When thinking about Colt Firearms what often comes to mind is a young male horse on a gold medallion. This medallion is on a pair of wood grips fastened to a 1911 semi-automatic handgun of some variation. One may also think about what some would consider one of the greatest double-action revolvers ever. The Colt Python.
The Original Colt Python
The Colt Python was introduced in 1955, the same year as the Smith and Wesson Model 29 chambered in .44 magnum. Tall odds for a company that had never produced a double action revolver chambered in any caliber above a 38 special.
Fortunately for Colt, many people found the .357 magnum round much more comfortable and accurate to shoot than the .44 magnum cartridge. Thus paving the way for the Python to reinvent the revolver industry.
The Colt Python was Colt’s first attempt to create a double-action revolver that was chambered in .357 magnum. The .357 magnum cartridge had become the country’s most popular handgun cartridge and Colt wanted into the market. After two previous attempts with the Colt .357 Magnum, followed by the .357 Magnum Trooper, Colt finally created its revolver of the future.
In 1955, only one Colt Python was produced. Only two Colt workers in the entire company were originally allowed to work on this new revolver. Al Gunther and Don Bedford built this double-action revolver based on the Officer’s Model match. Built on a .41 magnum frame with honed and polished internal parts, vented rib on top, and wide spur hammer to the rear.
What is So Special About the Colt Python?
This precision work led to a well-balanced 38-ounce revolver with a smooth 2.75-3.5 pound double action trigger pull. These revolvers would then be taken to the range and checked for accuracy and extraction. If any issues existed, this historic snake gun would go back to the factory for more honing of its internals.
The History of the Colt Python
The original Colt Python came in a Colt Royal Blue finish with a pair of wood grips and was initially priced at $125 and $245 for an engraved edition of the firearm.
As mentioned before, only 1 of these Python’s were produced in 1955. The reason for this slow production was that the Colt factory could produce 4 guns in an hour at this time while it was only able to produce 3 Pythons in that same amount of time, with Gunther and Bedford being the only two allowed to work on these snake guns.
By 1956 there were 300 of these revolvers, and by 1969 over 100,000 Python’s had been built. At this point, a nickel finish was added to the line along with a couple of gold and silver-plated versions.
In 1984, the Python was reintroduced with a stainless finish, and in 1985 with a super polished stainless finish called the Ultimate Python. This version came equipped with an Elliason target front sight included. In order to accommodate the new stainless finish, Colt had to buy new tools due to some cutting difficulties on the stainless surface. Later, the 8-inch Python was introduced, chambered in .357 and a 38 special.
By 1997, more than 750,000 Python’s had been produced. The Python became a Colt Custom Shop firearm and moved off the main assembly line and remained in limited production until 2004.
The Colt Python in Popular Culture
At this point, the Python could’ve become a collector’s item that only those with deep pockets and some luck would have had the ability to own. That is until Colt introduced a new version of the Python in 2020.
Many credit this to the firearm’s massive popularity in popular culture. At the time of the writing of this article, the Python has been featured in 196 movies and 56 television shows.
One of those shows is The Walking Dead. The Walking Dead was named the most popular show on television for the majority of its run from 2010 through 2022. In the show, the main character’s sidearm of choice happens to be a stainless Colt Python with a 6-inch barrel.
The Walking Dead may have done for the Colt Python what the cowboy/western shows of the 1950s did for the Colt Single Action Army. It was reintroduced in 1956 due to its massive popularity.
What are the differences between the original Colt Python and the new Colt Python?
This newly introduced Python kept the overall appearance and design of the original with some upgraded internals. Colt claims that the new Python series will stand up better over time and have less wear on its parts than its predecessor.
The upgrades made by Colt to the new version of this popular revolver include:
- Upgraded cylinder parts that fixed the cylinder timing issues of the past models and created a better lock up
- A contoured cylinder for better holster wear
- An orange front sight along with a fully adjustable rear sight
- A milled rib for weight reduction
- The hammer spur has been widened and serrations have been added for ease of use
- The ejector has been notched for each cylinder
- A satin finish has been applied to the top of the rib to reduce any glare the shooter may see
Arguably, the top upgrade to the Colt Python is in the action of the firearm. The trigger pull is not any lighter than the original, but it does feel much smoother when firing in double action. The new version of the Python still boasts a smooth and comfortable shooting experience, with the weight of the firearm being at the muzzle along with its smooth trigger pull.
A Must-Have for Any Revolver Enthusiast
The reintroduction of the Colt Python series has made these storied snake guns more affordable at a price ranging between $1,500-$1,700. This is opposed to picking up an original Python with a price tag ranging between $3,000-$10,000 depending on the model and condition of the firearm.
Colt’s new line of Python’s includes varying barrel lengths: a 6-inch, 4.25-inch, and 3-inch version of the firearm. All have a stainless steel finish and wood grips.
Also updated are the Colt Anaconda models with a 6-inch or 8-inch stainless model chambered in .44 magnum and the Colt King Cobra series with a 2-inch or 4.25-inch barrel chambered in .357 magnum.
The Colt Python has a storied history and thanks to popular culture it seems to have a lot more story to tell. Come and pick up a new Colt Python for yourself at Smokin Gun Worx and experience this updated version of the beloved classic revolver for yourself.
– Jake Groom