It’s hard to believe it has been almost a year since I reviewed the 2019 Colt King Cobra! On the other hand, it’s also hard to believe it has only been a year since this special revolver came into my life! We try our dead-level best to give you guys the most honest, most thorough reviews we possibly can, but sometimes, there’s no substitute for time. Today I’m going to revisit the Colt King Cobra, and give you my thoughts after a year with this wheelgun.
I know this probably isn’t the Colt’s product you were hoping to read about this week. With my local range being closed I am doing what I can to get “the other” Colt revolver shot enough to have something to say, so stay tuned for that. This isn’t just filler, though. I have grown incredibly fond of this revolver and it has quickly become a range favorite, and a favorite in the holster around the house.
Then and Now
If you’ve read the original review I wrote, you know that I was pretty enthusiastic in my praise of the new .357 Magnum wheelgun from Colt. In fact, I don’t think it would be unfair to call that review “glowing.” Though I was extremely enthusiastic about the King Cobra at the time, there’s still a little anxiety around releasing such a positive review, so early in a gun’s life cycle. I’m sure we’ve all seen it with various firearms from all quarter – sometimes there are some early bugs that need to be worked out.
So where am I now with the King Cobra? I’m very happy to report that I still stand 100% by my review, and the King Cobra. In fact, I’ve come to look a bit more kindly on some of the complaints I lodged in that original review. Since the initial review I have a little better than tripled the round-count on this revolver. I’ve also gained some experience on some other Colt’s revolvers in that time, including a review of the King Cobra Target, and the beginnings of a Python review.
One thing I gave a lot of negative attention to was the trigger. First, I complained about its width, and this serves as an instructive example of how reviews with the best of intentions can sometimes be skewed. During a review I attempt to cram several years’ worth of interaction into a few months. This means I’m doing a lot more trigger time, over a very compressed time, than the average owner probably will. So back to that narrow trigger…
Honestly, I still wish it were wider. Even fairly short dry practice sessions with a lot of trigger pressing can become painful. However, it’s not bad for normal use where you’re taking lots of breaks. For, say, range sessions of 100-150 rounds in an hour or so it’s just fine. I even shot this gun at Greg Ellifritz’ revolver class to no ill effect.
The other thing I complained about was the trigger rebound. I believed it’s a little light and had some trigger “short stroking” issues. I’ve mostly excised that problem from my kinesthetic lexicon. I still thing the trigger rebound could be just a tiny big more positive, but the gun works and a dedicated practitioner can surely overcome this issue.
You will also notice one modification, and probably miss another. The noticeable modification is the bobbing of the hammer. This hatchet-job is my handiwork. This gun is mean to be run in double action, so there really wasn’t a great reason to leave the hammer in place. One day I was sitting around, contemplating the cost of having a gunsmith bob the hammer, then thinking, “an awful lot of hammers have been bobbed at home.” I’ll be honest – I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about it – I just got to work and got it done.
And I’m glad I did. Since bobbing the hammer I’ve put around 400 rounds on the gun, all of which have fired on the first strike. I also somewhat prefer the profile of the gun with the trimmed hammer as I wasn’t particularly fond of the hammer spur. The only downside to bobbing the hammer I see is the ability to “check” the hammer on holstering. It’s still there, but you have to get your thumb a little deeper because the spur is no longer there.
Wait – there is one more downside. Since I did this with hacksaw it’s not the pretties job. Honestly, though, I’m really not that particular about how my tools look as long as they work.
The second modification is the ejector rod. About six months into my ownership of this revolver I began to experience sticking of the ejector rod. The tip of the original rod wasn’t much larger in diameter than the channel on the yoke. As the knurling wore down it was possible to push it slightly into the channel, causing the rod to stick.
The first approach I took here was to simply file down the knurling. This worked perfectly, and I would recommend it without hesitation if you encounter the same issue. The knurling serves little functional purpose beyond allowing the user to tighten the ejector rod, so I had no problem filing it.
The second fix was a new ejector rod from Colt’s. Mike texted me from SHOT with a picture of the new rod. Apparently Colt’s has been listening to people (maybe including the crew here at RevolverGuy?) and improved the King Cobra’s ejector rod by increasing the diameter of the tip. I don’t have a ton of time with this part installed – only 150 rounds or so – but so far, so good. It is super refreshing to see a company like Colt’s being so responsive to the market!
Man, wringing out the speedloader issue for every revolver is becoming a tad tiring – everything seems to work with a different mix of loaders. If you follow the YouTube gun celebrities you might be aware of a recent kerfuffle between two of them about a video that showed some revolver shooting and reloading. The guy kicking the whole thing off said, essentially, “no one who knows anything would carry HKS loaders.” To be honest, I don’t disagree with him in principle; there are much, much better designs out there.
In reality, though, things are a little different. We RevolverGuys are wondering in the wilderness, not the land of milk and honey the Glock guys enjoy. As such, for a lot of revolvers its HKS or nothing. And that is the case with the King Cobra. I have found that HKS K-Frame speedloaders work pretty well, as long as you don’t try to seat the cartridges too deeply – the alignment is ever-so-slightly off. I’ve also found that the K-PAK from ZetaSix works, as well.
I’ve tried just about everything else I have. Unfortunately I don’t have an inline loader that works. I don’t own a K-Frame S.L. and it wouldn’t really matter if I did. The Jetloader doesn’t fit, nor does the Comp II, so for now it’s the HKS or nothing.
Size & Carry
Chris Baker wrote an article years ago calling the 3″ K-Frame the “Glock 19 of Revolvers.” I will assume he did so because his concept predated the Colt King Cobra. The size of the 3″ revolver is right in that sweet spot: small enough for comfortable, all-day carry, but large enough to really shoot (and speaking of shooting – man will this gun shoot!).
The grips do make the gun a bit larger than is absolutely necessary but I am happy to live with them. Though I’ve had the opportunity to replace them with some other style of grip it hasn’t even occurred to me. They are comfortable and fill my hand just about perfectly.
I have carried the. King Cobra a bit. Unfortunately holster fits have stymied my efforts a little. When I do carry the King Cobra it’s in the Kramer OWB holster I reviewed some months back. This holster is quite comfortable under a tool belt, and has a few scars now. I am on the hunt for a AIWB holster, but unfortunately haven’t found one yet. That (and a suitable speedloader) would be a game-changer for me.
The Bottom Line
I hope this didn’t just come across as me simply writing about something I like. I think the Colt King Cobra is about as good as a carry revolver gets: the ideal combination of size, weight, and excellent trigger, outstanding accuracy, and very usable sights. I don’t receive any incentive at all from Colt’s, I just want to share my own good fortune with you.
The King Cobra is somewhat hampered by the lack of aftermarket support – holsters and speedloaders. I’m going to keep beating this drum though: this revolver is The One and could almost replace both my 640 and my 686. If you’re interested in a revolver for carry, you owe it to yourself to check it out.