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Discussion Starter #1
This is a little bit lengthy. I picked it up from another forum and was wondering if some of the experts here would agree or disagree. If it is true, would it be best to stick with .38SP or a lighter load .357 if you do a lot of target or plinking?


The statement that I have highlighted is correct according to the factory
warranty gunsmith we have(had) here in Cleveland. The reason for the problem
is the way Colt achieved the fine accuracy for which the Python is noted.
The Python, unlike other models in Colt's line, uses a two stage hand to
rotate the cylinder. The first stage does the rotating and the second stage
actually transfers finger load from the trigger to the cylinder and then
to the cylinder stop bolt. Effectively this rigidly locks the cylinder in
place behind the breech end of the barrel at the moment of firing. In fact
you may in the past have seen someone thumb cock a revolver while checking
it out, lower the hammer, and while holding the trigger fully to the rear
try to rotate the cylinder, actually rock it back and forth. On any gun
but a Python it is pretty much meaningless. For instance on S&W revolvers
the hand only lies alongside the ratchets and does not really bear on them
with the trigger in the fully fired position.

With the Python, you can imagine what happens when a heavy load, relatively
speaking, is fired and the position of the cylinder is rigidly locked
between the second shelf on the hand and the stop bolt. Accuracy is excellent
until the second stage gets battered, which happens eventually, and then
deteriorates. According to Bud Brown, before he retired, he had to re-tune
Pythons to correct for the battered hands fairly frequently. When .38 Special
target loads are used Pythons will go for a long long time without a loss of
accuracy. But as soon as .357 level loads are used with any frequency things
start getting loose rather quickly.

There is an additional effect that can exacerbate the problem. For "normal"
use, the gun is cycled slowly, but for speed events where the gun is cocked
rapidly either by SA or DA methods the angular momentum of the cylinder will
cause some battering of the load bearing surfaces of the cylinder stop bolt
and the bolt cuts in the cylinder. I have seen evidence of this in S&W .357
revolvers of all frame sizes and Ruger GP's where the bolt stop cuts show
peening of the trailing edges. And while replacing the hand and the stop bolt
are fairly easy and relatively inexpensive, correcting the concommitant damage
done to the ratchets and the peening of the bolt cuts in the cylinder may be
quite costly.
 

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With any gun, the more intense the round that is fired, the faster wear occurs. I think the biggest killer of Python timing is rapid double action shooting or rapid cocking of the hammer. Casualy double action shooting and especially single action shooting will put less stress on the lock work.

Personally, my Pythons do tend to see lighter loaded ammo. I have a Ruger GP-100 for the heavy stuff.
 

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manderson-this mild tirade is NOT directed at you,your just the messenger. Here we go again about the mystique(and failings,now) of the Python! The Python is NOT the only Colt revolver that WAS built with a 2 stage hand.MOST Colt revolvers,including the SAA had this;it was part of Colts design and mechanics of operation. The Python was(is) built on the old ".41 Frame",also known as E or I frame. In 1969,Colt introduced an entirely new design of revolver the MK III,which was cheaper to "mass produce"as it required less hand fitting & machining than the older models. The also continued to make the "D Frame" Detective Special "Family" of smaller guns than also used the 2 stage hand. I think it was dfariswheel,who mentioned the declining numbers of gunsmiths who know how to properly work on the older Colts. This post about the uniqueness of the Python is a perfect example! Probably the gunsmith who wrote the article manderson posted,had never worked on any 2 stage hand models OTHER THAN a Python. I am not a gunsmith by trade,so wont debate this weakness described,except to say that Ive fired thousands of rounds from older Colts,without a hitch,including hot handloads in .45 Colt,.44 Special .38 and .44 wcf from my battery of New Services(yes they are a beefier gun with a larger hand & bolt) with NO problems.That said,"hot" .357 loads" used regularly, especially with the lighter weight jhps,have caused problems for some guns as evidenced by the S&W M-19s & M-66s,and the L frame recall. So, if you have an older Colt,with the 2 stage hand,and there are millions out there,I hope you can find a reputable gunsmith,as it seems working on them is becoming a lost art such as caning chairs and knowing how to replace and set ignition points on older vehicles! Bud
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks lonewolf...I'm still a novice looking for education and your "tirade" sounds perfectly logical.

stans...When you say that your Pythons see "lighter loaded ammo", could you be more specific? I would like to stick with a .357 cartridge to fill the cylinder length, but still have a .38SP powder load. Is something like this available commercially, or will I need to reload in order to achieve this? I also have a GP-100 and your approach seems to makes good sense.

Everyone, thanks for all the information.

[This message has been edited by manderson (edited 06-24-2004).]
 

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I rarely shoot anything but .38 target loads in my Pythons, reserving .357's for very occasional use. I also tend to baby my considerable battery of prewar Colts (mostly Officers Models). Lonewolf is right, the 2-stage hand was used on many many other models. IMO, if you want to do a lot of blasting with hot .357's, you're better off with an indestructable, though perhaps ugly, Ruger (no offense, Ruger fans).

Best,
Bill

[This message has been edited by Bill A (edited 06-24-2004).]

[This message has been edited by Bill A (edited 06-24-2004).]
 

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The Python differed from the rest of the Colt line just like any other target revolver Colt made. They had hand tuned and polished actions that gave them the excellent trigger which was needed in target shooting. The Python was then given an extra special polishing to achieve it's unique finish and a tapered barrel was added to enhance it's accuracy coupled with it's target grade features.
The Python is a target revolver, not a service revolver and a lot of people forget this. It was built for when target shooting was done in a slow and precise manner. Not like today where it seems you have to try and empty the chambers as fast as you can pull the trigger. It's the fast double action shooting that wears a Python because it was never designed for that disipline. The small bearing surfaces of the hand and bolt wears trying to stop the momentum of the heavy cylinder. These parts are crucial in it's tight lockup that contributes to it's accuracy.
The Python is fully capable of shooting a lifetime of .357 magnum loads. You just have to shoot it like it was designed if you want it to have a long trouble free service life. Push any mechanical device beyond it's intended purpose and it's service life will have a higher repair frequency.
 

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Majic makes a lot of sense and I basically agree with what he says, except to point out that the .357 was never a bullseye target cartridge. Three-gun bullseye in the days of old was typically done with a .22 auto (or if you want to go way back, a .22 revolver), a .38 (or rarely a .32 or .44 Spl.) revolver, and a .45 auto (a few used .45 ACP revolvers like the S&W model 26). The Python design is based on the King conversions of the Officers Model .38's, which had a barrel rib, but no underlug, as I recall. Later, shooters discovered they could shoot their .45 autos as well or better in timed and rapid fire than they could their .38 revolvers, and so the bullseye target revolver went the way of the dodo, as least as far as competitive bullseye is concerned. Three-gun became two-gun bullseye. You will almost never see a revolver of any caliber at bullseye matches nowdays. Many of you already know this, of course.

I wasn't there when the Python was conceived, but it's always seemed to me that the gun was designed with mostly .38 shooting in mind, with the added versatility the .357 provides for hunting and self-defense.

Whether or not the gun will hold up to steady use of hot .357's or not is not something I know for sure: The only way to tell would be to just shoot the bejasus out of one with such loads and find out. Doesn't sound like much fun to me--I generally shoot very mild full or semi-wadcutters one-hand at bullseye targets. It's cheaper, too.

Best,
Bill
 

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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>stans...When you say that your Pythons see "lighter loaded ammo", could you be more specific? I would like to stick with a .357 cartridge to fill the cylinder length, but still have a .38SP powder load. Is something like this available commercially, or will I need to reload in order to achieve this? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

My light loads are handloads using 357 magnum brass, a 148 grain cast lead double ended wadcutter, Winchester small pistol primers and 3.6 grains of W-231. This pretty well duplicates the 38 Special target wadcutter load. Very easy to hold sub 2 inch groups with my 6 inch Pyton at 25 yards, and I'm sure it can do better, but the shooter is the biggest limitation.

It is fine to shoot any 38 Special load in the Python, just make sure you clean the accumulation of fouling from the front of the chambers before attempting to load and fire magnum length brass.
 

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I was not pointing to just bullseye shooting, but showing the difference between the action shooting of today compared to the games of yesteryear. So much emphasis is put on speed today in alot of the games and it's this quest for speed that's hard on the revolvers.
 
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