Review - Tanaka Works Colt Python 6" .357 Magnum
Updated: Jun 20
History of Tanaka Works (タナカワークス)
Tanaka Works is a Japanese company that manufactures replica firearms for the airsoft industry. Tanaka has produced a huge variety of gas revolvers and rifles not only based upon real steel weapons, but also those in videogames such as Resident Evil.
For more info - visit Tanaka Works website
For more background info - visit Tanaka Works Wikipedia
History of Colt
Colt is an American firearms manufacturer created in 1855 that revolutionised the production of revolvers. Colt is also responsible for the M1911 which is in use by Police and Military forces worldwide. Colt was in charge of production of the AR-15 / M16 lines and in 2002 split to cater for civilian and military / LEO. Colt is now owned by Cannae Holdings.
For more info - visit Colt website
For more background info - visit - Colt Wikipedia
Why Tanaka Works?
The 6" .357 Colt Python was the weapon of choice for Rick Grimes, ex Sheriff and leader of the survivors in The Walking Dead for over 10 years. His Colt was used to take down walkers, people, animals and the 6 round stopping power of the revolver punched through most things. As a huge fan of TWD, and cosplaying as Rick Grimes, the one seemingly unobtainable item was the legendary Tanaka Works Colt. It took over 2 years to track down a brand new 357 and I located it in Japan. Months went by after purchasing it, due to shipping and customs, but when it arrived, it was 100% worth it. The 357 is a set piece used during special events and it certainly makes people stop, stare and shuffle a little bit closer.
Reviews of Colt variants are very few and far between, let alone for the Tanaka Colt. There are also a number of revolvers marked out there as Walking Dead revolvers etc however none of them were 'screen right' with slight colour variations, non stamped / non markings and some were completely mis-labelled (ie a Dan Wesson revolver labelled as a Python).
Prior to the unboxing, there are a number of parts that will be referenced in this blog using the below illustration.
Herein lies the limited product description from the Tanaka website;
Full length: 294 mm
Number of shots:12 shots
Shooting system: Gas / HFC134a
Remarks: Material ABS + plating
Pegasus type gas gun
The 357 comes in a Colt branded wood effect card box. The left hand end of the box bears 3 stickers;
Left hand sticker with the ASGK marking.
Central sticker detailing manufacturers details.
Right hand sticker housing the model / version and price paid.
The right hand end of the box as with real Colts when sold, bear a sticker detailing information including Calibre, Barrel length, Finish, Model and Factory Order.
Inside the box there are 2 sections;
Nothing of note within this section, other than the cut-out is designed to be able to accommodate the 4", 6" or 8" revolver.
This section contains;
1x bag of non-descript BBs
1x BB revolver loader
1x brass gas refill tube
The manual is totally in Japanese and therefore you'll need a translation app or similar. As with keeping of most manuals it reminds users to be safe, how to adjust the hop, loading and unloading the revolver etc. Additionally the manual contains two pages relating to a schematic and parts.
The Tanaka 357 is in a nickel finish and is therefore highly reflective. Anodized and matt finishes are available as well as other variants such as brass, steel, gold or silver. The 357 weighs in at 860g and this does add a feeling of quality and realism. Apart from the grips and the front and rear sight, the 357 is entirely comprised of metal. The grip panels are made from a plastic material but do have an actual stippled effect as per the genuine 357. As a comparison between real steel and Tanaka see below;
Length - 11.25" (28.5cm)
Weight - 44 ounces (1247 gm)
Length - 11.49" (29.2cm)
Weight - 33 ounces (940gm)
Tanaka have incorporated nearly all of the Colt markings exactly across the 357;
The grip medallion is of the Colt horse in a brass finish and is set into the grip on both sides.
On the frame is a stamped Colt horse.
The left hand side of the barrel has the metal stamped 'PYTHON .357 .357 MAGNUM CTG'.
The right hand side of the barrel has the metal stamped 'COLTS PT. F.A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD. CONN. U.S.A.'.
Of note is that there is no serial number stamped on the inside of the crane as per the real steel version.
The grip panels can be removed by unscrewing the screw on the left hand side. Once removed, both panels can be eased apart from the main frame of the 357. The inside of the panels have 2 removable metal weights to add extra weight to the 357. A view of the left hand side shows the main spring (thin metal bar) and below it, the main spring strut. The two screws pictured allow further disassembly of the revolver. On the right hand side, the bottom of the frame is tamped with 'A S G K TANAKA WORKS'.
The Tanaka 357 uses 6 cylinders. 5 of the cylinders can house 1 bb. The 6th cylinder is the bb storage, containing a well and a spring. Using a speedloader you insert 12 bbs into the 6th cylinder. As the main cylinder revolves, the spring pushes a bb upwards and into the empty cylinder. The overall cylinder additionally houses the gas compartment. In all uses of the 357 over the past few years, I have never had a double feed. To break, pull the cylinder release catch backwards and push the cylinder from the right hand side to the left. The cylinder does not free wheel and carries weight in itself, something that a lot of imitations do not do. At the rear of the cylinder are 6 imitation shells, 5 of which are adorned with Colt markings. The 6th shell is labelled 'gas'.
To fill the cylinder chamber with gas you will firstly need to attach the gas refill tube to your gas bottle which extends the gas bottle nozzle by approx 2.7" (6.9cm). Breaking open the revolver, revolve the cylinder around until the silver window in the shell labelled 'gas' disappears and is replaced by the gas nozzle insert as shown below. Simply press the gas bottle nozzle in and fill until full.
The 357 uses a simple concept to fire rounds, rotate the cylinder and prepare for the next round to be fired.
Red boxes - The left hand red box surrounds the cylinder lock, and the right hand box surrounds the cylinder lock notch. When the cylinder is pushed into the revolver and twisted, the cylinder lock is compressed and then decompresses into the cylinder lock notch, keeping the cylinder firmly in place. As can be seen diagonally up to the right hand box are markings where the cylinder has rotated and the lock has slightly marked it as per real steel version.
Blue box - The box surrounds the firing pin and firing pin notch. The firing pin can be seen as the darker metal at the bottom of the box. As the trigger is pulled, the firing pin moves upwards in the notch and pushes forward, connecting with the primer on the round.
Green box - The box surrounds the cylinder ratchet lock which keeps the cylinder in place and the cylinders in line with the barrel.
The barrel in the Tanaka is a standard brass barrel and in the picture can be seen with the o-ring providing a seal between barrel and cylinder. The barrel can be replaced or upgraded if required.
The back of the operators manual does contain a schematic of the revolver which includes numbered parts. Tanaka are known for their great customer service and being able to identify a broken or spare part required quickly and easily is of huge benefit to the user. An inner page also contains the parts list (in Japanese) with prices. Of note is that the manual is marked as 2015.
The Colt was taken to the range to provide an accurate review of the firing capabilities of the Colt and what the stock internals allowed the revolver to achieve. The weather on the range;
Nuprol RZR bbs were used solely for all weights testing.
Nuprol 2.0 Green gas was used. After completing test firing for a weight, the gas chamber was refilled fully.
An XCortech X3200 MK3 chrono was used.
The below table includes results using both FPS / Joules. It can be seen that the FPS flux differs across 10 shots largely on all weights. From the results the 357 performed best with the least FPS flux using .28s. The lightest and heaviest weights results varied greatly.
The average 6mph wind seen on the range, blew from targets towards the shooter, therefore the revolver was not shot in a stable weather environment. Any results returned from the range in these conditions would not be a true reflection of the 357s capabilities. This test will be retaken soon and blog updated.
Thoughts and opinion
As a huge fan of The Walking Dead, and having taken many years scouring the internet to source a show accurate 357, I achieved my goal. The 357 is a sturdy piece of kit, with weight and a massive appeal. When this is taken onto the field, people do stand, stare and then crowd around. Whilst not a secondary that I would use in every game due to 12 shot limit, for themed events or where quick draws were needed, I would certainly take the 357. The small gas chamber does surprisingly last, being able to fire approx 40-45 bbs without the need to refill the gas. Using .28s and MED (Minimum Engagement Distance), the 357 does have stopping and show stopping power. Being a rare item, it'll take tracking down to find a new one in stock a while. Dan Wessons and the cheaper imitations of Colts are plentiful, but with those, you're one of the crowd. I am 100% pleased with the 357 and it's certainly helped me to get out of a walker situation before!
If this article has peaked an interest in Colts, check out the Facebook real steel page Colt Python Anaconda Boa Diamondback.
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I am not paid for my blogs by the manufacturers or companies that I purchase my items from. I am not offered freebies to promote a product. These blogs are purely written from my own experience in truth to help advise and inform others who may wish to purchase the items or understand more about them. If I am sent a freebie to review this will be stated at the beginning to make you aware.