colt 357 Magnum
The Colt Python is a .357 Magnum caliber revolver manufactured by Colt's Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The Colt Python targets the premium revolver segment. Some firearm collectors and writers such as Jeff Cooper, Ian V. Hogg, Chuck Hawks, Leroy Thompson, and Renee Smeets have described the Python as one of the finest revolvers ever made.
The Colt Python was first introduced in 1955 as Colt's top-of-the-line model and was originally intended to be a large-frame 38 Special target revolver. As a result, it features precision adjustable sights, a smooth trigger, solid construction, and extra metal. Pythons have a distinct appearance due to a full barrel underlug, ventilated rib and adjustable sights. Originally, Colt manufactured Pythons with hollow underlugs but left them solid to work as a stabilizing barrel weight. When the revolver is at full cock, just as the trigger is pressed, the cylinder locks up for the duration of the hammer strike. Other revolvers have a hint of looseness even at full-cock. The gap between the cylinder and forcing cone is very tight, further aiding accuracy and velocity. Each Python revolver was boresighted at the factory with a laser and was the first mass-produced revolver to do so.
Colt Manufacturing Co. announced the termination of its production of Python revolvers in October 1999 due to lack of sales and rising production costs. The Colt Custom Gun Shop continued making a limited number of Pythons on special order until 2005, when even this limited production was terminated.
 Models and Variants
Colt Python rollmark on the barrel
The Python was originally available in two finishes: Royal Blue and Bright Nickel. The Bright Nickel model was discontinued with the introduction of the more durable satin stainless and mirror-polished Ultimate Stainless models. The stainless steel and Royal Blue finishes were offered until 2003 by Colt on the Python "Elite" model.
Pythons were available with 2.5 inch, 4 inch, 6 inch, and 8 inch barrels. The six-inch model was the most popular generally and the 8 inch model was intended for hunting. A 3-inch barrel version is very collectible, although not rare.
The Python Hunter model, with 8 inch barrel and factory-installed 2X Leupold scope, was made in 1980. The Python Hunter was the first field-ready handgun hunting package made by a major handgun manufacturer. The scope was mounted on the barrel using Redfield mounts and the gun was packaged in a Haliburton case. It was discontinued by 1990 and briefly offered as a "Custom Shop" model afterward. A Python Target model was also made for several years in .38 Special only, in blue and nickel finishes.
Two variants of the Python were made in small numbers by Colt. The first was the Colt Boa of 1985, a limited production .357 Magnum revolver, made for the Lew Horton Distributing Company in Massachusetts. It used a Python barrel mated to a Trooper Mk V frame. Six hundred 6" revolvers and 600 4" revolvers were made, of which 100 were matched sets. Though it resembles a Python visually, it is substantially different internally. The second was the stainless steel Colt Grizzly of 1994, another limited production .357 Magnum revolver. It used a Python barel mated to a Colt King Cobra frame. 500 of these revolvers were manufactured, with 6" Magna-Ported barrels and smooth, unfluted cylinders. The ported barrel includes a bear footprint. Similar to the Grizzly was the Colt Kodiak, which was a Colt Anaconda with a Magna-Ported Barrel and an unfluted cylinder. Approximately 2000 Kodiaks were manufactured.
According to Colt historian, R.L. Wilson, Colt Pythons have been collected by Elvis Presley and various kings in the traditional sense: "H.M. (His Majesty) Hussein I of Jordan ordered a limited number of Pythons, in 4" and 6" barrels, as gifts to his selected friends. Casing and barrel were embossed with His Majesty's crest. The Python for King Juan Carlos of Spain bore his name in flush gold on the sideplate. Among other celebrated recipients: King Khalid and Prince Fahed (Saudi Arabia), King Hassan (Morocco), Sheik Zyed (United Arab Emirates), President Anwar Sadat (Egypt), and President Hafez Assad (Syria)." 
Colt Pythons with 8" and 6" barrels and royal blue finish
The Python immediately made inroads into the law enforcement market when introduced, with the 6" barrel being popular with uniformed officers and the 4" barrel considered optimum for plainclothes use. However, it has since fallen out of favor (along with all other revolvers) due to changing law enforcement needs that favor semi-automatic pistols. When law-enforcement agencies realized that the 9 mm semi-automatic pistols fire a round with similar characteristics to the .38 Special with higher capacity, they began a migration to these, and other, semi-automatic pistol cartridges Colt's Python revolvers are still popular on the used market and command high prices.
The Colorado Highway Patrol issued 4" blue Pythons until their switch to the S&W .40 caliber autoloader. Georgia State Patrol and Florida Highway Patrol also issued Pythons to their officers.
Official Colt historian, RL Wilson described the Colt Python as, "the Rolls-Royce of Colt revolvers" and Firearms historian, Ian V Hogg referred to it as the"best revolver in the world". However the revolver is not without its detractors. The downside to the precision of the Colt Python is its tendency to go "out of time" with continued heavy shooting. This is a condition in which the cylinder does not turn in exact alignment with the forcing cone, so a shooter may be sprayed with burning propellant when the gun is fired or the gun may not fire when used as a double-action. When this happens, the lock work needs to be re-timed.[