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7 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have a NIB 1965 Colt Python with a 6" barrel in the high polish blue! Can anyone help me with the history or any information on this gun in regards to the high polish blue versus the regular blued guns! I am new to colt revolvers,so any help will be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time, AL

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From the beginning, the Python was "Special".
It was the first production gun to have the finish still known in the factory as "the Python finish".

Colt decided from the "get-go" that the Python would be the finest quality production firearm in the world, and the finish was simply one component of that.
Colt intended the Python to have the absolute best blue job ever done on a production firearm.

Over the years, Colt has advertised it as Royal Blue, Bright Blue, and other names.

In the "old days", Colt was running virtually an in-house farm team for polishers.
New polishers went to "school" where they were taught the skill by master's of the art.
After school, the new polisher went to the "low end" of the production line, the Colt Official Police, and actually polished guns under the close, over the shoulder observation of a master polisher.

As the polisher's skills developed over the years, he would be moved up to better quality guns that required more skill.

Only the very best, most experienced people were allowed to work on the Python.
On the Python line, there could BE no "slips, or Oops".

One famous myth says that the nickel Pythons were guns that had a mar in the polishing due to a slip, so the gun was plated to "cover it up".
In fact, this is a myth, since a mar will clearly show through plating.

Colt always made their own special wooden polishing wheels with leather coverings.
On the Python, extra polishing was done on separate wheels with finer media than on standard guns.
The final Python polish media has the consistency of fine flour.

The "secret" of the Python finish isn't a special chemical process.
It's simply the super-fine polishing.
All Colt's were finished by the same chemical bluing process.

Unfortunately, things started deteriorating at Colt beginning with the financial problems, and really "went South" during the big strike.
It was during this time, that the lack of skilled polishers forced Colt to introduce the short-lived line of black finished revolvers like the Peacekeeper, and Commando.

Colt simply couldn't continue spending the excessive time and labor to keep up the Python bluing standard.
During the strike, many of the old master polisher's quit, retired, or moved on to other jobs.

After the strike, most of them weren't at Colt anymore.

The quality of the Python polish fell, simply because of the lack of master polishers with the years of experience.

However, Colt still gives the Python the absolute best polish job possible, under the circumstances.

To those who complain about the Python's polishing, take a long look at the OTHER gun companies over the same period.
S&W has pretty well abandoned the blued finish entirely for stainless steel.
Ruger and the other revolver makers finish is actually a low-gloss BLACK.

Revolvers are HARD to polish, since they don't have many flat surfaces. It takes a highly skilled artisan with years of experience to produce the Python finish, and Colt simply doesn't have them anymore.

The old Python Master polishers did a quality of work so high, that there were only a hundred people or so in the entire world capable of that level of work.

Colt is increasing the quality of finish, but this is a result of the growing skill of the polishers at Colt.

However, as in "all things gun", you CANNOT judge a Python merely on the year produced.
I've seen Pythons made during the depths of the strike that had a polish every bit the equal of any ever done.

I've also seen absolutely super-fine polish jobs on Pythons that had gross factory defects mechanically.

Again, Pythons are NOT vintages of wine.
There are NO "good years" or "Bad years".
You have to judge each one on it's individual merits, with polish just ONE of them.

So at long last, to answer your question:
Why a "Bright Blue" Python and a "Regular Blue" Python"?

There was NO "Regular blue" at Colt's on the Python.
Colt didn't just decide to lower the quality of the Python bluing, and make a change of how it was done from the old Bright blue down to a "Regular blue".

What happened, was a deterioration, over time, of the polishing due to lack of people and financial problems.

[This message has been edited by dfariswheel (edited 06-16-2004).]

7 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
dfariswheel, I appreciate the time you took to help me better understand this matter!
Thanks, AL

991 Posts
Mr. dfariswheel,

I have always been impressed with your knowledge of Colt reolvers and particularly the Python. Thanks for spelling out what you have said so many times before. Once again, you have answered the question that runs through my silly mind: "Why do I have this crazy obsession with Colt Pythons?".

One quick question:

What was the year of "The Big Strike"?

[This message has been edited by manderson (edited 06-16-2004).]

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"The year of the "Big strike"????

Actually, I can't remember, but I think it was longer than just one year.

I remember reading an article that said the Colt strike was "One of the longest and most bitter strikes in American history".

Colt had been making really STUPID business decisions for many years, but the strike put the nail in Colt's heart.

After the strike, Colt actually INCREASED making stupid decisions.
As an example, when Colt was desperate for money, they made an incredible decision to import a high-end over and under shotgun from Italy.

First, the high-end over and under market was sewed up by other makers.
Second, what market there is, is very small.
Colt needed a big-selling VOLUME gun.

Colt killed the idea, but not before spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on development and travel to Italy.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Hartford, the rest of the Firearms Division was starving for money.

Forrest had it right.."Stupid is as stupid does".

Based on the incredible business decisions made by highly educated "Business professionals", I think these clowns would have lost a battle of wits with a fire hydrant.

Having seen some of this, I think the guy selling hot dogs out of a street cart could have made more astute decisions.

[This message has been edited by dfariswheel (edited 06-16-2004).]

132 Posts

I agree with you that the Python was/is the best finished revolver of recent times, no comparison. The polishing is generally quite outstanding. But I think it's interesting that the Python never seems to have reached the level of the good pre-war guns. My earliest Python is 1970, relatively late, I realize. When I put it next to one of my pre-war OMT's, the difference is striking--the OMT's are much, much better. The blueing is more consistent, with no cloudiness or browning, the polishing is so good I could use the frame (especially of my 1921 vintage 2d issue)to shave with. This is not true of post-war OMM's, of which I have a number; here the Python clearly wins. Any comments on this?

Bill A

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A big part of the Pre-War/post-War bluing is a matter of process.

The Pre-War Colt's were blued with the old "carbona" process heat blue.

In this process, the metal is polished and cleaned, then put in steel drums with a mixture of charred leather, bone meal, and other ingredients.

The parts are then baked in furnaces at tightly controlled temperatures, which gives the metal that incredible BLUE color.
The problems are, this was just too expensive and time consuming a process, and the blue was fragile.

Post-War, Colt changed to a hot-salts chemical bluing process, which is faster, and more durable.

For REALLY fantastic bluing, get a look at an original Colt black powder model like the Dragoon or 1851 Navy.

These guns were blued by repeatedly putting the metal in an open furnace, then wiping it down with fish oil-soaked rags.

These old guns have probably the truest flat surfaces and the deepest blue of any guns ever made.

As for the pre-War/post-War finishes, the Python still had the best quality POLISH, and polish is 98% of a blue job.

Colt polished the guns in exactly the same manner, on the same leather-covered wooden wheels as they did pre-War, but on the Python, they ADDED several wheels with even finer grit polishing media.

Colt used essentially the same chemical process that Ruger did.
Colt's were mirror-bright blue.
Ruger's are satin-gloss black.

The difference is all in the polish.

The new issue of The American Rifleman has an excellent article about Doug Turnbull and his firearms restoration business.
In this, he discusses the 30 to 45 HOURS necessary to replicate one of the old bluing processes.
95% of that time is polishing.

So, the bottom line is, if you'd like a new Python with a 1950's quality blue job, be prepared to spend probably $2000.00.

[This message has been edited by dfariswheel (edited 06-17-2004).]
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