One particular handgun that I like is the Coonan Classic 1911 in .357 Magnum. Get more information about the gun in this Coonan 357 review.
In this article:
Coonan Classic 1911 In .357 Magnum Handgun Review
My First Coonan Classic Encounter
I like big guns and I cannot lie – big handguns, that is. Seriously, the bigger, more impractical they seem, the better they often are. I first ran into the guys from Coonan back at SHOT Show in 2016. I’d previously heard about this engineering marvel but never had the chance to hold one in my hand. Luckily, I ran into them in Vegas. I’m glad I did because the guy I met broke down how it works, Barney style (think big, purple dinosaur).
After filling me with excitement overshooting a rimmed cartridge through a semi-automatic, I begged them to send me one to evaluate. They obliged, and I’m happy they did. I have to say that while this 1911 is stunning, I wasn’t all that impressed with the walnut grips. Not at first, anyway. I’m happy to note that they did grow on me, and I think they fit the handgun quite well, all around now that I’ve had it for several months.
The large magnum cartridges are fed by way of the 7 round magazine it comes with. That’s right, the Coonan 357 capacity is only 7 rounds in the mag with one in the chamber. Remember, these are big magnum cartridges we’re talking about. They require special engineering to just feed into the firearm.
There are a couple of different ways people think about something like this. First, this is a gun you bring to the range and have fun shooting. It is a conversation piece or something you shoot only occasionally and have on display in a nice wood cabinet at your house. Second, even though it is a big, heavy gun—you can carry it for self-defense. Instead of 5 or 6 rounds of .357 Magnum (like you’d find in a revolver), you get a grand total of 8. Not too shabby, by any stretch. Heck, I actually have it strapped to my hip as I’m writing this.
Ease of Use and Performance
I want to say relatively early on that this is not a handgun for a novice shooter. I’ve been shooting for many years, and trust me when I say that it does not handle like your little M&P, Beretta, or Glock. When loaded with hotter ammo, this thing is a hand cannon that brings a lot of attention (and smiles) from others on the firing line. In fact, each time I brought it to the range, it helped me start at least one conversation bang switch.
Speaking of the trigger, it delivers a nice, short, crisp pull and is exactly what you’d want in a $1,500 1911. Sending the hammer home produces a considerable amount of felt recoil, that is more easily managed by the loaded weight of 48 ounces. And, to my excitement, a two-foot-long ball of flame bursts out of the barrel, whenever those hotter loads ran through the linkless five-inch barrel. Again, this is not the gun for a new shooter.
I’ve got about 400 rounds of .357 through it along with about 150 of .38 Special. While it was dead sexy and a blast to shoot right out of the box, there are some things you need to remember when you buy one and decide to bring it to the range for the first time.
First, the Coonan Classic is thirsty for lube. They recommend FP-10 lubricant and offer up precise lubrication instructions in the included manual. I suggest that, if you ever decide to buy one of these beauties, you follow those lube instructions to the “T” otherwise you may experience a few malfunctions. There was a period of time when I didn’t lube it per their instructions, and I experienced failures to load (FTL).
Once a good friend of mine helped me realize the error of my ways. I quickly lubed it up and the issues were eliminated. He’s an Army Dawg, and he ‘lovingly’ told me that: “you Marines always keep your guns too dry. Put some more oil on it, and it’ll fix your problems.” It’s true. Some things are just ingrained in you, and when you’ve got a weapon inspection, or your white-gloved armorer turns your rifle away because it’s got too much CLP on it, you tend to wipe them drier than they should be. I guess it’s an old habit.
If you’re anything like me, you hate reading instruction manuals. But, I strongly suggest you read this one if you decide to buy one of these sexy handguns. Why? Well, because after I got done shooting .38 Special, pissed that it wasn’t cycling, I read that while the gun will shoot it, it will only cycle .38 +P. Turns out, that it needs the higher pressure loads to cycle the slide.
If I stuck to my ways and didn’t take the time to read the book, I never would’ve known that it won’t cycle regular old, plane Jane .38 Special rounds.
The Coonan 357 accuracy was great right out of the box, and I’d wager that it’d be great out to longer distances with a magnum load. In fact, that old Army Dawg friend I mentioned above says he rings 100-yard gongs all day long with one. I believe him.
So, what do you get for $1,500? You get the gun, a magazine (extra ones will run you $60 each), a lock, the case, and the two recoil springs. There are also other items you can buy, if you’d like a different set of grips, there are many available to choose from on Coonan’s website. They don’t break the bank and start at only $30 for a set and go up from there.
A quick note about the recoil springs…
They make it as easy as possible to decipher which spring goes with which caliber. They are color coded and the .357 Mag spring is heavier, and harder to compress by hand. It is red in color. The .38 Spc +P spring is easier to compress by hand and is green in color.
Watch this video on how to swap out the recoil spring of your Coonan Inc Classic:
Overall, this is a great handgun. I’ll miss it due to the good times shooting it as well as all of the conversations it has helped me start. Just make sure she’s properly lubed up before you take her to the range, and use the proper springs and ammo so you don’t accidentally have any jams, misfires or other cycling issues. Does it get my stamp of approval? You bet it does. And, even better, it’s a great gun to shoot.
What do you think of the Coonan Classic 1911 In .357 Magnum? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in June 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.