The “Fire Cobra”

    Editor’s note: This article was written by Claymore. His previous blog posts can be read here.

    A while back I was talking with a friend who was employed by one of our government’s many “agencies”. As usual we eventually got around to discussing firearms and he took out this strange gun that looked homemade (See photo above. Yes that is really gold and no it is not my hand!) He said he had purchased it in the Philippines some years ago.

    I asked to take a photo (the photo pictured above) and we went our separate ways, but a month or so later a bit of serendipity occurred and I found one for sale in the South East Asian country where I was living. I purchased it for the equivalent of $30.

    photo 2

    If you look closely you can see it is a compact three barrel system with each barrel firing independently. The markings on it, which looked to be punched in by hand, read:

    “Fire Cobra”
    .22 magnum
    M. 73
    U. S. Army

    It was NOT a .22 Magnum but took standard .22 LR rounds. The chamber was not long enough to insert a .22 Magnum cartridge. The barrels were smooth bored with no rifling.

    Those markings would have been added to increase its value when selling to locals as any American veteran (or gun enthusiast) would know in a glance that this is not, and never was, a U.S. Army issued firearm.

    It is made ready to fire by pulling back on the crude slotted screw heads (see photo above) until the bolt has engaged with a crude lever/sear inside.

    While I am a big fan of “pen gun”-style weapons, most of the ones I still own have safety slots or cutouts where the cocking mechanism can be rotated or slid into so there is a positive, somewhat safer, system for cocked bolt retention. To fire them you untwist/unslot the bolt.  This firearm has nothing holding the bolt back from a loaded chamber other than the very small tip of the cocking mechanism. It’s an accident waiting to happen.  Also, there is nothing to prevent your finger slipping off the very small cocking handles, while cocking the bolt, before the bolt fully engages the sear, resulting in a discharge.

    I know a few of you will be thinking “just carry it with the bolt down on a loaded round”, BUT if you do that and happen to drop or even give it a good jolt there is a very good possibility of it firing as there is nothing but internal spring pressure holding the bolt closed.

    photo 3

    This is a view from the bottom showing it broken open for loading. You can see the simple lever which holds the two hinged section closed. The US nickel shows that it is very compact and roughly made.

    photo 4

    This view shows the smooth bore barrels and the skimpy locking lever in the closed position. The locking lever has a weak spring behind it and I could see this being activated accidentally in a pocket without much pressure leaving you with a broken open firearm just when you needed it.

    photo 5

    This last photo is just another overall view showing the small size.

    I personally would never carry this gun unless it was the only firearm I could get my hands on. It is probably more dangerous to the operator that anyone else. The smooth bore is only good for torso shots up to maybe 6 feet away. After that distance the bullet will begin to tumble with disastrous effect on any hope of accuracy. With a low powered and small caliber projectile you need to be accurate if you have any hope of causing serious injury to an attacker.

    A friend of mine was enamored with the “looks” of this gun and had to have it. Nothing I could say would dissuade him. I simply gave it to him with strong warnings that it was a piece of junk and he would probably hurt himself with it. It has been years and he has not shot himself with it (yet). I am hoping he took my advice to heart and it is just collecting dust in a drawer somewhere.

    Steve Johnson

    I founded TFB in 2007 and over 10 years worked tirelessly, with the help of my team, to build it up into the largest gun blog online. I retired as Editor in Chief in 2017. During my decade at TFB I was fortunate to work with the most amazing talented writers and genuinely good people!