The New Colt Cobra, Shooting and First Impressions | SHOT 17

Colt’s Manufacturing was on the firing line at the SHOT Show 2017 Industry Day at the Range, showing off their new handguns and rifles. Center stage was Colt’s re-entry to the double action wheelgun market, the reinvented Cobra. Unlike the previous Cobra, the new gun is all-steel, doing away with its nominal predecessor’s aluminum frame. This makes it closer to the old stainless fourth series Detective Special than the older Cobras, and therefore puts it in the same bracket as the S&W 640, Ruger SP101, and the new Kimber K6s.

At the range, TFB took the new Cobra out for a spin, and found it very comparable to its stablemates. Double action mode on the Cobra gave me no problems, with little stacking. Compared to my memory of Kimber’s excellent K6s pre-production models at last year’s Industry Day, I would characterize the Cobra’s double action as being a little worse, but it was highly comparable to the K6ses present at the show this year. This leads me to believe that in terms of trigger quality across production units, the Cobra and K6s overlap more than not, provided that the guns present at Industry Day are representative of the production Cobra.

Single action on the demo Cobra was very good, with no creep and a low pull weight, although single action is in general not that useful on a carry revolver.

Unlike the K6s, 640 Pro, or SP101 Wiley Clapp, the Colt sports fixed trench rear sights, but those are augmented by a fiber optic front sight that felt very easy to pick up. In trade, the Cobra is slated to be significantly cheaper than its stablemates, with Colt listing an MSRP of $699, $200 less than the K6s.





Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • TechnoTriticale

    re: …although single action is in general not that useful on a carry revolver.

    Depends on the sights.

    I take the “all steel” to mean that it’s not all stainless. The Colt web page only claims that the frame is stainless.

    For this to really have been a novel return to revolvers, I might have expected there to be a day-zero laser solution, and maybe a 7-shot variant in .327Fed. Exotic alloys optional.

  • Reader

    Yay, a Nathaniel post. But meh, with the most uninteresting firearm class ever, strange small revolvers.

    • john huscio

      Eh, there aren’t many small concealable .38 sixguns on the market. I’m interested.

      • Reader

        For verry good reasons…

        • Herp

          There are tons of small concealable sixguns. The article lists a few but leaves out RIA, chiappa, Taurus/Rossi, NAA, cobra, EAA, and I’m sure there are others.

          FOR VERY GOOD REASONS.

          • Reader

            They suck. Badum Tsss

          • john huscio

            Maybe I should’ve said “well built concealable sixguns I’d bet my life on”, which eliminates half the names on your list.

        • john huscio

          And what “reasons” would those be?

          • Reader

            That revolvers utterly suck for self defence.

          • Don Ward

            Said no one of any intelligence ever.

          • iksnilol

            Well, even if you have a Glock a decent revolver will most likely be more expensive, slower/more awkward to use and less capacity.

            For some reason I thinka G26 with 10+1 rounds in it is easier to use than a 5-6 shot revolver with an additional 5-6 shot speed loader/moon clip.

          • will_ford

            IF you can SHOOT, DOESN’T matter.

          • iksnilol

            Don’t matter how good you shoot if somebody gets you while you’re reloading.

          • will_ford

            NOT if they are down

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, what if they’re two?

            Or if your 5-6 rounds don’t drop him then and there?

            For some of us running ain’t an option.

          • will_ford

            “IF” IS A LARGE word. YOU do what you think best, I will handle my own end. ENOUGH SAID? btw I carry TWO

          • iksnilol

            Hey, getting attacked at all is a big “if”. I’mma stack the deck in my favour.

            Also, nobody said you can’t carry two pistols either.

          • will_ford

            BEAT a dead horse a little, HEH? been there done that

          • iksnilol

            Wh4t’s up w17h THE rand0m c4piTALIZATION!?

          • will_ford

            drop it? HEH!

          • iksnilol

            1 5hall n07, I qui7e LIKE 1t.

          • will_ford

            IGAF moron carryon

          • richard kluesek

            thats called the “NY reload”

          • Don Ward

            Only if you have zero real life experience with carrying handguns and revolvers.

          • iksnilol

            Are you honestly trying to argue that 10-12 shots out of a snubbie is easier and faster than 11 shots out of a G26?

            Like, for real?

          • Don Ward

            When are you going to as a civilian in real life – not some JumpifSnotZero mall ninja fantasy – ever getting into a situation where you are firing 10 or 12 rounds in self defense? When the vast majority – something like 90 percent or more – of self defense shootings involve only one or two shots fired. And that’s when a weapon is fired. By far the majority of time when a civilian presents a weapon, the bad guy will flee.

            Do you live in Fallujah? Do you run a liquor store in Detroit? Are you a drug runner for a Mexican cartel? No?

            Then the odds are having a snubnosed revolver is no different than having a Glock 26.

          • will_ford

            SEEMS to me, SEVERAL snakes DISAGREE. Especially when their heads leave the body’s rapidly. LOTS OF PRACTICE! reader needs to be shooter.

      • iksnilol

        Don’t Ruger, Taurus and RIA make ones?

  • Emfourty Gasmask

    hows the recoil?

    • Brisk but manageable.

      • The Hogue Grips appear to be the same model that were standard on the Colt Magnum Carry. While not advertised as such, they can also fit legacy D-Frames. I had a set on my 1974-vintage Detective Special, and found them to be much superior to the factory wood and the Pachmayr Compac.

        • richard kluesek

          Have had D frames and kept a Magnum Carry and had the experience you describe. The Hogue grip is indeed readily compatible with legacy D framed revolvers. The Magnum Carry frame in the grip strap area at least on my gun is just a few thousands of an inch wider but not enough to prevent grip interchangeability, but required installation of the crosspin in the butt. Hogue grips being retained by their propriterary bracket did not require this crosspin but any others did and the hole in the frame was already there anyway. I am optimistically hopeful that new Cobra parts will interchange with the old Magnum Carry, at least internal small mechanical pieces and that a .357 will be available soon.

  • DataMatters

    I still can’t get a read on this thing. Is it J-Frame size or K-Frame size or someplace in between? They keep saying “carry gun” but I have a 642, which I do carry and I have a 3″ Model 10 which I look at and go “no way.” The model 10 is almost the size of a Glock 19! And while it would be possible to carry it OWB, why????

    • The legacy D-frame Colt’s were slightly skinnier than the S&W K-frame, but could still use the same speedloaders

      • richard kluesek

        The D frame Colt and the K frame ‘Smith have cylinders of similiar diameter to hold the 6 rounds and can interchange speed loaders but the Colt frame is somewhat shorter than the ‘Smith which can be readily seen when holding the 2 together. And the Colt D is about 8 oz lighter than a ‘Smith K.if comparing 2″ barrel versions.

    • Herp

      The d frames are just a bit bigger than a j frame. You needn’t break the bank to get one either. I picked up a used colt agent for $250 usd a few months back in a retail store. Lots of holster wear on it, but it’s solid. Just avoid the snake guns.

      • Yes, avoid the snake guns. While people swear by the Python, I had a 4″ Diamondback in .38 Special that wouldn’t group 5″ at 25 yards. Nice polish, crappy gun. It’s gone now.

        • T Rex

          Bull$#it

        • will_ford

          Never had a “BAD” snake.

  • I’ve heard stories that there are four clicks when cocking back a C-O-L-T hammer. Any truth to it, and did this when firing in SA?

    • Don Ward

      That legend is generally associated with the old Colt Single Action “Peacemaker” revolvers.

  • Don Ward

    Excellent. That’s good to hear.

    When they come out with .357 or .327 magnum variants, this weapon will definitely be on my “To Buy” list (assuming there are no issues with QA).

    Oh, and you’re wrong with your final paragraph. Single action is extremely useful on a carry revolver and is probably the most important feature.

    • dltaylor51

      You are totally correct,whenever i see someone carrying a DA only revolver i stand way back because i know I’m close to someone with a gun who has little experience.

      • Phil Elliott

        Wrongo there slick, probably have close to 10,000 rds. down range DBL. action. Probably 4 times that dryfire, you can educate your trigger finger pulling that many times. Won my states Police Pistol Combat doing that.

        • Russ Thomas

          I agree Phil. I too won NJ State Championship-Hi Resident 1973 DA with a Don Tedford Colt Python, also won NH State Championship Undercover Match with a S&W Mod 10 beat Jimmy Carrillo. With worked over actions, DA is the only way to shoot, simulating what you might encounter with a revolver in a self defense situation.

          • John Swinkels

            At first i thought i would never get the hang of it then i bought a 4”bobbed python .i could still not ever match single action but managed to keep a 4″group at 25 yds.

          • dltaylor51

            I’m way to old to reeducate my trigger finger,most of my handguning is 50+yds and DAO would never work for me.

          • PersonCommenting

            I find newer shooters and even some experienced shooters shoot better in double action as they cant anticipate the shot and flinch. Obviously they arent shooting quickly but I was showing someone on the range the other day with me who decided to rent a sig. They were putting all their shots low so I told them to decock the gun as I knew it was just because they werent use to the gun and trigger. I also knew he was dececent shooter who had some good basic training. As soon as he decocked it and let off that first round in double action he hit the center of the target. I told him to do that a few times to build up his confidence and so he would have faith in the gun. After about a mag of decocking to double action he went back to single and really concentrated and his shots were still a little low but far more accurate after that.

      • PersonCommenting

        Why do you say that? They could of been carrying that revolver for quite a while.

      • GetFactsBeforeFormingOpinions

        I guess Jeff Cooper and a LOT of other professionals are wrong then…..
        It sounds like you have very little experience! I’m not a huge revolver fan, but do train and carry one every now and then. I practice ONLY with DA. I guess 25+ years of law enforcement, competition, and being an instructor classifies me as having no experience. Now I’ll really rub you the wrong way – my normal carry is a Colt 1911 in 3″!!!

        • dltaylor51

          Let me get this straight being a LEO for 25yrs.automatically makes you a firearms expert?? Dont worry you cant rub me the wrong way.

          • GetFactsBeforeFormingOpinions

            Absolutely not – being in law enforcement doesn’t make me an expert, and I never claimed to be an expert. I have been an instructor, coach and competitor for 20+ years, but I’m still no expert and I’m still learning. Your statement that anyone carrying a DA revolver doesn’t know what they’re doing is contrary to just about any expert’s opinion – Mas Ayoob and Jeff Cooper are just two that come to mind. If I’m wrong, feel free to justify your statement.

        • johnwes

          After participating in and watching more LEO pistol matches than I care to, I tend to agree with you but then again, most of the LEO’s I have shot against or watched were very poor marksmen and that is the reason for the Glock and other very hight capacity magazines used by most LEO’s. Most I have know firmly believe in the “spray and pray” method and don’t want to waste their valuable off duty jobs on the gun range. I carry a beautiful Colt Diamondback or Kimber 1911(condition 1) when open carrying but I do carry a small 9mm semi-auto with a 13 round mag and one in the tube with the hammer down, safety on for concealed carry.

          • GetFactsBeforeFormingOpinions

            The counterpoint I was making was the statement that anyone who carries a double action revolver was “someone with a gun who has little experience”, not the marksmanship ability of LEO’s. I know many Leo’s that shouldn’t be allowed to have any firearm….

    • Grant doesn’t think so. Checkmate. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • PersonCommenting

        Mr. Cunningham would know.

        I love my LCR in 9mm but I also would like the option of a hammer. I know I would never use it but I think in certain situations specifically at distance it could be potentially a good thing.

    • PersonCommenting

      I mean most trainers who teach revolver dont really mess around with single action. Your goal is to deploy and shoot it quickly. I will say that I do like the option but for the most part I only see specific circumstances where single action would be useful. While its rare when I do see people with revolvers at the range they are usually only shooting in single action which is silly. Same with youtube videos.

  • Just a small correction.

    “This makes it closer to the old stainless fourth series Detective Special…”

    There was no such gun. I suspect you’re thinking of the SF-VI, which was a similarly-sized six-shot revolver in stainless steel. Beyond carrying six rounds, however, it had almost nothing in common with the Detective Special โ€” most especially the action, which is a derivative of the MkV action (itself an improvement over the MkIII action originally designed by Karl Lewis. It can be arguably stated that this new Cobra has more in common with the Dan Wesson revolvers โ€” another Lewis design โ€”ย than with the original Cobra.)

    • ostiariusalpha

      Well, Colt did change the name of the SF-VI to DS-II for awhile, and while they never committed to saying outright that the DS were the initials for Detective Special, it was kind of understood that was their intent.

      • PersonCommenting

        Yeah I thought there was a stainless detective too. Must be confusing it with another gun. I thought it ran up until the late 90s maybe early 2000s

        • ostiariusalpha

          That sounds like the SF-IV/DS-II, they ran 1995-96 for the SF and 1997-98 for the DS. The DS has a slightly thicker top strap also.

    • I are derp on roundguns

  • Harry’s Holsters

    I keep getting this on some of the article. I need my shot show fill. If I’m correct this happened last you also.

    http://127.0.0.1/

    • Frank

      I’m getting that a third of the time, a mobile looking page the other third, and then the last third is normal.

      • Harry’s Holsters

        All I’ve gotten are the mobile looking pages. For myself its been 2/3 times.

        • myndbender

          I’m getting the mobile page 90% of the time starting last week. It’s not a deal breaker, but I prefer the regular page format &wonder why this is happening.

          • Harry’s Holsters

            This morning everything is working fine for me. Maybe they’ve fixed the issue.

  • Jim

    Good to hear that Colt is re-introducing a quality built sub-nose revolver. A simple, no frills, short-barrel revolver is a very good choice for personal defense by people who are not gun enthusiasts or don’t have (or want) the training needed to be efficient with autos. Some people are just not mechanically inclined and are not comfortable manipulating and shooting autos. My wife is one of those people. She does like my ‘New’ 1972 Detective Special that I bought when I left my first department back in the mid-70’s. She won’t shoot 3-Gun with it and she won’t charge into a terrorist camp with it, but she will have it with her and use it to get herself out of the ‘danger zone’ if that ever happens. Wyatt Earp had a great quote about what type of gun he liked: ” I prefer a .44, but in a pinch, any gun is better than no gun.” An article about him in his later years when he lived in Los Angeles stated that he carried a Colt .32 pocket auto until the day he died.

    • dltaylor51

      I carry a Colt 25 pocket auto for back up and just love it.Modern manufacturers could never duplicate the fit,finish and quality of those fine old colts from back in the day,they are flawless even 100 yr.old examples that have been carried and used and abused will still fungtion perfectly,that’s what quality buys.

      • Jim

        When I worked uniform, I carried a little German .25 auto for backup. My dad gave it to me from when he worked uniform. It was probably built in the early 20th century, but it worked. I still have it. At under 10 ft. I could shoot somebody in the face with it. That’s all I needed to get out of the ‘danger zone’.

        • dltaylor51

          I took an older neighbor lady to a gunshow awhile back so she could find a gun for self defense and after looking at lots of different pistols she fell in love with a little German 25 called a Lignose and I couldn’t talk her out of it so $100 later out the door with it she went.After 4 or 5 shooting sessions she got to where a 9″ pie plates got boring at 12ft,not one malfunction and she knows her gun well and hits what she’s aiming at so whats not to like?My Colt clips work perfectly in her gun so the next gun show she got 4 others and they all work well to.Not my 1st choice as a primary self defense weapon but she carry’s it in a little cloth pouch she made and wears it on her hip wherever she goes.

        • johnwes

          and I bet that guy was really mad as the bullet bounced off his skull.

      • johnwes

        The little Colt 25 auto is a fine gun but don’t shoot anyone with it because you are likely to really piss them off. I will take a 22LR over the useless 25 auto anyday.

        • dltaylor51

          If you get hit with either round you’re not going to be able to tell the difference,I only carry a pistol to buy me time to get to my rifle anyway,the rimless 25 ACP feeds more reliably than the rimmed 22 LR so that’s its main advantage,a forehead shot with either and its lights out permanently.

    • richard kluesek

      And Wyatt lived quite a longer life span than his colleagues, and is credited with the remark that ‘fast is fine but accuracy is finer, learn to slow dow, BUT BE IN A HURRY !’ (sic)

  • larry

    If the street price isn’t under $450 it’s a no go for me also front nightsight options would be welcome.

    • Ringolevio

      My thoughts too. What makes it superior to the plethora of good used revolvers out there in the $400 or less range?

  • ams

    I wish it had the profile of the 74 detective special.

  • ron

    They need to make this in .357 mag. I like having the option of full power loads. (Yes contrary to popular belief you can use hot .357 mag loads in a snubby). I get 500+ foot pounds out of my 640 with Underwood Ammo. Yes it hurts to shoot, but the bad guy is gonna be hurting more I promise.

    • richard kluesek

      Remember the Magnum Carry .357 version of the SF 6 ? Made only during 1999.

      • ron

        Sorry, no. But I would be in the market for this one if it was in .357.

        • richard kluesek

          Absolutely, for the size of this revolver it should be a .357, definately a belt gun, too big and heavy for a pocket. Magnum Carry was also stainless, more or less a Detective Special built to magnum specs, per material hardness, treaments and increased thickness of the top strap and frame window area around the forcing cone. If titanium framed this new series would be more appealing. Waiting to find out more about the internals, especially the claimed upgrades of the ‘v’ mainspring.

  • dltaylor51

    Colt has had the trigger right since 1899 so why in the F is it such a big deal here in 2017,all my colts have triggers to die for and if this new rendition does not then I’ll keep my $800 and they can keep their so so trigger.I have a SSA 38-40 made in 1897 and untouched from the factory and you would have to travel the world to find a better trigger.I’ll have to shoot the new Cobra and see for myself before discounting it.

    • Old Vet

      My old police sergeant had a .38-40 Colt and a Winchester to match. Heirlooms from his grandfather, I believe. Envy…..

      • dltaylor51

        I have SSA 32-20 and a matching Win.SRC to go with it,a 38-40 with a matching SRC and a 44-40 single action sixshooter with a WIN.SRC stable mate for it also.I just couldn’t see going out with a handgun and carbine that dont shoot the same ammo,I also bought original Win. loading tongs for all those calibers so I dont have to carry a bunch of extra ammo when I’m out in the bush.

    • They could have screwed it up, I guess.

      • dltaylor51

        It looks like they would make double damn sure the first batch let out of these guns would have triggers as smooth and nice as the Python.I recently bought a model 637-2 Smith airweight SA DA and the trigger is more than acceptable but its not even close to being what the older Smiths are,more like a Taurus or Rossi than a Smith.

    • Kivaari

      You must have never used S&Ws.

      • dltaylor51

        I own lots of them,great guns but not Colts.Smiths are more heavy duty and built to take more abuse but Colts are made to carry and save your ass when fractions of a second count.There’s a very good reason Colts are so damn expensive.

        • Kivaari

          Colt never had a DA trigger pull that matched S&W. Frame size and durability came into play. The Python/Trooper frame was too big for many. The D-frame too small and fragile. It is why for the revolver er S&W dominated the police business. The Python was built as a single action target gun, where it could be thumb cocked without shifting the grip. The DA trigger pull was always typical Colt, not very good. Yes you could make them smooth, but you couldn’t keep them in time. Worse, when Colt still made the snakes, they had horrible customer service. The warranty ran from the day it was made for one year. So if it sat on a dealers shelf for 2 years, it was out of warranty.

  • John C Saunders

    the Best part, its a COLT!

  • Jay Andre

    The old Colt Cobra was a thing of beauty, especially in the nickel version like I used to have. This thing looks like a piece of crap!! All Colt should have done is to re-produce the old version just exactly as it was! Simple, done!

    • PersonCommenting

      I doubt people would pay 1500 dollars for an exact remake of a colt cobra. Especially when you can find originals from time to time around 1000. I guarantee it would cost them more. Also wasnt the original cobra aluminum? If so then some states have laws against selling aluminum framed guns which would make their market smaller.

  • Joe Gamer

    Do you have to pull the release backwards to release the cylinder? That seems terrible, on my Chiappa I can open it one handed.

    • mazkact

      All Colt swing outs are the same, pull back.

  • TheGrammarMan

    Can you shave with the gun, like you can with current Governement Model 1911s? From the pics, doesn’t look like a lot of attention was paid to breaking the squares edges on the piece.

    • PersonCommenting

      IDK most revolvers are going around the 600 dollar mark these days unless you are talking 5 shot pocket guns. Seems reasonable to me if it is to the same quality as a smith or ruger.

      • TheGrammarMan

        That’s true about the pricing. But it’s competing against 5-shot pocket guns. And the exterior finish rivals Charter Arms.

        • PersonCommenting

          Agreed but its made better than a charter. The kimber is k6 is fighting for the same market and its selling for nearly a grand If I am not mistake.

          What are Charters made of? Arent they like aluminium. Idk. I also like charter to some degree but it pissed me off when they removed all their six shot guns to save money.

          • TheGrammarMan

            I haven’t handled the new Cobra but I will assume it is better made than a Charter, who makes both all-steel and aluminum models. Kimber K6 is priced to the moon because: 1) it’s a Kimber and they are selling themselves as an elite brand, and 2) it’s a unique new design and they can try and milk that for a high price.

            My point is that from all the pics, the finish on the new Cobra is quite unappealing – drab matte stainless and what looks like a lot of hard angles and unbeveled edges – in a revolver at that price point.

          • PersonCommenting

            Yes I agree about the look of the finish though. Should of done a brushed stainless or blued it the way everyone expects a colt but then again bluing is kind of getting rare these days. Its expensive I guess. Not many hadguns blued anymore. That or they manufactures think that is what is needed so the finishes hold up longer now that carrying is so prevalent.

  • mazkact

    I too see a lot of sharp edges. May as well buy two Rock Island .38 revolvers and a bunch of ammo with the same money.

  • maodeedee

    If it’s going to compete with the Kimber and Sp-101, it needs to be in 357 mag. But what I want to know is when are they going to bring back the Python and the Anaconda?
    For a while there, when Colt was going bankrupt, Pietta of Italy was trying to secure the rights to produce a Python clone

  • Cottersay

    Colt should have simply reproduced the original Colt Cobra, but toughened-up Colt’s infamously delicate double-action lockwork. This Cobra looks, as someone below said, Charter Arms-ey. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a6f48845bd67f02478bb3e04fbdb6165ca7226eee6ac4547ca98c1a977a868b3.jpg

    • richard kluesek

      Other commentators above have remarked that Colt used a Mark V mechanism, itself an improved Mark III, which is more durable and less prone to going out of timing than the classic actions of the previous series.

  • Pollyannanot Blufelt

    Regarding the statement of SA being of little use in a carry revolver, I suppose that’s true if you only plan to draw and shoot at under 6′ as fast as possible. But I can imagine many situations wherein that would not be the case. I’ve seen very few people who can hit a 6″ target consistently at 10′ under stress as fast as possible with a short barrel DA revolver. In fact most of the time people can’t even hit a tin can at 10′ aiming carefully and taking their time with one unless they’re very practiced. But yes, I have seen some people who are very practiced hit 3″ targets at 10′ with a snub nosed 357 mag but that is not the norm.

    Much of this is a moot point though if you consider something like a Ruger LC9s Pro which is a striker fired, no safety, medium light trigger, 9mm 16 oz piece with much better carry dimensions. Fast, light, reliable, and easier for most people to shoot accurately than a snub nosed revolver in DA mode. Just sayin’.

  • Comrade Misfit

    Every time I read an article about shooting pre-production guns at a SHOT show, a chorus of angels starts chanting: “R.51! R.51! R.51!”

  • LarryNC

    Nathaniel F, You wrote: “This makes it closer to the old stainless fourth series Detective Special than the older Cobras, and therefore puts it in the same bracket as the S&W 640, Ruger SP101, and the new Kimber K6s.” But aren’t those all chambered for the .357 magnum whereas this is just a .38?