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  #1  
Old 12-02-2019, 02:12 PM
DarkLord DarkLord is offline
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So what makes the Python so great???

I can remember long decades ago asking exactly that question to the man who taught the Colt Revolver Armory Course. I'll tell you a little of what I learned...

Colt's DA action as seen in the DA revolvers from the New Service on are the perfected combination of the two most common DA systems used in Germany. The Python is the culmination of everything Colt has learned about making revolvers.

The V spring was a great simplification of the DA revolver action because it did away with the need for a separate spring for the trigger return spring.

Clockwise rotation was instituted so the rotation of the cylinder would push the crane inward rather than outward (as on a S&W), thus eliminating any strain to the crane from cycling and firing. The counter clockwise rotation was a factor in crane alignment issues with the early Colt and S&W swing out revolvers.
The V spring design for the trigger return also helped with reliability when the gun became VERY dirty. The S&W rebound slide design requires the addition of two more bearing surfaces for dirt, dust, grit, etc to bind the action.

The Colt action also "locks" the cylinder into perfect alignment at the moment of firing, something no modern revolver does. Contrary to common internet lore, Colt's DO NOT go out of time easily. In fact, it's VERY rare to have a Colt that is really out of time. The reason people often question Colt timing is they lack an understanding of how Colt timing works...it is VERY different from modern revolvers of today.

The trigger was designed to best accomodate both slow single action target work, and fast DA work. The thin trigger with serrations is very carefully considered. The thin is to help the finger wrap around. The serrations are for good finger tip purchase for single action work. But the serrations are a little rounded off at the tips, and the edges are carefully rounded so as to be comfortable during DA shooting.

Colt's "Beavertail" hammer is their finest target hammer. Now admittedly it is a little of a weak point, as they are known to break if dropped. This didn't stop the gun from working, but it's not a cheap fix either. Anyhow, the hammer is such that it offers their precise mix of mass for a lighter DA action, and yet light enough that locktime remains reasonable.

The frame mounted firing pin is one of the slickest in all of revolverdom. Colt called it an "unbreakable" firing pin, it wasn't. But it is VERY tough, and probably the easiest of all DA revolver firing pins to change.

The pinned front sight came right at a time when S&W moved to the milled non-removable front sights. Rear sight is of very high quality, but really not better or worse than what was available on a S&W. Colt did have the option of the Eliason rear sight, which was the sight that created the "standard" sight picture of most of the best sight's today.

Finally we come to the barrel. Barrels were initially all milled, but eventually were forged, then milled. The underlug addition was for balance and although Colt say's the King's Target Colt's weren't the inspiration; clearly there were. Lastly, the barrels were made via cut rifling that were hand lapped. In the lapping process, Colt added a very slight taper to the bore so as to milk out the last little bit of accuracy.

So there's some of the technical aspects that make the Python quite the masterpiece of revolver making.
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  #2  
Old 12-02-2019, 02:52 PM
Starship Enterpris Starship Enterpris is offline
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Then there's the Royal Blue finish...................
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  #3  
Old 12-02-2019, 03:46 PM
TRSOtto TRSOtto is offline
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The fact that they're not made any more.

If Colt was still making the original today, prices would be less than half what they are today.

Note:......If Colt reintroduces a new Python in 2020....it won't be the original configuration and therefore will not affect prices of originals on the used market.
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  #4  
Old 12-02-2019, 04:38 PM
jjfitch jjfitch is offline
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As a S&W competition shooter and used to the S&W action I just could not get used to the Python action. I can't recall anyone else shooting Pythons either!

I bought one about 25 years ago (1964 vintage) and sold it earlier this year. Although a beautiful revolver I just couldn't learn to love it.

But then I've also sold a Browning HP and a pretty nice 72' vintage 9mm, Colt Combat Commander!

Smiles,
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  #5  
Old 12-02-2019, 05:08 PM
4110mm 4110mm is online now
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The same here:

I owned a 1964 Python unfired years back and some Officers Model Matches but once I got into what Smiths can do, sold them for good money. I do believe that the early 586 is a way better gun.

The V spring: Cant be fine tuned, trigger return and DA pull can not be tuned separately, breaks easy and none are available to replace them once yours breaks relegating your Python to a show-tell piece to look at (which is the use of most of them anyway).

In addition the Python DA pull is not usable. Its the industry standard of a stacking DA. SA pull is great but can't be tuned either.

The vented rib: Serves no purpose - a gimmick. The 586 looks way better to me.

The royal blue: Great and fitting of such a 'show horse'. The 1950s officers model matches have the same construction and actually look better to me, more like a Highway Patrolman.

The hand rotated the cylinder forward but also locks the 'bank vault'. On every shot it does take a beating. Whether after 10,000, 5,000 or whatever many rounds, the hand can be peened once to get lockup back, then a new hand is needed and there are non to be had- relegating your Python to a show-tell piece to look at (which is the use of most of them anyway).

The barrels: cut rifling hand lapped with a very slight taper to the bore so as to milk out the last little bit of accuracy: Agreed, that was really great craftsmanship and not superfluous for a change. They do shoot tremendously accurate in SA but not more so than my best 586.
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  #6  
Old 12-02-2019, 05:18 PM
havanajim havanajim is online now
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I've always said that Pythons were great to look at, but the S&Ws were for shooting. The Python never did feel as good in my hand as the N-frames do, but that's just me. What I will never understand are goofy prices those things command these days. Good grief, what's wrong with people!
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  #7  
Old 12-02-2019, 06:27 PM
Plantar5 Plantar5 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord View Post
I can remember long decades ago asking exactly that question to the man who taught the Colt Revolver Armory Course. I'll tell you a little of what I learned...

Colt's DA action as seen in the DA revolvers from the New Service on are the perfected combination of the two most common DA systems used in Germany. The Python is the culmination of everything Colt has learned about making revolvers.

The V spring was a great simplification of the DA revolver action because it did away with the need for a separate spring for the trigger return spring.

Clockwise rotation was instituted so the rotation of the cylinder would push the crane inward rather than outward (as on a S&W), thus eliminating any strain to the crane from cycling and firing. The counter clockwise rotation was a factor in crane alignment issues with the early Colt and S&W swing out revolvers.
The V spring design for the trigger return also helped with reliability when the gun became VERY dirty. The S&W rebound slide design requires the addition of two more bearing surfaces for dirt, dust, grit, etc to bind the action.

The Colt action also "locks" the cylinder into perfect alignment at the moment of firing, something no modern revolver does. Contrary to common internet lore, Colt's DO NOT go out of time easily. In fact, it's VERY rare to have a Colt that is really out of time. The reason people often question Colt timing is they lack an understanding of how Colt timing works...it is VERY different from modern revolvers of today.

The trigger was designed to best accomodate both slow single action target work, and fast DA work. The thin trigger with serrations is very carefully considered. The thin is to help the finger wrap around. The serrations are for good finger tip purchase for single action work. But the serrations are a little rounded off at the tips, and the edges are carefully rounded so as to be comfortable during DA shooting.

Colt's "Beavertail" hammer is their finest target hammer. Now admittedly it is a little of a weak point, as they are known to break if dropped. This didn't stop the gun from working, but it's not a cheap fix either. Anyhow, the hammer is such that it offers their precise mix of mass for a lighter DA action, and yet light enough that locktime remains reasonable.

The frame mounted firing pin is one of the slickest in all of revolverdom. Colt called it an "unbreakable" firing pin, it wasn't. But it is VERY tough, and probably the easiest of all DA revolver firing pins to change.

The pinned front sight came right at a time when S&W moved to the milled non-removable front sights. Rear sight is of very high quality, but really not better or worse than what was available on a S&W. Colt did have the option of the Eliason rear sight, which was the sight that created the "standard" sight picture of most of the best sight's today.

Finally we come to the barrel. Barrels were initially all milled, but eventually were forged, then milled. The underlug addition was for balance and although Colt say's the King's Target Colt's weren't the inspiration; clearly there were. Lastly, the barrels were made via cut rifling that were hand lapped. In the lapping process, Colt added a very slight taper to the bore so as to milk out the last little bit of accuracy.

So there's some of the technical aspects that make the Python quite the masterpiece of revolver making.
Thanks for the detailed perspective and information.
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  #8  
Old 12-02-2019, 06:38 PM
PolymerMan PolymerMan is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by havanajim View Post
... What I will never understand are goofy prices those things command these days. Good grief, what's wrong with people!
Rick Grimes (Walking Dead TV series character)! Best Colt Python salesman ever...

Soon the show will come to an end, the interest will wane and the high prices will start to come down.

When the show started about 10 years ago there was a renewed interest and prices pretty much doubled.
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  #9  
Old 12-02-2019, 07:34 PM
dfariswheel dfariswheel is offline
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Due to demand for Colt parts to fit the older models like the Python, some companies like Jack First are making new replacement parts, including the spring, hand, bolt etc.

Feel of the DA and SA triggers between the Colt and S&W is purely a matter of personal preference. Some like the Colt, some the S&W.
Colt was always known for having a better SA pull, which combined with the better accuracy of the design is why the Colt's held all the target shooting records before WWII and were used by the top shooters.

Strangely, some of the people who complained about the stacking Colt DA trigger are the same people who put rubber trigger stops on other brand revolvers to give a rather Colt-like DA feel just before the hammer drops.

The Python vent rib was done for a purpose.....
When two of Colt's master pistolsmiths were building the prototype they thought the ribbed and lugged barrel was too muzzle heavy.
So, they cut vent slots into the top rib until they decided it felt "right".
The Python was intended to be a "super Target" revolver so it was set up as a bullseye gun, and they thought the vents gave it the perfect balance.

Since the vents were rather a trade mark, all later Pythons had barrel vents.
These vents were copied by a number of makers in later years, and almost all revolver makers have copied the Python ribbed and lugged barrel as close as they dared, including S&W, albeit without the vents.
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  #10  
Old 12-02-2019, 07:45 PM
DarkLord DarkLord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjfitch View Post
As a S&W competition shooter and used to the S&W action I just could not get used to the Python action. I can't recall anyone else shooting Pythons either!

I bought one about 25 years ago (1964 vintage) and sold it earlier this year. Although a beautiful revolver I just couldn't learn to love it.

But then I've also sold a Browning HP and a pretty nice 72' vintage 9mm, Colt Combat Commander!

Smiles,
If the type of competition you're doing is fast DA work, then the old Colt DA revolvers are not the best revolvers for the job. Sure the Python its tough enough, and accurate enough. But the grip shape isn't as nice as the S&W, and then there's the rebound slide in the S&W. That's where Colt & S&W parted ways. While the Colt design is a bit more simple and reliable, the S&W accommodates very fast DA work much better than the Colt. The rebound slide with a spring in it will always give a faster trigger return than any of the older Colt's.
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  #11  
Old 12-02-2019, 07:49 PM
DarkLord DarkLord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by havanajim View Post
I've always said that Pythons were great to look at, but the S&Ws were for shooting. The Python never did feel as good in my hand as the N-frames do, but that's just me. What I will never understand are goofy prices those things command these days. Good grief, what's wrong with people!
While the Python is better than any .357 that S&W ever made (in most ways, but not all), it's not 6x the price better. If your goal is shooting, I would N E V E R consider the Python in today's market. They are WAY overpriced, parts are drying up and are very expensive when you do find them (except the small stuff), and aftermarket support for these old revolvers gets smaller each year. These days an L frame S&W makes much more sense.

The Python is now mostly a collector's gun, and even with that I don't get the prices. They are NOT rare!!! They made 753,000 of them. On any given day, I can show you at least 50 Python's for sale. So they're not "rare" and I just don't get why they're so pricey.
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  #12  
Old 12-02-2019, 07:53 PM
DarkLord DarkLord is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post
The Python vent rib was done for a purpose.....
When two of Colt's master pistolsmiths were building the prototype they thought the ribbed and lugged barrel was too muzzle heavy.
So, they cut vent slots into the top rib until they decided it felt "right".
The Python was intended to be a "super Target" revolver so it was set up as a bullseye gun, and they thought the vents gave it the perfect balance.

Since the vents were rather a trade mark, all later Pythons had barrel vents.
These vents were copied by a number of makers in later years, and almost all revolver makers have copied the Python ribbed and lugged barrel as close as they dared, including S&W, albeit without the vents.
The first year of the Python the barrel underlug was hollow so the shooter could add whatever weights they wanted. That was dropped after the first year.
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  #13  
Old 12-02-2019, 09:47 PM
megafiddle megafiddle is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord View Post
I can remember long decades ago asking exactly that question to the man who taught the Colt Revolver Armory Course. I'll tell you a little of what I learned...
...
The Colt Revolver Armory Course Instructor missed one.

Colt placed the cylinder locking notch in between the chambers, unlike S&W, which placed the notch directly in line with the chamber.

Colt chambers are supposedly stronger because of this, though I never heard of a S&W chamber failing because of it.

Sometimes different is just and only that: different.

-
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  #14  
Old 12-02-2019, 10:07 PM
jjfitch jjfitch is offline
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DA only for me!

Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord View Post
If the type of competition you're doing is fast DA work, then the old Colt DA revolvers are not the best revolvers for the job. Sure the Python its tough enough, and accurate enough. But the grip shape isn't as nice as the S&W, and then there's the rebound slide in the S&W. That's where Colt & S&W parted ways. While the Colt design is a bit more simple and reliable, the S&W accommodates very fast DA work much better than the Colt. The rebound slide with a spring in it will always give a faster trigger return than any of the older Colt's.
My Tanaka and Davis PPC revolvers were D/A only and my 2 Action Pistol 686's are only fired DA. Fast D/A?! That would have to be determined by someone else.

Smiles,
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  #15  
Old 12-03-2019, 12:32 AM
Dddrees Dddrees is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord View Post
While the Python is better than any .357 that S&W ever made (in most ways, but not all), it's not 6x the price better. If your goal is shooting, I would N E V E R consider the Python in today's market. They are WAY overpriced, parts are drying up and are very expensive when you do find them (except the small stuff), and aftermarket support for these old revolvers gets smaller each year. These days an L frame S&W makes much more sense.

The Python is now mostly a collector's gun, and even with that I don't get the prices. They are NOT rare!!! They made 753,000 of them. On any given day, I can show you at least 50 Python's for sale. So they're not "rare" and I just don't get why they're so pricey.
Yeah, that's kind of crazy. Looks like, smells like, a bubble is going to go bust.

I have to say they look fabulous when you get to see an unmolested Python in person, but I had no real personal history or connection with a Python. Great looking revolvers which so many are and should be proud to get, but I'm glad I went the Korth route instead.

Last edited by Dddrees; 12-03-2019 at 12:47 AM.
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  #16  
Old 12-03-2019, 01:53 AM
1911crazy 1911crazy is offline
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My ex- python when polished the bluing looked like plastic. It looked awesome. The action was the smoothest D.A. I ever experienced. My 6” barreled 357 python had pin point accuracy at 100yds. Using my 140 gr JHP Speer reloads behind 2400 powder. I sold my python and regret it. I haven’t tried my 357 s&w revolvers at 100yds yet.
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  #17  
Old 12-03-2019, 09:17 AM
M-Peltier M-Peltier is offline
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What makes the Python so great?

I didn't know it was. We have had a lot of old Colt and Smith&Wesson revolvers come thru the shop, and by far the Colts show up with the most problems. Yes even Pythons, and in specimens that look relatively pristine. By contrast its a rare S&W that comes in with a problem. I certainly get the nostalgia aspect of them, but they currently are waaaay overpriced.
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  #18  
Old 12-03-2019, 10:21 AM
Ranger566 Ranger566 is online now
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Like anything that's out of production, there will always be those who will pay whatever it costs to get one......NIB, or shooter.

My NIB 6" Nickel I bought in '80 is sitting in my safe, factory fired only. My shooting buddy would drool over it every now and then. and finally got him a
'69 LNIB 6" blue.

He's a "If I own it, I'm gonna shoot it" kind of guy, so every once in a while we would have "Python Day" at our range, and drive that baby around the block.

No doubt, it's one sweet ride---------------------------
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  #19  
Old 12-03-2019, 10:45 AM
JayhawkNavy02 JayhawkNavy02 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jjfitch View Post
As a S&W competition shooter and used to the S&W action I just could not get used to the Python action. I can't recall anyone else shooting Pythons either!
You see them (rarely) in Bullseye, the S&W K38/M-14 is more popular by far. I shoot an Officer Model Match and think its the bee's knees.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post
Due to demand for Colt parts to fit the older models like the Python, some companies like Jack First are making new replacement parts, including the spring, hand, bolt etc..
That's great! As always appreciate the quality information.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post
Feel of the DA and SA triggers between the Colt and S&W is purely a matter of personal preference. Some like the Colt, some the S&W. Colt was always known for having a better SA pull..
This! Most Bullseye shooters like the Colt SA and S&W DA. Either when tuned can be exceptional. Personally with the Ultimate Action Job (No "stack" action) by Frank Glenn (Accuracy Unlimited) or Sandy Garrett (Northern Virginia Gunworks) is a better DA than any S&W I've shot and I've shot a lot from Guild Master Pistolsmiths. Not sure how they do it, but its short, smooth, doesn't stack, and consistent. I wouldn't shoot anything else, but, the trigger job costs as much as a new S&W....so there is that. I also have no idea how those guys do it, but dfariswheel does I'm sure.


Quote:
Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post
which combined with the better accuracy of the design is why the Colt's held all the target shooting records before WWII and were used by the top shooters...
With the K-38/M-14 Colt's reign came to an end in precision pistol and never recovered. I hope the rumored return of a target quality DA wheel gun will correct that. It didn't help that Colt stopped supporting the National Matches well before S&W. Now that they are prohibitively expensive to purchase/maintain and the folks who can are rare most folks aren't interested, which is unfortunate for precision pistol. Regardless, Colt didn't own all the records....







Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord View Post
The trigger was designed to best accomodate both slow single action target work, and fast DA work. The thin trigger with serrations is very carefully considered. The thin is to help the finger wrap around. The serrations are for good finger tip purchase for single action work. But the serrations are a little rounded off at the tips, and the edges are carefully rounded so as to be comfortable during DA shooting.
Stock, I do not prefer or like the Colt DA and found every pistol I've tried unserviceable for DA precision pistol without trigger work. The counter is that its exceptionally rare to find any non custom shop DA revolver with a workable trigger out of the box. Colt's are notorious in Bullseye for their poor DA triggers, not that many folks shoot DA regardless. I do not prefer serrations on a DA revolver trigger. Some folks like wide triggers others narrow, personal preference.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord View Post
The pinned front sight came right at a time when S&W moved to the milled non-removable front sights. Rear sight is of very high quality, but really not better or worse than what was available on a S&W.
I like the rear sight of the Colt much better than S&W. The clicks are more positive and there is actually a nice arrow unlike the K-38 I had for Bullseye. I find that the S&W rear makes repeatability more challenging at 50 yards for come ups/down.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkLord View Post
The pinned front sight came right at a time when S&W moved to the milled non-removable front sights. Rear sight is of very high quality, but really not better or worse than what was available on a S&W. Colt did have the option of the Eliason rear sight, which was the sight that created the "standard" sight picture of most of the best sight's today.
I don't agree. Personally I can't stand the Elliason sights, which may or may not have preceded the Python. Very rare to see them on the line in Precision Pistol other than 22 conversions like the Nelson that don't have Bo-Mar sights. The Elliason notch is different that the Bo-Mar, which is overwhelmingly more popular in precision pistol and IMO the rear blade size is not ideal. Understood that it would be tough to mount a Bo-Mar on a Python aside from being ugly.
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Last edited by JayhawkNavy02; 12-03-2019 at 08:00 PM.
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  #20  
Old 12-03-2019, 03:02 PM
bmcgilvray bmcgilvray is offline
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I've owned and played with a garden variety 1978 vintage 6-inch blued Python for many years. It's nice but it's not extra special.

It's very accurate, but then so are other Colt revolvers also kept on hand as well as the beloved Smith & Wessons. I actually dislike both the full under-lug and the vent rib, the lug because it makes the revolver clumsily front heavy and the vent rib because it is an offense to the eye. I view the vent rib styling much as I view the tail fins on a '59 Cadillac; just so much wretched excess. Mind you, I'd be tickled to occasionally drive a '59 Cadillac on a Sunday afternoon, just as I am to occasionally give the Python an airing at the range.

One weird thing about this particular Python here is that it exhibits a unusually "slow" barrel. Chronograph tests will always find it to be 150 to over 200 feet-per-second slower with any given .357 Magnum load than other six-inch Colts and Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolvers on hand. Why this should be so when this Python has a .006 barrel cylinder gap I can't fathom.

A 1953-54 vintage 6-inch Colt 3 5 7 is kept here also and I prefer it to the Python. Less ostentatious and hence better looking, just as fine an action, and just as accurate without the "slow" barrel.

Only have handled a Korth, but never used one. Over both the Korth and the Colt Python my vote is for the big N-frame Smith & Wesson Model 27 as the single greatest double-action .357 Magnum revolver on the planet.
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  #21  
Old 12-03-2019, 05:41 PM
dakota1911 dakota1911 is offline
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Good question. I like underlugs. I have a S&W 686 no dash and an early Ruger GP100.



Later I bought a Python when Colt was still making them new for a little over $1K.



Then it seemed a year or so after that I almost needed an armed guard with me if I took the Python to a public range to shoot it.
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  #22  
Old 12-03-2019, 06:24 PM
VIS35 VIS35 is offline
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Years ago I was a member of our local Police Bullseye and PPC squad. We were all accomplished shooters, and reasonably successful in "production class". 4 out of the 6 of us shot 6" Pythons for Bullseye because of the fine SA trigger. However, we all shot S&W Models 15 and 19 for PPC because over time the Smiths were more robust and didn't lose timing, as the Pythons tended to do. However to the original posts question; I believe the current price is due to rarity because they are no longer made, they are a beautiful revolver ( the Royal Blue ), and simply an icon of revolvers. I'm a Smith fan, but wish I still owned that old Python.

BTW, if you want to drool, I give you this: One of the members of that old squad, and still a very good friend of mine, and SERIOUS Colt collector, owns a presentation boxed set of Pythons from 1973. All 5 barrel lengths ( 2.5, 3, 4, 6, 8). Royal Blue, "unturned" new, and consecutive serial numbers.
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Last edited by VIS35; 12-03-2019 at 06:36 PM.
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  #23  
Old 12-03-2019, 10:12 PM
Mtnfarm Mtnfarm is offline
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Some very interesting thoughts here. Maybe the best, and most reasonable discussion on the web about Colt/S&W. The Python SHOULD be priced as an equal condition S&W model 27. However, that pesky collector thing rears its head.
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  #24  
Old 12-04-2019, 01:06 AM
Austin_TX Austin_TX is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
Only have handled a Korth, but never used one. Over both the Korth and the Colt Python my vote is for the big N-frame Smith & Wesson Model 27 as the single greatest double-action .357 Magnum revolver on the planet.
I love N-frames, and I think the Registered Magnum is the sexiest revolver of all time, but, aside from looks, a Model 27 has nothing on a Ratzeburg Korth (or a Manurhin MR73).

Last edited by Austin_TX; 12-04-2019 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 12-04-2019, 10:35 PM
Capt. Methane Capt. Methane is offline
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I don't get the Python thing at all...

The old Single Actions, yeah, the Woodsman, heck yeah, but the Colt DA revolvers?

Not my gig.
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Last edited by Capt. Methane; 12-04-2019 at 10:39 PM.
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