Gotta love trips down Memory Lane, whether they’re with flesh-and-blood friends and family members, or with the cinematic and/or musical kind … or with firearms.
This writer recently got reunited with an old personal favorite firearm, the Ruger GP-100 .357 Magnum double-action (DA) revolver, so it was a no-brainer that I’d want to do a range reunion and writeup on it. But why stop there? It dawned on me that though I’d never owned a Colt Python DA revolver in the same caliber, it had also been way too long since I’d last fired that classic wheelgun, so why not bring together the best of both worlds and test-fire the two guns side-by-side.
Contestant #1: Colt Python (Rental Gun)
This is just one member of the highly impressive array of rental guns that Silver Eagle Group (SEG) of Ashburn, Virginia has available for its customers. This particular specimen is a stainless steel “Snake Gun” with a 4-inch barrel and a fancy wood grip.
For anybody not familiar with the Colt Python, she’s basically “The Rolex of The .357 Magnum Revolvers,” or if you prefer, the Cadillac of .357 Magnum revolvers. It debuted in 1955 and remains one of Colt’s most enduringly popular products. My first – and prior to today, only – time firing a Python was way back in 2004, and to repeat the story I’ve previously told about the experience:
“After firing a couple of rounds, I turned to Capt. R and said, ‘Holy ****, sir, which gunsmith did the custom work on this trigger for you, and how much did he charge you?’ To which he replied, ‘Oh no, that’s a factory stock trigger.’ … no Smith or Ruger wheelie I’ve fired before or since could even remotely compare to the trigger on that Snake Gun.”
Contestant #2: Ruger GP-100 (Personally Owned)
Before anyone accuses us here at 19FortyFive of redundancy, let us clarify something: the Ruger GP-100 Match Champion that I test-fired as part of my August 1, 2023 article titled “.357 Magnum Revolver 3-Way Range Showdown: Colt Vs Smith Vs Ruger – Who Wins?” was an SEG rental gun and a factory custom gun to boot.
This time we’re talking about my beloved, personally owned, totally factory stock, stainless-steel finished 6” bbl. GP-100 that I bought back in 2003 and had put into storage back in 2014 whilst I was in the midst of my overseas private military contractor work; last week I finally got her out of storage in my former residential state of Texas and back in my possession in my relatively new home state of Maryland (many thanks and a big shoutout to David Holcomb and Laurie DiPalma of Shoot Smart indoor pistol shooting range and gun shop in Fort Worth for taking good care of the old girl in the intervening years).
The GP-100 made its debut in 1985. I first fired and fell in love with it back in May 1990.
The course of fire for each gun was as follows:
—15 rounds, head shots, 7 yards, DA trigger mode
—10 rounds, center-torso shots, 25 yards, single-action (SA) trigger mode
—10 rounds, groin shots, 50 yards, single-action (SA) trigger mode
All fire was conducted from the Classic Weaver Stance, using the ICE QT target. The ammo used was Federal American Eagle .357 Magnum 158-grain Jacketed Soft Point (JSP); in the interest of time and money savings, I didn’t bother with any .38 Special loads for this range test. So why only 35 rounds per gun as opposed to the usual 50? Because my buddy Dr. Murray Bessette – whose name you might recognize from my reviews of the SIG P210, Taurus Judge, and S&W M&P FPC – was helping me evaluate the guns as well, so obviously I couldn’t greedily hog all the ammo to myself!
Murray and I had a common consensus on these two Maggie wheelies. We both found that whilst the Colt was smooth, the Ruger just felt and shot better overall, in terms of SA trigger, balance, user-friendliness of cylinder release … and especially accuracy; the Colt printed waaaaayyyy to the left for both of us — rental gun pitfalls perhaps(?) — while the Ruger was nicely centered.
I also found that whilst the Python had the butter-smooth DA trigger that I’d come to expect from my 2004 range session, the SA trigger was considerably stiffer than expected … the less expensive Ruger’s SA trigger actually felt crisper!
The Python made all of her head shots, but the leftward drift was already glaringly obvious; at 25 and 50 yards, I only managed five and one hit respectively. With the GP-100, all shots connected at all distances and grouped much tighter; at 25 yards, nine out of ten took the 5-zone – with three in the tiebreaking 5x zone – and only one staying into the 2-zone of the shoulder. At 50 yards, four took the groin/Pelvis zone, whilst six strayed upward into the gut (which would’ve still put a real-live bad guy in a world of hurt.)
And the Winner Is … Want Your Own?
The Ruger, by far. The Colt Python is still a very fine and highly coveted gun and granted, rental guns can be hit-or-miss in both the literal and figurative sense, but based on this experience, I won’t be rushing out to buy one anytime soon. And besides, I already have another good-quality Colt .357 “Snake Gun,” that being the King Cobra, which holds its own degree of sentimental value for me.
That said, if you want a Python, I still highly encourage you to buy one. The manufacturer’s official info page lists a current MSRP of $1,499.00. As for the GP-100, well, our longtime readers know what a certified Ruger fanboy I am, so y’all know I’d encourage you to buy a GP-100! *That* manufacturer’s official page lists an MSRP of $979.00 for the blued version and $1,015.00 for the stainless steel models. In other words, a $520.00 to $484.00 savings compared to the Colt, i.e., more bang for your buck.
Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.