Colt Python Review: 4-Inch Version

When it comes to stopping power, nothing tops the revolver. Revolvers have been saving lives and taking game for more than 150 years.

Revolvers are subject to certain problems that are almost always operator error, but in general, are reliable, trouble-free and simple to operate.

In some parts of my life, four-legged threats are most likely. Just look over the news and you will see that animal attacks occur frequently.

I have worked in public safety and seen the aftermath of quite a few attacks. The worst tragedies involve dangerous domestic dogs.

In the wild, the big cats and bears are often a danger. A common defensive pistol in a small caliber simply isn’t likely to save your life.

A real concern is that if the animal attacks, even if you survive, you will have to undergo rabies treatments.

If the animal is killed and tested, maybe not. A magnum revolver seems ideal for these situations.

A magnum revolver is a viable instrument for personal defense and particularly home defense.

The smooth-rolling double-action trigger press helps avoid flinch and makes for good shooting in the hand of those that practice.

The author’s original four-inch barrel Python. The new revolver gives up nothing in accuracy to this piece.

The Colt Python

Among the most desirable of revolvers is the Colt Python. When the new version of the Python came out, I had to have one.

I really wanted a four-inch barrel gun.

For my needs, the four-inch barrel revolver handles just fine, rides in a well-balanced package on the hip, and offers plenty of accuracy.

The Python I could find for the first year or so after the introduction of the new Python was a six-inch barrel version.

No problem there, the six-inch barrel Python is a friendly, accurate and nice shooting revolver, but it wasn’t what I wanted.

After a long wait I succeeded in obtaining my own four-inch barrel Python.

(The new guns are actually 4.25-inch barrel revolvers. This allows them to be sold in Canada, where four-inch guns are prohibited.)

The stainless steel four-inch barrel Python is a striking gun on all counts.

The steel is well finished, the action is super smooth, and the checkered wood grips are very attractive.

The action invites double-action fire, I seldom use the single-action option.

The pistol has been superbly accurate, giving up little to the six-inch barrel gun firing from a solid benchrest.

The Python is very accurate with .38 Special loads.

Accuracy and Firing

This revolver has been a complete joy to fire and use.

In common with my other .357 Magnum revolvers, most of the loads fired have been the .38 Special.

A target load of a 148-grain wadcutter at 700 fps offers excellent accuracy. Federal, Remington and Winchester have all proven accurate and useful.

These loads make the four-inch barrel Python a top-flight small-game revolver. Rabbit and squirrel are easily taken with this loading.

Moving up, a loading that I use for long-range accuracy testing is a hard-cast 168 to 178-grain SWC or flat-point bullet at about 1,000 fps in the .38 Special cartridge case.

Firing at ranges of 75 to 150 yards, this type of load exhibits gilt-edged accuracy.

I have hit targets the size of a gallon water jug on-demand at well over 100 yards with this load and the four-inch barrel Python.

So far, a combination of the Matt’s Bullets bullet and Unique powder for 1,050 fps seems the best.

I may not hit the target every time, but the revolver isn’t at fault. This revolver is practically a rifle on the hip.

These loads are not full-power .357 Magnums and make for enjoyable shooting. Firing 100 rounds isn’t taxing on the wrists.

Firing off-hand with .357 Magnum ammunition, the Python is impressive.

Personal Defense

For personal defense use, you don’t mess with success. The 125-grain JHP seems the best choice.

Hornady’s 125-grain XTP, Federal’s JHP, Winchester’s Super X, and the Speer Gold Dot are strong performers.

A load I prefer for many reasons is the Winchester 145-grain Silvertip, preferring the balance of expansion and penetration.

When I can get these bullets — and primers — a handload using the Hornady 140-grain XTP and a stiff charge of H110 for 1,400 fps is a great outdoors load.

A couple of alternative loads I have experimented with offer interesting performance.

Have you ever seen what a Federal 180-grain JHP will do to a deer? This is a famously effective loading.

I don’t feel undergunned with this loading in the Python when traveling in areas that may shelter larger and more dangerous animals.

A raking shot front to back is most effective and this load, or the Buffalo Bore 180-grain XTP, offers plenty of power and penetration.

Is there any other caliber and handgun combination that offers this type of versatility, from small-game taking, to personal defense, and defense against larger animals?

Not to mention the ability to take deer-sized game cleanly at 50 yards or so?

Not in my book. The four-inch barrel Colt Python is a versatile and effective revolver well worth its price.

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