Gun Review of Premium Grade Colt Python, Dressed Up by Tyler Gun Works

By William Bell, Photos by Jordan Bell

New for 2023 is the Premier Grade 3” Colt Python; it is a collaboration between Lipsey’s and Tyler Gun Works. Buy it now on GunBroker.com
New for 2023 is the Premier Grade 3” Colt Python; it is a collaboration between Lipsey’s and Tyler Gun Works.

When the Python was introduced by Colt in 1955, it was the most non-traditional model in the revolver line. It’s ventilated rib barrel with full-length ejector rod shroud, sloping ramp front sight, fully adjustable rear sight, Royal blue or nickel finish, plus checkered walnut target-style stocks set it apart. The frame had an internally mounted firing pin and was designated the I-frame; basically, the same medium size as the E-frame revolvers, which had the firing pin riveted in the hammer nose. Offered at first with a 4” or 6” barrel, Colt later produced a 2-1/2” version that wore the service-style stocks like on the Official Police. Over the years, the Python was made in several other versions, most low production models, like those made with a 3” barrel and 8” barrel, plus in the 1980’s stainless steel Pythons emerged. Regular production ceased in 1999, but Python Elite versions were offered by the Colt Custom Shop until 2005.

The Snake Gun is Back!

After 15 years, with prices of used Pythons soaring, Colt brought back the Python in 2020. It was a slightly different Python, the frame near the rear sight had been beefed up and the design was changed to allow easier production as the older Pythons had required a lot of hand-fitting. The new Python was only offered in stainless-steel and barrel lengths were 4-1/4 and 6 inches. It had a red ramp front sight and a redesigned adjustable rear sight. Stocks were still checkered walnut but had a somewhat different shape. However, the grip frame was the same as the original Python, so the new sixgun would work with any aftermarket Python stocks/grips.

I notice that week after week, new and older used Colt Pythons are listed as the top-selling revolver on GunBroker.com. What Colt once referred to as the “Rolls-Royce” of revolvers has not lost its popularity. In 2022, Colt made the wise decision to offer a short-barrel Python, but instead of returning to the 2-1/2” version, they went with the rare 3” barrel. To me the 3” barrel just looks well-proportioned, and I think Colt made a wise choice.

New for 2023 is the Premier Grade 3” Colt Python; it is a collaboration between Lipsey’s and Tyler Gun Works.

In January 2023, Lipsey’s, a major firearms distribution company, ordered a number of the 3” models and had them shipped to Tyler Gun Works (TGW). Tyler’s claim to fame is their blue and proprietary color case-hardened firearm finishes. They recently branched off into other areas of custom work, including engraving and offering both stag and mammoth ivory handgun stocks. Lipsey’s sells limited edition Exclusive and TALO versions of various firearms, and they asked TGW to create a Premium Grade 3” Colt Python. The first step is some “light action work” to ensure the double action trigger pull is smooth and the timing perfect. Next, engraver Rocky Sharp hand-draws, then hand-chases the engraving design into the stainless-steel. This deep-relief engraving covers about 2/3 of the revolver, and is a floral scroll design. Its configuration emphasizes such things as the Rampant Colt emblem on the frame side-plate and the markings on the barrel. Lastly, the Python is fitted with a set of American Elk stag stocks, that have been hand-finished and have inlayed silver Colt medallions.

Tyler Gun Works performed the high-relief floral scroll engraving that emphasizes the factory markings on the barrel and side-plate. Buy it now on GunBroker.com
Tyler Gun Works performed the high-relief floral scroll engraving that emphasizes the factory markings on the barrel and side-plate.

Range Time with the Premium Grade Python

I know some of you will be appalled with the thought of shooting this handsome wheelgun, but to me there is nothing sadder than a “Safe Queen,” a gun that’s never allowed to fulfill its intended function. That was not going to happen to this “Snake Gun!” Five different factory .357 Magnum loads were assembled in various bullet weights and configurations for an accuracy and reliability evaluation. They were first fired through the Sky Screens of my Oehler Model 35P chronograph in order to get an average velocity reading, then sixgun and ammo were taken to the bench to test the accuracy potential. As this Python has a short barrel, I decided to fire three 5-shot groups with each of the test cartridges from a distance of 45 feet. All the shooting was in the single action mode, from atop a sandbag rest. The best 5-shot group at 1.42” was made using Hunting Shack Munitions (HSM) Cowboy Action ammunition, which had a 158-gr. lead SWC bullet. You can see a listing of the other brands of ammunition and their performance data in the accompanying table.

Lipsey’s/TGW Python .357 Magnum Performance

CartridgeAve. VelocityBest GroupAverage Group
Black Hills Factory New 158 gr. JHP1117 FPS1.85”2.48”
Fiocchi Defense Dynamics 125 gr. JHP1212 FPS1.75”2.22”
Hornady American Gunner 125 gr. XTP-HP1370 FPS1.81”2.33”
HSM Cowboy Action 158 gr. Lead SWC1172 FPS1.42”1.58”
Liberty Overwatch 70 gr. Monolithic HP1742 FPS2.20”2.44”
NOTE:  Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second 10 ft. from the muzzle by an Oehler Model 35P chronograph, and accuracy in inches for three 5-shot groups at 45 feet.

Five different brands of .357 Magnum cartridges were used to test the Premium Grade Python; an accuracy evaluation was done from a bench-rest, target distance was 45 feet. Buy now on GunBroker.com
Five different brands of .357 Magnum cartridges were used to test the Premium Grade Python; an accuracy evaluation was done from a bench-rest, target distance was 45 feet.

Now, it was time to see if the Premium Grade Python would prove both accurate and reliable during rapid-fire shooting. Given today’s ammunition situation, I elected to use the Black Hills 158 gr. JHP load for my practical shooting exercise as I happened to have a better supply of it than the rest. I decided to use a 30-round combat course that has 4 stages, with shooting done in the double action mode, at 3, 7 and 15 yards. As each stage starts with the handgun holstered, I acquired a Model 2020 Python holster from Kirkpatrick Custom Holsters. This is a high-quality, hand-finished and fitted, open-top, pancake-style rig, with double lock-stitching and 1-3/4” belt slots. It rides well on the hip at a slight FBI cant and is easily concealed. It comes in black or brown; I chose black. I paired it with a Barranti Leather SS Spare, this is a leather belt pouch that carries a single speed or quik-strip with spare cartridges. It’s made so the bullets face the rear making the strips tab more accessible. It comes in two sizes and 4 colors; again, I chose black.

A realistic-looking “Bad Guy” target with scoring rings was used for this exercise. Shooting began at 3 yards and 6 shots were fired strong-hand only, from a point shoulder stance, looking over the sights. A reload was performed, the handgun transitioned to the support hand and 6 more rounds were fired. I definitely need more practice shooting with the left hand. Moving to 7 yards, 3 strings of double-taps were fired. A two-handed, isosceles-type stance was used and after the first string, the gun was lowered to a high-ready position for the two subsequent strings. Reloading again, I remained at 7 yards and performed a malfunction/body armor drill, shooting 2 rounds center-mass, then 1 to the head. The final stage was at 15 yards and a post was used to simulate a barricade. Two shots were fired using the same hold and stance that I used at 7 yards from the left-side barricade, then 2 right-side barricade, then 2 shots kneeling, right-side barricade. I ended up with a score of 245/300 points and no X’s.

Now the Nitty-Gritty

There were three deficiencies noted with the Premier Grade Python, two can be blamed on Colt QC. After having fired over 50 rounds, I noticed that the cylinder was binding and more difficult to swing out. This was due to the ejector rod becoming unscrewed due to recoil. I re-tightened it, but it continued to come loose several more times over the course of the T&E. Later, some Blue Locktite on the threads solved the issue. Some of my marksmanship problems were my fault and some where due to the rear sight. The windage screw had no detents and was loose, allowing the sight to move to the left; again, due to recoil. My final gripe was the stag stocks. The left panel was thick enough at the top that empty cases begin ejected would hang up on the panel and a brisk shake was needed to free them to drop out.

No other issues manifested themselves with the Lipsey’s/TGW Premium Grade Colt Python. The balance I felt was just right and the sights were easy to acquire. I thought the stag stocks might be hard on the hand during recoil, but I used a lightweight shooting glove and made it through some 150 rounds of full-bore .357 ammo. The roughened sides of the stag stocks acted like checkering and helped to control muzzle flip as did the revolvers 40 oz. weight. Overall, I was suitably impressed with this Lipsey’s Exclusive offering, so if you want one, you’d best go for it right away.

Lipsey’s/TGW Premium Grade Colt Python Specifications:

MECHANISM:              Traditional DA Revolver         

CALIBER:                      .357 Magnum/.38 Special +P 

CAPACITY:                   6 Cartridges   

BARREL:                      3.0”    

OA LENGTH:                8.5”

EMPTY WEIGHT:         40.0 oz.

SIGHTS:                        Adjustable Rear, Red Ramp Front

FINISH:                         Satin Stainless-Steel, Engraved

STOCKS:                       American Elk Stag

The 30-round combat course was shot double action, with stages at 3, 7 and 15 yards; there was one-handed instinctive shooting and two-handed aimed fire. GunBroker.com
The 30-round combat course was shot double action, with stages at 3, 7 and 15 yards; there was one-handed instinctive shooting and two-handed aimed fire.

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