Belly gun

Belly gun

A belly gun is a short-barreled revolver, carried concealed as a backup to a rifle or larger handgun, or by itself to provide an unobtrusive weapon. It may have—perhaps the better word is lack—additional, distinctive features: shortened grip frame, absent front sight, de-spurred ("bobbed") hammer, absent front half of the trigger guard, and large (.44 or .45 inch) caliber.

The origin of the term is obscure, but the belly gun's modern formulation dates from the first half of the Twentieth Century, and can be attributed to a small group of men, most with military backgrounds: Colonel Rex Applegate, Major Eric A. Sykes, Lieutenant-Colonel William E. Fairbairn, pistolsmith John H. Fitzgerald, and perhaps most prominently Colonel Charles Askins. In 1939, Askins wrote, "The grandest defense gun I have ever had was a Colt .45 New Service with the barrel cut down to two inches. The hammer had been dehorned ... the trigger guard was cut entirely away in the front ... the grip was shortened ... it was a whiz for the purpose intended." [Askins, C: "The Art of Handgun Shooting", 1939. Quotation from Taffin, J: "Just a .44 Special? It's a Fitz Special!" "American Handgunner" Jan-Feb, 2005. (view this article at [] )]

The term "belly gun" may have arisen from carrying of the weapon tucked into the waistband, close to the belly. However, others think the term instead comes from the envisioned mode of employ for these guns against an attacker: stick the muzzle into his belly and press the trigger until the "bangs" change to "clicks."

Belly guns, as described above, would be most suited to use at close range, as a defensive weapon of last resort. The "Fitz Special," a revolver modified as described above, was the innovation of John H. Fitzgerald.


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