Colt Anaconda .44 Rem. Magnum
The shooter who wants a lot of power without too much barrel length doesn’t have a lot of choices among revolvers. Most of today’s bigger-bore revolvers are more commonly outfitted with barrels measuring 5 inches or longer. Instead, Gun Tests magazine wanted to find a gun with a good old fashioned “duty length” 4-inch barrel for easier carry, but that was chambered for rounds that will do everything from self-protection in the urban wilderness to self-protection in the traditional wilderness.
Toward that end, they recently tested larger-framed (but not super-sized) models chambered for 10mm Auto and .44 Remington Magnum. One of the guns was the Colt Anaconda in .44 Magnum, both a current production model and a used gun for historical comparison. They got both guns from Fountain Firearms in Houston, www.FountainFirearms.com, 281-561-8447.
Here’s what they found:
Colt’s Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut, has been heavily involved in military and law-enforcement sales, but production of Colt revolvers such as the Python and Anaconda are continuing to pace demand. For those who have been raised on the more popular Smith & Wesson, Taurus or Ruger revolvers, the Colt double-action revolver is something different. The Anaconda, for example, does enough things just the opposite from its competitors to almost make customers feel as though they are buying a radical custom gun.
In terms of styling, three points that immediately catch the eye are the vented barrel, the silhouette cut of the ejector rod and the bell-shaped cylinder release. This release is sculpted to blend with the diameter of the cylinder and is designed not to be pushed but to be pulled rearward. This part rides smoothly in a track machined into the frame. The tip of the ejector rod does not play a part in lockup, but is given a balled end that is finely checkered. The relief for the ejector rod is cut into the full underlug to trace this outline, making it look like a part of a jigsaw puzzle. The vented barrel slopes down from underneath the ramped front sight (with orange insert) to meet with the frame. This results in a swooping line with the front and rear sights at each end.
The grip with finger grooves has two panels and features a Colt logo on each side. This silver medallion matched the stainless steel frame.
The Colt offered different operational features as well. Besides the aforementioned cylinder latch, a look at the rear sight showed a carrier that completely protects the blade. The rear notch was outlined in white. But the windage-adjustment screw was substantially smaller than the elevation screw, requiring the operator to carry two different screwdrivers to make an adjustment. But the biggest difference between the Colt and other revolvers, (save those from Dan Wesson) was the fact that the cylinder rotates in a clockwise direction. In both cases the cylinder is moved by a lever called a hand. This hand reaches through the breechface and connects with a ratchet placed at the center of the cylinder. As the trigger is pressed, the hand moves upward, causing the cylinder to rotate. This same action occurs when the hammer is pulled back to prepare for single-action fire. Clockwise rotation is achieved by bringing the hand through the left side of the breechface, contacting the ratchet at approximately 8 o’clock. The hand then moves straight up and away, letting go after settling the next chamber in front of the firing pin hole. With the hand protruding through the right side of the breechface, this same movement begins at approximately 4 o’clock on Taurus, Ruger and Smith & Wesson revolvers. From the operator’s point of view, the only real difference comes when loading a single round. The chamber corresponding to the 11 o’clock position must be loaded to fire the Colt with the next trigger press.
In terms of quality of trigger press, we do not believe this had any effect. But characteristics of the trigger are influenced by the coil mainspring rather than a leaf spring in the case of the Smith & Wesson. The result is a double-action press that would build in resistance as we neared the break. Some shooters prefer this as it enables them to set the sights and trigger just before ignition. Here is where we referred to our used Anaconda. The double-action trigger required some 3 pounds less effort to operate. The single-action trigger was only fractionally lighter on the older model however. We couldn’t tell if the lighter and smoother trigger on the used Anaconda was the result of aftermarket trigger work or merely break-in. A call to Colt established that our used gun was manufactured in 1998, so there had been plenty of time for parts to wear in. Either way we judged that the mechanism of the Colt Anaconda was capable of producing a very smooth and controllable trigger.
From a visual standpoint there was very little to distinguish our used Anaconda from the latest model. That the used gun sold for as much as $795 while the MSRP for a new Anaconda was $1,000 says a lot about the Colt holding its value. The new Anaconda came with a lifetime warranty, which is not transferable to the second owner.
But our interest was centered on its working ability and not its collectible potential. Fired single action at the range, the new Anaconda performed better than our used model and registered almost identical data to the Model 29 Smith & Wesson we tested a couple of months ago. Groups fired with both the Model 29 and the latest Colt Anaconda measured between 2.0 to 2.1 inches on average when the bullet weighed 180 grains regardless of whether they were .44 Magnum or .44 Special. Firing with the 240-grain hollowpoint Federal American Eagle rounds was also close. Five-shot groups fired from the Smith & Wesson varied from 2.2 to 2.6 inches for an average group size of 2.4 inches. Groups from our new Colt Anaconda varied from 2.3 to 2.8 inches. The older Anaconda did not fare as well. It shot an average group size of just over 3.0 inches.
The only reason we can find for this was the difference in recoil between the two guns; the older model seemed to recoil more, affecting control and point of impact. Naturally, this had a negative effect on the size of groups we recorded. Our chronograph did show that the used Anaconda was producing more than 40 fps in velocity when firing the magnum rounds. However, felt recoil and its effects are sometimes difficult to quantify. We couldn’t find any solid reason for the difference.
The PMC 180-grain Remington Magnum load produced an average of 916 foot-pounds from the 1998 Anaconda and 879 foot-pounds from the latest model.
We learned early on in this test that keeping the gun on target as you follow through with the trigger was key. We felt that the level of accuracy we recorded was limited more by the shooter than by the guns themselves, especially when firing the heavier .44 Magnum loads where recoil control played a part.
We found that the Colt Anaconda could be loaded with lighter recoiling rounds to produce near match-grade accuracy. But we would recommend that the shooter carry the heaviest load he can handle without causing them to flinch.
Gun Tests Recommends: Colt Anaconda .44 Rem. Magnum, $1000. Our Pick. If you are bored with revolvers, then the custom look of the Anaconda will make life interesting again. It has a high resale value and provides fine accuracy. Plus .44 Magnum offers perhaps the widest usable power range of any handgun.