Colt King Cobra KCOBRA-SB3BB 357 Magnum

There was a lot to like with the AL3.0—price, accuracy, shooting comfort. Not a beautiful revolver for sure, but it did provide performance. It took some effort to carry it concealed.




The new King Cobra is different from the original King Cobra models made from 1986 through 1992. Unlike the original King Cobras, which were closer in size and proportion to a Smith & Wesson L-­frame, the new model is lighter and more concealable. It also has fixed sights; original King Cobra revolvers had an adjustable rear sight. Our sample wore a semi-bright stainless finish, which we thought was well executed. The trigger guard is flat on the bottom edge and gives the revolver a distinct look. The King Cobra shares many parts with the new Cobra, including its internal lockwork, grip and sights. It uses a leaf mainspring design, which is better than the coil-spring arrangement found on vintage King Cobras. The DA trigger exhibited no stacking effect and was very smooth and consistent. Pull weight was just over 8 pounds, which we liked. The trigger was narrow and smooth. We would have preferred the trigger to be a bit wider. The hammer spur was narrow and as wide as the hammer. The serrations on the spur worked well. The King’s hammer was easy to cock, with no slippage. The firing pin is captive in the frame. The internal safety is a transfer-­bar system, so the trigger needs to be fully rearward to allow the hammer to hit the transfer bar, which then hits the firing pin. The barrel is one-­piece, machined from stainless steel, with a deeply recessed crown at the muzzle. The top side of the barrel is milled flat. It features a full lug that adds weight, which is a check in the pro column when it comes to recoil, but also a check in con column because it adds weight. The front of the barrel and lug were rounded to aid reholstering, and the barrel was nicely mated to the frame with all smooth edges. The front-sight post is pinned in place and wears a brass bead. The rear sight is a groove milled in the topstrap. The top side is also bead blasted for a matte finish. We felt these sights were well suited for the intended purpose of self defense. The sights were large as well as smooth and snag free, which is also appropriate in a concealed-carry weapon. The grip is a one-piece Hogue Overmolded model with finger grooves, a pebbled texture and round butt. In our opinion, this grip was good for concealed carry and helped with recoil. All of our fingers had space on the grip and didn’t leave our pinky finger dangling. The cylinder latch is pulled back to swing out the cylinder, the opposite of an S&W-style revolver. Also note that the cylinder rotates clockwise, or into the frame. A S&W and the Rossi and RIA rotate counter clockwise. This is important to remember when trying to line up a specific chamber with the firing pin. The Colt’s cylinder locked only in the rear. The ejector rod was knurled. The crane was tightly mated to the frame, and there was only slight wiggle in the cylinder. We did note the recoil plate allowed the user to see if a chamber was loaded or had an empty case. We like this feature, especially when you want to align a certain chamber.

Action TypeRevolver, DA/SA
Overall Length6.75 in.
Barrel Length2.0 in.
Sight Radius3.90 in.
Overall Height4.09 in.
Maximum Width1.50 in.
Weight Unloaded32.1 oz.
Weight Loaded 35.6 oz.
Cylinder Gap0.004 in.
Frame FinishBlued
Barrel/Cylinder FinishBlued
Frame Front Strap Height 2.3 in.
Frame Back Strap Height 3.3 in.
GripRubber, textured finger grooves rubber
Grip Thickness (max)1.25 in.
Grip Circumference (max)5.12 in.
Front SightSerrated ramp, removable
Rear SightFixed notch
Trigger Pull Weight (DA)11.56 lbs.
Trigger Pull Weight (SA)4.03 lbs.
Trigger Span (DA)3.30 in.
Trigger Span (SA)2.92 in.
SafetyTransfer bar
WarrantyLimited lifetime
Telephone(775) 537-1444
Made InCzech Republic (imported by RIA)
In our opinion, the Hogue grip with finger grooves and crisp SA trigger allowed us to shoot the King Cobra accurately. Our best five-shot group measured 1.2 inches and was fired with SIG 38 Special +P ammo loaded with a 125-grain JHP. The grip also helped to dissipate recoil in the palm of the hand. With 38 Special and 357 Magnum ammunition, our average groups measured 1.9 and 1.8 inches, respectively. As mentioned, we saw an 11- to 17-percent increase in velocity and energy with the King’s longer 3-inch barrel. We also found carrying the King took more effort, and it wasn’t as easily concealable due to length. In DA mode and using a two-hand grip, we found the revolver was easy to control, even with a bit of flip and recoil with magnum loads. We had no issues shucking empty brass. Our Team Said: The King Cobra performed well and would be our choice of these revolvers tested if price were not an issue. We liked the sights and trigger, which helped us shoot the King Cobra well. The King Cobra offers better ballistic performance due to the longer barrel, but that is at the cost of a larger package that is less easy to carry concealed.

Written and photographed by Robert Sadowski, using evaluations from Gun Tests team testers.


  1. Am I a subscriber or not?!!! Trying to bring up your articles on Colt King Cobra and Springfield Armory M!A SOCOM. Keeps telling me to log in. Cannot! Tried resetting luck.

  2. I do agree with Gun Tests evaluation of the new King Cobra 3 inch. I have been carrying one for the better part of a year and half, and find it to be a an excellent carry. The only holster company make a holster for it is DeSantis.
    The interchangeable sights are a nice feature. I switched my sights out to a fiber optic one and that adds to the sight picture.
    The only thing in the article that I disagree with the size comparison. When it came out I matched it to both my 3 inch L frame and by chance my Colt Magnum Carry. It matches more with my Magnum Carry which is the last of the old Colt D frame models.
    Other than that The new King Cobra is an excellent carry choice.

  3. 1) As always, this article has lots and lots and lots and lots of mistakes in basic spelling, English, and even just language.
    Hasn’t ANYONE at your magazine ever heard of spellchecker features? They’re even free!
    2) Factual mistakes were also present, as noted by others in COMMENTS section, and you haven’t bothered to fix them…
    3) Please confirm…I’m not sure about this one yet…your representation that Colt does not make this gun, but buys it from Armscor after it’s made,not in the USA, but in …The Czech Republic?

    • 4) There’s also no followup to your headline that says it was hard to conceal. How did you find it best to conceal it, then?
      5) You didn’t specify the distance for your accuracy test, or state whether you fired from a bench rest, sandbag, or…..


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