Since Colt re-released the famed Pythons, the American icon was sold to Czech Ceska Zbrojovka Group, aka CZG, or affectionately known around the world simply as CZ.
Lots of people lamented the “fall” of an American firearms manufacturer, but most long-time Colt fans, (and I certainly fit into that category) were happy to see the change. CZ has made quite the reputation for breathing new life into failing, sometimes obsolete brands and if there was any company to pick up Colt and get them on the right track, it’s CZ.
In picking up the new shorter barreled Python, CZ chose to change nothing about the design or apparent execution of the pistol. They’ve been putting out the new model Pythons that are every bit as good, (and unfortunately at similar slow rates) as Colt did on their own. Instead of changing things, they put the focus right where it should be…getting this one right. It shows.
The only difference between these guns and the ones released in 2020 is the barrel length. The shortest barrel released so far, the 3″ Python has but one lonely “vent” over the barrel, unlike the two atop the 4.25″ and three on the 6″. The barrel sports the same gorgeous recessed crown and bright rifling.
The 3″ barrel was an offering with the original Colt Pythons released decades ago, but it was a fairly rare one. Not as rare as the 3″ King Cobra, which wasn’t offered for sale until the new model King Cobra was released in 2019.
That begs the question, since there’s already a bright stainless double action 3″ .357 Magnum Colt revolver that was released three years ago, why another?
Because the King Cobra isn’t a Python. Although the internals may be extremely similar, the King Cobra is very much a concealed carry revolver. That’s exactly how I carry it. It’s ease of carry and magnum-powered capability make it a great all day, everyday revolver.
The Python was never built to be a concealed carry gun. The Python was built — then and now — as a crossover between a target revolver and duty gun. It absolutely excels in that role. The 3″ version blurs the lines even more, with a shorter, but still fairly heavy front-end.
Sitting atop that muzzle is Colt’s high-visibility changeable front site. All of the factory versions come with an orange ramp, but other inserts are finally starting to become available. The same adjustable rear sight sits on the 3″ version as on the other Pythons. This one moves well, not too easily, and with solid clicks between each setting.
Since the frame is exactly the same as the other new Pythons, the action and trigger remain the same as well. That’s a very good thing. The new model Python’s trigger is just as good, if not better than the originals, with less stack and less weight.
This 3″ Python’s double action pull measured slightly heavier than the previous versions, at 8 lbs. 8 oz. even. The single action pull, on the other hand, measured right along with the 4.25″ and 6″ versions I’ve previously tested, at 4 lbs. 4.3 oz.
Cylinder end-shake measured at .003″ with a feeler gauge. Each cylinder throat measured at .358″ on a minus pin gauge set and the major bore diameter was .357″.
You might think the full walnut grips would look out of place on a 3″ barreled revolver. But the same grips that looked great on every other Python look just as good here. And they feel every bit as perfect. Colt must have secured a very solid supply of these checkered walnut grips, as they consistently put out great examples on each of the guns I’ve seen. This one is no exception, with deep checkering and rich colors throughout the wood.
That full grip and the weight and shape of the traditional target style frame are responsible for the relatively easy shooting of the 3″ Python. Short-barreled .357s are well known for their recoil and blast. The 3″ Python really only suffers from one of those issues, as recoil is significantly diminished when compared to the King Cobra.
I like the King Cobra now even more than when I got it years ago, but the Python easily bests it for all-around shootability. Long strings of heavy .357 Magnum ammunition with the 3″ Python will test your ear protection, but not your hand.
With a solid double-crush grip, fast follow-ups are very doable. The Python has the grip, the sights, and just enough weight to keep the muzzle down and firing, as long as the shooter is doing his or her part.
It was easy putting 200 rounds of .38 Special and another 100 rounds of .357 Magnum through the 3″ Python prior to accuracy testing. I cleaned the packing grease from the gun prior to shooting and gave it a bit of Lucas Oil, but never cleaned or lubed it again until the review was over. The gun never failed to fire, the cylinder never failed to advance in time, empties never failed to fall from the cylinder with a push.
In short, I had zero reliability issues with the gun whatsoever. With the exceptional reliability the previous new model Pythons I reviewed showed and continue to show, I have no doubt as to the longevity of this version.
The 4.25″ and 6″ versions I previously reviewed both showed outstanding accuracy, printing 1″ groups and better at 25 yards. I couldn’t quite match that with the 3″ version. With everything else the same other than the barrel length, I’ll attribute the slight loss in perceived precision to the shorter sight radius.
That said, the 3″ Python will shoot very good groups with a range of projectiles. Sadly, I didn’t have any of the Barnes 140gr XPB rounds the other Pythons liked so well, but the same 158gr Armscor 38 SPL FMJ shot 1.5″ five-round groups at 25 yards untimed and off bags averaged over four shot strings.
More fun was the Buffalo Bore 180gr JHP round moving at an advertised approximate 1,350 fps from the 3″ Python. This very capable round printed 1.8″ five-round groups under the same conditions.
The best shooting round was a home-rolled round made from Cast Performance’s 180 WFNGC hard-cast bullet pushed by 5.5gr of CFE Pistol, moving about 950fps. That round scored 1.4″ on average. All groups were shot in single action on a fouled bore.
Again, still, no other major manufacturer does a factory finish like Colt. Like the previous new model Pythons, the 3″ comes with Colt’s “Semi-Bright” stainless finish. For those of you Python aficionados out there, it’s much closer to the old “Ultimate Stainless” on the original models. It’s the kind of finish you’d send other factory revolvers to the gunsmith to achieve.
Put it all together — Colt’s “vented rib” short barrel, the full walnut grip, and that gorgeous finish — and the end result is a revolver that’s every bit worthy of the Python name.
Specifications: 3″ Colt Python Revolver
Caliber: .357 Magnum
Barrel Length: 3 in.
Frame Material: Stainless Steel
Grips: Walnut Target Stocks
Height: 5.5 in.
Overall Length: 8.5 in.
Weight: 42 oz.
Width: 1.55 in.
Capacity: 6 rds.
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * * *
I’m not usually a fan of 3″ .357 magnum wheel guns, but this Python does short without being snubby. The style’s great and the finish is exceptional for a factory stainless gun.
Customization * * * *
Front sight options are finally available, as are a wide range of grips.
Reliability * * * * *
Accuracy * * * *
For a 3″ gun with a relatively short sight radius, accuracy was very good with a wide range of bullets and charges.
Overall * * * * *
CZ has knocked it out of the park with their first Python. The 3″ new model Python handles the magnum cartridge with style and grace. I looked for something to knock this gun out of 5 star category and I just couldn’t justify it. I have no need for another Python and no desire for a 3″ .357 Magnum, except for this one.