6 – Fast-Draw Artifact From The Old West

By Museum of Northwest Colorado

An extremely rare fast-draw artifact from the Old West.
It’s easy to assume that this artifact is just part of another Hollywood gimmick that portrays an Old West full of gunslingers and high-noon showdowns. However, this piece is the real deal. And not only is it rare, it’s perhaps the finest example of the few known to exist.
Invented in 1882 by Camp County, Texas sheriff Louis Flatau, the Bridgeport Rig was designed for one purpose: to shoot faster than the other guy. The way it functioned was by removing the hammer screw on the side of a revolver and replacing it with a much larger protruding screw. The modified firearm would then slide into a steel clip mounted onto a gun belt. Once in place, the pistol could simply be rotated upwards and fired without ever removing it from the rig.
While the design did see limited civilian and law enforcement use, the US military tested and rejected the concept. The main complaints where that the large screw was easily damaged and the pistol, left dangling from the hip, was fully unprotected from the elements. The military also stated, “No trooper who has regard for his horse would shoot from the hip, even if the necessity arose, which would be doubtful.”
This particular Bridgeport Rig is in stunning condition considering its age and rarity. In fact, it is believed to be one of the, if not THE, finest example that exists. Helping ensure its impressiveness, the belt upon which it is mounted is made by famed saddle maker J.S. Collins out of Cheyenne, WY. His work was known to have been utilized by both Buffalo Bill and Theodore Roosevelt. Examples of Collins’ work are highly coveted and rare.
With the rise in popularity of Cowboy Action Shooting (shooting competitions in the style of the Old West) over the past couple decades, replicas of the Bridgeport Rig saw a revival and became a desirable accessory in the sport. Thus, the rig’s legacy and that of the authentic Old West live on.