.357 Shoot-off–Coonan Vs. Python

The Best Revolver Ever Made: /blog/best-revolver-ever-made-colts-python-review/
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Coonan the Barbarian: /blog/coonan-barbarian-coonan-compact-review/
Buy one on GunsAmerica: /Search.aspx?T=coonan

Comparing a Coonan .357 Magnum to an old Colt Python may not seem like a logical paring. The Coonan is in production now. The Python is not. And in this specific case, I’m looking at a compact Coonan and a stretched out Python. Clearly it isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison. The only similarity is the .357 Magnum round. Every other aspect of the guns is markedly different. At stake here is something much more than the Coonan V Python question; this is the revolver pitted against the automatic.

coon v python 1

So let’s delve a bit into the philosophical underpinnings of this article. Odds are, if you’re over 40, the first handgun you shot was a revolver. It is not a universal truth, but shooting skills are taught from generational experience–passed down. And through most of the 20th century, revolvers dominated the civilian market. My father taught me to shoot with an old Iver-Johnson 5 shot .38. Even though I grew up in the age of GLOCK, I was much more familiar with the function of a wheel-gun.

For the generation below me, pistols carry more significance than revolvers. The market is now dominated by slim single stacks that are only marginally more concealable than their plastic framed counterparts. Yet the revolver went through a massive period of decline. Neglect, even. Nothing says “1970s” like a big-bore, large framed, cold blue revolver.

What I’m seeing now is a big resurgence in the revolver market. One indicator is the skyrocketing prices on the Colt Snakes. But there’s been more innovation from companies like Smith, Ruger, and Taurus. And that’s why I’m here, now, waxing poetic about the venerable .357 Magnum. A few months back, I lucked into a Python. The old Colt is a shooter, not a presentation piece–though it is a handsome gun. It has renewed my affection for revolvers. More importantly, I’ve fallen in love with the .357 round again. I’d all but sworn allegiance to the 9mm. But then I shot some .357, and I was reminded just how impressive the round is. The terminal ballistics are intense. And I respect that. But as much as I love the round, I’m more apt to carry automatics.

Which brings me to the second contender in this match: The Coonan. I’d arranged this review back at SHOT in January, and the gun didn’t disappoint. I’ve carried the Coonan a bit since then, especially when I had the coat to cover it up good. It is a beast of a gun. My initial review of the pistol took the gun at face value. I did my best to keep from comparing it to other 1911 platform guns, and other .357 revolvers. The Coonan is neither, really–though the logical comparisons are inescapable. Comparing the Coonan to other 1911s seems logical enough, and such a comparison would really dwell on the central (and obvious) difference: the Coonan is built around the .357 Magnum cartridge. It pretty much writes itself.

But the revolver pitted against an automatic–much more complicated.

.357 Magnum options abound. All feed well in the Coonan.

.357 Magnum options abound. All feed well in the Coonan.

Power

Let’s start with the .357. While it is by-no-means the heaviest bullet available for pistols or revolvers, it packs a tremendous punch. Revolvers lose a little pressure where the cylinder meets the frame. If the gap is wide, they lose a lot of pressure. The Python locks up tight. From the 6″ barrel, the Python pushes a 158 grain bullet at 1,200 FPS. If we were to drop that barrel length down to 3″, we’d expect to see a loss of 250-300 FPS, give or take.

The Coonan, with its 4.25″ barrel, actually shoots marginally faster. A rough average would put it about 50 fps faster. That varies, though, so the difference isn’t enough to really make one gun stand out. But the actual power itself is only one factor. It is meaningless if you can’t hit what you’re aiming at. Read more about .357 Ballistics: http://ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html

Accuracy

And here the Python wins. Hands down. Double action, single action–doesn’t matter. This is one of those guns that spoke to me. I shoot so many guns (I know… rough problem to have…) but very few of them truly sing. The Python, even before I shot it, had a glowing aura and a low hum that drowned out the rest of the buzz inside my head. Then I pulled the trigger and the heavens broke open and a choir of angels burst forth in cacophonous rapture. It was that kind of good.

The Coonan is no slouch. It packs a mean punch, but–try as I might–I can’t put a full mag into a hole the size of a quarter. To be completely fair about this, the Coonan isn’t meant to shoot one clean hole. This is not a target pistol. The Coonan has higher aspirations. It is not a paper puncher.

You shouldn’t aspire to shoot tight groups in a defensive situation. Point of aim accuracy is much more important, and you vary the shot placements to create maximal damage through distinct wound channels, exsanguinating your attacker (which is an efficient way to guarantee the elimination of the threat).

The Python from 25 yards, shooting from a standing position (single action).

The Python from 25 yards, shooting from a standing position (single action).

I can't shoot the Coonan as well as I can the Python.

I can’t shoot the Coonan as well as I can the Python.

Speed

Coonan wins. The automatic action is faster than a revolver in the hands of the average man. Jerry Miculek may be able to dump a revolver pretty quick, and I’ve seen some old codgers at the cowboy matches rocking though six shots (and hitting what they’re aiming at, too), but I can’t do it. The Python kicks. While the heavy barrel helps hold down muzzle rise, I’m still not as fast with follow-up shots as I am with the Coonan. I’m roughly three times faster with the Coonan.

Why is it so speedy? The weight of the gun is one factor–but both are heavy. I think it has more to so with the return of the slide pushing the momentum back forward. If I were in a situation the required multiple rounds on target, quickly, I’d rather have the Coonan. And, perhaps more importantly, the Coonan is easier to feed.

A pistol offers more usable surface space for two handed grips. The result, for me at least, is more control.

A pistol offers more usable surface space for two handed grips. The result, for me at least, is more control. Sam (pictured) grew up shooting revolvers, and still uses a revolver style grip.

With a revolver, you have to keep your hands clear of the cylinder, and the gases escaping there. So the gun tends to pivot more.

With a revolver, you have to keep your hands clear of the cylinder, and the gases escaping there. So the gun tends to pivot more.

Reloads

Where have revolvers faded from popularity? You could argue that it is capacity. I think it is both capacity and the speed of reloads. The GunsAmerica crew was talking recently about the scarcity of ammo, and why we can’t find .22LR in big old bricks. One hypothesis is that we’re shooting more. Rimfire used to be a single shot game. Now we’re blowing through bricks in single range trips. Want to know who’s to blame? Ruger. Their BX25 mags for the 10/22 make shooting rimfire rounds easy.

I always shoot less from a revolver than I do from a pistol. Habit, I guess. I’m a bit lazy that way. I like the convenience of a solid magazine. Still–ask anyone who knows anything about pistols and almost everyone will say the same thing. Most malfunctions start with a magazine issue. And if it isn’t a magazine, it is likely a technique problem. You can’t limp wrist a revolver.

But with proper care and attention, regular maintenance, etc., you can keep a reliable set of magazines. They’re easier to conceal than speed loaders, too.

Magazines are much easier to use than speed loaders. But they're often the root of problems that render pistols momentarily inoperable.

Magazines are much easier to use than speed loaders. But they’re often the root of problems that render pistols momentarily inoperable.

Kick six out and get six back in as fast as you can. And find a convenient way to hold those extras while they aren't needed.

Kick six out and get six back in as fast as you can. And find a convenient way to hold those extras while they aren’t needed.

Hang ups

But what about that reliability question? The Coonan is a pistol that is more prone to failure than many existing designs. Why? It starts with the very nature of the round. There are a lot of different .357 loads. A revolver will shoot all of them, so long as there’s enough pressure to push the lead out the end of the barrel. Pull the trigger again, and it will fire a second one. Drop in a .38 and it will still work.

A pistol has to be engineered to withstand pressure, eject the empty case (without smashing itself to pieces in the process), and have enough pressure to pick up the next round. This isn’t easy with rounds designed for pistols. Some manufacturers make no bones about the fact that their guns work best with specific rounds.

In all of the shooting I’ve done with revolvers, I’ve never once had one fail. I had a Uberti Colt Army that I broke by repeatedly dropping when I was trying to learn how to spin it, but that doesn’t really count. The Coonan doesn’t care for .38s, at all–though there are springs that should fix that problem. Overall, it has been reliable and free from malfunctions.

If you're right handed, as most of us are, you have to keep your left thumb clear of the slide stop. If you bump it up, the gun locks open, like this.

If you’re right handed, as most of us are, you have to keep your left thumb clear of the slide stop. If you bump it up, the gun locks open, like this.

I had one hangup during the shooting for this head-to-head comparison. I’m 99% positive it was user error. As in my fault. In an attempt to hold down the Coonan, I pushed the slide stop up with my left thumb and the slide locked back. It is the type of malfunction that takes fractions of a second to fix.

Concealability

That is up for debate. I think it the question is this: what do you intend to use it for? For concealed carry, the Coonan wins. For open carry, especially where the speed of a draw or reloads isn’t important, the Python is my choice. There’s not a lot more to say on this topic, except this. Every option that exists for carrying the Python exists for carry the Coonan. The reverse isn’t true.

In the end, I’m going to put the Coonan on top for everyday carry practicality. It does the job. It is easier to reload. It puts rounds on target–maybe not the center of the target, but close enough. And with the .357 round, close still counts.

The Python has a lot of potential. I can't imagine a world where the gun isn't in production, and where a solid working gun becomes a collector's item. But we're there.

The Python has a lot of potential. I can’t imagine a world where the gun isn’t in production, and where a solid working gun becomes a collector’s item. But we’re there.

How would this contest have ended if I had a Colt with a barrel length close to that of the Coonan? If the Python was as easily concealed as the Coonan, would the outcome be different? I still think it would be close. There’s one thing the Coonan offers, for me and many others, that the Python can’t: speedy reloads. As much as I’ve worked with speed loaders, I’m still faster with a mag change. Maybe this is generational. Maybe a learned behavior. I clearly do much more work with pistols than I do with revolvers.

Still, if we’re just looking at the completely subjective cool factor, I have to hand it to the old Colt. The Coonan is badass. The Python is arguably more badass. And I feel like a badass when I’m carrying it.

At the end of this process, I’m still fascinated by the question. The Coonan offers a unique opportunity. As more and more 9mm revolvers make it onto the scene, this question will become more relevant to some. If the .357 Magnum is too much for some to handle, and the .38 doesn’t seem to pack enough punch or have enough in the way of options (I’m not sure I buy either of those arguments), the 9mm will fill the gap. And in the revolver package, the performance will be even more reliable.

Consider all of the hype surrounding the GLOCK 43. Most single-stack 9mms offer the same round count as a revolver. The only advantage I see in that comparison is the speed of reloads.

Maybe the Coonan should have gone head to head with a revolver with a 4″ barrel. I still think the Coonan would come out on top. As I break it in good, and habituate to the feel of the grip, I’m growing attached to the Coonan. I trust its accuracy. The reliability is sufficient for every day carry.

There’s a nagging question, though. A bigger issue. When comparing the Coonan to the Python, or the limited capacity pistol to the traditional revolver, I can declare a winner. But there are not just two guns we have to choose from. There are more. And if I knew I was walking out the door into a potentially deadly situation, I’d likely opt for more capacity. This is the heart of the single-stack debate. Is six rounds of .357 enough? Is seven or eight rounds of .45 ACP better? Would I rather have three times as much 9mm in one mag? I would.

The sights on the Python are not built for speed.

The sights on the Python are not built for speed.

The Coonan's sights offer faster target acquisition.

The Coonan’s sights offer faster target acquisition.

The Colt offers an easy to carry double action, and a surgical single-action.

The Colt offers an easy to carry double action, and a surgical single-action.

If you carry the single-action-only Coonan, get comfortable with cocked and locked.

If you carry the single-action-only Coonan, get comfortable with cocked and locked.

The rimmed cartridge in the the automatic platform works without a hitch.

The rimmed cartridge in the the automatic platform works without a hitch.

The diversity of .357 rounds available makes picking task specific ammo easy. And if you don't want so much power, the .38 works great from the Python.

The diversity of .357 rounds available makes picking task specific ammo easy. And if you don’t want so much power, the .38 works great from the Python.

Old slab sides.

Old slab sides.

Much more graceful lines, but hard to conceal the butt on this dude.

Much more graceful lines, but hard to conceal the butt on this dude.

{ 122 comments… add one }
  • Ernest H. Wilson July 3, 2016, 8:45 am

    The Colt Python is great. I have been shooting them since 1967. I have owned five 357 revolvers. Today, I own a Sig 220/10mm, and loaded full it will knock down a bg/ criminal better than a 4″. How about a 6″ Gp100 or SW 676? I will call it a draw. I sold my used 357 Colt for a White Rhino. The Rhino was a f…king dud. It fired one time and would not cycle. The trigger would not pull back, either. I have been moaning and groaning since /before OBama took office. The Cabelas purchase of Sig 220 erased my pain and regrets of my Colt Python trade-off for that White Rhino. Think about this: When was the last time you ever saw a new or used Chappa at the gun shoppe? You want a great 357? Buy a GP 100/6″ or, if pistols is your thing, buy a Sig or Colt 10 Millie, and do not write off those beautiful EAA Limited 10MM pistols, either. As for those Ed Browns? Leave those pistols for Mr. Big Bucks. Remember this: You/Family, still gotta eat.

  • Lloyd December 27, 2015, 6:55 pm

    I’ve got a bone to pick with the authors hypothesis that there is a .22lr shortage because we shoot more. WRONG! How can the average Joe shoot more .22’s if we can’t buy it? I’ve got six .22lr firearms, and none are single shot. Just because they have a 10 to 25 shot mag capacity does not mean I’ve EVER shot a whole brick in one,shooting session. Even when a brick cost $7.00. The problem, from my view, is why does the same brick NEVER available at the local “Mart” or gun as shop. I’ve read several articles that say the public is hoarding .22’s, thus the shortage. I wish the articles would address how we hoard what we can’t buy. After shooting & reloading for over 35 years and owning more guns than most, I just have to say that when I see an internet “sale” of a brick of .22lr going for $54, I am not convinced it is really a,sale. I’m going to stop now before I get more upset when folks say there’s a .22 shortage because we shoot more……don’t think so!

    • James April 18, 2016, 8:38 am

      Comment for Lloyd, I hope everyone knows the truth about why we can’t get 22 lrs anymore like we could in the past.. But for those who don’t, you all need to wake up and know your enemy. The home land security is getting all the 22lrs for target practice on targets that look like American civilians holding guns, some are made to look like grand maws , some like pregnant women, some look like kids holding pistols ,, WAKE UP AMERICA !!!!!!!!!!!!! Look up the Iluminati on the web. There is more truth to this than they want you to know. For those that think that all this stuff is just conspiracy theories ,, I suggest you take a good long look at it all as a whole.
      As for the article ,, I love wheel guns since they don’t drop casings , and are more beautiful to look at for their design and craftsmanship. I do like the autos for more rounds and faster reloads if it gets hairy and becomes a shoot out, although I usually tote a 38 special wheel gun with 6 in. barrel for the power and accuracy, Not much difference in the brass of a 357 round but can be back on target quicker with less jump up from back to back shots.
      As for my automatic pistol I mostly tote a 40 cal. Beretta for the power and fast reloads with the clips, but I would like to have a 38 special automatic,that would shoot the same ammo as my wheel gun, if anyone knows of a good one ,please let me know.

      • Rick Andersen February 14, 2017, 8:07 am

        There are springs that come with a Coonan that allow you to shoot 38. I have never used mine so I can’t speak to reliability w/38 ammo, but so far I’ve never had a malfunction w/357. Absolutely love my Coonan!

  • Fungus Amungus May 12, 2015, 4:55 pm

    Forgot to mention the trigger on the Coonan looks goofy as well. They should have gone with a Hi-Power style instead of having a 1911-looking trigger that’s hinged at the top with a gap at the bottom.

    I do like the heavy, squared-off dust cover though. Reminds me of my Detonics Scoremaster (another example of a 1911 subtly redesigned to handle a higher-power cartridge than .45 ACP, but done RIGHT).

  • Fungus Amungus May 12, 2015, 4:51 pm

    The Coonan is as ugly as sin. How could they take one of the most elegant pistol designs ever, the 1911, and screw it up so badly? It took me a while to figure it out but it just looks “off.” Here’s why: The grip panels are parallel trapezoids, rather than tapering from bottom to top as stock 1911 grips do. This tricks the eye into thinking the frame tapers towards the butt in an odd way–from long imprinting, we expect pistol frames to either widen as they approach the magwell, or stay even in depth–not to taper. (One possible exception being round-butt 1911s, but they are new and striking in their own way.)

    Anyone know how much frame there is behind the grip panels of the Coonan? Could I modify the panels on one to more closely resemble the shape of a standard 1911’s panels without exposing empty space inside the frame?

  • Russell W. Thomas May 11, 2015, 9:00 pm

    Today, I carry a Glock model 36, .45 caliber with Critical Defense ammo, great gun for close up self-defense, and again, today I only train 21′ and in, more close than far. BUT, back in the day, when I competed in NRA Police Combat Matches, and was pretty good, winning two state championships, my initial preferred gun was a 6″ S&W Model 19. Like the Glock 36, both fit my small hand (especially the single stack Glock). Shooting the Revolver, I used a two handed grip, right hand web up high on the back strap, with my left hand thumb over top of my right hand behind the web. Right hand squeezed the grip, left hand squeezed the right hand. My mentor; V. Raymond Piper, FBI SA Retired, always said; “A good grip covers up a multitude of sins,” and he was right, also the best pistol shot I ever saw. He could make a 4″ model 19 TALK! Then I won a 6″ Colt Python, in 1969 or 1970. At the time, the Python sold as I recall for about $100 more than a 6″ Model 19. I went to a Police Combat Match in Hartford, Conn. in 1970 or 71, and took the Python with me, having only shot it a few time, and didn’t at all care for the “stacking” of the double action. All my 19’s had Actions done by my good friend Austin Behlert, a fine Pistolsmith. At that match in Hartford, Conn. were gunsmiths from a number of firearms companies. There I met Colt’s Top Gunsmith; Don Tedford. I complained to him, respectfully, that Colt charged $100 more for the Python than a S&W Model 19, and the Python didn’t shoot double action worth a toot! Mr. Tedford said; “Son, leave that gun here with me, and pick it up later!” I fortunately did so, and could not believe the action job Mr. Tedford did on that Python! It was unbelievable, smooth as silk, fantastic double action, and better than my S&W 19’s all 3 of them! Mr. Tedford as I recall said he had put the trigger/hammer in a special jig, or such, his own developed invention, and boy was I pleased. I thereafter began to shoot that gun, the Python that I had won, in not only NRA Police Combat matches, but I also fired it double action only in the Police “L” league, that I shot against other police officers on bulls eye targets. I was a top competitor against the single action shooters in; slow, timed and rapid fire. I love that Python, still have it today, and it is still a ‘tack driver” with the smoothest double action ANYONE who has ever felt it can believe. I have corresponded with Mr. Tedford’s daughter, and he is still alive at 90+, a WWII veteran, and well in control of all of his facilities having only recently purchased a new Chevrolet Impala, according to his daughter. Incidentally, I was never as good as Jerry Michalak (sp), but I could start with a holstered loaded Python and on the whistle, draw fire 6 at 7 yards, two handed point shooting, dump out the empties, and with speed loaders, 8 + the initial 6, total 54 round (158 gr round nose) all in the “bread basket” (Center Mass) in 60 seconds or less! Later, Austin Behlert built me a Model 10, S&W frame, with a bull barrel, Full bo-mar rib, front winged sights, action job, etc, smooth combat trigger, and I used that until I lost interest in “tricking up” handguns, beyond practical. Now my eyes won’t let me shoot distance, and I have no need, so I only practice 21’ and in. Hope I have added another opinion, regarding accuracy and speed of the Python. Also, one last note, when my daughter and son, the last time I hunted with both of them with me (my son was later killed in an auto accident, and I stopped hunting, fishing, and competitive shooting), I shot a Woodchuck/Groundhog at 78 paces, with that Python, .357, rested on a rock wall, fired single action, elevated quite a bit but got him with one shot. The kids were impressed, and so was I! Hope to keep shooting until that last great day, then pass that Python on to one of my Grandsons! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Greg Schmidt May 10, 2015, 3:33 pm

    Nice post about two exemplary firearms. When all is said and done, it boils down to personal preference. For me, the main concern is accuracy. Looking at the groupings, the Python is obviously better, but in a firefight, I think anyone would be more than satisfied with the Coonan performance, especially with the faster follow-up speed.

  • Harv Aadahl May 8, 2015, 10:40 am

    I own two original Coonan B’s, one serial # < 2500 has the factory compensator. Purchased them at the original factory. Met the designer and all four employees. Uncompensated the spring is 24 pounds. With the Compensator, the spring is 12 pounds. The compensator cuts recoil by 50% & eliminates any muzzle rise. This pistol can drop rounds in a small circle. The factory triggers are about 3 pound pull, clean and crisp. Original Coonans feed any shape projectile, and even aluminum casings mixed or matched. I also have the factory .38 cal barrel and matched spring. That is the way is should be set up for .38's. I haven't shot a Coonan from the new manufacturer, so I can't compare the fit, finish & performance. Not For Sale. (Please don't publish my name or e-mail) Call me if you have questions.

  • John Turner May 6, 2015, 12:08 pm

    Nice article. I have a Python, 6″ bbl and it is just a joy to shoot! I also have a Dan Wesson, same configuration, and while it’s not a Python if one were blindfolded and didn’t know which revolver was handed to him to shoot he would have a tough time telling them apart…………assuming the grips were the same! So if you really want a Python but cannot justify spending a couple thousand you might consider a Dan Wesson. I’ve seen the prices rise fast in the last few years!

    Note! when I said they are similar I meant the weight, trigger pulls, smoothness etc. Not to disparage the Python as it’s a work of art but just wanted to bring up the DW!

  • L. B. Barnes May 6, 2015, 2:25 am

    I prefer my colt Anaconda 44 mag. Too big to carry but sweet to shoot. Heavy but accurate. Fun gun but expensive to shoot. Bought it new in 1996. If you knew you were going to be in a place where there may be danger such as carrying money or body guard work or needing to go into a bad neighborhood and if the bad guy was spraying and praying then you by dropping down quickly and delivering one round to ANY part of the aggressor would stop the spray.
    Now, if you could run or gain good cover such as a large tree or car or dumpster etc. that would even be better because you may not need to fire defensively at all or if you did fire and the perp kept coming while you held your cover then you still need only one projectile from this wheel gun to stop the attack. Your chance may come when
    the sprayer is slipping in another mag. Just saying, be prepared and stay cool. If you are not both then pray.

  • N1GHT May 5, 2015, 10:50 pm

    As the owner of a S&W K frame 357, a Glock 31 357 sig, and never shooting the Coonan I just want a Coonan! Though if caught in a bad situation the 31 wins hands down with standard 17 round mags and 30 round Korean .40 mags modified with 357 followers. Nothing matches the fire and smoke blowing out the side of my beloved wheel gun!!!!

  • Steve May 5, 2015, 10:39 pm

    THE 1911 IS HISTORY LOTS OF KIDS WOULD NOT HAVE A GRANDFATHER BECAUSE OF THIS GUN INCLUDING MYSELF . THE 357 IS A GREAT GUN TOO. WITH THAT SAID ….IF YOU HAVE THE EXTRA CASH THEN BUY A DESERT EAGLE 44 CAL– OR 50 CAL–YOU CAN GO FROM A SIX INCH BARREL TO A FOURTEEN INCH BARREL IN SECONDS …….. RATHER THAN SHOOT AT THE PERSON —JUST SHOOT THROUGH THE DAM DOOR OR VEHICLE AND GET IT OVER WITH ……..DANGER TERMINATED—- YOU LIVE END OF STORY AND REMEMBER CHRISTMAS IS STILL OVER 6 MONTHS AWAY BUY A SHOOT GUN FOR GRANDMA

  • Kivaari May 5, 2015, 6:06 pm

    Seriously, If a person desires a good .357, buy a Smith and Wesson M19/66.

  • Colt Collector May 5, 2015, 4:08 pm

    Mr, Higgenbotham:

    Please, the next time you feature a picture of a Colt Python or any other blued firearm, clean the fingerprints from the weapon. Your lead photograph in this article was a real turn off.

    • Administrator May 5, 2015, 4:17 pm

      Oooh then we could be like the print mags with pretty pictures and whored articles that match the ads in the magazine. Yea, let’s get professional here. We wouldn’t want to make people like you Recoil.

      • shooter May 5, 2015, 11:55 pm

        Administrator.
        That was a legitimate comment about the fingerprints on the gun. I think your condescending response was uncalled for and unprofessional.

  • Tom Horn May 5, 2015, 3:20 pm

    Sure, it’s comparing apple to oranges. But you can do that by finding first their commonality and then, differences (both fruit, one stick skinned, highly acidic…). So this was the age old debate of semi-auto versus revolver (both tools design to send projectiles downrange,…).

    Since they are both tools, you wouldn’t say, “I prefer sledge hammers, to claw hammers.” Both are made for different jobs. Sometimes the jobs intersect. The old woman whose hand are too small and weak to wrack the slide of a Glock 17, can do the same job of protecting herself with a small revolver.

    I’m glad “Walking Dead” has made revolvers popular again. Maybe us old wheel gun fans can pick up some sweet deals when the next TV hero is shooting a Desert Eagle, and they all rush to dump their zombie killer revolvers.

  • Dan May 5, 2015, 3:10 pm

    I found the article interesting myself as 357 is and has been one of my favorite cartridges.
    I have owned many revolvers and auto’s in my life of 62 years.
    Colt has not been one of the favorites But Dan Wesson’s and Rugers were ๐Ÿ™‚
    Dan Wesson being my all time Favorite with the interchangeable barrels ๐Ÿ˜‰
    If you are a reloader and prefer to stick with one caliber for hunting and self defense the 357’s straight wall is much easier to reload than an auto round as well as a wider verity of powders and bullet weights can be used.
    I used to carry a 357 smith 686 for duty and a 357 charter arms snub for off duty and backup.
    Now I carry an xd9 and a keltec with +p’s
    I would love to have a full sized Conan arms but they are out of my price range these days, so I”ll stick with my xd and keltec lol for now anyways.

  • Stive May 5, 2015, 1:47 pm

    I’ll take the wheel gun any day – never, repeat, never had one jam.
    I have several pistols and at one point or other they have jammed. Don’t ever carry a pistol due to that very fact!
    I have some friends that argue that a 45ACP has more stopping power that a 357. Maybe so at close range. However, I think a couple of direct hits from a 357 will to the job just as effectively.

  • pete May 5, 2015, 7:15 am

    You describe both handguns with the aptitude of a neophyte, no offense, been there myself.
    I’ve owned four Pythons, competed with three of the four in a “RIPS” ( Revolver, Interpersonal Shooting) competition. In each case all three revolvers lost their timing, after shooting about. 250 rds, this was of course double action. Gunsmiths. I took them to, suggested sticking to single action brcause of the design.
    I started using a Mod 10 and never encountered the problem again.
    The Python is a pretty gun and pricey, but is it worth it? I think I’d rather put my money down on a combat commander, thanks.

  • DaveGinOly May 5, 2015, 4:06 am

    “Why is it so speedy? The weight of the gun is one factorโ€“but both are heavy. I think it has more to so with the return of the slide pushing the momentum back forward.”

    Any time a mass is set in motion, that’s indicative that energy is being expended. When a semi-auto handgun fires, some of the recoil energy goes into making the slide move back against the resistance of the operating spring. The energy that goes into moving the slide against the spring is subtracted from the total recoil energy, reducing the amount of felt recoil that reaches the shooter. Because a revolver has no parts to absorb any of the recoil energy by their movement, no energy is subtracted from the total that reaches the shooter. If you could fire a semi-auto with the slide locked, you’d feel an increase in the recoil energy, because none of it would be expended doing the work of moving the slide against the spring, as normally happens.

  • Magman454 May 4, 2015, 11:22 pm

    I would give my right nut for a Python, and the left one for the Coonan.

    I’ve wanted a Python since I was a kid. I fired thousands of .177 cal pellets out of the Crossman Co2 powered copy, and dreamt of owning the real thing one day. Eventually, that will happen.

    The Coonan reminds me of the LAR Grizzly that I wanted as a teenager. A 1911 on steroids. What’s not to like?

  • John Boutwell May 4, 2015, 7:19 pm

    Having owned several Pythons since the early 1970’s the action of the Python is second to none!

  • BRASS May 4, 2015, 4:53 pm

    A better comparison would be Coonan and a Colt Delta Elite or other 1911 in 10MM. Both are 1911 type platforms modified to use a specific cartridge, one intended to be semi-auto and one intended to be fired in a revolver of similar dimensions.

    Personally, I can’t see why I would choose a Coonan over the 10MM in a semi-auto, it is superior in every way.

    • Mark S May 4, 2015, 7:19 pm

      Agreed, the 10mm is up there in power and energy of the 357 magnum revolvers, and the 10mm will exceed it, but… so is the 357 Sig an equal to the 357 Magnum when loaded properly. So, I think a better comparison would have been a Sig Nightmare Carry (4.25″ 1911) in 357 Sig using fully loaded ammo like Underwood’s 124gr GDHP, or XTP at 1500 fps. Other full house ammo manufacturers like DTDefense, Buffalo Bore, Atomic would do well as comparable ammo. All the major manufactures load the 357 Sig light by 10-20% with 124 gr around 1300 fps.

      I owned a Grizzly LAR in 357 Magnum sometime ago (another gun regret of selling) which shot as good, or better than the Coonan. This one smoked the Python in power (150+ fps) faster having a 6.5″ barrel as I recall. So, the baby Coonan only 50 fps tells me a lot of unburned powder maybe going out the tube with that big a cartridge. Both the Coonan and Grizzly LAR are big, heavy guns like the Python. The Sig Nightmare Carry is more practical as a carry defense gun using a more efficient cartridge for the same energy and effect!!!

  • djw663 May 4, 2015, 4:06 pm

    My first revolver was a Charter Arms Undercover .38special. I wouldn’t call the return of the revolver a return, necessarily. The return is more of a power/ durability/ accuracy/ availability/ price issue. 9mm, not powerful enough but cheap shooting and people love the velocity. .40S&W people like the power but miss the velocity plus it is still inexpensive to shoot. .45 1911 nice but… 10mm, too powerful for most shooters, especially new shooters and weaker people, and pricey. .357mag: readily available, fairly inexpensive to shoot and their revolvers are tried and true. Personally I prefer shooting my .44mag than my .357mag but that’s me. The balance of the .44mag Superblackhawk over the .357mag Blackhawk is night and day maybe because my .44 barrel is 1 inch longer??? My 17 year old daughter can handle both but prefers the .357. Regardless my .40S&W is my go-to, I just use good quality ammunition, since I don’t reload, it’s still cheaper than .357mag and it has stopped everything I have needed it to.

  • lost May 4, 2015, 3:11 pm

    OK Mr. Barrios,
    Those are quite the worthless statements without explanation. You sound like a fan boy. what’s your poison?

  • PFNELKAK May 4, 2015, 2:05 pm

    Put a 1000 rounds through the coonan and see if it will pass the python test.

  • Tommy Barrios May 4, 2015, 1:11 pm

    COLT Revolvers = JUNK
    .357 Mag = More Junk!
    Nuff said!!

  • Colt man May 4, 2015, 1:04 pm

    Hell I could have told u the results of this and I don’t get paid or anything free this was a waste of time to compare

  • Lost May 4, 2015, 1:00 pm

    I don’t understand why you folks like this article. It wasn’t about comparing a Python 357 to a Conan 357, it was about comparing a revolver to a semi-automatic. All the arguments could be made without specifying which revolver or semi-auto. The author stated that himself.
    Am I the only guy here who doesn’t see guns as people killers? Defense seems to be the only scenario many reviewers can see thru their blinders. Take away concealability, speed reloads, capacity and start a comparison. These criteria are for defense only. One out of every 1000 shooters is a LEO. If I was a LEO, I would probably carry two cannons, just in case. I’m not a LEO, and I don’t want to live my life in fear. Very few of us carry, even though we have CCW. The rest of us shoot paper, tennis balls, gongs, tin cans, water jugs, and rocks. I’m into shooting as fun. I shoot a lot. Are there no reviewers that understand this? The most important issue for me is feel and trigger. Wasn’t covered in the article at all.
    I have one XDM defense gun with 20 rounds(night sights, and laser), and a 12 gauge. The chance of using either one in defense is so close to zero as to not be worth calculating. I have defense covered. Move on.
    My son, on the other hand, is totally into defense. His collection of 1911’s is extensive. I think defense philosophy should dictate one gun and total practice with that gun only.

    And now we get to talk about the real world; fun shooting. I have so many fun guns that I am embarrassed to say. Colts, Smiths, and Ruger wheel guns dominate. Talking about fun guns, let’s go to the 22s; Woodmasters, the K22s, the Marks, and the Hi Standards. These really aren’t for defense. Forget defense, buy fun instead.
    Now if I could just convince one reviewer.

    • djw663 May 4, 2015, 7:48 pm

      That is the mindset; what people fear most?!?!?! I’m sure I’m just preaching to the choir. Most firearms don’t just appear out of “oh, I think I’ll make a new gun” there has to be some sort of demand. The FBI tried that with the 10mm, but they had trouble qualifying which created the .40S&W but what was their intended use going to be! It wasn’t to shoot Mountain Lyons or Fox’s. Usually firearms are created for large groups such as LEO’s or military. That’s how Glock got started.
      So why did Coonan waste money on R&D for a semi-auto .357mag and why, would be the better article. Does DE actually sell a lot of semi-auto .357’s at $1,500.00 a pop to justify someone else coming into the market?
      The LEO’s I know usually carry three, the third usually being a Derringer. My father in law had to resort to his Derringer once in 30 years, saved three officer’s lives with two rounds. Personally, I like my .44mag Ruger Super Blackhawk 7.5inch, can’t conceal that one, never intend to.

    • lmao May 8, 2015, 10:39 am

      Dave interesting article..would leave a comment but my phone battery went dead laughing at at the responses this piece generated.kk

  • oleman May 4, 2015, 12:59 pm

    I have an had 8.375″ barrel Python since 1978. Have not fires it since 2005. Clean check functioning an put away!
    I purchased while I was in the military and was on a pistol team, 2 ea .45 ACP’s were provided, the .22 and .38 we had to provide.
    I saved my pennies and spent money I probably shouldn’t have for the Python.
    FOR ONE REASON: The Master Shooters all used the Python.
    Now many years later, the Python brings many memories of when I was on top of the game.
    Strange fact is I always plinked with the hard-ball .45 ACP. Weapon was Government owned and ammo provided. at no cost to team.
    Mostly .38’s have been fired with the Python, that was also the target round. Rarely has it ever been abused with heavy .357’s.
    My other wheel gun is a S@W Model 64. This is my shooter and it goes where I go. Inexpensive and durable. +P are has heavy as it will load.
    I never have owned a 1911, since when on the team it was free use and maintenance for a pair of 1911’s.

  • John Ramos May 4, 2015, 12:34 pm

    I am a full time police officer, a ILEA firearms instructor and an NRA firearms instructor. I own both a Colt Python and an original Coonan Model B. I carry both from time to time depending on where I am going. The Coonan Model B is a very large framed semi-auto, but back in the day your choices for a 357 magnum semi-auto were severely limited. You had the Coonan, Auto Mag and the Desert Eagle. The Auto Mag took special ammo. The Coonan and the Desert Eagle fired regular revolver rounds. The Desert Eagle is extremely large and heavy, so I went with the Coonan.

    The Python and the Coonan are more of what I call “specialty guns”. They have there place, but there are other pistols out there that will fill the spot just fine. There are 9mm +P & +P+ loads that are moving faster than 357 mag loads and there are .40cal S&W +P loads that are heavier and moving faster than 357 mag loads. So if you are looking for the ballistics of the 357 magnum, they have been squalled or surpassed in a much less expensive pistol.

    The Python is more accurate than the Coonan, but the Python isn’t made anymore and when you do find a Python they are either out of time or extremely expensive. If you have to have a 357 magnum semi-auto pistol, I would recommend going with the Coonan.

  • Norm Fishler May 4, 2015, 12:11 pm

    There are four things about the Colt Python that should be considered. They are, 1) intricate, 2) delicate, 3) way over priced, 4) and highly over rated. I have shot and owned dozens over the years and there was not a single one of them that could stay in time for more than a few hundred rounds. I’ll take an S&W 686 any day of the week. As for the Coonan, I’ll have to wait until I can get my hands on one to shoot. It does look good though . . .

  • D lenal May 4, 2015, 11:47 am

    Ill keep my glock 29 with glock 20 magazines with 200 grain lead and extended ported lone wolf barrel

  • LCJones May 4, 2015, 11:22 am

    I would like you to compare the 1911-357Sig to the Python 357. Not sure it would be difficult to determine the winner.

  • Blair May 4, 2015, 11:20 am

    My only child was born 35 years ago. I bought the most bad ass gun I could find to protect my new family. I couldn’t afford the hunter so I settled for the 8″ barreled Python, no case, no scope. I learned to shoot it very well and have reloaded thousands of rounds of all varieties for it. Sadly, it can only be carried CPL, underarm holster, winter only, under a large coat that must be kept on. I learned if I had vengeance in mind for an attack not yet finished, I could reach out 100 yards to stop the escape. That changed after my CPL class. I carry a Ruger LCP because it can be concealed. I hate the accuracy and the punchless round both. However, in reality, not TV, I will run away with my sheep, if I can, rather than shoot someone for any reason. If actually cornered the LCP is probably accurate enough at 5-15′. Don’t statistics from the FBI show most gun fights are arms length? Single shots are fired in most cases by a wide margin. He who shoots first nearly always wins and with one shot. I wish I could buy a light and tiny, .357 mag even if it only had a few rounds. I just don’t see myself shooting it out in a factory against a mob or the drug cartel. I do see myself ending something smartly and quickly even if it changes my life forevermore.

  • Chris Baker May 4, 2015, 10:51 am

    I can see the logic of comparing the different firearms. It actually makes more sense than say comparing a pair of almost identical revolvers or autoloaders. If you are comparing usability and practicality that is. In any case it’s much a matter of what works best for the individual. I like the 4″ GP100 with 125 gr JHPs for home defense. I have a Beretta 3032, Tomcat, for concealed carry. I might or might not like a revolver for the 32 acp round (or equivelant) but I don’t see a point in it. I’m much more concerned with shot placement than with power.

    I do have a question about your two handed stance. It comes from my finding for myself and viewing others in pin shoots that the left (or off hand) having the index finger wrapped around the front of the trigger guard is much steadier than the stance you show in your pictures. Have you tried the alternate I’m suggesting? What did you find out if you did?

  • Pete May 4, 2015, 10:48 am

    Enjoyed the article. I’ve never touched a Coonan, actually never saw one till your article. I got nothing against autos, I carried a Series 70 Gold Cup for twenty years back when I was young and strong and worked in LE. BUT, having said that, I have a 4″ nickel Python from 1966 and a six inch blued one from some later than that. In my opinion, the Pythons are the two finest guns I’ve ever owned. Got nothing against any other gun maker, (well maybe Raven) but to me the beauty and comfort shooting those Pythons is one of the true joys in my otherwise humdrum life! And I have to say it, that Coonans’ ugly.

  • ray May 4, 2015, 10:20 am

    have the colt magna ported and try it again thats how those “cowboys do it” and it only takes one to take one down

  • Mark S May 4, 2015, 9:58 am

    Interesting article, thank you. My very first revolver was a 6″ Colt Python in a nickel finish ($299 in 1979) which my mother purchased to let me use until I was age 21. I added some very nice Harret walnut grips It was a real beauty, and a very good shooter. I sold it after buying an early 4″ 629 somewhere in the early to mid 80’s ($400) that I had magna-ported, and a trigger job done better than the my Python. I found the power of the 44 Magnum better suited for hunting hogs in California, and the 4″ Smith more compact to carry. As far as shooting, believe it or not, the Smith was just as accurate, so I sold my snake and never looked back – too bad from an investment point. I bought more Smith’s over the decade before 1990’s, and found their triggers could be made equal, or better to a Python by a good gunsmith. Later I sold most of my Smiths for top-end 1911’s. While my 629 remained my best shooter (as such, I will never sell it), I still have another Smith – S&W 625 (1988 model) 5″ that shoots extremely well too. Like many today, I found that semi-autos offer more in benefits that I prefer than the old heavy and bulky revolvers like the Python. Yet, it is all personal preference. As far as killing Zombies, the Python would take a second seat to a Glock M34 with 17+2 rds 9mm, and 33 rd spare mags; since you only have to hit them in the head ๐Ÿ™‚

    On a more serious note, I would have really liked you to have added the Sig Nightmare Carry in 357 Sig either in the 4.25″ or 5″ model. I think the 357 Sig offers the best option over a Coonan, or Python when shooting full house rounds from the likes of Underwood, DoubleTap, Buffalobore, Corbon, or Atomic.

  • James May 4, 2015, 9:58 am

    The Python is the finest production handgun ever made. They’re legendary for a reason. However, comparing any two guns side-by-side accuracy is meaningless unless both were bolted to an indoor rest. But yeah, Pythons were and remain the pinnacle of revolver design. Semi-auto’s…though not as accurate as many newer semi-autos…Browning Hi-Power is still my fav. A Python and a Hi-Power and I’m good to go.

  • D Hicks May 4, 2015, 9:55 am

    Question which one ? Answer = Both. Good article ,Thanks.

  • MCOShooter May 4, 2015, 9:54 am

    I bought a python, in 1978 when LEO’s were limited to revolver’s. I carried it for 3 years before I transferred into a special unit which was allowed to carry semi’s. I never had a problem with the Python. I did not care for the impact on my hand and arm though when shooting the .357 round. With speed loaders and experience it can be loaded very quickly. IMHO the python is the nicest looking handgun that has ever been made. I will never sell it because I believe it is a piece of American firearm history which combines style and function.
    When I went to a .45 semi Colt Commander, I found them easier to handle, and much more concealable. As a result my carry gun is a semi .45 I know can afford a Kimber and love it.
    The review did not mention the kick with the Coonan. I assume it is considerably less than a revolver, but it would be nice for the reviewer to have included the fact. Thanks for sharing the review. Shooter

  • Griffendad May 4, 2015, 9:33 am

    There always seems to be a discussion about reload speed between magazines and speed loaders. No one ever mentions what happens when they both run dry and you have to dig through a box during the zombie invasion. Tough to load a magazine under pressure. Don’t lose it or drop it either.

  • Ed C. May 4, 2015, 9:03 am

    I’m a big fan of the 10mm, if I went back UP to the 357 Magnum cartridge, I would choose a 3 inch Model 13 Smitty with a round butt, and milled for full moon clips – or a 4 inch S&W 27 – BTW a 6 inch Python was my first center-fire handgun, and yes the year was 1976.

  • Jim May 4, 2015, 9:02 am

    How much difference between The Coonan .357 versus the Colt 1911 .38 Super+P? I don’t know a lot but I’m thinking the Coonan is somewhat redundant.

  • Dr. Jeffry Smith May 4, 2015, 8:56 am

    I love the silky smooth Python action! I also have an 8-shot S&W M627 Perf. Ctr. in .357 mag. – but the Python is smoother, and more accurate. I would consider purchasing a Coonan after reading your great article. I have a suggestion: try a three-way comparison sometime, and include a high capacity automatic such as a Glock or Sig Sauer chambered in the .357 Sig round. These cartridges are designed to emulate the ballistics of the .357 mag. cartridge, but have no revolver-flange on the bottom, cycle without malfunction, and because they are based on a necked-down .40 S&W case, holding a 9mm bullet, they slide into the chamber perfectly every time. Many police departments have switched to them, and have seen the same kind of terminal stopping power that the .357 mag. is famous for.

  • John Sorensen May 4, 2015, 8:55 am

    Back in the good ol’ days when I learned to shoot, people were taught to aim at the target and gently squeeze the trigger. One round… one kill. I could never understand why people who carry automatic pistols needed 18 round magazines. If you can’t stop what you’re aiming at with one or two shots, then something is wrong with the way you are shooting. These days, you hear about cops (and bad guys) firing dozens of rounds, and only hitting their target 2-3 times. The answer is that the big multiple round magazines in their Glock or what have you have made them LAZY. Who cares about aiming to hit the target when you have a dozen or more bullets? Just spray them all over the place and you’re bound to hit something. Unfortunately, that something COULD be the 3-year-old child in the house next door… I may be old-school, but I still believe that you shouldn’t need SPEED in firing a weapon when you have ACCURACY. One good hit from a .357 Magnum, placed in the right location will stop pretty much ANY bad guy. You don’t NEED a dozen 9mm bullets sprayed all over the scene.

    • Big D May 4, 2015, 9:59 am

      I defy you to get the infamous “one good hit with accuracy” on a two-way range …. Consistently !!!!!
      I’ll take my G17 against any .357 mag revolver on….El Presidente w/ a slight modification anyone??
      3″x5″ index card attached randomly (too eliminate the spray & pray forcing some precision on the drill)
      No powder puff rounds for either just good ole factory…I’ll run 2 rounds/target …you do your 1 / target with a reload…..and OH BTW just to keep things somewhat real; as we all know in the world if you aren’t shooting you best be moving(quickly would be preferred)
      The other option is try your concept out force – on – force with simunitions…..both of these will humble you and correct all misconceptions; Just saying…. !!!!!

    • Ed Morris May 4, 2015, 11:25 am

      You sound like a very good target shooter to me. In a highly stressful, high adrenaline situation where there may be multiple bad guys a few well spent rounds down range while running for cover may be the difference between going home that day or not. Eliminating the threat doesn’t always mean sending the bad guy to meet his maker. Gaining tactical advantage maybe all it takes to send the bad guys packing and if it takes a few extra rounds so much the better.

      Next time you’re at the range shooting paper targets (you’ll want to get your heart rate up a bit before doing this exercise) take a couple of quick steps side to side forward and back while shooting at your target (you’re trying to simulate real life scenarios) and see how many time you can hit the target. In real life you will be negotiating even, uneven, smooth, rocky, curbs, logs, debri and other changes in terrain while seeking safe cover all the while keeping eyes on target and whats behind them. Getting that one clean shot on target and taking the bad guy out only happens in the movies.

    • Jim Howerton May 5, 2015, 12:05 pm

      I’ve never owned a Python but the first pistol I bought was a Ruger Blackhawk in .357 Magnum, back in 1982. It still fires as accurately as it did the first time I used it. Because of that pistol, .357 Mag has always been my favorite round. I do have a 1911 in .38 Super, another round I really love for it’s speed and accuracy. Although I have carried both concealed, neither one is ideal for that type of carry so I ended up buying a Ruger LC9(S). Although the 9mm is not as powerful, they are pretty accurate guns. Whenever I go to the range I spend half my time firing it utilizing the iron sights and the other half using the Viridian laser I bought that attaches under the muzzle. They call it an ECR for “Enhanced Combat Readiness.” I have to say that at 57, I thought my days of putting 9 of 9 rounds in the bull at 25 feet were over but technology is a wonderful thing. If, God forbid, I ever have to shoot someone in self-defense or in defense of others, that laser gives me much more peace of mind. Like I said, I can still hit what I aim at without it but with it, it’s like I’m a 20 year old Marine again (well, at least my aim and accuracy are).

  • Joe Van Luven May 4, 2015, 8:43 am

    I really enjoyed your article but think you are comparing apples to oranges. Both are fine handguns but built for different purposes. I have owned several autos 9mms and 40s, they are all gone now but still carry my colt trooper mk3 357 or my colt metro 38. There is just something about the reliability of a colt wheelgun. I admit I am old school but I have never had a failure with my colts. With 4 inch barrels and custom grips they are easily concealable. I live in northern Michigan where you have a jacket on ten months of the year anyway so concealability is not usually a problem.

  • MJF May 4, 2015, 8:43 am

    Resurgence of revolver sales? What’s next, a resurgence of rotary dial phone sales? The only time I would revert back to using a revolver, is if I had no quality choices for an auto.

    • TxDrifter May 4, 2015, 9:43 am

      You must be a glock fan boy

    • Alan May 4, 2015, 1:35 pm

      For what purpose? I hunt ELK with a handgun, the Ruger Blackhawk Hunter in handloaded .45 L.C.
      Few, if any autos’ would be legal for this pursuit. The Desert Eagle would be one, in .44 mag. Now carry one of those all day in the field. HEAVY!!!
      Don’t even get me started on reliability, The K.I.S.S. principle reigns in the real world, hate to lose that once in a lifetime shot due to malfunction.
      Frankly, your comparison isn’t analogous for all. The revolver has it’s place.
      If I were to be given just one choice for an ALL AROUND survival handgun, I would choose a .357 mag revolver.
      There is nothing it CAN’T do, it may NOT do it all well, but it does what MOST auto’s can’t, bringing power and penetration to the party.

      • glenn smith May 19, 2015, 8:04 am

        In Arizona, any center fire cartridge is legal for big game including elk and we do have a lot of them

  • Randy Griffith May 4, 2015, 8:43 am

    I too have a six inch python and I like it very much ,but to be honest I also have a smith & Wesson 686 six inch revolver now that is apples to apples.. I put them head to head with the same loads at 25 yards on a bulls eye league shoot. both triggers weigh the same 3lbs single action and 5lbs double action. Guess what the Smith & Wesson wins out on points. It surprised me. I love both guns and would not trade or sell for an automatic and I do have several autos. But lets be real in comparing our firearms. A pistol is a pistol and a revolver is a revolver both have there place. It’s what you shoot best that counts. I shoot both autos and revolvers very well and I carry both differently. By the way keep up the good writing.

    • Mark S May 4, 2015, 7:28 pm

      I agree with you (see my earlier posting) – my first 6″ Python vs. an early S&W 629 with magnaport and 2.5 lb trigger job; kept the Smith, sold the Snake. looking back, I wish I had never sold it, but it would have been a safe queen where the 629 was my hog killer in CA.

      • Randy Griffith May 7, 2015, 4:01 pm

        Yes my Python is a safe queen MADE IN 1975 and I won’t part with it, but I watch the prices go up and just smile. I also have a 629 and a model 19 + a 686 S&W and more all very well made guns. trouble IS I CAN NOT MAKE UP MY MIND WITCH ONE TO SHOOT. L.O.L All shoot very well. Besides I keep guns like this around to use as quality control specimens in my shop to compare my bluing work and that is a great asset for any gunsmith.

  • SnakeDriver May 4, 2015, 8:40 am

    Great Article:
    Two vastly different handguns
    Colt Python? Arguably the best revolver produced following the Colt SAA.
    Colt 1911? The base for the most produced “I say that as copied” handgun ever.
    The .357 Magnum? The granddaddy of the power house handgun cartridges.
    Both handguns are top of their “respective list”
    BUT THEY ARE NOT COMPARABLE ! !

    • Ed C. May 4, 2015, 9:14 am

      I couldn’t agree more. I would categorize the Python as a hunter, the Coonan as a protector, all this would be great if you were a one cartridge person, say; also within your possession a high capacity .357 magnum Lever Carbine…only the Coonan would suffer from not being able to digest 38 specials. And so it goes. Jettison the rest, keep the best, the 357 Magnum will remain one of the best all round handgun cartridges ever conceived. (but I still like 10mm)

      • ryan May 4, 2015, 9:55 am

        Ed. C,

        you said it brother – .357 revolvers are still the mainstay for reliability – only in recent years have the 1911’s been able to enter the reliability market because everybody gets them tuned to work right. Well, about every 357 I’ve ever picked up works right out of the box. Back in the 70’s when Coonan came out you couldn’t hardly give a 9mm away and semi-auto’s were still thought of as a novelty or military item. 10mm got slapped in the face and killed almost immediately but in my opinion it is just about perfect for all situations. However, I still want a Compact Coonan just to say I have one. I already have a .357 semi in a LAR Grizzly and it’s great.

        • Jim June 16, 2015, 4:22 am

          I am 66 years old. I have never brought a firearm because of TV or a movie. To me it’s all about how it feels in my hand. There is something about the ownership of these finer machines , that attract me . Look at the history behind each and try to keep it all American. I don’t mess with 9MM but love the 38 super and the history behind it. I am a big guy and love my 3 inch 357 . I also Have a 2 1/2 inch 44 mag, which has a history also. I have a few polymer firearm, but the steel attracts me because of it’s worth in this changing world.

  • Ray Krebs May 4, 2015, 8:40 am

    Excellent comparison article. Having carried a .357 revolver into several rather dicey situations and hunting scenarios (Yep hunting!) my confidence in this round is pretty damn high to say the least. The Coonan Compact is intriguing and may be the perfect replacement for the 4″ 1911 in a shoulder rig. I feel the need for some range time providing the price point is acceptable.

  • Ric John May 4, 2015, 8:10 am

    If I want to carry a 357 then my S&W model 60 works well. If I want to hunt with a 357 my Python does the job. And if I want pure accuracy my 38 special S&W 52-2 will beat just about anything. I still don’t understand comparing the Coonan to the Colt.

  • Perilloux May 4, 2015, 7:57 am

    As Tj2000 said the cost of the Coonan is what will keep many from getting one. I can get a 1911 or 686plus for much less than the $1500 starting price for the Coonan. As for revolver vs auto in the accuracy department while shooting targets, the revolver will win every time. During the stress of a firefight, and anybody who has been in one will tell you, you will lose the extra accuracy of the revolver due to the fact that you are not going to expose yourself in order to get a perfect sight picture and are just going to try and put round center mass.

  • Gundoctor1 May 4, 2015, 7:54 am

    Blasphemy!!!!!! Warren Smith hits the nail directly on the head. I’ve had many, many revolvers and quite a few “Pistols” (Look it up). Even the name is no match.

    Also you said it in your opening. You are not comparing apples to apples. Even though mine are 1960’s, I’ll keep my snakes thank you.

  • Bill O'Connor May 4, 2015, 7:50 am

    I have a Python with a 4″ barrel and a Rhino with the same. As ungainly as the gun looks, it handles and balances very well. And lordy does it shoot with that tensioned barrel. Single action is deadly if you can get it cocked, it needs a larger surface on the “hammer” which is really a cocking lever. I carry this instead of an automatic for all the reasons stated in your article. Pull it out and pull the trigger, woe to anyone in your sights.

  • Joe May 4, 2015, 7:49 am

    I own a Colt Python .357 revolver and I would pick it over the Coonan any day. It’s probably the single most accurate and finest shooting gun in my arsenal of hand guns, which includes several semi-autos like the Colt .45 Commander, Beretta 92 FS, etc. The action on a Colt is like glass and it is a really, really comfortable gun to shoot even with ‘hot’ loads. I’ve knocked down cast iron pigs at a 100 yds. with it. I would like to see the Coonan do that…

    • glenn smith May 4, 2015, 3:40 pm

      You can shoot those expensive guns all day but I’ll keep my old model 19 S&W in .357 and shoot with all of you. spend 2,000 on that python and I will keep my 400 dollar Smith and have a lot of money left for ammo. JUST SAYING

      • Grey Beard May 4, 2015, 7:12 pm

        Yeah, but when I’m shooting my $396 Python I just grin!

        • glenn smith May 5, 2015, 5:03 pm

          I think that’s great, but I lied cause I bought my smith back 1973 and paid only 214.00 and it was brand new. YES I am old, thank for the comment

          • Cougar19 May 6, 2015, 5:35 am

            I bought my first Python, a new 4″ blue finish, when I returned from Vietnam in 1970, for $150. Bought my first Government model, a Gold Cup, in 1968 before I went to Vietnam, for $175. Actually, I had to have a friend buy the Gold Cup thanks to the 1968 Gun Control Act. I was only 18 at the time, going through Army Helicopter Pilot training. And I still have both guns with boxes and receipts.

          • Hrlyhrt June 2, 2015, 2:14 pm

            Bought my mine about then and sold it in ’89 and still regret it!

      • Joe Momma May 6, 2015, 8:18 am

        I bought mine in the early 80’s after selling a Ruger .357 which I didn’t care much for. I bought my Python 4″ blue for around $400, if I remember correctly. All of my pistols with the exception of a Beretta .380 are pre-2000. But, thanks for telling us what a cheapskate you are…

  • John May 4, 2015, 7:06 am

    Coonan makes fabulous pistols.
    This is like comparing a new Dodge Challenger with a 1968 Dodge.
    Both are graceful and beautiful, but very different purposes.
    You need a new band of Angels (not angles) that aren’t wearing bell bottoms!

  • Joe May 4, 2015, 6:46 am

    Try this again, with a third pistol, a Chiappa White Rhino. My Son has one and it seems to be very accurate and smooth.

  • warren smith May 4, 2015, 6:30 am

    read a lot of your material and respect your input, but I wouldn’t trade my colt revolver for two of the Coonans. I can reload my colt faster than you can any automatic, of course i have had about fifty years of practice too. I am not any kind of whiz kid or gun guru nor am i an worlds champion marksman, but I hit what I aim at and I, with speed loaders, can fire six, dump and be reloaded in less than two seconds. Besides that, I have a lot of respect for your knowledge and the information you put into your articles, I have purchased most of my guns based on your recommendations. While on the subject of guns, would you have any idea why Ruger stopped production of the P-90. I bought mine new when they first came out and I have traded, bought, and sold a lot of handguns in my day but I just can’t let the P-90 go. the only thing I own that shoots smoother than my P-90 is my Magnum Research Mark One Desert Eagle 44 mag. The only problem I find with the Mark One series is that the 44 mag heats up extremely fast making it almost too hot to handle. I guess I am and old wheel gun man at heart, while I like the pistols, the revolver just seems to suit me better. I come from the day’s of Ed McGiven and after watching him do his fast and fancy gun handling with two Smith and Wesson 38’s, I was amazed and set my mind to at least getting to where I could shoot as accurate as he did. I watched that big man with hands larger than the average man pull the trigger so fast on a pistol, 1911 as a matter of fact, that the gun failed, jammed, which I thought was impossible. I go to a private range every day, and toss bottles and jugs into the Missouri River ( they are from fifteen to twenty five yards out) and shoot them as the stream past at what ever the speed of the current is. That is the only way to actually learn how to shoot, if you can hit that kind of a moving target, then anything still is a breeze.
    It took my children and grandchildren to teach me how to use this contraption called a computer, now I spend a lot of time on it since they put me out to pasture, but the high light of any day is getting to read the articles you put out on different guns and ammo. They are always informative, well thought out, and keeps one’s eyes open to things that would other wise not be thought about or given a second look at. Don’t give up the good work, you have a lot of followers out there that depend upon your articles for insight, information, and sometimes hard to find facts about different guns and ammo.

    • Greg Gobleman May 4, 2015, 9:04 am

      So, you toss garbage in the Missouri river to shoot at! Brilliant!

      • Randy Griffith May 4, 2015, 11:03 am

        I teach hunter education and range safety officer we teach not to shoot at water, bullets bounce off water it’s called ricochet and that is a very dangerous act.

        • John Songer May 5, 2015, 2:14 pm

          Not to make you sound likr a fool but mythbusters has already proven this wrong with larger calibers. 22s may be deflected on mirror still water but I have yet to see ANY BULLET BOUNCE OFF MOVING STREAMS IN MY 36 years. Hell, my 9mm doesn’t even do it on my still pond. PLEASE try it before running your mouth.

          • RANDY GRIFFITH May 7, 2015, 3:09 pm

            don’t believe everything on tv I’ve seen it first hand and they do deflect…..change the angle and see for your self..

    • another duhh May 5, 2015, 2:04 am

      This is the reason why gun people get a bad rap from this moron filling a waterway with trash while he dangerously blasts away to get his “only way” to learn marksmanship. Jesus, how stupid people can be….

  • Joe May 4, 2015, 5:45 am

    I had a python once, and traded it in for a 686 revolver which was much better at 25 yards.
    1911 ? yes I DO have one, just not in .357.
    Its a .45 auto, and if I want it to shoot like a magnum I’ll go buy some P+ rounds or some of those new 450 SMC rounds. Now that is some hot running ammo !!!

  • Jack May 4, 2015, 5:40 am

    This article was very interesting!! Thanks

  • Milt May 4, 2015, 5:40 am

    Since you would rather have the Coonan, you can send me that Python. I am an old wheel-gunner type, and i would just as soon that the “badguys” KNOW that I am armed.

  • Tj2000 May 4, 2015, 5:27 am

    As an old wheel gunner this article was really good. I have to agree that an automatic handgun will win out mainly because of the point and shoot factor. But as a collectors item the colt will win hands down. I have had a WWII low number 1911 but when I found the Colt Python brand new in the box never been fired (except at the factory) I sold the 1911 to by it. That was 8 years ago and now the Python is a bit more to replace if I got rid of it.
    Don’t get me wrong I love all of my 1911’s as well as all my wheel guns but nothing invokes the old west like a good old Colt. One of these days if the price would become reasonable for the Coonan 357 I will have one.
    TJ

    • Grey Beard May 4, 2015, 7:06 pm

      I’m not so sure I agree with the auto winning on the “point and shoot” issue. Both my Python 6″ and Smith 57 6″ point sooo smoothly, and the double action pull on each is sooo smooth, I see no advantage in that regard. I really do agree that the auto wins out on speed of reload and somewhat on the ability to conceal as with my Kimber with the “bobbed” frame.
      However, I have for years successfully carried my 4″ Smith 25-5 in a shoulder holster, and Never felt undergunned.

  • Asdf May 4, 2015, 4:42 am

    I have never seen a person hold a revolver more wrong than you.

    See that nub at the top of the back strap? That should be covered by the web of your hand.

    • Randy Griffith May 4, 2015, 8:52 am

      If you put the web of the hand on the nub as you call it the slide will take a big chunk of meat from your hand . I have seen it happen to an in experienced shooter . I bought the pistol from him at a very low price[ a colt government .380]

      • David Pittelli May 4, 2015, 9:47 am

        The key word you seem to have missed in his comment is “revolver.”

        • Randy Griffith May 4, 2015, 10:51 am

          Thanks for clearing that up. You are correct

      • G8R8U2 May 4, 2015, 10:10 am

        What slide are you talking about? He said he’s never seen a person hold a REVOLVER more incorrectly.

      • John May 4, 2015, 10:13 am

        Read carefully – he’s criticizing his grip on the revolver not the pistol. No slide on a pistol.

  • Jim Wickman May 4, 2015, 3:34 am

    I am the owner of a Coonan Compact and the full size Classic. Both are awesome guns. The Classic is designed to be able to shoot 38 Special ammo by changing out recoil springs and the factory includes one when you buy the gun. The Compact is designed to shoot only full power 357 magnum ammo and that is stated in the instruction book the factory sends out. Regarding power and barrel length, many revolver shooters forget that even though the Compast has a 4.25 inch barrel, that length includes the chamber, so the rifled portion of the barrel is only about 3 inches long.

    • Lying Bastard May 4, 2015, 7:52 am

      AFAIK, barrel length in revolvers include the cylinder, which in the revolver is the chamber

      • David Pittelli May 4, 2015, 9:39 am

        No, the published length of a revolver barrel does not include the cylinder. (If it did, a revolver such as the S&W 686 with a 2-1/2 inch barrel would have essentially zero barrel at all beyond the forcing cone.) So a revolver with a 6″ barrel has a longer barrel than does a semiautomatic with a 6″ barrel. The revolver also has the longer sight radius and generally more rotational inertia, so the revolver is apt to be more accurate, if you’re comparing guns with the same published barrel length, comparing DA to DA or SA to SA (but not if you’re comparing DA revolver to the SA which comes more easily on a semi-auto). On the other hand, the barrel gap on a revolver means that, in terms of muzzle velocity, the revolver is not effectively “longer.”

      • Carl Lange May 4, 2015, 10:14 am

        I defy you to find one instance, in a written publication, of a revolver’s barrel length being specified as the barrel plus cylinder. Look at any manufacturer’s specification or any book related to guns.
        For legal measurements, such as DNR hunting restrictions, the length measured is from the muzzle to the firing pin. So, a “6 inch” Python (like the one shown in the article) would have a legal “barrel” length of over 7.6 inches.

        • Carl Lange May 4, 2015, 10:30 am

          In case there is any confusion, I was replying to Lying Bastard’s post.
          David Pittelli is correct.

      • glenn smith May 4, 2015, 3:30 pm

        where in the hell did you ever hear that the barrel length of a revolver includes the cylinder? Better check your facts before starting up on the internet!

      • Fireworx May 4, 2015, 3:56 pm

        That might be the stupidest statement I have ever read on a gun column…I swear some of you people make this crap up as you go along.

      • Art Frailey May 4, 2015, 10:04 pm

        L B
        Glade you pointed this out. But you are mistaken. . I have a Ruger SP-101 with a 2 1/4 inch barrel. This is what the factory calls it, and it says so in the instruction manual. If the cylinder were part of the barrel length, My gun would have almost a 4 inch barrel. (Boy don’t I wish ! ) Sorry about that, sure wish you were right.

      • Dale May 12, 2015, 7:10 pm

        Big NO on that one! Cylinder and Barrels on a revolver are NOT like a chamber and barrel on a semi-auto. There is a gap between the cylinder and the barrel on a revolver. The forcing cone is the beginning of the barrel, and the barrel passes through the frame on a revolver. Basically, the barrel is measured from the END of the forcing cone to the END of the muzzle on a revolver. With a semi-auto, the barrel and the chamber are one unit, as the chamber is milled/cut into one end of the barrel and when disassembled – it all comes out of the slide in one piece, one steel tube if you will.

    • george May 4, 2015, 1:22 pm

      Be gone trolls.

    • old man May 11, 2015, 2:12 pm

      Why Coonan .357, why not .460 Roland?

  • AK May 4, 2015, 2:54 am

    I wouldn’t call the resurging popularity of “Colt Snakes” a come back, it’s all due to a TV show. Every Tacticool zombie hunter wants one now thanks to the “Walking dead”,when just a few years ago they would have referred to it as an antique or dinosaur. I say this as a fan of Colts but not of the surging prices and sheeple who copy TV.

    • Ron Green May 4, 2015, 8:13 am

      I would never buy a Python because of a TV show. I have bought several of them because of it’s beautiful lines, accuracy and the premise that Pythons were mostly made with craftsmanship in mind.

      • Karl Childers May 4, 2015, 9:07 am

        Ron, Did you buy your Python(s) during between 2011 and 2015? Do you watch “The Walking Dead?” Do you know that the main character, Rick, uses a stainless steel version of the Colt Python? If you answered yes to any of the above, I’d suspect this show influenced you in your purchasing decision. No disrespect intended, just understand how the media can play into what be consume.

        • Daniel Webster May 4, 2015, 11:50 am

          Karl, Did you know ‘Rick’ on the Walking Dead has never once, through five seasons, identified his revolver? Never once said the words ‘Colt Python’? Did you know that the one time someone asked Rick about the gun, he referred to it as a “.44 mag”? Now, you and I (and Ron, above) all know it is a Python. But to the casual “tacticool zombie hunter” it could be a Diamondback or, more properly, an Anaconda.

          The point is, the price of Pythons doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the Walking Dead. It has to do with the last production Python leaving the craftsman’s hands over 15 years ago–and the truly spectacular Pythons are all over 40 years old now. It’s scarcity that’s driving up prices–scarcity and rarity. Heck, check out the prices of ’60s & ’70s classic Smith & Wessons–You can’t hardly touch a 97% Model 29 or Model 57 for under a grand.

          You can’t build guns that fine by automation–it requires fine craftsmen and hours & hours of loving care. Those guys are either dead or expensive.

          • AK May 8, 2015, 5:22 am

            But prices have doubled in the past 5 years….. I know because I could only identify the gun because of my wish list and look around you can find 29s for around $800

          • AK May 8, 2015, 6:23 am

            Btw “Rick” is British, So one couldn’t expect him to know the difference between a M1 carbine and an M16, let alone correctly identify any colt product. He also doesn’t have to we have this thing called the internet with a sight that’s called google and just tell me a “walking dead” obsessed mall ninja ain’t gonna google that.

    • duhh May 5, 2015, 1:59 am

      Reality check – Colt Pythons have been legendary LONG before Walking Dead. There’s a reason why they have been exchanged and given by royalty, presidents and ambassadors for decades. It was the other way around, Walking Dead picked the Python because it was a Python.

    • Cpl. Bombo May 6, 2015, 11:09 pm

      Just to remind some of you. Check out the original “Getaway” movie with Steve McQueen. That piece that Rudy so lovingly shows to Sally Struthers happens to be the original screen debut of the Python. The only thing dead about the Walking Dead is the mental capacity of the viewing audience. The copyright date of the movie is 1972. Furthermore, if you can find “Magnum Force” with Clint Eastwood, you will see the bad cops armed with Pythons. Copyright date 1973. So, the famous Python has been around for some time and it does not owe its fame to Hollywood. It’s just a damn fine revolver that blew everything away in its day. Oh, I forgot. Most of the “Plastic Freak Gunners” were still in diapers. As a retired police officer, I carried both Glocks and revolvers. More bullets for a police officer are necessary for multiple assailant threats. If you carry concealed for protection, you should stay away from situations where there are more than two bad guys or carry a gun with a large magazine capacity. Nuff said.

      • Dirty D May 8, 2015, 5:49 am

        And Who sold more/was more popular after that? the S&W that was the “good” guy’s gun, or the bad guy’s pythons?

      • AK May 8, 2015, 6:27 am

        Case in point, who sold more that year Clint eastwood’s 29 or pythons?

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