If there ever comes a time when a revolver such as the Colt Python does not move me, then it will be time to box me up and send me home. I grew up under the tutelage of a grandfather who never owned an automatic. I did not feel short-changed and still learned safety and handgun shooting early.
I still own a number of good revolvers and they are important parts of my defense and sporting battery. A .357 Magnum revolver may be a go-anywhere do-anything handgun that will solve many problems. When I wrapped my hand around the grip of the revolver, that is the subject of this report, something said, friend.
Colt Python Features
The walnut handle and stainless-steel appearance are all business. If there were a more business-like revolver in appearance than a three-inch barrel Python, I have never seen it. Firearms are working tools to me at times, and there are some that will do the business with less expense. But none do so with more pride of ownership.
The three-inch barrel Python is the newest addition to the Colt revolver line up. We have covered the new Python before. The 2022 Python is similar to the original in appearance. The new .357 Magnum is beefed up in important areas.
The action is a bit simpler and at least as smooth. The new Python features excellent, fully-adjustable sights and a nicely crowned muzzle. The gun is functional and offers something beyond function as well.
Like the original, the Python is a shooter built for shooters. The original short barrel Python was a 2.5-inch barrel version. I am not certain why Colt chose a three-inch barrel. It is true that ejection stroke as you clear spent cartridge cases is surer with the three-inch barrel and longer ejector rod.
There is a slight increase in velocity with the extra .5-inch tube for powder to completely burn. The 3-inch barrel Python balances like a high wire walker with excellent fore and aft weight distribution. The Python is of course a magnum, chambering the powerful and versatile .357 Magnum cartridge and easily accepting the .38 Special as well.
The revolver balances well at 38 ounces. This isn’t too heavy for daily carry in a properly-designed holster. It’s also heavy enough to make magnum recoil comfortable.
Construction is highly polished stainless steel. The grips are well-finished walnut. The double-action trigger breaks at a very smooth 10.0 pounds trigger compression. The single-action press is 4.25 pounds. Revolvers require hand fitting. The fit of the cylinder, crane, and barrel cylinder gap exhibited excellent fit and finish.
A word on the Python action. The V-spring of the Python powers both the hammer and trigger. As a result, the action is very smooth. However, if you are not used to the Colt action, you may tie the gun up. Quite a few reviewers unused to the Python action did just that.
If you press the trigger and then do not allow the action to fully reset as you ride the trigger face forward, and then attempt to press the trigger to the rear too soon, the action simply will not move. The cure is to simply release the trigger and allow it to reset. Always execute a smooth, straight-to-the-rear trigger compression, and then allow the Python action to reset.
The Python is built on Colt’s .41 frame. This is a bit larger than Smith and Wesson’s K-frame as used in the Combat Magnum, and smaller than the N- frame .44 caliber revolvers. It is similar in size to the Smith and Wesson L-frame and Ruger GP100.
This makes for a good balance between heft, weight, longevity, and packing balance. The revolver uses a modern transfer bar action. It is completely safe to carry fully loaded. To load, press the cylinder latch to the rear and move the cylinder to the left. Then, load the chambers. Close the cylinder and press the trigger to fire. It is as simple as that.
The revolver is designed to shoot, and it came time to pay the rent. I began the test with a good quantity of .38 Special ammunition. I fired the last of a dwindling amount of .38 Special handloads. Most were 158-grain SWC loads at about 800 fps. However, I also fired a heavy 165-grain SWC at 950 fps. The latter is among the most accurate .38 Special loadings I have fired. Perhaps I will find primers one day to replace these cartridges!
The Python is a joy to fire. Getting on target at the 7-yard line, I manipulated the trigger properly — slowly at first but then firing quickly. This is destined to be a carry and all-around defensive revolver, so most of the initial work was in speed shooting and getting the feel of the piece.
Even with the heavier load, the results were excellent. The front sight hangs on the target. You press the trigger, allow reset as the front sight is in the air, and then fire again. You will get a hit.
Moving to magnums, I loaded the Hornady 125-grain Critical Defense. This is a fast load at 1,400 fps in a four-inch barrel, and just over 1,340 fps in the three-inch barrel Python. The FTX bullet, with its polymer insert, ensures there is good expansion.
Recoil was increased, but most noticeable was the muzzle blast. I kept the Python on target and delivered tight groups, moving to 10 yards and firing double-action. This is an excellent personal defense combination, by any standard.
I fired at small targets on the berm out to 50 yards and connected, more often than not, in single-action fire — although double-action fire is certainly useful well past 25 yards. Since the Python will be carried in the field as insurance against feral dogs and even the big cats, I tested a heavy bullet load.
This is a Hornady 180-grain XTP over enough H110 for 1,090 fps in the three-inch barrel Python. Accuracy was excellent with this load, striking high since the revolver was sighted for the lighter 125-grain load. If you do not handload, Hornady offers a factory-loaded 158-grain XTP as its heaviest bullet.
Not far from home, a bobcat ran through a camp and bit seven people. Since the animal was not killed or captured, all had to have rabies shot. The bites were not severe, but rabies treatment is unpleasant. I like to have something on hand to stop that type of attack. The fast-handling Python stacks up better than most.
As for absolute accuracy, a superbly-fitted revolver in .357 Magnum is very accurate and among the few handguns capable to striking man-sized targets at 100 yards. While this is something of a stunt, I amused myself by firing at a standard B 27 target at a long 100 yards. I used the factory Hornady 125-grain XTP .357 Magnum load.
Holding on the neck and keeping the front sight lined up in the rear notch — with just a sliver of the front sight held higher than the rear notch — I put six of six in the belt region of the B27 target. The group was about ten inches, although four rounds were in seven inches.
The Python is good enough for me in accuracy. I also fired a few groups from a solid bench rest firing position at 25 yards. The revolver proved as accurate as its four-inch sibling. Sometimes a shorter gun is very accurate, and the three-inch Python is among them.
The .357 Magnum Hornady Critical Defense load put three rounds into 1.2 inches, and the 125-grain XTP went 1.6 inches. My 180-grain handload landed in a solid 1.55-inch group.
25-yard, three-shot groups, fired from a solid benchrest with the Colt Python three-inch barrel. Groups measured center-to-center of furthest spaced bullet holes.
|Load||Speed (FPS)||Group Size (Inches)|
|Federal 148-grain wadcutter||730||1.5|
|Buffalo Bore 158-grain LSWCHP||1,009||2.5|
|Load||Speed (FPS)||Group Size (Inches)|
|Remington 125-grain Golden Saber||1,240||1.5|
|Winchester 125-grain JHP||1,359||2.0|
|Remington 125-grain JHP||1,407||2.5|
|Hornady 130-grain Monoflex||1,295||1.8|
|Hornady 135-grain FlexLock||1,236||2.3|
|Winchester 158-grain JSP||1,147||1.75|
|Federal 180-grain JHP||1,080||1.45|
Packing the Python
There are many good holsters for the Colt. I chose Wright Leather Works’ Closer dual loop inside-the-waistband holster. This holster spreads the weight of the handgun out over the beltline while offering secure carry, and a sharp draw.
Conclusion: Colt Python
The Colt Python is good enough to ride with. If you value power and accuracy over capacity, this is a go-anywhere do-anything revolver to stop any threat — that few competing models can match.