Need help with Python purchase!


Joe A
January 4, 2003, 03:17 PM
Hi Folks,

Went to a local gun show this am and found myself standing next to a guy telling the vendor his revolver was worth a lot more than he was asking. When he left I asked to see it. It was a 6" blue Python with Pachmayr gripper pro grips; serial number 57XX. It was a little dry and dusty but looks like it's never been fired. Still in the original box with a cleaning rod, flat screw driver and a test target. Also had a registration-like form filled out showing the gun was purchased 7/18/59 at a local store that is no longer in business. The bore looks new and the cylinder is tight with the slightest hint of a line on it. The finish is bright shiny blue with two TINY spots on the bottom of the barrel that are raised, suggesting rust starting under the finish.
I own a couple of S&Ws but know nothing about Colts. He was asking $550. for the gun. I gave him a deposit to hold it. I would appreciate any information you can share about this revolver, in particular what a fair price is.

Thanks in advance!

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January 4, 2003, 03:26 PM
Joe A,
It sounds like a piece of junk, have the seller contact me so I can take it off his hands.


I'd go for it, a four digit serial number Colt Python, with box, test target and all the other stuff!

Gong Ga!!

Peter M. Eick
January 4, 2003, 05:55 PM
It sure sounds like a heck of a deal. I paid 650 (as I remember) for mine and had to put another 130$ into an action job and then 35$ into grips to get mine to be like my older python. If the trigger is smooth and the rest of the gun looks good (see the check out post above) I would go for it.

If not it is probably a darn good investment. Buy it and then resell it. In the condition you describe, I would try to get at least $900 for it.

Remember, I am not an expert on pythons, I have only owned 2 in my life. The one I sold to get out of college and the one I bought to replace it.

January 4, 2003, 06:01 PM
That's a steal. Python's from the 80's are collectible, ones from the 70's are very collectible, from the 60's extremely collectible, and from 1959? Rare as hen's teeth.

Recently a 1960's vintage Python sold on for around $1200.

Just make sure it wasn't reblued.

January 4, 2003, 08:20 PM
My GOD man, GRAB that thing. That kind of money for an excellent '59 Python in the original box with the accessories is worth A LOT more than $550.00.

A for the two spots on the under lug. They may be some rust starting, or just some crud. Be very careful how you treat these. Put some penetrating fluid on them and let it soak for a few days, then attempt to wipe them off with your thumb nail. If that doesn't work, use a piece of copper or brass with more fluid to remove them. NO STEEL WOOL OR ANY OTHER ABRASIVE, OR POLISHING COMPOUND.

On a Python there ISN'T any "under the finish". What you see is "Super polished" steel with a blue coloring.

The men who did the polish job on Python's had an average of something like 20 years on the job as a Colt polisher. There weren't 100 people in the world capable of doing that level of work. They're all gone now, so it's unlikely we'll ever see that level of craftsmanship again.

The Python is, (especially back then) they finest PRODUCTION revolver in the world. Python's are renowned for their quality and accuracy.

Buy this one, and you have a true American classic that'll never be equaled.

January 4, 2003, 08:27 PM
Be certain the gun has not been refinished.

The price is too good to believe.

Either the seller has no idea what people are asking for Pythons these days, or he is selling a refinished or defective weapon.

Joe A
January 4, 2003, 10:02 PM
Thanks for all the info. guys! I did give him a deposit with the intention of buying it. There are some unusual circumstances that will delay completing the sale. The dealer is a FFL who is selling several guns for the owner who, sadly, is in the later stages of a terminal illness. His brother is coordinating the sale. So I have to wait for the brother to give me a noterized bill of sale(from the owner, I presume) to add the gun to my permit.
The finish definately looks original. Except for the test rounds used on the supplied target, I don't think the gentleman ever fired this gun. There is no wear on the top strap or any where else that I could see. There wasn't any side play in the cylinder. It's tighter than my Perfomance Center 625. The only negative thing I noticed is that the cylinder didn't spin as freely as my Smiths. But I don't think this gun has been oiled in decades. I'm a little superstitious about asking more questions before this transaction is completed but are there any good links or sights that talk about disassembly or maintenance of the Python? There doesn't seem to be as much literature available as there is for Smiths.

I've admired this model for a few decades but never had the opportunity or cash to acquire one. So I'm pretty excited. Superstitious or not, please don't hestiate toshare more Python information. I'm really enjoying reading them and appreciate your help!

Nice to see this forum shaping up to be so helpful. I was a little nervous about losing a friendly resource when TFL closed. A big THANK YOU to all involved with making this forum happen!

4v50 Gary
January 4, 2003, 10:03 PM
I'd happily pay $550 for a refinished Python.

January 4, 2003, 10:28 PM
The absolute best source of technical info on the Python is Jerry Kunhausen's book "Gunsmithing the Colt Double Action Revolvers, Vol. One". It's less than $30.00 and is a must for any Colt revolver owner.
It covers total disassembly, inspection, repair, and tuning.

Among the reasons the Python is noted for it's accuracy was the rifling rate Colt uses, the 0% play in the cylinder lockup at the moment of fire, the tapered bore, and the mysterious "silver ball" treatment each Python barrel got.

It's not unusual for Python cylinders not to spin like other guns. It could be dried oil, but Pythons are just fitted tighter and don't spin like a cheap top.

To inspect your Python's timing:

Lay the gun on it's left side (cylinder latch down), turn the butt away from you. This is so when I say the bolt drops down, we're on the same page.

SLOWLY cock the hammer and watch the bolt, (the small lug sticking up from the bottom of the frame window). The bolt must move out of engagement with the cylinder BEFORE the cylinder starts to turn. You should be able to see daylight between the cylinder and bolt BEFORE the cylinder starts to turn.
If it doesn't, the cylinder and bolt will quickly be damaged. This type of out of time is not too common.

As you cock the hammer, watch and listen for the bolt to drop back down onto the cylinder with a "click". The bolt should drop into the middle 1/3 of the long ramp "leade" before the locking recess on the cylinder. If it drops to soon, the cylinder may start to show marks outside the ramps. This is just an appearance issue.
If it drops too late, (too close to the locking recess) the revolver may "throw by", that is, rotate PAST the locking recess. This means the cylinder isn't locked as the gun fires, and off center primer hits result.
In my experience, most Colt's are a little late, but will often wear in to the correct bolt drop.

Continue cocking the hammer and listen for the "click" of the bolt dropping into the actual locking recess of the cylinder. The bolt SHOULD lock the cylinder BEFORE the hammer reaches full cock. If the hammer cocks BEFORE the bolt locks the cylinder, you will be able to rotate the cylinder slightly and THEN it will "click" into full lock. Idealy, you should hear the "click" of the bolt dropping into the lock recess, and the hammer will still be uncocked and free to move forward.
This is the most common Colt out of time situation.

Test all 6 chambers in this manner. If it's a like new gun, and hasen't been abused by slamming the cylinder or force-cocking the action, it should pass all three tests.

January 4, 2003, 10:45 PM
4v50 Gary:

I have passed on buying many refinished handguns over the years because I was afraid no one would be willing to buy it if I ever decided to sell it.

The refinished gun market is hard to figure, but if I had a refinished Python, I would sell it to you in a minute for $550!!

Joe A
January 4, 2003, 10:55 PM
dfariswheel: Thanks very much for all of the detail you supplied on checking the timing! I hope everything works out and I get to check the timing on this gun. Thanks also for the heads up on the Kuhnhausen manual. I have one for S&W revolvers and while I'm no gunsmith I did find it very helpful to detail strip, clean and oil my guns without mangling them. Glad to hear he covers the Colts too.

I dry fired the heck out of my 625 to learn better trigger control with a DA revolver after only firing autos for years. The Smith smoothed out and didn't seem to mind all of the attention at all. How do Pythons handle dry firing?

4v50 Gary
January 4, 2003, 11:19 PM
Why Lone_Gunman, thank you kindly partner! :) Good tip on timing, dfariswheel. Kudos.

BTW Joe A, check out this link. I think you'll enjoy it.

January 5, 2003, 12:26 AM
The Python is, (especially back then) they finest PRODUCTION revolver in the world. Python's are renowned for their quality and accuracy.


$550 would be a good price for a refinished Python of that vintage. It would be an absolute steal for a mint condition Python.

If it were a refinished gun, you still have a fine shooting weapon. Guns are meant to be used anyway.

January 5, 2003, 02:06 AM
Python's take to dry firing very well.
Some gun writer visited Colt about 10 years ago, and saw serial number ONE in the executive offices. It had been there for many years, and guests were invited to try the trigger action.

The writer said it had the smoothest trigger pull of any handgun he had ever seen, having been dry fired god knows how many times.

I've dry fired mine of thousands of times with no problem.

As for the grips, I caught a small time gun dealer robbing grips off older Colt and S&W revolvers because he figured people wouldn't know any different. This boob was selling them on Ebay. He was bragging about a pair of first-type fully checkered Colt .357 grips going for $145.00. He'd robbed them off an original 1955 Colt .357 that somebody had traded in.

This is in the same class as the fools back in the 80's who were scrapping out gold Rolex watches for the gold cases.

Although the replacement grips might indicate a problem, I'd bet that the owner replaced them just encase he wanted to shoot it.

The bottom line is, even if it is a re-blue it's still a hell of a deal.
In truth, I haven't seen too many Python re-blues that were still in the original factory box. The people who use a Python enough to need a re-blue usually pitch the box first thing.

January 5, 2003, 02:18 AM
The interesting thing about used guns, especially older generally desirable guns is that different people have such different views as to what the gun should be worth.

I will whole heartedly agree a minty fresh 1959 python would be the steal of the century for $550. In fact, I would expect it go for more than $1000.

But when you get into refinished things, you are going to narrow your market. Personally i think $550 is too much for refinished, obviously others disagree.

I guess you just gotta find the right buyer for your product.

keeps life interesting anyway.

Even if this is a refinished gun, I admit you could spend your $550 on something a whole lot less super cool than a python.

January 5, 2003, 03:16 AM
My advise is to invest in a Dillon reloader to feed that Python.

4v50 Gary
January 5, 2003, 01:30 PM
I bought my Ruger Security Six the same time my brother bought a Python (better job, more $ and more pricy gun). We both practiced dry firing a lot before the time came to go to the range. Mine went bang. His went click. Dry firing broke the firing pin. :( He had to send it back (via gunshop) for repair.

January 5, 2003, 02:25 PM
4v50 Gary:

Colt firing pins of this design can occasionally break. This is due to problems heat treating the small parts. Although not common, you do see a defective one from time to time. Jerry Kunhausen discusses this and the reasons for the occasional defect in his book on Colt Revolvers, Vol. Two.
Broken Colt pins aren't common, but it does occur.

The Python pin is easy to replace by removing the rear sight, and sliding the retainer plate up. NOTE: The "exploded" views of the Colt revolvers always show the firing pin spring in BACKWARD. Many years ago, a Colt artist drew the picture wrong, and Colt just never changed it. Everybody since has copied the (wrong) original. The wide end of the funnel-shaped spring goes FORWARD, the small end around the firing pin.

The same design pin, (different dimensions, and NOT interchangeable) is used in the Colt "J" frame, King Cobra, and Anaconda guns. These also can have a weak pin, but must be returned to the factory for replacement.

4v50 Gary
January 5, 2003, 03:45 PM
Thanks dfariswheel on the tip about the drawing and the firing pin. The firing pin is one part I've never replaced. I was also wrong in my original thread at TFL about the Trooper. I stated there that the early Troopers had a fixed firing pin and when I got a Trooper myself, discovered opps! Too lazy to edit it.

January 5, 2003, 10:09 PM
Well Gary, you kinda screwed up "backwards".
The early Old Model Trooper .38's DID have a fixed firing pin mounted on the hammer.

In the early 50's Colt introduced the .357 revolver with the firing pin on the frame, (a Colt and and major revolver maker first).

When they intro'd the Trooper, the guns were built on a common frame with the Officer's Model Match, just not finished as well.

When the Python came out in '55, the .357 was left out in left field. The people wanting an inexpensive gun bought the Trooper, and people wanting the best, bought the Python.

In 1961 Colt discontinued the .357 and simply offered the Trooper in .357. Somewhere in there, Colt discontinued the hammer-mounted firing pin from the Trooper, and used the same hammer type as the Python and Trooper.

So there are Old Model Trooper's with both hammer-mounted and frame-mounted pins.

Joe A
January 5, 2003, 11:28 PM
Here is an update. The brother who is coordinating selling the guns called to tell me I should have a bill of sale in a couple of days.
When I get the gun, I'll borrow a digital camera and try to share some pictures.

Sixgun: thanks for the advice. I do have a 550B and Santa brought me some .357 dies so I expect to keep my guns well fed. My other .357 is a 6" 686 +.

January 7, 2003, 10:04 PM
I had a python once sold and bought a 686 and 1911 clone- kicked myself alot afterward. :banghead:

Joe A
January 10, 2003, 05:41 PM
Good news!
I added this Python to my collection today. I had enough time over lunch to look it over and determine that it's not perfect, there are a couple of tiny spots that look like rust but it is the original finish (per the owner).

It looks to be in great shape and did have the original box, test target, how to handle safely brochure, warrantee card and screwdriver. As a bonus, the guy did have the original wood grips that look brand new. I'll clean it this weekend and try to include some pictures next week.

Is there an approved method to keep the finish from looking like a fingerprint form. Everytime I touch the shiny, blue finish I leave a handful of prints. And I expect to be doing a lot of touching! Most of my other guns are stainless or Glocks but none of the blued ones seem to leave prints so easily.


PS. To the seller's credit: as I was leaving he said some one had called him Saturday night after I gave the dealer my deposit and offered him $1,000. for the gun.

January 10, 2003, 06:35 PM
That dealer is going to remember this trade for the rest of his life!

Congratulations. :cool:

January 10, 2003, 07:41 PM
To keep the finish looking good, wipe it down with either a CLEAN silicone cloth, or a patch coated with your choice of rust proofing lube. Many people like CLP Breakfree.

Monkeyleg is right, that man will remember this one for a LOOOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG time.

Joe A
January 11, 2003, 12:17 AM
dafariswheel: Thanks for the tip about putting solvent on the "spots". I looked at them with a 12x loop at lunch today and sure thought it looked like rust. Spent a couple of hours cleaning (fondling) it tonight and put some CLP on the spots. Little while later tried my finger nail and off came the spots. Looks shiney new where they were.

There are two other spots that look like definate markings of some sort. On the left side where the trigger guard meets the frame on both the front and the back. The one in the back looks like an "N" and the front is less discernable. Ever see anything like these?

I also put the original grips on. While I don't care for the way they feel (the checkering is very sharp) they do look really nice with the dark, almost black blue of the frame. My wife even commented on how nice it looked and she usually doesn't pay compliments to my guns. Can't wait to try it at the range!!!:p

January 11, 2003, 01:15 AM
The marks near the trigger guard are Colt proof and inspector marks. The one in front is a connected "VP", which is Colt's Verified Proof.

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