In honor of the Colt’s 150th Anniversary in 1986 a new revolver hit the market, the .357 Magnum Colt King Cobra.
Based on the company’s Mark V system shared by the medium-frame Trooper series of double-action six-shooters, the King Cobra got its name as an ode to smaller Colt Cobra wheelguns which dated back to the 1950s but were only chambered in .22LR, .32 Colt and .38.
Borrowing the solid rib heavy barrel/full underlug profile of Colt’s Python series but coming in at a more affordable $400 smackers at the time, it was half the price of the iconic serpent.
This made it appealing to budding target shooters, law enforcement, and personal protection. Likewise, the price point made more competitive with other full-lug magnums of the time, namely Ruger’s then-new GP-100, S&W’s Model 586, and Dan Wesson’s 15HB.
This Colt King Cobra, a 4-inch model with a serial number that dates to 1988 production, is in what the company billed as “Ultimate Bright Stainless,” a finish that was only used on this model for four years.
Today, this classic “snake gun” now is in at least its third generation, a transformation I cover more in my column at Guns.com.
So Colt brought the Python back from retirement after a 15-year hiatus. The old I-frame was a hand-fitted full-lug .357 with a tight lockup and superb finish.
The classic Python…
The new gun is different.
I handed several models both on the floor at SHOT Show and at the range on media day and I have to admit: the new gun looks like a Python and shoots like a Python but it just isn’t. Arguably, it is better, with modern CNC techniques producing a wheel gun reportedly stronger, more durable and made to tighter tolerances than the Python of old.
Changes that came as part of the reboot included re-designing the internals to trim the number of parts (14 less to be exact), thus streamlining the trigger group, while improvements were made to reinforce the new Python through the use of stronger stainless steel alloys. The results say Colt, is that the upcoming Python has a smooth-as-butter trigger, and is more reliable, easier to maintain, and more robust.
The “semi-bright” stainless finish on the new Colt Python after running hundreds of rounds on Industry Day. Colt tells us they fed the two shooting models on hand Monday over 4,000 rounds with no issues. (Photos: Chris Eger/Guns.com)
More in my column at Guns.com
Colt first introduced the full-lug six-shot heavy target style revolver in 1955 as something akin to the Cadillac of wheelguns. The big “I” frame .357 Magnum (although some .38 Special target models were made) was king of the block when it came to wheelguns for generations, which caused prices on used snake guns to skyrocket when the Python was put to pasture in 2005.
Now, after a 15-year hiatus, the Python is back in a 4.25-inch and 6-inch variant.
Importantly, the new Python has a lot of changes, which Colt says gives the revolver a smooth-as-butter trigger, as well as being more reliable, easier to maintain, and more robust.
Well, it sure looks like a stainless Python from the outside, anyway.
More in my column at Guns.com.
Offered in brushed stainless steel with a full-lug 3-inch barrel, the six-shot .357/.38SPL King Cobra was announced this week and will be officially on hand at SHOT at the end of the month.
The choice of barrel length on the new King Cobra is interesting. The original revolver was first introduced in 1986 and was made in 2, 2.5, 4, 6 and 8-inch variants across the revolver’s original commercial production, which ended in 1998. Just a few spec guns (less than 20) were made with a 3-inch format for various police tenders but they never went into production.
I’ve always liked the 3-inch barrel on a carry revolver as I have mentioned a few times before as it provides more velocity over a snub– not to mention a skosh longer sight radius– while being more concealable than a 4-inch combat gun. I have an old-school (pre-suck) Rossi full-lug stainless M720 in .44 Special that I have taken in the swamp several times as a hog hunting back up.
For more on the new Colt 3-inch King, head to my column at Guns.com.