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Discussion Starter #1
I've got the Python bug, not sure why, but I've got it. So yesterday, while at my favorite gun shop, I asked the owner if any ever comes thru the shop. "Funny you should ask" was the reply. "There was a guy in here two days ago wanting to sell a LNIB, never fired 6" Elite". They had taken his name and number along with the asking price of $1,000. I called the guy when I got home but he was very buzy at work and asked if he could call me back.

Okay, so much for the backround. I'm a babe in the woods here fokes. Never even seen a Python in person and need some basic help on what to watch-out for (in the Python Elite line). ie are there years or numbers to stay clear of ect?

Thank you much for reading and any help you might have.
 

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I collect older Pythons. Not sure how collectible the Elite models are, but I definitely want one for a shooter. One grand is reasonable if it is 99%/mint.
 

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Re: Python Purchase Question

This question comes up fairly often, and here's some quick checks to make. This is by NO means a complete checkout list, just some quick indications of a "bad gun".

First, there are no "good" or "bad" years or serial number ranges.
Guns are not bottles of wine. There ARE no good or bad vintages.
You have to look at each gun on IT'S own merits.

Things to look for:
Damaged or "dinked up" screw heads or nicked or damaged edges on the side plate, both of which indicate that someone has taken the plate off and possibly done "Billy Bob" gunsmithing inside.

Bent ejector rods.

Heavy impressions of the ejector ratchet on the front face of the frame's breech face, or excess movement of the cylinder back and forth in the frame.
Both indicate the revolver has been shot with over-pressure ammo.
With the cylinder closed, you should be able to detect little, or no back and forth movement of the cylinder.

Heavy wear or more than one or two heavy dents or scratches.
Used guns get marked up and the finish gets worn.
Abused or heavily used guns get battered looking.

Look for heavy wear or burrs on the cylinder's locking notches.

Check the bore and chambers for damage or corrosion.
Don't mistake leading or fouling with damage, and don't mistake damage for fouling.

Look for anything that's been replaced or altered. Replaced grips or sights are common, and aren't a problem.
Signs of replaced barrels or screws are.

Here's my instructions for checking the timing of Python actions. Read these over, and you can do a quick visual test on the gun.
This will indicate whether the gun is lightly used, or may be either heavily used or possibly abused and home-gunsmithed:

To check Colt timing:

BOLT RETRACTION AND "SNAP BACK".
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.

CYLINDER UNLOCKING.
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.

BOLT DROP TIMING.
Continue to cock the hammer, 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 lead 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 the MIDDLE 1/3rd section 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.

CYLINDER LOCKUP.
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 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 lead, 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 1/3rd of the ramp.

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

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

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Discussion Starter #4
Re: Python Purchase Question

[ QUOTE ]


First, there are no "good" or "bad" years or serial number ranges.
Guns are not bottles of wine. There ARE no good or bad vintages.
You have to look at each gun on IT'S own merits.

[/ QUOTE ]

Thanks for the replies gents but I have to respectly disagree with the statement above. Just like wine there are not a few vintages (years of production) that are undesirable with some makes of handguns. Like transition years with the company or model changes ect. I was just wondering if the Python model fit in this category.

Again, thank you much for the replies.
 

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Re: Python Purchase Question

In my experience with Colt's the "vintage" model doesn't hold.

I've seen Colt revolvers made in the 1930's, when quality was at the very top, that never should have been allowed outside the factory.

I've also seen Colt's made in the very depths of the big strike, that were some of the finest quality revolvers I've ever seen.

You can make a case that a revolver made during the strike has a bigger chance of having lower quality, but rejecting a gun based on nothing more than year made, or buying a gun based only on year made, will cause you to either pass up a gem, or buy a dog.

IN GENERAL, a Python made in the 1950's to late 60's will be MORE likely to have higher quality, but you better be giving ANY gun a very close inspection.

One of the absolute best quality Python's I EVER saw was a 1999 Elite made just before the big shake-up of 2000, when Python's were considered to be total trash.

An old customer asked me to take a look at it, to "save" his brother from buying what everyone was saying were the worst Colt's ever made.

Timing and adjustment were perfect.
Exterior polish of the stainless was as good as the polish job on any 1950's Python.

Accuracy was very close to the best I ever saw, and I still regret not being able to shoot some wadcutter ammo with a Ransom machine to see just how good it was.

Bottom line is, this guy's brother got one of the all time best Python's I ever saw, during a time when the internet and gun shop guys all said they were so bad, only brain-damaged fools bought them.
 

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Re: Python Purchase Question

I agree, I don't think that the year a Colt was manufactured means anything, you have to evaluate each gun on its individual merits. I own three Pythons and have handled and checked out a lot of others. I own one made in 1970, one from 1983, and a 4" Python Elite from the custom shop. I've heard people spread all kinds of nonsense like the Elites are junk, slapped together in the custom shop from leftover parts, Colt lost all their craftsmen, Elites are made under contract by Smith and Wesson, etc., none of it true. The one that I have I think is actually the nicest of the three with the 1983 a close second. Not that the pistol made in 1970 isn't nice it's just that everything isn't quite as perfect as on the other two. A buddy of mine has a 4" made in 1980 that is unbelievable. There are people out there who will tell you that there weren't any good Pythons made after (insert the year) but it really isn't true.
 

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Re: Python Purchase Question

I too have to "disagree", it is only 'semantics' (wording) and what you like. Yes, there are "exceptions" but when talking in 'generality' there ARE "vintage years.
Just look or watch a Colt collector (buyer) and he will 'discriminate' between the different years of manufacture. There was MORE and "exacting" hand fitting "in general", overall better "fit and finish" , than in the later years, this is a well known fact. Yes, I too have seen a few 'late' issue guns and they are in deed 'out of the expected' but what "top dollars" are being paid and guns being sought. To me the 'stainless' high gloss' is the one exception, for some reason, they do draw the 'big bucks' and are sought after.
Believe me, Colt is NOT alone in this, all gun companies need to "stop and take a look back".
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Re: Python Purchase Question

Thank you much for your candid replies gentlemen.

Here's an update on the Elite in question. After talking to the person, by phone, red flags went up like Lenin Day in Russia. Can't explain it really but I wouldn't buy a popcicle from this guy in August. Something very wrong with the deal for sure.

Again, thanks for the repies. You all have given me a pretty good idea what to look for.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Re: Python Purchase Question

Update...

Wouldn't you know it? Another python dropped into the picture. Haven't seen it but here's what I was told. '83 or '84 SS 6" unfired with NO box or papers.

Given that everything is as stated (like new) can anyone offer a guess as to worth??

Sorry to be a PITA. /forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif
 

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Re: Python Purchase Question

Rod,

You're not being a PITA, we like to talk Pythons.

First off, you may want make sure that it is stainless and not nickel, a lot of nickel guns seem to get advertised as stainless and vice-versa, for 1983 or 1984 production you have to call Colt for confirmation on the date as 1978 is last year for which serial number info was published. With that in mind you may want to check that what you're buying is stainless just so you know exactly what you are getting (although nothing wrong with nickel). If it is stainless it should be marked with an S on the cylinder under the ejector. I believe if it is really in 100% condition but without the box and papers I would think that if you could buy it for $900 or less it would be a decent buy. Be sure also to check timing, endshake, lockup, for buggered screws, etc before you plunk down the cash.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Re: Python Purchase Question

Thank you much calvin, great information.

If I might ask one more quick question, Seller said the Python originally came in a Styrofoam box with a paper sleeve (that was discarded lond ago). Styrofoam? Fact or fiction?

Thanks.
 

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Re: Python Purchase Question

That is correct. In that time period they came in a flimsy woodgrain box that said Colt on the top with a styrofoam insert that the gun fit in.
 

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I own 4 Pythons, two of which came with the original box, and they are indeed in a styrofoam insert that slides into the cardboard box, like a sleeve. I have Pythons from the 1970's and 80's and thanks to reading on here and other forums found like new guns in fantastic condition, they are out there. I've paid $850 on the low side and $1100 on the high side for the unfired in box one. I have also sent my nickeled Python back to Colt for their check up and then had it renickeled and it looks like new. It was such an accurate and smooth shooting gun I had to have the work done while Colt still does it. I bought that one as a shooter and Colt replaced all the springs and didn't even charge me, just cost $230 (including shipping) for the refinish, but it looks like a new gun and is just as sweet as when I sent it out. I just love the Python dispite all the nay-sayers, the fit and finish are simply amazing. I laugh at those that compare a Python to a Ruger GP-100 or a S&W 686, its like saying a volkswagen is like a ferrari because they are both cars, ridiculous. /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
 

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[ QUOTE ]
I laugh at those that compare a Python to a Ruger GP-100 or a S&W 686, its like saying a volkswagen is like a ferrari because they are both cars, ridiculous. /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif

[/ QUOTE ]

Comparing a Python with a S&W 686?

....

Okay, I can see that happening, but comparing a Python with a Ruger?

....

NO F*****G WAY! /forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif (excuse the language I'll wash out my mouth later)

Had the distinct privelige of firing a Python recently.
I will refrain myself of a proper discription of how that felt. (it would almost be getting xxx-rated, thank you!)
In the mean time I'm forced to shoot a Ruger GP 100 until May 2006 at my gunclub in order to be able to get a liscense for a large calibre revolver and it's... it's... well, you fill it in! The triggerpull is heavy enough to pull the Netherlands up to the British Ilses (tuned?) I definately hate the semiwood rubber styled grips. Needless to say that everyone borrows another revolver to shoot there final test.
/forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif /forums/images/graemlins/mad.gif
 

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Re: Python Purchase Qustion

On some of the other forums there are guys comparing a Ruger GP-100 to a Python and saying the Ruger is just as good or better, for less money. These guys always slip the "less money" comment in which I think is really the crux of their thinking on this. If the prices were equal, I wish, I bet there would be a lot more Pythons bought then GP's, even from the Ruger-Heads. /forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif And as for the S&W 686, while I think the earlier versions are great guns, I would more favorably compare a S&W model 27-2 to the Python as more of an apples to apples comparison. I can get into many brands of handgun, but lets keep our perspective about it. Colts are just more classy. /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
 

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Re: Python Purchase Qustion

My take since the 686/Python comparison came up. I have been shooting revolvers for 35 years. If you want a beautiful revolver that you can open up your safe stroke and fondle with an ocassional trip to the range get a Python. If you want a revolver you can shoot the hell out of in competition or you just plain shoot a lot get a Smith. A 686 will do fine. Your 686 will be still going bang when the Python is being rebuilt. Yes, I do own Pythons but they are regulated to stroke,fondle and ocassional range visits with 38 special ammo. I learned that lesson 30 years ago.
 

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Re: Python Purchase Qustion

I don't own a Python or any "snakes." I do appreciate Colts. I have no desire to be in the fray. I would just say the more people who favor Smiths, Rugers or what-have-you the better. That leaves fewer buyers in the Colt market and everybody's happy. Who could ask for more? /forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

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Re: Python Purchase Qustion

No "fray" A1A just a fact. I truly appreciate certain Colt revolvers but for hard core shooters there are more shall we say robust choices out there. If one wants a Colt get a Colt there are pleny on the market. /forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif
 
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