This year, Colt introduced an updated Python .357 Magnum revolver at a bargain price of $1,499. Colt was able to do this through the use of CNC machining equipment, eliminating all the labor-intensive skilled machining operations needed on the previous generations of all Colt handguns. I was overjoyed at the prospect of testing one. I’ve long-admired Pythons (though I had never owned or shot one). Colt sent me the 6-inch-barreled version. I’d been hoping for the 4 inch but turned out to be pleased with the 6 inch.
Is It as Good as the Original?
The 2020 Python is only available in stainless steel, but it’s a beautifully finished stainless steel worthy of the Python tradition. I asked my buddy Mike Skeen — a retired probation officer, police firearms instructor and Python revolver afficionado — to accompany me on my test.
Skeen was helpful to have along because he also owns a pristine 42-year-old 4-inch-barreled, nickel-plated Python. This was a great exemplar of the original Pythons. It also allowed us to consider the two currently available barrel lengths. We headed to the range with both guns and a large quantity of SIG Sauer 125-grain .357 Magnum Elite Ball FMJ and V-Crown ammunition. This great round delivers a muzzle velocity of 1,450 feet per second with 584 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.
2020 Colt Python Specifications
Caliber: .357 Magnum/.38 Special/6-round capacity
Barrel length: 6 inches (a 4-inch-barreled version is also available)
Overall length: 11.5 inches
Finish: Semi-bright stainless-matte finish/stainless on sight rib
Grips: Walnut target stocks with silver Colt medallions
Sights: Red ramp front/plain black adjustable patridge rear — user interchangeable
Weight: 46 ounces
Skeen and I agreed that the nickel finish on his vintage Python was superior … but only slightly so. We also both preferred the more distinctive hammer spur of the original better than that of the new model. But that is where the preference for the vintage Python vs. the 2020 Python ended.
The trigger on the 2020 Python was everything that the vintage, hand-honed trigger was … and more. Colt flat leaf spring triggers are spectacular. My buddy preferred the feel of the new trigger over his vintage one, and I had to agree.
The 2020 Python came with a nice (easy-to-see) red ramp front sight, while the vintage model had a plain black front sight — another point for the new gun. The walnut grips of the 2020 Python were also superior, both in appearance and in feel. The 2020 grips were narrower than the vintage Python’s, with less of a trumpet shape at the base. The 2020 Python wins again! The 2020’s cylinder locked up with the same legendary Colt “bank vault” tightness as the vintage Python. This quality ensures shot-to-shot revolver accuracy. Colt also enhanced the durability of the 2020 Python over the already-strong vintage model.
The Proof Is in the Shooting
That 6-inch barrel and great overall balance allowed the Python to easily lock onto the target. The extra 10 ounces of the Python’s weight over a standard service .357 revolver soaked up the recoil, while the extra 2 inches of barrel allowed the fired powder to be consumed inside the barrel instead of creating an exploding fireball outside. I had never fired a .357 Magnum revolver with full-power ammo that I could say was fun to shoot … until now! It felt like I was shooting a service revolver with .38 Special target ammo.
Firing double-action at 30 feet and using the SIG V-Crown loads, I was able to deliver a perfectly centered six-shot group that measured a mere 1.5 inches. That is wonderful accuracy, especially considering that I was shooting combat ammo and not gentle target loads.
Mike’s vintage Python also shot well, but not as well as the 2020 Python. There was a noticeable increase in muzzle blast and felt recoil with the vintage Python, which degraded our accuracy and was not as fun. The 6-inch-barreled version is the model to get to experience the full potential of gun and cartridge.
Thank you, Colt, for keeping the 2020 Python true to lineage while improving it and making it affordable for more shooters. This is an heirloom piece to pass down to your kids.
If you want an attention-getting defensive handgun which can accurately deliver full-power .357 Magnum rounds on target and still allow for fast follow-up shots, the 6-inch 2020 Python is for you. Loaded with 158-grain .357 Magnum loads, it would be an effective deer/coyote/black bear game gun. It is easily 100-yard capable. And scope mounts are available.
About Scott W. Wagner
After working undercover in narcotics and liquor investigations, Scott W. Wagner settled down to be a criminal justice professor and police academy commander. He was also a SWAT team member, sniper and assistant team leader before his current position as patrol sergeant with the Village of Baltimore, Ohio, Police Department. Scott is a police firearms instructor certified to train revolver, semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, semi- and fully automatic patrol rifle, and submachine gun.