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Discussion Starter #1
I have a nice 1917,originally military, that has been factory modified, with features like most Fitz specials (except for short barrel). Is there anyone out there specializing in these that might be able to comment, or someone who is collecting info. Features that make me think it is a Fitz are: Quality of work, much prettier than photo, action as smooth as my Python, Colt custom grips, tiny ampersand on trigger guard, and relocated proof mark to inside of frame below serial number. Letters as a military but no mention in letter of rework.
Thanks, Cal DSCN0899r.jpg
 

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Interesting trigger guard treatment. Is that Colt or aftermarket?
 

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I remember reading a comment here that most true Fitz specials were accounted for. Neat revolver and no doubt someone will be along to give you more valuable input.
 

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Cal, welcome to Coltrofum!

What makes you think the revolver was factory modified?

Does it have the VP (Verified Proof) stamp on it? Ordinarily, the VP would be located on the left side of the gun, at the top of the trigerguard, but that area is cut away. ...or are you talking about another type of proof stamp? It is common to find inspection stamps inside the yoke of Colts.

As I understand it, when Fitz did a factory Fitz conversion, the VP would then be stamped on the right side of the frame. I am also under the impression that, at some time in the past (not in modern days), an ampersand (&) would stamped on the gripframe to indicate that the Colt had been refinished by the Colt factory. Did the letter indicate that it was originally nickel finished? I would expect a military 1917 to have been blue, with a lanyard loop on the butt.

Nice 1917. I particularly like the custom stocks, definately not original military issue; however, I am not a fan of cutting away the triggerguard, for fear of an accidental discharge.
 

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More, closer, and detailed images, would be nice..!


As Collects relays, if a Factory version, then it should have the "VP" Trangle on the remaining 'dip' of the Frame above the rear Trigger Bow continuity...but, this might always be so, though it would usually be so.

Interesting old New Service!

If it has the Army Number on the Butt, I think then that it would be extremely unlikely to have been a Factory configuration.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
No they are certainly not accounted for, mainly because nobody knows how many were made. Colt did not keep specific records on Fitz, he seems to have been able to do what he wanted. Estimates I have seen on his true guns range from about 50 to several hundred. Thanks, Cal
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I will post some better photos.

According to the recent article in the American Rifleman, I think April. most Fitz specials were restamped with the VP inside the frame below the trigger guard, and "some" are known with the stamp on right side rear or trigger guard. I don't know.

As for military markings, yes they are there, lanyard ring hole has been plugged. I orginally thought this may not have been a good candidate for a rework, but then I thought "why not"? someone went to a lot of trouble and cost to have this gun refinished, why not have the Fitz conversion done if that's what they wanted.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Tried to answer this once and think I lost it.

As for the factory rework evidence. Most colt rework in this era were marked with a tiny ampersand "&" on the rear trigger guard, sometimes elsewhere. This gun has this. Quality of work is certainly not proof of Colt work, lot's of good gunsmiths around , but this one is definately the quality that Colt could do. Perfect nickel finish (original military gun was blue), and action as smooth as any Colt I have had. Has not been buffed as all lettering is perfect, with exception of bottom of grip frame where the lanyard ring was replaced with a plug and then buffed, but military markings are still plainly visible.


As for whether a Fiz or not. I read the recent ( I think April) article in American Rifleman about Fitz, and made me think. He states that on most Fitz guns, the VP proof was moved to the inside of frame under serial number. That is the case with this gun. He also states that a "few" were restamped on right rear of trigger guard. I don't know, just know what I read. The other modifications appear to me very close to the photos I have seen of true Fitz guns, except of course that most of his involved a barrel shortening. But there are know examples where the barrel was not shortened.

I also am not a fan of a cutaway trigger guard, but I am more interested in just following any historical trace I can find as to the origin of the gun.

Cheers, Cal
 

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The guy who wrote the American Rifleman article, Gary Paul Johnston, sounded fairly well-versed in Fitz's-- at the very least, he mentioned doing research for the article. Maybe you could get ahold of him through AR & pick his brain.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you, I thought the same, and will try to contact Mr. Johnston. I would like to discuss with someone who has done some honest research. I have tried to do some of this myself and come to the conclusion that Mr. Fitz did not leave many records but was a pretty cool guy, occasionally carrying two large 45s in his pants pockets. This is concealed carry in the extreme.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
In further consideration of your comment about it being a military, and therefore not now in "factory configuration". I was not suggesting it was an original factory configuration, but a later factory alteration, as indicated by the ampersand "&" which indicates a factory rework of some kind. Fitz was known to have done alterations as well as a few orignals. Cal
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I believe the work to be done by Colt, but that is what I am trying to determine. Cheers, cal
 

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A few things...

  • The ampersand is on the wrong side of the trigger guard to be a rework stamp - it should be on the right rear trigger guard. On the left, it's just another inspection stamp.
  • The cylinder latch is from a later time than the original.
  • The serial number inside the frame cutout has been re-serialized. That number is way too low to be the original. I don't think Colt would change the serial number on one of its guns unless there were unusual circumstances.
  • The barrel is a replacement from the post-WWI era and is marked ".45 Colt", not "Colt DA .45" meaning .45 ACP. That may cause an accuracy problem since pre-WWII .45 Colts had a bore diameter of 0.454" instead of the .45 ACP's 0.451" bore diameter.
  • Check the barrel length from the front of the cylinder to the front of the barrel. If it's not 4½" (it looks shorter) or 5½", the barrel has been replaced or cut down, but not as much as a Fitz.
While it is possible to say that it's a Colt rework, you will need to find a Colt work order that describes the work done to do so. Unfortunately, those things are as rare as hen's teeth - Colt didn't keep copies, and the ones that exist are those kept by the person who ordered the modifications and were passed along each time the gun was sold. I have seen one, so they do exist. If I had to say one way or the other, I'd say it wasn't a Colt rework. Just keep in mind that free advice is worth exactly what you paid for it. ;)

Buck
 

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Serial Number 45671 would be mid 1911 production.

Can you post an image please, of the stampings seen on the Butt?

And, a closer view of whatever-it-is, which is Stamped lightly, just to the below-right of the Serial Number?
 

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I really like the stocks on the revolver, a factory option If I remember correct.Would love
to have a set for my engraved 1917.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
serial#1.jpg serial#2.jpg serial #.jpg Buck, Thanks for helpful info. To add perhaps a bit more confusion about the serial number, The "serial Number" 45671 appears inside the frame, along with the Colt "VP" Proof, and also on the inside of crane, another photo attached. However, these are not "restamped'. There is no evidence of a previous number. The contact between these two pieces is perfect, nothing was buffed off. If you could look closely at the gun, I am sure you would agree. But i can now see that this number was placed there probably when the gun was reworked. This number matches the number on the bottom of grip frame, which I know is NOT the serial number, it is some kind of military acceptance number. The only explanation I can see is that the frame and crane were unmarked previously and then intentionally numbered to the same number as on the butt. I don't know why Colt may have done this, but with the Colt proof "VP" right below the new serial number, I have to think it was Colt. Perhaps the original military gun was never issued, but this makes little sense as Carr's acceptance (RAC) appears on the frame and on the inside of cylinder.

More: the barrel is exactly 4 1/2 inches.

On the ampersand mark, I recall that the mark could be on either side, and that it only appears on reworked guns. I have never seen it on a factory original, but of course I cannot find the reference I think I had. Can you provide me with a reference that discusses this mark, and / or other proofs?

I agree that I will probably never be able to determine where and when the work was done. Just thought I would try. I have already learned more about it, so it was worth the effort.

Thanks again, Cal
 

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Cal,

If you will email me at kevin at kwill dot com I will send you a copy of Johnston's "research."

Regards,
Kevin Williams
 

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Discussion Starter #19
serial #crop.jpg serial#2.jpg I have learned a bit more about the gun. The number 45671 is the number on the Butt, whichis NOT the serial number. It is some kind of military acceptance number. However, this is the same number stamped on the inside of frame, and also on the inside of the crane. So this number was added later as a serial number, probably when the gun was reworked, but it does not appear to be restamp, as there is no evidence of another number having been there. Photos attached. The triangular VP appears next to the frame serial number. Butt is marked U.S. Army model 1909 and No. 45671

Cheers, Cal
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Muddyboot,
Yes, these were a factory option at one time. Pretty scarce. I have a set on an old Single action also. I think they are the prettiest grips Colt made, but very hard to find. I have seen some reproductions which are nice, but really not as nice as the orginals. I saw an original set go on ebay a while back for over $500.

Cal
 
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