The Colt Three-Fifty-Seven Revolver

The Colt Three-Fifty-Seven Revolver

This is a discussion on The Colt Three-Fifty-Seven Revolver within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Premium Placeholder for the Python. Hey, doesn't that sound like a good title as would be found in a gun rag? Got this Colt Three-Fifty-Seven ...

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 20
Like Tree29Likes

Thread: The Colt Three-Fifty-Seven Revolver

  1. #1
    Moderator
    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    10,327

    The Colt Three-Fifty-Seven Revolver

    Premium Placeholder for the Python.

    Hey, doesn't that sound like a good title as would be found in a gun rag?


    Got this Colt Three-Fifty-Seven revolver back at the end of March after incubating the deal for two years or longer. The photo was taken in the middle of the night at the gun show while doing security duty, after giving it a detail strip and scrubbing up. Have not had time to properly introduce it. I've still not shot it enough to suit me but have shot it enough to gain an impression.

    Stuck this narrative up on a small private forum on which I participate to be "vetted and approved" and also on the Colt Forum where the "Heavy Hitters" reside in order to be graded and corrected. Will stick it up here in hopes that y'all read more Colt lore than you ever really wanted to know.
    _______________________________

    While the .357 Magnum cartridge was developed by Smith & Wesson and introduced in 1935 on their N-Frame revolver, Colt quickly adopted the potent new revolver cartridge, serving it up in a couple of revolvers found in the Colt catalog. Relatively small quantities of both the famous Single Action Army and the gargantuan New Service revolvers were produced and shipped by Colt during the late 1930s and right up until World War II, when all production was given over to critical military contract requirements.

    The .357 Magnum cartridge became an instant sensation the moment it hit the market and interest and demand far outstripped the miniscule quantities shipped from both the Smith & Wesson and Colt factories. While the well-deserved interest in the .357 Magnum remained high, the interruption caused by the war years, along with the immediate post-war demand for production of all models for civilian and export needs, impeded production of revolvers chambered for what was then apparently considered only a special-interest cartridge.

    Revolvers chambered for the .357 Magnum were still in very short supply into the early 1950s with only the small pre-war production by Smith & Wesson and Colt in circulation and supplemented by the barest trickle of .357 Magnum revolvers being produced by Smith & Wesson on their large N-Frame. A .357 Magnum was a desirable and costly handgun, new or used, in the early 1950s.

    Enter Colt, grasping the extent of market demand for a very flexible, useful, and powerful cartridge and wanting to introduce a new revolver of more modern proportions.

    Colt did not have either of the pre-war revolver models in production that had housed the .357 Magnum. Production of the wheezy ol' Single Action Army had not been resumed after World War II due to a genuine lack of interest in this model in an era preceding the advent of the television western and the fast-draw craze. The grand New Service (my personal favorite Colt model) was a casualty of World War II and was not returned to production post-war. It is said that the machinery used for producing New Service revolvers was actually moved outside to suffer exposure to the weather in the rush to provide space in the Colt factory for increased production of military contract small arms of all kinds. The New Service machinery ruined.

    Colt determined that their E-Frame, also known as the ".41 frame"size could be utilized for what they had in mind. Originally introduced with the Army Special model in 1907 and then still being used for the Official Police and several other Colt revolver models, the E-Frame size could be engineered to be amply strong enough for the high-intensity .357 Magnum cartridge. These revolvers were very similar in size to the later Smith & Wesson L-Frame revolvers. Holsters will interchange.

    Colt envisioned workhorse revolvers with adjustable sights and chambered for the .38 Special along with a gussied-up premium revolver especially designed around the .357 Magnum cartridge for the more discriminating pistolero. The result was the 1953 introduction of the Colt Trooper in .38 Special along with the premium companion model in the Colt line, the Three-Fifty-Seven, roll marked ".3 5 7 " on the left side of the barrel. The trooper offered Colt's standard service blue finish but also featured the bonus of adjustable sights. The 3 5 7 model carried things a bit further. Colt saw fit to equip the upscale 3 5 7 with a frame-mounted firing pin rather than the traditional hammer-mounted firing pin as the Trooper possessed. This change in firing pin design was considered to be important enough by Colt to rename the 3 5 7 frame, the "I-Frame" even though it shared the same size and internals as the tried-and-true E-Frame.

    The 3 5 7 was unique, being the only Colt Model using the I-Frame for a couple of years until the introduction of another iconic Colt model, the fabulous Python which also utilized this unique frame variant.

    The 3 5 7 initially offered a more finely finished exterior, an expertly polished version of Colt's Dual-Tone finish. Colt had previously produced blue revolvers with this finish for several years, beginning in the late 1940s, but discontinued it after the first year of the 3 5 7 production. The top strap, back strap, bottom of trigger guard and frame, and cylinder flutes were given a soft, matte blue effect, with the balance of the revolver polished to give a bright blue finish. This is not as apparent in most photos but is attractive when actually viewing the guns.

    The 3 5 7 initially came in blue finish only with barrel lengths of four and six inches. Later the Florida Highway Patrol obtained 3 5 7 revolvers with 5-inch barrels and nickel finish on a special contract with Colt. I'm not certain whether nickel was ever offered on regular production 3 5 7 guns. May have seen some on Colt Forum and GunBroker but can't verify their authenticity.

    The 3 5 7 could be ordered in any combination of standard service stocks and hammer spur, or with newly introduced fully checkered (really fully checkered!) target stocks or wide target hammer spur.

    The original Colt target stocks as they first appeared on both the 3 5 7 and the Officer's Model Match are very handsome. A hand-filling design, rendered in black walnut, these featured cut checkering over their entire surface save for a nicely executed narrow border which frames the broad expanse of checkering work. A silver "Rampant Colt" medallion highlighted these stocks which were also offered as an extra cost option on the other various Colt E-Frame Models. A variation of these stocks with medallions done in gold became standard equipment and unique to the Python upon its introduction. Colt used these stocks with the same dimensions for many years, right up until the discontinuance of the Python. The fully checkered version was gone after 1960 though, the checkering being greatly reduced after that time.

    Modern collectors of classic Colt double-action revolvers from the 1950s go nuts for the early Colt target stocks. Decent examples of these stocks with full checkering coverage bring good money. The stocks weren't produced in large quantities and surviving examples are uncommonly found. Quantities of the stocks have been mislaid or discarded over the years. The revolver ruled bulls-eye competition during the era, Colt target revolvers were considered "King of the Hill," and many Colt-equipped competitors exchanged the factory stocks for custom aftermarket designs more to their liking. Colt revolvers featuring these stocks found their way into law enforcement service from the 1950s onward and more stocks were discarded in favor of other designs. Since the total number of Pythons produced in the 1950s was small, these stocks with gold medallions are extremely scarce. Anyone wanting to restore an early Python has a hard time finding needed stocks so the early Colt stocks with silver medallions are sometimes sacrificed and modified by substituting gold medallions for the silver. There's a lot of collecting pressure on 1950s Colt target stocks.

    Speaking of the Python, it was that pesky "snake" gun that put the bite on the 3 5 7 model, curtailing demand and ultimately killing off Colt's first post-war .357 Magnum revolver in 1961. The introduction of the Python in 1955, after the 3 5 7 had been on the market for just 2 years, represents a curious marketing decision on the part of Colt. The factory built a premium revolver only to top it in short order, effectively making it redundant. And redundant the 3 5 7 immediately became, elbowing its way between the Trooper and the Python. The Dual-Tone finish was gone and the 3 5 7 looked very much like the Trooper but for different markings on the barrel. This apparently wasn't lost on the Colt buyers market either. Most purchased the lower priced Trooper with a few springing for the luxurious Python. In 1960 the Trooper was chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge and also housed on the I-Frame. The 3 5 7 soldiered on for a few years in the shadow of the Python but there really was no place for it in the Colt line-up. It was gone forever by 1961.

    Smith & Wesson didn't help the 3 5 7's cause either. During the decade of the 1950s, Smith & Wesson began to increase production of .357 Magnum revolvers. The Springfield Massachusetts firm added some new models to its catalog, supplementing its own premium .357 Magnum model which became the Model 27. One was another N-Frame offering a bit less glitz but was priced attractively. This revolver, originally named the Highway Patrolman, became the Model 28 when model numbers were assigned in 1958. A new concept in .357 Magnum revolvers was also introduced, the famous Combat Magnum, later known as the Model 19, which made its debut in the mid-1950s. Built on the popular K-Frame, this represented a startling development in its day, putting the powerful .357 Magnum round into a smaller revolver. The concept was warmly welcomed by .357 Magnum fans everywhere.

    So, between Smith & Wesson's competition and Colt itself knocking the props out from under the 3 5 7 by bracketing it with other Colt .357 Magnum models, the very first post-war Colt .357 Magnum revolver disappeared after only an 8-year run.

    More's the pity too as the 3 5 7 gives up nothing to the Python except for high style. Mechanically the same, its action is just as smooth and it is capable of accuracy every bit as fine as the Python. I've had a Python for some years but being a contrarian, I think I prefer the 3 5 7.

    As highly polished as the Python is, neither the polish job nor the color of the blue finish is equal to the expert and detailed polishing work and the carbonia blue finish with nitre blue highlights of the Colt handguns produced in the very early 20th century. The Python, at least by 1978 when mine was produced, seems almost over polished and has a slightly melted look to its factory original blue finished surfaces. The 3 5 7 is very attractive with the two-tone finish and the sharp corners and edges. Of course early Pythons were also finished in the same fashion, sans Dual-Tone matte highlights.

    The 3 5 7 lacks the characteristic full lug featured on the underside of the Python's barrel. An industry first, the full-lugged Python barrel predated by 25 years Smith & Wesson's appropriation of the concept for their L-Frame. Said to be an aid in steadying the sights and acting to dampen recoil, the full lug has proven wildly popular over the years. I don't prefer it however, either for its appearance or for the fact that it lends an ungainly front-heavy feel to the revolver. The effect is worse on revolvers with 6-inch barrels than those with 4-inch barrels. To me, the revolver without a full barrel lug is the better balanced revolver.

    The Python introduced the handgun shooting world to the vent rib as a production feature. Prior to the Python's 1955 appearance, various solid and vent ribs were a custom accessory item added to both Colt and Smith & Wesson revolvers intended for bulls-eye competition. The Python offered the buyer a premium revolver with a factory fabricated vent rib as standard equipment. I don't much care for the vent rib which contributes to somewhat "over-the-top" styling. The vent rib affects me in much the same way as do tail fins that crowned the wretched excess that was the late 1950s automobile styling. The solid rib of the Smith & Wesson Model 27 is more tasteful. The Colt 3 5 7 manages understated elegance with no rib at all.

    One person's personal opinion obviously runs contrary to popular tastes as the Python became iconic, spawning imitators among the competition while the 3 5 7 languished. Perhaps the 3 5 7's popularity suffered from the oddly unimaginative name given the model, simply taken from the popular cartridge for which it chambered. Sales speak volumes and the Python was sold in the hundreds of thousands of revolvers while the 3 5 7 was all done after only about 15,000 produced.



    grouse, OD*, gasmitty and 5 others like this.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    27,897
    Can we just drool and admire from afar?

    Sadly, that's what I'll be doing, as I don't have one.
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

  3. #3
    VIP Member Array tdave's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    AZ
    Posts
    2,831
    A beautiful piece of history.

  4. #4
    VIP Member Array Jaeger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    St. Louis, MO "The Most Dangerous City in America"
    Posts
    2,535
    I've got my eye on that refinished shooter. Hopefully it doesn't go too high, and I too will come to know this revolver and call it friend.
    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." C.S. Lewis

  5. #5
    VIP Member Array Snub44's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    4,575
    ...really enjoy these historical posts...never heard of the Marshal or Courier before...look at those PRICES!!!

  6. #6
    Moderator
    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    10,327
    This 3 5 7 belonged to a Central Texas Lawman on a small-sized city police force for many years before making its way to the previous owner before I acquired it.





    The 6-inch 3 5 7 model from 1953 shown with a 6-inch Python from 1978.


    With side plates removed. Part for part, the same.


    For that matter, the I-Frame 3 5 7 and Python are very little different than any of several other Colt revolvers built on the E-Frame since 1907. Top to bottom: Amy Special in .38 Special from 1915, Army Special in .41 Long Colt from 1925, Commando of World War II fame in .38 Special, Official Police in .38 Special from 1953, and a Officer's Model Match in .38 Special from 1957. See how they all have firing pins on their little hammer noses.


    The E-Frame Colts all buttoned up.


    Hate to say it but the Python really doesn't have anything over several of these older Colts with regards to smoothness of action or trigger quality. The best two are the 1925 Army Special and the 1957 Officer's Model Match. Next comes the 3 5 7 and the worn but fine NYPD Official Police. Then comes the Python.

    The Python seen here in the photos is a good garden-variety factory revolver having as fine an action as any of several other Pythons that I've seen through the years. Without a "trigger job" though, I'm not really certain at all that the Python is as uniquely fine as it's reputed to be.

    Stock detail on the 3 5 7. The 1950s target stocks with the full-coverage checkering were phased out by 1961.



    Features unique to this first-year-of-production 3 5 7

    The Dual-Tone finish, seen in the cylinder flutes here. Colt discontinued the Dual-Tone finish for all revolvers the next year so only first-year 3 5 7s received the treatment.



    The Accro-Sight base, rounded at the front. Only appears on first-year 3 5 7 revolvers. All succeeding years feature a sight base that is squared off in the front. This revolver's serial number is 2851.



    First-year 3 5 7 revolvers uniquely sported a polished muzzle.




    The photos in these spreads were taken over different days, in different light, using different techniques. I got a kick out of the primitive "reflector" I used for a portion of the photos taken. The sun was low in the west on each occasion I made photo attempts. On one session I placed the wicker chairs beside our white pickup in order to gain a bit of reflected light.

    The camera's primitive, the technique's primitive, the photographer's primitive.
    ccw9mm, scottync, OD* and 6 others like this.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

  7. #7
    Moderator
    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    10,327
    The obligatory targets. Shooter's choice, as always. Mind you, these were the best. Maybe I should put up some worst so as to keep a better sense of perspective. You know, those shots that go "off towards Jones's'."

    We'll get the worst out of the way first. I just cannot shoot Colt guns very well double-action without a lot of care. This was a best effort for the day at 10 yards, rolling off the shots rapidly. The Colt stacking trigger just eats my lunch. Some needed practice is indicated perhaps?


    On to single-action shooting which was much more pleasing







    Hate to have to say it but the Python won the day, shooting the tightest group.


    Or, maybe not. This was more typical.


    The 3 5 7 offers really good handgun accuracy with full-power .357 Magnum ammunition. I only loaded batches of jacketed and cast bullets over 14.0 grains of 2400 to try in it. I've run 2400 up to over 15.0 grains with bullets of this weight in the .357 Magnum cartridge but determined that 14.0 grains was high enough without resorting to working up loads especially for the revolver. It handled the14.0 grains of 2400 with the 158 grain cast and jacketed bullets with aplomb.

    The first outing with the 3 5 7 was with other shooters at the local gun club range. Some impromptu targets were set up and shot at distances to 70 yards or so with gratifying results. While in front of these shooters I essayed a shot at a stick of fire wood or mesquite tree trimming that was lying about 30 yards from the firing line, the 2-inch diameter sawn end presented to the line. A lucky shot centered this target, sending the stick spinning in a shower of splinters. The shot was lucky as it was the very first shot I ever fired from the gun with no idea how it was sighted. I could have just as easily flinched in the appropriate direction but the results looked impressive and made for a gratifying beginning.

    Only when I headed out to our old family place in the country for a "grand day out" did I get to wring out the revolver more thoroughly. I shot too much that afternoon, also inaugurating a Smith & Wesson Heavy Duty that day, shooting other handguns and rifles. I believe that I'm getting old or something when I begin to flag while shooting large quantities of ammunition off in one outing. I need to shoot more or take some Geritol or something.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

  8. #8
    Distinguished Member Array 5lima30ret's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Mountains of Western North Carolina
    Posts
    1,411
    Old Colt's and Texas go together like biscuits and gravy here in NC! Very nice!
    Retired Police Lieutenant, Retired USAF Reserve, Glock Armorer, NC CWP, HR-218 Qualified
    Second generation American, Third generation Legionnaire
    "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Phil 4:13

  9. #9
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    27,897
    Bryan, you post the most jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, juicy photos of sexy guns as one could imagine. Either you've had a dozen relatives all endow you with their executed wills, or you're one sick puppy in your own right. Ya gotta stop it, man. You're giving those of us without a bad case of "the yearnings."
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

  10. #10
    VIP Member
    Array Stoveman's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Cuba on the Chesapeake
    Posts
    3,205
    Haven't had an itch this bad since back in college....

  11. #11
    OD*
    OD* is offline
    Moderator
    Array OD*'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Coopersville
    Posts
    11,571
    Fantastic thread Bryan, absolutely fantastic.
    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

    "Terrorists: They hated you yesterday, they hate you today, and they will hate you tomorrow. End the cycle of hatred, don’t give them a tomorrow."

  12. #12
    Moderator
    Array gasmitty's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Gilbert, AZ
    Posts
    11,069
    The camera's primitive, the technique's primitive, the photographer's primitive.
    But ALL are highly effective!

    Quite a writeup, Bryan... always informative and entertaining!
    Smitty
    NRA Endowment Member
    NROI Chief Range Officer

  13. #13
    Moderator
    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Texas
    Posts
    10,327
    Thanks guys!

    Did I ever mention that I'm a sucker for oldie guns?
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"

    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

  14. #14
    OD*
    OD* is offline
    Moderator
    Array OD*'s Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Coopersville
    Posts
    11,571
    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Did I ever mention that I'm a sucker for oldie guns?
    No, really!?!

    "The pistol, learn it well, carry it always ..." ~ Jeff Cooper

    "Terrorists: They hated you yesterday, they hate you today, and they will hate you tomorrow. End the cycle of hatred, don’t give them a tomorrow."

  15. #15
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    USA
    Posts
    27,897
    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Thanks guys!

    Did I ever mention that I'm a sucker for oldie guns?
    Nope. But you did mention you shoot too much.

    If you find you need to unload a few ...
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Sponsored Links

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  

Search tags for this page

colt 3 5 7 dual tone
,
colt 3 5 7 history
,
colt 3-5-7
,
colt model three fifty seven
,
colt pre war carbonia bluing discontinued
,

colt three fifty seven

,
colt three fifty seven for sale
,

colt three fifty seven revolver

,
colt three five seven
,
colt three five seven history
,
eight shot smith and wesson three fifty seven general price
,
three fifty seven rifle
Click on a term to search for related topics.