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.