Obscure Object of Desire: Coonan Classic .357 Magnum Automatic

TTAG reported on the imminent return of Dan Coonan’s .357 automatic back in July. Since then, the gun has been officially released to the general public. As promised, it sells for $1199. Add a spare mag and some fancy sights and you can walk that up to $1479. Regardless of price, you’ve got to wonder: why? If a 1911-style .357 semi-automatic pistol was such a good idea—allegedly offering lower recoil and definitely providing seven-plus-one rounds of genuine man-stopping ammo—why hasn’t anyone else done it? You know, other than Dan Coonan for Magnum Research, back in the day. Frankly my dear . . .

I don’t give a damn. I’m one of those firearms enthusiasts who’s strangely attracted to odd guns. I can’t wait to add a Chiappa Rhino with a 4″ barrel to my collection. I’m currently embarking on a cowboy assault rifle project using an 1894c (Marlin’s .357 caliber lever gun). I almost bought a needle-nosed-bullet firing FN FiveseveN (couldn’t get past the typography and the fact that Mexican drug lords adore them).

The thing about obscure objects of desire: they’re obscure. There’s nothing quite like showing up at a gun range with a firearm fellow shootists have never seen before. Ask our Bone Collector friend Joe “Caps lock is my friend” Matafome; his Smith & Wesson 500s are all the rage at the range. The childlike look of wonder in their admirers’ eyes is well worth the price of admission.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not all about bragging rights. Joe, myself and other collectors of obscure firearms don’t buy these guns to swathe ourselves in self-congratulatory glory. We get a huge kick from letting others fire a gun they’d never dream of buying (for a variety reasons). It’s a caring sharing kinda deal. A gun grok-fest celebrating ballistic diversity.

Equally, it’s the gun, stupid. There’s something deeply admirable about a weapon that will never find mainstream success. A firearm that marches to the beat of a different drummer represents a personal determination to follow a vision—no matter what the maker’s long-suffering wife and business partners have to say about it. Palm pistol? Bring it on! Smith & Wesson .500 lever action rifle? This summer.

Whether or not the Coonan Classic catches on, it’s already a hit with me. I’m not saying I’d carry one for personal defense. There are limits to this madness. But it may yet enjoy pride of place on my personal island of misfit toys. Anyway, I’ll let Dan the Man have the last word as to why one might want to add a Coonan Classic to one’s collection (lifted from the comments section below).

Ballistic versatility combined with in-expensive and easily available ammo!

Coonan’s can shoot some pretty light .38 loads AND some pretty heavy .357 loads. Try stuffing a 230 grain (yea, 230!!!) LRN in a .357 SIG case and see where it gets ya! That 230 gr. load (in .38 Special cases) was a GREAT bowling pin load! I have one gun set up for .38′s that my 3 daughters LOVE to shoot. They also like to shoot the “bad boys” (Federal .125 gr. JHP), but only a few of them.

Coonan’s are FUN, they are NEAT, they are ACCURATE and RELIABLE, they are made 100% in AMERICA! They are the FIRST choice fom SOME events/situations/games, and they are the LAST choice for SOME events/situations/games, and we DON’T recomend them for BEGINNERS!!

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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.

33 Responses to Obscure Object of Desire: Coonan Classic .357 Magnum Automatic

  1. avatarJoshG says:

    Oh. I want that. Badly.

  2. avatarZealot says:

    It’s a little beside the point of your post, but I’ve often wondered why the .357, for all of it’s ballistic benefits and the fans thereof, hasn’t been more widely incorporated into the gun world. Why stop with a semi-auto pistol (but develop them by all means)? How cool would a magazine-fed compact carbine powered by the .357 be? Imagine having some 20 rounds of 180 gr. .357 mag. ready to go plus spare mags containing more of the same! And don’t even try styling it like a cowboy gun. No, I want the full H&K treatment on this bad boy.

    Is it just me or would such an item (depending upon price, reliability, etc.) sell like hotcakes?

  3. avatarRyan Finn says:

    Ok, this is on the list. Pair that with the .357 lever and you have a serious “modern” cowboy setup. I think I’m gonna have to buy a 1894C just to justify saving up for the Coonan. I’m drooling already.

    • avatarTravis Leibold says:

      XS sights makes a Scout type scope rail for the 1894 rifles. This allows forward mounting of red dots and other cool optics. $50. Im am working on pimping out my Stainless .44 mag. The original assault rifles…

      • avatarSean says:

        I have one of those in .357 set up with a red dot, and flash light. You would be amazed at how many people try to buy it from me when I pull it out at the range. A buddy has one set up just like in .44 mag. Same thing, everyone that sees it, wants it.

  4. avatarChris Dumm says:

    The .357 autoloader’s raison d’etre (a very powerful handgun, not too huge, with good firepower) really got hijacked by the 10mm back in the late 1980s. Everything you can do with a .357 autonatic, the 10mm can do better, especially the important things like feeding from a magazine, and fitting into an average-sized shooter’s hand.

    I waited years for someone to make a 10mm carbine (perhaps compatible with Glock or S&W 1006 magazines) but it never happened, the 10mm itself was hobbled and became the .40, which has proven extremely successful.

    • avatarTTACer says:

      A friend of mine had an MP5 clone in 10mm. When he got it we were ecstatic, having always been fans of the caliber. Unfortunately it never ran right and he ended up exchanging it for (several, did I mention that it cost a fortune?) very nice AKs.

  5. avatarGlenM says:

    Zealot, I’m onboard with your semi 357 rifle idea. Of course if one ever comes on the market it’ll cost over $2K. A standard AR or AK would be cost only half as much.

  6. avatarTherapist says:

    All I can say is: get it. You wouldn’t think that a pistol that size would reliably move along the rimmed, long 357 round, but it does. Great pistol.

    A bonus is the larger grip. When JMB designed the 1911, the average american male was 4’10″ and had a paw the size of a macaque. The man-sized Coonan grip is perfect.

  7. avatarOleg Volk says:

    “other than Dan Coonan for Magnum Research” — wasn’t Magnum Research design (DE) made by Bernie White? Desert Eagle was a much slimmer gun originally, the current variant is almost a pound heavier. The purpose was the same: making 357, 41 and 44 easier to shoot.

  8. avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    Didn’t Taurus briefly make a .357 pump action rifle, Timberwolf or some such name, that didn’t sell? If I recall correctly, the original Coonan’s spare magazines were around $100. I like to have at least 5 for every pistol and 10 for every rifle. My VP70Z is the only one I’m stuck at 3 with-there are no more mags out there for it.

  9. avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    Hey, how about a remade M1 carbine wrapped around the .357 magnum round! 15round stick magazines and 30 round banana mags would be sweet!

  10. avatarRoy Hill says:

    The pump-action Taurus Thunderbolt was available in small numbers in .357. I’ve got one. Also, the IMI Timberwolf, which is now a collector’s item.

    From what I’ve heard and read, the ATF stopped importation of the IMI Timberwolf because it could still be fired in its “broken down” state, sans stock.

    And there are plenty of .357 mag lever guns out there.

    As for a 10mm semi-auto carbine, you can get AR uppers in 10mm, made by Olympic Arms.

  11. avatarRoy Hill says:

    One more thing.

    A semi-auto carbine in a longish pistol-style cartridge not that far from the .357 is not a new idea at all.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.351_Winchester_Self-Loading

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winchester_Model_1907

  12. avatarAnon says:

    Yeah, no, not seein’ it. But that is the beauty of this country, at least for the time being – you can spend your money on other things other folks would never have an interest in! :)

  13. avatarTHowell says:

    The rimmed .32 ACPs in KelTec P32 magazines can slip over the round below and rimlock in the magazine… Anyone know if the Coonan magazines ever lock up with hollowpoint or .38 SPL ammo?

  14. avatarFederale says:

    Uhh, why not just get a .357 Sig that will function alot more dependably?

    • avatarDan Coonan says:

      Ballistic versatility combined with in-expensive and easily available ammo!

      Coonan’s can shoot some pretty light .38 loads AND some pretty heavy .357 loads. Try stuffing a 230 grain (yea, 230!!!) LRN in a .357 SIG case and see where it gets ya! That 230 gr. load (in .38 Special cases) was a GREAT bowling pin load! I have one gun set up for .38′s that my 3 daughters LOVE to shoot. They also like to shoot the “bad boys” (Federal .125 gr. JHP), but only a few of them.
      Coonan’s are FUN, they are NEAT, they are ACCURATE and RELIABLE, they are made 100% in AMERICA! They are the FIRST choice fom SOME events/situations/games, and they are the LAST choice for SOME events/situations/games, and we DON’T recomend them for BEGINNERS!!

    • avatarSean says:

      And you can buy .357 and .38 special anywhere. .357 sig isn’t as readily available. And this is way cooler.

  15. avatarCUJO THE DOG OF WAR says:

    I remember with the original Coonan that all the reports I heard were favorable for feeding and reliability. I was torn between it and a field grade .454 casull, but opted for the casull-Freedom arms. I think it was like 1989.

  16. avatarDesertRat says:

    Always wanted a Coonan but it seems like every time I have the cash one is not available. Hopefully this time will be different.

  17. avatarBob H says:

    What is with the muzzle blast on that puppy? It makes the Five-seveN’s look tame. Is he firing nukes?

  18. avatarRalph says:

    I won’t buy anything named “Classic.” Not even Coca Cola.

  19. avatarporschespeed says:

    My DE in .357 worked just peachy 20-ish years ago.

    I doubt that a non-gas-op 1911 style gun will be able to empty the clip on target half as fast. Or even a quarter. I’d be interested in that test.

    Yeah, it was a freakin’ brick – I ain’t Ahnold in his “cumming everywhere” prime. I could never carry it concealed. But if you wanted 9 rounds of .357 in a little circle in a few seconds it was the shiznit.

    When I was a kid, my buddy’s dad had an Automag. Kick not as bad as a .44 mag revolver, but it wasn’t a quick pickup for the second shot either. The DE was like shooting a .22 to a .38spl depending on the round.

    I miss that gun.

  20. avatarBdobb says:

    Here’s one happy new owner of Dan the Man’s new Coonan Classic. I ordered her in mid-September, and 6 months later she was mine! They had delays in production, but it was well worth the wait-a handsom gun for sure, with fit and finish spectacular in every way. I have a total of three mags-I bought #2 mag, and as a consolation for folks who had long delays in their orders, Coonan supplied an extra mag FREE. Great people, and wonderful customer service. My Coonan is still virginal though, but not for long.

  21. avatarnick says:

    Indeed it is fun to have a gun like that at the range. when we bring the desert egale almost every time after the first shot everyone puts thier guns down and steps back to see what it was. and 9 out of 10 times they say hay man can i give that a shot? lol

  22. avatarDeja vu says:

    I have had my Coonan Classic for several months. I have bought other guns since the Coonan but this one s still my favorite. It is small enough that I can carry it IWB if needed (nearly the same size as a full sized 1911)
    I Shoot 1-2 boxes from it every Friday after work. The only failures I have ever had are on CCI shot shells. The slide breaks them open and the BBs fall out of the end of the barrel along with blue plastic fragments.

  23. avatarGeorge says:

    I’d like to get one of the new Coonan Classic 357 magnum auto guns, Where could I see one of them and possibly purchase it. What is the price and I live in Cheyenne WY.

  24. avatarJoseph Kool says:

    357>10mm doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out. 357 has more case capacity and there’s no replacement for displacement.I won’t even get into ballistic coefficient and sectional density.

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