May 20, 2012

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,, 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.

Colt Anaconda .44 Rem. Magnum

The Anaconda has a high resale value and provides fine accuracy. Plus: The .44 Magnum offers a wide range in power.

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.

Colt Anaconda .44 Rem. Magnum

The ramped front sight is double pinned and the top strap is vented. The full underlug features a silhouette relief for the ejector rod, which is capped and does not play a part in cylinder lockup.

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.

Colt Anaconda .44 Rem. Magnum

Two features that distinguish the Colt double-action revolvers are the cylinder release that is pulled back instead of pushed forward and its clockwise cylinder rotation.

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.


Comments (25)

I am going to hang on to it unless a serious Colt collector offers serious money or trade, as I have close to 100 other guns in my collection I would sell first, that is if I needed to. I am just curious if anyone else has one, or has known of any just so I could put a price on it. It may be a one of a kind, as I said before the factory didn't no it existed this way, but they were eager to change the barrel for me though. I even could choose the lenght, sights, and if I remember correctly, also ported. It sounded to me like they didn't want it to exist either.

Posted by: tdarnett | June 3, 2012 1:43 AM    Report this comment

I am going to hang on to it unless a serious Colt collector offers serious money or trade, as I have close to 100 other guns in my collection I would sell first, that is if I needed to. I am just curious if anyone else has one, or has known of any just so I could put a price on it. It may be a one of a kind, as I said before the factory didn't no it existed this way, but they were eager to change the barrel for me though. I even could choose the lenght, sights, and if I remember correctly, also ported. It sounded to me like they didn't want it to exist either.

Posted by: tdarnett | June 3, 2012 1:43 AM    Report this comment

I think I would keep that mismarked revolver. The value has to go up.

Posted by: WilliamH | June 2, 2012 10:47 PM    Report this comment

I love my 8" Anaconda, topped with a 2x Leupold for paper punching, and I have to admit it is a very accurate revolver, but what makes mine unique is the factory rollmarked the right side of the barrel a .357 Magnum. The factory offered to replace the barrel free of charge, while I was doing a background check to find out more information, as I am not the original buyer. Anybody else out there got one like this? I would like to know how many of these made it past the inspectors and out their door, and how to put a price on it.

Posted by: tdarnett | May 25, 2012 12:07 AM    Report this comment

There are plenty of short barreled high power revolvers out there. I have two of them, both S&W's with 3" barrels. One is a 7 shot 357 and the other is a 3" 44 6 shot. Both are awesome fun and accurate. A great size for conceal carry as well, especially the 357 L frame, a slightly smaller frame than the 44 which is an N frame.

Posted by: ThinkN_Do | May 24, 2012 11:14 PM    Report this comment

Why on earth would you use 8 pica print. I have no desire to read something with a magnifing glass mush less pay for mini print.

Posted by: Double J | May 24, 2012 10:18 PM    Report this comment

I didn't do nothing, like rough it up and no it was not a knock off by brother bought it brand new for me to use as a snake getter while I was rideing fence lines and bringing in strays. Every thing was in the right place and tight when I put it in the holster at the start of the day, infact like I said I never pulled it out of the holster all day long. Must have been just one that slipped through that was bad.

Posted by: bear1 | May 24, 2012 9:53 PM    Report this comment

bear1 - any chance you got a chinese knock-off instead of a real Colt? Or did you buy it new? That is just SO contrary to anything I've ever heard about Colt guns.

Posted by: rev_dave | May 24, 2012 9:01 PM    Report this comment

Damn! What did you do to that poor little Frontier Scout, Bear1? Now, I know that having an aluminum frame made it light weight, but I've never heard of one just falling apart. Did you have the base pin in place?.....;-)

Posted by: canovack | May 24, 2012 8:57 PM    Report this comment

The one and only Colt that I ever owned was a single action cowboy in .22 LR and after a day in the holster on horse back, I got home and emtied it and dropped it on the bed to get my cleaning gear and the darn thing fell to peases all over the place. So that is when I went to being a Ruger owner and NEVER had one of my ruger sigle sixes or others fall apart and I have put everyone that I have own through the ringer big time!
God Bless America and Our Troops Past Present and Future.
Keeping to My Path Locked Loaded and Keeping My Powder Dry.
Get the US Out of the UN and the UN Out of the US

Posted by: bear1 | May 24, 2012 8:07 PM    Report this comment

I have the six inch anaconda -- I am inadvertently turning it into a collectors gun. I only shot it a few times; and only take it out when hunting. No problem whatsoever with kick, it pushes, i.e., It torques; but doesn't seem to affect accuracy -- very accurate.

Posted by: tovlogos | May 24, 2012 6:47 PM    Report this comment

I have a 4" Anaconda in 45 Colt. Fits in with my Ruger Blackhawk an Grover #5 Improved, both in 45 Colt, very well. Lots of power, less recoil than 44's.

Posted by: POGO | May 24, 2012 6:40 PM    Report this comment

The only revolvers in the Colt catalog are the Single Action Army and the New Frontier Single Action. Why does the review call it a "current production" model. Are we recycling an old review?

Posted by: Anishinabi | May 24, 2012 5:50 PM    Report this comment

Just bought a nearly new 1993, 6" Anaconda and it's my favorite of my four pistols. Thought Colt quit making them in 1999????

Posted by: bgarrison | May 24, 2012 5:03 PM    Report this comment

I've always loved the look and feel of these guns. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to purchase one. I just hope that they put them back into production and not just custom shop prices...

Posted by: pitdogg | May 24, 2012 3:49 PM    Report this comment

If I'm not mistaken, the rifleing twist in the colt is in he opposite direction to S&W. This will ause a different recoil impression, instead of barrel whip your hand is moed to the left.

Posted by: Playrough | May 24, 2012 3:44 PM    Report this comment

You stated "...production of Colt revolvers such as the Python and Anaconda are continuing to pace demand." Is the python still in production? If so, please excuse my ignorance.

Posted by: armedcitizen | May 24, 2012 2:45 PM    Report this comment

I purchased an Anaconda, 8" barrel, nearly 20 years ago. I bought it for hunting whitetails and wild pigs. The Anaconda proved very worthy on both.
Health issues cutailed my hunting excursions, so my Anaconda now is an occasional range gun.
In a world of almost generic black semi's, "wonder nines" and newly found popularity in .380's....the Anaconda attracts a crowd at the indoor range.
If the gun's sheer size and mass doesn't bring the onlookers, the explosion and flash always provokes several "holly sh*t!!" cries from lanes at the far ends of the building.
Even with the long heavy barrel, the recoil is stout enough to limit my magnum shooting to only 3 or 4 cylinders before my wrist waves a white flag of surrender.
Nonetheless it is an exceptionally well made, accurate handgun that is fun to shoot.

Posted by: Mike Wilburt | May 24, 2012 2:36 PM    Report this comment

Bobkat5, you've hit it right! I have been methodically purchasing Colt revolvers at gun shows for the past several years. They do, indeed, make good investments, and they are nice pieces to boot!

Posted by: canovack | May 24, 2012 1:36 PM    Report this comment

checking the box to keep up with the comments

Posted by: rev_dave | May 24, 2012 12:01 PM    Report this comment

Have always been a Colt fan, having owned and shot many models from the 22's to the Python and Model P. When the 44 mag came out I, like many others jumped on the S&W Model 29 4"', and several Ruger Super Blackhawks. When Colt finally produced the Anaconda, I wanted one, but just could not justify the purchase. One day, I will have one. Colt has a mystique like no other firearm, and their resale value makes them a much better investment than the stock market!

Posted by: bobkat5 | May 24, 2012 11:32 AM    Report this comment

Had first model 6"
Too big & heavy
Great gun though very accurate
Low recoil due to weight

Posted by: Jrc45auto | May 24, 2012 11:22 AM    Report this comment

I am anxious to try this pistol. All of my past experience with the 44 MAGNUM caliber, is easily quantified: It kills at both ends!

Posted by: Jericho | May 24, 2012 11:03 AM    Report this comment

I have all the snakes. It is one of my favorite collections.

Posted by: JROD238 | May 24, 2012 10:54 AM    Report this comment

I have always had a fondness for Colt revolvers. Back when magnumania hit the industry, who ever was in the business at the time brought out a .44 Magnum.....but not Colt. Colt remained steadfast with its chambering of revolvers in .44 Special, .45 Colt, .357 Magnum, .38 Special, .32 S&W, and .22 LR. I don't recall how far along we went without any offerings from Colt, but when they finally came out with the Anaconda, it was a long awaited winner.

Posted by: canovack | May 21, 2012 8:21 PM    Report this comment

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