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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Colt Fam,

I admit it. I love Electroless Nickel Pythons. As a revolver finish, E-Nickel stands out to me for being attractive, understated and fairly durable. We all sometimes chase shiny things (looking at you, BSTS) but there is something subtle and even dignified about the E-Nickel finish. I’m reminded of football coach Darrell Royal's quote, ”we don’t want any candy stripes on our uniforms. These are work clothes.” That's why my bucket list complete set is Electroless Nickel Pythons and I’m already one deep.

On a Pythons, the Electroless Nickel finish also seems like a bit of a historical “quirk”, offered for only a few years as Colt’s transitioned from Nickel to Stainless. There are numerous informative posts here already about Coltguard finish being introduced in the 1982 catalog, as well as several shared examples of lettered Custom Shop models with E-Nickel finish back into 1979 or so.

It naturally raises the question - what is earliest documented/lettered serial number for an Electroless Nickel Python?

Here are some pics of my early Custom Shop E-Nickel 6”, serial number V6696X. Colt’s online serial lookup lists it as a 1979 production, although Gurney Brown’s Python book dates it as a 1980 (V36737-V99999) in his “approximate” tables. (p.289). At any rate, the Colt Archive letter shows it shipping to Ashland Shooting Supplies in Ohio on May 14, 1980. I have the original box/styrofoam with Custom Shop label but both are definitely degrading with time.

This example has definitely seen some use but the drag line is still pretty faint. You can see a few scratches and handling marks here and there. It came with the pictured Elliason rear sight (pretty cool). But that red fiber optic front bead I cannot imagine came from the Colt Custom Shop. Also I replaced the target walnut sights it came with (shown in first pic) with Pachmayr presentation grips (gold medallions of course) that are not original to the gun but seem to be more period correct for these early E-Nickel Pythons.

Upon receiving the archive letter I reached out to see if the archivists could somehow track/estimate when the first E-Nickel Pythons came out of the Custom Shop. Tyler there stated to me via email that all available information was included in the letter and, “we unfortunately do not have specific records on the amounts produced.”

So I’m sending out a smoke signal to the Colt Forum braintrust to ask:
  1. Who here has the earliest lettered E-Nickel Python? What is the approximate serial number and/or year?
  2. What, if any, access do the Colt Archive folks have to the Colt Custom Shop records? Can’t they match up the serial numbers and track that? Specifically, has anyone ever gotten any detailed or useful information from Colt Archives about Colt Custom shop work done to a gun AFTER it was purchased from the retailer?
  3. What do y’all think of the grips that came with gun? Any way those walnut targets came on an E-Nickel Python, considering it came from Custom Shop?
  4. What’s up with this front sight? Is that fiber optic bead something that was offered by the Custom Shop during this time (or any time after?)
  5. Would you do anything different to preserve the E-Nickel finish? Just keep it dry with a little Rem oil?
  6. All things considered, what do think this gun is worth in today’s Python market that is volatile but also sometimes fickle toward E-Nick variations?
Thanks in advance for your interesting and thoughtful replies!

Chuck
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I only have one Electroless Nickel Python which it shows shipped late in 1981 so I'm fairly confident that it was also manufactured 1981. Now with that said I have a number of other Colt models also in Electroless Nickel. The earliest one I have in E-nick finish is a 1979 Colt Combat Commander. However, over the years I do vaguely remember seeing a documented Colt (I believe it was a Gold Cup National Match ) done in Electroless Nickel that dated 1978 and that has been the earliest I personally have ever seen. So with that I think it would be very feasible to believe the possibility some Python's done in E-nick in the late 70's would/ could exist.

Regarding the Grips/ Stocks on E-nick Pythons. I've mostly seen the Colt Pachmayr style on Electroless Nickel Pythons as exhibited in the below Colt Advertisement pic but I'm sure at one time you could have ordered wood grips as an option.

Your posted Python has had an aftermarket Fiber Optic front sight installed somewhere along the line; not offered and most likely not installed by Colt. It should have a standard factory front sight with the red insert. Also the sight pins should be in Electroless Nickel not Blue (Black). I'm really doubtful that it also came with the Elliason rear sight. It appears not to be a good fit and more than likely would be noted on your Custom Shop label and/ or Archive letter if special ordered that way.

The care for Electroless Nickel is fairly easy. As mentioned a good quality CLP gun lube should be all that's needed.

Pricing? A Python like yours based on it's condition in my opinion should bring somewhere in the vicinity of $3000/ plus or minus. More likely minus some mainly due to the sight changes and a few small dings here and there. Take care.

Here's my 1981 Electroless Nickel/ Coltguard
Trigger Air gun Revolver Everyday carry Gun barrel


Font Handwriting Material property Paper Paper product


Colt Coltguard Advertisement
Air gun Revolver Trigger Line Gun barrel
 

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In 1998 a local gun shop had a 4” shooter grade stainless Python for $475. I wasn’t interested because I’m not fond of stainless, but a year after it sat there I bought it. I was thrilled to discover later it was actually E nickel Or Coltgyard. Serial # V885XX. We had a couple long discussions about whether Colt out sourced the refinishing. Here’s one of those pertaining to an “Ed House” who ran “Nitex” in Texas. I have an ad in a magazine around here). I should letter my gun to verify the finish as original. We even went back and forth here about whether the front sight pins should be blue or not (mine are). I think it’s 1980 from the Wilson book but not sure now.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I only have one Electroless Nickel Python which it shows shipped late in 1981 so I'm fairly confident that it was also manufactured 1981. Now with that said I have a number of other Colt models also in Electroless Nickel. The earliest one I have in E-nick finish is a 1979 Colt Combat Commander. However, over the years I do vaguely remember seeing a documented Colt (I believe it was a Gold Cup National Match ) done in Electroless Nickel that dated 1978 and that has been the earliest I personally have ever seen. So with that I think it would be very feasible to believe the possibility some Python's done in E-nick in the late 70's would/ could exist.

Regarding the Grips/ Stocks on E-nick Pythons. I've mostly seen the Colt Pachmayr style on Electroless Nickel Pythons as exhibited in the below Colt Advertisement pic but I'm sure at one time you could have ordered wood grips as an option.

Your posted Python has had an aftermarket Fiber Optic front sight installed somewhere along the line; not offered and most likely not installed by Colt. It should have a standard factory front sight with the red insert. Also the sight pins should be in Electroless Nickel not Blue (Black). I'm really doubtful that it also came with the Elliason rear sight. It appears not to be a good fit and more than likely would be noted on your Custom Shop label and/ or Archive letter if special ordered that way.

The care for Electroless Nickel is fairly easy. As mentioned a good quality CLP gun lube should be all that's needed.

Pricing? A Python like yours based on it's condition in my opinion should bring somewhere in the vicinity of $3000/ plus or minus. More likely minus some mainly due to the sight changes and a few small dings here and there. Take care.

Here's my 1981 Electroless Nickel/ Coltguard
View attachment 754254

View attachment 754255

Colt Coltguard Advertisement
View attachment 754256
That E-Nickel snubbie is gorgeous!

Thanks for your very interesting info. It sounds like Colt was playing around with E-Nick in the Custom Shop perhaps as early as 1978.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Here's my gun and the ad from a 1981 American Handgunner magazine for Ed House' Nitex finish I mentioned above. In the link I posted one forum member's gun letter's to Ed House as the finisher.


Very cool - this Ed House / Nitex info is all new to me. Thank you so much for sharing the Colt letter in the link - that gun was originally finished blue and shipped to House for re-finishing. I wonder if Ed House did ALL the E-nickels during those years or if Colt used other sources/vendors?

(Trying to understand/reconcile the differences in the archive letters for 2 E-Nickel Pythons shipped a few months apart -- my May 1980 "Electroless" shipped to a retailer vs. the linked February 1980 "Blued" shipped to Ed House/Nitex.)
 

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Hello Texas Chuck. I have a six inch electroless nickel Python with serial # AL76** that dates to 1980. It came with a custom shop box. It does not have a custom shop medallion; just the standard gold Colt medallion. It has an Elliason rear sight. The rear sight and the front sight have white dots. The front sight has blued pins. The hammer and trigger are machined. The grips are light walnut. I ordered an archive letter. This simply confirmed its electroless finish and shipping date (Oct 1980). There is no mention of it being a custom shop production, or having an Elliason sight, or machined hammer and trigger. Maybe those were done after market, but I suspect not. The gun is mint. What I suspect is that it was either ordered from the custom shop and the archives do not have so much detail, or it was sent back to Colt for those custom features. There is a tendency for forum writers to draw broad conclusions from their own small sample. The custom shop was just that—custom. I suspect they would try to accommodate most reasonable requests. Like your front sight, for example.

I bought my gun on GB in 2013 and paid $3150 for it. Current prices for Pythons seem to be in flux. SAA’s seem to be experiencing a major inflation. Pythons not so much. When the dust settles, I believe original Pythons will have significant collector value.
 

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Hello Texas Chuck. I have a six inch electroless nickel Python with serial # AL76** that dates to 1980. It came with a custom shop box. It does not have a custom shop medallion; just the standard gold Colt medallion. It has an Elliason rear sight. The rear sight and the front sight have white dots. The front sight has blued pins. The hammer and trigger are machined. The grips are light walnut. I ordered an archive letter. This simply confirmed its electroless finish and shipping date (Oct 1980). There is no mention of it being a custom shop production, or having an Elliason sight, or machined hammer and trigger. Maybe those were done after market, but I suspect not. The gun is mint. What I suspect is that it was either ordered from the custom shop and the archives do not have so much detail, or it was sent back to Colt for those custom features. There is a tendency for forum writers to draw broad conclusions from their own small sample. The custom shop was just that—custom. I suspect they would try to accommodate most reasonable requests. Like your front sight, for example.

I bought my gun on GB in 2013 and paid $3150 for it. Current prices for Pythons seem to be in flux. SAA’s seem to be experiencing a major inflation. Pythons not so much. When the dust settles, I believe original Pythons will have significant collector value.
But did they even have fiber optic sights in 1980?
How could the custom shop have done it if they didn’t have them back then?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
No doubt the front fiber optic is after-market! Thanks y'all for sharing you knowledge about the early E-Nickel Pythons. Would love to see more pics from those who have them!
 

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Mine was shipped Nov. 27, 1979...don't know date of birth.
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
My Python went to Edward Lee House May 27, 1980. I am the original owner. I also have a 6" Blue Python
that I purchased at the same time. And they were purchased at a hardware store. Thinking of selling them. View attachment 766655 View attachment 766656 View attachment 766657 View attachment 766658
Very cool info - I wish mine lettered to show the Ed House E-Nickel finish like yours does. Also by my count you have the current leader in the clubhouse in terms of earliest E-Nick serial numbers. Nice gun!
 
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