June 17, 2013

Colt Trooper Mark III .357 Magnum

The Colt Trooper was made from 1953 to 1969. The Trooper Mark III superceded the Trooper and had a redesigned lock mechanism. It was manufactured from 1969 to 1983 in blue and nickel finish with 4-, 6-, and 8-inch barrel lengths. An owner's manual can be obtained by calling Colt at (800) 962-2658. The Trooper III in our test was made in 1974.

We paid a published dealer price of $350; retail price is $400. Blue Book lists the gun's value as between $225 (95 percent), $325 (98 percent), and $395 (100 percent).

The Colt Trooper Mark III is for all practical purposes the working man's Python. Sound good? It features a serrated front sight pinned in place. The rear sight is fully adjustable, and it should be more durable than similar designs since the rear notch moves back and forth inside a protective frame. While adjustment for elevation is clockwise for down and counter-clockwise for up, the windage adjustment is reversed. Turn it to the right if you want the point of impact to move left, and turn left to bring the POI to the right.

Another feature is the direction in which the cylinder rotates. While other revolvers move counterclockwise, expecting a Colt to go bang requires the first round to be in the 11 o'clock position prior to cycling. Also, to release the cylinder one pulls rather than pushes on the latch.

The Colt Trooper weighed the most, and as expected, produced the least felt recoil. While the 110-grain Winchester JHP was flashy and produced the lightest recoil all around, the Trooper tended to smother muzzle flip from each round across the board. Double-action trigger pull was very heavy (15.5 pounds), but this was not as noticeable when fired unsupported as from a rest. The resistance of initial take up is multiplied as the shooter reaches the end of the stroke. This has been commonly referred to as “stacking,” which is commonly associated with a coiled mainspring design. The single-action proved nearly as heavy as the double-action, which is unique in our test experience (12.5 pounds). But, the weight of the SA press, which was also desirably solid in feel, did not detract from our accuracy. The face of the trigger was wide, without serration and properly radiused. This last detail is not to be taken for granted, and it's indicative of the extra time put into the construction of this revolver.

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Our tested Trooper dates back to 1974, and for this price, it's a bargain. For all practical purposes, the gun is a working man's Python.

We are sure each of these actions could be lightened considerably, but bear in mind that while heavy, the action was very smooth without even a hint of grit, delay, or stumble. In fact the general condition of this weapon was quite good. We doubt this gun was likely fired only a couple of times and then put away. Wear on its blued finish was primarily at the muzzle - a classic sign of holster wear.

Courtesy, Gun Tests

Courtesy, Gun Tests

The first round in the Colt needs to be in the 11 o’clock position prior to cycling.

Each of our test revolvers featured a wood grip (walnut), but only the Colt and Smith &Wesson models offer the older design wherein the grip is wider at the bottom. The Colt grip was cut with a diamond pattern and the backstrap was exposed. The ejector rod was fully shrouded with an extra contour for the tip.

Our only mechanical irregularity throughout the test involved the Colt's ejector rod backing out. This could be fixed with a carefully applied drop of Loctite.

In terms of accuracy, the Colt Trooper, like the other two guns, averaged five-shot groups approximately 2.5 inches in diameter with the 110-grain Winchester cartridge. Variation in group size was actually rather small. Likewise, all three guns shot the Black Hills 125- and 158-grain JHP rounds even better. Our Trooper preferred the 125-grain round, with a best single group measuring 1.4 inches for an average of 1.7 inches. Overall, our old Trooper Mark III averaged 2.1-inch groups for all shots fired regardless of cartridge. Muzzle energy from our Trooper Mark III ranged from 419 to 519 foot-pounds. Checking our data from a recent test of sub-compact .45 ACP pistols (November 2001), the Trooper offers more muzzle energy with comparable capacity at one half to one quarter the price.

Comments (17)

I picked up a "Trooper" in great condition at a swap meet, if you can belive that? It did have a timing problem: sometimes the cylinder would not rotate wwhen shooting single action. I sent my Trooper to Colt and they fixed it for $75 bucks. Works like a dream, now. However, Colt is absolutely terrible to work with and they take weeks/months to repair your gun.

Posted by: azben | November 16, 2014 5:41 AM    Report this comment

I Have a Colt Trooper 38 special That I use for security. Every year I go in to renew my permit I passed with flying colors.

Posted by: Ernie | November 14, 2014 2:30 AM    Report this comment

To Frank Nettleton - I also have a 2" Trooper MK III. Heavy trigger, but it does shoot well. Sucks that I can't find anyone who makes aftermarket grips for it (the 2" is a round butt, while the longer barrels are square butts). The Colt grips are like the S&W magna grips and leave much to be desired.

Posted by: KertP | November 14, 2014 12:41 AM    Report this comment

Purchased a 4" Trooper MkIII in '76 and, from the outset, it never really worked quite right... It "jammed" when trying to fire it double action and was (eventually) diagnosed as having a timing error. It then developed an occasional shallow primer hit problem and was "liberated" while en route to Colt in West Haven, Connecticut (thanks UPS!) for repair. Despite its "issues", losing it broke my heart. I'd previously installed a 6" barrel and a set of Pachmayr Presentation grips, so shooting .357 (when it was functioning properly) was never uncomfortable. Replaced it with a stainless GP100 which is nice & dependable - it just doesn't have that Colt panache...

Posted by: RescueRJ | November 13, 2014 10:49 PM    Report this comment

In the case of the Trooper Mk III that will not fire double action, The Fly. or it's spring inside of the hammer is broken. It's a simple parts swap, if you can get the parts.

Posted by: lotoofla | November 13, 2014 5:58 PM    Report this comment

Had a Trooper. Trigger reach was way too long. For that and the big grips need very large hands. Sold the Trooper and got an S&W 686. Never looked back. Much better handgun. Will not trade or sell the S&W.

Posted by: Monticello | November 13, 2014 5:49 PM    Report this comment

The Trooper Mk III .357 was the first handgun I ever purchased...paid $356 dollars for a brand new nickel-plated model in 1982. Beautifully fit and finished, I have always consider it a piece of Colt art, but I have to disagree with the writer about the felt recoil; this thing is punishing to shoot and, although the accuracy can not be faulted, it is not a "fun" gun to shoot with full-power .357 mag loads. Consequently, it has had fewer than 100 rounds through it since I bought it and looks as good as the day it came out of the box. It has been my "safe queen" for many years now.

Posted by: simmomo | November 13, 2014 11:35 AM    Report this comment

I guess nobody is gonna believe this comment, but I have a beautiful Trooper MrkIII with 2" b arrel. Shoots like a dream. Nowhere have I read that a 2" barrel model was ever made. Anybody got ideas or comments about my maverick ? Thanks

Posted by: Frank L. Nettleton | August 11, 2014 10:15 PM    Report this comment

How can i buy this gun?

Posted by: glafferty | August 7, 2014 1:39 AM    Report this comment

I like the gun and finally a fair price

Posted by: glafferty | August 7, 2014 1:34 AM    Report this comment

think colts are the best and thats how the west was won.

Posted by: dirtywicked | June 5, 2013 6:04 PM    Report this comment

I own a Colt Trooper Mark III 4" barrel 357 Mag. Today, the double action function suddenly stopped working. When pulling the trigger the cylinder rotates OK, but the hammer does not cock, thus no 'Bang'. Single action shooting is normal. Anyone knows what broke?

Posted by: Svend | February 18, 2013 3:47 AM    Report this comment

This only deals with the 357 Colt Trooper, MK III, but I have the unusual .22 Magnum version. Is this a correct caliber for this model.

Posted by: AJ22Magnum | November 7, 2011 10:45 AM    Report this comment

Owner of two Colt handguns. 357 Mag Trooper (4") and older Military 45 Cal 6".

Posted by: velovet | September 8, 2011 1:57 AM    Report this comment

Glad to be here!

Posted by: sj45 | September 8, 2010 7:17 PM    Report this comment

Do not have any yet

Posted by: donaldduck | June 19, 2010 12:00 PM    Report this comment

I'e had a 4" Trooper III .357 since the 70's, besides liking it's appearance, I trust it and that's most important. Regards to all, Don Rich

Posted by: donaldduck | June 19, 2010 11:54 AM    Report this comment

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