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Old February 6, 2013, 07:53 AM   #1
'88Scrat
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Why Kill off the Snake Series?

This might seem like an odd question but I was wondering if anyone can tell me why Colt quit making the snake series (Diamondback, Python, King Cobra, and Anaconda) of revolvers?

From even a simple monotary standpoint it doesn't seem to make sense, these firearms are VERY highly sought after and are renown for their quality. Demand is still high so why does Colt not wish to supply this demand?

Any chance they'll bring 'em back for a while?

Just wondering alound this morning.
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Old February 6, 2013, 08:15 AM   #2
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IMO two things stop it. First, the cost of paying an actual gunsmith to hand fit and tune the actions. Second, the machinery used to make them was wearing out (according to Colt). The only possibility I see of a "new" snake series, is from a company other than Colt making them as a reproduction or tribute.
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Old February 6, 2013, 08:43 AM   #3
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These revolvers are desireable. But I doubt most people would be willing to pay the price for new production. There will always be legacy buyers, but there are not enough of those to merit the investment and startup costs. And that assumes that they have trained labor at Colt.

Colt sold off (for scrap, I believe) the machinery as it was worn out. This happened after the bankruptcy and purchase by the current owners around 1990 (22 years ago).

IF Colt did come out with a new production revolver, it would likely be in the vein (mechanically) of the Mark V series. There have been rumors of such over the last couple of years.

Let the dead lie.
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Old February 6, 2013, 08:49 AM   #4
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The previous posts nailed it: Production costs.

Revolvers are almost always touted for their reliability over autos. The thing people don't seem to realize is that a lot of older revolvers have many small, intricate parts, and fitting and combining them is much harder than is assembling a modern auto.

Look at the overall trends with other manufacturers. Ruger discontinued the Six series in favor of the GP100 and its descendants, not because the Six was inferior (shooters love them), but because the GP100 was easier to assemble, and is easier to work on.

S&W takes heat for MIM parts, and two-piece barrels, but those measures help hold costs down.

Compare the current costs of autos vs revolvers. When I was a teenager, a quality auto cost about double the price of a similar quality revolver. That ratio has dropped dramatically.

If Colt were to tool up again to produce something like a Python, that ratio would probably reverse.
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Old February 6, 2013, 10:11 AM   #5
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I still want a .41 magnum Colt Anaconda.
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Old February 6, 2013, 10:20 AM   #6
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Hmmm. The tooling for Anaconda and King Cobra... old? worn?
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Old February 6, 2013, 10:26 AM   #7
Bob Wright
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The demand was not so great until after these models were discontinued.

Guns equal to, or better, were available from Smith & Wesson, and remain so.

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Old February 6, 2013, 10:27 AM   #8
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Those "snakes" are highly sought after because they don't make them anymore.

I have long suspected that if Colt was to start making them again, it would just drive the price of the older ones higher. There would be "original or "real" Pythons" and "those new ones." The people who want one now, would still look for the older ones.

You can still get a Model 27 from Smith & Wesson I believe, or at least you could not too long ago, but they don't sell many I don't believe. In the meantime the demand, and the prices, for the older guns just keeps rising.
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Old February 6, 2013, 10:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
The demand was not so great until after these models were discontinued.
Actually the real demand did not begin until the mid-1990's to about 2000. Even as late as 2005, you could still find Colt revolvers (even Diamondbacks and Pythons) at pretty comepetitive prices relative to S&W revolvers. The last 3 years or so have been crazy for certain Colt revolvers.
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Old February 6, 2013, 03:15 PM   #10
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Bob Wright wrote...
" The demand was not so great until after these models were discontinued. Guns equal to, or better, were available from Smith & Wesson, and remain so."
---------------
Personally I agree...and in guns like the S&W model 27's - the S&W's compare very favorably with the Python's ( in looks, triggers, fit - finish, etc ) in my opinion -------and prices on early S&W's, are way more competitive than the Colt versions / for as good a gun ( if not better ) in my opinon.
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Old February 6, 2013, 05:16 PM   #11
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Colt stopped making them to free up factory space to make guns that would generate more profits from less space, and fewer workers. The need for the master craftsman to make the revolvers was also gone freeing up money from labor cost.


It is not they were not making profits from them. They just wanted to go to making something that generated more profit, from less expense.

There were other factors that I will not go into.

Besides my wife says it is time to go shopping.
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Old February 6, 2013, 06:07 PM   #12
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The only Smiths in the same class as a python was the triple lock and the registered magnum.
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Old February 6, 2013, 06:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
The demand was not so great until after these models were discontinued.

Guns equal to, or better, were available from Smith & Wesson, and remain so.
+100.

Quote:
I was wondering if anyone can tell me why Colt quit making the snake series (Diamondback, Python, King Cobra, and Anaconda) of revolvers?
Don't forget about the more obscure Colt snake guns such as the Boa (MKV trooper action with Python barrel), the Viper (Police Positive Special airweight 4in) and the Cobra (D frame airweight, often are snubnose). And last but not least, the Colt Garter snake, a 5 shot 22 short revolver. RARE!

Too bad they put so much effort into low production guns. Its a shame what happened to Colt, but then again, when you make your bed...

Quote:
The only Smiths in the same class as a python was the triple lock and the registered magnum.
Ya, if you buy the Python kool-aid. Just about any 5 screw S&W is as good as a Python. The sights were better, triggers are great on the old S&Ws, and let me tell ya, old S&W bluing is just as "royal". I mean come on man, tell me this isn't as nice as a Python (5 screw 357 magnum, shipped 1951):



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Old February 6, 2013, 07:08 PM   #14
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Those guns are desireable NOW because they are out of production and collectibles. When they were being made, not enough people wanted them and those who did didn't want to pay the price that would have had to be charged to make a profit. And if Colt brought them back today, exactly as they were, and sold them at a competitive price, no one would want them because they are an obsolete design. And if they brought them back and charged enough to make a profit, the guns would cost $1500 apiece and no one would buy them.

As for bringing out a new design that could be produced and sold at a good price, they tried that; Colt fans slammed them for copying S&W and stayed away in droves.

Art buyers know all about the "death dividend." An artist's work goes begging until he dies, then it becomes collectible and the prices skyrocket.

Same thing.

Jim
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Old February 6, 2013, 08:48 PM   #15
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Colt stopped because demand plunged with the advent of the "wonder nine" of that era. Everyone was switching to bottom feeders, including most LE agencies. Add in Colt's labor issues and the decision was an easy one to make. Just because they were high-priced then as now, does not mean Colt made a huge profit. Their union labor costs were bankrupting the company
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Old February 6, 2013, 09:17 PM   #16
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kcub said:
Quote:
The only Smiths in the same class as a python was the triple lock and the registered magnum.
I will certainly diasgree with you there. I've owned and shot many .357 Magnum double action revovlers, and I consider the L-Framed Distinguished Combat Magnum, Model 586, to be the finest double action revolver made yet. The ".357 Magnum" (later to become the Model 27) is a fine revolver, but is a tad too much for the .357 Magnum round. That, plus the fact that it and the Python shared one fault, in my opinion, of having a rather short cylinder. The Model 19 compensated for this with a longer cylinder, but lacked enough "beef" in the frame. This was corrected in the Model 586.

That's my findings at any rate.

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Old February 6, 2013, 09:29 PM   #17
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The reasons for Colt being pushed out of the da revolver market were complex and they took place over a 30 year span of time.

Quote:
Their union labor costs were bankrupting the company
This was never true. Labor costs though were one aspect of the problems.

Colt was greatly mis-managed over several decades and the story is a painful one full of bad decisions one after another.

Bottom line is that Colt lost the law enforcement wheelgun market in the post war period to S&W and Ruger.

A few years ago when they were still making Pythons, Anacondas, etc. the guns were not selling. For $400. less than a Colt a fella could get a new Ruger, and that's what people did.

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Old February 6, 2013, 09:40 PM   #18
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Python fans usually cite the Colt finish and the smooth action. But any gun company can get that finish if they want to take the time to do it. And the S&W action is not generally smoother than that of the Python, but it can be made smoother with a minimum of work, plus it is non-stacking. Getting that Python action takes a lot of time.

Finish is all very well, but let me ask this. If you are the CEO of a gun company, and you can sell all the guns you can make, do you make as many guns as you can with a nice finish to sell at a good price, or do you turn out a third that number with a superlative finish to sell at only a little higher price? I think the question answers itself.

Jim
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Old February 6, 2013, 09:40 PM   #19
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I've got 2

I want the other 2
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Old February 6, 2013, 10:06 PM   #20
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"For $400. less than a Colt a fella could get a new Ruger."

Not just a Ruger.

I think the first people to get carried away with the Python mystique was Colt. In 1967, the Python in Royal Blue was $135; an S&W Model 19 was $120, and a Model 27 was $130. So the Python was very competitive. (There were no Ruger DA's.)

In 1998, the Colt Python, in Royal Blue, had gone up to $815; the S&W Model 19 to $430. The Ruger GP-100 was $440. But other Colts were still competitive with S&W and Ruger.

So either Colt's cost had risen sharply on the Python alone, or they were milking the Python mystique for all it was worth.

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Old February 6, 2013, 10:17 PM   #21
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I think in the 60's and 70's a lot of people thought of the Ruger kinda like they think of the Taurus now.
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Old February 6, 2013, 10:24 PM   #22
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Quote:
In 1998, the Colt Python, in Royal Blue, had gone up to $815; the S&W Model 19 to $430. The Ruger GP-100 was $440. But other Colts were still competitive with S&W and Ruger.

So either Colt's cost had risen sharply on the Python alone, or they were milking the Python mystique for all it was worth.
The other Colt's in the lineup in 1998 were using a much cheaper to assemble, less labor intensive lockwork than the Python, that still used the old hand fitted older style set up.

Add in the more time consuming polishing jobs to get that super deep blue or mirror bright stainless (S&W's finishes of that era.. even the 27's of that era aren't as nice) and that explains some of the price difference.


Isn't 98 about the time S&W started using MIM parts to keep labor and parts costs down?

Last edited by savit260; February 6, 2013 at 10:30 PM.
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Old February 6, 2013, 10:36 PM   #23
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I owned a couple of Pythons in the early 80s. Beautifull pieces, great blueing, and very accurate. However, they did not like hard use, often went out of time and spit copper out of the cylinder gap. Trigger was hard to tune and S&W ate their lunch with their trigger sytem and production of the L frame guns (586 & 686). Colt was also in financial trouble at this time and the "Snakes" were expensive to manufacture. Colt fell behind the time and never could catch up, at least as far as revolvers were concerned. Really is too bad. One of my favorite guns was a Detective Special.

Last edited by sam colt; February 7, 2013 at 04:55 PM.
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Old February 7, 2013, 01:57 PM   #24
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I'll take a model 27 ( no dash ...up thru a dash 2 ) ...especially in Nickel...over any Colt Python made....

but that's not saying the Python isn't a good gun.../ but its sure not the finest revolver out there either..
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Old February 7, 2013, 02:48 PM   #25
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Sure, the Snake series, especially the Python, is highly sought after now, but that's because they don't make them anymore.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s semiauto pistols became popular and demand for revolvers dropped like a stone. (Prices were rock bottom on the used market then too. I bought a mint ANIB Python for $500 in 1992, S&W 14s for $200, etc. Wish I had bought even more.)

Between S&W, Ruger and Colt there was way more production capacity than demand and something had to give. Turned out it was Colt.
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