The original snake guns from Colt were high-polish, hand fitted masterpieces. The smooth feel of the trigger pull was matched only by the exquisite exterior finish. Discontinued in 2005, it remains one of the highest requested line of firearms to be brought back from the graveyard. New for 2017 Colt has heard the people’s request and is giving them what they want.

Well, in name anyway.

One of the earlier versions of the snake line to be retired (1981 to be exact) the Colt Cobra is a revolver designed for the concealed carry and law enforcement market. The new Colt Cobra is in that same vein, and while it bears the same name and specs as the original it falls short on a few key features.

The good news is that the trigger is great. Colt’s double action / single action system has been perfected over the years and this trigger benefits from their experience. In double action mode the trigger is smooth, and in single action mode the break is crisp and clean.

Great triggers aren’t the only thing that made a Colt Cobra famous, though. One of the defining features of the line is the hand fitting of parts and highly polished exterior, things distinctly missing on the new Cobra handguns. Stroking the side of the revolver feels less like stroking the slick scales of a cobra and more like a cat licking your hand. Instead of a high polish it looks like Colt went for a bead blasted exterior. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for a concealed carry styled handgun, but the better option for this specific line would be something similar to the deep blueing that came on the original guns.

Out on the range the gun shoots just fine, but apparently there’s still some bugs to be worked out since one of the test models they had jammed shortly before 11 AM and refused to work for the rest of the day.

I don’t have high hopes for the return of the Colt snake line. The machinists who made the guns what they were have moved on and Colt in the post-bankruptcy world might not have the cash to invest in restarting the line properly. I get the sneaky feeling that this is a desperate cash grab attempt from a company on the brink of insolvency and I just hope they don’t ruin what was an amazing line of firearms.

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57 Responses to First Impressions: New Colt Cobra

    • I was hoping for better reviews. I own a Diamondback and a detective, both are good quality revolvers. I have not seen the new Cobra. My guess is the the old Colts have met the same demise as the old Parker and AH Fox shotguns. If you look at the cost to produce a hand fitted finished American made shotgun your upwards of 3 to 4K. That’s far more than what most average income gun owners can afford. This is Colts attempt to produce a competitive product that the average Joe can purchase without taking out a long term loan. You’ll never see Colt manufacture a revolver with the same quality as the old snake guns again, it’s just not cost effective in today’s market…there’s always hope though.

  1. I went back and forth between Nighthawk and Colt booths comparing the Cobra and the Skyhawk. But there’s no comparison. The Nighthawk, hands down.

    • Will you give an in-depth review of the Nighthawk, please? (If you’ve already posted a passing review of it, let me know… I probably missed it in the deluge.)

    • I don’t think anyone would assume that a $700 revolver would be better than a $1700 revolver. You may as well tell us you’d prefer a Nighthawk 1911 over a Colt 1911.

      I’m more interested on how this compares to Ruger, S&W and maybe now Kimber than anything else since that is more of where it’s priced at.

      In any case, I’m optimistic for Colt. Maybe reintroducing their Snake gun line will keep them above water. As much as it pains me to say this however what they need is a Glock contender. Yeah, the same ol’, same ol’ striker fired polymer affair. A new design, made in America to join the other plastic fantastics would actually be a boon to them I think. After all, it is what the market demands more than anything else, the name Colt still carries a lot of weight with people, and they could leverage that.

      • I believe the exact opposite to be true. What the market really needs is a good hunk of American steel. The market is already absolutely saturated with striker fired polymer wonder 9’s. The last handgun I purchased was a Smith and Wesson model 5906; it’s 2 1/4 pounds of solid American stainless steel that’s at least as old as I am and both looks and shoots better than a new polymer gun, at least in my opinion. I know every reviewer uses this stupid line, but it shoots like a dream. The way I’ve heard it, there are two easily defined camps: Sig people and Glock people; every manufacturer and their mother is trying to be the next Glock, but the Sig people have far fewer options. I think Colt, like Ruger to a certain extent, has the potential to carve out a great big place in the market if they double down on good steel. I mean, look at how successful Henry is in a market that’s saturated with ARs.

    • As a wheelgun fan, I’m also very interested in an indepth hands on review of the Korth offerings from Nighthawk.

    • >$700 gun

      >$1700 gun

      i mean, what the hell were you expecting? The Skyhawk to be equivalent to a Model 85?

  2. The finish looks like a car in primer. I just read that S&W is coming out with some new 7-shot 686’s including one with a 3″ barrel AND it’s chambered in .357 Mag / .38 Spl+P… Why oh why did Colt not chamber this roadkill snake gun the same?

    • I was thinking .44 spl. If you want a small revolver in 44, the Charter Arms Bulldog doesn’t seem to have much competition right now. But I suppose there would be a much bigger market for .38 (and .357).

      • A Colt king cobra with a high gloss polish stainless steel finish two and a quarter maybe two and a half inch barrel I can’t remember I’ll have to open the safe and look at the Box but I have to agree with you it’s only a six shot 357 Magnum but it is sexy with original Pachmayr grips.

    • Colt has made it clear that this is the First offering. The new owners understand that abandoning the consumer market was a mistake. As they have more time, I would expect to see versions with a myriad of options.

    • I own a 3in S&W 686+ which holds 7 rnds of 357mag/38spcl, so I don’t think that’s a new design from Smith. I’m pretty sure that particular model has been out for quite a few years.

  3. The new Kimber revolver at least looks great for the money. Colt CAN make high end firearms, their latest 45/70 custom Gatling gun and BAR 3006 semi auto version are works of art. And they still turn out excellent Gold Cup 1911s. Shame they cant put the same effort into reviving their revolver line. This Cobra looks like a Taurus.

  4. “The new Colt Cobra is in that same vein, and while it bears the same name and specs as the original it falls short on a few key features.”
    Are you sure about the specs? Everything I’ve read elsewhere indicates it is closer to the Colt Detective Special, steel frame and substantially heavier. (My ’53 Colt Cobra is about 15oz, spec sheet for the new model lists 25oz).

  5. In my admittedly limited experience with various revolvers, the only one I’ve personally experienced that locked up (and not in the good revolverish way) was a colleague’s Taurus.

    And this one froze so bad it was rendered a paperweight on one of the brand’s most important days of the year?

    To me it sounds like Colt just released the Mustang II of the gun world. As the article says I’d love to be wrong about that, but indications seem otherwise.

  6. Acting like a spoiled brat if you ask me. This is Colt’s first time wading into DA/SA revolver market in over a decade. You’ve got to be out of your mind if you think they’re going to come out with a super-fancy, high-end revolver right off the bat, after filing bankruptcy. Just like if you’ve been in a car crash, you don’t go run a marathon the day after you get out of the hospital.

    Just give them some time. Seriously.

    • Not sure that anyone is beating on them for releasing a revolver – but to place it in the same genus and species as their renowned snake series, instead of giving it a more generic name – is the issue. Folks expect a certain fit and finish from a Cobra, and by failing to achieve that, Colt is hurting their image much more than if they’d released the gun under a less auspicious title.

      Heck, my old Trooper Mk. III has a finer finish than this new one.

      • How dare you disparage the trooper mkiii it’s the poor mans python and I love mine 6 in barrel and adjustable sights it’s a tac driver. And beautiful.

        • Mine too! Not meant to disparage, but to point out that the “downgrade” Troopr looks a lot nicer than the new Cobra.

  7. I don’t believe all the Colt revolvers were great. They Python, yes, hand polished, hand-fitted parts that worked like lubricated glass. It was marketed as, and was, a PREMIUM revolver. My experience with other Colt revolvers like the Anaconda is that they were NOT premium handguns. There was a huge difference. Was that just my experience?

    • Exactly. The other snake revolvers had OK-to-nice finishes, but they were not the Royal Blue of the Python. The Python was the pinnacle of the line, the masterpiece. It stood alone not only in Colt’s line at that time, but in American mass-production gunmaking at that time. I can’t think of any other gun from any other manufacture that got the level of attention and finish that the Python did in its heyday. You’d have to go back to the pre-Depression double guns of Parker, Fox, et al, and some custom-orders from Winchester’s custom shop prior to WWII.

      After WWII, the quality of American gunmaking took the first big step down, with Remington leading the way, and Winchester following them down the chute into the crapper. In that era, Colt’s Python was, in many ways, the last hurrah of the excellence that once used to be available in American gunmaking.

      The original Cobra wasn’t this type of gun – it had an aluminum frame and was a five-shot cylinder. It was supposed to be one of their lightest weight pieces available, and the blue/black finish on aluminum is, well, feh. It’s there, but we all know it won’t look like polished steel.

      The Detective Special was closer to what this new “Cobra” revolver is, and I have no idea why Colt marketing decided to muddy the waters with a name re-assignment like this. The original DetSpec’s in stainless were a bead-blasted finish, very similar to this “Cobra.” The blued DS’s were pretty nice, but not the Royal Blue of the Python.

      The finish on the original Cobra was rather utilitarian by comparison to the Python. The Anaconda & Diamondback blued revolvers had a pretty nice finish, but it was just a reasonable polish-n-blue job. The polished stainless finishes were nice, as were the nickels.

      There were even Colt revolvers that had a rather rough, completely utilitarian finish to them – eg, the New Service revolvers. That had a very rough finish. They locked up well, but their finish was quite rough by comparison to the Python. All Colts locked up tighter than S&W’s or Rugers, if done correctly at the factory. The lock-up on this “Cobra,” if they are using the original Colt lockwork requires attention from a gunsmith who knows how to time up a Colt mechanism to make the lock-up what Colts were known for.

      I wish I could take apart a trio of S&W, Ruger, Colt DA revolvers side-by-side and show people what’s really going on inside a DA revolver, and what is required to get the timing right. Once people would see that, you’d see why just saying “Oh, we’re going to make them on CNC machines!” isn’t going to quite cut it with the original Colt lockwork design. Making the parts on CNC, EDM or MIM machines does, however, more than suffice in a S&W or Ruger.

      Only the Python and the custom shop got the extraordinary level of attention that the author is thinking of here.

      The problem here is that many of the writers at TTAG haven’t been around enough guns that aren’t made from injection-molded cheez-whiz in their lives. They need to handle a lot more guns from the “BG” (Before Glock) era.

      • Great informative post, thank you. I wish you could show them too, I don’t understand revolver timing at all nor the colt difference

        • Here’s the first clue for everyone:

          Look at which way the cylinder rotates. The S&W’s rotate out of the window. Colts rotate into the window.

          Now sit down and ponder what that means for how “solid” the lockup feels.

      • “I wish I could take apart a trio of S&W, Ruger, Colt DA revolvers side-by-side and show people what’s really going on inside a DA revolver, and what is required to get the timing right.”

        That is a video I would *love* to see.

        If you’re short a demonstration gun, perhaps RF could beg, borrow, or swipe an example he could slide your way for that video… ?

      • Great post.

        I have been looking to add a Colt Revolver to my collection for a few years. Even adjusting for age, the finish on the New Cobras (as described in the review) would be better than the Old Cobras (even adjusted for age/wear) I have seen. Every one I have found was nothing like a Python.

        As for the old Detective Specials:
        – the Chrome versions seem out of place today
        – the blued versions weren’t especially great.
        – I haven’t found a stainless version of the old Detective Special.

        The New Cobra seems like an updated Detective Special.

  8. I was a big Colt snake gun revolver man in the early nineties. I had a Colt King Cobra in 357 Magnum a Colt Anaconda in 45 Long Colt and a couple of Colt pythons 1 in 4 inch 1 in 6 inch. The reason why I purchased these besides being a Colt fan fanatic was the simple fact that they were assembled by gunsmith not gun techs on a huge assembly line. Colt being in the situation financially that they are would have made much more money had they built the guns the way they were built before the dawn of the Glock back when gunsmith actually assembled firearms and hand fit things that were a little rough to make sure they’re perfect before they leave the doors. I agree with the writer of this story on what the quality of these guns is probably going to be or their lack of. Colt a message from a customer that you’ve had since the early 1980s please hire some gunsmith and have a revolver line that was made exactly the same way you’re early guns were. You’re going to have to charge more money because of the Gunsmithing and hand fitting that is required to build a quality revolver but that’s the way of life. You really shouldn’t have built these pistols if you actually hope to stay in the gun industry without total failure. Bean counters were the reason why you went bankrupt the first time don’t you think you might want to listen to the people who purchase your products? To make the guns royal blue and perfect is not a hard thing to do it’s simply tumbling the parts until you get the finished you need to apply the bluing. And don’t think Colt has gotten rid of all those guys that made the pythons and the anacondas and the cobras and king cobras because there are still working for Colt you can still get your eighties model python refinished in a royal blue and it does look amazing. However it is not cheap to refinish my original Detective Special in the royal blue bluing was $600 and they had to fix a small problem in the spring. But the gun look absolutely amazing just like the day I bought it in 1983. And this was refinished and repaired in 2007 so it’s been 10 years but I had sent another Colt back just recently and had the same bluing done they call it royal blue finish and it looks just as good as my 6 inch python that’s never even been shot. Colt can produce the old style pistols if they actually want to put a couple bucks at it but apparently from your review it seems that there CNC Machining all the parts and assembling them on assembly lines buy gun techs not gunsmith there’s your freaking problem Colt.

    • Back in the mid 90s they couldnt give the King Cobras away. Bought a 4 inch stainless “high polish” one for 300 bucks around 93, left it in a closet forever, traded it in 2010 for an Arsenal SGL21 Russian made AK. Best trade I ever made.

      The Pythons were always desirable, the King Cobras and Anacondas were scorned for having transfer bar triggers. Never was much of a Colt lover but wish I had scooped up more of those unpopular snake guns in the 90s when you literally couldnt give them away.

      • The reason why the snake gun revolvers weren’t selling very well in 1990 through the discontinuation of them was simply because everyone had made the jump from revolvers to semi automatic handguns such as a clock. This is a natural change in climate sort of speak. They finally got semi automatic handguns that would reliably fire right out of the box to be sold for less than $600. I remember the 90s like it was yesterday and I can remember seeing a lot of revolvers not just the snake series guns but Smith and Wesson Taurus and a half a dozen other ones sitting in the gun cabinets constantly collecting dust. The only reason why they discontinued them is because they were not selling. People are getting over the polymer Plastic Fantastic guns now and we’re reverting back to a cold piece of Steel a hog leg if you will. We simply have not had a large selection of revolvers to choose from when it comes to full size revolvers. So there’s been an opening in the market for somebody like Colt to bring back they’re snake guns and trust me if they can hit it out of the park on this one they will sell. Have you ever heard of the term the past repeats itself well this is exactly what’s going on people have been Auto crazy for the last 30 years now we want something else a little different and a lot of these new automatic handgun Shooters have not spent any or very little time behind the trigger of a big bore revolver. It’s something new to them and to anyone who’s never shot a revolver. Now I’m not talking about the 38j frames and all these new LC ours and things that are compact subcompact concealed carry revolvers on talking about the big boys in the only one on the market right now is Smith and Wesson still. I believe that if Colt can get their act straightened up this would be a good run for them. Just my $0.10 worth. LOL

  9. Is there any talk from Colt to bring back the other lines of revolver will guns?? Or is this their last-ditch effort at trying to make a buck off of something that seems to be poorly put together with a finish that you can get on a Taurus. Please don’t tell me this is what you think people want. I need a crappy built replacement model snake gun like I need a big hole in my head. Do us all a favor and don’t discredit the quality and craftsmanship that you once had by turning out inexpensive mass-produced garbage. Just my $0.10 worth.

  10. Ya’ll don’t live in real life. Whaaa, they named it something that was better… OK, well get this, probably 90% of the firearm crowd has never seen an original or if they did they didn’t know what it was. I don’t think it popped up in Call of Duty.

    Comparing a Colt t a Night Hawk??? As far as I’m concerned Night Hawk might as well be make believe. I don’t think my small town gun stores carry them. I don’t think I ever saw one in a big gun store unless, again, I had no idea I was looking at one. I lust at them on line but not a reality. Colt on the other hand is EVERYWHERE.

    Just be glad that another 1911, Glock or AR hasn’t been created. I’m thankful to see something not made out of plastic. Hell, before Kimber changed things up, revolvers were even plastic. And I thought the K6 was vaporware too until last week. A year before I saw one and the next day it was gone.

  11. I guess you have to fill up space and sell clicks but coming out of the gate with a slam like this is a bit lame. So one of the guns locked up at range day. Big deal. I have seen Glocks fail to fire on the first shot out of the box. I have had the trigger break on an HK P7 during the first range session. I have had the cylinder on a J-frame bind after two or three cylinders. Running a hit piece like this because a demo gun jammed up during range demo day is silly and irresponsible.

    • That was the shortest part of the article and didn’t seem to be central at all. Should he have kept it a secret? Why are you so sensitive about this?

    • “Running a hit piece like this because a demo gun jammed up during range demo day is silly and irresponsible.”

      No, it isn’t.

      Greg, this blog is called “The Truth About Guns”. They call ’em like they see ’em, warts and all.

      I would expect a gun brought in by Colt as representative example of their work would have been gone over by them with by a fine-tooth comb before it was displayed.

      If a gun that was specially prepped and pampered by Colt failed, how many of the ones shipped to their distributors that did *not* get that special love and care are likely to fail?

      The Truth About Guns just did Colt a *huge* favor. Something isn’t right in Colt-Land with either the design, manufacture or QA of that gun…

  12. And Colt still missed the mark with the design.

    Anyone who wants a small (concealed carry) revolver can choose from Smith and Wesson, Ruger, Taurus, Charter Arms, and probably more.

    So, why would anyone choose this revolver over other offerings?

    First of all, I like the idea that they made it a bit heavier … but I think they made it too heavy. Those 12 and 16 ounce revolvers are too light. And 25 ounces sounds too heavy. How about split the difference at 20 ounces?

    Second of all, why not increase the barrel to 2.5 inches and get just a little bit more muzzle velocity and slightly better balance?

    Third, and here is the big one, why not offer it in .327 Federal Magnum with a 6 round cylinder?

    Fourth, offer a shrouded hammer variant as well.

    This describes what I believe to be the perfect concealed carry revolver. Not too small nor too big. Not too light nor too heavy. Barrel not too short nor too long. Substantial recoil but not uncomfortable recoil. Six rounds rather than five rounds. The option for a shrouded hammer. And the option to load from light .32 S&W and .32 S&W Long all the way up to .32 H&R Magnum and finally .32 Federal Magnum.

  13. I’ve shot Pythons and Anacondas galore. They are great guns. There’s a market for them today, and I’m surprised that Colt didn’t jump in with both feet, instead of teasing the market with a hideout gun.

    • Yea, I don’t know either.

      Ever since they announced a six-shot “Cobra” I’ve been scratching my head. I just don’t get it. I guess I’m just too dumb to understand the brilliance of someone in marketing.

      I would have brought out a King Cobra, just to show the market that they could do the finishing correctly again. Don’t jump right in and try to replicate the Python, just come out with the King in an excellent polish/blue 6″ barrel configuration. Then come out with the Detective Specials again. Then re-start the Diamondback and Anaconda.

      Then when they’d gotten a feel for those, then do a test run of Pythons. Don’t make them generally available. Retain the allure of the Python by offering only a limited run every year. Make them utterly premium products – and sell them at premium prices.

      • I agree with you that would have been a much better plan of attack. But maybe this is the first attempt at revolver building since the cancellation of the king cobra and Anaconda series. I would love to see a stainless king cobra high polish gloss stainless steel with a two and a half two and three quarter inch barrel offer with original Pachmayr grips. That would be the bomb.

      • I heard an interview by one of their guys.

        Gist of what I heard:
        – They started with compact revolvers because concealed carry revolvers are the biggest sellers
        – there are more models coming. Although he wasn’t entirely clear, I took his comments to mean that they would have more Cobra options soon.

        He didn’t say it, but I expect larger revolvers are coming.

  14. Why can’t the mfgs. see fit to give us a longer ejection rod in atleast a 2 1/2″ barrel shroud that’ll positively shuck out the cases (better even than my K. Cobra)? Install a nice large WHITE ramped-post front sight (better than my K.Cobra). Shroud the hammer to be nearly snag-free. Lower the cylinder release a bit. Give us a grip option with more meat in the web area just behind the hammer (like my K.Cobra). Give us the option of a nice fat trigger (like my K.Cobra). Yet in this new small Cobra frame.
    Add some Icing, Strengthen the cylinder & ream the chambers slightly so we can fire 38 Super +Ps to get a 125 JHP up to 1,000fps!

  15. Would it have killed them to polish the thing? Hell, TAURUS’s stainless looks better than that.

    How about a Smith and Wesson level of fit and finish, guys?

    That thing looks like a Charter Arms…

    I’m surprised they didn’t offer them in anodized colors to boot.

    FAIL

    • Yeah I would suppose they are changing some things I was there the day at Shot Show when they revealed that when it broke at the shooting range there was a bunch of chatter that I overheard people were not impressed. It was like an afterthought for Colt to do something like that.

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