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The Top 10 Colt Python Revolvers

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05/30/2018
By Joel Kolander

Colt Python – These Are Some Of The Best Python Guns Sold At Auction

Exhibition engraved Colt Python Howard Dove

 

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve seen the explosive rise in Colt Python prices over the past few years. Prices seem to have calmed (for now) into a more sustainable “slow and steady” climb, but these revolvers have already cemented themselves as the most desirable of Colt’s “seven serpents” with a near cult-like following. Built to satisfy a burgeoning target shooting market in the 1950s, Colt set out to build not just a custom target revolver, but one that would go after the best in the business. Colt designers took their “I” frame, then being used for the Trooper Model revolvers, and packed it with enough premium features and hand-fit parts to earn it the nickname “The Rolls-Royce of Colt revolvers.” Decades later, they are still renowned for numerous qualities that shooters love: balance, a great trigger, handmade, an overall high quality feel, accurate, and a classic look. So if regular Pythons are worth a pretty penny, what does it take to be one of the top 10 Pythons ever sold at the world’s #1 firearm auction house?  Let’s take a look.

10. Desirable First Year Serial Number 170 Colt Python Double Action Revolver

Sale Price: $17,250
Sold during: April 2015 Premiere Auction

Colt Python 1st year serial 170

First year production Colt Pythons are supremely desirable by collectors and by those who believe “they don’t make ’em like they used to.”  Hence, there are several that populate this Top 10 list. This example, in original condition with only the slightest of physical blemishes, was enough to find a very healthy price at auction. Its sale date is also the earliest auction on this list, giving us a better idea of when these prices truly started to ascend.

 

9. Desirable Cased Matched Set of Colt Python Snake Eyes Double Action Revolvers

Sale Price: $19,550
Sold during: December 2016 Premiere Auction

Colt Python Snake Eyes cased set

Only 500 of these sets were manufactured in 1989, and fewer of the glass front display cases survive today. The pair of matching serial numbered revolvers (this one is serial number 314EYES), consisted of a blued and nickel-plated revolver, each with scrimshawed grips featuring a royal flush on one side and a pair of dice on the other. This particular offering came extremely well complemented with not only the revolvers and the case, but also the glass, both sets of playing cards, poker chips, Colt dice, the original picture boxes for the revolvers, papers, keys, and even the original shipping box for the case. Also, while this is a price worthy of a spot on the Top 10 list, technically it is for two Colt Pythons.

We sold another cased Snake Eyes set for the same $19,550 realized price three months prior to this one, but for brevity’s sake we’ll  just show the one.

 

8. Documented Rare Colt Engineering Archive Python Elite Double Action Revolver with Factory Letter and Box

Sale Price: $20,700
Sold During: April 2018 Premiere Auction

Colt Engineering archive Python Elite

This Python Elite with its distinct grips and brilliant blue factory box were enough to be part of a video (see below) we made on the incredible selection of Colt Pythons that were available in our April 2018 Premiere Auction. Made in 1995, it was housed in the Colt Engineering Archive Collection until 2016 when part of the collection was sold to Colt employees and it landed in the hands of Colt’s VP of New Product Development Kevin Langevin.

 

7. Exceptional and Rare First Year Production Serial Number 105 Colt Python Double Action Revolver with Box

Sale Price: $20,700
Sold During: April 2018 Premiere Auction

1st year production Colt Python SN 105

This stunning first year production (1955) Colt Python is also featured in the same video as shown in #8 and even came from the same collection. The second of the first-year production Python revolvers on this list, it is the second earliest at SN 105. Considering that only 299 were made in that first production year, finding and owning one is a real treat for snake gun aficionados.

 

6. Documented Cased A.A. White Signed Master Factory Engraved Colt Factory Presentation Gold Inlaid Colt Python Double Action Revolver Inscribed to “The Father of Talk Radio” Barry Gray

Sale Price: $20,700
Sold During: April 2018 Premiere Auction

engraved and inscribed Colt Python to Barry Gray

 

…and now for something completely different.  Kind of.  This is still a gorgeous Colt Python that sold in the previous sale as the last two, and is featured in the same video. However, in addition to its sterling condition, this Python has the honor of being engraved and signed by Master Engraver A. A. White before being presented to noted radio celebrity Barry Gray. Known as the “Father of Talk Radio,” Mr. Gray seldom skirted the controversial issues on his show, gun control being one of them. He would eventually become a Colt collector himself before his death in 1996. The New York Times obituary of Gray states that he was “radio’s longest-running, highest-paid, and most controversial interviewer, loathed and loved by his listeners.”

The gun itself is kept tastefully simple with its near perfectly executed scrollwork. The opposite side features a gold inlaid “serial number” of BG-1, and the presentation inscription “To Barry Gray, With Compliments of Colt Firearms.” Perhaps of more interest to collectors are the unique and smooth grips inset with the Colt Custom Shop medallions and the muzzle inscription that reads, “Crook control.” All of this was enough to earn this particular revolver a generous spread in R. L. Wilson’s book The Art of the Gun: Magnificent Colts.

Colt Python Crook control

 

 

5. Extremely Rare Documented Factory Colt Python Double Action Revolver in .22 Magnum Rimfire as Used in Colt 1981 Product Catalog

Sale Price: $23,000
Sold During: May 2017 Premiere Auction

Colt Python revolver in .22 Magnum

If you watched the video linked earlier, you know that some folks think that all .22 caliber Colt Pythons are fake. We’ve shown that to be false, and this is the revolver that serves as proof. This particular Python, in its .22 magnum rimfire chambering, was pictured in the 1981 Colt catalog, though the caliber was never mass produced.

 

Colt Python .22 Magnum barrel marking

 

The cylinder is chambered for .22, and the barrel is sleeved for .22, but the forcing cone is still that of a .357 magnum, making this gun unsafe to fire. To help ensure that it would never be used unsafely, the firing pin was also removed. At one point it was given to Colt District Manager Lewis B. Sharp for his work “to get the 8-inch barreled Python added to the product line in 1981,” by then Colt Vice President Dave Davis.

 

Colt Python 22 magnum in 1981 catalog

 

 

4. Desirable First Year Production Two Digit Serial Number “54” Abercrombie & Fitch Shipped Colt Python Double Action Revolver with Factory Letter and Box

Sale Price: $25,875
Sold During September 2017 Premiere Auction

Colt Python revolver SN 54

Currently this is the lowest serial numbered Python that we have ever sold (though SN 14 is slated for our September 2018 Premiere Auction). Not only is it an extremely early production model, but was also shipped to retailer Abercrombie & Fitch on November 16, 1956. Back then, it would have retailed for a not-inexpensive $125 (over $1,100 in 2018 dollars).

 

3. Documented Experimental Colt Python Double Action Revolver in Extremely Rare. 256 Winchester Magnum

Sale Price: $40,250
Sold During: April 2018 Premiere Auction

Colt Python in .256 Winchester Magnum

Please notice the sizable price increase from the previous Python on the list. This rare snake gun originally began life as a standard .357 Magnum Colt Python. However, with the introduction of the .256 Winchester Magnum round in 1960, Colt thought the Python was the perfect revolver to take advantage of the new cartridge, and so took this gun off the production line in March 1961 and sent it to the Colt Engineering Department for conversion into the new caliber. This is documented in R. L. Wilson’s The Book of Colt Firearms. Experimental calibers such as this are rare as hen’s teeth for Python collectors, and it showed in the sale price.

Colt Python 256 Win Mag barrel stamp

 

2. Fantastic Documented Cased Master Engraver Howard Dove Signed Exhibition Quality Engraved and Gold Inlaid Colt Python Double Action Revolver Featured on the “2017 Standard Catalog of Firearms” Cover

Sale Price: $54,625
Sold During: September 2017 Premiere Auction

Howard Dove engraved Colt Python exhibition quality

There are almost too many details to discuss them adequately. This phenomenal cased Python was engraved by Howard Dove, and the grips and grip cap work was done by Leonard Froncolini, each a master engraver. Patriotic gold inlays, superb engraving down to the hammer and trigger, silver scenes on the grips, the handsome rosewood case, and the stunning exclamation point of the grip cap all made this set an easy choice to feature on the cover of the 2017 Standard Catalog of Firearms.

Colt Python revolver gold inlaid engraved

It originated as a private commission from Art Jewel Enterprises in Carol Stream, IL, for a California-based collector, and remains in near mint condition. Manufactured in 1978, this revolver is one of the finest known exhibition quality Pythons – a true piece of modern firearm art.

Colt Python engraved grip cap

 

1. Historic Extremely Well-Documented Exhibition Quality Engraved, Inlaid and Carved Colt Python Double Action Revolver Presented by The King of Rock & Roll Elvis Presley to Employee Richard Grob

Sale Price $172,500
Sold During: May 2017 Premiere Auction

Elvis Presley's Colt Python

 

What other gun could be king of this list than one belonging to The King, Elvis Presley. This extraordinary Python came to Rock Island Auction Company along with a Smith & Wesson 19-2 he presented to then Vice President Spiro Agnew, a bejeweled sheriff’s badge, and numerous historical documents. Elvis gave this Colt Python to his director of security and close personal friend, Richard Grob. Its provenance is flawless and extensive establishing itself firmly as a exhibition quality revolver owned by an American icon.

Notice the expertly executed scroll work, alternating gold and platinum inlays, beautifully scrimshawed grips, and the five North American wild animals wondrously depicted in gold. A sensational showcase of the gunmaker’s art combined with an iron clad provenance to a legendary performer added up to a world record price for a Colt Python.

Click here if you’d like to read more about the Elvis items sold during that auction.

Elvis Presley Python revolver

 

There you have it firearms friends! Those are the top 10 Colt Pythons ever sold by Rock Island Auction Company, and frankly, it’s a pretty good list. Far from a list of firearms barely discernible from each other, the top Colt Pythons are a really neat variety of finishes, history, embellishment, and rarity. It’s characteristics like that which help keep collecting fun and make for an interesting and visually attractive collection. Time will only tell how far these snake gun prices can go, but for the foreseeable future, they’re still on their way up.

 

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