REVIEW: Colt’s Cobra — A Great All Around Revolver

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The new Cobra is an outstanding personal defense and outdoors revolver well suited to most chores. READ MORE

colt cobra
The Colt Cobra .38 Special is an excellent revolver in every way.

colt cobra

Bob Campbell

Colt once ruled the revolver market. But that was a long time ago when the goose hung high in Hartford. Today Colt’s Official Police and Police Positive are things of the past. But Colt has jumped back into the revolver market with a double action revolver. I have added the Colt Cobra to my Colt 1911s, AR 15s and .357 Magnums as a front line personal defense gun and outdoors revolver. The Colt Cobra is a stainless steel double action six shot .38 Special revolver. The Cobra is a modern revolver in every way, and while it bears a legendary name, the new Cobra bears only a passing resemblance to the original Cobra. The Colt Detective Special was the original .38 Special snub nose revolver. Based on the Police Positive Special frame, the Detective Special was the lightest .38 Special revolver of the day and remained the lightest six shot .38 for many years. The Cobra was the aluminum frame version. It is even lighter. Each shared the same action and configuration.

colt cobra
Note fiber optic front sight and heavy barrel.

The new Cobra is a beefier revolver with a robust frame and action. It fills the same niche as the original. As a long time Colt fan and Colt shooter I have to say the Cobra does things better in the newer version. The short barrel Detective Special – along with a number of full size .45 caliber Fitz Special revolvers- was conceptualized by Fitz Fitzsimmons, a long time Colt employee and trainer. Fitz wrote that long barrel holster guns were fine for western use and for uniformed officers in some instances, but the modern mechanized means of transportation demanded shorter fast handling revolvers. The shortened barrel was easier to draw inside a vehicle and less likely to be interfered with by steering wheels and gear shifters. He was correct. There are many reasons Colt lost its place in the market. Some feel that Colt did not reinvest its war time profits after World War Two and did not introduce sufficiently interesting new models, other feel that Colt simply priced themselves out of the business. Whatever the reason Smith and Wesson at one time held more than seventy five per cent of the police revolver market. Eventually Colt dropped all revolvers from production.

colt cobra
The original aluminum frame Cobra, top, is shown with a Colt Detective Special, bottom.

While many obtain self loading handguns for personal defense and home defense Fitz Fitzsimmons ideas concerning simplicity of design, fast handling, and reliability hold true today. The revolver may even be pressed into an adversary’s body and fired time after time. A self loader would jam after the first shot. The revolver may be left at ready with no springs at tension and the smooth double action trigger is easily managed by those that practice. The Colt Cobra features a smooth action that offers excellent speed and reset. An advantage of the Colt Cobra is the wide rear sight groove and a bright fiber optic front sight. The .38 Special is a good choice for the average to experienced home defense shooter. The Colt Cobra is also a good choice for concealed carry. The .38 Special is the most powerful cartridge that the occasional shooter can handle well. In this size handgun the .357 Magnum is simply too much.

colt cobra
In most ways the Cobra handles much like a four inch barrel .38 caliber revolver.

Compared to the common five shot .38 Special snub nose the Cobra offers six shots but is only slightly wider- about .11 inch. The Colt grip is an ideal size for most hands. The Hogue monogrip is a recoil absorbing design that isolates the hand from the metal of the revolver. The geometry of the grips compliments the design of the Colt Cobra. While the Colt Cobra resembles the original the trigger isn’t in the same location and the action is tight and smooth with no loose motion. The revolver doesn’t feel like the original Colt but represents an improvement. It should prove more durable in the long term and smoother as well.

My initial shooting was done with Fiocchi’s affordable and accurate .38 Special loads. I used both the 130 grain FMJ and the 158 grain RNL loading. These loads are clean burning. I enjoyed firing the Colt Cobra very much, going through 100 rounds at man sized targets at 5, 7 and 10 yards. Centering the front sight on the target resulted in a hit as long as the trigger was pressed smoothly. During recoil I allowed the trigger to reset. Groups were excellent. Moving to personal defense loads the Fiocchi 124 grain XTP provided good control. This premium ammunition exhibits the highest level of accuracy. I also carry revolvers when hiking and comping. Unlike the small frame five shot revolvers, the Colt Cobra is controllable and useful with heavy load. The Buffalo Bore .38 Special Outdoorsman, using a hard cast SWC, or the lead SWC hollowpoint are well suited to defense against feral dogs or the big cats. Members of our protein-fed ex-con criminal class would be another threat in the wild, and the Colt/Buffalo Bore combination is a good one. Recoil is stout but accuracy is good. As for absolute accuracy on several occasions I have fired a two inch five shot group at 15 yards. The Colt Cobra is plenty accurate. Like the original the Cobra is as easy to use well and as accurate as most four inch barrel revolvers.

colt cobra
Fiocchi ammunition exhibited a clean powder burn and provided excellent accuracy.

The Colt Cobra gets a clean bill of health. There really isn’t anything like it in the market. I think that you will find it well suited to modern problems.

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One thought on “REVIEW: Colt’s Cobra — A Great All Around Revolver”

  1. The picture stating the origional aluminum frame Colt top and Colt Detective SP bottom:
    Needs a wee bit of editing. You can’t make a S&W a Colt just because you call it a Colt.

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