Coonan the Barbarian – .357 Mag. 1911 Compact Review

The New Coonan Compact.

The New Coonan Compact.

Check out Coonan:

Buy one at GunsAmerica: /

There’s a unique appeal to a truly original firearm. While the Coonan series of .357 autos are clearly derived form the single action family tree, they are unique. These guns are big. They’re a bit boxier than a 1911, and they punch above their weight class.

And now the Classic Coonan comes in a smaller package. The compact is a beast, and one that offers the firepower of the Classic Coonan for those who want a serious concealed carry gun.



  • .357 Magnum
  • Linkless Barrel 4 Inch Barrel
  • Recoil Operated
  • Pivoting Trigger
  • Extended Slide Catch and Thumb Lock
  • 4 Inch Barrel
  • Fixed Night Sights
  • 2 Magazines (6+1)
The 4 inch .357 is stout.

The 4 inch .357 is stout. This isn’t a pistol for those insist on light carry guns.

Two mags. Note the flared back and top.

Two mags. Note the flared back and top.


One of the most amusing ad slogans I’ve come across in the firearms industry belongs to Coonan. “Looking for your first pistol?” the ad begins. “This isn’t it.” Too true. But more on that later. Let’s get into this thing a bit.

The Coonan line is built on the strength of the .357 round, which is a rimmed round not typically associated with semiautomatic pistols. Rimmed cartridges are typically harder to stack. The Coonan magazine has a channel that flares out the back and top of the magazine. This allows the magazine walls to support the rounds like a typical 1911 mag, while the rims clear the narrow walls as they stack up and feed.

While there are identifiable elements of the classic Browning 1911, the Coonan moves away from the early 20th century modernist aesthetic. Most of the curves are gone. The 1911 is built on clean lines and delicate curves. The Coonan is more linearly angular. Even the frame and slide have a more slab-sided look.

The bushingless barrel with its reversed plug.

The bushingless barrel with its reversed plug.

The compact takes an inch off the classic Coonan. This 4 inch version is designed for more practical concealed carry. It isn’t a subtle gun, in any way, but it is more compact than its bigger brethren. This one has a black DuraCoat finish. Coonan can do a variety of finishes, from garish pink camo to stainless, and everything in between.

Taking the Coonan apart will baffle the beginner. It has a bushingless bull barrel, and a reverse recoil plug. The linkless barrel slides off easily, but then you have to push the guide rod out the front far enough to pin it in place, which holds the spring pressure. After that it is easy.

Assembly may be more tricky. The first time I put it back together, the guide rod was protruding too far. I took it apart, looked at it again, and made another attempt. After monkeying with the rod, it clicked into place and the gun went back together perfectly.

From this angle, the gun looks larger than it is. And it feels much larger when you pull the trigger.

From this angle, the gun looks larger than it is. And it feels much larger when you pull the trigger.

Shooting the Coonan

So what does a .357 do out of a 4 inch automatic? We put the 125 grain Hornady Critical Defense through the chrony and got some consistent results. The Hornady ran under 1,500 feet per second–between 1,450 and 1,490. That’s still smoking for a 125 grain bullet, and put the .357 close to the performance you’d expect from a lighter 10mm.

That’s the closest thing I can think of to describe the experience. It is very similar to shooting a 10mm. The Compact has a good bit of muzzle rise, which is seems natural for a gun this size that has this much power. With that rise comes a loss of follow up speed. I can’t hit double-taps with nearly the same split time that I can with a 9mm. It is impossible.

Is that a fatal flaw? Hardly. I frequently carry a .357 revolver, and it isn’t lightning fast either. There are fast pistols chambered in easily controlled calibers. 9mm. .45 ACP, even. .40 S&W. But not .357 or 10mm. But what you lose in speed you gain in power. That makes the Coonan a solid choice for personal defense.

We ran a variety of .357s through the Coonan. .38 and .38+P works, too, but reliability isn’t what it could be. The Coonan and its recoil spring is designed around the punch of the .357, and the .38 just doesn’t move the slide as fast. Springs are available for the .38. I’d consider them for live fire range time, but never for carry. If you are hesitant about the .357 in a compact carry gun, this isn’t the pistol for you.

Here you can see how the groups are approaching one inch, and then fall out.

Here you can see how the groups are approaching one inch, and then fall out.

I did more convincing work with the Coonan when I wasn't trying to punch out a tight group. These pairings are all double taps form 25 yards.

I did more convincing work with the Coonan when I wasn’t trying to punch out a tight group. These pairings are all double taps form 25 yards.

Accuracy was reliable. As this isn’t a target gun, I wasn’t expecting to see super tight groups. After the first few magazines, I couldn’t complain. I found myself dropping a round or two from each mag, which would destroy a tight group, but that wasn’t the Coonan’s fault. I blame fatigue. This is a gun that will wear you down. I like to shoot a hundred rounds or more through any of our review guns before I ever begin making decisions about how much I like it or dislike it. And after 100 rounds of .357 (on top of whatever else I’d been shooting at the range that day), I was feeling the recoil.

That alone may be reason enough to keep the Coonan out of the hands of the timid. Recoil aversion. I shoot a lot. I pull the trigger too hard sometimes (o.k., frequently), but I don’t shy away from recoil. Yet by the end of the first range day I could feel myself tightening up in anticipation of the coming shot.

All of which is to say that this is shaping up to be a badass carry gun. It is also a gun I’d want to practice with regularly. I’ve had the Coonan in house for a month now, and I take it to the range every time I go. The round count is growing steadily, but more slowly and methodically than is typical for me.

The aluminum grips are milled and the texture is superb.

The aluminum grips are milled and the texture is superb.


Did I mention that the Coonan is a bit boxier than the 1911? If you look at the grip, you’ll see how it looks less trapezoidal. The grip maintains its width instead of having a flared base (like a traditional 1911). This is due, in part, to the length of the .357 cartridge. That round is longer than a .45 ACP. It is thinner, too, so the single stack mags have a different feel.

The grip itself feels slightly larger than that of a 1911. Yet the grip is somewhat rectangular, and not fat/round like some big double-stack grips. This helps with point shooting, or so I’m told. With wide flat sides, there’s no confusion about which way the gun is pointing. This is a bit hard to describe, and I’ve never tested the concept. The idea is that the flat sides on a gun like the Coonan point the way toward the target, and you pick up on that (however unconsciously) the moment you grip the gun.

And the gun kicks more. If you have really small hands, this gun is going to feel challenging. I’ve got smaller hands for a man my size, but they’re certainly not small. The Coonan fits me like a glove. The width of the grip is ideal for controlling recoil.

The smooth back straps may allow for easier transitions to the mag release and slide stop.

The smooth back straps may allow for easier transitions to the mag release and slide stop.

What would help? This one doesn’t have checkering on the front strap. It feels very good without it, but a good checkering would make this gun even easier to control. The teeth in the milled aluminum grips are fierce, though, and that provides a sufficient grip. I’ve not shot a Coonan with checkered straps–and I could see how more aggressive texture would keep you from being able to move your hand around the wide flat grip to reach the slide drop or mag drop. So perhaps it is a compromise.


The trigger on the Coonan is crisp, though it too is a departure from the traditional 1911 design. Most 1911 triggers slide straight back. This one is hinged, and rocks back and up. There is a very slight take-up before a 4 pound break. In keeping with the design, that 4 pound pull is just heavy enough to keep you from dropping the hammer accidentally. As this is a gun meant for defensive use, I can imagine a scenario where my finger was on the trigger before I’d decided to shoot.

The black DuraCoat is offset by the matte grey controls.

The black DuraCoat is offset by the matte grey controls.

The safety and slide drop are over-sized very easy to reach.  The beaver-tail safety doesn’t have a huge bump at the base, but it doesn’t need it. There’s no way to grip this gun well that doesn’t disengage that safety.

The big questions

I’m going to anticipate some of the big questions that will surely crop up in the comments below. So here we go…

#1. Is it reliable? Yes. The Coonan is recoil operated, and there’s plenty of recoil. Extraction was enthusiastic. Shells were kicked clear. During the entirety of this review, we only had one stoppage, and it was a failure to extract.

#2. 6+1? Most snub-nosed revolvers hold at least 5 rounds. The Coonan mags hold 6. With one in the chamber, you’ve got a bit of an advantage over your average revolver. The real advantage comes from the extra mag. While there may not be an overwhelming ammo supply, mag changes are as easy as they are on any single action. If you do have to reload, the Coonan has a distinct edge.

#3. Control? This is where we come back to that slogan. Looking for your first pistol? This isn’t it. I’m not going to suggest that Coonan is exploiting the gratuitous nature of the .357–but they’re not shying away from the fireballs, either. Their site prominently features images of flames exploding from the barrels. The Coonan is loud. It makes a big fat ball of fire. It kicks. But it is controllable. I wouldn’t suggest it for anyone who is just learning the ropes. I wouldn’t recommend it for anyone with diminished hand strength, or small, delicate hands.

Extended slide drop and safety.

Extended slide drop and safety.

#5. Is this thing just a Novelty? Far from it. I had a long discussion this morning with another one of the GunsAmerica writers and he (somewhat lovingly) called the gun a novelty. Then he quickly retracted the statement. True, the Coonan is a beast. Shooting the .357 from the short 1911 platform is something of a novelty at first. But this isn’t that different from the 10mm, and I’d never call those novelties.

In the end…

I’m a fan. This is my first date with the Coonan. And after more than 500 rounds, I don’t have anything to criticize that isn’t based entirely on personal preference. I’d change out the rear sight–but I think that’s pretty much the only thing I’d mess with.

I’ll tell you what I expected. I thought sure I’d have more consistent failures as the Coonan tried to extract the rimmed cases. I thought I’d find the kick of the .357 so sharp that I wouldn’t consider this for practical concealed carry. Not so. The reliability was excellent. The kick is intense, but manageable. And now, having roughed it up a bit, I’ve got to find a perfect holster and carry this thing.

The Coonan Compact has an MSRP of $1,975.00. It sells for a bit less. There are numerous custom options available. Almost anything you could think of for your traditional 1911 platform. And Coonan sells lighter springs for those who want even more reliable performance from the .38. Check them out. It is worth a trip to the Coonan page just to see some of the available paint jobs.

Check out Coonan:

Buy one at GunsAmerica: /coonan

No mistaking what's in this pistol case.

No mistaking what’s in this pistol case.

The Trijicon sights are solid, and offer tritium inserts.

The Trijicon sights are solid, and offer tritium inserts.

Here I go again. I like rear sights with flat fronts. They make one handed manipulation easier.

Here I go again. I like rear sights with flat fronts. They make one handed manipulation easier.

Extended slide drop and safety.

Extended slide drop and safety.

The grip is milled to allow the safety to drop freely.

The grip is milled to allow the safety to drop freely.

All told, the new Compact is a sharp looking gun.

All told, the new Compact is a sharp looking gun.

The extractor is long, and works well on the rimmed cases.

The extractor is long, and works well on the rimmed cases.

The mag well has a slight bevel, but the compact design keeps it from having a bell flare.

The mag well has a slight bevel, but the compact design keeps it from having a bell flare.

The case that the Coonan comes in is soft-sided, but well padded.

The case that the Coonan comes in is soft-sided, but well padded.

The more I shot, the harder it got to hold all seven in the center. But those first shots were always spot on.

The more I shot, the harder it got to hold all seven in the center. But those first shots were always spot on.

And it comes with rubber bullets, too, in case you need to quell angry mobs.

And it comes with rubber bullets, too, in case any Elephant man mob situation kicks off.

{ 62 comments… add one }
  • Joe Turner January 31, 2017, 11:47 am

    Pure novelty, over priced gun, over priced ammo and made to sell to the less knowledgeable. Sig crossed that bridge with the 357 Sig round which is better, cheaper and more reliable in any defense situation and the gun holds 16 rounds.

    • Extrasmooth1 May 28, 2017, 1:36 am

      Good observation. 357 mags belong in revolvers,

  • MIKE Turner May 19, 2016, 1:24 pm

    Coonan compact and plan to buy a second one it’s better than any other handgun made I purchase a cadet and worked in security bodyguard and never had a problem with ammo of all types I hated my port&polished

  • Sheldon December 7, 2015, 4:54 pm

    Not being able to shoot follow-up shots is NEVER an option for a personal defense pistol. .357 has plenty of stopping power, but reality is that professional marksman and law enforcement officers miss 75 percent of their shots in a combat situation. If your only hope is to land one shot, you’d better be on good terms with your God….

  • Ismael Rivera December 7, 2015, 1:16 pm

    I had purchased a full size SS on about two years ago. I took it to my local gun club and there wasn’t a member that didn’t come over and ask what was I shooting. I liked it so much I order two more one compact and another full size. I was concern with the recoil on the compact, but after firing it found it to be very manageable. I actually love my Coonan’s. One word off advice, due break it in with some good ammo and not reloads unless you actually make your own reloads. It does need good ammo to cycle at break in. After the break in then it cycles fine with some regular reloads.

  • searc99 December 7, 2015, 9:46 am

    To the author (or anyone): this is sort of an idle question, but because you’ve fired both a .357 revolver and this .357 semi-auto, how much difference is there in sound–is the difference noticeable?

  • Dean December 7, 2015, 6:25 am

    Way too much money………not worth it…..

  • JWF November 24, 2015, 7:42 pm

    We’ve had our Coonan for a few months now and find it a very unique and interesting hand gun. We’ll only shoot a couple of dozen rounds on any given day due to the recoil, not painful, but uncomfortable. It shoots to point of aim and is more consistent than we are. The quality and workmanship is excellent, not like the mass produced plastic pistols. We don’t envision carrying the Coonan, we have Baers, Kimbers, Colts, Springfied Armorys, S&Ws, and Sigs for daily carry, but we do enjoy shooting the Coonan. It usually attracts attention at the range due to the report and muzzle flash and has resulted in some interesting conversations. It has proven to be 100% reliable when shooting heavy bullet magnum loads. I’m glad we added it to our collection and consider it to be one of the most unique modern weapons we have. I’m sure my son will inherit it and continue to enjoy it.

  • Don March 19, 2015, 9:15 pm

    There was always a lot of talk about how the Colt Delta Elite in 10mm took a pounding from that hot cartridge. I would have liked to read an analysis of how the Coonan is engineered to take the punishment of full-house .357 mag. loads. Or maybe not? I don’t remember the long-term reliability of the original Coonan too well.

  • JERRY March 18, 2015, 2:09 am

    How do you think the COONAN would function with the 357 Maximum load ?

  • Allen Sadler March 17, 2015, 8:59 pm

    I have the Classic and love the gun. I was wanting a Compact but was wanting to wait until they have been out a while. Maybe I won’t have to wait too loud after all. Oh, those aren’t rubber bullets in the red container. They are earplugs, they come with the Classic also and you will need them.

  • Vanns40 March 17, 2015, 2:55 pm

    Admittedly the following is from 1989 however, before everyone decides this is THE one it’s worth a read.

    • Newt December 20, 2016, 7:40 pm


  • Ross March 17, 2015, 2:28 pm

    Very good article. Thorough review. I would like to have one, but just because I like it. There are more practical self-defense/home defense/personal carry guns.

    • Vanns40 March 17, 2015, 3:54 pm

      The other thing to consider is that you always train with the gun you’re going to carry. How’s that going to work out when you go away to a two day tactical training course where you fire 1000 rounds?

  • Gary March 17, 2015, 12:59 pm

    If i could scrape up the cash and it became available in CA, or i finally retire and move, i would snap one up. Until then, i have to be content with the 400 cor-bon barrel i got in my normal 1911 for $100. Similar performance, like a 10 mm, same big boom and flash. Doubles the fun factor at an economy price. A great alternative to consider.

  • Joe March 17, 2015, 9:15 am

    If I still had my 686 Id keep it before I spent two grand for a 1911 look alike.

  • Bob Haskins March 17, 2015, 8:29 am

    A 460 Roland is 44 magnum-like, recoils. Much less, and is based on a semi automatic caliber.

    • Lopaka Kanaka March 26, 2015, 12:44 pm

      Bob you are right about the 460 Roland in a 1911 A-1 5 1/2 inch compensator barrel. It shoot like a 44 magnum with 1565 fps and 1000 fp with the Rowland 185g JHP bullet. And it has no more rise in the barrel than a 45 ACP. and the cost of the coversion kit with 5 1/2 barrel, compensator, recoil spring and firing pin spring is a bargain @ $295.00 with a 10 round magzine. I would have purchase a Coon 5 inch 1911 357 magnum, but I have a Taurus 66 stainless steel 6 inch barrel 7 shoot purchased @ $485.00 a few years ago.

  • Joe March 17, 2015, 1:42 am

    Looks like a nice gun , but for the price and specs I would get something else for my hard earned dollar. This is not a “compact” gun in any sense, so I would get 8 rounds of 357 in a SW 627 or trr8 revolver and still will be cheaper than this. This pistol for me would be a novelty, not something to carry or to have a lot of ammo. I could also get a glock 10 mm for a lot less than this gun. That is just my opinion according to my wallet and for being practical.

  • Joe March 17, 2015, 1:41 am

    Looks like a nice gun , but for the price and specs I would get something else for my hard earned dollar. This is not a “compact” gun in any sense, so I would get 8 rounds of 357 in a SW 627 or trr8 revolver and still will be cheaper than this. This pistol for me would be a novelty, not something to carry or to have a lot of ammo. I could also get a glock 10 mm for a lot less than this gun. That is just my opinion according to my wallet and for being practical.

  • Paul March 17, 2015, 12:05 am

    sorry! I don’t think the semi will last long with the mags. I’ll stick with the reliable colt & ruger revolvers.

  • Paul March 17, 2015, 12:04 am

    sorry! I don’t think the semi will last long with the mags. I’ll stick with the reliable colt & ruger revolvers.

  • Steve March 16, 2015, 7:48 pm

    Over-priced and over-sized attempt at what the 357Sig and 10mm do every day.
    And to quote Russ, “I can buy 4 of them” for that price.

  • Jeff H March 16, 2015, 6:44 pm

    I think the front and rear strap checking would be a major bonus. However, for a 1500 + price tag I would go with a kimber 10mm and get the checkering for a defensive piece. Just seems to me lack of attention for what you are marketing the gun for.

  • NinjaZed March 16, 2015, 4:20 pm

    As cool as this gun is, I’m another one who would list it as a novelty. Functional and impressive for sure but with a nearly $2K price tag, only 7 rounds tops and less than stellar overall grip checkering it’s not a practical personal defense choice IMO. My .357 Desert Eagle was purchased in the early 80’s and it spits out the hottest rounds easily. To be honest, that gun is a novelty also but it cost way less. I mean tons less! Good article though. Very informative. Thanks!

  • eddie046 March 16, 2015, 4:19 pm

    Nice idea but WAY too expensive. For .357 I’ll stick with my Charter Arms Mag Pug for $1500 less!

  • Russ March 16, 2015, 3:48 pm

    2G’s for a century old designed pistol?
    What a joke!
    Heavy, low cap. hockey stick.
    Modern designed pistols are so much of a better value.
    I’ll buy 4 Glocks with that money.
    Can’t figure why people still buy 1911’s except for nostalgic purposes.
    Hang it on a wall.

    A Devin quote; ” 1911’s are what you show to friends, Glock’s are what you show to enemies”

    • Ronnie March 16, 2015, 10:17 pm

      Maybe some people prefer a hammer on a gun or like a revolver better. Always wonder what type of person thinks that they only make one brand of gun. Maybe you should broaden your horizon and borrow a S&W or a Colt or a Ruger or a Taurus or a H&K, etc from a friend next time you go to the Range.
      At the price of Glocks, wonder why Military doesn’t give Glocks a try instead of going from Beretta for 30 years to their new weapon of choice”Sig Arms”

      • Russ March 17, 2015, 2:51 pm

        I do like revolvers like the one’s you just mentioned. I own S&W 627, 629, Ruger Redhawk & GP100
        In fact I like all firearms really.

        Just to be more clear.
        I don’t think a century old design should be slightly modified and called “new” for that much money.

        1911’s are cool and nostalgic, but should only fetch a pretty penny if they are “Tricked out or Tuned up”
        I think 1911’s are fun to shoot like all the rest of the old designs, but not used as a CCW. That’s laughable.

        Still, I would buy a couple revolvers or lever guns before buying a 6 round so called “new” 1911 design.
        Sorry, I just don’t see the value.

        PS the military buys from the lowest bidder, the cheapest surplus they can get away with.
        Can’t really use them for an example of what’s best.
        Our military should run S&W (M)&P, for versatility & reliability.

        • Brad June 14, 2019, 10:54 pm

          Russ I served 8 years in the Marines. I was an 8541 recon Scout Sniper. I carried a Colt M1911 .45 that was made from bunch of surplus parts. My Spotter carried a S&W 629 revolver for CCB. Several Seals tried carrying Glocks they didn’t like them had issues with frames cracking. 1911 Colt .45 I still own it. I believe Mr. Browning knew exactly how good his design was and concidering it’s been serving our military for almost 100 years continuously. I love my Ruger Super Blackhawk .41 mag. Too.

  • Don Noble March 16, 2015, 3:36 pm

    Because the 357 Mag. was designed for long-barreled revolvers, it would seem that a 6-inch barrel Coonan would be a no-brainer. Would add slide weight and therefore reduce recoil, increase velocity, etc., etc.

    • Mike March 17, 2015, 1:10 pm

      Don, they will build you one with 5.7 in barrel and compensator if you want one. I own one that me and my wife both love to shoot. It is a bit vocal.

  • Kenneth March 16, 2015, 3:31 pm

    You had me interested until the MSRP. No pistol intended for CC should cost 2 grand.

  • uspatriot77 March 16, 2015, 3:07 pm

    I have always loved the .357 mag, 44 mag. for a carry gun. This will soon find a home beside my Desert Eagle .357 mag., and will be a partner as a CCW weapon as well. Love this gun-just not too crazy about the price. But, it is in line with the price’s of the Desert Eagles, so I can’t complain too loudly(LOL), right?

  • Randall March 16, 2015, 2:59 pm

    I sold my SP101 a few years back due to arthritis starting in my hands. This piece might just shoot a bit easier. I just can’t justify the price! This gun may be neat, or different, or unique, but it’s still just a pistol. I can’t understand the idea that some manufacturers have about pricing a pistol into the stratosphere just because it shoots a different caliber. I recently bought a VERY NICE 1911 for less than half the price of this one, and I would definitely trust it more in a self defense situation.

  • Kirk March 16, 2015, 12:33 pm

    I will bet Mag-Na-Port would compensate the barrel and slide to reduce some of the rise mentioned. Probably let you double tap then.

  • michael gray March 16, 2015, 12:05 pm

    i’d like a double stack mag version in either 5 or 4 in.

  • "Ahoy, touchdown!" - Warren March 16, 2015, 11:57 am

    What a neat collector and shooter. Sounds like loads of fun to take to range. I can see why it made it into your bag every trip over the month.

    Rubber bullets so hot in 2014. All this new “fangled” technology. With the market so strong in the past few years, hopefully a modern golden age of handgun design comes to fruition. Nothing wrong with the proven ones. Just fun to see hand cannons made of apparent quality and unique appeal.

  • Rocky March 16, 2015, 11:37 am

    I know that there’s always something new and different to be had and some folks are drawn to such things, but I was weaned on a M1911A1, as a youth, 45 years hence, by my ever demanding Uncle (Sam) and it’s still my favorite package (.45ACP in a M1911A1).
    I own numerous pistols, from .22 caliber, to .380ACP, to .38/.357 cal., to .40 cal., to .45ACP to a .45Colt Long/.410 Judge and my two favorites are my Auto Ordinance mil/spec M1911 .45ACP and my Colt Government Model in .380ACP. I guess it’s the platform, as much as anything else. My second choice is my FNS .40 cal., simply due to compromise. It still begins with a ‘.4’, but it holds 14+1, instead of the M191A1’s 8+1 and I don’t have to either carry it cocked and locked, or cock it before firing.
    Perhaps there’s hope for this old fart, yet…

  • Daniel Stewart March 16, 2015, 11:34 am

    I would like to have one but at MSRP of $1975, they can keep it. I’ll stick with my 1911 A1. For a new kid on the block, it will have to prove itself over time and make a name for itself, but not with me.

  • Randy March 16, 2015, 10:43 am

    I bought a Connan B model in 1992 (that’s 23 years ago) $610.00 bucks, three-50 round boxes of 357 ammo @ $3.30 per box ,$24.80 sales tax. $644.70 in cash and OUT THE DOOR I WENT! Those that don’t own one will never know what kind of ass kicker the Connan is But its impossible to wipe the smile off your face while shooting it. I’m 63 now and don’t have the strength to squeeze off a 100 rounds like I used to, but you still cant wipe the smile off my face when I fire 25 or 30 rounds off. The Connan never digested factory ammo well, fortunately I reload and there were always 500 rounds marked CONNAN ONLY and you could just forget any kind of 38s they all jammed. I don’t believe they had a reduced recoil spring back then matter of fact the owners manual says NOT recommended for 38s. Never thought much of it as a carry gun. All I can say it keeps me smiling. Randy.

    • Kevin April 3, 2016, 8:06 pm

      Yes Randy, Thats what people need to understand. Everyone who took the time to read this article probably has a firearm in most popular calibers and should realize this particular gun is not for the faint of wallet, mitt strength or sense of ‘holy crap’!! It may not be practical, but since when is ‘practical’ fun? That’s why the S&W 500 is around still.

  • Stephen Comer March 16, 2015, 10:39 am

    Great article; thanks. Bought my first Coonan in the 70’s (wrote a review of it that appeared in SIXGUNNER). Sold it a few years later but eventually bought another which Dan Coonan graciously accurized for me; still have it. One of the things I like most about the Coonan is how it extracts extra velocity from the .357 round VIS A VIS revolvers and even the Desert Eagle (the former losing velocity from the barrel/cylinder gap; the latter from the gas operating system). Have taken several smaller big game animals (whitetails and antelope) and have always been impressed with the performance using hot 140-gr. handloads. It’s a great handgun and I’m glad to see Coonan continuing to refine the design.

  • Phil March 16, 2015, 10:39 am

    Sounds like a decent gun, although one failure to eject out of 100 would make me a bit nervous. I’d consider a full size for a hunting sidearm. It resolves the issues I have with carrying a revolver, ie capacity and reload time, and adds a big “whump” to it. I love my full size 9, and yes I could take a cougar at close range with it, but I’d rather not have to empty the magazine. Maybe if the price point on a full size is under 1k, I’ll consider it.

    Good review too.

  • Rip March 16, 2015, 10:35 am

    I would have to put my hands around this pistol before committing to that price tag. 7 shot 357 revolvers are kind of hard to beat for function and price. This gun to me is just for bragging rites. I did however enjoy the article and have always wished for a a reasonable sized 357 magnum. I hope after reading this article my rich friend will buy one and I’ll get a chance to thoroughly try his.

  • Murrey Gropp March 16, 2015, 8:44 am

    I own two Coonan’s a 4″ and a 5″ and they are my favorites. I carry the four inch daily and to the earlier comments I say some people like vanilla and others like chocolate. I wood recommend then to anyone and the people at Coonan give great personal service. There is nothing like shooting one at an indoor range because the fireball that comes from each shot really draws attention and most people have never heard of or even seen one. One thing about gun people, there are always haters in every crowd and this is no different. But what do I know, I’m also a 10mm lover as well. But with a Coonan 357, you can find ammo everywhere.

  • Jim Sr. March 16, 2015, 8:17 am

    It will be a stretch to buy one on fixed income. We carried the S&W Model 66 the last 7 years as an LEO. I really loved that gun, and have read the 686 is even better. Great article on a good looking pistol.

  • Lane March 16, 2015, 7:36 am

    When the original Coonan came out over 30 years ago, the .40 S&W and .357 Sig were not yet on the scene. The polymer frame and “double-stack 9” explosion was also in its early stage. The market has evolved considerably since then and the article’s omission of this discussion basically presages the logical conclusion (that the new Coonan, while an apparently nice piece of engineering, will probably have more of a romantic appeal than a significant market impact). Having shot the older Coonan way back when, and the .357 Sig (in both the Glock and Sig) since then, the Coonan did seem to have more felt recoil, be less reliable, and have more muzzle blast (which is noticeable in all of them but more so in the Coonan given that many .357 mag loads were developed for revolvers with longer barrels). When you further consider the capacity issue, the inherent accuracy CNC engineered into the various modern platforms, and the respective price points, you quickly appreciate how much the field has advanced over the last 30 years. But perhaps by mentioning all of the above I’m really missing the whole point of the article? I could also say “all of the above” while comparing a Glock in .357 Sig to a Colt Python (4 inch) and which one would you rather have in the safe?

  • Mark F in Bedford Texas March 16, 2015, 7:33 am

    I purchased a Coonan Classic about a month ago, and it’s simply incredible. Because I own several .357’s I reload to keep my shooting cost down. I found the Coonan to be controllable than my 686 and it’ll rival any high-quality ACP for accuracy. I don’t shoot Specials in my Coonan unless they are super-hot reloads. It did come with a lighter spring for Specials, but I prefer to load up some really hot Special rounds. My Coonan always attracts attention at the range from that massive fireball. Originally, I bought it as a novelty but it’s now my preferred SD weapon.

    • Roy December 7, 2015, 3:29 pm


      When you reload for the Coonan, do you roll crimp or taper crimp?

  • Nick March 16, 2015, 7:22 am

    If you’re going to copy someone’s design, you might as well do it right and add weight to slide to reduce the recoil…just like Les Baer does with their Heavyweight Monolith model. For that amount of money you might as well buy yourself a real Monolith with a 1.5″ @ 50 yards grouping guarantee. You’re writer friend was right, this is a novelty. There’s no point to this gun unless you think that .45ACP hollow points aren’t going to stop someone at close range.

  • LH March 16, 2015, 7:15 am

    Thanks a heap. Now I have to figure out how to test this kid and, yes, add to my active carry group. Always loved the round. And not the sig round. And I thought all I had left to acquire was a replacement .40.

  • Steven March 16, 2015, 7:03 am

    I’m in love with the Coonan Compact, but not the price. Would love to see a 32 Magnum version produced.

  • Mike B March 16, 2015, 7:03 am

    Cool article, I CC 357 6 shot stainless revolver. This Gun looks and sounds truly awesome, exactly what anyone would want who loves this round but still does not justify the price tag. Mt Revolver is easily concealable, works perfect every time I need it to work and costs about 1700 dollars less. :O) ( I got a deal that was unreal on a brand new 2″ snubby) looking like this Coonan is for the guy who has more money than he needs. I woudl have to win one to get it. LOL

    still though. great concept. 6+1 though. doesn’t seem worth it really, Thanks for the great pics and read.

  • Bill March 16, 2015, 6:54 am

    What? Nearly $2K bucks and no right side thumb safety? So much for an opportunity to further enjoy one of my favorite rounds. We thankfully gave up trying to make everybody right handed more than a half century ago. I’m used to living in a right handed world and adapt where necessary, but I refuse to make do with the 1911 thumb safety. C’mon, at this price? Thanks for nothing Coonan.

  • Robert March 16, 2015, 6:52 am

    Why no checkering on the front strap… that kind of breaks the deal for me. Looks like a very promising offering!

  • Michael Johnson March 16, 2015, 5:52 am

    When I contacted Coonan, they stated the”trick” paint jobs were only available for the classic model (5 inch).
    They also stated the IT IS NOT RECOMMENDED to shoot 38/38+p from the compact model(4 inch). when purchasing, the compact 4 inch DOES NOT ship with a lighter spring to shoot the 38, but the clsssic 5 inch DOES.
    I was also told that currently, the compact model ONLY comes in black (as shown in this review) and stainless.
    ***The stainless model will be in my inventory VERY soon !!! I absolutely love this pistol !

  • Fred March 16, 2015, 5:26 am

    I remember looking and lusting for one of these (full size) quite a few years ago, when I was still carrying a .357 GP100. I think they were around $700 then. Sure wish I had picked one up. I passed on a Colt Delta Elite 10MM too at a gun show for $475. STILL kicking myself.

    • Raymond Matthews March 16, 2015, 1:06 pm

      I too used to carry a Ruger GP100 but found it a little heavy. Then I went to a Taurus SOCom, Tactical in 45 ACP which was hard to conceal. Now I have a Taurus SP101 5 shot 357. Before you fault me for giving up firepower just remember I can buy four of the SP101s for the price of this autoloader.

      • SmokeHillFarm March 18, 2015, 4:28 am

        Good point, and exactly how I regard this gun. It obviously isn’t four times the firearm of a .357 revolver, so why would I spend that much? And for something that, no matter the reliability, is NOT going to be 100% certain of firing every time, forever.

        It’s a remarkably clever design, and certainly a credit to some very fine Coonan engineers, but I can’t see spending two grand on it unless I win the lottery.

  • John March 7, 2015, 8:08 pm

    I was like a kid in a candy store reading about this gun. Very impressive, can’t wait to get one.Are they planning making anything in a bigger caliber? We can only dream and hope. They solved the feeding issue’s . The magazine design is trick. Awesome looking gun.

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