Thanks, Merc...it's 286xx; w/wide target trigger & hammer and target grips. Typical holster wear on barrel and in front of cylinder and trigger guard. I rate conservatively, so it's probably somewhere between 95-98%. Fantastic trigger!
Do a search on this forum, there's quite a bit of info on the 357.
I'll do a quick recap:
In 1953-54 Colt was doing one of their periodic upgrades to the line.
Just after the war, Colt had made the mistake of mis-judging the market.
They assumed the .357 Magnum was a passing fad, and that the revolver of choice would be a fixed sight .38 Special with standard hammer and stocks.
Realizing they'd made a mistake, Colt introduced a gun that came as a shock to the rest of the world.
The 357 was a first in several regards.
It was the first .357 Magnum gun made on a mid-frame, instead of the big Colt New Service or S&W "N" frame.
It was the first modern center-fire revolver to have the firing pin mounted in the frame, not on the hammer.
It marked the introduction of Colt's famous target hammer and target stocks.
It introduced Colt's Accro adjustable rear sight.
Colt's plan was, the 357 would be Colt's premium holster gun, and the similar Trooper in .38 Special and .22LR would be the "budget" versions.
A great deal of hand labor was lavished on the 357, and it had Colt's best action and bluing at the time.
Where things fell apart, was with the Python.
The Python was intended to be a "Super" target revolver in .38 Special.
Instead, the Colt management decided to chamber it in the newly popular .357 Magnum, and this put the 357 in an awkward spot.
People wanting the best were buying the Python, and people and law enforcement wanting to spend less were buying the Trooper.
So, in 1961 the 357 was discontinued, and the Trooper was chambered in .357 Magnum as a replacement.
The 357 is a sleeper, since most people have never heard of it, and upon seeing one, pass over it, thinking it's a Trooper.
The 357 is often described as a "pre-Python" and there is some truth to that due to the high quality of the 357's action and bluing.
From 1954 to 1961 Colt made about 15,000 357's.
These were available in 4" and 6" barrels, and with choice of target or service hammers and stocks.
Your 357 number 286XX was made in 1961, which makes it a last year's production.
There are some anomalies in the records for the 357, and records indicate the last one made was around number 28000.
However, there are 357 Models with higher numbers, like yours.
The 357 is a premium revolver, and these are famous both for their strength and accuracy.
2)I just had to show my "Engraved" Colt ".".357", as I find it to be so "Breathtakingly" beautiful-and, since it was in new condition(When I bought it)I thought I'd probabably never see another engraved Colt .357 again!