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Cobray was a really interesting company. Before the absolutist mentality regarding firearms was prevalent, and before black guns dominated the market, companies like Cobray led the way. Cobray was unafraid to be unconventional and even controversial.

They produced machine guns for civilians before 1986. They made open bolt pistols and produced .45 Colt/.410 handguns before the Judge was a glint in Taurus’s eye. Sadly Cobray’s quality wasn’t great, and they weren’t very well respected. That didn’t mean they didn’t have good ideas, though, and the DS410 was a great idea.

In actuality, it’s not a bad gun, but it has its quirks. Is this truly an obscure object of desire? The answer is subjective, but I think the idea is an object of desire. With a little more fine-tuning, we could get something truly awesome, but for now, we have the Cobray DS410.

The DS410 isn’t a very well-known gun, even by Cobray standards. Cobray made a lot of weird guns but is mostly known for their MAC clones.

The company made a wide variety of handguns, primarily revolvers and derringers. One of their derringers seems to be the first time someone realized you could produce a .410 handgun by rifling the barrel and making a .45 Colt chamber extra long. This makes it a handgun and not an AOW or short-barreled shotgun.

They made two-shot derringers in varying sizes from kind-of-large-for-a-derringer to one with 11-inch barrels. They made a variety of these handguns before finally going all in and making a shotgun.

The Cobray DS410 – A Little Slugger

Cobray took that side-by-side derringer design they had and extended the barrel out to 18 1/8th inches, added a stock and made a proper shotgun. You can still tell it’s just a derringer design. The hammer, trigger, release, and micro-sized pistol grip are identical to the old derringer designs. It’s an absolutely silly little piece of work.

The DS410 is a wee little shotgun. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The stock is made of that Zytel nylon that Cobray was famous for. It’s skeletal and minimalist with three slots molded in for holding extra .410 shells. The stock is an under-folder design that helps shrink the overall size of the DS410. They added an extended foregrip that’s a little more akin to a regular shotgun forend.

Shooters can chamber three-inch shells in the DS410, and this is not a .45 Colt gun. The barrels are smooth bore like a real shotgun so you don’t have to worry about the rifling messing with your shot pattern. A simple bead sits at the end of those barrels for easy aiming. They used that same cheap powder coating that Cobray designs were known for.

The stock folds for easy storage. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

What makes the DS410 such a neat idea is its low weight and the short size of the gun. The shotgun weighs only one pound, fourteen ounces. With the stock extended, the gun is 30¾ inches long. With the stock folded, the shotgun is 21 3/8 inches long. It’s small, light, and still chambers a shotgun cartridge capable of taking medium game.

A Survival Shotgun?

Portable, minimalist firearms are commonly associated with bugging out and survival, and the DS410 would be an excellent tool for that task. I like 12 gauges aplenty, but .410 is enough to take rabbits, birds, squirrels, and deer with the right loads. The slugs kind of suck, but there are some decent buckshot loads for close-range hunting capability.

The Zytel folding stock is a little rickety. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

The lightweight and packable nature of the DS410 makes it easy to tuck into a backpack so it disappears entirely. The idea is solid. Heck, I’d even argue it’d be better with a single smooth bore barrel and a single rifled .45 Colt barrel…or two smooth bore barrels and a .22LR insert. This way, your ammo choices would be more potent or easier to carry.

As is, the DS410 isn’t bad, but there are some silly issues and odd design choices that were likely done to keep the price as low as possible.

The Reality of the DS410

There are a few obvious flaws. A derringer-sized pistol grip isn’t great and doesn’t blend too well with a stock. Luckily, as a .410, the recoil is light and not a huge issue. The stock wiggles and wobbles, but still locks into place with a fairly primitive locking mechanism. The ergonomics are also wonky.

Getting the gun loaded, cocked, and firing is not a simple affair (Travis Pike for TTAG)

To open the action, the safety has to be in the off position. To get the safety into the off position, you have to pull the hammer back just slightly and push a blocky, often stiff, square from one side to the other. Then you can press back the release to open the gun.

There are no extractors or ejectors. You have to pry out the shells, which can be a real pain if you aren’t carrying a pocket knife.

The hammer mechanism is manually moved to swap which barrel fires (Travis Pike for TTAG)

To fire the gun, you need to cock the hammer. To cock the hammer you have to put the weapon back on safe. To fire, of course, have to take the weapon off safe.

Also, the shells don’t come out easily. (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Don’t expect rapid reloads with this thing. While it’s a hammer-fired side-by-side, there is only one hammer. It has a small rotating piece that allows you to switch barrels from left or right. It’s fairly smart in design and likely kept costs down.

Blasting Away

The bead sight is welded directly to the barrel. This creates an effect on your point of aim and point of impact. It’s not too noticeable with birdshot, but with buck, the gun appears to shoot high. The derringers used a raised front sight, and I think that would have been a better option for the shotgun variant as well.

The front sight is simple, but the older ramp style sight would have been better (Travis Pike for TTAG)

Recoil is mild, as you’d expect, which is great because a shotgun that weighs less than two pounds has the potential for shoulder thumping. Luckily .410 isn’t too beastly. Overall the DS410 is plenty shootable and very useable. I like the idea of this gun more than the gun itself and would love to see a more modern take a design like this. A takedown variant would be even better than the folding option.

A rear sight helps (Travis Pike for TTAG)

There is some potential here, especially at lower price points. The DS410 is an interesting design and one that is certainly at home in the ‘obscure’ bracket, even if it might not really be an object of desire for everyone.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. I guess for myself, I wouldn’t consider it an “obscure object of desire” given the quality of the firearm. As stated by the author, the idea isn’t bad for the survivalist or backpacker application. I’d look at this as a “1st draft” design build that could be vastly improved upon by some creative firearm designer.

  2. This particular firearm doesn’t appeal to me, but the idea does. I always wanted a pair of the Savage O/U combo guns. A .22 LR over 20. Much superior to .410. And a .223 over 12. If I could find a 30-30 over 20 or 12 toss it in too. If you really want to talk about an object of desire, let’s talk about a Valmet.

    • I will say I’m truthfully surprised no modern rendition of this has come out yet. A 9mm or .357 under a 20ga would be awesome.

      Then again the every man is so big into pumps, semi autos etc. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised truthfully.

      Then again if someone made a .410/223 version of the M6 Survival Rifle I bet they’d sell a few because people thought they were awesome even if they were 18″ instead of the shorter version.

  3. I still see to this very day at gunshows a weld-up kit of those little Cobray derringers.

    It just *might* make an interesting home workshop project.

    (Color case-hardening on it would make it a nice looking range toy…)

  4. I’ve never owned a 410. Might be an interesting little pack/bug out bag gun.
    Looked at a couple Cobray guns and passed on them years ago. Poor quality and not sure of utility of them.

    • When last I checked .410 ammo was 2-3 times more expensive than 12 or 20. My thoughts on a survival gun would be a youth model single shot 20. Much more useful than .410. IMHO.

      • I shoot .44mag & .45 LC out of my New England Arms Pardner.
        Yes ammo pricing is quirky, used to be .22 shorts and 410 was cheaper because of the quantity of the components used in making them.
        .22 Long rember those?

        • For many years the world record grizzly was a giant bear killed in 52 (or 53?) by a 4’11” Cree woman named Bella Twin. She used a single shot .22 and .22 longs…

          Helluva thing!

      • If you need a survival gun you don’t have access to your local gun store*, so you better already have all the ammo you need.

        * Or maybe you’re lost in the back section of Cabelas:
        Day 3: So thirsty I had to drink out of the decorative fountain. Down to my last two rounds of .410 — surviving on the leftovers from a purse chihuahua I took down when it escaped its owner. I happened on the shotgun ammo aisle on Day 2, but the damn .410 ammo was too expensive!

  5. I think a collection of all the cobray oddities would be interesting.
    In a train wreck kinda way, just have to look.
    Wonder how many of their full autos are still out there and functional

  6. I have one of these. I think this TTAG article just doubled its cash value. Even so, it is the only firearm I now or have ever owned that might be financially wise to take to a gun buyback event. The barrel selector makes you think you are playing slots in Vegas. It might go off or it might not. The Midland backpacker in any gauge makes more sense. (And cents)

  7. I have regretted not getting any of “derringers” Cobray offered back in the days of paper catalogs. They did make one that was .22 lr over .410.

    They also sold kits that you could assemble yourself thus avoiding any Imperial Entanglements. They were the original ghost gun.

    • Yeah, I kinda wish I’d picked up one of the little derringers back when there were a dozen at every gun show going for around $100, but the novelty factor simply can’t justify what the A-holes on Gunbroker think they can get for them now.

  8. I remember these, a buddy had one, and I thought then an O/U would have been a better set up than Side by Side. The 94 Clinton AWB pretty much put the Kibosh on Cobray International. It was a shame really, because even though their products were on the cheap side, they were an awful lot of fun to shoot. Had one of their MAC 11/9s for a while, and past 25 yards it was all over the place, but it grouped OK within 25 yards. Could only run FMJs through it as HPs or FTs were a guaranteed Jam-O-Matic. Sold the gun to a buddy in the early 2000s as he wanted one really bad. I kinda of regret selling it, but not much, as he was willing to pay me twice what I’d bought it for.
    Cobray still exists, but at a greatly reduced capacity. they sell a few parts and not much else.

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