Colt Python: once Bitten, twice shy
Freshly home from SHOT 2020 and my decidedly disappointing first shots with the “New” Colt Python, I was in need of some nostalgia. A fresh outing with my 80’s vintage 6″ blued Python was just the ticket, much like taking a ’60’s Mustang out for a spin can drive the memory of the Mustang II from one’s mind. A fresh trip to the range with this classic helped remind me of its idiosyncrasies and the little details that make shooting experiences with this revolver stand out.
My personal interest in Pythons started years ago when I was lucky enough to handle a few from a friend’s collection. Being a wheelgun junkie, I was hooked! Unfortunately, it took me years of searching to find one at a reasonable price.
A few of my favorite things…
Right off the bat, my favorite part of the Python shooting experience is how easy it is to “stage” the double action trigger. With my particular pistol, there’s an audible and tactile click approximately 1/3 of the way through the trigger pull when staging the trigger in this fashion. The DA pull itself is smooth, though there is quite a bit of stacking in the last 1/3. DA pull weight on my revolver averages 8lb 7oz. SA pull weight averages 3lb, 9oz. The SA pull itself is what one would expect from any premium revolver, but the overall feel of the grooved trigger bow is more comfortable for me than, say, an S&W 586.
Another note about the trigger pull: As Pythons were hand fit, I have fired five different Pythons from different periods of manufacture over the years and found each one to be an entirely unique experience. For me, that is another positive and interesting aspect of Pythons: not all of them are exactly alike.
Even with hot .357 ammo, I find the 6″ Python stays right on target for follow up shots, and the large grip makes it very comfortable to shoot. I find it far more comfortable to shoot a lot of rounds with than my S&W TRR8 or Ruger Service Six.
Pythons were developed from the ground up as a premium target revolver with a slightly tapered bore. Being a somewhat recent acquisition for me, I am not as accurate with it as I could be. I do get decent results out to 25 yards, especially when shooting .38 match wadcutters, though.
And not so favorite…
A major downside of the Colt Python is that they do require specialized maintenance if used heavily. The hand is under a lot of stress, as it not only advances the cylinder but also pressures it into locking up precisely. The further back the trigger is pulled, the more pressure the hand exerts. If you feed them a constant diet of full power .357, expect to run into cylinder timing and frame stretching issues. The rear sight on mine also needed quite a bit of adjustment in order to hit on center.
The worst facet of the (Classic) Colt Python is the buying experience if one did not get one “back in the day”. It is not for the faint of heart. Expect either like me to quest for years in order to find an affordable specimen (and lose a few auctions in the process), or to pay out the nose. What kept the price down on my specific model was that it was blued, had a longer barrel, and was exported and then recently reimported. All these facets yielded me about a 30% discount off of other Pythons I have seen prices for in the past decade.
Overall impressions and thoughts
While the new Python needs some time to figure out if it will be a good revolver on its own right, wheelgun aficionados who don’t have a Python of their own should take the time to seek out a friend with the original to see just what made this revolver so unique. I’m firmly against safe queens of any kind. By all means, if one’s Python is in working condition go out and shoot it! However, one must take care with a classic Python in order to keep from ruining an irreplaceable revolver.
Are classic Pythons the best double action revolver ever? No. The Manurhin MR73 is stronger and arguably more accurate. Korths are extremely well built and have very modular modern features for a revolver. But Pythons do represent a very high level of craftsmanship and are fun to shoot. If you desire one, put in the time to the search. Eventually one might come across one at the right price.
A final note: From my limited experience with the “New Python”, I can say they don’t hold a candle to the classics in any way but looks. Even if they get them to work, the action is significantly different than the classics, and the “simplified” trigger is nothing like the original, in a bad way. Hopefully, Colt can put in the time to get those wheelguns right. As of right now, they remind me of New Coke, the Mustang II, and Blues Brothers 2000.