The first production run of the Pythons launched in 1955 and lasted until production ended in 2004, a half-century later. Note: the guns were available through the Colt Custom Gun Shop only from 1998 on. During that 50 year span, approximately 750,000+ of the finest revolvers ever made were produced.
So with about three-quarters-of-a-million of these old guns floating around out there, I cringe a little bit when I see one advertised for sale with a description of "RARE." Call it what it is. Spectacular! Fabulous! The best and greatest revolver ever made! But don't call it rare.
The guns were produced with barrels ranging from 2 1/2 to 8 inches; 2.5" 1963 or 4 on, 3" special and few (Note: there are some 3" non-factory guns out there.), 4" 1960 on, 6" entire time & 8" 1980 on. Over the years they were available in a choice of six different finishes;
Now before you start firing off an email to me, to let me know that Stainless Steel is not a finish, Colt advertised it that way and I have the documents to show it.
My 1962 Colt is a Model I3641, the designation for 4" Nickel Pythons which began shipping in 1960. The MSRP of this gun was $137.50 (which was $12.50 more than the same gun in Colt Royal Blue finish), when it sold new in Thomasville, Georgia.
Back when I bought my first Corvette, it was a 1978 Silver Anniversary. I remember my excitement when I called up Zeke Jenkins to tell him. Zeke was well known as "The Corvette Expert" for miles around. I'll never forget what he said. "Greg, they're all anniversary models."
The same thing applies to these guns. They're all special. Just writing about it makes me want to get up and go over to the gun cabinet, get my old Python, empty the ammo and feel that silky smooth action when I cock it.
If you own one these guns, you own a real treasure. And if you want to learn about the history of the Colt Python, there are a few good books out there.