The Colt Python is a .357 Magnum caliber revolver manufactured by Colt’s Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. It was first introduced in 1955, the same year as Smith and Wesson’s M29 .44 Magnum. The Colt Python is intended for the premium revolver market segment. Some firearm collectors and writers such as Jeff Cooper, Ian V. Hogg, Chuck Hawks, Leroy Thompson, Scott Wolber, Renee Smeets and Martin Dougherty have described the Python as “the finest production revolver ever made”.
In 2020, Colt announced it would be reintroducing the Python in the 4.25″ and 6″ barrel configurations. The reintroduced Python has been technically revised and reinforced compared to the original revolver.
The Colt Python is a twofold action handgun chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge, based on Colt’s large I-frame. Pythons have a reputation for accuracy, smooth trigger draw, and a tight cylinder lock-up. They are similar in size and function to the Colt Trooper and Colt Lawman revolvers.
The Colt Python was first introduced in 1955 as Colt’s top-of-the-line model and was originally intended to be a large-frame .38 Special target revolver. As a result, it features precision adjustable sights, a smooth trigger, solid construction, and extra metal. Pythons have a distinct appearance because of a full barrel underlug, ventilated rib and adjustable sights. Colt originally manufactured Pythons with empty underlugs yet left them solid to fill in as a stabilizing barrel weight. At the point when the revolver is at full chicken, just as the trigger is pressed, the cylinder locks up for the duration of the hammer strike. Other revolvers have a hint of looseness even at full-chicken. The gap between the cylinder and forcing cone is very close, further aiding accuracy and velocity. From the 1970s each Python revolver was boresighted at the factory with a laser; the first mass-delivered revolver for which this was finished.
End of production
In October 1999, Colt announced that it would cease production of Python revolvers. In a 2000 subsequent letter to distributors, the company cited changing market conditions and the costs of defending lawsuits as the reasons to discontinue the Python line, as well as a number of other models. The Colt Custom Gun Shop continued making a limited number of Pythons on special request until 2005, when this limited production ceased
Models and variants
The Python was originally available in two finishes: royal blue and splendid nickel. The brilliant nickel model was discontinued with the introduction of the more durable satin stainless and mirror-polished Ultimate Stainless models. The stainless steel and royal blue finishes were offered until 2003 by Colt on the Python “Elite” model.
Pythons were available with 2.5-inch (6.4 cm), 3-inch (7.6 cm), 4-inch (10 cm), 6-inch (15 cm) and 8-inch (20 cm) barrels. The six-inch model was the most popular generally, and the eight-inch model was intended for hunting. A three-inch barrel version is very collectible, although not rare.
The Python Hunter model, with eight-inch barrel and factory-installed 2X Leupold scope, was made in 1980. The Python Hunter was the first field-ready handgun hunting package made by a major handgun manufacturer. The scope was mounted on the barrel using Redfield mounts and the firearm was packaged in a Haliburton case. It was discontinued by 1990 and quickly offered as a “Custom Shop” model afterward. A Python Target model was made for several years in .38 Special in particular, in blue and nickel finishes.
Two variants of the Python were made in small numbers by Colt. The first was the Colt Boa of 1985, a limited production .357 Magnum revolver, made for the Lew Horton Distributing Company in Massachusetts. It uses a Python barrel mated to a Trooper Mk V frame. Six-hundred 6-inch revolvers and 600 four-inch revolvers were made, of which 100 were matched sets. In spite of the fact that it resembles a Python visually, it is substantially unique internally. The second was the stainless steel Colt Grizzly of 1994, another limited production .357 Magnum revolver. It uses a Python barrel mated to a Colt King Cobra frame. Five-hundred of these revolvers were manufactured, with six-inch Magna-ported barrels and smooth, unfluted cylinders. The ported barrel includes a bear footprint. Similar to the Grizzly was the Colt Kodiak, which was a Colt Anaconda with a Magna-ported barrel and an unfluted cylinder. Approximately 2000 Kodiaks were manufactured.
According to Colt historian, R. L. Wilson, Colt Pythons have been gathered by Elvis Presley and various kings in the traditional sense: “H.M. (His Majesty) Hussein I of Jordan requested a limited number of Pythons with 4-inch and 6-inch barrels, as gifts to his selected friends. Casing and barrel were embossed with His Majesty’s crest. The Python for King Juan Carlos of Spain bore his name in flush gold on the sideplate. Among other celebrated recipients: King Khalid and Prince Fahd (Saudi Arabia), King Hassan (Morocco), Sheik Zayed (United Arab Emirates), President Anwar Sadat (Egypt) and President Hafez Assad (Syria).
The Python immediately made inroads into the law enforcement market when introduced, with the 6-inch barrel being popular with uniformed officers and the 4-inch barrel considered ideal for plainclothes use. However, it has since fallen out of regular use (along with all other revolvers) because of changing law enforcement needs that favor semi-automatic pistols. At the point when law-enforcement agencies realized that the 9 mm semi-automatic pistols discharge a round with similar characteristics to the .38 Special with higher capacity, they began a migration to these, and other, semi-automatic pistol cartridges. The move away from the Python is also being driven by the increasing number of law enforcement agencies which expect officers to carry department-issue weapons (as a way to diminish liability).