The Colt Python is a .357 Magnum caliber revolver manufactured by Colt's Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. It is sometimes referred to as a "combat magnum". It was first introduced in 1955, the same year as Smith & Wesson's M29 .44 Magnum. Now unavailable, the Colt Python was intended for the premium revolver market segment. Some firearm collectors and writers such as Jeff Cooper, Ian V. Hogg, Chuck Hawks, Leroy Thompson, Scott Wolber, Renee Smeets and Martin Dougherty have described the Python as "the finest production revolver ever made". The Colt Python is a double action handgun chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge, built on Colt's large I-frame. Pythons have a reputation for accuracy, smooth trigger pull, and a tight cylinder lock-up. They are similar in size and function to the Colt Trooper and Colt Lawman revolvers. The Colt Python was first introduced in 1955 as Colt's top-of-the-line model and was originally intended to be a large-frame .38 Special target revolver. As a result, it features precision adjustable sights, a smooth trigger, solid construction, and extra metal. Pythons have a distinct appearance due to a full barrel underlug, ventilated rib and adjustable sights. Colt originally manufactured Pythons with hollow underlugs but left them solid to work as a stabilizing barrel weight. When the revolver is at full cock, just as the trigger is pressed, the cylinder locks up for the duration of the hammer strike. Other revolvers have a hint of looseness even at full-cock. The gap between the cylinder and forcing cone is very tight, further aiding accuracy and velocity. From the 1970s each Python revolver was boresighted at the factory with a laser; the first mass-produced revolver for which this was done.
End of production In October 1999, Colt announced that it was ceasing production of Python revolvers. In a 2000 follow-up letter to distributors, the company cited changing market conditions and the costs of defending lawsuits as the reasons for the discontinuation of the Python line, as well as a number of other models. The Colt Custom Gun Shop continued making a limited number of Pythons on special order until 2005, when even this limited production ceased. The Python was originally available in two finishes: royal blue and bright nickel. The bright nickel model was discontinued with the introduction of the more durable satin stainless and mirror-polished Ultimate Stainless models. The stainless steel and royal blue finishes were offered until 2003 by Colt on the Python "Elite" model. Pythons were available with 2.5-inch (6.4 cm), 3-inch (7.6 cm), 4-inch (10 cm), 6-inch (15 cm) and 8-inch (20 cm) barrels. The six-inch model was the most popular generally, and the eight-inch model was intended for hunting. A three-inch barrel version is very collectible, although not rare. The Python Hunter was the first field-ready handgun hunting package made by a major handgun manufacturer. It was discontinued by 1990 and briefly offered as a "Custom Shop" model afterward. A Python Target model was made for several years in .38 Special only, in blue and nickel finishes. Two variants of the Python were made in small numbers by Colt. The first was the Colt Boa of 1985, a limited production .357 Magnum revolver, made for the Lew Horton Distributing Company in Massachusetts. It uses a Python barrel mated to a Trooper Mk V frame. Six-hundred 6-inch revolvers and 600 four-inch revolvers were made, of which 100 were matched sets. Though it resembles a Python visually, it is substantially different internally. The second was the stainless steel Colt Grizzly of 1994, another limited production .357 Magnum revolver. It uses a Python barrel mated to a Colt King Cobra frame. Five-hundred of these revolvers were manufactured, with six-inch Magna-ported barrels and smooth, unfluted cylinders. The ported barrel includes a bear footprint. Similar to the Grizzly was the Colt Kodiak, which was a Colt Anaconda with a Magna-ported barrel and an unfluted cylinder. Approximately 2000 Kodiaks were manufactured. According to Colt historian, R.L. Wilson, Colt Pythons have been collected by Elvis Presley and various kings in the traditional sense: "H.M. (His Majesty) Hussein I of Jordan ordered a limited number of Pythons with 4-inch and 6-inch barrels, as gifts to his selected friends. Casing and barrel were embossed with His Majesty's crest. The Python for King Juan Carlos of Spain bore his name in flush gold on the sideplate. Among other celebrated recipients: King Khalid and Prince Fahd (Saudi Arabia), King Hassan (Morocco), Sheik Zayed (United Arab Emirates), President Anwar Sadat (Egypt) and President Hafez Assad (Syria)." The Python immediately made inroads into the law enforcement market when introduced, with the 6-inch barrel being popular with uniformed officers and the 4-inch barrel considered optimum for plainclothes use. However, it has since fallen out of common use (along with all other revolvers) due to changing law enforcement needs that favor semi-automatic pistols. When law-enforcement agencies realized that the 9 mm semi-automatic pistols fire a round with similar characteristics to the .38 Special with higher capacity, they began a migration to these, and other, semi-automatic pistol cartridges. The move away from the Python is also being driven by the increasing number of law enforcement agencies which require officers to carry department-issue weapons (as a way to reduce liability). The Colorado State Patrol issued 4-inch blue Pythons until their switch to the S&W .40 caliber autoloader. Georgia State Patrol and Florida Highway Patrol issued Pythons to their officers. A Python, loaded with .357 Magnum semiwadcutter bullets, was used to report this ad to the administ Irish crime reporter Veronica Guerin in 1996, an act which resulted in the creation of the Criminal Assets Bureau. Colt's Python revolvers are still popular on the used market and command high prices. This is the kind of gun you pass down to your kids and grandkids because it goes up in value every year. Why not own a piece of history, all this in near perfect condition.
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