pre "trooper" colt .357


July 17, 2010, 01:54 PM
Went to the range/gun shop this morning. In the used case was a very nice colt in .357. No model name such as python, etc. Just ".357". The counter guy looked it up and said it was built in the early sixties and was the gun that led to the trooper. It has a 4" barrel, very faint turn marks on the cylinder, blueing is perfect although a little dull. No end shake and just the slightest wiggle when locked up. Stocks are perfect. It's as if someone bought it, put it in their bedside table and forgot about it. Asking price is $599. Can anyone give me more info on this gun? Given the condition, Is this a fair price?

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July 17, 2010, 02:55 PM
It's probably more accurate to refer to it as a "pre-Python". I have one, and you should buy it at that price, and soon. (Or, if you like, you can buy it, add say $50 to $100, and sell it to me.)

Wikipedia has a very good writeup on the relationship between the 357, Trooper, and Python here:

Vern Humphrey
July 17, 2010, 02:59 PM
The Model 357 is a Python, lacking only the cosmetics. I carried one my first tour in Viet Nam and still have it.

July 17, 2010, 03:25 PM
Dickm..thanks for the link. The gun in question does have the target stocks, adjusable sights, wider hammer and matte finish on the barrel so I'm guessing it was made for the consumer as opposed to law enforcement. I'll be making a trip back to the shop tomorrow. Pics to follow.

Mr Humphrey...Thanks for that. If the .357 model is the 'non cosmetic' Python and has the same hand fitted internal workings, should I be worried about the slight wiggle when locked up? My understanding is that a Python should have no wiggle at all. I will be shooting this gun.

Vern Humphrey
July 17, 2010, 03:45 PM
Whether it's anything to worry about or not, only a qualified pistol smith can tell you. My M357 locks up like a bank vault.

The Lone Haranguer
July 17, 2010, 07:37 PM
The ".357" is the same frame size and action as the Official Police and Python. $599 is fair (perhaps even a little low), if ...

No end shake and just the slightest wiggle when locked up.
Colts lock up differently than Smith & Wessons, which do allow a little play. Be sure to follow the right procedure. Cock the hammer, then lower it by pulling the trigger and guiding it down. Do not release the trigger. Hold the trigger to the rear firmly and try to rotate the cylinder. There should be no rotational movement. If there is, the cylinder "hand" needs refitted. This is not necessarily a reason to reject it, but I would ask for a corresponding reduction in price.

July 17, 2010, 08:13 PM
Technically, the Colt 357 is not a "pre-Trooper" because the Trooper was introduced first, in 1953.
The 357 was introduced in 1954.

The early Trooper was the last Colt "E" frame model, in which the firing pin was mounted on the hammer.
The 357 was the first new Colt "I" frame with the firing pin mounted in the frame.
The "I" frame was used in 1955 as the base for the Python.
After the 357 was discontinued in 1961, the Trooper was changed to an "I" frame.

The 357 was intended to be Colt's premium holster revolver and was better finished and tuned than the budget Trooper. However, the Python was a Super-premium model with a much more polished finish and an ever more tuned action.
The 357 shook up the gun world because it was the world's first 357 double action revolver built on a medium frame. Before that the only .357 DA revolvers were the Colt large frame New Service and the large S&W "N" frame.
This so shocked S&W that they soon brought out their own version based on their "K" frame.
However, as history proved, the "K" frame and cylinder were a little too small for a lot of .357 use, while the larger frame and cylinder of the 357 could handle unlimited Magnum ammo.

About 15,000 357 models were produced between 1954 and 1961.

Steve C
July 18, 2010, 03:17 AM
According to the "Standard Catalog of Firearms" the .357 was a deluxe version of the Trooper. Generally these where called the old model Trooper to distinguish them from the later Trooper MKIII's. The .357 model had a target hammer and target stocks and was manufactured from 1953 to 1961. The Trooper (old or 1st model) was manufactured from 1953 to 1969.

The Python was introduced 2 years after the .357 mag in 1955. In 1961 the .357 mag model name was dropped and Colt offered the same target version with the Trooper name. My 6" old model Trooper (middle) has the target features while my 4" has a narrower hammer but the large stocks. Bottom is a Trooper MKIII.

July 18, 2010, 05:41 AM
haranguer... Thanks for that. I read the 'check out' thread posted by Jim March some time ago and it has helped me quite a bit over the past few years. I checked out this gun just as he (and you) described.

dfariswheel...I always read what you have to say with interest. Your knowledge and expertise show in what you write. Thanks.

stevec...again, great information. Thanks for that. Impressive collection of older colts.

I knew this gun wouldn't stay on the shelf for long so after reading what you gentlemen had to say and doing a little more research, I went back to the shop and made the purchase. I'll clean it up this morning and post some pics.

July 18, 2010, 08:51 AM
Glassman, Sounds like you made a smart (good price and intelligent purchase) buy on, in my opinion, the best shooting Colt .357 they ever made. For me, the ramp sight and base provides a superior sight picture over the Python with it's short ramp blade.

The .357 was never finished to the same degree as the later Python. In the photo there is a - top left - 1955 .357 4" and -top right - 1954 .357 6".

Notice the lack of light reflection in the cylinder flutes of the .357s compared to the Python between them. That is not worn finish, but instead Colts post war dual tone finish. That matte finish is also on the top and bottom of the frame. As the pistols finish develops wear, this dual tone hastens that 'worn' look. I have not seen the dual tone finish on any 1956 guns, at least with the O.M.M. and Woodsman, so thats my guess as to when it was being phased out.

Congratulations! Don't it just feel good to walk into a shop and see a jewel like that sitting in the case with all the black plastic ( not knocking the newer stuff, I own a pile of it ). Kinda like a puppy whining "Get me outa here and take me home".


July 18, 2010, 08:57 AM
I got mine for under $400 about 18 months ago. It was beat to heck, the timing was off a little, and there was some cylinder looseness. Sent it in to colt, and about 4-5 weeks later I had a brand new gun. The royal blue refinish looks awesome, and the repair parts for the timing & looseness issues cost a whopping dollar. Put some cocobolo hogue grips with finger grooves on. It is a smooth shooter. Money well spent. You will most likely be very pleased.

July 18, 2010, 10:01 AM
jt-ar-mg42...your puppy analogy was spot on. Thanks for the chuckle. Only thing better would have been a sign that read,"free to a good home".

postalnut...This one looks pretty darn good but I'll keep what you said in mind. I hope it shoots as well as it looks. I have the hogue stocks on another revolver and like them also. I think though that I'll keep the original stocks on this one. I like the classic look.

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