U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Back in 1988, Colt Python was my gateway drug to handgun collecting. She had a barrel that was 4″ long, Pachmayr grips, and a polished blue that looked like it was made out of black chrome.
That Python was my sidearm for many years. I moved on to other revolvers and of course semi-autos but that Python was special and almost always made a trip with me to the range. Unfortunately, it was stolen from my truck about 12 years ago. She gave me 20 years of great shooting and started to go out of time and she was going to be shipped off to a smith for some repair work. I left it in the truck because I had gotten to UPS too late and was going to try again in the morning. It was a hell of a night to get burgled.
I vowed I would find another. In the meantime, I picked up a few older models as potential replacements but they never had the same feel or accuracy. Eventually, they were priced well out of my reach and I gave up on the idea until Colt came through for me, unexpectedly.
Colt launched the new Python in late 2019 in the form of 6-shot stainless steel, double-action chambered in 38 Special/ 357 Magnum. It is currently available with 4.25″ and 6″ barrels and custom wood medallion stocks made by Altamont. With target grade components like the sights, hammer and trigger and the oh so familiar ventilated rib on the barrel; this rerelease was a thing of beauty.
There were a few minor hiccups with a few of the first ones to roll off the assembly lines. Colt was doing some very ambitious things with the new Python including a simplification of the internal parts. Colt’s lockwork has been enough to give me agita with their older double-action revolvers and while their revolvers of the 20th century were huge improvements over the late 19th century double actions like the Models 1877 and 1878; they were still problematic for a lot of smiths.
I ordered one from Colt at the 2020 SHOT Show after shooting one for a long time at Range Day and tried to get it to fail. It worked flawlessly and was incredibly accurate. When I received it, it felt like shaking hands with an old friend again.
The frame and barrel are forged from stainless steel. The barrel has the distinctive two slots in the ventilated rib, letting you know that this is the legendary Colt Python. Fit and finish was nothing short of excellent and the Altamont grips were simply beautiful. My original was a polished blue with Pachmayr grips because it was the 1980s but these Altamonts feel so superior.
The trigger was extremely smooth and broke at 7 pounds in double-action mode and 3 pounds in single-action. The orange ramp in the front sight was so easy to pick up and balanced perfectly in the rear for a perfect sight picture.
If you are new to Colt revolvers, there are a few quirks. The cylinder turns clockwise and the cylinder release pulls rearward.to load and unload. Apart from that, the manual of arms is still the same as any other double-action wheelgun.
I tested the Colt Python at 25 yards (75 feet) with an assortment of 38 special and 357 Magnum ammunition. The best groups with the 38s were achieved with 148-grain HBWC (Hollow Based Wad Cutters) that I loaded myself with 3 grains of Winchester 231 for a 1.65″ group. These are very mild target loads that average 700-750 fps.
Next, I selected a box of Federal 125gr JHP in 357 Magnum. These bullets leave the bore at 1435 fps and while recoil was not unpleasant, you knew that you were not shooting a 38. The average group size was 1.28″.
I had very similar results with the Colt King Cobra Target Model. Then, as now, I concluded that this is what the revolver was rated and intended to handle. I had always felt that loss of accuracy due to cylinder jump was a myth until I witnessed these results with two completely different Colt revolvers in the same caliber.
Perhaps as a younger man, I was a better shooter with regard to eyesight or was shooting a revolver at longer distances more often as opposed to a huge variety of pistols. Maybe I need to reload those wadcutters with a revolver in mind as opposed to a S&W Model 52.
Of course, the real answer could simply be that Colt just builds a better revolver when it comes to sending 357 Magnum downrange.
Early reviews of the Python had a few guns that appeared to fail. Whether this was shooter error or a problem with an early batch from Colt, I have no idea. When evaluating a high-profile handgun that has a price tag over $1000; it is certainly something to keep in mind.
While the pandemic has slowed down a lot of my shooting due to ammo availability and price; I made time for the Python and simply cranked out more reloads. Aside from 2 rounds that were not properly sized and would not pop out of the cylinder, there were no failures with this revolver in single-action, double-action, rapid-fire, etc.
The new Python ran like a Swiss watch and I cannot remember the last time I was this pleased with a new gun.
Going into this review, I was anxious for a true resurrection of an old classic. I was not disappointed.
Colt made a really bold move by going full tilt boogie on bringing back the Python. I cannt remember the last time I saw PPC or any type of DA revolver match posted at any of the various ranges I have shot at around the country the past decade or so. If you read much of the current media online or in print about handguns for defensive use, the revolver is little more than a footnote outside of snubnose 38s.
They are still a bit pricey and can be hard to find, but the hunt is definitely worth it.
In examining the new Python, I have a lot more confidence in shooting a regular diet of 357 Magnum through it than an older version due to the improvements that Colt has made. I would still like to see a new Python resplendent in that mirror-like high polish blue that made the original Pythons works of art and of course with these improvements to the lockwork, can a new Anaconda be in Colt’s future?
Until then, I’ll be happy shooting the new Python. This revolver is a winner.
- Model: Colt Python
- Type: Double Action Revolver
- Caliber: 357 Magnum/38 Special
- Finish: Matte Stainless Steel
- Stock: Altamont Wood Grips
- Barrel Length: 4.25″
- Overall Length: 9.75″
- Capacity: 6
- Weight: 42 oz.
- MSRP: $1499
- URL: https://www.colt.com/series/PYTHON_SERIES
About Mike Searson:
Mike Searson’s career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.
Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites, and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.