May 02, 2023
If you’re going to be a snake, you might as well be a big snake. And like its namesake, the Colt Anaconda is one big snake. While we can debate the relative deadliness of the other reptiles the company’s current snake-gun revolvers are named for—Cobra, King Cobra and Python—there’s no denying the recently reintroduced Anaconda is not only the biggest but also the baddest, thanks to its .44 Magnum chambering.
This is truly a hand cannon, a six-shot .44 that’s built on an oversize Python frame and available in six- and eight-inch barrel lengths. Weight on my six-inch sample is three pounds, five ounces, thanks to its beefy stainless steel construction that includes a full-length underlug on the barrel.
The barrel also sports the vent rib that sets it and its Python stablemate apart from the crowd. While the rest of the gun is polished stainless, the topstrap and top of the vent rib are matte finished to reduce glare. The barrel gets a recessed crown to protect the rifling.
Sights include a fully adjustable rear and an orange-ramp front that’s held in place with a small hex-head screw at the front. This allows their replacement with different-height sights to accommodate different loads, as well as fiber optics and other aftermarket options.
The topstrap is drilled and tapped to take a scope mount, and a Picatinny rail for this gun is available from outlets like Brownells and Midway.
The gun incorporates a transfer-bar safety, and the broad hammer spur has horizontal serrations for sure purchase. Hogue rubber grips with finger grooves and a pebbled finish provide control and tame recoil.
The left side of the barrel is engraved “Anaconda .44 Magnum,” and the famous rampant Colt logo is engraved on the left side just under the cylinder release. The right side of the barrel is stamped “Colt’s Mfg. Hartford, CT USA.” The serial number is located just above the trigger.
The original Anaconda made its debut in 1990 in an attempt by Colt to compete with large revolvers offered by Smith & Wesson and Ruger. But those guns had a big head start on the Anaconda, and while the Python—its smaller, older brother—became one of the most iconic revolvers of all time, the Anaconda never gained such fame. Production of the original model ceased in 1999, although there was a Colt Custom Shop version offered from 2002 to 2006. And now we have the new, redesigned Anaconda.
Colt, of course, made its bones in the revolver world. Col. Sam Colt, who carved a model of his first revolver while serving aboard a ship, had a keen business sense, and the success of his revolvers was aided by fortuitous timing. A need for handguns on various fields of battle around the world—as well as the opening of the American West—created a big demand for his products.
Over time, though, the company became better known for 1911 pistols and the AR-15 rifle, for which it maintained various military contracts for many years. Much to the chagrin of wheelgun enthusiasts, in recent times the revolver side of the business languished. But with a recent change in ownership—it is now a part of the Colt CZ Group—Colt wheelguns are making a comeback. In fact, at a recent press gathering a company representative indicated revolvers are going to be a primary focus going forward.
Don’t expect to see Single Action Armys flooding the market, though. Sales for those, while steady, are limited. However, as defensive and sporting handgunning continues to gain popularity, revolvers are increasingly becoming a firearm of choice.
With the new Anaconda, it’s pretty easy to tell Colt is paying attention to quality. The polish on this gun is flawless, and judging by the lack of drag marks on the cylinder, the timing is spot on. Cylinder end shake is just 0.006 inch.
I mentioned it’s a beefy gun, so I compared a few dimensions with my five-inch Smith & Wesson Model 629. That gun weighs “only” two pounds, 12 ounces, but of course, it would be lighter because its barrel is an inch shorter. The cylinder diameter on the Colt is 1.75 inches, only 0.004 inch wider than the Smith’s. Barrel diameter at the Colt’s muzzle is 0.825 inch, while the S&W’s is 0.768 inch. That’s a difference you can see and feel.
In addition to my Smith, I also own a Ruger Super Blackhawk and a Desert Eagle semiauto. I don’t really need another .44 Magnum, but I’m really going to have to work to talk myself out of buying this Anaconda.
First, it’s just really cool. But more important, it would certainly be my most accurate .44 Magnum.
I am the first to admit that bench-testing handguns is not my favorite thing to do, and I don’t think I’m particularly good at it. But on my second group of the day, shooting American Eagle’s 240-grain jacketed softpoint, after flinching the first one an inch or so to the left, I proceeded to shoot a one-hole, half-inch group. Sure, that was an exceptional group, but overall the Anaconda turned in some of the best 25-yard iron-sighted accuracy results I’ve ever achieved.
And this out of a .44 Magnum, which isn’t the most pleasant cartridge in the world to shoot from the bench. I did stick a .44 Special load in the middle of the test, just to give myself a break, but even by the end I was still getting good groups with magnums.
Part of the credit goes to the excellent sights and the long sighting radius. As an aside, kudos to Colt for providing a small tool for adjusting the rear sight. Yes, it’s a simple flat-blade screw, but it’s quite thin, so rather than have to hope you have one in your kit that will fit, Colt has you covered.
Part of the credit also goes to the excellent trigger. Single-action pull is just under four pounds and breaks cleanly. Double-action pull is a shade over eight pounds. Compare that to my S&W 629, which has a double-action pull of more than 12 pounds. That’s a big difference, and the Colt’s pull has only a tiny bit of stacking at the very end. I also like the grooves in the trigger itself, which I think add control and aid in making the press straight to the rear.
The excellent trigger pull is thanks to what the company is calling a linear leaf-spring action.
“It’s a leaf-spring design, but the shape of the leaf spring provides a consistent and less-stacking trigger pull than the comparative older model D or Python leaf springs,” said Sara Simonow, Colt’s marketing director said.
The great trigger also comes into play when shooting double-action offhand. The gun is quite controllable with standard .44 Magnum loads thanks to its weight. Not only is it a heavy gun, as it should be, but it’s also got more weight out front thanks to the ventilated rib.
Colt is touting the Anaconda as an “unstoppable huntsman’s sidearm.” As such, it would make an outstanding deer, black bear or wild boar gun—especially if you take advantage of the drilled and tapped topstrap. Throw a long eye-relief scope on there and, coupled with its outstanding accuracy and trigger pull, you’ve got a handgun that will get the job done at any reasonable range.
And then there’s the cool factor—owning a gun just because you want to. The Anaconda definitely falls into that category for a lot of us. Before you kick about the price, the Anaconda is right in line with the Ruger Super Redhawk and only a couple of hundred bucks more than the Smith & Wesson Model 629 and comparable Taurus’ Raging Hunter models.
Original-run Anacondas? Pricey. My copy of the Blue Book of Gun Values is a couple of years old, but it lists Anacondas in 98 percent condition ranging from $1,900 to as much as $3,500. I even saw one on GunBroker.com—an Anaconda Hunter, new and complete with case—for $10,000.
As a revolver fan, I’m happy that Colt is back in the wheelgun game. It’s always good to see a legendary name regain its footing, and if the Anaconda is an example of what the new company is up to, I think we can look forward to some great revolvers to come.
Colt Anaconda Specifications
- Type: double-action/single-action centerfire revolver
- Caliber: .44 Magnum
- Capacity: 6
- Barrel: 6 in. vent rib (as tested)
- Overall Length: 11.5 in.
- Weight: 53 oz.
- Construction: Polished stainless steel
- Sights: Fully adjustable rear, orange-ramp front; drilled and tapped for optics
- Grips: Hogue finger groove
- Trigger: DA pull, 8 lb., 2 oz.; SA pull, 3 lb., 14 oz. (measured)
- Price: $1,499
- Manufacturer: Colt, colt.com
Colt’s ‘Seven Serpents’
- Cobra: .22 Long Rifle, .32 Colt New Police, .38 Colt New Police, .38 Special. 1950–81, 2017–present
- Python: .357 Magnum. 1955–2005, 2020–present
- Diamondback: .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, .38 Special. 1966–91
- King Cobra: .357 Magnum. 1986–92, 1994–98, 2019–present (A King Cobra Target .22 was announced in 2022.)
- Viper: .38 Special. 1977
- Boa: .357 Magnum. 1985
- Anaconda: .44 Magnum, .45 Colt. 1990–99, 2002–06 (custom shop), 2021–present