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There is the much discussed California Combat 3 inch Pythons sold by West Coast gun distributor Pacific International.

Some people think these were made up as 3 inch guns by Colt, most agree they were sold as 8 inch guns by Colt to Pacific International because the 8 inch barrel vents and stampings would allow cutting to 3 inches without interfering with the vents or having partial stamps left.
Pacific International converted them to 3 inch guns, but a question is WHO did the actual conversion.

From another forum, we have an answer:

"These guns were built by Davis Company in West Sacramento back in the day. Bill Davis was big in PPC guns and also built a ton of Smolts (Python barrels on Smith frames). It was a great shop with excellent gunsmiths. I remember being in the shop one day and one of the guys I knew there showed me one of these guns in progress. The barrel had been cut to 3", recrowned and the sight was mounted but it had yet to be engraved and refinished. He said as many have, they started out as 8" guns, basically because the 8" guns weren't big sellers. I can't recall the price but it wasn't that much more than a standard Python."
 

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Wow, Marc, according to the first letter, I guess Pacific International Merchandising Corporation used the 38 Target Pythons to make the California's instead of the regular 8 inch 357s. That is VERY Interesting to me!:) Thanks for Sharing!!!
 

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I suspect the 8 inch .38 Special Python Target models weren't selling well so Colt probably made Pacific International a "deal".
They not only had them shortened to 3 inch, they were also apparently re-chambered to .357.
 

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Yes,, surplus 8 inch .38's that were not such great sellers at the time are what were sent to Pacific. I don' think any 8 inch 357's were hacked up.

J.F.
 

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That means they actually are more a collectors item now since they chopped up the run. Less available out there unharmed. Poor little snakes who is going to take care of the rest? How many were actually made of the 38 specials? minus the ones shipped leaves very few collector guns in mint shape. We know they only made 251 in nickel but how many in blue?
 

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3,489 Python Target .38 Specials were manufactured in Blue.
 

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Since we are on the Subject of Pacific International, I thought I would share this

Since we are on the Subject of Pacific International, I thought I would share this letter. I picked up a Python awhile back I have referred to a couple times recently. While I don't have time to take pics (good ones) of the gun itself, here is the Colt letter on it. The Python is just like New in Colt Presentation Case and will post pics of it later when I get time in another thread. I think it is awesome in several ways with the historical provenance of Ed Faust (President/CEO) and Pacific International being the ones who really started it all with the 3 inch Pythons, the Great Don Tedford worked on it, and it apparently won an award in Houston, TX is 1974. Also it is the oldest Python letter I personally have ever came across. Yes when I saw the letter, I knew I had to have it:



DSCN2418.JPG DSCN2420.JPG DSCN2421.JPG
 

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How many were chopped down to 3" from that number manufactured? Take that number out of the hole number that leaves the net that is still out there. Now take the net number and see what is left in mint condition. Doesn't seem like a large number out there.
 

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How many were chopped down to 3" from that number manufactured? Take that number out of the hole number that leaves the net that is still out there. Now take the net number and see what is left in mint condition. Doesn't seem like a large number out there.
Not a large number of real NIB .38 targets in Nickel left out there for sure. I would put the term very scarce on nickel guns, and the term uncommon on Blue .38 targets. Neither are considered "rare" in my book. Although the nickel guns are probably borderline rare. Both configurations are somewhat desirable and undervalued in the market based on the production numbers. The .38 python target is an odd duck,, that's become collectible. I can remember when nobody wanted them,, and the argument was why would you want that when you can buy a 357 and shoot .38's in it. But now its a cult classic. Think about this,,If there were a certain nickel .357 python that Colt only made 251 of ,, what would the price of that be ? See what I am saying,,, The .38 Python target is an undervalued sleeper gun that will be over 5k in the marketplace soon enough, and for what its worth I do not own a single one.

John Fugate
 

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How many were chopped down to 3" from that number manufactured? Take that number out of the hole number that leaves the net that is still out there. Now take the net number and see what is left in mint condition. Doesn't seem like a large number out there.
IF my Memory serves me correctly (I need to start writing this stuff done lol), I THINK there were 50 nickel California's and either 200 or 250 Blued California's made. I know Prussia on GB has had quite a few of each of them for sale over the past few years and some of them had letters from Pacific International stating the number of each made. If it is not correct, please correct me so we will all know.
 

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Colt also made the another Python which was just a 38 not the Python target. It slips my mind at the moment on what the barrel marking was. I know it said python and I think but can be corrected it stated just 38 special.
 

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That may be a Pacific International variation.
The front sight was not pinned in place with the standard cross pins which is how they did it.

Since you have a Colt Archive letter showing it shipped to them, it's very possible this was a prototype, but the fact it was an award gun makes it very interesting.
Since it was shipped as a 6 inch barrel, the barrel was probably replaced and stamped with the California Combat stamp.
Since the in order to get the barrel vent right and to give an unmarked area for the new barrel stamp, a standard 6 inch barrel would not work out.

This was likely used as an advertisement to promote their 3 inch Pythons and it was presented as some sort of award.
In any case it's no doubt worth some really, really serious money.
 

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Colt produced and sold a limited number of 3" Pythons (no "California Combat" markings on the barrel). Were those Colt produced 3" models before or after the Pacific International ones?
 

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The Pacific International were the first 3 inchers to hit the market. About a year or so later Colt had their first run of them. If I remember correctly there’s about 1500 total Colt produced factory 3 inch python and 250 total California. The WC round butts are by far the most desirable. Takes a thick checkbook to grab one of those! There’s only 24 or 26 of those out there, with about 2/3s being blued.
 
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