September 8, 2016

Colt Trooper Mark III .357 Magnum

[Updated January 3, 2018]

The Colt Trooper was made from 1953 to 1969. The Trooper Mark III superceded the previous Trooper and had a redesigned lock mechanism.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. The Colt Trooper III in our test was made in 1974.

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.

Colt Trooper .357 Magnum

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.

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.

Colt Trooper .357 Magnum

Courtesy, Gun Tests

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

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.

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' Troopers 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 Colt 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 test we did 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 (20)

I bought one, new in the box, around August of 2017, for less than $325.

I fixed the "NEW" condition promptly.

I put on some Hogue rosewood stocks. It's a sight to behold!

Trouble is, I have small hands, and the reach to the trigger in double action is just sooo long that I could never carry this handgun concealed.

Single action is great, but one does not often have the time to pull a hammer back when under threat?

If there is a way to make the d/a trigger a shorter reach? I would DEARLY love to hear about.

Posted by: pcmacd | October 2, 2018 10:59 PM    Report this comment

I recently purchased the Trooper Mark III from an owner who kept it in perfect condition. Not being a competition shooter and being an average shot, I find the pistol to be easy to handle. I can even hit the bulls eye sometimes. I don't find the recoil of the .357 uncomfortable although as with any gun it will change your point of aim. Using the .38 cal mode makes it a great pleasure to shoot. I too would like to find larger grips for it as my hands are large.

Posted by: swedishhighball | March 25, 2017 11:40 AM    Report this comment

I'm new Gun Tests , just purchased my Colt .357 Magnum M/Trooper MK III, love this weapon!

Posted by: Captain Black-America | March 21, 2017 4:13 AM    Report this comment

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 ?

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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