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Old August 6, 2009, 10:34 PM   #1
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357 Magnum: Colt Python v. S&W 686 Plus

So I've decided to go with a 357 Mag combo lever action rifle and pistol. I've decided on the lever action: Marlin 1894C and am debating between a used Colt Python or a new S&W 686 Plus, both in Stainless Steel with 4" barrels. I've held them both and dry fired them both and like them both. The Used Python is a pretty good deal at my local dealer's place compared to what I been following on GB, but I can still get a new 686 Plus for around $300 less. I like the fact that the Plus carries 7 shots to the Python's 6. But the Python is Python! Can I really go wrong with either? Is the Python really worth that much more than the 686 Plus? Will the Python hold value that much better than a 686?

Any thoughts and feedback are welcome. Thanks.
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Old August 6, 2009, 11:54 PM   #2
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I'm no expert on either... but I'm "first on the scene" here, so I'll offer thoughts.

The two guns will have "value" for drastically different reasons. The S&W will have value because of the reputation for quality from S&W and the demand that a good L-frame Smith always has as a shooter.

The Colt will have a serious collectible "value" because of the mystique of the ultra-smooth Colt revolver. Not only are Pythons extinct... Colt doesn't even make double action revolvers anymore.

The Python has always had the reputation of having the finest, smoothest action of any factory double action revolver in the world. Along with that reputation is one for it's internals being fragile and prone to going out of time.

If you want to buy a revolver that gets a lot of looks and generates envy, or something that will make eyeballs pop out on stalks when it gets inherited, the Python is a better way to go.

If you are buying a revolver to shoot often, holster and carry through the woods and perhaps hunt with, I think the extra money is lost on the Python and the "value" of it fades as it gets worn.

If you had one of each and both were pristine, the Colt would be worth more, hold it's value better and have a much better chance at increasing in worth over time. S&W churns out L-frames by the crate.

One suggestion for going in a third direction? Look for a pre-lock, non-Hillary hole used 686. If you find one that's in new condition and looks or seems unfired, it'll be worth more than a brand new one you buy tomorrow. (IMO)
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Old August 7, 2009, 06:25 AM   #3
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686 vote

I have a Python and two 686s, and I would tend to go with the 686 in a used, pre-lock version. I bought my Python 10 years ago for $630, and it is probably worth $1,200 today. It is in 98% condition and just sits in the safe because I don't want to harm it.

My 6 inch 686 was bought new in 1995 for about $360. I have used it a lot, and it is a great shooter. I suppose it is worth $500 plus today. My 2.5 inch 686 was bought last year for $595. The 686s shoot just as well as the Python, and cost about half as much. They will all go up in value at about the same percentage rate, I believe.

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Old August 7, 2009, 06:30 AM   #4
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That's a tough one. I'm not a collector, but, I'd have a hard time using the Colt as a working gun. If you plan on using this revolver a lot, I'd likely just go with the S&W. The S&W is an outstanding revolver and in my opinion, the 686 is the best one out there.

If you plan on not shooting the revolver very often (or at all), buy the Colt and lock it up. I'm sure the value will continue to increase on it. Not sure I could actually buy a revolver and not shoot it however.
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Old August 7, 2009, 06:57 AM   #5
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Owned a Python for a year and got rid of it. Very smooth action, but my hands are normal size and the double action reach was too far. Have owned several K and N frame Smiths, so I'm sure you'll be delighted with the L frame.
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Old August 7, 2009, 07:15 AM   #6
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Python to collect, 686 to shoot.
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Old August 7, 2009, 07:36 AM   #7
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As was pointed out above, the Python's larger value is due in part to being no longer in production.
The 686 being a currently made gun is the cheaper way to go for sure.
Most collectors are buying at least one Python for their collection and most are putting them up as safe queens.
Don't get me wrong, plenty are out there still being fired, but the whole collectible thing and icon status will keep those prices high.
That being said, with what you're intending to do with your gun, buy the 686 and don't look back.
One more thing, if you've been a wheel gun guy and have shot a lot of revolvers, it may get tough getting used to shooting a "7" shooter. I sold mine when I could not stop shooting 6 shot's and dropping brass. There was always one live round on the ground and 6 empties.
I now own the 6 shot versions of the 686 only.

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Old August 7, 2009, 07:50 AM   #8
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I have both and actually prefer shooting the 686. Like the other poster said - Pythons look nice but are somewhat fragile. The Python can't do anything the 686 can't do at least as well. I bought my Python to see what the hype was all about. It may have a certain mystique but that's about it, just my opinion obviously.
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Old August 7, 2009, 08:36 AM   #9
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I own a 6", blued Python, built in 1978, and it's far from "fragile". It's sturdy, accurate, and is superior to the 686 in quality. (I also own a 686).

Mine has had over 25K rounds put through it, and it's as tight as the day I bought it new.

Both will serve your purpose, but I would prefer the Python.
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Old August 7, 2009, 08:45 AM   #10
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Posts: 123 a couple of them and still have less in them than if you bought a Colt that was in decent shape.
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Old August 7, 2009, 09:17 AM   #11
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Pythons look nice but are somewhat fragile.
Skooter... how many Pythons have you worn out or had problems with ?
Actual experience talking or just internet reading telling you this ?

Thanks for your time, Jeff (GUNKWAZY)
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Old August 7, 2009, 09:18 AM   #12
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Something to consider. there are fewer gunsmiths who work on Pythons. Everybody works on Smith and Wessons. If you could afford to, I would buy both. Shoot the Colt occasionally. Shoot the Smith alot. best of both worlds.
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Old August 7, 2009, 09:23 AM   #13
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The Python is fragile myth is just that -- a myth. After extended firing, they may need to be tuned. However, I agree with most of those posting here. If you plan on carrying and shooting, get the 686 unless the Python has a scratched finish or less than 90% finish remaining. If it's in that shape, consider it a shooter and buy it instead.
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Old August 7, 2009, 09:24 AM   #14
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About once every two or three years, I make the following remarks to guys in the same predicament....I guess it's been 2-3 years so here goes.

Most shooters (including me) have faced your delima. Here's what works for me and why.

I own a number of handguns. They are tools. I like to shoot them and sometimes go armed. That's it! That's the only reason that I own them. Greatest assets are reliability, and functionality. From what you have said, I think you are the same. Collecting and shooting are not compatible in the same firearm. I am a shooter.

Collectors (unlike investors) enjoy pride of ownership. They are not shooters (at least of the firearms that they are collecting). They may have other pieces that they shoot but the collectible pieces stay at home. Handling, dropping, shooting, laying on the table at the range and especially carrying, diminish their greatest asset.....Condition! Above all else, they want that specimen to be rare and appear as pristine as possible. No disrespect intended at all to collectors but I am not a collector. If I own it, I am going to shoot it, carry it, probably accidentally drop it and lay it where ever I please. Notice that I did not say abuse or handle carelessly. That's different. But it is a tool and must do it's job.

This is something all shooters and collectors must recognize and resolve in order to function effectively and enjoy the hobby. That is not an easy thing at first. The S&W will work well. You might even come to prize the scratch on the grip as you recall the time you fell down and created it. Though there are doubtless those who will argue, the beautiful Python is likely more fragile and subject to disfunction. Especially if handled roughly or with varying loads. And it's value will deminish each time that you use it.

Go buy the Smith. Use and enjoy it. If you still lust for one of those beautiful Pythons go buy it too and keep it in the safe. It is far too valuable for a trail gun.

No disrespect intended but you and I are not collectors.


Last edited by PigPen; August 7, 2009 at 09:39 AM.
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Old August 7, 2009, 09:26 AM   #15
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Why not Ruger?

If you're planning to actually shoot that revolver - Ruger GP-100 seems a better choice than either of the two you mentioned.
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Old August 7, 2009, 10:26 AM   #16
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If you're planning to actually shoot that revolver - Ruger GP-100 seems a better choice than either of the two you mentioned.
Didn't know that the GP-100 was offered in a 7 shot option.
If in fact you decide to toss a gun not asked about into the mix, you should at least put some facts or reasons as to why that person should pick something they were not even asking about.

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Old August 7, 2009, 12:49 PM   #17
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I have fired the Python an have a S&W 586 that was tuned by Bill Davis Co. It is as smooth as a Python and a lot cheaper to aquire.

It's a commemerative but still a shooter I have no real Safe Queens
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Old August 7, 2009, 01:55 PM   #18
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686's are my favorite revolver, I've got a 6" -3 from '89 and 4" -6 that was made earlier this year and my stepdad has a 6" SS Python I grew up shooting. The Python beats my newer 686-6 as far as the trigger goes and in looks, IMO, the Python wins again. However, my 20 year old 686-3 has been well treated by me and previous owners and it's trigger easily matches the Python.
Both will hold value just fine, but the Python will be worth a lot more in the long run compared to your initial cost. If you're looking for something to really increase in worth, the 686 just can't compete w/ a Python. In my area used the 586 and 686's run $400-550, while I've never seen a Python for under $1K. For just a shooter, I'd have to go w/ the 686. Pythons make great shooters too, but I couldn't bring it to the range everytime like I do w/ my 686's knowing in a few years they may be going for $3-5K used while 686's will be selling for a 1/4 of that new.

Last edited by bumnote; August 7, 2009 at 03:10 PM.
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Old August 7, 2009, 04:55 PM   #19
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I've had Pythons since the early 80s and none of them have ever broken. One is a late 70s model, one early 70s, and another is late 60s. None are box queens and all get shot, the 8" one with heavy loads. Maybe it isn't the best thing to do for them but they seem to hold up fine. My early 70s gun is an ex-service piece, has been shot and carryed a lot and looks the part.

I'd use one as a work gun, why not? It's yours, who you saving for, the person that owns it once you pass through? Shoot it, enjoy it. Guns are meant to be shot.

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Old August 7, 2009, 07:49 PM   #20
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Python to collect, 686 to shoot.

Buy both
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Old August 7, 2009, 09:48 PM   #21
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I have some of each,they are both fine revolvers.If I were to buy now I would buy a 686, because the Python's are so darned expensive.If you can get a Python dirt cheap, buy the Python.
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Old August 15, 2009, 12:44 PM   #22
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If the extra money is no object get the Python. I was lucky enough to buy mine 20 years ago. They are only going up.

But if the 3 bills pinches, get the 686 and don't look back, it's a fine gun.

I have a 19 rather than a 686. I alternate shooting it and the Python. I like them both.
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Old August 15, 2009, 02:30 PM   #23
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I don't think you can go wrong with either. However, for the price of the Python, you might take a look at the S&W 627PC, an 8 shooter.

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Last edited by Hook686; August 15, 2009 at 02:38 PM.
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Old August 15, 2009, 10:58 PM   #24
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Old August 16, 2009, 01:03 AM   #25
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Colt Python

I have a Colt Python. I also have a few other revolvers. However, I am yet to find a better double action pull than that of a Python's. I think it is the finest out there and it will increase in value as Colt's snake series is now thing of a better past. As for SW or Ruger they might be good for duty sidearms, but dont compare to Python for collector's value in the long run.

I would say go for a Python, and then down the road add 686 (or any other new SW since they are still made) and a Ruger GP100 or SRH in .44 Magnum.

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