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COLT COBRA REVIEW PART 1

The Cobra arrived from Colt last week and now that it is in my hot little hands, the long promised review can start.

The Cobra came out  over a year ago and made some noise as Colt’s noteworthy return to  double action revolvers.

A lot of people who want Pythons have griped about it  because it is not the Python they have been demanding in recent years .  All I can say to that is 1)  How many of those people were buying those much desired Pythons when colt was still making them and trying to sell them?  There is a reason Colt stops making a certain model and it is not because they were selling too many of them.  2)  Just hold your horses and see how well this “test the waters”  revolver goes, and you may get what you claim you want later.

Colt  has wisely decided to not jump elbow deep into making DA wheel guns again by making the kind of revolver most people who buy and carry revolvers actually want and carry.   This may seem to not make sense to come people when the look online and see all the clamoring for the Pythons.    Well think about all the times you have  been on a web forum and seen people telling some company “Oh, if you make that, you will get all the money!”   Sometimes they even proclaim they would buy one.  In reality, they won’t.  In fact, most of them saying it won’t.   Fact is a lot of people like the idea of something being out there, even if they have no plans to every buy it.       Or it would not be exactly the way the wanted it.   The barrel would be too long, or too short, or the wrong finish, or it would be too expensive or too cheap, or it would not be tactical enough.

With that in mind I think the new Cobra is a good way to test those treacherous waters.   It does not cater to the guys who want 2,000 dollar Pythons just for collectors value, or the big bore handgun hunters. Neither of which are a majority.  It is meant for the real majority.  People who want to carry a small, compact simple revolver.  Now lets take a look at it.

The Cobra has a stainless steel finish – not a bright polished stainless, but the nice balance of satin and matte.   It has the iconic Colt cylinder release and the always present Colt  Horse  logo.   The barrel has the rest of the Company info on the right side.  If you wished you could get one in a polished mirror like finish, the good news is you can polish this finish into a mirror yourself with some elbow grease and the right compounds.  A lot of  buyers have already done this and you can see how to videos on YouTube and gun forums.   I love the look of that mirror finish polished SS but for carry…      I scratch guns up too fast and the reflection  that polished stainless gives off makes me uncomfortable  with the idea of carrying a gun so ostentatious.  Not so much for fashion, but more for I don’t want it to be so obvious.

The muzzle of the barrel has a very nice recessed crown to protect it from damage.  A very nice touch for a gun meant to be used and used seriously.

As you can see above, the front sight is a fiber optic  red/orange  that shows up well in  daylight and gathers all available light when light conditions would make a plain front sight blade hard to see.

The rear sight is the standard revolver humped  up back with notch for alignment.  Which is what you would want from a gun many will stick in a purse, a pocket, or who knows what else that would make it easy to snag a rear sight on when trying to draw. Or have on a belt, that would allow an adjustable sight to tear the lining out of shirts, jackets, or coats.

The left side of the barrel tells you what you are shooting.  The Cobra is a  .38 Special rated for +P rounds.   I know a few have said they would  rather it have been in  .357 Magnum and at first I agreed. Then I remembered how it feels to shoot a .357 in a gun that small and light and how many people with a .357 gun in this  size never really carry .357 loads in it anyway and just use  .38 Spl and  reconsidered.   The .38 Spl in a modern +P load is enough.  It allows the gun to be a bit smaller and not as expensive as well and it sure is easier on the hand for most people who carry more than they ever shoot.     It makes me wonder how well  Cobra chambered in 9mm or 45ACP would would sell though.    As I said above though, lots of people ask for all manner of odd ball things from gun makers. Usually it’s only something the person demanding it would buy.

With loading in mind, the grip are nice soft comfy Hogue rubber grips but with the Colt logo.    These feel great for shooting hot loads.  Now Colt offers the Cobra with other choices in grips. My favorite being the ones made by VZ Grips with the Colt logo made into the G10 material .

Last on our list is the inside.  Everyone knows what the inside of a DA revolver looks like. That is not what I want you to see.  I want you to see what impressed me. The total lack of tool marks or swirls and all the things usually inside of a gun’s guts hidden from the  outer world.

Other than some burnt powder crud, that is some smooth internals.   It looks like it has had attention to detail lavished on it.  This is what people talk about when they are going on about the Colt revolvers of yore.     If you are a  Colt wheel gun guy, I do not think you will be let down.

 

Now, the stock trigger of a DA revolver usually feels like trying to bend a nail to me.  I am a single action semi auto guy to the core. I will never change.    But this trigger feels good!   Easy to  keep the sights on target through the entire pull, and that is a challenge for me usually.   Hand me a gun like this and I will always opt to cock  it to single action fire  if I have a choice.  But with this one, I am seeing what draws some people to a fine DA 6 shooters.  I have dry fired it for about 1 hour every night for 7 days, and I have  learned a lot about how to quickly fire a DA revolver.    If any of you 6 shooters have any tips for me, please share in the comments.

 

That is the end of Part 1 which is usually my  thoughts on a guns looks, how it works, and the features, etc.   In Part 2, we will get it fired up, see what accuracy it has, and shoot it as far as I can manage.

NOT MUCH FOR FIGHTING: THE M1903 SPRINGFIELD IN WWI

NOT MUCH FOR FIGHTING: THE M1903 SPRINGFIELD

                                            OR

            HAS LOOSEROUNDS GONE TOO FAR?!

 

 

There are some US  military  fire arms that enjoy the love  and adoration  of millions of people. These guns earned a reputation from major battles and wars.   Guns that entire generations used to fight off the enemies of America large and small.  The M1 Garand, the M1911,  the M1 Carbine.  The M14…  ahem..        One of those seems to have a lure and romance about it equal to or maybe  beyond even the M1 Garand.  That being the United States Rifle, Caliber .30-06, Model 1903.  Also known as the “’03”  or  “Springfield”.

The  story of the M1903 being adopted as the US service rifle is  pretty well known to anyone who knows anything about it.  The US was not happy with the  very finely made and smooth action-ed  side loading Krag rifle and its .30-40 service round after being shot to pieces by Spanish Mausers  in the Spanish American War.  Something about being under effective long range rifle fire from the other guy while you can not return same really drives a demand for change.

The Army got together all the experts, took a look at the captured Spanish Mausers and decided  the US Army needed to be using comparable.   In fact it was so comparable that a law suit was brought about over just how comparable the 03 was to the Mauser.

After a  being adopted the M1903 had its share of problems.   A number of  Pre WW1  rifles had brittle metal and and the receivers would come apart in various uncomfortable ways while shooting. The problem was figured out and fixed eventually but it is not advised to risk shooting any “low number” M1903.

 

After getting this squared away the rifle  then went on to glory and ever lasting fame in the hands of Doughboys like  Sgt York ( maybe.. maybe not reports vary) and the USMC and its marksmanship skill.  Official accounts of Marines mowing down Germans from long range with their rifles  tell of great marksmanship with great rifles and images are every where os snipers using the  03 for the dawn of modern sniping.       Though it was  the standard service rifle it was not the most widely issued and used rifle by the troops. That was actually the M1917.  But even though the 03  was still the rifle most coveted by the US troops.  As  said by Cpl. Mike Shelton: “What we really wanted were Springfields.  They were the best rifles in the war”.

But were they?

 

The 1903 is a fine, fine rifle  with beautiful lines.  It handles like a dream compared to most of its peers and was accurate enough to be used to the US team int he Olympics.   This makes for a beautiful military bolt action rifle.

 

It has a very finely adjustable precision rear sight  and blade front sight.  When folded down the rear sight is the open V notch and very small.  When extended the rear sight has a tiny peep sight that is adjustable for windage and elevation.  The adjustment was so fine it was capable of very precise adjustments.  When using a sling  while prone on a nice sunny day  at Camp Perry a rifleman could  show what the 1903 could achieve.    The story of the Farr cup trophy and why it has that name is a great example of just what can be done with the sights of the standard M1903.

Those things  are all that great  , but not for the combat of WW1.

The  rear sight in on the front of the receiver. Too far away for best most efficient use.  Trying to look through the tiny  rear aperture was useless in low light.  And the light  didn’t have to be all that low to make it impossible to use.    The rain and mud of the trenches and battlefield could find its way into that peep.     The front sight blade was  too small and easily  damaged.  Low light also renders it difficult to see.  The front sight was so easily damaged that a thicker blade was used by the USMC and a protective hood  was used.   This did protect the front sight but it also allows a little less light  in.  It also capture mud into the hood and front sight assembly.   That being a common thing with all hooded front sights.

The rear sight’s  fine precision adjustments are just that.  Finely  made with micrometer like precision.  And slow. Very slow to use.  The marksmanship of some units like the USMC was at  a high enough standard that the rifleman could adjust their rear sight for outstanding long range precision fire on enemy infantry and machine gun positions.  But this was not  as often done as many make it seem.    Adjusting the rear sight for precise long range fire on moving targets at undetermined distance  while under rain and with  mud covered hands as artillery fell around them  made using  the long range sights a daydream for most.     The rear sight does have an open notch for faster firing and and closer range  but it is small and not easy for anyone with less than perfect vision. This sight was set for 547 yd (500 m), and was not adjustable.  Not very useful for ranges most likely encountered when  time is critical .    It also had the problem of not being well protected.   Something the sights on a battle rifle need to be in such an unforgiving environment.   Later  on the M1903A3 rifle had  a  more simple peep sight on the rear of the action closer to the eye.  The peep sight was better for most infantry engagements and was an improvement over the original.

The M1903 had a typical for it’s day safety lever.  It would be easy to complain about how slow it is to use if you need  to fire quickly  it was common.  Other Bolt action combat rifles of the day had similar systems and a few had a fast  and some what more natural  feeling system .

One  thing the military thought it needed was a magazine cut off.   This little bit of  brilliance was a lever that when activated would not allow the action to feed from the magazine. This would require you to load a single round by hand or flip it to allow magazine feed.  The idea was you would fire and load one round at a time while keeping the internal magazine in reserve for when you really needed it and had no time to single feed by hand.   This supposedly  would save ammo.    Either way it is always a dumb idea.  It was dumb when it was on the Krag and it was dumb on the 1903.  Especially since it could be unknowingly engaged.

None of  of the things certainly deal killers or mentioned are deal killers or make the rifle useless by any means.   The M1903 is a beautifully made gun and wonderfully accurate.

There is a reason for that old chestnut about service rifles from WW1. “The Germans brought a hunting rifle, the British brought a combat rifle and the US brought a target rifle.”

Now looking at the other option carried by US rifleman in WW1.  The rifle at the time not as well admire but more widely issued and used.  The M1917.

The M1917 was a rifle being made in the US for British troops in  .303.   When the US entered the war it did not have enough 1903s and there was no way to make enough in time.  The decision was made to tweak the  .303 rifle into using the .30.06 service round.   This went off easily and the gun became the M1917 and was issued.

While it is heavier, it is built like a tank.

The magazine held one more round than the M1903.   The safety was a lever on the right hand side.   Much easier to quickly disengage.

The rear sight  is positioned much closer to the eye  and has a nice peep  with a fold up sight for more precise longer range shooting.  A great feature is the huge “ears” on each side that protects the rear sights from damage,

Another  part of the M1917 that aids in fast action for combat is the action.  Unlike the M1903 the M1917 cocks on closing.  This may not seem like much  of a difference but it is.  In rapid fire  it is much easier to work the bolt and cock it while rotating the bolt down with the speed and momentum of forcing the bolt forward then turning down opposed to cocking while lifting the bolt handle.  The dog legged angled bolt handle is also very usable despite it’s oddball look.  This allows for a very fast operation.   It is also a feature of other British bolt action designs like the Lee Enfields. The MK 3 and MK 4s are very fast and smooth.   British troops famously practiced rapid long range volley fire using their rifles  and a technique of working the bolt and depressing the trigger with their bottom two fingers of the firing hand as soon as the bolt closed.   A company of British troops firing in this manner could  wreak a larger unit a long range  and was an effective way to compensate for lack of machine gun support.

The M1917 has recently started to  get the respect it deserves, it still does not have the   admiration or mythical status of the M1903.

Luckily most of the things  that make the M1903 less than idea for comabat were addressed in later models.   AS I mentioned the M1903A3  corrected the rear sight issues with a peep sight that was simple to use and  more suited for ranges most firefights  really  occur.      It wasn’t made with the same aesthetic care and old world craftsmanship as the M1903 but it worked is  really the better gun if you had to take one to war.

The M1903 served several roles in its career and is much respected.   In some of those roles it was everything you could ask and more In others not so much.     As a sniper rifle its  target rifle accuracy , handling and trim lines really made it shine.

 

 

It served as a sniper rifle  into WW2, Korea and even some in Vietnam.  The Army opted for using a  4x weaver with the M1903A4 while the USMC  adopted and used the Unertl 8x optic.  A deadly combination that  produced many  Japanese widows. As seen below a team of USMC sniper on Okinawa.

Today the Springfield still  enjoys a status as  a real classic.  A real icon of US military Arms.  It’s accuracy being the stuff of legend and its full powered 30 caliber round  will always be unquestioned in it’s ability.       But, its original classic M1903  incarnation  never saw  nearly the  amount of combat as many believe and it was certainly not the best bolt action of the war.   It wasn’t even the best Mauser action combat rifle of the war.

Just like the M14, the original issued M1903 was. not much for fighting.

 

 

 

 

North Hollywood Shootout

A few years ago, I ran across this image .  It is a display  of the weapons and gear the two bank robbers from the North Hollywood shoot out used.     It is interesting to think back on how things changed   because of this.

I remember a lot of talk after it about how the CA cop’s 9mm and 38 spl   handguns and 12 ga shotguns, weren’t effective against the robber’s boy armor.    A fact that makes me wonder why, decades later  the 9mm has  become the  miracle baby of LEO once again.

 

 

Approximately 650 rounds were fired by police at the two robbers.  No doubt mostly from their service handguns.  Once officers armed with rifles showed up , the fire fight was over  one way or another.

That  estimated 650 rounds though.  That is something to think about.   While the robbers were heavily armored, their heads were not.      I have over the years wondered  about how none of the officers on scene  made a head shot.   Did they not have the skill? Or was it lack of confidence in their ability ? Maybe they assumed  they had some kind of armor on their heads? You can see they  made many center mass hits.   Of course having two guys hosing you down with .30cal  is not the best time to try to take a head shot.

But the fact is, you may some day very well need to take a head shot. Either because it is the only target you got or because it is the only thing vulnerable.

It is pretty clear the police officers on scene were rattled and demoralized by being vastly undergunned.

An officer was heard on the LAPD police frequency approximately 10-15 minutes into the shootout, warning other officers that they should “not stop [the getaway vehicle], they’ve got automatic weapons, there’s nothing we have that can stop them.”

 

You can listen to the audio from the fire fight here.

The firefight ended the only way it could.  Both of the dirt bags Tango Uniform.    One suck started his M92 and the other one taken down by leg shots and bleeding out before an EMT could get to him.   Too bad for him.   Now a days I am sure the state of CA would lock up the officers for not doing more to save the animal’s life.

image

After this shoot out we read about how things changed in the police departments across the country. This was one of the factors that led to the  police starting to look more and more and act more and more like the military.   And with that the more tax payer money spent on paying for it all.     Then we see the recent FL  school  attack were the police were close to useless. I see police who can barely qualify with their handguns.

Again, you have to be ready to take care of yourself in an event like this.    You have to  have the skill to make a fight ending shot.  Or   you need to be able to  realize that even with great skill. you may not do any good in an event like this.    If a customer was in that bank after the robbers went outside and started up the TET offensive would it had been a good idea to come out behind them and  try to take a shot, even a perfect shot, once the police were there and not knowing who was who?   Yes if you wanted to avoid ever having to worry about anything ever again.

There are a lot of things that can be learned from the North Hollywood  Shootout.  Not just for the police but for military and the rest of us lowly peons who simply  do not rely on the state for our safety.

You can read a mountain of info on this famous,  world changing event.    I am not going to try my hand at any kind of in depth reporting on the event but you can read more here at this link.

https://projects.dailynews.com/north-hollywood-shootout/

Figures of the North Hollywood shoot out suspects, Larry Phillips, Jr., and Emil Matasareanu as they were dressed on the day of the Bank of America robbery at the Los Angeles Police museum in Highland Park. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)