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Old June 2, 2013, 05:23 PM   #1
Cousin Pat
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Python maintenance

I want one, of course -- but I keep reading that they are hard to maintain, i.e. that Colt won't service them, parts are scarce and that the gun -- with full power loads shot often -- often does develop timing problems. Python owners... advice please!
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Old June 2, 2013, 07:22 PM   #2
Sharpsdressed Man
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Some guns seem to do better than others, which makes evaluating them even worse. I have had several, and each seemed to develop problems with locking into battery if cocked slowly, and I could never find a local gunsmith, or reasonable long distance repair/maintenance due to the high price of shipping handguns nowadays. Thus, they became cost prohibitive to me for a regular shooting revolver, and although not as pretty, I moved to the Ruger Security Six for a .357 that never seems to need service.
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Old June 2, 2013, 07:45 PM   #3
James K
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I know I will catch flak for this (as I have in the past), but it is very common for the old type Colts to not carry up when cocked slowly or when the cylinder is held back. Unless they are well worn or broken, they will always do so when the trigger is pulled or when cocked normally. Some will say that failure to carry up means a worn out gun; all I can say is that I handled hundreds of brand new Colts, right out of the box, and at least half would not carry up and lock if cocked slowly.

Of course, the experts who insist the gun is "out of time" or "worn out" will tell you that only some super expert can possibly fix it, at a cost of only $500 or so.

If the cylinder locks up in normal cocking, don't worry about it.

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Old June 2, 2013, 07:56 PM   #4
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I've personally had 3 Colts I sent back to Colt for repair. If your Python needs re-timed / repaired for lockup, call in first. Knowing Colt, they probably changed again which they will work on and which they will not.

I had 3 Colt DA revolvers which all needed work as stated. A 1953 OMM 22LR (it was actaully a friend of mines, but I sent it in), a 1954 357 model (before the Python) and a 1968 Python.

In all 3 instances, the gun would either move out of alignment manually when the hammer was back, or when the trigger was held back. When the hammer is back, the Colt should hardly move at all, and definitely not out of alignment. When the trigger is held back, the lockup should be the so called "tight as a drum" and there should be ZERO play. Calling in each time, Colt confirmed that the gun needed service. The Python and the OMM were $85 (labor plus return shipping) plus the cost of sending to them. That was well worth it. However, the 357 model needed IIRC an extra part which also meant more labor, and that bill was $180 approx, plus return shipping, about $195 total, and of course the shipping to them. Luckily I didn't pay retail for that gun.

I've shot and encountered many others, and they were fine. I would say however, that the issue is common enough to where you should check the revolver thoroughly before purchase. Colt actually does not work on most of their DA models, so if you encounter this problem with say a New Service, Cobra etc you are out of luck. For the record, they work on very few of their models, at all. IIRC they don't work on Woodsmans, Cobras, any pre war revolvers, etc. I decided one day, for future reference to ask which they do and do not work, and the "Do not" list was substantially longer.

My friend decided to sell the OMM after getting it fixed and I sold my Python after getting it fixed. Due to the scarcity of the 357 model, I have kept that gun.
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Old June 2, 2013, 08:56 PM   #5
James K
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Maybe we should have sent all those new guns right back; maybe Colt would have learned to get it right the first time.

We did send back an OP that came with great timing, a nice blue, pretty walnut stocks, a test target with a "50 cent" size group - and no hole in the barrel. We didn't think it was supposed to be that way.

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Old June 2, 2013, 11:10 PM   #6
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After reading about the troubles that others have had with their double action Colts, I decided to check mine. Now let me be the first to say that I am not going by a large sample as I only have three to examine.

First up was my 1964 vintage Python: No matter how slowly I cock it it locks up perfect on every chamber.

Second was my 1933 New Service in .45 Colt: Sure enough, on three of the six chambers the cylinder did not move completely into battery by just the action of the hammer, however when the trigger was pulled the cylinder carried up fully into battery. When cocking the hammer normally the cylinder would go fully into battery every time.

Third was my 1930 Officers Model Target: On this one, every chamber exhibited the same failure to fully go into battery when cocked very slowly. However, just as with the New Service, when it was cocked normally it locked up perfectly on every chamber.

I have shot all these guns and have never seen any sign of them shaving lead. While the NS is a gun that has been around a bit, when I bought the Python and the OMT, neither showed signs of much use.

I really don't care whether there are minor issues with my Colt DA revolvers, I am glad I bought my Python and I enjoy shooting it and all my other Colts.

That being said, I mostly collect Smith and Wessons.

Last edited by highpower3006; June 2, 2013 at 11:15 PM.
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Old June 3, 2013, 02:13 AM   #7
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an OP that came with great timing, a nice blue, pretty walnut stocks, a test target with a "50 cent" size group - and no hole in the barrel.

Gee...that's usually an included item. Did you look around in the box? Maybe it had fallen out, you know, during shipping.

Did Colt provide an 'explanation' when they sent it back?
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Old June 3, 2013, 12:57 PM   #8
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Colts are wierd. If you trigger cock the gun, very slowly and with a little bit of drag on the cylinder, it may or may not lock up before the hammer falls. But, if you were pulling the trigger naturally, just as the hammer falls, the trigger will continue back the last couple thousands of an inch and the cylinder WILL lock up before the hammer gets to the primer. If, however, you thumb cock them, they will generally lock up as the hammer reaches full cock. If not, then generally as you press the trigger and give it that extra little push on the pawl...or hand...(depending on if you are a Colt guy or a Smith guy).

Once locked up, a properly timed Colt is awesome to behold, far superior to a S&W. I'm not sure that much lock up is necessary, nor desirable, but, it is impressive. As a matter of fact, a Smith armorer would argue that a revolver should NOT lock up that tight, that a little bit of wiggle room keeps everything more reliable.

Being pretty much a S&W shooter, the Colt action used to drive me nuts, I thought they were all out of time. It just works differently. The Colt two part hand works when the second pawl pushes the cylinder into final lock up. A Smith uses the hand as a wedge against the frame for final lock up. They are both good designs, just different.

I can work on a Smith revolver and have spare parts around, including oversized hands, so, I prefer the Smith.
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Old June 3, 2013, 01:05 PM   #9
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I can and will do repairs, maintenance, and tune-ups on old Colt revolvers. And yes, I do know how. If you need info, you can PM me.
Never try to educate someone who resists knowledge at all costs.
But what do I know?
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Old June 3, 2013, 02:41 PM   #10
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When I had one I found that compared to my Colt Trooper .357 it was so finely fitted that it required much more cleaning. 50 rounds of 2.7 grains of Bullseye were enough to lock up the cylinder. I became very adept at removing it from the frame.
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Old June 3, 2013, 02:58 PM   #11
James K
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I agree that the Python, being basically a hand tuned revolver, might well lock up perfectly every time, but highpower's experience with other Colts is the far more common situation. On these sites, there is often a Colt expert who will say that any revolver that won't carry up and lock, even with a pipe wrench on the cylinder, is defective and needs major repairs. That is just not so. Now if a gun is shaving lead, or the firing pin strikes are not centered on the primers, or if the cylinder won't carry up when the trigger is pulled or the hammer cocked at a normal speed, then the revolver is out of time and needs looking at. But the gun with a cylinder that won't quite lock if cocked slowly or the cylinder held back, probably is just fine in normal operation.

Dale, Colt never said anything; the distributor sent us a new gun.

Yes, we looked in the box for that hole, but never found it. We didn't even find any rifling laying around. Seriously, howinheck did that target get fired? Did Colt have someone with a .35 Marlin shooting those targets? The only thing we figured out was that they test fired the gun, then found some defect in the barrel and sent it back to the shop and they goofed, big time.

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