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Colt Revolvers (trooper III/python/KC) known issues?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by southriseagain, Jul 11, 2009.

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  1. southriseagain

    southriseagain Member

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    I was looking at a local trooper mkIII and i think i like it.

    I am relatively unfamiliar with colt revo's and there are a few issues i am skeptical about. As a long time reader of this forum i decided now is a good time to register and post a question

    1.) firing pin - I heard it can only be replaced by the factory, is this right? The company has already gone bankrupt once or twice right? that sounds like a horrible idea

    2.) timing - unlike most i actually shoot 357MAG out of my 357MAG guns, is this something to worry about? i heard they are sensitive

    3.) Gunsmiths - Is it true all the guys who can work on a colt revo are dying or dead? That combined with the irreparable firing pin would make this gun pretty much disposable right? any problems and you'd have to trash it.

    4.) Case hardening vs forged - I heard colt revo's are case hardened not forged. Since i don't know much about 'case hardening' it scares me, basically its the finish that is hard and a fraction of a mm under the blueing it is soft and weak? how is that a good idea?

    hopefully someone knowledgeable can ease my concerns otherwise i will steer clear of this one and colt's DA revo's in the future

    fyi - as much as i love and respect the company (colt) i do not want the operation of any of my firearms to be 100% dependent on their factory staying in business. The factory (colt) has changed owners atleast 3x and already gone bankrupt once or twice, that does not bode well for the future.


    thanks
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2009
  2. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    The Trooper Mark III is a very well built 357 mag revolver. It is my favorite 357 shooter. It probably has the strongest frame of any revolver in that frame size including Smiths. I've never had a problem, but I don't shoot thousands of rounds through it either.

    You just don't want to dry fire a Trooper Mark III or any of the Mark III's as the firing pins can break.

    Honestly, I think you have your mind made up. So let someone who appreciates the quality of a Colt double action revolver buy it. The Mark III generally aren't huge in the collector market (yet). (Added) I edited out my non-expert statements on frame construction out. It is better explained below.
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2009
  3. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    Hopefully, Old Fuff or Dfariswheel will be by. In the interim, my impression is:

    1. Colt's aren't actually "delicate" in the traditional sense. They, specifically to include the Python, served as duty revolvers for quite some time.

    2. The Grant Cunningham post on "delicate" has been linked a hundred times already so I won't do it again. The Cliff Note version is that Pythons eventually require maintenance. This is a posting on a 'smith's site who has what amounts to a year-long backlog and opens his waiting list for a vanishingly small period once a year. I'd guess you're right about getting the maintenance (pain in the rear and long wait) but way overly concerned about how often it'll be needed. I believe C&S and at least one other still works on the things and there's likely others in addition to the factory.

    The Grant Cunningham blog probably could have used a better analogy than "F-150 vs Ferrari" in comparing S&Ws and Pythons - it probably has unintended consequences among those of us that shrink in horror over the idea of maintaining a Ferrari and whose memories include trying to sync 6 dual throat carburators with limp pasta for linkages. Ferrari's that were contemporaneous with Pythons were largely fussy, finicky, high-strung, breathtakingly expensive nightmares to maintain. I'm sure it wasn't Grant's intent to invoke those visions. Similarly, those that compare Pythons to dating the homecoming queen obviously never contended with bolemic, neurotic, high-maintenance, sociopathic, bi-polar prom queens that were two weeks off their meds. Ignore the lame analogies and you'll be allright - Pythons are nowhere near as bad as bad analogies would lead you to suspect.

    3. Colt's frames are as good as it gets. The SAA was / is case hardened, not the ones you're looking at.

    4. I could be wrong but I thought the factory firing pin replacement issue was the Anaconda (only?). Regardless, it doesn't seem to happen.

    5. 22-Rimfire's remark may not be as snarky as it first appears - I do, in fact, leave "boxed with papers" Colts for the collectors. They pay more and have lower standards. Well, their cosmetic standards are higher but they don't usually require that the thing shoot worth a wet slap. Typically, you'll not be permitted a decent inspection of a "boxed with papers" example. I still like the older lockwork and have reconciled with Pythons to the extent I'll still buy shooters provided I can give it a complete (to include firing) inspection prior to purchase.

    It's good to be cautious but you may be overly so.
     
  4. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    1.) firing pin - I heard it can only be replaced by the factory, is this right? The company has already gone bankrupt once or twice right? that sounds like a horrible idea
    The firing pin must be replaced by the factory OR a good Colt-qualified company like Cylinder & Slide Shop. All you have to do to prevent any problems is to use snap caps for dry firing and a broken firing pin is very unlikely.
    As for going out of business, Colt is doing better than it has in years financially and there's no sign of trouble

    2.) timing - unlike most i actually shoot 357MAG out of my 357MAG guns, is this something to worry about? i heard they are sensitive[
    No. The Mark III/Mark V/King Cobra are probably the strongest medium framed DA revolvers ever made. They were specifically designed for unlimited use with Magnum ammo. I seldom ever saw a timing problem on these models of Colt's.
    If there was a problem with Colt revolvers having timing problems it was on the older guns like the Python action.

    3.) Gunsmiths - Is it true all the guys who can work on a colt revo are dying or dead? That combined with the irreparable firing pin would make this gun pretty much disposable right? any problems and you'd have to trash it.
    The only guns that have problems finding a gunsmith are, again, the older models like the Python, Detective Special, etc. Most any qualified revolver-smith can repair the newer Colt designs. In these guns, parts are not adjusted or stoned to repair, the parts are simply replaced with minor fitting.
    Among companies that can replace a broken firing pin are Colt and Cylinder & Slide among others. Again, you aren't likely to ever have a broken pin or other trouble with one of these tanks.

    4.) Case hardening vs forged - I heard colt revo's are case hardened not forged. Since i don't know much about 'case hardening' it scares me, basically its the finish that is hard and a fraction of a mm under the blueing it is soft and weak? how is that a good idea?
    All Colt frames and barrels were forged steel. Only internal parts were case hardened, and ALL revolvers MUST have case hardened parts.
    If you make parts hard enough not to wear, they'll shatter like glass. If the parts are too soft, they wear out almost immediately.
    So, gun companies case harden the internal parts. This gives the parts a very thin, almost glass-hard surface over a softer core.
    This allows the parts to wear almost forever, but not break easily.
    Case hardened parts cannot be detected by appearance since the hardening leaves no sign. They look like any steel part.

    There is another "case hardening".
    This is COLOR case hardening. Color case hardening is primarily an appearance feature. It gives a part a pretty mottled color and a hard, wear resistant surface. Revolvers like the Colt Single Action have color case hardened, forged frames. Colt used color case hardened hammers on the Mark III models and S&W uses color cased hammers and trigger on their DA revolvers.

    Bottom line: Unless you do a lot of dry firing without snap caps, a Trooper Mark III/V/King Cobra is about the toughest, longest lasting DA revolver you can get. There will be people able to repair them for many years.
     
  5. MMCSRET

    MMCSRET Member

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    I bought a used Trooper MKIII early this year, 4"", broken stocks, found good used stocks at gun show. I like this revolver!!!!!!! I have Rugers and Smiths, but I like this revolver. Wish I'da bought one 40 years ago!!!!
     
  6. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    Colt still services the older revolvers. IIRC: A member here wrote a couple of years ago that they replaced (i.e., gave him a new one) a Python with a manufacturing defect (firing pin hole drilled off center in the frame) and was unrepairable. That gun was made many years before the current management/ownership of Colt, yet they stood behind it.
     
  7. earlthegoat2

    earlthegoat2 Member

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    I had a Trooper MKIII for the depressingly short period of time of 3 months. I shot it silly with a huge dose of 357 Magnums. I even shot a deer in the head with it at 5 feet with a Hornady LeverEvolution. Awesome results. Of course it was used within its limitations that time. However I sold it for a hefty profit when the price of Colts skyrocketed and I dont regret it. I would buy another if I found one for a "fair" price.
     
  8. Precision Paper Puncher

    Precision Paper Puncher Member

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    i have a trooper mark III, it is my main target shooter for my informal competitions...
    it was designed as primarily a target gun, balances well, and the single action is buttery smooth.

    mine has the 4'' barrel and adjustable rear sights, i would like to find one in a 6'' model just to have.
     
  9. Hawk

    Hawk Member

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    If memory serves, Colt did indeed stand behind it but he got a refund not a new Python. I gather off-center firing pin holes are irrepairable and the firearm was fed to the recycler.

    Ah! My search-fu is starting to recover:
    http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=296336

    Pretty nice but I'd not want to count on it happening regularly - they were "giving back" money they never got - it was purchased on the secondary market, (which makes it all the more impressive, IMHO).
     
  10. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    You are sort of comparing apples and oranges. The Python shares the lockwork of the early (pre-1969) Trooper, "357 Magnum," Official Police and others. The Mark III series is a totally different design and the two share nothing in common.

    The early Colts use the hand to help lock the cylinder for firing. This can eventually lead to the hand wearing and the cylinder may not fully lock when cocking the hammer. The guns still work OK as the chamber will "click" into place as the hammer falls but it is a bit annoying. Not every Colt does this but it does happen. The Mark III design eliminated this problem.

    The Colt trigger feels different from the S&W. Most shooters seem to favor the latter but I have no real preference and live quite happily with my Colt triggers.

    Many Colt aficionados prefer the older style, some like the strength of the Mark III type. I only have one Mark III (a Metropolitan 38) while I have a bag full of Pythons and other early style Colts.

    Pythons are hideously expensive. All other Colts have gotten very pricey as Colt stop producing revolvers. Maybe the best deal for the money is the early 357 Trooper. I bought a 4" Trooper at a local show 2 years ago that shows a lor of holster wear but works perfectly for $210. A few months ago I bagged another in better condition and wearing the 1950s Target stocks (very sought after) for $400. These are essentially Pythons without the heavy ribbed barrel.


    This is my $150 Metropolitan. The Mark III guns can be spotted by the elongated trigger guard.


    [​IMG]


    The $210 Trooper. Pretty rough looking but has an extremely smooth action and shoots just fine. Recall that this gun has the same action as the Python.


    [​IMG]


    The $400 Trooper.


    [​IMG]


    My most recent Colt purchase. It was $375 "buy it now" on Gunbroker and I did. The pistol is nicely refinished but the early Target stocks (fully checkered) are nearly perfect and would sell for $250-$300 by themselves.


    [​IMG]


    And then there is the Python, probably the finest production revolver ever made. If you don't mind dropping $1,000+ on a pistol, you can own a very deluxe revolver.


    [​IMG]
     
  11. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I love my Mk III's. I am like MMCSRET, I should have discovered them years ago. If I had one Python and one Mk III, I would sell my Python first before the Mk III.
     
  12. GP100man

    GP100man Member

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    i lost patiance with colts & now shoot rugers. the triggers can be as smooth but never as short a stroke as a colt da revolver.


    GP100man
     
  13. Landpimp

    Landpimp Member

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    I also picked up a worn Trooper 357(1965 I think) and it a heck of a shooter, as it was cheap, $200 or less, I leave it a restored 1965 Land Cruiser Wagon under the seat...it just seemed fiting

    have 69 Lawman like new, nice gun....but not like the old troopers

    Trooper MKIII 8" Nickel that is a real shooter, but I dont like the trigger, but its shinny and I like that.

    old RCMP PPS in 38spec.....6" and its a wonderfull gun as are my agent and dick special...but I still prefer S&W wheelguns and their triggers

    but heck I just could make up my mind....so came up with this:cool:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  14. r3volv3r

    r3volv3r member

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    all these colts are so good looking.

    ever notice how many companies make a living trying to copycat colt firearms?

    if i had more money i'd be a colt shooter, and i'd be able to afford what/if any repair bills as well. someone will always be able to maintain these it is just a question of $$


    [​IMG]

    is that a smolt?
     
  15. Isaac's Grandpa

    Isaac's Grandpa Member

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    What about the Colt Diamondbacks? I got a .38 special in nickle with a 4 1/2" barrel from a friend who was dying from ALS. My daughter latched on it as soon as I got it home. Sweet shooter and fits her hand like a glove.
     
  16. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    THAT I would like to see
     
  17. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    u got some good taste landpimp
     
  18. Landpimp

    Landpimp Member

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    yes thats a Smolt..... S&W 19-3 nickel with Python barrel...all the rage back in the day, its a dream to shoot and gets more than a few looks at the range, but officers from the 70-80's know what it is....and drool

    as for Cruisers.....I have a "few" ;)

    this is the 45LV

    [​IMG]

    BTW, i cant figure out how to quote a post....must be missing something
     
  19. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    WOW

    beautiful guns...and a gorgerous and rare landcruiser. (thought you were talking FJ55)

    makes me pine for my FJ40
     
  20. baconbeard

    baconbeard Member

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    I bought my first(only)MkIII 4" a couple of years ago,had a broken sear. took it to my local gunsmith and he found me 2 new hammers and triggers/sear assemblies, installed 1 set and the extra set are set aside for the future in case I have problems in the next 25 years.I gave him $150 for a total of $350 in the gun, money well spent I say
    I love the revolver(I also have rugers,smiths,tuarus,etc.)I carry it everywhere
     
  21. Landpimp

    Landpimp Member

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    had a 55, but finding a rust free one is about impossible, had another 45LV on 38's, have 66 45pickup as well(and a bunch of other wagons) and my favorite cruiser is my unrestored stock 82 FJ40, bought it from the widow of the orignal owner here in town
    [​IMG]
     
  22. elktrout

    elktrout Member

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    I served in law enforcement in the 70s, and my department issued 4 inch barreled Colt Trooper MkIIIs from 1975 until well after I left in 1981. During the six years that I carried the Trooper, I shot approximately (my best estimate) 12,000 .38 Special standard loads and 3500 full house .357 mag loads through it. I never had a problem with it.

    The DA pull was heavy (you have to see the springs inside one to understand why they are so heavy to pull) but short and reasonably smooth. The single action pull was superb, much better than any S&W I have ever shot.

    If the gun is in good working condition, it should serve you well for a long time.

    After all, every revolver eventually needs some work, if you shoot them extensively. But, IMHO the key to longevity with any .357 is to only shoot magnum loads when truly necessary. Lighter target loads will grealy extend the life of the gun.
     
  23. sw282

    sw282 Member

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    I like Colt revolvers. At present I have a 6" Python and a 2 1/2" Diamodback. The one that "got away" was a Colt Trooper lll 6" in 22RF. Brand new it came with Pachmayrs and Electroless Nickel finish. It was very accurate with a great single action pull. I traded it on something and still miss it
     
  24. ironvic

    ironvic Member

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    My Trooper MKIII is a 6" .357 with bluing so deep, you could dive right into it. The only gun I've owned in my decades of collecting that was more accurate was a S&W Model-52 .38 Special. I really like the old Colt.

    [​IMG]
     
  25. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    Damn Landpimp!

    That is a great looking 40.

    Looks like regular ride height w 33's on it. Perfect combination.

    Hey guys...sorry to hijack but that is a pair of georgeous Toyotas.

    I am ashamed to admit envy but...to deny would be a lie.
     
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