The Colt Anaconda is a revolver that many of us dream about owning. But, we have about as much chance of finding a Colt Anaconda .44 Magnum revolver as we do finding its namesake slithering around our backyards. Of the Colt “snake guns”, the Anaconda is one of the newer ones, and seems to be harder to find than some of the other snake guns. The only snake guns newer than the Anaconda are the re-issues of the Cobra and King Cobra that occurred within the past couple of years. By way of explanation, the Anaconda was produced from 1990-1999. That makes it the “newest” of the older snake guns, as far as I know.
Why The Anaconda?
Let’s look at first of all what it was designed to NOT be – the large MM-framed revolver was not designed to be carried in a policeman’s holster, or for that matter, a soldier’s. It was marketed, from the very beginning, to be used for hunting and sports-related activities. Colt knew it was too big and heavy to be carried by a law enforcement officer for very long. It was also overly-powerful (Dirty Harry notwithstanding) in its .44 Magnum chambering for police use. Nope, it was a hunter from the beginning. Introduced (as mentioned above) in 1990, it was made until 1999. But…if you really wanted one, you could get one from the Colt Custom Shop until 2003. Being a hunter’s gun, it is a little odd, at least to me, that it was made with such a highly-polished stainless finish. Being a handgun hunter (and owning a S&W 629 in stainless steel that isn’t too shiny), I understand exactly what can happen if the deer you’re watching comes in closer and gets a glimpse of sunlight reflecting off that mirror-like shiny surface…white-flag-up-and-gone. Colt tried to address this with the Kodiak, somewhat – more on that later.
A Rare Jewel…The Anaconda
Most every shooter who has been around a while has heard of at least a few of Colt’s “snake” guns: the Python, Diamondback, Cobra, Anaconda, King Cobra, Boa and Viper. The Python seems to be the king of these guns in terms of popularity and sales, since it is one of the oldest and most prolific. By way of explanation, between 1955 and 1969 more than 100,000 Pythons were built, mostly in Royal Blue with a four- or six-inch barrel. Polished nickel came along in 1962. The Python is still wildly popular, and prices have gone through the roof in the past twenty years or so. The Anaconda, being made in smaller numbers, shows a different resale dynamic. I use the term resale with caution, since the Anaconda’ production was much less than that of the Python. Resale implies that you can find one to buy – not so easy with the Anaconda.
In case you are not familiar with all seven snake guns, here they are with a few short comments about each. We’ll talk in more detail about the Anaconda later.:
Python (.357 Magnum, .38 Special): top-quality .357 Magnum revolver introduced in 1955. Collectors pay thousands of dollars for Pythons. It is probably the best-known of all Colt’s snake guns. The Python was the highest-quality .357 that Colt produced, when you factor in their other two .357s, the Trooper Mk. V and the Lawman.
Diamondback (.38 Special, .22 LR): A scaled-down Python available in the two calibers listed. Very popular.
Cobra (.38 Special, .32 Colt New Police, .22 LR): an aluminum-framed snub-nosed revolver based on the steel Detective Special. Early models had an exposed ejector rod, with later ones using a shroud and hand-filling grips. I owned one of these – it was a great gun.
King Cobra (.357 Magnum): A Python look-alike but made like a Trooper Mk. V. It came in 2-, 2.5-, 4-, 6- and 8-inch barrel lengths. The current version of the King Cobra is a newer fixed-sight, three-inch .357 Magnum version of the recently re-introduced two-inch .38 Special Cobra.
Boa (.357 Magnum): A .357 that looked like a Python but was made on a Trooper Mk. V frame. It used a Python barrel and came in 4 and 6-inch barrel lengths. It was specifically produced for the Lew Horton Distributing Company in 1985.
Viper (.38 Special): a 4-inch-barreled version of the Cobra. Made only in 1977.
Anaconda (.44, .45 Colt): Colt’s first .44 magnum revolver. Big and heavy, it was popular with hunters. Most were in .44, with a small run of four-inch-barreled guns produced in .45 Colt in 1993. The gun came with rubber finger-groove grips.
Here is the Anaconda. It was made in three barrel lengths – 4, 6 and 8 inches:
Our Anaconda – Up Close
I was fortunate to have access to a 4-inch Anaconda that was in my friend Duane’s gun case on consignment from a customer. I was able to take photos of it but was not able to shoot it. What a beauty. This is the only snake gun that I know about that was made just in stainless steel, never in blue. Polished bright, it is impressive. If such a thing as a gun can be a thing of beauty, this would be. Every detail was attended to – no loose ends to tie up. Fit, finish, lockup…this gun lives up to “snake gun” standards, for sure.
When I first picked it up, I was impressed…this was one serious hunk of iron. The short-barreled four-inch version weighed 47 ounces…by comparison, my 7.5-inch Ruger Super Blackhawk weighed 48 ounces. That is a lot of mass in a small package. Speaking of specifications, let’s take a quick look…
|Length (inches)||9 5/8||11 5/8||13 5/8|
A small run of five-inch-barreled guns was made but not cataloged – I can’t find any specifications on that one. As we can see, this is one large revolver. Introduced to compete with Smith and Wesson’s Model 29 and the Ruger Redhawk, the Anaconda came to the dance about 30 years late, that long after the other two guns had made their appearance. Consequently, it never really caught on with many .44 Magnum shooters. It used a modern transfer bar action, which allowed all six chambers to be kept loaded and (as mentioned) was made only in stainless steel. This gave it some protection from the elements, or at least maybe a modicum of resistance to rust over the other “Royal Blue” snake guns. In 1993, it was introduced in a 4-inch-barreled, .45 Colt chambering, which widened its appeal somewhat. Very few of these guns were made, which makes them desirable to collectors today.
Let’s look at our Anaconda up close & personal…
Note the tight fit between the cylinder yoke and the frame, both top and bottom. Also look at the cylinder chamber chamfering – this helps in re-holstering. Lastly, look at the joint between the frame and sideplate. No sloppy fit here…
Note the cylinder’s reflection off the polished frame. Also – the chambers are not counter-bored. This surprises me a bit, but Colt knows better than I do about such things. I love this finish!
Everything is so…clean & shiny! This gun has not been fired much, if at all.
Note the cylinder wall thickness – this gun could handle some hot loads, by the look of things.
Not all Anacondas were built alike – a couple of variations made their way into the production line. The Kodiak is the best-known of these. This gun was introduced in 1993. (They evidently ran out of dangerous-sounding snake names).
A run of 2,000 Kodiaks were made. Interestingly enough, a thousand King Cobras in .357 magnum were made and given the same unfluted-cylinder-and-Mag-na-port treatment at the same time the Kodiaks were made. This gun was called the Grizzly. Either gun would be welcome today in a handgun hunter’s holster, for the appropriate game.
In 1996, a run of 1500 six-inch-barreled, camouflaged Kodiaks with factory-mounted Redfield 2.5X7 scopes were produced. The project was in affiliation with the RealTree camouflage company. The resulting combination might possibly be one of the most effective traditional-caliber revolvers ever produced to hunt with. Here it is…
This particular gun has a fluted cylinder, unlike the gun shown in the photo above it.
These guns command a premium over and above that required to buy a “regular” Anaconda. I’ve seen these guns on auction sites for well over $2500. But, if you want one of the best revolver/scope setups going, here you go.
If the Anaconda were in production today, I’ll bet it would be a good seller. What with Colt bringing back a couple of new variations on old snake guns in the past year or so, who’s to say that they won’t go all out and remake the Python, Diamondback and Anaconda or others?
With the popularity that the .44 Magnum has and the ammunition available for it now, a re-introduction of the Anaconda might be just the ticket for Colt. Considering that the compatible .44 Special is experiencing a resurgence in popularity, it isn’t out of the question to speculate that a gun such as the Anaconda would sell well. Remember that the reason it was produced originally was to compete with the Model (6)29 and the Ruger Redhawk. I think that a new version would be right up there with the other two (and Taurus’ Raging Bull) in terms of sales.
The Hunting Angle
Even given the tendency that the Rampant Colt logo on any Colt gun tends to boost the price, a new Colt Anaconda just might be a very popular gun for handgun hunters. Hunters will pay for quality. The handgun hunting sport is growing – I know that from experience. There is always room for a .44-magnum-class revolver in the hunting field. There’s nothing wrong with the .454s and larger handgun cartridges, but the good ol’ .44 has filled many a freezer with venison and is definitely easier on the shooter. A four-inch, ported barrel Anaconda loaded with a decently warm .44 Special or mid-range .44 Magnum load, such as a 240-grain semi-wadcutter at about 1100 f.p.s., would be just the thing for deer. I’ve taken many deer over the past thirty years or so with my long-barreled (8 3/8”) S&W 629, but I would love to have a four-inch .44 in a belt holster to accompany my .243 Savage rifle while I sit in my deer blind. I would not hesitate to use it on any deer inside of 100 yards or so.
“Hello, Colt? I Have An Idea…”
So, if you’re the writing type and love the .44, drop Colt an email or two asking about the re-introduction of this great gun. Granted, if they bring back any other snake gun, I would imagine that the Python would be the first since it is so popular. But…there are many of us out here who would love a new Anaconda, because of the cartridge it shoots. Add in that Rampant Colt logo, and you have a winner, again!
Let me know about your experience with snake guns and the Anaconda in particular in the comments below. I am always interested in what you think.
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Mike has been a shooter, bullet caster and reloader for over 40 years. Never one to be satisfied with the status quo, he is often found at his reloading bench concocting yet another load. With a target range in his backyard and after 40 years of shooting, his knowledge of firearms and reloading is fairly extensive. He is married, with four sons and daughters-law and 8-and-counting grandkids.