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Gunsmith opinions of a King Cobra??

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by L-Frame, Aug 29, 2007.

  1. L-Frame

    L-Frame Well-Known Member

    I have been friends with 2 gunsmiths at various times and they both disliked the Colt King Cobra. They both told me that while it was very strong it had mechanical issues that made it a distant second place to the S&W 686 or the GP-100.

    While I really like both the GP and the 686, I've always liked the elegant look of the King Cobra and eventually wouldn't mind owning one. Excluding the fact that they are asking some outrageous prices for them nowdays, I was wondering about the opinions of the various gunsmiths out there. Did my 2 buddies represent a pretty standard opinion of the King Cobra, or are there alot of dissenting opinions around?

    Like I said, I wouldn't mind owning one, but not if they are going to be a source of problems down the road.

    Oh, and should the KC lock up vault tight like the Python?

  2. Rover 'n Rugers

    Rover 'n Rugers Well-Known Member

    First, I am not a gunsmith but have known a few. In general, their comments echo what you were told. The later generation Colts were designed to minimize hand fitting and reduce cost. I believe they may have used sintered metal parts like Dan Wesson or perhaps MIM later as on the Colt Magnum Carry. Sintered parts, especially, limit what can be done via polishing and fitting. As there was less hand fitting the tolerances tended to be a bit more generous. Essentially, if a part needed replacing one went to the parts bin and changed parts in and out until one worked. Also, to cut down on fitting cost the hand design was changed from the two stage hand of the older Colts to the style as used by others so there will not be the bank like vault lockup. I suspect the gunsmiths disliked the design in that the quality of action tune could not be approached as to what could be done e.g. on older Colt designs or older S&W's. Some gunsmiths (I am not saying they are correct ) dislike the cylinder lockup only at the rear on Colts.
  3. Majic

    Majic Well-Known Member

    I am also not a certified gunsmith, but what mechanical issues are they talking about? The KC and all newer Colts use forged parts. The earlier MkIII series was the first attempt to make a cheaper stronger revolver. Shooters complained of the trigger pull and the improved frame of the KC allowed a much better trigger pull. You don't hear of problems of the KC and most owners think highly of them.
    Also no it won't lock-up tight like the older Colt action. It has some play in it like the S&W.
    Since they cylinder of a Colt rotates toward the frame it doesn't need a front lock (remember the older Colts had the ejector rods just hanging out in space yet still locked up like a bank vault) whereas the S&W rotating the other direction needs the front lock because the cylinder is being pushed away from the frame (notice the position of the hands on the two brands).
  4. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    I'm a retired Master watchmaker/gunsmith who specialized in Colt revolvers.

    As far as the King Cobra goes, I totally agree with famed gunsmith Jerry Kuhnhausen who believed that the King Cobra and the earlier versions of it like the Colt Trooper Mark III was very possibly the strongest medium frame DA revolver ever made, INCLUDING the S&W 686 and the Ruger GP-100.

    While those are strong guns, the King Cobra is even stronger due to Colt's superior forged and heat treated frames and cylinders and off-set locking notches.

    These guns have an enviable reputation for being a real tank of a gun, and I seldom saw any problems not related to abuse.
    These transfer bar revolvers have only ONE "weakness", and that's a "possibility" that the firing pin might break if the gun is dry fired.
    For that reason, use snap caps for dry firing, since a broken pin requires a trip back to Colt for replacement.
    Other than that, the King Cobra is as tough and durable a medium frame double action revolver anyone ever made.

    As for the "feel" of the action, that is totally a personal issue.
    The King Cobra has a different "feel" than the S&W or Ruger do, and some people just don't like it.
    The same holds for gunsmiths. Each has personal preferences, likes and dislikes, and some just don't like the King Cobra while other do.
  5. L-Frame

    L-Frame Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the informative replies. Is it difficult to find gunsmiths that can/will work on KC's? I know there are certain people who will not work on Pythons.
  6. evan price

    evan price Well-Known Member

    Some gunsmiths don't like to work on newer Colts because they are not as user friendly to modify as Smiths are. They have a coil spring action unlike Smith's leaf spring and I all the time hear people say the Smith has a better feel because of it; I don't see where the feel is BETTER per se, just different, and I prefer the KC over the Smiths. Feels a lot like a Ruger.
  7. JMag

    JMag Well-Known Member

    I would trust the opinion of Jerry Kuhnhausen over any local yokel smith regarding the KC.

    I love mine and prefer it to my 686.
  8. Rover 'n Rugers

    Rover 'n Rugers Well-Known Member


    "Thanks for the informative replies. Is it difficult to find gunsmiths that can/will work on KC's? I know there are certain people who will not work on Pythons."

    Several spring to mind:

    Alan Tanaka of AT Customs

    Cylinder & Slide

    Teddy Jacobson
    He is semi-retired but still may work on them.

  9. sfhogman

    sfhogman Well-Known Member

  10. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Whether or not they care to work on Colt revolvers, the vast majority of gunsmiths ought not touch them: they're fairly easily ruined by incompetence.
  11. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Well-Known Member

    And of course, Colt still works on the King Cobra, as does Pittsburgh Handgun Headquarters.
  12. L-Frame

    L-Frame Well-Known Member

    Thanks to all who replied. I was wondering because a gunshop I frequent had a KC (SS 4")on consignment. The seller said that it was unfired, and if it's not, it hasn't seen much action. I've always thought they were among the most elegant revolvers ever made. Anyway, the KC came home with me for $550. The way the prices for these things are going up I thought if I was going to buy one it had better be now. Thanks again for the information.
  13. JMag

    JMag Well-Known Member

    L-Frame, kudos on a most excellent revolver. You'll never want to part with it I'm betting.
  14. Onty

    Onty Well-Known Member

    Regarding this issue, I don’t think that S&W is better, despite ejection rod lock. Open S&W and try to shake ejector rod in crane; I had seen very few that have a nice fit. Great majority of them had bit of play there, and in reality, rear lock is the one that keeps cylinder locked tightly. In that respect, Ruger Redhawk, Super Redhawk and GP100 have the best system of all DA revolvers. Boy, I wish if Ruger could make Super Redhawk, with all its famous ruggedness, and handling and look of N-frame, that will be the best DA revolver ever…

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