pocketknife” tasks– cutting a thread or cord, trimming fingernails, touching up a shave in a pinch, cutting an apple, and box cutting and opening mail– while still being available as a fast and earnest edged weapon if needed. As such, they need to be at the fast ready, have a sufficiently long blade, be capable of one-handed opening, be strong enough to take real abuse, and, to prevent cutting off one’s own fingers in such a situation, lock upon opening.

Five “budget” tactical folders under $50 (if you shop around) that get the rotation in EDC: Ontario Knife Company’s RAT1A, a Spyderco Tenacious, Matthew Lerch’s CRKT Argus, Ken Onion’s 1660 Kershaw Leek, and a Gerber Applegate–Fairbairn Mini Covert.

All are used and have spent their time in pockets, clocking in as needed. The Leek even survived the floodwaters of Hurricane Katrina with me in my pocket– and I was glad to have it several times in that week. As such, any spots, dings, scratches or mars on the blades or scales are honestly earned and not the fault of their maker.

Why the $50 benchline? Bottom line is, sure you can carry your Chris Reeve Sebenza 21 or really nice ZT, Benchmade or Microtech– and I have a few of those– but if you were to have one of these upper shelf blades pull a pocket jump without your knowledge while you are in your travels, you are going to be out a lot more than $50.

Of course, as with anything, your mileage may vary and by default, the best knife you have is the one you have on you.

I do a mini-review on each in my column over at Tac.44.com.