History of Colt’s Snake Guns

The Colt Python is one of the most iconic handguns ever made. It’s part of the Snake Guns family of seven deadly serpents that includes the Diamondback, Cobra, Anaconda, King Cobra, Boa, and Viper.

Colt’s snake guns with their sleek design, incredible power, and deadly accuracy, these revolvers have become a staple in American gun culture. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the history of Colt’s snake guns, exploring their origins, development, and legacy.

Since 1950, the Cobra family of guns has been incredibly popular. They’ve all been in and out of production a number of times, which only adds to their allure. However, the biggest boom to the seven serpents has been over the last couple of years, as Colt has reintroduced the Cobra, King Cobra, Python, and Anaconda.

Let’s take a brief look at the history of each of these snakes.


The Colt Python, introduced in 1955, was the first snake gun and quickly became one of the most popular revolvers in history. It was named after the python snake for its sleek design and deadly accuracy. The Python was chambered in .357 Magnum and featured a full underlug barrel, adjustable rear sight, and a hand-finished blue finish.

The Python was a favorite of law enforcement and civilians alike, and it remained in production until 2005. Today, it is one of the most sought-after firearms by collectors and enthusiasts.

Undoubtedly, the Colt Python is the most well-known of the seven serpent guns. Introduced in 1955, it was a large-frame double-action revolver chambered in a .357 Magnum. It is often regarded as one of the finest double-action revolvers ever made.

During the initial 51-year production, it was available in a dizzying array of barrel lengths, finishes, sights, grips, engraving, commemorative editions, etc. All told, more than 600,000 were made between 1955 and 2006 when it was discontinued. Then, in 2020, the Colt Python was reintroduced to the delight of shooters everywhere.


The Colt Diamondback was introduced in 1966 as a more affordable alternative to the Python. It was chambered in .22, .38, and .357 Magnum and featured a ventilated rib barrel and adjustable sights. Despite its lower price point, the Diamondback was known for its high quality and accuracy.

The Diamondback remained in production until 1986 and is now a popular collector’s item.

In 1966, Colt introduced the Diamondback, which was a perfect gun for fun on the range. Chambered in .22LR and .38 Special, they were available with 2.5-, 4-, and 6-inch barrels and finished in blue, polished nickel, and satin nickel. 


The Colt Cobra was the first snake gun. It was a medium frame, double action, lightweight alloy version of their Detective Special, which was approximately six ounces heavier than the Cobra. That may not sound like much, but ounces equal pounds, and pounds add up after day-in-and-day-out carry of a gun.

The Colt King Cobra was introduced in 1986 as a more versatile alternative to the Python. It was chambered in .357 Magnum and .38 Special and featured a full underlug barrel, adjustable rear sight, and a matte stainless steel finish. The King Cobra was known for its durability and reliability, and it quickly became a favorite of law enforcement and civilian shooters alike.

The King Cobra remained in production until 1998, when it was discontinued due to declining demand.

Available in .22, .32, and .38 calibers with 2-, 3-, 4-, or 5-inch barrels, the guns were in production from 1950 until 1972, and then again after some modification from 1973 until1981, and then again in 2017 to present.


The Colt Anaconda was introduced in 1990 as a more powerful alternative to the King Cobra. It was chambered in .44 Magnum and featured a full underlug barrel, adjustable rear sight, and a brushed stainless steel finish. The Anaconda was known for its incredible power and accuracy, and it quickly became a favorite of hunters and shooters who needed a revolver that could take down large game.

Despite its popularity, the Anaconda was discontinued in 1999 due to declining demand, making it one of the most sought-after firearms by collectors today.

Just like its reptilian namesake, the Colt Anaconda is the largest of the snake guns to have been offered by Colt. Built on their massive “MM” frame and chambered in .44 Magnum or .45 Long Colt, it was an impressive handgun.

When equipped with a 6-inch barrel, the Colt Anaconda tipped the scales at 53 ounces empty and even a bit more with a longer, 8-inch barrel.

It was available with four different barrel lengths, three different finishes, five different types of sights, and three different types of grips, with a fluted or unfluted cylinder. Made between 1990 and 1999, it was reintroduced in 2002 until 2006. Then, it was reintroduced again in 2021.

King Cobra Colt’s

King Cobra in .357 Magnum is essentially just a forged, matte-finished stainless steel version of the Trooper Mark V with a heavier, full-lug barrel. Still, the serpent association made it a popular gun-and incorporating the snake’s head into the barrel markings was a nice touch.

In 2017, Colt reintroduced the Cobra and King Cobra revolvers to the market, marking the return of Colt’s snake guns. The new Cobra and King Cobra are chambered in .38 Special and .357 Magnum, respectively, and feature a brushed stainless steel finish and a Hogue rubber grip.

The new snake guns have been well-received by gun enthusiasts and are seen as a tribute to the legacy of Colt’s snake guns.

The King Cobra was a direct competitor of the Smith & Wesson Model 686 and the Ruger Model GP-100, but what made it most appealing was that it had a suggested retail price that was quite a bit less than the other guns. 


The scarcest of all the snake guns, the Colt Boa is the only one that was never an officially cataloged item. Just 1,200 were made in 1985 as a special run for Lew Horton Distributing. There were 600 4-inch guns and 6006-inch guns, all in .357 Magnum. All of the serial numbers start with BOA and run consecutively from 001 to 1,200 with the 4-inch guns being odd numbers and the 6-inch guns being even numbers.


Similar to their Police Positive model, the Colt Viper was a double action revolver in .38 Special with a 4-inch barrel. Made with an alloy frame, it weighed 20 ounces empty. Left side of the frame marked with a Rampant Colt logo. Single line Colt Hartford address marked on the right side of the barrel. Blue finish with 6 shot fluted cylinder. Checkered walnut grips. Comes in original Colt cardboard box. The Colt Viper was a variation of the Colt Cobra produced with a 4″ barrel and in .38 Special caliber. Produced in 1977 which makes this a rarity among the Colt Snakes.

Colt’s Snake Guns FAQs

  • What makes Colt’s snake guns so iconic?

Colt’s snake guns are known for their sleek design, incredible power, and deadly accuracy. They were favorites of law enforcement, hunters, and civilians alike, and they continue to be sought after by collectors and enthusiasts.

  • Why were Colt’s snake guns discontinued?

Colt discontinued production of the Python in 2005 due to declining demand and rising production costs. The Anaconda was also discontinued in 1999 for the same reasons.

  • Are Colt’s snake guns still popular today?

Yes, Colt’s snake guns are still popular among collectors and enthusiasts today. The reintroduction of the Cobra and King Cobra revolvers in 2017 has given gun enthusiasts hope for the future of these iconic firearms.

  • What’s next for Colt’s snake guns?

As of now, Colt has not announced any plans to introduce new snake guns to the market. However, many gun enthusiasts are hopeful that Colt will continue to produce high-quality revolvers that pay homage to the legacy of Colt’s snake guns.

  • Can I still buy a Colt Python or Anaconda?

Yes, it is still possible to purchase a Colt Python or Anaconda on the secondary market, but the prices can be steep due to their rarity and collector value.

Overall, Colt’s snake guns have left an undeniable mark on American firearms history. From their early days in the Old West to their popularity among law enforcement and hunters, these iconic revolvers have become an important part of American gun culture. And with the reintroduction of the Cobra and King Cobra revolvers, it’s clear that the legacy of Colt’s snake guns will continue to live on for years to come.

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