Fitz by Smith

by Norm, Thursday, March 07, 2019, 20:53 (137 days ago)

The owner of this gun is a friend of mine and I got to handle it yesterday. I couldn't believe how how good the Ropers felt, and how incredibly smooth that double action stroke is!! This is one of the rarest of the rare (the kind my friend collects) and IS the actual gun commissioned by Bob Nichols and illustrated in his (Nichols) book "The Secrets of Double Action Shooting"

Here's his write-up:
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S&W M&P 2” .38 Special factory Fitz conversion.

This was my birthday present to me today. I have been trying to find the means to acquire this rare piece for a year.
This gun represents an era and piece of history. It was commissioned by a man named Bob Nichols, the editor of Field & Stream magazine back in the .40’s and 50’s. It was a very popular publication then. Bob was a friend and student of many of the great instructors and experts of the era. He took that expertise and became a huge advocate for the use of the Double Action revolver shot in double action as the ultimate for close quarters combative work. He published a really interesting book in 1950 that is called the Secrets of Double Action Shooting. I am reading it now and realize that little has changed in the various opinions and positions we debate in the firearms world. In the book he documents using his position to have Smith & Wesson build him a Fitz Revolver. The “Fitzgerald Special” or Fitz was the brainchild of John Fitzgerald who was a heavyweight in handgun deployment and tactics in the early part of the 20th century. The problem was he worked for Colt from 1918-1944, S&W’s arch rival. In 1946 Bob Nichols had S&W take a long action 2” M&P, cut the trigger guard, bob the hammer to make it snag free and prevent it from being hammer cocked into single action, under cut the front sight and set the Double Action trigger at 6-6.5 pounds. He had his friend Walter Roper make a set of custom grips for the gun. It is truly amazing in the trigger feel and how it fits in the hand. The sights are very usable for this type of gun. According to the book it shoots like a target gun.
Many deride the cut front trigger guard as unsafe. It is not something I would ever recommend. In that era Fitz designed his guns to be deployed from large coat pockets and being from the North East, cold weather was an issue and use of gloves common. The cut trigger allowed access onto the trigger and the guns were either lifted from the pocket and fired immediately if attacked, or could be fired from the pocket. The trigger is significantly heavier than the gun, so it is not necessarily “unsafe” deployed this way. The issue comes from a finger on the trigger and things like overflow issues and startle responses. Also an issue would be access to foreign objects that could hit the trigger and firing initiated. Also a problem is if something, or someone is struck with the trigger guard which could fire or damage the un-protected trigger.

I have another twin to this gun that is stock and I may build a sort of shooting duplicate but with a half Fitz trigger guard (thinned but not cut) that I could really shoot and train with.

This gun fits perfectly in My American Classic Gunleather Brill style holster. It simply harkens to a time gone by. A world where the United States led the Allies to the defeat of the Nazi’s and their allies in Europe and Imperial Japan and we were gearing up for a long term Cold War with the Soviets and Chinese communists. I time of great change in our country and this is an amazing artifact of that era and a return to domestic gun production from wartime production. This gun is a work of shooting art and a tribute to the master craftsmen that built guns at Smith & Wesson. Enjoy!

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