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Old September 28, 2012, 10:28 PM   #1
KyJim
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Colt .357 Magnum -- first year production!

I picked up a Colt .357 Magnum today from LGS. The serial number is three digits which puts it in the first year of production for the gun, 1954. From research I've done on the web, only about 15,000 of this model were produced before they were discontinued in 1961. They were Colt's top of the line .357 magnum until the Python came along. They had the same action and were hand tuned. The finish was top notch, though not as nice as the Pythons. Some call it the "pre-Python."

My model below has some wear at the muzzle and a little on the rear of the trigger. The stock is in good condition, just a bit discoloring on the other side. It has a silky smooth action. I consider this gun to be an occasional shooter, though it won't see a holster.

Sorry for the bad cell phone picture. Perhaps some better ones later:

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Old September 28, 2012, 10:39 PM   #2
Winchester_73
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Glad you could join the club. A few things - this is the same frame as a Python - I frame - frame mounted firing pin. Its the same dimensions as the E frame, but the E has the hammer mounted firing pin. Your gun has the optional (today hard to find) target grips to my eye target hammer (your pic is a bit blurry). Mine also has target grips and a target hammer. These are great guns. Historically they were made both before and during Python production. For a few years, there was the trooper in 22 and 38, the "service" model 357 (service model only due to finish IMO - very high quality) and the deluxe model 357 aka Python. Its a bit of a misnomer to say it was Colt's "top of the line" 357 because it was in fact the only 357 before the Python (after WWII). Before WWII Colt had the Shooting Master and the New Service in 357 but both of those models were discontinued for WWII never to be made again.

Here is my gun, SN 12XX - first year 1954 production.

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Old September 28, 2012, 11:10 PM   #3
KyJim
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Yep, the picture sucks. It does have the target hammer. Nice looking specimen you have there yourself.
Quote:
Its a bit of a misnomer to say it was Colt's "top of the line" 357 because it was in fact the only 357 before the Python (after WWII).
But, if I understand correctly, the 357 and Trooper (in .357) were manufactured for a time before the Python was introduced.
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Old September 28, 2012, 11:33 PM   #4
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Quote:
But, if I understand correctly, the 357 and Trooper (in .357) were manufactured for a time before the Python was introduced.
I will have to look into that, but I thought the Trooper 357 replaced the model 357 and the reason that there was a model 357 is because the trooper was only in 38 special and 22 for a while. Here is a 38 special trooper I have. These older Colts are damn nice (but we all know that)

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Old September 29, 2012, 10:01 AM   #5
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Winchester_73 --

I think you may be right. Here's a very informative post by DFariswheel. According to that, they did not start making the Trooper in .357 until about the time they discontinued the 357. He gives a first year manufacturing date of 19544 for both but I have seen 1953 as the first year for the Trooper, but DFariswheel knows Colts. http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...er#post3938524

I do have to wonder about one comment he made: "The 357 was the gun the Python was based on, with the Python having the distinctive lugged and vented barrel, a super-polish blue job and a more polished and tuned action, otherwise being the 357." I have three Pythons (all post 1970) and a 1956 Officer's Model Match. The Pythons are very smooth, especially one in particular. However, this particular 357 and my OMM both have actions that make the Pythons feel like a Taurus. I know there is a lot of variation in particular guns because of the hand tuning and I have not shot a 1950s Python. However, I just don't think you can get it any better than my OMM and this 357.

BTW, here's my OMM:



And my "smoothest" Python:

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Old September 29, 2012, 06:04 PM   #6
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I probably mis-stated the dates.

The Trooper in .38 Special and .22LR was introduced in 1953, the 357 in 1954 and the Python in 1955.

The 357 was discontinued in 1961 and the Trooper in 357 Magnum brought out in 1961.

The 357 was a premium model but it was still a standard production gun. It just didn't get the extra tuning the Super Premium semi-custom Python got.
Compare an early 357 to a Python made in 1955 to about 1957.
For the first year or so, all Pythons were built by two men at Colt.
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Old September 29, 2012, 10:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Compare an early 357 to a Python made in 1955 to about 1957.
I wish I could.
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Old September 29, 2012, 11:34 PM   #8
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Good revolver. Both the .357 magum and the 38 Trooper
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Old September 30, 2012, 10:12 AM   #9
.454 newb
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If you don't mind me asking, how much was the one you bought? I have one available to me and the guy is asking $575. Unsure of condition yet since I haven't seen it, and unsure of production year. These pistols look really nice, and I've always wanted a Colt.
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Old September 30, 2012, 11:53 AM   #10
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Those are some beautiful guns. I would love to have a first year, or any year first .357. I have a question. When I bought my Python, new, in 1990 I think, I was told that it was a factory tuned one. I know that this gun is smooth as butter, but did they really tune some and not others?



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Old September 30, 2012, 04:13 PM   #11
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This is my Colt Trooper MK III. Made in 1975, but new to me. Replaced original grips with Pachmayr for the range, and put the nice checkered ones up for later. Not a scratch, and no signs of wear, but it was no deal either.image.jpg
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Old September 30, 2012, 07:28 PM   #12
Dfariswheel
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"did they really tune some and not others?"

All Pythons received hand tuning at the factory. That was part of the extra work no other production gun got.
For an extra charge you could get a special order gun with even more tuning by a Master Colt gunsmith to bring it to an even higher level.

Colt still offers action or "trigger" jobs on most of their pistols, including Pythons if you send it back to the factory to the Custom Shop.

As far as I know they still offer two levels.
The "Service" level is brought to the maximum level that will still be 100% reliable with all ammo.
The "Target" level is to be used ONLY with .38 Special target ammo and will not be reliable with most .357 ammo.

These Custom Shop job will haver even lighter and smoother actions.
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Old September 30, 2012, 10:26 PM   #13
KyJim
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Quote:
If you don't mind me asking, how much was the one you bought? I have one available to me and the guy is asking $575. Unsure of condition yet since I haven't seen it, and unsure of production year. These pistols look really nice, and I've always wanted a Colt.
I purchased mine from a retail gun store for $695 OTD. Probably not the best price but a fair retail price, I thought. They know what they are selling but they have always treated me right, sometimes holding a gun a couple of three days for me and doing transfers free.
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Old October 1, 2012, 05:07 AM   #14
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my '58 Colt .357,,,,,,,,,,,,,a very fine shooter!
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Old October 1, 2012, 10:13 AM   #15
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DFariswheel, thanks for your response, I appreciate it.
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Old October 1, 2012, 11:30 AM   #16
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Thx for the compliments guys

Quote:
The Pythons are very smooth, especially one in particular. However, this particular 357 and my OMM both have actions that make the Pythons feel like a Taurus.
Actually that is also my experience. My guess is to why this is true is that they later increased production and the guys building these paid less and less attention to each one, UNLESS it was a Python. My 1950s Colts have excellent trigger pulls compared most Pythons I have handled. I also don't think we all have tuned Colts. I believe these are factory, and they're just that good.

I feel better about the problem with mine now that I see what these model 357s bring. I bought mine from a guy for $400 because it had a timing problem. I sent it to Colt only recently, and the bill came back to me as $220, so I will have in it approx what they go for which isn't a big deal. They told me 12 to 16 wks for the repair, after I paid! I'm just happy to have one of these 357 models. I rarely see them in person anywhere.

Also, nice OMM. Here is mine, from 1958, pictured with my Diamondback and Colt Frontier buntline 22. I like the OMM a lot better than the Diamondback.

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Old October 1, 2012, 05:06 PM   #17
KyJim
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Nice trio W_73. I have a Diamondback .38 as well. For range use, the OMM is way ahead of the DB. Still, ya' gotta' admit those Diamondbacks and Pythons really look nice.
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Old October 2, 2012, 11:50 AM   #18
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Here are some pictures of my 1957 OMM .22, 1960 Colt .357, 1968 Trooper .357, First year 3 digit Colt .357 #32x, and my NIB 1959 Trooper .22:

1)1957 OMM .22:

2)1960 Colt .357-with custom made Rosewood target grips:

3)1968 Trooper .357:

4)First year(1954)3 digit(# 32x)Colt .357:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v6...t/P1000744.jpg
5)NIB 1959 Trooper .22:
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Old October 2, 2012, 04:35 PM   #19
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Very NICE guns guys!

While not the first year of production, this is MY FIRST Colt! Hopefully not my last either! A little younger than most of those shown here, it was made in 1977 according to Proofhouse.

I'd love to compare its action to my Python, but first I need to get it!
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Trooper (small).jpg (239.2 KB, 15 views)
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Old October 2, 2012, 08:25 PM   #20
KyJim
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BOA2 --

That engraved revolver is very tastefully done.
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Old October 2, 2012, 09:25 PM   #21
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Boa

I need that 22 Trooper for my collection. You have to sell it to me! Thanks.

(I need help )
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Old October 2, 2012, 10:42 PM   #22
.454 newb
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So I found this thread to get some more info on the 357 since one was for sale locally. Well, I bought it today. It's a nice 6" model with most of the blueing intact. There is a little wear on the front of the cylinder. A quick search on the colt website puts it at 1956. I'm really impressed with this gun. The action is nice and smooth and the trigger in single action is super crisp. There is no end shake and the cylinder gap is nice and tight. The only big flaw, if you can call it that, is it doesn't have the original stocks, there are some right handed target grips on it now. So why was the guy selling it? To free up some cash from a bucket list purchase - he bought a Python. He wanted to raise some quick cash so he included the rug, a speed loader, Hogue monogrip, and a Safariland holster. The holster is made for a Smith and doesn't fit this gun well so I'll probably sell it since don't have anything else that fits it. Maybe someday I'll get a Python too, but for now I'll enjoy this one.

Here are some pics:





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Old October 2, 2012, 11:08 PM   #23
KyJim
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Congratulations on the new gun .454Newb. Looks nice.
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Old October 2, 2012, 11:20 PM   #24
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Quote:
The only big flaw, if you can call it that, is it doesn't have the original stocks,
Well thats a fixable issue. The other issue however is that someone polished the trigger and I think the hammer as well. While not a big deal, sometimes this is done with a re blue. I'm not trying to bust balls or anything. I like to know such info when its the other way around. Nice gun overall.
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Old October 3, 2012, 12:31 AM   #25
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KyJim:

Thanks for the compliment on the engraving. It looks much better in person because in my above photo the flash from my camera washed out the deep bluing on my Colt .357. But, the engraving is very simple and is very pleasing to the eyes. I have never seen another engraved Colt .357.
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