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S.P. Fjestad's Lethal Blogging
  S.P. Fjestad is the author of the Blue Book of Gun Values, and has been following the firearms marketplace for nearly 30 years. Fjestad is also the publisher for several other firearms-related titles and he also serves as an editor for many of them. He attends several trade shows each year including the SHOT show, NASGW show, and the Tulsa Arms Show. He also serves on the NRA publication committee and writes “What’s It Worth” in Field & Stream, and “I Have This Old Gun” in the American Rifleman magazines.

In “Lethal Blogging,” Fjestad will report on several firearm-related subjects including news from trade shows, auction results, and other interesting subjects that arise in the gun industry. Check back regularly for information that many people outside of the gun industry might never hear about!
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Snake Venom Epidemic Paralyzes Colt Collectors PART II   
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Snake Venom Epidemic Paralyzes Colt Collectors PART II

Is it the rarity factor that’s responsible for these high prices?

With most factory catalogued Snake gun variations, the answer is no. Over 100,000 Pythons were manufactured between 1955 and 1969, and the great majority of them were in Royal Blue (nickel finish was added in 1962) with either 4 or 6 in. barrels – not a lot of variations. As a comparison, almost 52,600 SAAs were made during the same time period. In 1960 alone, Python production topped over 16,000 units. That’s approximately three times as many revolvers as all the pre-war S&W .357 Registered Magnums that were custom ordered! So most Colt Snake guns cannot be considered rare. However, shorter barrel lengths, limited production calibers, optional finishes, and other non-standard features do add to a Snake gun’s rarity factor (and value). Moral to the story – during this 15-year time span, almost twice as many Pythons were manufactured as SAAs (with a lot more variations), yet the value of the SAA is 60% less now!

Has the media and video industry affected Snake gun demand?

Not much. Despite their recent popularity in the collectors marketplace, Snake guns certainly can’t brag about being a major media darling in the past. Yes, a Python was used in the 1970s TV show Starsky and Hutch and also appears in The Walking Dead. It is also featured in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops. But while there’s been some exposure on the silver screen, no single movie appearance has ever created a major spike in Snake gun demand. Remember how values skyrocketed on S&W Model 29s almost overnight once Dirty Harry started ventilating bad guys with his? Then semi-autos were hot for a while, including the Auto Mag and especially the .50 cal. Desert Eagle. Many movie moguls back then preferred a brutish hand cannon to wow the audiences, and the Python to them represented a refined target pistol in an anemic onscreen caliber.

So how did this feeding frenzy get started?

Values on Snake guns, mostly Pythons and Diamondbacks, started gradually going up approximately eight years ago. Nice Pythons had been stuck in the $1,000 - $1,200 ranges for a while, and then quickly passed the $1,500 level, followed by breaking the $2,000 barrier not long after. These escalating prices were mostly driven by a few collectors who believed there was more upside market potential in the future than downside risk at the time. This triggered additional collector activity and buying (a crowd loves a crowd), investment speculation, and some greed that added to the increased demand mix about five years ago. The feeding frenzy was then officially underway on all Snake guns. Unlike AR-15s, there is no fear factor (potential anti-gun legislation) involved to increase demand on this politically correct six-shot revolver configuration (yet).

Today’s crazed and hungry “sharks” are now devouring all the Snake meat they can sink their teeth into in record quantities, but don’t forget that even the hungriest sharks stop eating when they’re full.

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