(This is a reader-submitted review as part of our gun review contest. See details here.)
By Tom Kenny
About a year ago my wife started to ask me what I want for my birthday, but then corrected herself and asked me which gun I had already picked out for myself. I wasn’t really sure. I mean I knew that I wanted a Colt Python, but I also knew that we just had a second kid and didn’t really have Colt Python money.
I decided that just about any six-inch .357 revolver would probably do the trick so my beautiful wife and I spent the whole day going from gun store to gun store and pawn shop to pawn shop until I found the ideal poor man’s Python. What I found was a Dan Wesson Model 15 which, if my research is correct, was made in the early ’70s. I walked out of the pawn shop with it for under four bills. It shows it’s age a bit, but I just call those scratches and missing spots of bluing character marks.
Upon returning home I sat down to take a closer look at my favorite birthday present. The wood grip feels fantastic in my hand, the checkering is grippy enough to not slip around in a sweaty hand, but probably not grippy enough to rub my palm off. There’s a fantastic indent that fits my thumb like a glove. The cylinder locks up tight enough. Sights seemed okay, it has an adjustable rear sight matched up to a steel front sight with a piece of bright red plastic embedded in it for contrast.
The only thing that seemed off to me was the location of the cylinder release. It’s in front of the cylinder which is not something that I’m used to, however when I pushed down on it the cylinder came free which was encouraging. Dry firing it was a little slice of heaven. It has a long and heavy but incredibly smooth double action pull with just enough of a second stage that I could take the slack off before deliberately letting the hammer drop. In single action it was incredibly short and light with a satisfying break and no discernible over travel.
Out on the range this thing was a blast. On its first trip out it ate a hundred rounds each of .357 and .38. In between shooting and chuckling I found the only downside. It was a little awkward popping the cylinder out with a hand full of rounds as I had to use my support hand to work the cylinder release. That’s it. That’s the only thing that I can find wrong with this gun. A little awkward.
The weight of the large frame and steel construction absorb the .357 well enough and make the recoil of the .38 almost disappear. The trigger still refuses to disappoint me, the weight is well distributed and it points incredibly naturally.
As far as accuracy goes it’s a tack driver, in fact it somehow makes me a tack driver. My groups got tighter and tighter as the day went on until the sad moment when I looked down and realized I was all out of the appropriate ammo and had to begrudgingly shoot all the guns I had liked just the day before.
It has never once missed a range trip. How does this stack up against a Colt Python? I don’t know and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know as that info may cost me a couple grand, but I’m very happy with my Dan Wesson.
Ratings (out of five stars):
Ergonomics: * * * *
It’s losing a star for the forward cylinder release. Without that it would be getting all five.
Accuracy: * * * * *
Reliability: * * * * *
Never had a problem. To be fair it is a wheel gun.
Carry: * * 1/2
Should probably only be carried on Halloween while dressed up as a drunken, burnt out Nick Nolte circa 1987.
Overall: * * * * 1/2
I’d love to give it all five stars, but it still bothers me just the slightest bit that I can’t work the cylinder release with one hand. And I have to leave some room for the unlikely eventuality that I can talk my wife into letting me get a Python.