Colt Anaconda front-cylinder open

[Review] Colt Anaconda

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.

Snake Guns

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:

Anaconda 4-inch
Four-inch Anaconda (the one I got to examine had a four-inch barrel)
Anaconda 6-inch
Six-inch Anaconda
Anaconda 8-inch
Eight-inch Anaconda

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.

Colt Anaconda barrel left

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…

4-Inch6-Inch8-Inch
Weight (ounces)475359
Length (inches)9 5/811 5/813 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.

Close-Up Time…

Let’s look at our Anaconda up close & personal…

Colt Anaconda barrel right
Barrel, right side. The front sight is pinned, which means it can be replaced. The vent rib adds to the guns’ good looks.
Colt Anaconda barrel-vent rib-ejec-rod
Ejector rod.

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…

Colt Anaconda cylinder open
Cylinder rear.

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!

Colt Anaconda front-cylinder open
The front of the cylinder.

Everything is so…clean & shiny! This gun has not been fired much, if at all.

Colt Anaconda front-sight
Front sight with insert
Colt Anaconda muzzle
The business end!
Colt Anaconda gun left
Another shot of the barrel’s port side
Colt Anaconda muzzle crown
Note target muzzle crown and rifling
rampant colt
That famous logo, the Rampant Colt
Colt Anaconda rear sight
Rear sight and hammer.

Note the cylinder wall thickness – this gun could handle some hot loads, by the look of things.

Colt Anaconda transfer-bar
Transfer bar and firing pin
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    Variations

    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).

    kodiak
    Kodiak. Note the unfluted cylinder and the Mag-na-ported barrel.

    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…

    kodiak camo
    This is truly a hunting machine.

    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.

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      Conclusion

      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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      42 comments
      1. Glad to hear some mention about the Anaconda. It was kind of over shadowed by the other snake models. I own one(8″) and love it. Bought it in the early 90’s. It shoots great. I guess I ought to cherish it. Never hunted with it but at 25 yards offhand(two hands) it shoots very tight groups. One day at the local range I was shooting at the 25 yard steel targets(small sized). The range owner wasn’t too pleased. Three needed new chains as the chains broke.lol

        1. Vince, yup, that’s one way to irritate a range owner! Glad you enjoy your snake gun…I’d love to have one. Thanks for writing!

      2. I am the fortunate owner of a Diamondback in .22lr, a Python, a King Cobra as well as an 8″ Anaconda. And the feeling you get when loading six rounds of .44Magnum in the Anaconda and closing the large cylinder is second to none. It has a crisp 3 pound single action trigger pull, and it is suberbly accurate. I just love that gun!

        1. Clyde, what barrel length do you have? Just curious. I’ve killed several deer with my 8 3/8″ S&W 629. Is yours a 6 inch? Thanks for writing!

            1. Good all-around choice. I wish at times mine was a six-incher – sure is handier to pack and draw than my “pull-it-hand-over-hand-out-of-the-holster” 8 3/8″ barrel. Thanks for replying.

          1. Yeah, that’s great…this happened after my review was written, I believe. Glad to see they’re back at it! Thanks for writing.

      3. Thanks for your post, I am 67 and just this year bought my first COLT… There just wasn’t very many places to purchase a Colt when I got interested in handguns so I started with Ruger and then S&W. I bought the King Cobra 357 mag. I love it, it feels so much better than Ruger or S&W’s that I have… While I have several semi’s I truly love revolvers…
        Thanks again, Tom

        1. Tom, thanks for the kind words. Like you, I am a “seasoned citizen” as Rush calls us and am now re-discovering how truly well-built Colt revolvers are, and were. Glad you got one! Thanks for writing.

        2. There is something about that cylinder wheel clicking that you got to love. Throw in simplicity and reliability of function, and your heart is won over.
          They look good too.

          1. Vince, not to mention the overall quality feel of the Colt snake guns – they are something special. Thanks for writing!

      4. I have an Anaconda 6″ barrel, love the revolver guns. Purchased this gun In 1995, have been asked a thousand times if I want to sell. I just cant do it.

        1. Phil, I’d hang on to it. If you have kids or grandkids, they probably would appreciate it. There’s no guarantee that, if you did sell it, you could replace it if you desired to. Thanks for writing!

      5. Gents,
        I am the proud owner of a 1995 6″ Anaconda, and you just can´t imagine how proud I am, because I live in Spain where, like in most of the rest of Europe, circumstances for firearms lovers are much much worse than in your great country. We can only have ten handguns at the most but very few people do qualify for that figure. I can only have six, like most of my pals, after passing several tough exams. We can only use the guns at the range and we can only take them there to and from home unloaded in their case.
        So, imagine the plight of a poor guy who has not a licencse but whose grandad brought back a Luger -many- from service in the Spanish Blue Division of the Wehrmacht almost eighty years ago. Should he hand it over to the police and lose it foreever or keep it in a drawer and take a look a it from time to time late at night when his wife and kids are fast asleep?

        We do not a have a right to self defense at home, so if you are unlucky enough to receive the visit of an intruder in your home and have the very bad idea of using your guns against them to defend your family, you will probably get a minimum of ten years. Crazy, but true. There are other minor restrictions too, for instance, some calibers are banned, like the .223 and the .308, and nobody whatsoever can have full auto guns, etc.

        Our Socialist politicians get very little sleep at night thinking about how to restrict the following morning our almost non-existant rights further and the police can take your guns from you at any time they see fit with the slightest excuse, for example if you are not ultra Rambo-like healthy and fit, and you can do nothing but cry or get into impossibly long and expensive legal procedures.

        So, all this boils down to just one appeal to you to keep working to defend your gun owners rights and your second amendment.

        And, back to my Anaconda, few of these Colts were exported to Europe and even fewer to Spain, so when a few weeks ago I came across this beauty, -which, BTW, I bought from a cop who had to retire after a petty criminal smashed his ankle beyond repair and almost nothing happened to the punk, thanks to our leftist laws- I could not resist the temptation knowing that I would not probably ever find another one again.

        1. Alvaro, glad you ended up with the Colt. We can only hope that your political situation improves – glad at least that you can own guns, even with all the regulations. Thanks for writing!

      6. I purchased my 4″ Kodiak on Kodiak Island in 1994. It is a great handgun and a perfect companion along the islands salmon streams. It is a shooter and I enjoyed developing hand-loads for it.
        Great article and included some wonderful photos of this beautiful firearm.
        Later,
        J

        1. Jack, thanks for the kind words. The gun was very shiny, so the pics came out well. I’m glad you found one – sounds like you have the perfect “companion” for your fishing trips. Thanks for writing!

      7. I just purchased an 8″ Anaconda made in early 1991 from an estate for a song and a dance (< $2k). It is unfired and in the original box! The gentleman owned a gun store and bought it as an investment and stuffed it in his safe. I am extremely grateful to add it to my Colt collection. I am amazed at the craftsmanship as compared to my Smiths and Rugers. I so badly want to fire it, but I won't. It is to be admired from a far as with the other safe queens. Samuel Colt would be smiling if he could have witnessed the Anaconda and the .44 Remington Magnum cartridge. What a fine representation of the Colt tradition.

        1. Glenn, sounds like you got a heck of a deal. I agree about Sam Colt… I think ol’ Sam would be beaming at the workmanship those pistols displayed. It is up in the air as yet whether Colt can re-achieve those levels in this day & age. Hopefully so, but they set the bar really high back in “the day.” I appreciate your viewpoint-thanks for writing!

      8. I have a 4″ 45 cal. Anaconda…it is the most controllable large caliber 4″ handgun I’ve owned. The action and pull are sooo smooth.

      9. Doug, I don’t doubt that the Anaconda is controllable – it is a very well-designed gun. I’m curious – do you handload? What types of .45 loads do you shoot? Just wondering. Thanks for writing!

      10. Looking at buying a .44 8 3/4 in Anaconda for $3,000 . Stainless ! I will spend about $200 to port it ! Just wonder what you all think about that pricing?!

      11. Mike, what I think really doesn’t matter – if you want the gun and can afford it, go for it! The price is a bit on the high side but not into “gouging” territory. I assume you’ve done your research and have looked for this gun online. Really, what you think counts – it’s your money. Let us know what happens, OK? Thanks for asking, though!

      12. Hi! My husband is interested in purchasing an 8” anaconda and has been looking at auction sites. I stumbled upon your interesting article when doing research for an auction we were watching where someone has the anaconda for sale with all the barrel sizes – interchangeable barrels – 4,6,and 8? Have you ever seen or heard of anyone have all three barrels for their anaconda that they can change out? I can’t find any articles referring to people having all three?

        1. JoEllen, I’ve never heard of interchangeable barrels with any Colt snake gun, but I could be wrong. Dan Wesson makes their excellent .357 with various screw-in barrels, but Colt has not done that to my knowledge. One thing it could be is that the owner just bought extra, gunsmith-installed barrels in case he or she wanted a different barrel length. A competent revolver smith could mount the barrels, give them the right amount of torque, and make sure the barrel/cylinder gap is correct. I wouldn’t try this at home. One other thing, if your husband ends up getting that multi-barreled Anaconda, he could always sell the extra barrels – I’d bet they would bring a lot, since these guns are fairly hard to find and spare parts similar. At least, that’s my opinion, could be wrong. Good luck with that, and write back when he ends up with one to tell us what he got. Thanks for writing!

      13. i own a colt anaconda..1993 version..8 3/8 barrell….it is a heavy gun….shoots like a shot gun..
        nice recoil….very smooth action…25 rounds and your done for the day….
        i would never sell it….10+ is my rating..

        1. I don’t shoot much more than that myself . At 60 years old and having small hands it’s rare these days I’ll shoot a full box. A couple of times my wrists were reminded they shot a full box the next day. Lol

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