Gratuitous Gun Pic: Two Colt DA Revolvers

So, O My Readers, riddle me this: we have two Colt double-action revolvers on display, first a Trooper Mk III:

and next, a Python:

Both have 6″ barrels, both are chambered for the fine .357 Magnum cartridge, both are excellent revolvers — quite possibly two of the best ever made — and yet even though the idiots at Colt don’t make either of them anymore [100,000-word rant deleted] the Trooper typically retails for under $1,000, while the Python is stratospheric ($2,300 and up).

I know the Python was built with no-expenses-spared quality, while the Trooper wasn’t — not that it was shoddy, anything but — and maybe it has a different feel to the Python’s silky triple-snick cocking sound. But I find it difficult to believe that the Python, based on its price alone, is three times better than the Trooper.

I’ve fired both revolvers many times, and owned a Python at one time. Yet now, as a retired old geezer, the chances of me ever owning a Python again are not good (actually, I probably have a better chance of winning the Pick 4 lottery). So why, I ask you all, should I not set my sights on a Trooper instead?

You Readers who are Colt cognoscenti, give me the scoop in Comments (after wiping the drool from yer keyboards, of course). And for once, ignore any arguments involving beauty and / or status. It would be my new bedside gun only.


  1. Python owner here. Purely by accident, I saw a beautiful revolver in a pawnshop back in the mid-1980’s and bought it on impulse for around $300 cash. Other guns have come and gone, that Python still remains. I shoot it regularly too, no safe queen at my house.

    Looking purely at the pictures above, the screws and pins indicate that the internal trigger mechanisms might be different. However, I had to replace the mainspring on my Python and can tell you it’s the exact same part number as the Trooper mainspring. So I know they share some commonality. Other than cosmetics, I don’t see much of a difference.

    I’ve seen on various forums the arguments about Colt making pistols like that again. The main argument against from those who profess to intelligence is that Colt would have to charge like $3000 per revolver to show even a smidgen of profit. To which I reply, people are paying that for 40 and 50 year old revolvers right now. Hell, I’d buy a brand new one for $3k if it was made to the same level of fit and finish. I would love to have a 4″ version as a companion to my 6″ Colt.

  2. I once had a shot at a very nice Python, much like the one in your pic. They were asking $1,000 for it, too rich for my blood at the time. Of course it would be worth three times that now…

    If you just want a bedside gun, you might consider a pre-lock S&W 686, or a Ruger. I got rid of a beautiful 6″ stainless 686 with the wooden target grips after I got my 4″ GP100. I often wish I’d kept the 686, though. The GP100 has been faultless, if not as classy as the 686. The GP is my bedside gun, along with Mister Twelve Gauge. I do have a very nice 3″ seven shot 686+, don’t shoot it much, though. It does have the lawyer lock. Interested?

  3. Three reasons:
    1) all Colt ‘Snake’ pistols have gone up in price as collectible.
    2) There are a lot fewer Pythons than Troopers. Supply and demand.
    3) The Walking Dead. One of the biggest shows on television is The Walking Dead. The hero of the show, Rick Grimes, carries a Colt Python. Just as Lethal Weapon boosted Beretta 92 sales, The Walking Dead has boosted Python prices.

    I own a very late (1986?) Python in Stainless Steel. I wish it were an older nickel model, but I’m still happy to have one.

  4. My very first handgun was a Colt Trooper Mk III. 4″ barrel. I was working security for the Johns-Manville corporation at their World HQ in Denver and we were required to be armed. Most of the other guys (and gals) carried S&W K and L frame revolvers, a few Ruger Security 6’s. I bought the Mk III from the husband of one of the guards I worked with, as it had previously been the husband’s service weapon as a cop.

    What I remember about the Colt was that it was noticeably heavier and “beefier” than the K frame smiths, and of course the cylinder rotated the “wrong” way.

    A year or so later it was stolen from my car and I ended up buying a new K frame smith, a Model 19 that I I still have. It has a silky-smooth action (smoothed by a gunsmith) and the target hammer and trigger I ordered from the factory.

    A year after THAT I got a call from the Boulder, CO PD and was notified that they had recovered my stolen Trooper, which I got back. But, as I had already gotten holsters, speedloaders, etc, for the M-19, the Trooper didn’t see much use and was eventually sold.

    I wish I had that old Trooper back. It was a solid gun, for sure. I think the frame was even heavier than an L-frame S&W (581/681/586/686.)

    The problem with the Colts was that by the 1980’s they were really minor players in the revolver market – Ruger and Smith sold orders of magnitude more guns. That meant that obtaining speed loaders, holsters, custom grips, etc, was a PITA whereas with a K frame Smith it was a breeze.

    IIRC the Trooper had a coil mainspring where the Python and the K/L/N frame Smiths all had leaf mainsprings. I’ve been told that the leaf mainspring is what makes the action on the Python and the K/L/N frame Smith’s so magical. By contrast, the coil-sprung Trooper and Rugers are more “clunky” and (so I’ve been told) more difficult (or impossible) for a gunsmith to “smooth out.”

    The factor that contributed to the Trooper’s demise (i.e. it’s low sales numbers) meant that during the 80’s they normally sold for quite a bit less than a comparable S&W (I think I paid $150 for my Trooper when a S&W would have gone for $250 easy. In the early 80’s that was a big difference to someone making $6.00/hr) , so it’s ironic that the exact same factor has now apparently driven prices to crazy levels.

  5. On a happy note, Colt has gotten back into the revolver business, and word around the campfire is that the Python might be making a comeback.

  6. I’ve shot a trooper and handled some pythons, but I think I will keep my S&W 357. If I find a cheap trooper I might add it to the pile, but I am not sold on them in the least.

  7. Even if Colt makes the Python again, it will be another “boutique” gun, not a shooter. They just don’t have the volume to compete with S&W.

    Also, even S&W can’t compete with S&W. What I mean by that is that if you offered me a choice between a brand new, super-snazzy fancy S&W or a mid-1960’s – 1980’s S&W, I’d take the old gun every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    There’s no Smith like and Old Smith. The new ones aren’t terrible, but they get a big “meh” from me and the prices are redonkulus.

    If you want/need a big, fat, beefy .357 that will fire magnum loads all day, there are plenty of options that don’t require a second mortgage or cost as much as a decent used car like the Python would: Any L-frame Smith (581, 681, 586, 686), N-frame Smith (Model 27 or 28), and most of the later model Rugers (SP and GP series) are as beefy or beefier than the Python/Trooper. The L frame even has the full lug if that floats your boat (it adds unnecessary weight IMHO.)

    1. I have a 6″ Model 16 (.32H&R) and the one thing I’d change about it is the underlug; I wish it didn’t have the full length one.

      OTOH my only Colt wheelgun is a 1917, and I wish it had an underlug instead of the ejector rod just hanging out in space. Or at least a front lug to cover the ejector rod tip like an S&W Victory.

      I like looking at the pretty snake guns but I have no desire to own one.

  8. IM(nv)HO, A S&W 686 or a Ruger GP 100 will be a better revolver for
    long term shooting. A Python is a beautiful smooth working piece, but try to find someone to repair it or to tune it up when it loosens up, as it will.
    Either the 686 or the GP 100 can be smoothed out by almost any gunsmith, repaired by almost any gunsmith or the factory at quite reasonable prices. Parts are readily available from innumerable sources.
    If one were to use cars as an analogy, the Python would be an E type Jaguar, beautiful, fragile, fast and not really an every day driver, the 686 or GP 100 would be almost any Corvette. Not quite as beautiful, strong, just as fast or faster and definitely an every day driver.

    1. I think when you’re talking about anything technological there are sound reasons to go for what’s POPULAR over what’s arguably “BEST.”

      Perhaps Colt could have clawed for a bigger market share of the DA Revolver market in the 1970’s and 80’s but for whatever reason, they decided to hold back (perhaps to capitalize on their dominance in the semi-auto pistol field.)

      Meanwhile, throughout the 1980’s, S&W unleashed a dizzying array of new revolver models in various calibers, barrel lengths, frame materials, etc, and Ruger followed close behind in the 90’s with their GP and SP lines.

      Regardless of the reason and whether it was a sound one or not, Colt basically “quit the field” which meant that S&W and Ruger won by default.

      In terms of car comparisons I see S&W being like Toyota. Toyota’s aren’t perfect but they’re reliable ENOUGH, economical ENOUGH, and made in such numbers that it makes sense for mechanics to specialize in them.

      S&W revolvers aren’t perfect, either, but they are ‘good ENOUGH’ and their ubiquity makes them a smart choice for someone looking for a reliable self-defense pistol.

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