The Return of the Coonan .357 Automatic

Before the Desert Eagle, there was the Coonan Arms .357 Automatic. “The gun got started because of an argument with my college roommate Steven Greg Bornus,” Dan Coonan tells TTAG. “Steven said the .357 revolver was the best gun in the world. I said .45 automatic. So we went down to an old gravel pit for a shootout. The gun that could dump 12 rounds into a 55 gallon drum fastest would win. I left him standing in a cloud of gun-smoke . . .

“So then Steven said the .357 was ballistically superior. ‘You should get a .45 automatic.’ I said ‘Well there isn’t one.’ So I made one. I got six college credits for it,” the Mankato State University graduate recalls proudly. “Three for the magazine, three for the pistol.”

The Coonan .357 Automatic was born.

And then, eventually, died. Dan sold Coonan Arms, worked for them for a bit, and then headed for the hills. “They bankrupted out sometime in the 90′s,” Dan says without a trace of wistfulness.

But not before a group of gunsmiths working for the company left Coonan’s employ to start Magnum Research, makers of the now-infamous (and Kahr Arms-owned) Desert Eagle.

Twenty years after he stopped making .357 Automatics, Dan Coonan is back at it. Thanks to a new partner and a fresh team of craftsman, the engineer aims to show the Eagle folks what for, American-style.

“Everything in this gun is America-made,” Coonan says, pointedly. “That was always very important to me.”

The 57-year-old gunsmith reckons his new and improved .357 Automatic is a better gun than the “other” .357 semi-automatic weapon produced by a company that shall—from this point in the conversation forwards—remain nameless.

“The .357 is still a tremendously popular cartridge. It’s extremely versatile, with everything from light to heavy loads . . . Their gun can only handle fully-jacketed bullets. It doesn’t work with light loads. Ours can handle anything. Look at the picture on our website of my girls shooting the gun.”

Note the weapons’ color; it’s the “gun of the fuchsia.” Oy.

Coonan’s new mob are geared up to produce 100 .357 Automatics per month “for right now.” About 100 guns are on order, with shipments starting this month. Well, “by September, anyway.”

Each gun costs . . . Dan doesn’t even bother to cover the phone as he asks someone in the back office for the retail price. “$1199,” he repeats. Spoken like a true engineer.

Dan says he’ll send TTAG a review gun ASAP. That should be a hoot. Meanwhile, I feel obliged to say that Dan hopes that revenge is a dish best served in .357 caliber.


About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

39 Responses to The Return of the Coonan .357 Automatic

  1. avatarDeja vu says:

    its good to see other options out there. I have been thinking of getting a semiautomatic 357magnum but until now I only had 1 option if I wanted a new gun.

    I am extremely happy to see a new one out there, I am also very excited that it looks like a 1911!

    Cant weight to see how they shoot.

  2. avatarBlanddragon says:

    The town and college he graduated from is spelled Mankato just for the record.

  3. avatarTorborg says:

    I current shoot a S&W model 19. Love the .357 ballistics. Want an auto. Coonan is the best of both worlds. So Coonan is my current dream firearm. Thanks for keeping the dream alive.

  4. avatarIsaiah says:

    Truth be told, I first considered the possibility of a semi-auto .357 magnum because of the game “Resident Evil.” I didn’t think it actually existed, until I did an internet search and came up with the Coonan .357 magnum. Awesome. I fully intend to buy one soon….as soon as the wife let’s me. lol

  5. avatarDennis says:

    I am the proud owner of a Coonan 357 Automatic. I love the gun and have used it to hunt wild boar in California. It stops them in their tracks. I have punched holes in engine blocks with it. It produces more pressure than the revolver with the same load due to the closed chamber and not loosing any pressure due to blow by in a revolver. I have only found 2 short comings with the pistol. First the grips. With hot loads it is hard to hang onto with the smooth wood grips it comes with. I replaced mine with rubber grips. Second the factory sites are poor and not very easy to adjust. I replaced mine with fully adjustable target sites. The Pistol will now out shoot any 45 in competition. In the original manual it says you can shoot 38P ammo but you need to change the main spring. I tried this and found it to be not very reliable, so I went back to just using 357 mag ammo. The Pistol likes hot loads and is very impressive in sound and performance with them. I will be interested to see the new model and compare the two. The one I have is excellant in fit and finish and is one of the best made guns I have ever seen. The stock trigger lets off at 3 1/4 pounds crisply but does have some creep to it. Once I got used to that it did not present to be a problem. I bought mine new in 1987 for $825.

  6. avatarjohn valdivia says:

    Can I order a pair,consecutive numbers.

  7. avatarMartin says:

    Where can i buy one at? Eamill me with a place to find one. Thanks I would like to get one soon. The new improved one.

  8. avatarJoe says:

    There was a similar automatic back in the ’20s. It was the Super .38! It is still super and will hang right in there with the .357 Mag.
    I know, I have one.

  9. avatarKen Watters says:

    This is one he** of a gun! Took me about 100 rnds to get used to the “sound and fury,” then I was able to shoot tight groups with it. I shoot it every bit as well as an accurized custom .45. Buffalo Bore 158gr. SJHP’s cronyed at around 1570 fps, which means this gun delivers almost twice the muzzle energy of a .45! What’s not to like?

  10. avatarJordanvraptor says:

    That is me in the YouTube video. It is a good gun, just unusual to load the magazines. I think the recoil of a 158 grain 357 magnum round is actually less than that of a 45 ACP. A 125 grain 357 magnum round is a little bit more but still controllable. If you want a full size 1911 style pistol with more power than the 45 ACP then this is the gun for you.

  11. avatarbill says:

    i had a coonan model B about 10 years ago. it was by far the best pistol i owned., out of the guns that i had. in the club it was nicknamed the cannon as it drowned out the other guns in use. it was loaded with a150 grain lead bullet using 2400 powder giving approx 1600ft per second. it was also a very accurate gun. best wishes to dan in his future exploits

  12. avatarJoe says:

    Is it possible to convert some semi-auto pistol to fire the .357 Magnum cartridge?
    By using a barrel reamed/chamber to the .357 cartridge. As long as the barrel can drop-in the slide and line-up with the breech so it can extract and eject in any current handguns out there.

  13. avatarJoe Garacci says:

    Is it possible to convert a semi-auto pistol to fire the .357 magnum cartridge?
    Just by chambering a barrel to the .357 cartridge and as long as you can drop-in the barrel/slide and fits the breech face for firing, extracting and ejecting the mt case.

  14. avatarJordanvraptor says:

    The magazine was the unique part about the Coonan pistol. The extraction and ejecting was pretty straight forward. Smith and Wesson had a pistol that shot .38 specials. If you want a factory 1911 with .357 power, the 9×23 by Colt is an option although hard to find. .38 Super is still a good round. I think .357 Sig is best any factory will come to the Coonan in mass production.

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