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Discussion Starter #1
Saw this posted in a Colt Forum about why Colt won't ever manufacture a Python.

I understand that the the Python lock work was pretty much hand fitted, and that most if not all the tooling needed to make the parts has been sold or destroyed. This is what I have read, not from any personal knowledge.

I do understand that it, even with modern manufacturing techniques it would still be cost prohibitive to manufacture the Python of old.

But one poster indicated that modern CNC machining was incapable
of producing these parts, should Colt (or someone) want to.

I know absolutely nothing about machining, either old or new, but I find that hard to believe.

Anyone have any idea?
 

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I apologize in advance to those who may find the following offensive.

Back in the day, I worked on a couple of Colts (not Pythons) with the old action the Python used. I can't think of a reason anyone would want to replicate that action. Anyone who's watched the opening stock shot of Elementary that shows a ball bearing rolling around to do something has seen something similar to that lockwork.

If you can find the right programmer, I expect CNC can make it. You'd still end up hand fitting the bits. The entire process would turn the end product into a multi-thousand dollar revolver with a limited market that would doom the entire enterprise.

Perhaps Bill Gates needs a tax write off.....except he's busy funding anti-firearm initiatives.
 

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The larger parts such as the hammer and trigger certainly could be made by CNC, but it still wouldn't be cheap. No matter what you do, you will still have to have a person switch the position and securing of the parts to do all sides, so it will take a good amount of time still. When you think of 1 CNC machine, vs. the old way of a line of mills with fixtures, the old way probably turns out a part faster just because the swapping in the fixtures is probably faster. Actual machining and cutting time would probably be a wash against a good man on a mill. The smaller parts would just complicate the process much more, further driving up the costs.

The advantage you get with the CNC part is the near perfect dimensions every time, that saves on fitting time and warranty returns. But CNC machined small parts are rare, it's not a very cost effective way to make small parts.

MIM is THE way to make revolver internals despite what the "experts" on the internet say.

As for the Colt lockwork, I find nothing wrong with it at all. No it doesn't lend itself to modern manufacturing very well, but the design was very solid in its day. Contrary to popular opinion of more "experts" the lockwork is not "fragile" at all. In fact, the Python is one brute strong, very tough revolver.

The Mk III / Mk V actions are much more simple and it's a solid design. The Mk III's have VERY smooth actions in general, just the hammer springs were a bit over-done. Some of the best action jobs I've ever done were on Mk III's, they are an absolute delight to work on. Colt abandoned the Mk III's sintered internals after some failures and went to investment casting, which only degraded the design. Still, the investment cast internals of the Mk V actions can be cleaned up quite well for excellent triggers also, just takes a bit more work.

Then you have the barrels. Those Python barrels were forged, drilled and the rifling was broach cut. NO one makes barrels that way anymore. And that's because the way S&W makes barrels these days is cheaper and results in a more accurate revolver with a barrel with rifling that's half as smooth. Still, of everything they would have to make, the barrels would be at least doable. They could either do a very good casting, or even a forging, then EDM cut the rifling, and then do a good deal of hand lapping just to match what a S&W barrel is capable of. S&W does a tension at both ends fit over the barrel shroud, similar to a Dan Wesson barrel, only the S&W is permanent.

CNC would be a Godsend for milling the frame and sideplate, once the frame has been forged or cast, so that could be a decent savings, but not nearly enough to keep costs down to something manageable. Those 100% milled internals are what's going to kill you.

So unless the market was willing to pay 4 grand per revolver (and they won't), and buy a lot of them at that price (they wont), or are willing to accept parts made from MIM (and they won't), the Python is dead. Even if the market would accept MIM internals (and they wouldn't), I don't think the Python hammer & trigger could be properly done with MIM, too big. it would have to have hollow cavities that were visible from the outside and that would just kill the look and feel.

At the end of the day, you'd end up with a very good looking revolver (and the Python is a looker) for at least 3x the cost of a S&W or Ruger, with performance on par with the S&W or Ruger. If you did things exceptionally well, you might have a slight accuracy edge over the S&W or Ruger, but it won't be a big difference. And with S&W's MIM internals, you're one spring job away from better than Python triggers (out of the box that is, nothing will beat a properly tuned Python trigger).

Just my .02 on the matter.
 

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Kevin Gibson, et. al.,

Of ALL of the six-guns, the long-barreled Python is my all-time favorite. - I carried a "tuned" six-incher for about 10 years as my duty weapon & I can find no flaws in a Python, other than cost.
(I've seen "my brother of the heart", who is not only a competition shooter but SEES better than I can, numerous times put all 6 into one ragged hole at 25M.)

Further, when I was at the NCTRP academy, we had a Python that had endless thousands of rounds fired through it by rookies & while it "looked like H", it still shot better than I could hold it.

yours, sw
 

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I discussed the "timing issue" which isn't an issue on another thread. Unless you specifically abuse it, a Python will take anything you can throw at it. One of these days I'll get me a 4" stainless and that will be my last .357. Until then, my next .357 will be an original Colt .357 which is a Python action with a skinny barrel. Imagine a S&W 19 but in a Pyton. The original Colt .357's or first series Troopers are THE best deal in a .357 revolver on the used market.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Believe me guys, I take no offense at what anyone on this board thinks about Pythons (or anything else, really). The very best thing about the people here as that they express honest opinions based on their knowledge and experience, and we all realize that.

I am not placing the Colt Python on any kind of pedestal...well, except that I find the 6" blued Python one of the prettiest revolvers in the history of revolvers. YMMV. I was just amazed that modern manufacturing methods couldn't make an "updated" version of the Python, perhaps with new internals that would be easier to manufacture but still deliver the feel of its granpa. I know the true diehards would cry foul. But if I could buy one at a reasonable price (which I realize would still be really, really pricey), I would. Bet other folks would too. Heck I bought a Model 29-10 Classic because it looked nice and had a great trigger pull and was accurate as I could ask for. And it is waaay different from the 29-2 that I owned.
 

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I completely agree that the Python is gorgeous but the lockwork is the spawn of satan.

It's just fine until something goes wrong.
 

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Charlie Petty,

Pardon me for saying that: You could say the same of a Mercedes-Benz 540SEC by AMG, which is a contemporary of the Python.
(I'd also like to own one of the SECs, despite their high price & mechanical complexity.)

yours, sw
 

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Charlie Petty,

Well, I have worked on our old Division CG's (Euro-spec) emerald green 540SEC & even changing the points, plugs, condensors, oil & filters was: a PROJECT.
(MG B________ used to let me borrow his treasured SEC to drive on dates, when I was a young GI, in BRD. = It made me almost physically sick when his lady ran it under a truck exiting the autobahn & totaled it.)
BUT
I've never worked on a Colt's Python.
(My 6" barreled one wasn't ever touched by a gunsmith, after a DPS armorer "slicked up the trigger" to "butter smooth" & "like breaking glass", shortly after I bought it in 1970, despite the many rounds that went down the barrel.)

As my GF used to say: "That's what makes horseraces."

yours, sw
 

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So the Colt DA revolver is certainly more work to disassemble and put back together. As for action work, there's very little real serious work to be done on the parts themselves because the factory got the mating surfaces pretty smooth. In fact, even though you still touch everything up, most times I doubt it made any difference at all. But the customer is paying for you to make everything perfect, so you just do it. For the DA Colt's revolvers, the real work is on the leaf springs, and that can be a bit maddening. Tweaking and re-forming them so they lighten the DA pull, still set off a hard primer, and doesn't hinder the trigger return, that's the real work...the work that will drive you to drink. I do it by re-forming the mainspring by adding a second very subtle bend at a point about 1/5 the way up from the 180 degree bend at the bottom of the spring. This lightens up the DA pull and also reduces the "stacking" effect. But it's scary work to do because if you get it wrong, you have to de-temper the spring, re-form it, re-harden, re-draw, test the spring and start over...and that sucks big time.
 

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Kevin Gibson,

THANKS for the info. = And here I wondered why I've never taken a Colt down & "tinkered with" it. - Now I know..
(CHUCKLE)

yours, sw
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Kevin Gibson,

THANKS for the info. = And here I wondered why I've never taken a Colt down & "tinkered with" it. - Now I know..
(CHUCKLE)

yours, sw
I took the side plate off a Police Positive once...I put it back on pretty quick. :D
But then I have trouble following the instructions that come with my grandson's Lego sets...he doesn't, but me? :oops:
 

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Discussion Starter #15
I do it by re-forming the mainspring by adding a second very subtle bend at a point about 1/5 the way up from the 180 degree bend at the bottom of the spring. This lightens up the DA pull and also reduces the "stacking" effect. But it's scary work to do because if you get it wrong, you have to de-temper the spring, re-form it, re-harden, re-draw, test the spring and start over...and that sucks big time.
So do you think it is even possible for some bright design team to come up with a lockwork that would be easier and cheaper to manufacture and still provide a smooth double action pull? I know, it wouldn't be the "classic" Python.

But the new Dodge Challenger Hellcat isn't the "classic" Challenger. But it has 707 HP (uhh...and a $58,000 list price)!!
 

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I took the side plate off a Police Positive once...I put it back on pretty quick. :D
RotflmRao. = Understood. a "gunsmith", I'm NOT.
(Thankfully, I've NEVER needed to "tinker with" a Colt & I've owned a couple of dozen or more over my career, including the "tuned up" Python that I mentioned above.)

yours, sw
 

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Was That DPS Armorer...

My 6" barreled one wasn't ever touched by a gunsmith, after a DPS armorer "slicked up the trigger" to "butter smooth" & "like breaking glass", shortly after I bought it in 1970, despite the many rounds that went down the barrel.
...the late Reeves Jungkind? Reeves tuned my Python and the only regret I have is that a gun writer who need not be named had persuaded me that there was no point chambering the .357 Magnum in a revolver with a barrel as short as four inches. I really wish that I'd have gotten a 4" gun to start with instead of the 6" one that I bought. Of course I also wish that I'd have whipped out my credit card back in November 1991 and had that gun shop in Newburg OR hold that 3" Python for me until I could have had a dealer back home send them a signed copy of an FFL for shipment. :grumble:
 

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In re: spring bending.

Somewhere, I've got the specs on the size drill stock and exactly where to insert it into that V spring to produce the correct bend upon cocking the revolver. I'd forgotten all about that until Kevin made his post about spring bending.

If I'm at all lucky, I'll forget all about it again until after I'm dead.
 

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spwenger,

Even though I'm talking about nearly 45 years ago & "I've slept since then", I think that it was Mr. Jungkind that did the absolute MAGIC on my 6" Python.
(Btw, I gave the Python/holster/gun-belt to my nephew on Christmas in 2006, after he went to Texas A&M, with the proviso that he would NEVER sell it & would pass it on to his son, if any. = I naively thought that K.T. would follow me into law enforcement BUT he married a devout "church lady" & turned out to be a Baptist PREACHER, of all things!!)

Incidentally, Pythons have ALWAYS been $$$$$$$. = I spent nearly a month's "rookie deputy's" pay on mine, before I holstered it for the first time & went out on night patrol.
(As some here know, I started out "on the job" with a pre-WWII version of the S&W Model 10/gunbelt/holster that my mother paid 40bucks for, when I was sworn in 4 days after my 18th birthday.)

yours, sw
 

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So do you think it is even possible for some bright design team to come up with a lockwork that would be easier and cheaper to manufacture and still provide a smooth double action pull? I know, it wouldn't be the "classic" Python.

But the new Dodge Challenger Hellcat isn't the "classic" Challenger. But it has 707 HP (uhh...and a $58,000 list price)!!
The early Colt's DA action is very unique. Can you make it in a modern fashion? Absolutely, you could MIM the small parts, investment cast and hand finish the larger parts. A big key to the Python's action is the design and weight of the hammer, that allows a gunsmith to reduce the mainspring to ridiculously low weights. So you'd have to keep the dynamics of the hammer pretty much exactly the same, and you won't be able to do that with MIM, would have to be investment cast. And to keep that fine Python look and feel, you'd have to hand finish/polish the hammer to make it right. The trigger could be MIM'd because it's skinny outside the frame, and the recessed voids could be hidden under the sideplate.

Forgo forging and do a frame casting that's CNC machined, and then make the barrels the same way S&W makes theirs. You can do that and still end up with the exact same performance, maybe even better performance as a real Python. But I don't think the market would tolerate a cast/MIM Python unless it was REALLY cheap, like around $1,000.00….I just can't see them hitting that price point.

But if you had cast/MIM internals you could still duplicate that Python action feel, and gunsmiths could still do the same "magic". So in essence you could use modern manufacturing and re-create the Python experience without making a "real" Python.

But here's the problem, setup. MIM is VERY expensive to setup, and it's not real cheap per part either. It's considerably more expensive than investment casting, and only a little less expensive than a fully machined part. So contrary to popular internet opinion, MIM isn't cheap. But MIM is VERY precise and allows you to make parts that require pretty much no hand fitting, and the end result is a gun that probably won't come back for warranty work. Investment casting is cheap and easy and if you have Ruger's Pinetree Casting do the casting, the end part is amazingly precise. So all the investment cast internals, the frame casting, and barrel shroud could be done right and at a decent price. I said decent price, not cheap. Pinetree is the best in the business and they know it, so it's much more costly than most other investment casting outfits. So all the setup to make the gun would be very costly, and the only way you can make that work is if you're VERY confident you can sell a lot of them. And no one's selling a LOT of revolvers these days (as a percentage of the handgun market).

So it's not so much a matter of can it be done, it can be done. It's a matter of will the buying public buy the gun, and I personally don't think they would, unless they hit a remarkable price point. And it's sad because there's nothing wrong with revolvers made in the modern way. But then you finally come down to the market share, and I don't see enough market share out there to where even the most ambitious manufacturer could justify setup for production.
 
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