I’ve wanted to have a Fitz Special ever since I was the kid learning to shoot the big-bore sixguns of the 1950s. There was little hope of ever having an original, which would be a very rare and very expensive collectors’ item.

I was happy simply to have a top gunsmith build one for me on a Colt New Service. I earlier found what I thought would be the perfect candidate, a 5-1/2" late model New Service in .45 Colt. Although having considerable pitting on the right side of the barrel and part of the cylinder, it was mechanically perfect and the interiors of both barrel and cylinder were like new. There was one major problem — it shot much too well to touch. A .45 Colt placing five shots, fired double-action standing at 50 feet, in less than 1-1/2" is not to be messed with! I am a firm believer in “Don’t fix what ain’t broke.”

When a second late model New Service chambered in .44 Special surfaced, I had learned my lesson very well. Instead of shooting it, I sent the New Service off to one of the premier gunsmiths in the country, Andy Horvath. Horvath has built more than a half-dozen single-action sixguns for me. He turned the New Service .44 into a Fitz Special, which is why my Fitz Special is a .44 instead of a .45 as Col. Applegate’s — and the most-used chambering by John Henry himself.