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Old 11-09-2019, 09:26 AM   #1
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Python Serial Numbers

Hello all. I’m a recent Python purchaser and new to the forum. It seems that there is no way to definitively determine what year a Python actually is without buying the archive letter from Colt. I’m not sure I even trust that since their serial number look-up system seems to be flawed (or maybe it’s me?). My gun comes up as a 1993 by the Colt serial number look-up method but the serial numbers both just before and after it come up as 1982! My stainless 6” Python was sold to me as a 1993. I see now that I was probably mistaken when I bought it thinking it was a first year production brushed stainless steel Python, as represented by the Gunbroker seller, who it turns out misrepresented a few things about the gun. I have recently seen a few brushed stainless 6” Pythons listed for sale on Gunbroker as 1982 Colt Pythons. Does anyone have any information that will help me with this issue?
 
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Old 11-10-2019, 01:40 PM   #2
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Colt's serial numbers can be "snaky" at times, but the Colt web site lookup is usually right.
There are periods where even Colt is uncertain unless they do an archive search, which you have to pay for.

As example the mid-1950's Colt serial numbers are a totally confusing mess.
Some models serial numbers are mixed in with other models serial number ranges, depending on the caliber.
A Colt Officer's Model Match in .38 Special will be in one serial number range, but a .22 Officer's Model Match serial number will be mixed with another model.
Looking for an OMM .22 in the Officer's Model serial number range will give incorrect data or it will be totally out of the OMM serial number range.
This is VERY confusing.

There are several sources of Colt serial number data, one online site ends in 1979, other publicly available data ended sometime in 1985.
Both are based on data collected by R.L. Wilson, who was the only person ever given access to the Colt factory serial number archives.
Even he made some mistakes.

Colt never broke out serial numbers on any model based on the finish or the barrel length, so just a serial number won't tell you what the finish or barrel length was.
Colt was producing blued, bright nickel, electroless nickel (AKA) "Royal Coltguard", satin stainless, and bright polish stainless, all in the same serial number ranges.

The first stainless Pythons shipped VERY late in 1982, but real production didn't get going until 1983.
The number ranges for the Python beginning in 1982 to into 1985, which is when Wilson published the numbers in one of his books are.....

1982 began at--K75748. So the first stainless Pythons would have been very late in that series, and not many produced.

1983--K99999 ended the "K" series and began the "T" series at T01001.
Whether K99999 was the last "K" series number made sometime in 1983 or was the first number of the year is uncertain.
Again, Colt serial numbers can be confusing.

1984 began at T27541.

1985 began at T34453 and "probably"??? ended at T99999.

The problem is Colt seemed not to follow a set system, with some Python series not ending at a 99999 number.
So, often no one but Colt can know what was the LAST serial number of a year or even of a series.

One indication of the year your Python was made is, if it's a 1993 the front sight will have ONE front sight pin.
Around the late 80's Colt changed the barrel threads from the old Colt standard and began using a new thread for the Python.
To identify these New Thread Pythons Colt stopped using the old two pin front sight pins.
This also saved Colt money on the difficult drilling of the barrel rib for two pins.

So, if your Python has ONE front sight pin it's a 1993.
If it has TWO pins it was made before the late 80's.

Of course, you can actually call Colt and they will tell you the year it was shipped over the phone. They will NOT tell you anything else, for that you have to buy an Archive letter.
Be prepared for a long wait on the phone.

One last problem with Colt firearms.....
For unknown reasons Colt sometimes didn't actually ship a gun for some time.
So, production serial number data bases that are available may show a gun as being made in one year, but the Colt Archive may show it being shipped a year or more later or even earlier.
I was an FFL gunsmith and I personally bought a 4 inch satin stainless Python direct from a big distributor in 1990.
I'd bought a stainless 6 inch Python from another distributor in 1988.

The 4 inch Python serial number was made BEFORE the 6 inch model.
So, for whatever reason a 4 inch Python wasn't shipped from Colt until several years later.
 
Old 11-11-2019, 03:45 AM   #3
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Thank you very much, dfariswheel. I just read my post again and I need to apologize for repeatedly stating my Python “looked up” as a 1993 (typo or mental error?). It should have been 1983. My Python serial number is K990... The “chart” I read says K99999 is the first serial number of the 1983 Python so I took that as making mine a 1982. The Colt serial number “lookup” also says it’s a 1983. The seller that I bought it from sold it to me as a 1983. Thank you again for your time and input, dfariswheel!
 
 
Old 11-11-2019, 02:49 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,800
Again, the Colt serial number indexes are confusing.
I'd go with 1983, especially if the Colt factory index says that.
 
Old 11-15-2019, 03:59 AM   #5
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Posts: 3
I’ll probably try calling Colt to see if I can get that verbal confirmation until I’m ready to spend the money on their letter. I’ve been trying to buy some spare parts in case of any future breakdowns but they’re very hard to find. The parts are probably a smarter thing to spend more money on first. Thanks again, dfariswheel!
 
Old 11-15-2019, 12:19 PM   #6
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,800
An Archive letter on a Python is likely to be pretty much money wasted.
All that might be useful is the actual date shipped, and that you can get over the phone.
Who it was shipped to will almost certainly be a big distributor.
Unless you have a Custom Shop or Special Order Python nothing else will be of much value or interest.

Fortunately, new critical parts are being manufactured by Jack First Gun Parts.
Like the original parts, almost all of the older Colt model parts have to be hand fitted by stoning and even bending.
Most all other available parts are used and it's a straight crap shoot whether they can be used at all, since all used parts were already altered to fit a different gun and are often too undersized to be usable.

https://jack-first-gun-parts.myshopify.com/

For reference, there are two Master pistolsmiths who do Colt factory level revolver repairs, and they do them to Colt factory methods and standards.
No Mickey Mouse "get it to work...somehow" methods.
They're members on the Colt Forum and have done work for other members.
To excellent reviews.

Frank Glenn is a American Handgunner magazine Top 100 pistolsmith.
He gets top marks for pricing, turnaround and quality of workmanship

Frank Glenn-Glenn Custom Complete Gunsmithing Service Glendale AZ

Spartan Firearms was trained in the Colt plant by a legendary Colt gunsmith, and he has at least some stock of spare parts.

https://www.facebook.com/spartanfirearmcompany/

The best money you can spend is to buy the Jerry Kuhnhausen Shop Manual, Vol. One.
This was written to be a training manual for new pistolsmiths and it covers everything on the older type Colt models like the Python in deep detail.
Everything shown is how the Colt factory did it.
It's worth the price just to know if a Colt has a problem with timing.

https://www.brownells.com/gunsmith-t...prod25720.aspx

Last edited by dfariswheel; 11-15-2019 at 12:22 PM.
 
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