colt king cobra .357 revolver
courtesy mfr
Colt Kind Cobra .357
courtesy mfr

Since Colt got back into the revolver business a few years back with their Cobra snubbie, they’ve confined themselves to wheel guns chambered for .38 Special. We were impressed by the fit, finish and feel of their Night Cobra introduced last year.

Now Colt has added a new stainless .357 model, the Colt King Cobra with a full lug and 3-inch barrel. She’s a real looker. You have to wonder…is there a new Python in our future at some point, too?

Here’s their press release . . .

WEST HARTFORD, CONN – Following Colt’s successful re-entry into the Double-Action

Revolver market in 2017, Colt introduces the all-new King Cobra in .357 Magnum. The King Cobra will be available in January 2019 through Colt stocking dealers.

The all-new King Cobra features American Stainless Steel construction, a heavy duty frame with a full lug 3 in. barrel, and the 6-round capacity that differentiates Colt small frame revolvers from the competition. The King Cobra also features the same user-replaceable front sight and Linear Leaf spring trigger (LL2™) as the rest of the Cobra family. MSRP for the all-new King Cobra is $899.

“Our customers started asking for a .357 version of our Cobra immediately after the release, and at that moment we knew we had to prioritize this great addition to the Cobra family” said Justin Baldini, Product Director at Colt. “We couldn’t be more excited to add the power of .357 Magnum back into Colt’s Double Action Revolver lineup.”

Colt Kind Cobra .357
courtesy mfr

The all-new King Cobra premieres at the National Shooting Sports Foundation’s (NSSF) Shot Show in Las Vegas, January 21-25, 2019. Industry Media professionals will get to experience the King Cobra for the first time at the “Industry Day at the Range” event which kicks off Shot Show. Customers will have their first opportunity to see the King Cobra at the NRA Great American Outdoor Show in Harrisburg, Penn., February 2-10, 2019.

About Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC

Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC is one of the world’s leading designers, developers and

manufacturers of firearms. The company has supplied civilian, military and law enforcement customers in the United States and throughout the world for more than 175 years. Its subsidiary, Colt Canada Corporation, is the Canadian government’s Center of Excellence for small arms and is the Canadian military’s sole supplier of the C7 rifle and C8 carbine. Colt operates its manufacturing facilities in West Hartford, Conn., and Kitchener, Ontario. For more information on Colt and its subsidiaries, please visit www.colt.com.

Specifications:

  • Barrel Length: 3 in.
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Sights: Brass Bead Front
  • Frame Material: Stainless Steel
  • Frame Finish: Brushed Stainless
  • Grips: Hogue Overmolded
  • Action: Double-Action
  • MSRP: $899

86 COMMENTS

  1. Ooooh, I’ve been hankerin’ for a 3″-4″ .357 for the past few months going back and forth between various Smith models. Might have to wait a bit longer and check this out. Though, I was under the impression the new Cobras were not living up to their legacy from what I’ve been reading.

    • I heard the same thing Shire-man. They’re pricey and the quality may not be there. I would stick to a Smith or a Ruger.

    • I’m happy to dissent from that opinion. The new Cobras, from the one’s I’ve shot, are just as good mechanically as any of the older Colts. I’m just not a fan of finish options.

      • I saw a used on in my LGS and I didn’t care for the trigger. Kind of a weird break. I do like the trigger on the Kimber K-6 but that’s a different story. Most of the clerks at the LGS didn’t care for the new Colt either and they sell it.

        • Haven’t handled the new one yet, but just from the pics alone, it looks far ‘cheaper’ than the King Cobra I bought new in the late ’80s.

    • maybe Smith should up their game. Just saying. As much as people give them crap for MIMed parts I like my 66-5’s trigger.

    • Just like a Ruger. Now if they could figure out how to make a revolver without side plates like WBR did back in the 1970s.

    • Given the choice, it would be hard for me to take that over my SP101
      I would like to try one, but it better “pony up” to catch up to 101 reliability.

    • The SP101 has a awful trigger and 5 shots in .357/38.

      The New Cobra has a better trigger and 6 round of .357/38.

      This being said, I carried a SP101 DAO everyday from 2006 until last year when I switched to a K6S. 6 shots and the best trigger in its size class IMHO.

      Your mileage may vary.

        • But it has the same ejection stroke as the snub LCRx.

          Cheep-assed Fail for Ruger. They should have increased the rod length.

          And figured out some lower profile sights. I would be happier if it had the same sight as the fixed sight models.

          At least the SP101 3 inch has a full stroke ejector.

          Cmon Ruger….

      • Never had a problem with any of my SP101 triggers, but from what I heard about Wollff Springs I put a 10# hammer & 8# trigger spring in my SP101 4.2″; this combo is nicer than the Kimber K6S trigger, extremely smooth. $10 & 10 minutes to do.

        • I have the Wolff trigger return and spring the two that I own. it doesn’t change the the long pull or the “hump” before the sear disengagement.

          The K6S has shorter, crisper 9.5 pull, 6 rounds, and has better sights, all this right out of the box.

        • Mine is a .327, never shot the .357 which is why I forget it’s a 5 shooter. Trigger on mine is fine,but it has alot of break in.

  2. I wish it had an adjustable rear sight or an easily replaceable front sight like the GP100. It’s one of the things that always bothered me about the SP101 as well.

    To me, a 3 inch .357 is a perfect compromise between a concealed carry piece and a trail gun. As a concealed carry gun you’re likely gonna run 125 gr HP, but when used as a trail gun you are going to stoke it with 158 gr SP or maybe even a Buffalo Bore-esq 180 gr load. Too much variation in point of impact of those rounds for fixed sights.

    • My bad, I see now that the front sight is replaceable by removing a set screw. I would still rather see a GP100 type setup or an adjustable rear sight.

  3. What was it the rest of you just said? I just saw a prancing pony on a .357 revolver and I’m unable to concentrate.

    • I got a bit mesmerized myself. Looks good to my eye. We can only hope that Colt will continue to expand their line.

  4. You’re almost there, Colt. Put another couple inches on the barrel, cut some vents along the top rib, slap on an adjustable rear sight and some wooden grips, and damn it; that’d be close enough for me.

    • Good enough for you, me and probably a quarter million others. The only thing I would add to your suggestions is to make the trigger a little sweeter than most.

  5. That’s a beaut, if nothing else. I look forward to the long-term reviews. I’ve been hankering for a 3” .357 and I’m leaning towards the SP101. This complicated things.

  6. Meh.
    Kind of disappointed in how it looks. Didn’t fizz the root.
    Looks kind of Charter or Rossi.
    My SP101 a buttload of ammo and accessories is better deal for me.

  7. Glad to see Colt back in the game. Love my Python and SAAs, but prefer my early 3″ round butt 65s to their new offering. Especially at $900.

  8. Who would ever want (let alone buy) an overpriced, foreign outsourced, Colt (stamped) wannabe ??? . . . NOT Me, Fellas !!!

  9. Looks NOTHING like my 6in from the late 80’s

    the upgraded rear sight is missing, grip medallions, the hammer looks ‘off’ and so does the trigger guard?

    and then add what about a 6in or an 8in???

    looks like a full pass at that price and features…

  10. Good on Colt. Price is actually really good too. That’s right in the ballpark of what a good revolver costs. Everyone wants a new python, which is cool, but I’m hoping for a new anaconda.

  11. Why is the top strap so thick? Ruger’s top straps are thick because they’re cast and have to be that thick. Is the Colt cast?

    I like that Colt finally understands their buyer wants a handgun with a higher level of finish. The first Cobras looked like Charter Arms. The King Cobra looks like a polished Charter Arms.

    • Ruger’s top straps aren’t made thick because they’re cast, they’re made think because they like to dare handloaders to go ahead and try to blow one up. Properly heat treated cast steel is every bit as strong as forged steel.

        • Exactly. That’s why Ruger’s top straps have to be so thick. If they were as thin as S&W’s, they would break.

          Is the Colt cast?

        • It was a hundred years ago. Look at the GP100 vs the S&W 686. They weigh exactly the same, yet it’s the cast Ruger that has the reputation of being a tank that can take anything. It’s also notable that they cost the same.

        • That part of metallurgy hasn’t changed gov.

          Forged has higher tensile strength and less porosity.

          Most new processes are done to save money.

          Ruger went with investment casting to lower costs in building.

          He increased the thickness of the metal accordingly.

          This why he could use the 357 frame for 44 mag in the Flattop. It was too weak when they made it thinner for 44 cylinder.

          I shot the same loads in my N frame Smith 44 as I do in my Blackhawk.

        • Sorry .38, but the state of metallurgical technology is light years ahead of what it was 100 years ago.

        • Re read. THAT part of metallurgy.

          We certainly have great metal technology.

          Casting is used for lots of things as it is cheaper.

          It may be made strong enough to handle given tasks.

          Forged vs cast has not changed.

          All other things equal….forged is stronger.

          I don’t make the rules.

        • Forged is more expensive, so all heat (or cryogenic) treating being equal, the forged part is still significantly more expensive. However price being equal and cast can be just as strong for a given application as an equally priced and weight/thickness forged part.

          You also have a lot more flexibility in mixing alloys with cast than forged, which may play a part, especially in stainless steel.

        • There’s also be a LOT of advancements in casting techniques like vacuum casting, centrifugal casting, investment casting (which I think was actually forgotten for about 2500 years), etc. You can get a far more dense casting than 100 years ago.

        • Sorry if I’m beating a dead horse here, but another strength attribute of the GP 100 vs the 686 comes from the lack of a side plate where the internals are inserted into a slot in the bottom of the frame – I’m pretty sure that would literally be impossible to forge without some extremely elaborate machining of a solid forging.

        • I’m going back to some stuff I read 20 years ago, but if memory serves, cryogenic treating results in much the same effect as forging, in getting the molecules liked up like a forged piece.

          Anyway, again, I’m comparing an $829 Smith to an $829 Ruger here, not a $4800 Korth. Ounce for ounce the cast steel in the Ruger is just as strong as the forged steel in the Smith. The Ruger is a more modern design that strategically places that steel in more appropriate places (along with a better crane lock up) that makes it stronger.

  12. For those wondering “What does a Colt give me that a Ruger or S&W doesn’t?” the answer is “The Colt ‘bank-vault’ lockup.”

    For revolver purists, there is only one revolver design that locked up as tightly as possible, and that was the Colt DA/SA revolver.

    Let’s back up a sec and explain two places in the Colt DA/SA revolver design where they were measurably and appreciably tighter than the competition: the cylinder rotational lockup, and the end shake/cylinder gap tightness.

    Colt’s DA revolvers are designed so that the cylinder “rotates into the window,” or “clockwise” for those who don’t appreciate revolvers. S&W and Rugers rotate out of the window, or counter-clockwise.

    I can hear a bunch of people saying: “Who cares which way the cylinder rotates? It’s a revolver, it’s supposed to revolver. So what?!”

    Well, it turns out that there’s a very big difference in which way the cylinder rotates. When the cylinder rotates clockwise (what I called “into the window” above), it means that as the action is going into full lockup, the hand is pushing the cylinder against the bolt, and the cylinder, being supported in front by the crane (which is being pushed closed) and the takedown pin in the rear, has nowhere to go. A Colt revolver’s cylinder, when the action is in full lockup (which it is just before the hammer drops), will have no wiggle. None.

    When you handle a S&W or Ruger revolver, put the revolver into full lockup and then wiggle the cylinder. This is because on a S&W/Ruger, the cylinder is being pushed out of the window (ie, counter clockwise from the shooter’s perspective) and what is supporting the cylinder on its rotational axis is the ejection rod, which has to be supported fore & aft. The ejection rod is being retained where it is on spring loaded detents and such. There’s always a bit of wiggle there. Not much, but it is almost always easily perceived by wiggling the cylinder when you put the action into full lockup. And this wiggle gets worse as the cylinder stop (what the bolt is called on S&W revolvers) wears.

    On a Colt, there is no slop at all because the axis of the cylinder is being pushed up against the frame and the bolt, by the hand pushing up on the ratchet (on the rear of the cylinder) as the action finishes locking up before the hammer falls. The Colt design was first to be patented, and this issue of the hand on the left side of the axis of rotation, pushing the cylinder into the window and up against the bolt, was one of Colt’s big patent issues. When other revolvers came out after Colt, they had to push the cylinder out of the window to avoid patent infringement. As the ratchet and bolt wear, you might see a Colt loosen up, but these wear issues can be fixed on a Colt by “lengthening the hand” which can be done with a couple taps of a hammer, peening some extra length into the hand. With more length, the hand can push a little further into full lockup.

    Second big issue is the cylinder/breech gap. On Colts, it is tighter than other revolvers. Typical spec clearance on a S&W (etc) revolver is 0.004″. A Colt’s spec is half of that.

    • Does this new iteration have a double hand like the old Cobras and Police Positives?

      I kind of doubt it. And while the old double hand did make Colts lock up up tight on firing, it is also a subject to more wear in doing so.

      Welding up a hand is tricky business to keep from making then leading edge brittle.

      A a cylinder gap of .002 would bind up pretty quick with my reloads using Unique.

      I have owned a lot more accurate Smith’s than Colts. The Python was super accurate due to the tapered bore and fine fitting. I couldnt wring it all out due to crappy trigger compared to Smith.

      There are a lot of reason Colt went out of business. Building too good a gun isn’t one of them.

      • Colt’s business troubles go clear back to WWII, and their first wave of unionization. By the end of WWII, Colt was already in financial troubles.

        Since then, Colt has been passed around like a red-headed stepchild, owned by one non-gun company after another.

        The American firearms business sector is a study in the twin evils of bringing Wall Street vampires and unions into your shop are both a recipe for eventual failure. Colt did both. Many companies are wrecked by only one of the two mistakes.

        • Colt bought the book on how to tank a company and followed it to the letter.

          Mayne even penned their own chapter.

          Damned shame – they had some handy designs.

          Their police positive is the lightest and most graceful 6 shot 38.

          Decent double action after you learn how to end that danged mainspring.

          I did see notice that it seems the new Cobra has the double hand…they say it is the only fitted part.

          I may have to give the Cobra/King Cobra another look. The Cobra I handled did not impress with the trigger though.

          But if I can get some slim wood panel grips and a Tyler Grop adapter…..well …maybe.

    • A BIG thank you DG for teaching me some good stuff yet again. A few more years of reading your posts and I might actually know something about how guns work. Definitely 2 thumbs up for this one!

    • Amen to that! This new King Cobra impressed me. Enough to make me pony up for one. Of course it’s not the old hand-fitted masterpiece that Colt(and Smith & Wesson) used to make. But it IS a solidly built and accurate revolver. The DA trigger pull is delightful and the SA pull is as good if not better than my old Model 19 Smith. I was NOT impressed with the initial New Cobra, but this one is a game changer. I belong to the old fuddy-duddy class of gun folks who love the old craftsmanship of the bygone days, but with the exception of moving into the $2000.00 plus class of firearms, them days are gone, gone, gone. As far as the complaints about the rear sight goes, this is essentially a belly gun, not a target pistol, so get over it.
      Hats off to Colt.

  13. Make it a a polymer framed semi chambered in 150mm and I might buy one.

    So funny how many trolls find their way to the comments.

    I prefer a Kimber for my high-end wheelgun (these Colts ain’t cheap), but these new Colts are nice on the trigger. I’m shooting experience with an old Python, and maybe that spoiled me, but it’s good to see Colt back in the game.

    I see this as the gun for a one-gun household. I don’t mind fixed rear sights, either. Once you you know the gun, as I do with our old S&W 64, a good SD first hit and a follow-up shot are no worries.

    • I love old Colts as much as anyone,but the new Cobra was disappointing. Granted, I only ran maybe 100 rounds through a rental,but wasn’t super impressed. This has a good size and 6 rounds,but if the execution is lacking like the Cobra,then it’s not really worth getting excited over.

  14. I want to see a 3″ revolver face off.

    GP100 3″ (Wiley Clapp edition?) vs K6S 3″ vs Colt King Cobra vs Model 19 Carry Comp (or some other 3″ K-Frame or L-Frame like a 19 Carry Comp or 686+?) vs. maybe a Taurus 692 for shits and giggles?

  15. the article says Colt is a designer…as a guy who currently owns 6 Colts, the fact is that The Great Prophet John Moses Browning ( PBUH) designed all the greatest Colts.

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