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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Okay, have had my new to me 1967 Python about a month now, made two trips to the range with faults of any kind whatsoever.

Had a friend looking at the gun, he seems to think there is a "flat spot" on a cylinder...didn't really ask what it meant as it's been fine to shoot - very smooth DA pull on every cylinder.

I had the gun at a shop this morning asking what he thought it'd be worth to trade towards something else, and after looking at it he said he couldn't make me an offer because it has a timing problem.

He was using a finger to add some resistance to the cylinder while pulling the hammer back and said it wasn't locking up correctly. He then pulled the hammer back slowly on each cylinder and the cylinder would not lock up.

Does this on every cylinder only when the hammer is pulled back slowly..pull it back normally or regularly - there is no issue. I've been told cocking the hammer slowly is "tricking" the gun an its normal for it not to lock up, and I've been told that that is an indicator that the gun needs a tune up.

I loaded up six snap caps, and everytime I dryfire, the cylinder is definitely locked up tightly to the forcing cone.

Not sure if the old guy (no offense) has owned too many smiths in his day and doesn't know what he's talking about, or if there may indeed be a timing issue.

As I've said, I've fired the gun - 100 rounds, some single action, some double and I still have both hands.

Not sure what to think.. There is a little side to side play with the cylinder when the hammer is down but when I dry a vault.

There is a hint of counter clockwise movement of the cylinder, but nothing side to side.

Any advice? I think this guy at the shop was off of his rocker a bit...

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If you slowly cock the hammer and the hammer fully cocks but the cylinder isn't locked up, the gun is out of time.
You put just a very light finger on the cylinder to prevent the cylinder from freewheeling. Too much pressure can prevent the cylinder from locking properly, so a light touch is all that's needed.

The Colt action is such that even if it's out of time, when the trigger is pulled the hand that advances the cylinder will push it into full lock up.
The gun is safe to shoot in this condition, as long as it isn't too far out, and the cylinder does go ahead and lock.

You check Python cylinder lockup by pulling the trigger and holding it back. With the trigger back, the cylinder should be tightly locked with no cylinder rotational movement at all. This was known as the Colt "Bank Vault Lockup".
Other guns like the S&W's will not lock up tightly with the trigger pulled, they're specifically designed not to, so checking the cylinder with the trigger pulled is a valid test ONLY on the Colt's like the Python.

Bottom line, your Python is out of time and if you want it in correct working order you need to send it in to Colt to be adjusted.
This is the most common type of out of time problem in the Colt, and it's due to normal wear caused by use.
Having this adjusted is much like having to put new spark plugs in a car, it's normal maintenance. Some guns can go a lifetime without needing adjustment, some that are heavily used or abused by jerking the trigger or yanking the hammer back may need it sooner.

Here's some good info on this from a working pistolsmith:

Is the Colt Python "delicate"? | Revolvers, Personal opinions, Gunsmithing |

Here's my instructions on how to check Colt timing. In the Colt's timing is critical due to the more complex and refined action design.

To check Colt timing:

Open the cylinder and look at the small "lug" in the bottom of the cylinder window. This is the cylinder locking bolt.
Cock the hammer, and watch as the bolt retracts into the frame and pops back out.
The bolt MUST begin to retract THE INSTANT the hammer begins to move.
There MUST be NO (ZERO) hammer movement possible before the bolt starts to retract.
The bolt should retract smoothly with no hesitation until it's fully retracted, then it must pop back out with a clean "snap".
There should be no hesitation, and no amount of "creeping" back out.

Close the cylinder.
Use your left thumb or fore finger to again cock the hammer, closely watching the cylinder bolt as you SLOWLY cock the hammer.
As the hammer comes back, the bolt will retract away from the cylinder.
The bolt must retract far enough to unlock the cylinder BEFORE the cylinder begins to rotate.
If the bolt is still slightly engaged with the cylinder lock notch, the cylinder will be attempting to turn while still partially locked.
This produces a "catch" or "hard spot" in the trigger pull and will damage both the bolt and the cylinder lock notches.
This often appears as metal "pulled out" of the lock notches, with rounded off and burred notches.

Continue to cock the hammer, LIGHTLY laying your right index finger on the cylinder just enough to prevent "free wheeling".
Watch for the bolt to drop back onto the cylinder. WHERE the bolt drops is CRITICAL.
The bolt MUST drop onto the leade or ramp in front of the actual cylinder notch.
If the bolt drops too soon, (in front of the notch ramp), it will mar the finish of the cylinder.
The bolt should drop into “about” the middle of the ramp.
If the bolt drops late, (farther toward the actual locking notch) the revolver may display "cylinder throw-by".
In this condition, during double action shooting the cylinder may rotate PAST the locking notch, and fire in an unlocked condition.
It's the nature of the Colt action, that a hesitant or jerky trigger pull by the user can induce throw-by in even a properly tuned Colt.
The Colt trigger should be pulled with a smooth, even pull, with no sudden jerks at the beginning.

Continue to pull the hammer back and both watch and listen for the bolt to drop into the cylinder lock notch.
The bolt must drop into the actual lock notch before or just as the hammer reaches full cock.

The most common Colt mis-time situation is the hammer cocks before the bolt drops into the lock notch. (Hammer is cocked, but cylinder isn't locked).
In this condition, with the hammer fully cocked, you can push the cylinder slightly, and you will hear the "CLICK" as the bolt drops into lock.
In my experience, most Colt's leave the factory with the bolt dropping a little late into the leade, but usually wear in to correct timing.
If the bolt drops onto the cylinder early, no real problem, but there will be extra finish wear.
If the bolt drops late (closer to the lock notch) the cylinder may "throw by" or rotate TOO far in double action and this can cause off-center primer hits and firing while unlocked.

Each of these checks should be done on EACH chamber. All of these checks are better done individually. In other words, do the bolt retraction check on all six chambers, then do the bolt drop test, and so on.

A properly tuned Colt will:
Have a smoothly functioning bolt with no sticky or hesitant movement.

Unlock before the cylinder begins to turn.

The bolt will drop onto the middle of the ramp.

The bolt will drop into the lock notch just before or as the hammer reaches full cock.

Have a smooth trigger pull, which does "stack" or get heavier as the trigger is pulled.

Premium Member
9,848 Posts
Your consultant is either trying to get a significant reduction in a sale price, or thinks he is an expert and is showing off.

The timing problem on your Colt is a common one and does not affect shooting since pulling the trigger always completes lockup, even if inertia of the cylinder does not. The gun is safe to shoot and will be for many years.

You can avoid a trip to Colt by stretching the hand yourself. (All Colt will do is stretch the hand when it receives the revolver.) It is not that difficult to do.

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16,547 Posts
As above, your Python is safe to shoot, as long as the problem doesn't develop further and the gun stops locking up when the trigger is pulled.
Also, read the above link to pistolsmith Grant Cunningham's site where he discusses the dangers of not having it properly repaired.

If returned to Colt, Colt will "PROBABLY" stretch the hand, unless it's already been stretched before. Stretching the hand is a one-time repair. It's something that can only be done once.

If you'd like to learn more, and possibly attempt repair yourself, I highly recommend buying a copy of the Jerry Kuhnhausen shop manual on the Colt double action revolvers, Volume One.
This is THE gunsmithing manual on the Colt's and goes into deep detail on all factory type repairs, including on HOW and WHERE the hand is stretched.

I will say that due to the extremely high value of Pythons these days, unless you're really competent at doing very fine work and have the skills, attempting a repair to a Python is on the order of an inexperienced person attempting a major repair to the transmission of a Ferrari...... risky at best.


3,134 Posts
The two things to keep in mind in your situation are that the gun DOES have a timing problem, and while it may be "safe" to shoot now, it'll only get worse.
A subset of those are that it will not repair itself, and it really WILL only get worse with continued shooting.

I never understand the reasoning behind the "Yeah, it's outa specs, but it's still shootable, so why bother to make it right?" statements.

I got one bad sparkplug out of eight in my '67 Corvette, it still runs, so why bother to get it corrected?

If you want to limp along on a valuable classic gun that's already developed a wear problem without trying to do anything but let it get worse, your choice.

Personally, I fully agree with the decision to send it back to Colt.
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