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Have never been a fan of the Python...and thus have never owned one. Won't knock those who do enjoy theirs.

I tend to prefer the aesthetics and handling of a Single Action Army over the Python revolver...
and, by choice, all my .357's have been S&W K frames...a 6" Model 19-4 ( circa 1977 ~ which saw the switching of the gas ring from yoke to cylinder )..and a 3" Model 13-3 ( circa 1982 ~ which saw the elimination of the cylinder counterbore ).

To each his own...

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I don't really think they're any "better" than anything else, but when "you" want a Python, as I did, a Python is the only thing that will fill that niche.
 

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I've wanted an original early model Colt Python for years. I just couldn't justify the cost of buying one. Three years ago, I inherited a 6" blued Colt Python produced in 1974. It was hardly shot but it was not stored correctly and the finish is a bit pitted. I've shot it several times over the last three years but I find that my early 2000 S&W Model 686 Plus 4" shoots much better and the trigger is much smoother. Maybe it's because I've put thousands of rounds through the S&W and I'm more used to the gun. My Python is good but not as good as I expected it to be before I acquired it. Well at least I didn't spend any money on the Python. Mi dos centavos.
 

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The 2020 Python versus the Python of yesteryear could be compared to the 2014 Stingray versus the Pre 1972 Stingray. I had a 1980 Python as well as a 1980 Corvette. I now have a 2020 Python and a 2014 Corvette. I heard the same thing when I bought my 2014 Corvette from people who had a 66 Stingray.
2020 Python is not blued but stainless, blued guns are a beauty. But the 2020 is stronger and will hold up with multiply shootings. 2014 Corvette is my daily driver with mostly city driving has averaged 25.5 MPG with 58,000 miles after six years. A friend’s 66 is a thing of beauty but, only driven on weekends to shows if the shows are less than 100 miles. Low geared cars with a 4 speed with a 1 to 1 ratio do not do well at 80+ miles an hour for several hours.
So no matter what you have, just enjoy it.
As far as S&W revolvers as a comparison to the new python, my model 29 classic is very close to my Python. The bluing is a thing of beauty. My 627 Pro Series nope, notta, not even close to the new python. But I do like the eight rounds, so once again I enjoy shooting it.
Someone once said guns are like women. To me it is more fun to find the beauty in each one, than complain about a simple flaw. And since I have been married for almost 36 years I am never going to complain about a flaw! I like my guns and my corvette, and do not want to lose either.:)
 

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I own a 5" model 27-2, 3" 66-3, 2 1/2" and 4" Pythons. All four are still in new shape and I like them about equally. When I worked I mostly carried a 4" old model .357 Trooper that I shot and carried more than my other .357`s put together. My 5" 27-2 is a jewel with all the add on`s but it`s heavier and more unweldly than it needs to be to pack. My two Pyhons have become safe queens. Somehow I like my 3" 66-3 smith the best. It`s a "one of three hundred" Lew Horton special and It has old the bells & whistles is ported,
Trilijon night site etc.
I had rocks in my head letting my old model 4" Trooper go as that was my favorite working gun years ago. I do have another in .38 special and nickle 4".
707357

707359

707360

Have original stocks stashed
707361
 

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For it's day, the Python really had S&W beat... The problem is since that time, the tastes and "needs" of shooters has changed.

The Python is a Target/Service Revolver. It's from the era when Law Enforcement officers predominately carried revolvers, and the best of the best also competed in bullseye shooting. It became a "thing" to carry the gun you compete with. The logic being, carry what you shoot best...And your "target" gun ought to be good enough to qualify as a service gun. So the world of the Target and Service revolvers merged.
In 1955 they Python clearly out-classed any .357 that S&W made. It was lighter than an N Frame S&W yet offered about the same level of strength. Contrary to popular lore, Python's do not have "timing issues", and contrary to lore on the other side, N frame .38's & .357's often DO have timing issues. I've dealt with FAR more timing issues on S&W HD's, 27's & 28's than I have with Pythons...I'm talking a good 5 to 1 here!

So the I frame Colt's were smaller, lighter, and just as strong as S&W's .357's; they were CLEARLY the better .357. The Python comes along, adding all the "features" that people were paying outfits like King's to do, and with that Colt just sealed the deal.

S&W would counter with the Model 19 (one of my all time favorite revolvers), but the 19 is a long way from a Python. The model 19 has had strength related issues from day one (probably all solved by now, but I don't know that for sure), so a steady diet of full magnums would just beat the snot out of a model 19, or just flat out break it. My first handgun was a S&W M19 and 145 grain Silvertip magnums split the forcing cone, completely taking the gun out of commission, and requiring a whole new barrel. Python's can take all the magnums you can throw at it. Colt had a first year Python their armorer teacher carried around the country to teach gunsmith's how to work on Colt's. When I took his class in 1984, he said it had over 50k rounds of full magnums...Not a single part had been modified or replaced.

Jump ahead to today...Is the Python still "the best". Well, looking at the new Python I'd have to say; yeah, Colt makes "The Best" .357 magnum once again. But here's the problem... (and kinda always has been)

While the Python is the "better" revolver, it's not 60% better (comparing price), it's more like 3% better. The Python is clearly a nicer revolver than a 686 or GP100, but only slightly... And I say that as a "technical analysis" because "best and better" are very subjective.

Let's compare S&W's "best" .357, the 686 Plus. So right off the bat, you have one more round in the cylinder. And since the cylinder now has an odd number of chambers, the cylinder bolt cut now falls in-between chambers, not right at the weakest point (which is normal for a 6 shot S&W). Now you have a cylinder that is finally stronger than a Python's (Python has offset cylinder bolts, kinda splits the difference...good design).

The Python's frame is forged and thick in the topstrap...Thicker than the S&W, nearly as thick as the GP100. Since the GP is cast, that makes the Colt as the strongest.

DA & SA. Well, here's where things get interesting. Both Colt and S&W leave Ruger behind right off the bat. The new Python action is much better than the old one... And while it's different than the S&W, I'm not sure it's actually better...but I need to qualify that some...

I have yet to see a Python with any DA issues (I've handled 6). As for S&W, that's a different story. Since S&W changed to MIM internals, the DA actions are REALLY smooth. But that doesn't mean all S&W's are butter smooth. I have had many brought to me that needed work on the cylinder star. So the worderfully smooth MIM hammer & sear get hamstrung by roughly cut ejector stars that take out all the smoothness. So when a S&W is right, it's EVERY bit as good as the Colt. But often the S&W isn't exactly right... In my safe, I have two of Colt's best. 1938 Officers Match, and 1979 Python. Then I have a 2004 S&W 617. The DA action on the 617 is much smoother than either Colt. Again, when S&W gets it right, they really get it right.

Accuracy - The difference is so small between S&W, Ruger and Colt, any debate is the splitting of split hairs.

So while the Python does outclass the competition in a few categories, the end product isn't "better" enough to offset the "intangibles" of "look and feel".

To me, nothing looks better than a Python, and none of the competition feels better in my hand than a S&W K/L frame. So, I just bought both.

If I were a cop at any time from 1955-1981 and I were required to carry a .357 magnum revolver, it would be a Colt Trooper. The minute the L frame S&W comes on the scene, I'm carrying the S&W because it doesn't have any issues of split forcing cones, and it just feels SO good in my hand...It's a magnificent revolver.

But keep in mind PRICE. The Python is nearly TWICE the price of a 686. So as a practical matter, it just doesn't make any sense to pony up for the Colt when the S&W can do anything the Colt can do at half the price. On the impractical side, the Python is just a magnificent revolver, and there are some who ARE willing to pay the price.
 

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Seconded. I really enjoyed darklord's thoughtful post. Clearly he has a great deal of experience and doesn't make any outrageous or inflammatory claims.
 

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So 50 Thousand rounds of full house 357 magnum ........................................................., I don't think any brand of 357 could take that without something breaking or needing adjustment. Round counts seem to get highly exaggerated.

But I did enjoy the read. Thanks.
 

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Colt reps have said they only tested the new Python with 15k rounds of .357 Magnum rounds and there was no measurable wear or parts failure of any kind. I would think that's more than most any one person would shoot through his Python in a lifetime...unless you were trying to shoot it to destruction just to find out.
 
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I absolutely am now, always was, and always will be a Single Action Man. Yet no gun ever made looks as cool, as nice, as sophisticated, and beautiful, as a Python. Look at the very first photo on page 1 of this thread. I mean LOOK at that Python!!! I fell in love with Single Actions in 1974. Fought the Python urge (turned down a 4" Nickel for $400 in 2009). Then I gave in and held one a friend had, then shot it, then it was too late....I bought one in 2011. Then another in 2019. Im sure there will be others. Is it all its cracked up to be? Yep!!! Wouldn't be without one now.
 

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To answer the question in thread title; to look at Yes, to shoot, No.

A Python is probably the best looking DA revolver ever made imo and probably most would agree. I collected Pythons quite a few years. I was on a mission to get a bullseye python at one time since the python was my favorite gun then. I never could find one that I could consistently shoot under 2 inch 6 shot groups at 25 yards. N and L frames Smiths always out performed pythons in accuracy for me. Maybe I had a few that didn’t shoot as well as most.

My uncle was a big hand gunner in the 80’s and he always told me if I wanted a 357 that’ll shoot, get me a L frame Smith (he had pythons too). I agree with his assessment, I prefer the N frame a little more myself. We both are speaking of pre-lock/pre-MIM Smiths.
 
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