I might hurt some feelings here.
Every time Colt announces a new gun, I see and hear screams of “Bring back the Python!” Colt’s recent introduction of the new King Cobra brought on another wave of it. At least half the comments I’d see online had nothing to do with the King Cobra, but were about how Colt needed to bring back the Python, how this is exciting because it is one step closer, blah, blah, blah.
I’m going to have to disagree. I don’t see how a Python return could possibly go well for Colt.
I also don’t see a return of the Python making anyone happy.
I should say now that while I don’t think it’s the ultimate revolver like some, I don’t dislike the Python either. I’ve had two, one I never fired. Unlike a lot of people, I don’t get all misty eyed over the name, but nor do I hear the name and immediately bark out “facts” such as “they won’t stay in time”.
For all those who say Colt should bring it back, I wonder what they would be willing to pay. I don’t they'd pay as much as Colt would ask.
The Cobra retails for $699. Real world pricing seems to run well into the 600s. The new King Cobra has an MSRP of $899.
If the Python returned and listed at less than $1500, I’d be shocked. I’d truly expect closer to $1800.
Even if they could do it so it took $1500 “street price” to buy a new Python, how many would buy?
Gunbroker Python prices are all over the place A common number seems to be $2800, but those have no bids Several with active bids are in the $1200 range. I haven’t seen any in gun shops recently, but hear of them selling for around $1500, and that sounds about right based on what I see on Gunbroker. I’m referring to 6” blued, which I’ve always assumed was the most common variation. That’s what I saw the most, and it’s what both mine were. It’s probably what Colt would start with if they did bring it back.
So if Colt brings the Python back, they will be competing against original Pythons. I just don’t see that working out well for Colt. They couldn’t possibly make them well enough to make people happy.
All these people screaming for its return are wistful for old ones. Legends are tough things to compete against. Why buy a new one when an original- the one they really want- costs the same?
I think those wanting the Python back don’t miss the Python. They miss being able to walk into a gun shop and buy one if they had the money That’s not the same.
When the opportunity was there, people were hardly buying them. It may be hard to accept, but they never were that big a seller. The last year Colt sold Pythons as a regular production item was 1999. At that time, I don’t remember seeing any new ones on the shelf and hadn’t for a long time. Revolvers were dead, and few shops had the cushion to tie that much money up in a single gun that would sit there for a long time. There were 40 years’ worth of used ones out there also, and most of those had never seen much use, of any at all.
In 1998, I sold my last one on consignment. It was like new, and I had $350 on it. This, BTW, is what used Glocks were running at the time. It was in a high traffic shop, and sat there for months at that price.
Revolvers have bounced back some in recent years, but not that much. Demand has increased for Pythons now because they aren’t being made. Reintroducing them now to take advantage of that would have to be done carefully, and Colt isn’t very good at that.
Colt would have to do some hard studying on WHAT to offer. They could turn something out that was Python-esque, like one of their current revolvers with a rib , but I don’t see as anything but guaranteed failure.
Duplicating the originals would be so expensive I don’t see it being successful either. Some say it would be impossible, because the employees who were masters at fitting revolvers are gone. That they are gone may be true, but surely others can be trained. How long that will take and at what cost may be more than Colt can manage. You can’t build guns for practice, working up to good ones.
It can be done, but I don’t see them being able to do this and sell it for under $2000.
Plus, there is the legend to overcome. Right or wrong, whatever Colt turns out won’t be good enough...even if it is. A $2,000 New Python will have to be something pretty special.
I don’t think they could hit my $1500 estimate and make it look like they shut down the production line yesterday. Something would have to change. Either it would look the same externally but with different lockwork, or they would have to go easy on exterior finish. Maybe compromising on both. I’d say going with different internals would be the way to go, giving them a path to a smooth action with less work, and still looking good outside. Whatever they do, people will be unhappy.
And thats the thing. People will not be happy, whatever they do. If I ran Colt, I’d not attempt a revival. It’s gone, and the legend grows everyday. You would only be competing with that, and you can’t.
My plan would be not to try to recreate the Python but to take the closest thing I have, which looks to be the new King Cobra, and make a new model based off it, and call it something else. Call it the SuperCobra or use a variation of a trademark they already have, like Colt Master or something. Give it some practical niceties like clear adjustable sights. Make grips that look and feel good (if they can do both, it would be a Colt first!) . Give it something to set it apart visually, like the (otherwise useless) vent rib barrel. Finish it well. Offer it in blued, maybe. Fit the action parts better than typical production, but don’t go crazy with it. If you can match a S&W K/L/N frame, go with it.
Then make a “fightin’ version”. If going with the Master name, give it a Novak rear sight, bead blast it before finishing, and call it the Combat Master. In other words, a slightly nicer version of what they just announced. Make what is essentially a Colt ripoff of the Ruger Wiley Clapp guns and people will buy more of them than any new Python , and it will be easier, less costly, and a lot less risky.
People will cry for Pythons, but they always will unless Colt can give them that, and as I keep saying, I don’t think they can. This would give them a “Premium Revolver” they can point to, and do it with a LOT less effort.
But I digress. I like to dream.
Just because I think a Colt reintroduction of the Python would be a failure on many counts, I’ll make a prediction now. We will see it this time next year. Two years tops.