Python with sticky ejection


Peter M. Eick
April 27, 2013, 04:26 PM
I have a used Python that I picked up a few years back and have only shot wimpy loads in it. They work great and the gun is accurate with them.

Today I tried some moderate loads (6 grns of unique with a 158 LSWC) and found that the gun would easily extract the brass about 1/4" but then it stopped. Several of the cylinders the brass was loose and would fall out but the other 3 or 4 cylinders it was stuck fast and needed a hard wop (or three) on the ejector rod to get them out. I was hitting it hard enough that I was concerned about bending things.

I tried some 13.5 grn 2400 (moderate reloads) and they did the same thing. Back to 148 HBWC's and perfectly fine and the brass just drops out with the slightest touch. The 6 grns of unique felt pretty mild next to the 13.5 grns of 2400 but obviously a lot more then the mild 148 HWWC's. All were loaded in 357 magnum brass so there is no 38 special ring.

I bought the gun used and this is the first time I shot moderate loads in it so its my fault for not noticing the issue earlier. I have dumped a lot of target rounds down it with no issues so I never considered it an issue.

So I cleaned the heck out of it and got out some pin gauges. The .380 goes in every cylinder with no apparent loose or tight spots. The .381 will not enter at all.

A piece of spent brass that I had to smack out of the gun measures .3817 at the very base, .3815 about a quarter an inch up and .3812 toward the front. The brass does not want to seat fully in the gun in any cylinder. It is obviously too big. Of course the dropped right in with no issues when I loaded them up to shoot them.

My first thought is maybe a cylinder is slightly oversize or bulged. I held the gun up to the light and cannot detect any sort of variation in the light in the cylinder reflections or any pattern to indicate a bulge in once cylinder and not another.

Part of me says the heck with it and just enjoy light loads in it that work perfectly and part says get it fixed at Colt while there are still parts available. My presumption is I need a new cylinder fit as I can't see what else it might be.

So I defer to you all. Any suggestions on things to check or consider?

I like the gun, it shoots well and is accurate. I just did not anticipate this issue after so many years of use.

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April 27, 2013, 07:40 PM
Well, the cylinder gages with your pin gage which seems to point back to the ammo. How does the brass that dropped free measure? What about case wall thickness? How many times has it been reloaded? Do you track the number of reloads on your brass?

I would be very hesitant to send it to Colt given that pretty much all of the guys that built the Python are long gone. There are a couple of revolver specialists that would get it before Colt.

April 27, 2013, 07:49 PM
Your very first check should be to give the chambers a thorough cleaning with a bronze Brownell's chamber brush. Even if you "know" they're clean, do it anyway.
Don't clean them with an over-size bore brush or any expedient methods. Buy the bronze chamber brush.

Then buy some full charge .357 FACTORY ammo of a good American brand and shoot them.

If you still have a problem, then send the gun in to Colt. Colt is still THE expert on the Python.

Honestly, my experience as a Python qualified gunsmith over 30 years is that in these cases, 99% of the time it's reloaded ammo. It may be fine in many guns and not in another.
Try the factory ammo.

Peter M. Eick
April 27, 2013, 08:38 PM
I have a brownells chamber brush but I admit I rarely use it. I will dig it out in the morning and give it a good scrubbing. I can head to the range tomorrow and they will sell us one box of ammo so I will give some factory a try.

All of the ammo through this Python has been light loads of 3 grns of Bullseye with a 148 grn HBWC or 4.4 grns of Trailboss with a 158 grn LSWC. Both are really light target loads so maybe I have crudded up the cylinder and just don't see the dirt.

Thanks for the advice.

By the way, the brass has been used a lot. The stuff that drops free measures .380 uniformly and is all Starline. The brass that sticks is generally winchester and remington.

April 27, 2013, 10:29 PM
I would clean the chambers thoroughly.
But not with Brownell's chamber brush (or chamber flex-hone if that's what you have?)
Do Not do that yet, as it could make it worse!

Sounds to me like expanded chambers from some prior owner.
Look for dimples on the brass over the bolt cuts in the cylinder.

And 'color' some rounds with a black magic marker and shoot them so you can actually see what is tight where.

Full power .357 brass should shake or fall out of a Python slicker then new corn through a goose.

Unless you have bulged chamber damage from over-pressure loads at some point in time.


April 27, 2013, 10:48 PM
It's broken. Send it to me and I'll throw it away for you.

Peter M. Eick
April 28, 2013, 11:09 AM
Not a bad suggestion since I only have $649 into it but it is probably cheaper to fix it then throw it away. :)

So I got out my chamber brush (just a bronze bristle toothed brush, nothing more fancy then that) and gave it a good scrubbing. A bit of stuff came off but nothing much.

I next took a spent 357 mag case and over flared it a bit. I then slowly chambered it in each cylinder. It scraped the sides of the chamber on the way and it brought up a bit more stuff that I again scrubbed out with the brush.

The interesting thing is it chambered smoothly in every cylinder until about half way down where a bit of roughness is felt. So I mopped each chamber a bunch so they were spotless and studied each cylinder with the light reflecting off the insides of the chambers.

About half way down each cylinder, there is a bit of a bend in the light where you can see a very small circular step. This looks like the cylinder drills or reamers did a step right there just slightly. I would guess based upon what I see that the cylinders are reamed all at the same time, not sequentially. Is this correct? If so the reamers got "jostled" right at this point. If you glance or even study the cylinders you can't see it but if you get the reflection of light off the chamber walls you can see it. I don't know if that is the issue but at least you can see something.

I can't test the gun at the range since we took about 4" of rain in 3 hours last night so I expect the range is closed and flooded. I will have to defer for a week or so to try some factory ammo.

I did measure the depth of each cylinder stop cutout. All were the same within my ability to measure the depth with a caliper. There appears to be no obvious bow around the cylinder stops.

So, my current thought is that the previous owner found the same thing I have. The gun will not handle full power 357 ammo without sticking and sold it cheap. I should have known it was too cheap (I looked it up and I paid $649 for it) but hey it was a good deal. Too good obviously.

I guess I am looking at a new cylinder and a tune up at Colt. I understand some don't like to send things there, but they have treated me well with my Diamondback when it got out of time over the years. I will try and talk to them at the NRA convention and see if they can fix it up.

Other than trying factory ammo, any other things I can look at or try?

April 28, 2013, 12:00 PM
If what you're saying is correct the gun needs to go back to Colt for repair. None of mine have anything like that and the Colt people are still the best there is at repairing Colt guns.

4v50 Gary
April 28, 2013, 12:02 PM
See if someone will measure their Python's cylinder chambers inner diameter and post it here. It would be interesting to see if a little reaming may not fix everything. I bet the factory reamer was worn and tired when they made the gun.

April 28, 2013, 01:10 PM
I had this same problem with a Python built in 1975. I had a hard time getting the brass from a hot load to eject. When I did get it out it had scratches on the brass that ran the whole length of the brass. This happened on at least two chambers. I took it to my gun guy and he had a small hone he ran through it and the problem was solved. My guess is the cylinders had a burr somewhere in it. kwg

Peter M. Eick
April 28, 2013, 03:50 PM
Well good news.

The range was not as wet as I thought so after a serious scrubbing, hoppes #9 and some elbow grease I tried again. I shot 100 rounds of 14.2 grns of 2400 with a 158 Lswc, 100 rounds of 4.8 grns of Trailboss on a 158 lswc and 50 round of Fiocchi 158 grn JHP's which is all they had.

The trailboss just dropped out when you touched the ejector rod. That was about normal for it.

The 2400 loads were just slightly sticky. You just had to lightly tap the ejector rod and they all came free.

The Fiocchi was about the same as the 2400. You had to tap the rod and they all come out just fine.

I sharpie-ed a bunch of rounds and there are no consistent scrapes or patterns. I see the ejector star marks on them and a bunch of fine scratches but no big consistent scrapes or marks on the brass.

I currently think the last few posts are correct. It is a combination of me shooting only light loads that let some gunk build up in the cylinder that I was not getting out with my normal cleaning. This and some natural roughness in the cylinder was making it hard to eject full power brass. Since I have now fired over 5000 rounds down this gun, I think the light loads just built up a gunky coating in the cylinder that was sticking.

So my lessons are to scrub the cylinder on this gun more fully and consistently but I will also keep the full power loads away from it also. It is a fun gun to shoot and I will just keep it pretty mild. My 158 lswc's with trailboss are nice 38 special power level target rounds that work great and are accurate.

So Dfariswheel & rcmodel is correct again. It was a combination of insufficient cleaning and reloads that combined poorly. It probably would have occurred with commercial ammo also but I cleaned carefully first so we won't know for sure.

Jim Watson
April 28, 2013, 04:07 PM
About half way down each cylinder, there is a bit of a bend in the light where you can see a very small circular step.

You mean distinct from the step down from chamber diameter to throat diameter?
If so, that isn't right.

Peter M. Eick
April 28, 2013, 04:30 PM
Yes, it is about 2/3rds of the way to where a 38 special round would terminate. It is very subtle, but I would guess that the reamers all jostled a bit right there. You can only see it if the light is right.

Jim Watson
April 28, 2013, 05:10 PM
With that, unless you want to go around with Colt customer service, I would hit it with a Flex Hone and at least smooth up the mar.

April 29, 2013, 11:55 AM
Yes, it is about 2/3rds of the way to where a 38 special round would terminate. It is very subtle, First, try wrapping a tuft of 0000 Extra Fine steel wool around a bore brush and use a cordless drill to spin it in each chamber.

That will take everything out Sam Colt didn't put there without harming everything he did..

I think you still have hard carbon in the chambers from shooting .38 Spl.


May 1, 2013, 10:16 AM
First, try wrapping a tuft of 0000 Extra Fine steel wool around a bore brush and use a cordless drill to spin it in each chamber.

That will take everything out Sam Colt didn't put there without harming everything he did..

I think you still have hard carbon in the chambers from shooting .38 Spl.


Would you use any solvent or oil with the 0000 steel wool, or just run it through dry?

Old Fuff
May 1, 2013, 11:58 AM
I have used 0000 (extra fine) steel wool both dry and solvent-soaked with no problems because it is much softer then the steel in the cylinder.

Those who handload can save themselves a lot of trouble if they assemble light loads using .357 cases rather then .38 Special. You still need to keep the chambers clean, but the job is much easier. If you want to shoot a lot of .38 Special's get another revolver chambered to use that cartridge.

Same applies to .44 Specials in .44 Magnums.

The above advise especially applies to when using cast lead bullets, but carbon/copper build up can cause problems too.

May 1, 2013, 07:15 PM
If you go the 0000 steel wool with oil route, be very careful to keep the dirty oil from leaking into the cylinder under the ejector or in the front where the crane shaft enters.

If you use it dry, keep the steel dust out of the action and the cylinder.
Best option is to disassemble the cylinder assembly BUT ONLY if you know exactly how it's done and ONLY if it's the New Style ejector assembly that only requires the ejector rod to be unscrewed.

Older Colt ejector systems require two special tools to disassemble the cylinder assembly and even then it's risky.
To determine which you have, put three EMPTY cases in the chambers, grip the checkered ejector rod head in a padded vise and try to unscrew the rod.

If the ejector rod head comes off the rod you have the Old Style ejector rod assembly.
STOP. Screw the head back on snugly and don't try to disassemble the cylinder assembly.

May 1, 2013, 07:27 PM
Much ado about nothing.

I have been cleaning chambers with 0000 Steel wool & bore solvent wrapped around a bore brush in a drill since the Army AMU gunsmiths showed me how to do it in 1968.

There is nothing getting in the gun, and you wipe out the chambers with clean patches when you get done.

Any steel wool fibers are trapped in the patches.

I do not recommend trying to unscrew old style Colt ejector rods either.
They are threaded and staked in place.

All you can do with a padded vice trying to unscrew one is, screw it up so bad you will need to find a new one to replace the one you screwed up trying to see if it will unscrew.


Peter M. Eick
May 2, 2013, 04:51 PM
I will have to chase up some 4x wool and give it a try. I will not take the assembly apart just give it a cleaning.

The gun shoots well and all I have shot in it are 357 mag reloads. My normal load for it is 4.8 grns of Trailboss with a 158 SWC in a 357 Magnum case. This gives me a nice accurate plinking load that is fun to shoot but is very mild.

Anyway, maybe Brownells will have some at the NRA show tomorrow.

May 2, 2013, 08:10 PM
0000 Steel wool packs are available at any hardware store or home improvement store in the paint department.

Much used for fine wood finishing work.


4v50 Gary
May 2, 2013, 08:49 PM
Glad to hear it has been resolved.

May 3, 2013, 06:34 PM
where a 38 special round would terminate.
Those who handload can save themselves a lot of trouble if they assemble light loads using .357 cases rather then .38 Special.
Any chance all those light loads were in .38 Spl brass? Years of carbon buildup just in front of the throats?

May 3, 2013, 08:04 PM
but my instinct is to keep all steel away from my blued Colt to avoid accidental scratches. I might interest you to know that 0000 Extra Fine steel wool & oil is used by the professional firearms finishers to card off red bluing salts residue from those fine high polish blue jobs you see.


Peter M. Eick
May 4, 2013, 10:24 AM
The mark is about 2/3rds the way up the 38 special round length. I was able to spot the blemish from the front of the cylinder and shove a 38 special (spent round) in to measure it.

Maybe a 38 colt? I don't think a 38 S&W would fit but having never tried it I am not sure, but I need a round that is about 2/3rds the height of a 38 special to make the mark.

The more I think about it and look at it, the more I am convinced it was some sort of burn mark as I don't see how it could be in every cylinder at about the same place.

Bob M.
May 4, 2013, 11:01 AM
I have a Smith model 65 that had a similar problem. Three of the chambers were a little tight and the spent brass was sticking. The casings had "scratch" marks where they were sticking. I bought a .38 cal ceramic burnisher from Brownells and used that to gently and slowly hone the chambers. It worked nicely. :) All the cases drop out like they should now.

May 4, 2013, 12:13 PM
I did much the same thing to a S&W belonging to a friend. We found a tiny burr near the extractor. A little burnishing and the gun worked flawlessly. It's amazing how a tiny burr caused such difficult extraction.

May 4, 2013, 01:33 PM
...I need a round that is about 2/3rds the height of a 38 special to make the mark.
I would use the stem of my dial calipers as you could see what you're doing a lot better, but I guess you could cut down a retired 38 Special or 357 case.

May 4, 2013, 01:39 PM
My load book calls for 38 Sp is 4.7 - 5.0 - 5.2 +P for 357 6.0 - 8.3 That is a Lyman load book

May 4, 2013, 02:55 PM
How does 0000 gauge steel wool rate on any sort of 'Abrasive Scale', assuming there is such a critter, against 2000 and high count grit sandpaper?

The higher count grit paper is used to polish granite counter tops, automobile finishes, etc.

It'd seem to have a place comparable to 0000 Steel, or Bronze Wool.

Don't know, just asking.



May 4, 2013, 08:20 PM
How does 0000 gauge steel wool rate on any sort of 'Abrasive Scale',It doesn't.

Super fine steel wool is not abrasive.

It is softer then the steel used to make guns.
And it is softer then the black oxide finish resulting from rust bluing or hot tank bluing.

All grades of super fine sandpaper ARE abrasive, and will wear through blued finished sooner rather then later if you rub it on them.

That's why firearms finishers use super fine steel wool, and not super fine abrasive papers & polishing compound like car painters and rock countertop finishers use.
They want something that cuts the finish.
Not something like steel wool that doesn't cut through.

They use the papers and polishing compounds to polish the steel before it is blued, not after.

Peter M. Eick
May 6, 2013, 07:45 PM
I was able to get some OOOO (4x) steel wool this weekend and now I am ready to spin it in the chamber.

Any advice on how much to spin it or how tight to wrap it around the brush? I was thinking just a few seconds (10?) per cylinder at moderate speeds?

May 6, 2013, 08:11 PM
It doesn't matter.

Use powder solvent, wrap it so it is a tight fit in the chamber, and spin it till your hearts content while working it in & out of each chamber..

As I said in a older post.
0000 SW & oil is not going to hurt anything Sam Colt didn't put in there with a chamber reamer to begin with.

I would not do 5 minutes per chamber.
But 10 seconds per chamber isn't enough.


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