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I have purchased a Python 6" Matte - Stainless Steel last week. We, the seller and I, thought it is Matte - Stainless Steel, but today I received some information from a company that Colt referred me to for something else saying something very interesting. That company was trying to research something for me, and I told them it was purchased new in 1982. They came back and said:

"As for the date of production of your 6" stainless Python, I can only state that it was probably produced after 1983. This was the first year of production of stainless 6" barreled Pythons according to The Blue Book of Gun Values."

Now I am wondering how can I, as someone who is totally unfamiliar with differentiating between these two finishes, verify which type of finish it is that my Python has? Electroless Nickel - Satin Finish, or Matte Stainless Steel? Looking at pictures of both types of finish they look the same to me.

09.16: I have talked to Colt today. Colt says that this Python was made in 1981. Colt also informed me that SS production began in 1985 which is also different than what The Blue Book of Gun Values states. Very bad news for me. The gun has been delivered to my FFL today, and I will be looking at it Wednesday to verify what I can, unless my FFL gives me a most definite answer to what type it is.

09.17 The Python was received by my receiving FFL. They believe it to be Satin Nickel. A great disappointment for me.

09.18: I have used advise given by some to call Colt. Colt said this Python was made in 1981, and that they didn't start making SS Pythons until 1985. I have personally seen it now, and to me the gun is in excellent condition. There is no way I personally can say what finish it is though. I have no Python to compare it to directly, and any other manufactures satin nickel looks different than the Python. I have looked for an "S" stamped inside the barrel lug where the ejector rod fits, and underneath the ejector ratchet on the center rear of the cylinder, but there isn't any "S" there. I did see an "S" stamped on the left Side Plate, or the Frame just above and behind the trigger guard area, but this isn't where the "S" would usually be. The hammer is very shinny. That I would guess at being Nickel because it is so shinny.

Thank you everyone for your advice. It has been all very helpful. I have sent back the Python to the seller. If anyone is looking for a very good condition Python in Satin Nickel Finish then just ask me and I will put you in touch with the seller. It will be re-listed soon.

Links to see the pictures that I have:
http://home.earthlink.net/~ballar66/_uimages/6InchLeft.jpg
http://home.earthlink.net/~ballar66/_uimages/6InchRight.JPG
http://home.earthlink.net/~ballar66/_uimages/Barrel.jpg

[This message has been edited by ballar66 (edited 09-19-2002).]
 

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This is far from foolproof and very subjective, but:
I've found that nickel will tend to have a yellow hue to it and stainless will be more grey.
The finish on stainless will feel smooth like it's polished but looks like it's brushed (under close inspection, the surface looks covered in swirls, like it has grain). The nickel may look more like "matte" rather than "brushed".

An expensive and disasterous way to find out is leave an ammonia based solvent on the gun. It will begin removing the nickel but not SS.
 

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Often Colt will tell you the date of manufacture and finish if you call them.

However, stainless guns will usually have an "S" stamped inside the barrel lug where the ejector rod fits, and underneath the ejector ratchet on the center rear of the cylinder.

A hard chrome finish will have a definite 'blue' or 'pearl gray' tone, and will usually have a fine "orange peel" bead blasted texture.
Electroless nickel (also known as "Colt guard") will have a definite yellow or gold like tone to it.

Stainless has a 'white' tone. Also matt stainless will have a fine brushed-look finish. You will be able to see a fine grain pattern going in different directions, particularly on the trigger guard, and around the recoil shield on the frame.

Plated finishes have no brushed-look, but may have fine scratches from use.

Best bet, look for the "S" marks on the cylinder and barrel.



[This message has been edited by dfariswheel (edited 09-14-2002).]
 

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Blokey, Thanks you for your interest in helping me. The Python is now on its way to me, and on Wednesday I will have it in hand at my FFL and hopefully we can verify what it is exactly. I hope it is SS, and nothing more.

Cheers
 

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More usefull information. I will be looking for the stamped "S" in the two diferent locations.

Thank you very much for your information.
 

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09.17 The Python was received by my receiving FFL. They believe it to be Satin Nickel. A great disappointment for me.

09.18: I have used advise given by some to call Colt. Colt said this Python was made in 1981, and that they didn't start making SS Pythons until 1985. I have personally seen it now, and to me the gun is in excellent condition. There is no way I personally can say what finish it is though. I have no Python to compare it to directly, and any other manufactures satin nickel looks different than the Python. I have looked for an "S" stamped inside the barrel lug where the ejector rod fits, and underneath the ejector ratchet on the center rear of the cylinder, but there isn't any "S" there. I did see an "S" stamped on the left Side Plate, or the Frame just above and behind the trigger guard area, but this isn't where the "S" would usually be. The hammer is very shinny. That I would guess at being Nickel because it is so shinny.

Thank you everyone for your advice. It has been all very helpful. I have sent back the Python to the seller. If anyone is looking for a very good condition Python in Satin Nickel Finish then just ask me and I will put you in touch with the seller. It will be re-listed soon.
 

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Colt offered a satin electroless nickel finish and something called "Coltguard", which I think, was just a factory name for the same satin electroless nickel.

I also think the Colt Custom Shop would send a gun out for a hard chrome finish if a customer specified it on a true custom gun.

But, as far as I know, Colt never offered a factory hard chrome finish on any production Python.

[This message has been edited by dfariswheel (edited 10-14-2002).]
 

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Regular chrome is the decorative chrome usually found on car bumpers and cheap guns.
This is applied by first iron or copper plating the base metal, then applying the chrome over that.
Look at this sort of like applying layers of paint on wood. It's usually very shiney.

Hard chrome is a much tougher proposition.
Hard chrome is applyed by usually lightly beadblasting the base metal, and applying the chrome directly to the base matal.
Look at this like applying a stain to wood.
Hard chrome is usually a duller "pearl gray".

Decorative chrome, being in distinct layers, can crack, chip, and peel off. Worse, moisture can infiltrate under the layers and allow the base metal to rust. This is why you find old cars with the chrome bubbling up and rust underneath. You can actually peel it off like an egg shell.

Hard chrome is like a stain, in that it actually "soaks" into the pores of the base metal, and bonds directly to it. Hard chrome doesn't crack unless the metal is flexed a bunch, which is why it's not applied to springs. It won't chip or peel at all. Since it is actually in the pores of the metal, moisture can't get under it, so it doesn't rust in ordinary use.

Unlike regular chrome, hard chrome is VERY corrosion resistant. One of the early gun tests of hard chrome had the tester burying it in a pile of wet salt on a table for weeks, carrying the gun is a pocket full of keys and change for months, and trying to break through the coating with a Swiss file, all without damage.

One of an early finishers had a test of plating one end of a large nail with hard chrome, leaving the other end bare, and soaking it in warm acid for a day or so.
The plated end was undamaged, the bare end was eaten almost completely away.

Hard chroming requires more sophisticated equipment to apply, and doesn't have the high glossy shine usually found on auto and motorcycle parts, so it's harder to find someone who does this kind of work.

In the days before stainless steel guns were widely available, I sent a fair number of guns off for hard chroming. The only problem with the plating itself, was an occasional rare problem with dark gray splotches suddenly appearing. The platers told me this was "acid leeching". Apparently during the process, some cleaning acid wasn't removed completely before the part went into the plating tank, and was bleeding through the finish.
The only fix was to be stripped and replated.
 
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