The Colt Python is regarded by many gun purists and firearms experts as quite possibly the finest double-action revolver ever made. Colt introduced its Python series to the civilian and law enforcement markets in 1955 and branded it a premium-class revolver. Of note was the fact that the Python represented Colt's first "all-new" revolver design since the turn of the century. Official Python production ceased in 1996, forty-one years since inception of the gun and the family line was formally discontinued in 1999. Regardless, the Python remains a fan-favorite among all levels of users and collectors - and even royalty worldwide.
The Python was conventional in its form and function. The receiver was very well-made and highly durable, clean and without much detail to spoil its contours. The cylinder sat within the receiver and was designed to swing out to the left side for loading/extraction/reloading. Spent shell casings were ejected via a spring-loaded extractor arm found under the barrel, ahead of the cylinder proper. The cylinder itself was fluted in typical revolver fashion with the distinct, beloved "click" during rotation. Cartridges were loaded into the six available chambers and the cylinder was moved back manually into the receiver. Cocking was via a hammer spur which was seated aft of the cylinder and above the pistol grip, manually actuated by the thumb. The pistol grip was ergonomically designed for a firm hand hold with access to the integrated trigger, itself protected within a thin ring. Since the Python was a "double-action" revolver, the trigger action handled the cocking of the hammer. As such, a certain level of "repeating fire" could be achieved before reloading was necessary. The firing pin was mounted to the frame of the gun with the hammer contacting it with each trigger squeeze. Sighting was by way of a rear adjustable installation and a front ramp though optional optics could be affixed to the top of the frame for precision shooting. Of note with the Python family was its vented rib design spanning the length of the barrel - giving the revolver something of a fearsome appearance. Barrels (screwed into the frame) available included 2.5-inch, 3-inch, 4-inch, 6-inch and 8-inch lengths. The 3-inch barrel form was eventually discontinued, making it very rare in today's collector market while the 6-inch form was the barrel of choice for many buyers. All forms were chambered for the popular .357 Magnum . Production finishes included a bright nickel, royal blue and stainless steel.
In practice, the Python exhibited an excellent smooth firing action, She proved a reliable and robust firearm and earned great levels of respect for its target shooting accuracy and man-stopping qualities. While the Python never officially made it to military inventories, various American state law enforcement departments issued the revolver for a time. If the Python held any inherent drawbacks it was in its weight, measuring over 2lbs. Its high precision qualities also required some level of regular maintenance to ensure proper firing and mechanical operation. To this end, however, revolvers eventually went out of style, law enforcement role moving on to the semi-automatic handgun. Semi-automatic designs bettered the revolver in their higher ammunition counts, compact portability and comparable man-stopping performance. Of course revolvers have always been seen as more reliable firearms when compared to the more complex internal nature of semi-automatic designs.
The Python family line included the Python Hunter, Target, Boa and Grizzly. The Hunter was marketed beginning in 1980 and completed with a 2x Leupold optic sight. As its name suggests, this was intended for precision game hunting. The aforementioned 8-inch barrels were also most times reserved for game hunting. The Target model was for sport shooting and chambered for the .38 Special cartridge. The Boa appeared in 1985 as a limited edition offering fitting the Python barrel to the Colt "Trooper" revolver frame. Similarly, the Grizzly of 1994 became another limited edition line fitting the python barrel to the Colt "King Cobra" revolver frame.