by Jeff Chudwin
The Colt Cobra
As a young police officer, my introduction to the short-barrel, double-action revolver came when a salty field training officer bent down and pulled up his pant leg, revealing a blue steel revolver strapped in a black holster over his white sock.
“Kid, get yourself a snub .38 as a backup and consider it inexpensive life insurance,” he said. His street-wise advice sent me searching, and I heard that a Chicago homicide detective was retiring and selling his gear. The list included a six-shot, lightweight Colt Cobra he’d carried on countless cases, and I bought it for $100. After a combined six decades of service, that Cobra still stands guard, and its attributes of reliability, accuracy and concealability exemplify why this snubnose revolver continues to be a favorite for personal defense.
Finding a Cobra has been a problem since Colt discontinued it was in the early 1980s and originals became collector items. That changed this year when Colt reintroduced a newly redesigned Cobra.
The new Cobra (l.) sports a stainless steel frame whereas the original was aluminum. The latest Cobra also features a redesigned leaf mainspring that produces an excellent double-action pull.
Unlike the original’s aluminum frame, the new Cobra is built from stainless steel. It has a dull matte finish and weighs 24.8 ounces; my old-timer weighs just over 15 ounces. That weight differential proved to make a big difference in shootability.
I spoke with two of the Colt designers who worked on the Cobra project and learned that the frame and barrel are forgings, the cylinder cut from bar stock, and the only fitted part is the hand that engages the ratchet and turns the cylinder. This reduction in hand-fitting allows the revolver to be built