Snake Gun Profile: The Colt King Cobra .357 Magnum

King cobra cover

The stylized barrel rollmarks, complete with a cobra head, make the Colt King Cobra unmistakable. (Photo:

In honor of the Colt’s 150th Anniversary in 1986 a new revolver hit the market, the .357 Magnum Colt King Cobra, a snake gun now in at least its third generation.

Based on the company’s Mark V system shared by the medium-frame Trooper series of double-action six-shooters, the King Cobra got its name as an ode to smaller Colt Cobra wheelguns which dated back to the 1950s but were only chambered in .22LR, .32 Colt and .38.

Borrowing the solid rib heavy barrel/full underlug profile of Colt’s Python series but coming in at a more affordable $400 smackers at the time, it was half the price of the iconic serpent. This made it appealing to budding target shooters, law enforcement, and personal protection. Likewise, the price point made more competitive with other full-lug magnums of the time, namely Ruger’s then-new GP-100, S&W’s Model 586, and Dan Wesson’s 15HB.

Introduced first in a blued metal finish with black neoprene round butt grips, the King Cobra was only chambered in .38Spl/.357Mag and available in 4- or 6-inch formats. By 1988, stainless versions in both a matte and bright finish were introduced as was a short-lived 2-inch model. By 1990, an 8-inch model appeared.

Bright stainless King Cobra 4inch 357 1988

This Colt King Cobra up for grabs in the Vault, a 4-inch model with a serial number that dates to 1988 production, is in what the company billed as “Ultimate Bright Stainless,” a finish that was only used on this model for four years. (Photo:

Matte stainless 6 inch King Cobra 1989

This 6-inch King Cobra has the more commonly-seen matte stainless finish. This particular gun dates to 1989. (Photo:

Falling out of production in 1992, production resumed only briefly of just the stainless models in 1994, then the line closed in 1998.

The rebooted King Cobra

close up photo of colt king cobra revolver

A throwback to the days of the classic 1980s .357 snake gun whose name it bears, the new Colt King Cobra runs a 3-inch barrel, which the vintage gun never did in its standard production. (Photos: Colt)

On a steady path to expand their return to the wheel gun market, Colt resurrected the King Cobra series in early 2019 to offer a new version of the now-classic revolver after a two-decade hiatus. Still chambered in .357 Magnum, the reboot came standard with a full-lug 3-inch barrel and was announced just in time for last year’s National Shooting Sports Foundation’s SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

The “King” was popular on range day, with Colt’s booth crowded with those looking to give it a workout (Photos: Chris Eger/

We caught up with the new 3-inch King Cobra at the time and checked it out.

Featuring Hogue overmolded grips and a user-replaceable brass bead front sight, the newest wheel gun uses the same Linear Leaf spring trigger as in the rest of Colt’s Cobra line. Speaking of which, the retail on the King Cobra is $899, which is the same as Colt’s black DLC-coated Night Cobra .38SPL snub and $200 more than the standard Cobra 2-inch.

Showing they were serious about the series, Colt followed up with the King Cobra Carry.

Colt King Cobra Carry

The new Colt King Cobra Carry is a DAO .357 with a bobbed hammer and 6-shot cylinder (Photo: Colt)

Colt’s new magnum-caliber snub weighs 26-ounces and features a stainless steel barrel and frame mated to Hogue over-molded grips. The cylinder accepts the old Colt Detective Special pattern speedloaders. The six-shooter has a replaceable brass front bead front and an MSRP of $899.

By comparison, Smith & Wesson’s Model 60 stainless 2-inch in the same caliber has a retail of $729 but only has a five-shot capacity. Ruger’s real estate in the same neighborhood is the 2.5-inch version of the seven-shot GP100, which has the same price point as the Colt but tips the scales at 36-ounces.

Finally, the line has also expanded to include a King Cobra Target version introduced late last year, featuring a 4.25-inch barrel, adjustable rear sight, elevated fiber optic front sight, and custom Altamont wood medallion grips. With an overall length of 9.25-inches, the six-shot full-lug target revolver is pitched for use by competitive shooters and those who just like to hit the range.

Colt King Cobra Target

The revolver uses an LL2 linear leaf mainspring and sports a fiber optic front and adjustable rear sight. It is capable of using either .38 Special or .357 Magnum loads. (Photo: Colt)

Justin Baldini, Colt’s Director of Marketing, said the Target model came about after they, “received a flood of requests for a 4-inch model with adjustable sights.”

MSRP on the King Cobra Target is $999, a price lower at retailers.


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