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Colt python vs s&w 686.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by ms6852, Apr 23, 2011.

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  1. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    My FAVORITE brother just now gave me the Colt Python for my birthday. Some one here had suggested I shoot have a shoot off between the python and the 686. Any ideas as to how to conduct this? Pictures and a range report will follow. I will be conducting this tests on Monday and Tuesday. Thanks for your help.
     
  2. shiftyer1

    shiftyer1 Member

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    He'd be my favorite brother also with a gift like that :) Happy birthday
     
  3. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    Had/have both. Two different kinds of guns, one mass produced and of great quality, the other hand fitted and of similar quality. Colts lock up tighter than Smiths due to the double hand, also the Python had a slight taper to the bore which contributed to accuracy. Only problem I ever had with a Python was loading longer bullets....cylinder is relatively short.

    I'd go for carefully resting on bags and shooting an assortment of ammo all the way from 148 grain hbwc in 38 special on up to 158 gr jhps in 357. I'd start at 25, then go to 50 and if your eyes are good enough, out to 100 yards.

    I doubt there will be much difference. Possibly show up off a Ransom rest. I'll bet on a slight edge for the Python if it has good lockup. My 686+ is a tack driver when I'm on.

    Go for it and let us know how it works out.
     
  4. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    Thanks
     
  5. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    PapaG I too am thinking that there may be a slight advantage over the Python when shooting it DA vs SA. After dry firing it, it feels like the trigger pull on the Colt is about one pound lighter than the 686 and shorter stroke.
     
  6. InkEd

    InkEd Member

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    The current 686 evolved from the old Combat Masterpiece, which may have been the greatest .357magnum of all time. The Pythons were great but IMHO aren't as rugged as the Combat Masterpiece. The short cylinder doesn't allow for certain styles of ammo. The Python is a little nicer for the range but I don't think it is rough & tumble as the old S&W workhorse.
     
  7. L-Frame

    L-Frame Member

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    Both of those guns are VERY accurate. As stated above, the Python has a slight taper to the barrel so it should have a slim advantage, but, all else being equal, the python advantage at 25 yards MAY be at most 1/2 an inch over either a 686 or a GP100.
     
  8. Ala Dan

    Ala Dan Member in memoriam

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    Also, most Colts [including Pythons] will suffer timing issues much faster~! :scrutiny: :eek: ;)
     
  9. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    The 686 is a different frame than the Combat Masterpiece...CM is a 19 which is a K. 686 is an L frame, necessary because the Ks couldn't take heavy full house 357 use.

    O.K. guys, now tell me how you've fired hundreds of thousands of full house loads and your K frames are still as tight as new. Facts are facts. My model 19, an early model, has had probably ten thousand 38s of various kinds through it and maybe a thousand 357s, mostly 158 grain jhps and is not quite as tight as it was when I bought it from dad in 78...it was his deputy sheriff's carry gun and I don't know how much he shot it but most of the time it was with specials.

    Check with Brian Pearce on his tests of K frame guns. Safe but not as tough as L frame. If you want the best in the three fifty seven...get a 27, the original N frame.
     
  10. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    I disagree that Colt Pythons suffer from timing actions much faster. Colt uses 4140 steel to make the lockwork. That's good stuff. To re-time, a lot of times you peen the part to lengthen it to fit. Older S&W had case hardened parts and newer ones have MIM. Neither will hold up as long as 4140. A properly tuned Colt will outlast a S&W. The operative phrase is "properly tuned." The trouble today is that there's few gunsmiths who are qualified to work on an older Colt and that many Colts are worked on by folks who aren't properly trained.

    Now, the major difference is that a S&W lockwork is easy to fix and one can fix about three or four S&W in the time it takes to get a Colt to work. Colt lockwork is very much a late nineteenth century design and S&W is an early twentieth century design that has been copied in one form or another by many of today's makers.
     
  11. Toforo

    Toforo Member

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    The 686 is better OF COURSE 'cuz it has the Hillary Hole - right?


    :scrutiny:
     
  12. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    I'd be more interested in hearing your personal impressions as to the feel of the gun regarding trigger, cylinder release, extractor, what's better: CCW or CW and why, etc. - rather than hearing which one shoots a hair tighter group on any given Sunday with one particular load for one particular shooter.
     
  13. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Gloob, since you asked.... S&W used to have a sear that was very similar to the Pythons. It was an arched teardrop shape. The advantage of this shape is similar to the roller installed on the German Korth. It allowed for a long contact between the the trigger and the sear. A short short will result in a more abrupt trigger pull. The older S&W and the Colt Python and the German Korth has a longer contact period, thus allowing for the weight to be applied more gradually. This is why the trigger feels silkly smooth on the Python, the Korth and the older S&W.

    The pre-MIM S&W was a bit more abrupt, but could be worked on and smoothed out. However, it would never rival the Python as it once did.

    I haven't seen the MIM sears but I would imagine that S&W could make a mim sear similar to the older arched tear drop shape.

    Along the lines of CCW or CW, let me address this with the old arguments back in the '60s and early '70s as to which was superior - the Colt or the S&W. One point some folks argued over was the cylinder release. The Colt had to be pulled back and the S&W's pushed forward to open the cylinder. The pro-S&W nitpickers argued that the Colt's was less secure because the gun's recoil naturally pushed the Colt's cylinder release back, thereby creating an opportunity for the cylinder to pop open. Contrast to the operation of the S&W which naturally pushed forward and was therefore more secure.

    The Colt folks would retort that since the Colt's cylinder is rotated clockwise (as seen by the shooter), it would rotate the cylinder towards the frame, making it more secure than the S&W. The S&W rotated its cylinder counter-clockwise, against the cylinder release, thus making it more prone to releasing.

    The S&W would argue that the Colt's skinny ejector rod was subject to being bent under stress, and therefore wasn't as good as a police weapon as the S&W revolvers were. The Colt folks argued that how many cases of bent ejector rods were there and furthermore, that the S&W ejector rod was prone to unscrew on itself, thereby locking up the cylinder such that one could not open it.

    In reality, both are fine guns and I own both but carried a Ruger Security Six.
     
  14. L-Frame

    L-Frame Member

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    In regards to the timing, I've talked to 3 different gunsmiths that I know and respect and they all said that Pythons go out of time quicker than S&W's and are much harder to put back into time. I also sold a Python years ago to a collector who showed me MANY pictures of his Pythons. His goal was to continue to have the same number of Pythons as his age and he was in his mid 40's at the time. He spent by far the most time checking the timing on mine. I asked him if the stories of Pythons going out of time was true and he said absolutely yes. He told me that he was constantly on the lookout for nice pythons and was constantly seeing out of time Pythons. He said they tended to be owned by people who said that they fired them quickly, as opposed to slow target shooting.
     
  15. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    L-Frame. It is true that it's easier to work on a S&W, Ruger or even the more modern Colt Trooper/Anaconda action than the older Python. One can fix three of any of those guns faster than a Python. The Python is more difficult to work on as one must have a greater understanding of the multi-tasked parts in the gun. Change one thing, and you might have three adverse results.

    Fitting the Colt's rebound lever is the biggest PITA a gunsmith may work with. The rebound lever not only returns the trigger to its position of rest, it also operates the bolt and the safety. It provides a bearing surface for the V spring to push against and push the hammer forward. Because it is connected with the trigger, it also affects the hand.

    Here's a thread that describes the older Colt lockwork: Link
     
  16. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

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    Agreed.

    I'm an accuracy nut, and look forward to an accuracy report, but there's more to a revolver than accuracy alone. For instance, which is easier and/or faster to get effective hits with? El Prez would be an excellent drill for this, as it tests the draw & first shot on target, trigger & transition speed, and reloads. The differences in the DA trigger pull and cylinder release latch, if they are functionally different, may show up under these conditions. Use a par timer so you can see individual split times. And don't forget to include raw times and "points down", too. If one allows you to be faster, but less accurate, that'd be important information to know.
     
  17. ms6852

    ms6852 Member

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    I would like to accommodate your request but I will be shooting at a public range and I do not believe the safety commandos will allow me to do some rapid firing. I can tell you that the colt feels a little lighter than my 686 and that the handles are almost have an identical feeling.

    My 686 is the old model, almost 30 years old and the action is very smooth but not as smooth as it should be. This is my fault since I mainly carry a 1911 and my 686 was a back up home defense gun. The 686 has less than 500 rounds through it. The action on the colt is clearly smoother and lighter and the trigger pull is approximately one pound to one and a half pounds lighter and it seems like a much shorter pull too.

    I find that the sight on my 686 are much easier to line up to target than those of the python, but while doing dry firing exercises the colt seems to keep point of aim better than the 686. This could be due to the smoother action of the python and the few ounces that makes it lighter than my 686. The lightness of the gun could be a disadvantage eventually in the range when recoil comes into play and the 686 may absorb it better than the python since it is heavier, we shall see.
     
  18. Ruger Redhawk

    Ruger Redhawk Member

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    I worked for a gun shop about 30 years ago. We were a Colt Distr. I saw a few brand new Pythons out of time from the factory. I got a great deal on one. The guy had just bought it. He put 6 357's and 50 38 spls through it.I bought it from him and a couple days later I traded it for a Sako rifle. The Pythons are a beautiful gun but they do have their timing problems.
     
  19. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Hmm. Don't be afraid to get too nerdy with the details. For example, this is what I would have say between my 686-1 and Ruger GP100:

    DA trigger pull: both about equal in length, smoothness, and weight. The biggest difference is the Smith has a tiny hitch right before it breaks, whereas the Ruger breaks clean without any notice. I don't prefer one over the other. Both good. I notice the Smith's cylinder locks very early in the pull, whereas the Ruger cylinder locks up almost at the end of the pull. This would be a good indicator of when the trigger is about to break on the GP, except it doesn't occur at the same point, pull-to-pull, even on the same chamber.

    Trigger Reset: Smith has this all over the Ruger. The Smith reset is much more positive. Even after dryfiring the Ruger thousands of times, I can still accidentally short-stroke the Ruger when trying to fire very rapidly. (No surprise to me that Jerry Miiculek used a modified 686 to set his world records.)

    Single Action Trigger: Smith wins by a mile. Smith has no pre-travel and no effective post-travel. Ruger has a little bit of creep and a little bit of post-travel.

    Thumbing the hammer: The Smith is smoother. But it's also seen a lot more rounds. Too early to tell. The GP might smooth out over time.

    Cylinder latch: The nod goes to Ruger. The Smith works fine and it just as fast. The GP is just a little eaiser to do. And the checkering on the Smith will chew up my thumb if I hold the gun wrong. I can easily open either gun with just my left hand, while cradling the cylinder. I am curious if the Colt could be operated with left hand, only?

    Lockup: Smith wins here. The Smith has a little bit of rotational play in lockup in the CW direction, but it moves back to the same position after you let go. It has very little side-side play. The Ruger has more play rotational play, and it stays where you leave it. I was surprised to find it has just as much or more side-side play, too, despite the double lockup.

    Ejection rod: My Smith ejects smoother, but the stupid rod turns out every time I shoot it. I guess I need to buy some locktite.

    Aesthetics: I like 'em both, but to me the Ruger wins with the thicker recoil shield and top strap, as well as the shape of the hammer and shroud. The Smith looks more like a snake that swallowed a cow.

    Other: My Smith has a restriction just past the forcing cone which is very noticeable with a new bore brush. My Ruger does not.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  20. golden

    golden Member

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    I would take either as a gift, but I would buy the 686 if I had to pay for it.

    I think they are both great guns, but if I had to buy one, it would be the 686.

    I can get a larger variety of accesories. If you do not think this is important, try to find a nice, compact set of rubber grips for a COLT DETECTIVE SPECIAL.

    Also, I can get a 7 shot 686. I used to carry a 681 (the fixed sight version of the 686) and getting that 7th round not only increases your magazine capacity, it also lightens an already too heavy gun. Wear one for 10 or 12 hours and you may agree with me.

    For the cost difference, I can get a 686 MAGNA PORTED and have a TRIGGER TUNING by MAGNA PORT.
    I came across a used 6 inch 586, about 7 years ago. I was not interested in another revolver, but when I saw the ports, I got curios. So I tried the action and discovered a near perfect TRIGGER SLICK. The action is a smooth as glass.

    If I could discover an old PYTHON with a trigger as smooth, then it might be a different matter. There is not doubt in my mind that the PYTHON was one of the prettiest revolvers ever made.

    Money is another thing. PYTHON'S in my area start for @$1100 to $1200 for an adverage piece. A really mint will cost you $2000.


    Oh, for a comparison, I would try a few drills plus a side by side qualification drill. Do the drill with WADCUTTERS, then 158 grain +P lswhp and finally with the 125 grain jhp loads. You would have 3 different recoil levels to see what sets them apart.

    Jim
     
  21. 4v50 Gary

    4v50 Gary Moderator Staff Member

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    Not at all surprising and you're right Ruger Redhawk. As the older gun assemblers died off, there were fewer employees at Colt who could assemble and time the older D, E or I frame action. Many of us "kids" remember how in the late '70s the quality was slipping. First it was the finish (like the face of the cylinder) which wasn't so high polish and then other less noticeable parts weren't as well polished. The timing became an issue in the late '70s and '80s as the old timers retired. Newer Pythons of the '80s were rarely of the quality and fit as the older ones. Colt developed the Trooper MK III action to simplify the lockwork and to simplify things for its less skilled workforce. Recall that the older Troopers had a Python type lockwork and but for the finish and a slight difference in the frame (it was stepped down where the frame met the muzzle), could if rebarrelled pass itself off as a Python.

    My teacher, Rob Dunlap, used to refer to the newer lockwork as something blind high school drop outs on drugs could work on.
     
  22. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    I have both living at my house.

    My current wife has a 3inch 686 (the 7 shot) that is a nice enough gun.

    She works from home and is not incredibly security minded so I picked up a 4 inch 686 police trade in to live on her desk. (she would hate to have a burglar get her 3inch but would not cry if the old Victoria Police revolver were lost)

    I also have a 4 inch LN Python. While I have never put them in a Ransom Rest to see, I can tell you that the Python is easier to shoot accurately.

    As to the Python's timing issues there is a lot of garbage floating around the net. Some folks that have never seen a Python claim to have knowledge on the subject.

    Be careful as to who you listen to.

    Grant Cunningham explains it
    http://www.grantcunningham.com/blog_files/colt_python_delicate.html
     
  23. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    Congrats on your new gun. Shoot it and enjoy it. Don't be afraid of all the "timing issues" scary stories. Sure, they can go out of time. Sure, good gunsmiths are hard to find these days. However, Colt still works on them every day and at a reasonable rate....That is if you ever have trouble. Python's have been around for over half a century. Colt wouldn't have made them as long as they did and been able to sell them at a premium price if they were as troublesome as some folks will lead you to believe.

    I have two shooter Pythons that see rounds by the bag full. FWIW, they are pretty darn old models, too. Both still shoot like a lazer. I'm not gonna let them sitting around collecting dust worrying about a lot of what ifs.

    FWIW, I wouldn't trade either one of these old girls for a brand new in the box 686 of whatever vintage S&W guys find most desireable...No offense S&W guys.
     

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  24. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    truer words were never spoken
     
  25. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    I doubt there will be much difference. Possibly show up off a Ransom rest.

    Using a Ransom Rest is teh only way you can prevent experimenter's bias in accuracy testing.
     
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