Coonan .357 Magnum

Coonan .357 Magnum

The Coonan .357 Magnum (yes the Magnum revolver cartridge-not the .357 SIG) has been around off and on again for quite a few years.  I always felt the concept was intriguing — a reasonably sized semi-automatic 1911 style pistol, chambered for the mighty .357 Magnum revolver round.

Back in the day when many discussed the stopping power of one handgun cartridge vs. another, it was pretty much agreed that the .357 Magnum revolver cartridge, launching a 125 grain JHP bullet at about 1425 FPS, was at the top of the heap when it came to stopping attacks by violent human beings.

The reason (I think) that the Coonan didn’t catch on when it was originally introduced was that it came out before the current 1911 craze ignited by the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban.  A lot of folks figured that since their “wondernine” or forty was limited to ten shots, two or three more rounds of 9mm ammo on tap didn’t outweigh the perceived advantage of the larger .45 ACP slug in an eight round capacity Colt 1911.

Times are different now.  There are almost as many manufacturers of 1911’s as there are manufacturers of AR15’s, and the Coonan line stands in a good position for a higher degree of commercial success since the popularity of the 1911 has not abated.

I obtained a sample of the Classic .357 Magnum Coonan for testing. The Classic features all stainless steel construction and a monolithic lower receiver.  The sides are highly polished while the top of the slide and lower portions of the receiver, including the back strap, are smooth but dull finished. The smooth black walnut grips have the Coonan insignia laser etched into the center and are smooth. The sights are plain black Novak style combat sights and are elevation adjustable.  The seven round magazine is also stainless steel with a bright red plastic follower- two are included. Also included is a lower weight spring that allows the firing of .38 Special ammo. Controls are all standard 1911 in style.  The back strap is flat, and the grip safety is a wide beavertail style.  The slide release and the strong side thumb safety are extended.  The hammer is skeletonized. Weight is 42 oz.

Two of the things that one notices immediately on handling the Coonan Classic is the long ejection port, which is needed to handle cleared live rounds and of course ejected empties. The other is the longer grip which is also needed to accommodate full length .357 Magnum rounds.  I have average sized hands, and the hand-filling grip is very comfortable.  The Classic feels very natural and points like any other 1911. The trigger is excellent, very crisp, and seems to pivot rather than pull straight back.

Of course, when I received the Coonan, the ammunition shortage was (and is) in full swing.  My local firearms purveyor, Vance’s Shooter’s Supply in Columbus, Ohio, was out of any .357 Magnum ammo. I had a very small amount of .357 Magnum ammo at home, some Winchester 145 gr. Silvertip™ JHP and an old box of PMC 158 grain JSP.  Both boxes were partials.

I took the Coonan and what ammo I had to the range during one of our police academy training classes because I wanted my range staff to try it out.  Let me just say we were all very impressed.  It was definitely not like firing a .357 revolver.  Recoil impulse was similar to firing full power .357 SIG rounds out of a Glock 31.  However, the .357 SIG is very limited in bullet type and weight.  Basically, one has a choice of 125 grain bullets for practice or defense, although some makers offer a 147 grain variant.  With the Coonan, one can use .357 Magnum Jacketed ammo bullet weights up to 158 grain. There were no malfunctions and groups were very tight at 21 feet. Hostage rescue accurate!

I intend to do a longer test of the Coonan over a chronograph as soon as more ammo becomes available.  I can tell you that the folks at the Gun Envy™ Gunshop in Columbus Ohio have a Coonan that they take to their various functions and shoots.  Theirs has had many hundreds of rounds through it with no malfunctions.  The Coonan is highly reliable, and will definitely draw attention at the range.  Several manufactures make holsters. Best of all, the Coonan retails at the shockingly low MSRP of $1375.

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49 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. When can i find one, and what cost.?

    1. Google 1911 357 and you’ll get Coonans web site.

  2. I’m not currently prepared to drop $1375 on one, but appreciate the concept of a magzine-fed pistol which can digest .38spl, .38+P or .357 depending on what one intends to accomplish. Speed loaders aren’t as speedy as a mag swap and many of us would not choose a revolver if a suitable pistol was available.

  3. What was failed to mention is that when you order one, you are facing a year’s long wait. I fooled around for three months looking online, at gun shows and gun shops for a Coonan. There were a limited number of older models available bun none of the present model. I finally placed my order with Coonan. Had I done so immediately, I would now be firing mine rather than still waiting. My advice? The year will pass, regardless; so, order it now!

    1. I received mine about 6 weeks ago and the wait has dropped to 6 to 8 weeks, got mine in 4 1/2 weeks very very nice gun

    2. I was at my local gun shop, and I just happened to see one for $1500. it was the all black one with trijacon night sights, I wasn’t planning on buying a gun, so I put it on layaway and picked it up two weeks later.

  4. Hi: I’ve thought the 357 in a semi-auto since I have a Ruger GP 100 in that caliber. I also know how good the round is. My only exception might to have the gun in a smaller package for CC. I know given the rounds size this may not be possible. Still a handgun I will look more closely at.

    1. A smaller package would have a shorter barrel. Therefore you would lose velocity and gain muzzle blast. Not a great idea for the 357 Mag. It’s full size for a reason.

    2. There is the very rare Coonan Cadet, a Commander sized .357 magnum 1911.

      Also, the initial poster was wrong. The Coonan can and will handle any .357 magnum load you put in it, as long as you treat it right. Dan Coonan himself came up with a 230 gr round in .38 special cases that was great for knocking down bowling pins.

    3. Coonan has now come out with a compact that is a 4 inch barrel instead of the standard 6 inch barrel.

  5. Very interesting. I would like to handle one up close and personal. I,m only an .357 mag person. Sincerely, RDU

  6. Dear Mr. Wagner,
    Thanks for your article about the Coonan .357 I’d like to invite you to Ohio Valley Outdoors to assist you with your ammunition shortage. The store in Lancaster, OH also has a 21 lane indoor shooting range. Maybe your already familiar with Ohio Valley Outdoors. If not, I’d be happy to introduce you.
    Keith Mensing

  7. I am glad to see this article. I have been wanting a Coonan for years, but could not, and thanks to the economy, swing one at this time. But, having that kind of stopping power on a 1911 style frame, and the ability for my other family members to use it with .38 Specials, is a big deal.
    Thanks again. I am a new subscriber to CCM and am looking forward to more great info from Delta!

  8. Good article ,but it left me wanting more,what recoil was like(as I get older I’m getting recoil sensitive), and maybe a few more pictures.

    1. Recoil is light in my opnion..My reloads work well and are about 1300 fps

  9. The eternal conflict: Big, heavy (thus slow) bullet vs,small, fast and light bullet. Everyone has their preferences and each has it’s good and bad points. I refuse to argue the question but do have my preference. The old 7.62×25 Tokarev (really the old Mauser cartridge) and the hot 9mm Parabellum rounds (with FMJs) would shoot through light cover and mud crusted overcoats over LOTS of clothing. The .45 ACP mostly would not. That said, they wounded and failed to STOP in many cases a .45 would not have failed.

  10. Thanks for the report, I have seen them around.
    But, no-one until now has given much of a report.
    If you can not have a .45 ACP or 45 Colt.
    A .357 Mag, is a very good choice.
    I think I will look at getting one now.

  11. 357 is one load I have been a le to get thru the shortage.

  12. Great intro review! My all-time favorite handgun (& lever action carbine) cartridge, the .357 Magnum, now useable in an auto-loading pistol. Still kind of pricey, but moves the favorite round beyond revolver use. The Coonan .357 pistol, also handling .38 Special rounds, looks like a real winner for those of us who still straddle the cylinder/magazine fence.

  13. I have worked with Dan on some of his fixtures in the past and have shot the mighty Coonan several times.
    This is a wonderful gun.
    Last year at Ahlmands shooters round-up,shooting at 2″ targets at 20 feet, I was able to hit 9 out of 10.
    The feel and point of this gun is amazing.
    I love there advertising at this event: If you are looking for your first gun, this isn’t it.
    I currently carry a Kimber 1911 custom, but would trade for one of these monsters in a heartbeat.

  14. The whole article had some credibility until the very last
    statement. The author thinks that $1375 is shockingly low ?
    I dont know how reliable a rimmed cartridge could be in a semi auto….. but the 10mm Glock is proven reliable, much more on tap from double stack mag and the 10mm is easily the equal of the 357 mag in power with a case designed
    to function in semi autos. The Glock is MUCH less $ as well.

  15. Nice gun for A 357 mag. I have always loved the 357 mag caliber but at this price I’ll never own one. Oh well I guess the economy does dictate what weapon one carries. I myself carry the Ruger SR 40 and love it even though I would love to own a coonan 357 mag. Nice artical by the way.

  16. Like to hear more about the coonan Vs. the 10MM

  17. marinehmc2013

    I am intrigued by the Coonan 357; I have owned my Colt Python for close to 25 years, used it in combat yet never complained about my speedloader capabilities versus a cartridge, I can go as quick. But speed is not the key in life and death; rather accuracy and timing and it NEVER JAMS. I hit exactly what I aim for that’s why my military units have always backed me up, I am a Navy Chief (Doc). I would like to try this Coonan. Sempri Fi

  18. Wow…near only a grand and a half for a scaled down 45!!!
    I don’t think I payed that much for my Colt National Match Gold Cup, with the 22 cal conversion, far better adjustable sites and one heck of a trigger as well as a front bushing that keeps the barrel from moving and messing up my next shot.


  19. I knew such a gun existed but didn’t know they still made them. This is the gun I always wanted; I guess I will get on the waiting list.

  20. Hey all. There are a lot more reviews for the Coonan Classic on line. I have two and highly recommend this pistol. One of them has over 500 rounds with no malfs whatever. I just took delivery of the other. It is difficult to compare any Glock to this pistol. The Glock is a gun. A damn fine gun. The Coonan is a work of art. It shoots as well as they say also. I also own a Delta Elite. It’s a fine gun also. The thinking that the 10 mm is equal to the .357 mag ballistics is a little off. Close yes. Equal no. I like my Delta and the 10 mm cartridge but it is simply blown away by the .357. I’m not just talking ballistics. The .357 is available in so many bullet configs and weights and the 10 is really limited is this respect. Of course if you reload this isn’t so much an issue. As far as the $1375 price of admission, I looked at hand gun prices today at a shop in the Houston area today. A new, blued Colt .45 was $1175. Not a lot of difference there. You really can’t go wrong if you love shooting the .357 Magnum.

  21. 10 mm equal to 357 mag – I think not!
    And “glock” does not even belong in this discussion. People with Coonans gave up their plastic toys a long time ago. In fact my toy guns weren’t even plastic.
    Always wanted a Coonan – Got one last year. I have bought & sold a lot of guns but this one isn’t going anywhere! .357 in my revolvers, my lever rifle and now in a 1911. It don’t get any better than that! And for what you get, $1375. is a heck of a price in the gun world today. Have you noticed gas is not .69/Gal any more?


  23. I have a Coonan .357 waited several months (9) It is a great gun to shoot, has a stiff recoil, is larger than a 1911 and will not work for CC. I have 2 Kimber’s .45 ACP one is a Pro-Carry Ultra that is better for CC.The Coonan is a excellant weapon and it does bring a lot of attention at the range, it is a fun gun to shoot! Love It.

  24. I purchased a Coonan B when they first came out and I like the gun with 125 gr. bullets. The gun was accurate but was not reliable due to the malfunctions which occured due to the unrealible magazines. I contacted Coonan and they wanted me to purchase four more magazines to replace the ones I had that were manufactured without good quality control. They would not stand behind their product.

  25. WOW! $1375.00 is a “Out Of Reach” price. Therefore, I’m not interested. I can’t afford to go broke. My total retirement income is less than double that price.

    1. If you can’t afford it tough luck, I can afford it and would love to own one. Any 1911 is going to cost more than a plastic Glock.

  26. Coonan might want to make 4″ and 6″ versions of this pistol, one for concealed carry and the other for hunting. Those of you mentioning other calibers might want to check out ballistics by the inch for a comparison of the 357 mag vs. 357 Sig vs. 10mm vs. 40 vs. 45.

    Compared to the 357 Sig, the 357 mag is significantly worse out of a 2 or 3″ barrel, while it is almost the same out of a 4″ barrel, and significantly better out of a 5 or 6″ barrel. The 125-130 grain bullets carry the most energy, so for self defense, the ability to shoot heavier bullets is not that important. If you want to hunt with a handgun the 357 mag is a better choice, but that requires the 6″ barrel in some states. The 357 Sig does what it is designed to do, it is equal to the 357 mag for a 4″ duty gun and superior for a 3″ concealed carry gun. The Sig would also work well for a carbine with 17″ barrel, but it would not be nearly as powerful as a 16″ 357 mag carbine.

    Now some of you mentioned the 10mm, that is another story. First, while there are some female athletes who can handle it, the whole reason for the development of the 40 S&W is that most female police officers and some small men cannot handle the recoil and size of the 10mm. Of course if you can handle it, more power to you, but it kicks like a mule with a full power load. If you need a reduced powered load just pick up a 40, or better yet a 357. For a carbine, the 10mm is equal to the 357 Sig and nowhere near as good as the 357 mag.

    The 40 and 45 are similar. Their ballistics are inferior to the 357 Sig for any self defense purposes other than as a silenced home defense pistol. So unless you want to shoot a silenced pistol, or shoot in one of the games with rules that favor the 40 or 45, or work for a police department that has rules that favor the 40 or 45, choose one of the 357’s, or the 10mm if you can handle it.

  27. I bought a used Coonan in the mid nineties just because I thought having a 1911 in 357 mag would be just cool, cool, cool! At the range, I found the recoil to be quite pleasant, almost soft- no doubt due to the pistol’s weight and the slide action absorbing a lot of the recoil. I’m not a big guy, 5′ 6″, 165 lbs. (at the time) with medium to slightly less than medium sized hands. Sorry to say I sold it a couple years later, wish I still owned it, at the time I paid $500.00, expensive at the time. One thing, at the range I had people asking me if I was shooting hot loads because there was a large flame coming out the barrel with each shot, but all I shot was everyday (but not junk) ammo bought at the gun store. If you’re thinking about buying one, I recommend this gun, it would be nice if you could locate someone who has one and would agree to let you shoot it (with them looking on, of course). I am not a LEO and therefore never carried it, so can’t say anything about that aspect. Also, I never had malfunctions of any kind, but admittedly only put about 500 rounds through the gun. Thx for reading….

  28. Its a little pricey for me, Id love to have one but Im gonna wait til they come down or I find someone who is needing some money and find a deal on one of them, hope I dont have to wait too long! lol

  29. Thank you Scott for this Awesome Review on this Coonan .357 Magnum this is my kind of Hand Gun because I am a 1911 Freak and I love the 357 Round I have a .357 Sig but now I have found the gun I have been waiting for Thanks’ again Jeff Hayden

  30. I liked this article … can’t wait for more … thank you

  31. I own a Coonan and love it. It is my cc weapon of choice. With a good holster it will hug the body. The accuracy is excellent. The variety of ammo you can shoot is wonderful. I have been shooting 175 grain bullets with it and the gun gobbles them up. Love it and won’t trade it for anything.

  32. I picked up a Coonan Cadet a few weeks ago lightly used for 600 bucks, wouldn’t sell it for twice that

  33. Agree with most of these comments. Have had my Coonan Classic for a year and a half – had a problem with extraction and reliability with .38 spl. The factory paid for round-trip shipping, and whatever the problem was, was promptly fixed. The gun is now 100% reliable, and a tack driver as always. This gun will handle any threat, 2 or 4 legged. A pleasure to own and a pleasure to shoot – and yes – definitely worth the money.

  34. I’m glad I read this article and the numerous comments to see that there are other folks out there who have coveted this gun for years. I am one of those people, BUT, I ordered one last January and I was notified today that it is in production and they needed my local FFL dealer info so they can ship it to him for me to pick-up in two to three weeks!!! I have been around firearms since I was 5 years old, I’m now 65 years old and finally going to own this fine pistol. My advice to others….don’t wait as long as I did.

  35. I’d be interested in your thoughts on Connan ammo to.

  36. I have had my Classic since 2011 (I bought it on the 100th anniversary of the 1911) I later got a few different aftermarket grips (thanks to a finer grain) a 6 inch barrel and several new mags.

    I also have bought a few boxes of the Coonan ammo I have a hand signed box of there Silver bullet Zombie ammo (I wont open that box) and a few boxes of their self defence ammo. It is 158 grain JHP and is Chronographing at 1550 from the longer 6 inch barrel.

    They recently announced the Compact version. It looks very cool!

    There is now only 2 more things I want from Coonan.

    1. Extended mags
    2. A semiauto 357 magnum Carbine.

  37. I just had an opportunity to rent one at a pistol range. This was a basic stainless fullsize model with smooth wooden grips and fixed three-dot sights.

    My impressions are:

    Eight rounds fit in the magazine, but you are NOT going to seat a fully loaded magazine in the gun with the slide in battery, so you have to treat it as an 7+1 gun, not an 8+1 gun.

    The grip frame is long from front to back. It’s a big, big pistol. It’s not for people with small hands. Or even medium hands. The grip frame isn’t as enormous as a Desert Eagle but a lot of people just aren’t going to be able to shoot it well due to its size. The dimensions of the .357 Magnum pistol cartridge make this unavoidable. But if you’re over six feet tall and can palm a basketball, it should feel just right to you.

    Getting the first five or six rounds into the mag is easy. The last two are a challenge. The mag spring is heavy.

    The recoil spring is also heavy. I guesstimate it at 20-22 pounds.

    Ammunition was Blazer Brass 158gr JHP, the only .357 ammo the store had. It’s warm stuff that leaves the primers very flat and lights up the range with every shot.

    The trigger is outstanding, with a crisp break and a short reset.

    I was able to put two full magazines–sixteen shots–in one ragged hole 1 1/2″ across at seven yards. The pistol is tightly fitted and very accurate.

    The pistol also hits about 4″ low at seven yards, with the fixed sights.

    The pistol was extremely dirty and had no trace of lubricant on the slide rails, which may be why twice in fifty rounds, even with very stout ammo and a very heavy recoil spring, the pistol failed to go completely into battery. In both cases a light slap on the rear of the slide fixed it. I hope it’s more reliable when properly maintained because I am seriously, seriously considering buying one.

  38. Had a dan wesson 357 stolen and have not replaced it……yet. Just got my 2 sons a S&W Bodyguard 380 for their first handgun (Christmas Present) and of course one for myself. Already planning my next years gift…….and one for myself… Coonan 357 full size and. ported. Getting ready to pre-order a 45 in the next day or 2……compact size I think. Hope the quality is what I think it is !!!

  39. Just bought one after buying Glocks, Kimbers, Smith & Wessons. Shot five rounds of 158 grain ammo through my new Coonan 357 stainless steel semi-auto, and convinced me after all this time to finally get my CCW! Awesome, awesome gun if you can get one. Buying a holster, and having it coonanized along with an extra clip carrier!

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