Colt King Cobra .22 LR

A "Mini-Snake" For The Masses
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Colt King Cobra Gear List
Ammo: CCI standard Velocity 40-grain LRN and Federal Hunter Match 40 HP
Knife: Böker Traditional Trapper
Targets: Birchwood Casey Shoot N C

We all have them, want them, need them or simply aspire to own them. The demand for our attention that a .22 revolver provokes can border on an obsession for some, wishful thinking for others or the culmination of a .22 dream gun. Quality .22 revolvers showcase a level of attention all out of proportion to their minuscule cartridge and those of us who fall prey to their siren calls always end up smiling in the end. Trust me on that one. A .22 “Sixgun,” as Mr. Taffin might call it, delights in spades — even if it happens to hold 10 shots. Or maybe because it holds 10 shots?

Snake guns are back in a big way with the Colt King Cobra .22 LR, a positive sign of renewal for the storied company under new ownership of CZ.

Changing Fortunes

We all know the often sad and disjointed journey over the past 30 years or so of Colt, the almost mythical maker of guns. Their legacy of historical icons has been counter-balanced by their almost constant stumbling in the business world. This has often caused those of us in the shooting community who love the brand to vacillate between euphoria and despair over their shenanigans. But it seems now, with the purchase of the Colt brand by CZ, a light shines at tunnel’s end.

Sure, the transition hasn’t been without some stumbles and quality control challenges but movement has been strongly forward. CZ’s penchant for excellence, design innovation and meeting the demands of the market is blending with Colt’s fierce following of loyal shooters, nudging the Rampant Pony back onto the track.

I’ve been fortunate to handle a few recent models from Colt: A Python, a couple of D-Frames and now this King Cobra .22 and have come away trusting (hoping?) the old Colt is returning. In the bad-old-days past, I’ve often wondered “how can you screw up a name like Colt?” but they often managed to. Now it appears things are on track, pushing forward, and the people who are in charge seem to genuinely care about putting out quality products for customers who have trusted Colt for decades. Thank goodness.

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King Snake

I mean, honestly, what’s not to love there? It’s a .22, it’s shiny, it’s got a ribbed barrel, and it says “Colt” on the side. Be still, my throbbing heart. Announced late in 2022, Colt is just now getting well into the pipeline, so we waited to do our review until you could actually get one. I’ll readily admit when I opened the box I had high hopes, but was also braced for a letdown. I hate to be a fearmonger; nonetheless the truth is the truth. But what a delight met my eyes. I examined the stainless .22 and found things as they should be with a Colt: Flats were flat, edges were as they should be, things locked up perfectly, the action was — dare I say it — silky smooth and the revolver simply felt great in the hand.

I found myself quietly muttering “outstanding,” causing my pooch to stare at me wondering what was up. After handling, testing and shooting, this gun ended up being a delight in every respect.

I have long experience with an original Diamondback .22. It’s a sort of a mini-Python and as accurate as a laser. I wondered if this new “King Cobra” would match it for grace and precision. I shouldn’t have doubted. The barrel length on the Cobra is 4.25″ and it weighs about 33 oz. At 9.25″ OAL, it’s hefty but not too hefty. Cylinder capacity is 10 rounds and it’s funny how those “extra” four rounds seems to make a cylinder-full take a long time to shoot. It’s got that wonderful full under-lug, shrouded ejector and superb adjustable sights. I’d lean more toward a standard black front sight myself, but the fiber one is easy to see if you like this sort of thing.

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The King Cobra’s classic rib, underlug and high polish
bode well for the “return of Colt!” Note the Cobra logo.

Ten, count ’em, 10 shots give you plenty to do once things get loaded up.

Shades of the old Colt — adjustable rear Elliason sight,
the King Cobra’s version is fully adjustable and easy to see.

The Machinery

The finish is polished stainless and looks a lot like the classic Nickel but isn’t quite as “warm” in color. Grips are excellent Hogue over-molded rubber style and fit my medium hands fine. It begs for a classy set of wood grips though and if so clothed it really would be a mini-Python.

The trigger is smooth, although I’d really like to see the face polished. I’ll attend to it later as I’m keeping this gun for sure! The SA breaks in the 2 ½-lb. range after about 20 tries with my electronic gauge. It’s crisp and predictable with no creep or rockiness at all. A vintage, classic Colt trigger pull at every level. DA is a remarkably smooth, almost effortless 7- to 8-lbs. with just a hint of classic Colt stacking due to the V-spring, but no bumps, grit or nastiness in the least. It honestly feels like the custom trigger on a blued Python I have worked over by Terry Tussey. My hat’s off to the assemblers at Colt.

The cylinder release falls right at hand and if you’re familiar with the Colt heritage, the tug backward won’t feel odd. If your thumb is encumbered with tens of thousands of “push forward to release” muscle memory moments from handling “that other brand,” make sure you take the time to get settled in with the King. The chambers are nicely finished and loaded cases seat easily and fully.

The “feel” of the cylinder releasing, opening, the closing is something specific to Colt DA revolvers. It’s solidly secure, yet light and agile feeling, with the corresponding clicks and snicks sounding just right. It might be described as a “quiet locking sound.” You’ll see what I mean if you aren’t already smiling at your own memories of such things.

If you’re familiar with the Python, Colt calls it an I-Frame while this smaller, svelte model is a D-Frame. The difference is a lot like an S&W L-Frame vs. a K-Frame. It’s not a lot, but enough to make the Cobra a bit more hand-friendly. Women tend to favor D-Frames perhaps because they tend to have better taste than men do with such things.

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Shooting Delight

I’ve often asked how many .22 revolvers would equal “too many” in a collection and I’ve yet to find the definitive answer. Each one, even of the same design and model, tend to have their own personalities. One likes CCI Target ammo, while the other excels with Federal Gold Medal Match. One thing they all can do though is shoot anything you can fit into those modest chambers. From .22 CB Caps and shot cartridges, to the hottest .22 viper-killer loads, guns like the Colt King Cobra can manage them all, even all in the same cylinder full. How fun is that?

I fired about 15 different loads through the Colt, mostly target loads, a few classic hunting loads like CCI Mini-Mag HPs and a couple of special loads like sub-sonics and the Aguila “Colibri” low-velocity load. I also tried a few CCI .22 LR shot cartridges just for fun, too. Everything went bang, every single time, which is a good thing as sometimes .22 handguns can be fussy with some loads. Not this King Cobra.

Cutting to the chase, using a Ransom rest (their manual shooting rest, not the fancy fixture one) and my very best shooting glasses, some loads could chase 2″ or even 1.75″ at a full 25 yards. I think it could do even better once you discover the “magic” load it really likes — and get someone who can see better than I can to do the shooting.

All in all, this is easily a 25- or 30-yard squirrel-getter and my 8″ 80-yard steel gong went “tink” neatly time after time. Sheer .22 pleasure, if you ask me. I don’t normally get too caught up on the accuracy of specific loads when testing a .22 due to the fact each gun will vary, sometimes wildly, from load to load and you honestly need to target your own gun with a good cross-section to find the loads it favors most.

In our test gun’s case, that Federal Gold Medal Match mentioned shot very well, as well as CCI’s Select Precision Lead Round Nose. I think this could be a 1.5″ gun easily. But they all shot fine. I’d call this a sort of do-everything .22 revolver. From targets and plinking, to small game, hiking, camping, farm and ranch and even home defense in a pinch, the King Cobra can manage the job. Add in a good field holster and a few accessories and be prepared for a great time.

I’m shamelessly pleased to see Colt return to the fold like this. Some may wring their hands and doubt, worry, name-call and argue on the forums about “Colt this” or “Colt that …” but I’d hold comment until you get a new gun in your hands. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt the particular bit of satisfaction you get when you say, “Oh, this? Why — it’s a Colt.”

MSRP: $999

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