The Power of Prestige

Whatever the job, most want to distinguish themselves. When all wear the same uniform, there aren’t too many ways to stand out. The Python was one. It was a time when a leather instead of nylon patrol jacket made you something special, because in some departments only those on the elite TPF (Tactical Patrol Force) could wear them. It was a time when cops wore medals on their shirts that said “Pistol Expert” or “Combat Master,” and that just … said something.

Many departments had pistol teams, because if the Chief wanted to distinguish his department as being particularly good, there weren’t many metrics by which to measure. Conviction rate? Up to the prosecutor’s office. Crime rate? Largely dependent on the demographics of the community. But if your pistol team excelled, the Chief could show the budget-controlling politicians his agency was, at least in some measurable way, The Best.

A lot of cops on those pistol teams shot Colt Pythons. They were more accurate because a “second cylinder hand” came up under the ratchet and locked the cylinder in line with the barrel when the hammer fell. The Colt’s 1:14" rifling twist stabilized bullets better than the 1:18.75" twist of rival S&Ws and later, Rugers. The heavier underlugged barrel and .41-size frame of the Python held the gun steadier on target than the .38-size K-Frame S&W. The later L-Frame S&Ws and Ruger GP100 were copies of the Python envelope.