Colt Python Serial # mystery - Experts Needed!


December 25, 2006, 06:40 PM
Hello everyone,

I have been lurking on these forums for some time, enjoying all the interesting topics. I finally have found the need of your services!

This question is posed specifically to those most informed Colt experts out there. The Python in particular.

Here is my dilemma:

I have the opportunity to purchase a 98+% condition used Colt Python 6" model from a dealer out of state. The gun appears to be in excellent shape and although the price is a wee bit on the high side for my budget, I have all but decided to buy it. Have wanted another Python for years after I was forced to sell off my own 74 stainless about 10 years ago.

Mystery of the odd serial number!

The only thing that has been stopping me from going through with the deal is the fact that the gun has a serial number sequence that I have never seen used before on any Python I have ever checked or read reference to.

Here is the serial number of the gun minus the last five digits which I am using Xs for here:

ATF935XX-XXX :confused:

I have scoured the internet and asked around with local gun buddies and everyone has been stumped as to when this gun was made, and why it has such an unusual serial number sequence. ATF as in Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms?

I plan to call Colt tomorrow and see if they have any idea short of having to pay them that infamous 75 bucks for a custom search.

Figured I would drop my question in here in case anyone out there has any information on guns that Colt obviously produced specifically for ATF use from the factory.

Not sure if this gun could end up being a great collectable, or just a more recent production model, but I would really like to know when it was made.

I was hoping to find a nice older model Python made before 1975 if possible.

O.K. Colt experts! Put on your research caps and let me know what you know!

Thanks so much in advance for any info you can provide!


GG7 :)

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Black Knight
December 25, 2006, 07:56 PM
Give Colt a call. They will give you the info over the phone for free. They charge only if you want the paperwork for certifying the information.

December 25, 2006, 07:59 PM

Cool! Thanks for that. :)

I had planned to call them tomorrow, but since this serial is not in any of the Colt books or internet sources, I was expecting the worst.

Cheers. :)

December 25, 2006, 09:54 PM
Don't forget a follow up for us!

December 25, 2006, 10:31 PM
What you have is a Python with a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms number on it.

This could be for one of two reasons.
Either the gun was owned/issued by the ATF or it was a gun that had the serial number defaced or ground off, and ATF assigned a new serial number.

In the case of a firearm that has had the number defaced to the point where it couldn't be restored or made legible again, the ATF will assign a new serial number to make it "legal" again.

To determine just which it is, swing out the cylinder and look for the original serial number on the frame, just below the barrel, and on the cylinder crane opposite of the frame number.
Colt also stamped the serial number inside the side plate.

If the original serial number is still stamped on the gun, the Python is one that for whatever reason, the AFT actually bought for their use.

Robert Hairless
December 25, 2006, 10:35 PM
Fascinating, dfariswheel, absolutely fascinating. Thank you.

December 26, 2006, 12:59 AM
Thanks for that info Dfariswheel!

The dealer informs me that the number is stamped into the same location where you normally find it, and the finish in this spot is uniform with the rest of the gun. Just like any other Python.

I have two pictures from the dealer that shows where this serial number is stamped on the gun.

Are you saying that there needs to be a second serial number stamped somewhere other than this location? One that looks like a typical Colt serial number sequence? This ATF number is in the same place where you would normally find the Colt serial number. Below the barrel as you described.

(Second picture is better for seeing the uniform finish in this spot since the first image has a lot of flash reflection from the camera)

Take a look at these and let me know what you think. I blurred out the last three digits with Photoshop just cause I know it is not wise to put full numbers out on public forums.

I will be very curious to see what the folks at Colt have to say about this gun when I call in the AM.

I will of course report back what they say.

Thanks in advance for any additional input! :)

Black Knight
December 26, 2006, 05:43 PM
I had never heard of this but, after seeing the photos it makes sense. This is one reason I love this site. It has so many individuals with such a wide variety of knowledge and experience who are more than willing to share the knowledge and experience with others. Another site that I will not name seems as though they want to smack down and belittle those with differing knowledge and veiwpoints. Thanks for sharing.

December 26, 2006, 06:38 PM
Just to update...Colt is closed until the 2nd, so I could not ask them about this gun, but... after talking to a few friends at a gun club in my area today and showing their resident Colt expert the pictures, I have decided to pass on this gun.

According to him, this looks to be a gun that had the original numbers removed and the ATF serial number was stamped on later. As Feriswheel mentioned in his original reply.

Oh well... :(

At least we all learned something as Black Knight just said!

Cheers guys and thanks again for the input! :)

December 26, 2006, 08:31 PM
From the pictures it's obvious that the ATF number was hand stamped and not roll stamped like factory numbers.

However, the frame doesn't show the usual signs of the original number being removed from either the frame or crane.

It would be interesting to see if there is an original number inside the side plate.
Surprisingly, a lot of ATF personnel don't know about the serial number inside the side plate, and could use it to track the gun.

I know of at least one case of ATF people being told about the side plate number, and after removing the plate were able to return a stolen Colt to it's owner.

September 23, 2010, 12:07 PM
This was interesting reading about serial numbers. Along that line, I have a Python, 6 in barrel, royal blue, that I bought many years ago. Inside the loading gate there is a number stamped,either "666" or "999", depending on how you hold your head. Anyone know what it is means.

September 23, 2010, 07:43 PM
"Inside the loading gate"??
There is no loading gate on a Python.

Again, Colt stamped the serial number in three places.
On the frame, just below the barrel, where the cylinder crane seats.
On the cylinder crane, opposite the frame number.
Inside the side plate.

Colt also stamped and inspectors mark on the frame below the serial number.
These are usually one letter.

I've never seen a Colt with any "666" or "999" stamp.
What else is stamped on the frame in that area, and on the cylinder crane?

Lucky Derby
September 23, 2010, 10:27 PM
necro-thread alert!

It means the gun belongs to Satan. :evil:

September 23, 2010, 10:38 PM
Sounds like it was marked by the ATF. It may have been used in a crime or just confiscated and resold at a DOJ internal auction. Ask you local gun dealer if he would accept this weapon with that Serial # from the seller and then transfer it to you on his FFL. If he says no "DO NOT BUT IT"

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