The Python is rightly known as the finest production revolver ever made. This is because of the very high quality standards set by Colt, the care in building the barrel, and the ammount of hand fitting needed to finish it.
The Python uses a slightly different rifling twist, has a tapered bore, and has the mysterious Colt "silver ball" treatment.
For these reasons, the Python is consistently the most accurate revolver around.
The Python uses the very old Colt action that is very complicated, and can be tuned to a high quality trigger action, but can get out of tune if the gun is mistreated, or subjected to a lot of fast, hard double action shooting. The Python doesn't need to be babied exactly, but they don't take abuse too well.
The King Cobra is the last version of Colt's "J" frame revolver that started with the Trooper Mark 3 of 1969. The Trooper Mk 3/King Cobra was to be Colt's "budget" priced gun. Colt could no longer compete with the older Colt revolvers that required so much hand fitting, so they developed the world's first "machine fitted" revolver.
The parts in the KC require much, much less fitting, and was cheaper to make, as well as having a stonger action than the Python.
Accuracy wise, the KC is not as accurate, and doesn't have as smooth an action as the Python. Fit and finish is not up to Python standards, being that it is a "budget" gun.
Unlike the Python, the KC's parts can not be refitted if the action needs repair. Because of the design, parts are simply replaced on the KC.
Bottom line: The Python is up there with Rolex, and Ferrari. The King Cobra is a Honda Accord....Higher quality than other makes, but not a Python.
The Python is world famous as the absolute best. The King Cobra is a hell for strong gun that is a step above most other makers best quality guns.
No less an authority than master gunsmith Jerry Kunhausen thinks the KC may well be the strongest mid-sized revolver ever made.
If you can afford the Python, want the very best, and are willing NOT to abuse the gun, buy a Python.
If you can't afford the Python, want the next best revolver around, and need a super tough revolver, the KC is it.
I can't thank you enough for that informative reply. Another question: If I'm looking to purchase a Python/ KC, what do I look for?
Again, I'm after a 6" stainless. I was told that different years are better than others and that now Colt makes them on special order only.
As far as I know the new Pythons are regular factory production items again. I think any good gun dealer can just order you a brand new Python. A factory new Python is covered by a good warrenty, and Colt still has a good rep for correcting problems.
The King Cobra is gone, probably forever, but good ones in the box are still available.
I have heard people complaining about substandard Python's, but I'm not sure how much faith to put in some of this. In fairless, I've never heard anybody complain about substandard King Cobra's.
As for "good" years and "bad" years on any gun: Many people think the newer Colt's, (like all new guns) just aren't as nicely made as the ones made years ago. There is some truth to that, especially for the Pythons made during Colt's restructering beginning in the mid 90's.
Others think the Colt's seriously declined during the bitter labor strike of the late 80's.
There is some truth to the Python not being what it once was. The Python takes MUCH highly skilled hand labor to build, and Colt lost many of those people during the strike and the lay-off's during the bankruptcy.
I always tell people that a gun must be judged on it's own merits, not what year it was made.
I've seen Python's made during the "bad" years, when they were susposed to be junk, that were some of the best made Colt's I've ever seen.
I once saw a Colt Officer's Model Target, which was then Colt's top-of-the-line gun, made during the 1930's when quality was absolutely sky high, that was a real mess. Bad blue job, poor metal to metal fit, and a terrible action. It should have never left the factory, especially back then.
My best advice is to look for an early SS Colt Python,which began to be made about 1986, I think. I'd recommend staying away from the Python Elite's made in the late 1990's. I see early stainless guns every now and then on Gunbroker.com and gunsamerica.com
Hey, Thanks again!
You da man.
I had the pleasure of shooting a Python this weekend. It was wonderful. I'm not a great shooter by any stretch, but I had nice groups at 15 yds.
I was told that if I was using it for hunting that I might consider the Anaconda.
Any thoughts about this gun? Is it a quality piece like the Python?
The Anaconda is more, or less, a giant King Cobra. It uses an enlarged action that's a close copy of the KC.
I've heard no adverse comments about the Anaconda, but quality and accuracy won't be up to Python standards.
If you want a hunting Colt, the Anaconda is the way to go, unless the game in your area is smaller.
As an example, I have a friend who hunts East Texas, where the deer are very small. For those, the .357 Magnum is big enough. When he goes to Pennsylvania, where the deer are all "bubba's", he uses a S&W .44 Magnum.