S&W 586 vs Python


April 21, 2007, 09:15 PM
I have a nickle plated S&W 586, no dash I bought in 1984. I recently bought a NIB Colt Python. Naturally a quasi-comparison is inevitable.

My 586 is very slick from many years of shooting, the Python is velevety smooth right out of the box.

After lusting after a Python for many many years, I was surprised to find the 586 gives up little if anything to the Colt in smoothness, trigger pull, lock-up, and general feel (subjective of course). My 586 has held up extremely well after firing thousands and thousands of rounds, in fact, everything works, fits, and feels like jeweled perfection.

I do like this Python, but the old forged steel 586's are truly a milestone in S&W .357's.

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April 21, 2007, 09:53 PM
schmeky - Sounds like you can make both your hands happy at the same time.

April 21, 2007, 10:39 PM
Sounds like I'll have to trade you my 586 for that crappy Python straight up.
My loss would be your gain.
I'm willing to make that sacrifice to make you happy ...:neener:


April 22, 2007, 02:37 PM
I see quite a few 586/686 owners comparing their guns to the Python but frankly I don't get it. The two are not in the same league and were never meant to be compared.

The 5/686 is a working gun. It's not fancy or refined or deluxe.

The Python is a top of the line model with lots of hand fitting and deluxe finish and features. To me it's like comparing a Lincoln and an F150. Both are good at what they do, but the Lincoln does its thing with more comfort and style.

Maybe it's because S&W tried to copy the appearance of the Python with a ribbed barrel that some shooters think they are similar?

April 22, 2007, 03:11 PM

I respectfully disagree with your analogy. The 586 action can be made as slick as the Pythons for a modest cost. The nickel plating on my particular 586 is beautiful. I have seen some blued 586's that while not as mirror blue finished as the Python, were still beautifully polished.

I believe the Pythons edge is in the manner the barrel bore is made. Pythons have a slight decreasing diameter as the crown is approached. This ensures positive engraving of the rifling by the bullet.

Don't get me wrong, the Python is a work of art, but the 586/686 is an outstanding revolver in its own right.

April 22, 2007, 03:19 PM
I'm not python bashing here, but with the Python's relatively weak lockwork and stacking trigger, I think 686's are simply better guns for what guns are meant to do, shoot. Pythons are beautiful guns. I think they are the nicest looking handguns ever made. But I would never pay those prices for that, or for an additional 1/2 inch of accuracy at 25 yards.

April 22, 2007, 04:08 PM
L-Frame and Schmecky are correct.

The Python has weak lock work and if you shoot much more than a few thousand rounds of full power 357 out of them, you'll have to have them rebuilt--been there, seen that.

Also, Pythons are all very slow shooters. While they are normally quite accurate and have smooth actions, they are notoriously slow. You wouldnt know this unless you have been chrongraphing them for a long time. Normally, a four inch Smith and Wesson, will shoot the same ammo about 100 fps faster than a SIX INCH Python.

Some L frame Smiths are every bit as accurate as a Python.

April 22, 2007, 04:25 PM
I had a Python in the late 80's , a used 1970s vintage - to me it was the most beautiful revolver I had ever owned and seemed more like a piece of artwork compared to the Smith 686 and Ruger GP100 I owned at the time.

But when it came to shooting I could not shoot that revolver anywhere near as well as I could the Smith or Ruger? I mean the trigger was great , no problem with the sights , just did not shoot for me. :confused:

I ended up trading it off , should have not done so since I could have sold it for so much today!

April 22, 2007, 04:30 PM
"...is velevety smooth right out of the box..." That's why they're a thousand bucks and a 586 runs about half that. The trigger job is done in the factory. All other firearms require a trigger job.

April 22, 2007, 06:41 PM
I have handled some S&W K and N frames that had a professionally slicked action that was even better than the Python's.


My 586 has a DA pull that I describe as "cam" like. I can pull the trigger in the DA mode and about 2/3's through the pull actually gets lighter. I can easily modulate the trigger in this manner allowing me to shoot my 586 very accurately in a slow controlled DA mode.

I have handled nearly every revolver brand and I always compare my 586's DA pull and I have not found anything that equals it, let alone is better. Even the Python.

April 22, 2007, 06:47 PM
Both great guns. I have a 686 and would like a 586 to go with it. The colt python is a classic. Not even sure I can get it in CA as I think it's off the DOJ list, I may be wrong.

April 22, 2007, 07:01 PM
I would say that I prefer my 686 over a Colt Python. It may be just that the 686 is one of my favorite shooters. I do not, nor have I ever owned a Colt Python. I have shot one several times. I prefer my 686 over alot of my own pistols, one of by favorite for sure.

April 22, 2007, 07:26 PM
got a 586, 681, python, and a few rugers sooo

the python is the best for accuracy.
mine has only had 148 gr wc loads at will eat the center out of the bull at 25 meters any day of the week.
down side a steady diet of heavy 357 mag loads and your going to shoot it loose.they just can't take abuse. a sweet smooth action but it comes at a price.

next come the smiths.I like them but stock to stock they don't come close to a python.you can spend some money and "maybe" get them close but thats a maybe.
I have a 681 that has been tune by one of the best great gun.I carry it while hunting.I trust it enough for carry and we have mountain lions here.
down side yup a steady diet of heavy 357 mag loads and over time you will shoot it loose.much stronger action than the python.

next the rugers.I have a security six and a new sp101.they don't come close to the smith..or the python.that said they are built like a tank and have shot some heavy loads out of the ruger ss and not one problem.
again some money spent on a tune by a good gun smith and the action can be nice but not as good a smith 586/686/681.
ever hear of some shooting loose a ruger:) I haven't.

just my .02 as a 357 nut:) now flame beat me up...its ok.

April 22, 2007, 07:36 PM
I owned & loved the 686, but would have traded it (and giggled) to have a python

April 22, 2007, 07:44 PM
Well, I personally feel that overall, the winner is a toss-up. The Python, while more finely finished has little actual edge over the 586. My 586, that I purchased used, is an excellent shooter that just happens to have the best trigger, single or double action that I have ever felt. For the money, the 586 beats the Python hands down. What it all comes down to is the name. I compare these two handguns with a car analogy. I am a guy who owns a Ford and I don't feel like spending the extra $50,000 just to say that I own a Benz.

CSA 357
April 22, 2007, 07:49 PM
give me the l frame smith, had a python and was tickeled when i got rid of it. the colt is just not as strong as the smith, dont try to tell me it is , even the k frame smith is stronger than the python , but they are a very sweet looking revolver but over priced for my needs , im not trying to step on any ones toes csa

April 22, 2007, 09:02 PM
I have owned many .357's in SA and DA configuration. Currently have a new S&W 66, the 6" blued Python, my 6" 586, and have owned a couple of Ruger Security Six's (great pistols by the way) in the past, also a Dan Wesson (broke the day after I bought it).

I think the L frame is the ideal size, soaks up recoil, holds up well after thousands of rounds, and has a classic look to it.

I think the Python is probably the best looking revolver ever made and has a certain "aire" about it. The 586 is for go, the Python is for show.

April 22, 2007, 09:02 PM
I think that alot of people mistake frame strength with lockwork strength when it comes to a python. The python frame is actually very strong. In fact, if I remember right it was built on Colt's .41 mag. frame. Shooting alot of magnums won't hurt the frame or cause the gun to fall apart, but the lockwork will fall out of time quicker than either a smith or ruger. The lockwork is more delicate, not the frame.

April 22, 2007, 09:09 PM
Anyone read Mr. Cunningham's article "Is the Colt Python "delicate"?"


April 22, 2007, 09:31 PM
Grant talks about parts in the python having a normal replacement interval, and requiring action adjustments so internal part won't start beating themselves up requiring expensive repairs. I'd call that delicate.

April 22, 2007, 10:25 PM
tough as nails


but this is my fav.

April 22, 2007, 10:27 PM
I too lusted for a Python for a long time & finally got one a few months ago. Today, I am happy w/ my S&W mod 19 and my circa 1969 Python. I am really glad I have both and appreciate both for diff't reasons.

April 23, 2007, 07:56 AM
Colt quit making the Python in the mid 90's (1996 I think). You could still get an elite model from the custom shop till 2003. I can't believe that the python in question here has been on the shelf without having at least one previous owner. Grant cunningham's analogy IMHO is spot on. :scrutiny:

April 23, 2007, 08:36 AM
"I'd call that delicate."

Like a Ferrari is delicate. :D

If you want a gun to shoot and ignore and are willing to accept the looser tolerances and other design differences, well, have at it. There's one piece on the Colt that needs attention, so it's no big deal unless you ignore it and ignore it and ignore it.

Come to think of it, all cars are delicate if you don't change the oil regularly.


April 23, 2007, 09:29 AM
I don't like Pythons. The cylinder turns the wrong way.:D

I'll keep my 686.

April 23, 2007, 09:53 AM
You are barking up the right tree...

I believe the Pythons edge is in the manner the barrel bore is made. Pythons have a slight decreasing diameter as the crown is approached. This ensures positive engraving of the rifling by the bullet.

But the real advantage that the Python barrels have is that they used a faster rate of twist and were (are) able to stablize the heavy bullets better. The Pythons used a 1:14, while most revolvers used 1:18. I don't know what rate of twist the 586 used, so I can't say for certin.

The Python's Trigger will get better as time goes on, by the way.

April 23, 2007, 11:34 AM
From my experiences, the Colts are to fondle, look at and then sell on Gunbroker for absurd amounts of money. For shooting, I'll take the S&W. Much better DA trigger, more durable and the cylinder and thumb latch "go the right way":neener:

April 23, 2007, 01:48 PM
See, this always happens.

1) Everyone saying the 586 is as good as a Python is wrong. Sorry, but you're just wrong. You may like your 586 but it doesn't even approach the quality level of the Python and was never intended to do so. The 586 (and 686) are working guns and were not meant to be... and are not... deluxe models like the Python. Simple truth, here. The Model 27 compares to the Python, not the 5/686.

2) Maybe a good smith can slick up the S&W action. That's not the point.

3) The Colt trigger system is different from the S&W. Most shooters prefer the S&W trigger feel, some favor the Colt, others don't care to choose. Again, this has nothing to do with the quality of the gun.

4) This old business about the Colt having a weak action is bull. The Colt system is more inclined to go out of time because it uses the cylinder hand to help hold the cylinder in place during firing but this hardly makes the action weak. It means the hand will wear out more quickly but many Colts go a long, long time without trouble.

Case in point: I have an Officers Model Target made in 1930. This gun was used for years in competition matches and has fired countless thousands of rounds. The action is just as tight and well-timed today as the day it left Hartford. Same for my 1949 Officers Model, my 1967 Official Police and my 1968 .357 Trooper. I have a Python made in 1975 that has never been fired with anything but full-power Magnum ammo (my handloads, not wimpy factory stuff) and it shows no sign of distress. Sure, individual guns may have problems as can any mechanical device, and I admit the Colt system is more likely to show wear faster, but it's ridiculous to say the Colts will absolutely brerak down or wear out in 1,000 rounds, or 10,000, or any particular number.

If you like your 5/686, fine. They are good guns. They are what they were meant to be. They were not meant to compare to the Python and they don't.

Jeff Cooper once said of the Python- "It's expensive because it should be."

April 23, 2007, 10:22 PM

I never said the 586 was as good as a Python, but the 586/686 is an excellent revolver in its own right.

The article posted by JohnBT taught me alot about a Python, very informative.

We are all fortunate to be able to own some of the finest revolvers ever produced.

ryan b
April 24, 2007, 12:44 AM
Ive got to add my 2 cents i have a 1960's colt Python and a 686 but i also have a smith 15, 686,66,36,43,victory,1917,model 20,and 4 triple lock 44, 10,629, and my favorite smith 625 mountain gun 45LC and a regestered mag. you are talking apples and oranges the python is a hand built firearm in the action and lock work. The smith is a factory gun. I dont shoot much magnum loads in any of my pistols but i have a 66 that has had around 2500 357 through it. My python is never carried but shot some at the range but in my view the python is the best built revolver out of the box. you want a fine piece of american craftsmanship the python is the best if you want a great carry or combat revolver the smiths are great.

April 24, 2007, 10:18 PM
A friend of mine traded into a Python and showed it to me.

It was a beautiful gun!

I checked the cylinder and raised it up and dry-fired it twice. The trigger was smooooooooth! I tried to dry-fire it a third time and the cylinder wouldn't turn. We opened the action and the firing pin had broken!

Never saw that on a Smith.

April 25, 2007, 08:00 AM
They all break sooner or later. Stick around. It was probably broken when he traded for it.


April 25, 2007, 09:58 AM
I've seen a couple of older Smiths with broken firing pins. Any mechanical device can and eventually will break something.

April 25, 2007, 10:17 AM
I wouldn't compare the 686 to a python. What I would compare it to is the Colt Trooper MKIII that I had. To me, the two were about on par with each other in terms of durability and action.


CSA 357
April 25, 2007, 08:13 PM
the colt cant hold a flash light for the smith, if you want a auto get a colt, if you want a revolver get a smith!:D csa

April 25, 2007, 08:19 PM
My 586 has a hammer mounted firing pin, so when you dry fire it, the hammer contacts the frame. The only thing this type of firing pin can hit is a primer.

April 26, 2007, 12:46 AM
I supose it all depends on how you define quality.

I love Pythons, BUUUUT they are not all that durable. Any L frame Smiff is much more durable. Also, there is slight stacking on the double action trigger pull of the Python. I dont like the fact that their tapered barrels shoot much slower than other revolvers. Yes, Pythons are quite accurate, but I've seen Smiffs that are every bit as accurate.

"Quality" means different things to different people.

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