The Bridgeport Rig is a quick draw or fast draw pistol holder favored by lawmen and outlaws in the late 1800s. Today, the device enjoys cult status among cowboy action shooters and other antique gun enthusiasts.
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The Bridgeport Rig was patented in 1882 by Louis S. Flatau, sheriff of Camp County, Texas.
Flatau envisioned mounting the item on a belt or a saddle. He may have targeted military contracts with this dual-purpose concept; in fact, he approached the army within a few months of receiving his patent.
The U.S. Army tried 500 Flautau "pistol holders" among infantry and cavalry units in the Southwest during 1883. These were fabricated by the Bridgeport Gun Implement Company of Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The Army found Bridgeport Rigs unsuitable because the revolver wasn't protected from moisture and dirt.
Some of the rejected army rigs no doubt entered the civilian market as surplus in later years (they may, in fact, have constituted the only commercial supply).
While the Flatau device was dismissed in military circles, it did enjoy limited acceptance among some frontier civilians, particularly peace officers and other professional gunmen who appreciated its speed of access.
Texas Ranger James B. Gillett, chief of police in El Paso in the 1880s, employed a double Bridgeport Rig setup. About the device he said:
"I had always worn a pistol in a belt holster, and I was used to drawing fast from that position...A little later, I put on a belt which carried two Colts without a holster...I could swing the gun muzzles up or down, and they were out of the way and at the same time ready for instant use. I could shoot the pistols — though I never had to — without drawing them, just as one shoots out of an open-toed swivel holster."
The Bridgeport Gun Implement Company may have continued commercial manufacture of the Flatau "pistol holder" into the 1890s, marketing it to western saddlers through various outfitting and supply houses.
Period photographs and scattered references indicate that the Bridgeport Rig was used by some lawmen into the early twentieth century.
Today, Bridgeport Rigs are popular among cowboy action shooters and antique pistol enthusiasts. Few original Bridgeport Rigs exist today. Those that do sell for thousands of dollars.