November 1998

Coonan Cadet Not Worth Its High Price

The Cadet is Coonan Arm’s response to those who have called for a compact version of the company’s Model B pistol. The Cadet is about 1 inch shorter and 7 ounces lighter than a standard Model B, and has a 1-1/4-inch shorter barrel.

Like the original, the Cadet is a single-action .357 Magnum pistol made of stainless steel. Its 3-3/4-inch barrel has a fixed locking lug. There is no barrel bushing. Walnut grip panels and fixed sights are standard equipment. This $850 compact comes with one 6-round magazine.

Click here to view the Coonan Cadet features guide

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The Coonan Cadet we acquired for testing looked like a beefy Officer-size 1911 pistol. In our opinion, its workmanship was below average. There was a lot of vertical and horizontal movement between the slide and the frame, and an undesirable amount of play in the front and back ends of the barrel. The uncheckered walnut grip panels were well made.

The single-column magazine provided with our Cadet looked good, but had the same shortcoming as the Model B’s magazine. If we filled the 6-round magazine to full capacity, the follower guide would dislodge from its track and jam the magazine. Otherwise, the pistol functioned reliably with the three kinds of ammunition we used.

All of the controls and safeties on the Cadet were the same as those on the Model B, and worked positively. The single-action trigger released at 5-1/2 pounds. There was no creep or noticeable overtravel.

Our testers felt the Cadet sat well in the hand. Pointing was fairly quick and natural. Although the grip was 1/2 inch shorter than the Coonan Model B’s grip, it was long enough to accommodate all fingers of the shooter’s dominant hand. People with small hands said the grip was overly deep, but those with larger hands were able to establish a secure, comfortable hold. This .357 Magnum’s recoil and muzzle blast were about 20 percent heavier than those of the Model B.

We found that the Cadet’s traditional fixed sights provided a good sight picture, but they weren’t very well regulated. Our test gun consistently shot 2-1/2 inches high and 2-1/2 inches to the right of the point of aim. Not long after accuracy testing was completed, at about the 100-round mark, the front sight shot loose.

In our opinion, this compact pistol’s accuracy was only adequate for close-range work. Its best five-shot average groups, 5.63 inches at 25 yards, were obtained with both Federal 125-grain JHPs and Remington 165-grain JHPs. For more information, see the performance table on page 13.

Bottom Line
Our Coonan Arms Cadet’s workmanship wasn’t very good, which resulted in below average accuracy and the front sight shooting loose. This, along with the faulty magazine, convinced us that this compact .357 Magnum pistol wasn’t worth its $850 price. Don’t buy it.