+P ammo in my Colt cobra?

+P ammo in my Colt cobra?

This is a discussion on +P ammo in my Colt cobra? within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Well as some of you know I picked an 1952 colt cobra off of gun broker. My question is would is be okay/safe to keep ...

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Thread: +P ammo in my Colt cobra?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array 1911luver's Avatar
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    +P ammo in my Colt cobra?

    Well as some of you know I picked an 1952 colt cobra off of gun broker. My question is would is be okay/safe to keep it loaded with speer's 135gr +P gold dots for carry and practice with standard pressure .38 special ammo?

    I ask as I've read conflicting reports on the internet and various forums as well,such as ammo in the 50's was loaded a lot hotter than it is these days. The 38/44 comes to mind and it seems that that .38 special round was probably hotter and higher in pressure than even the "+P" stuff we have available today.
    So knowing all this is it reasonable to assume that that a cylinder full of +P for self defense use won't blow up my gun or otherwise damage it? I really like the 135gr gold dot round it seems to be one of the best performers out right now for use in a snubby. If its not safe to use any +P at all in this gun then what is a comparable load,that performs as well in the standard pressure variety? Thanks for any help guys.
    Snub nose revolvers,the original concealed carry guns.


  2. #2
    Member Array Phantoms's Avatar
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    Why not write Colt and ask? I'm pretty sure they will state the gun was not designed for it, but you never know. Only Colt knows what the gun was designed for.

  3. #3
    Member Array DZcarry's Avatar
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    Why chance it? You have to ask yourself which you want more +P ammo or your Colt Cobra.

    There are plenty of good standard pressure rounds that will get the job done. I for one do not plan to shoot +P in my Cobra.

  4. #4
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    I have one made in 1972.

    I phoned Colt and they said no +P for mine. I imagine yours would merit the same advice.
    CCW permit holder for Idaho, Utah, Pennsylvania, Maine and New Hampshire. I can carry in your country but not my own.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Array 1911luver's Avatar
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    Thanks guys so can you recommend a good standard pressure round for carry use?
    How are the new 125gr nyclads from federal performing,any data on them out yet?
    Snub nose revolvers,the original concealed carry guns.

  6. #6
    Ex Member Array Don Glock's Avatar
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    i wouldn't shoot +P in a pistol that pre-dates +p ammo.

  7. #7
    VIP Member Array CLASS3NH's Avatar
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    The Cobra (and the Detective Special) gun was not designed to shoot +P ammo. The frame and bridge over the cylinder will stretch or snap using the high pressure loads. If you handload, try using ther 148Gr HBWC and reverse em. I know, this isn't the best defense load, but it sure punches a good size hole in paper.
    Here's a GREAT link on the Colts. The Colt Detective Special
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  8. #8
    Member Array DZcarry's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1911luver View Post
    Thanks guys so can you recommend a good standard pressure round for carry use?
    How are the new 125gr nyclads from federal performing,any data on them out yet?
    I just picked up some Hornady Critical Defense FTX 110 gr. I'll give it a try on Saturday.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by CLASS3NH View Post
    The Cobra (and the Detective Special) gun was not designed to shoot +P ammo. The frame and bridge over the cylinder will stretch or snap using the high pressure loads. If you handload, try using ther 148Gr HBWC and reverse em. I know, this isn't the best defense load, but it sure punches a good size hole in paper.

    An alternate opinion

    If I owned the gun and wanted to carry it with +P ammunition I'd shoot a couple of cylinders-full of +P to verify the sights and then carry it that way. I wouldn't be interested in investing the money in the purchase of enough +P to materially loosen it up. Cheaper ammunition can be had for practice.




    I don't happen to think that it is a given that a top strap will stretch or snap. This steel framed Colt Detective Special from 1966 has fired +P 158 grain ammunition and its top strap is neither stretched nor snapped. When it is used for concealed carry it is loaded with the same type of +P ammunition.

    .38 Special +P does offer some meaningful performance increase but isn't some high pressure bomb that stresses quality handguns excessively. Its fearsome pressure reputation is overrated (well maybe excepting Buffalo Bore +P).

    I handloaded and tested a batch of reversed wadcutters once and the concept was a bust for spectacular or even reliable expansion in the various mediums used for tests.

    A good standard velocity .38 Special load using a sharp shouldered semi-wadcutter is nothing to sneeze at.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Array Andy W.'s Avatar
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    Another vote for Hornady Critical Defense.
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  11. #11
    VIP Member Array CLASS3NH's Avatar
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    The Classic Colt Detective Special .38 Revolver
    By Mike Guffey

    The Colt Detective Special was an American DA/SA revolver first produced in 1927 as a shortened version of the Police Positive Special handgun. It was designed for ease of carry and concealment. It proved very popular and over 1.5 million were produced in several models by the time production finally ended in 1986. Though originally offered in .32 caliber, the most common of the Colt Detective Specials were chambered for the .38 Special cartridge fed from a 6-shot cylinder and had a 2-inch barrel. (Some models with 3-inch barrels can also be found.) It is a classic-style, swing out cylinder, double action compact revolver with fixed blade front sight and notch-style rear sights and full lenght ejector rod. The cylinder rotates clockwise, unlike Smith & Wesson revolvers. The Detective Special models were also available in other calibers.

    The gun first became popular [in 1926] after J. H. FitzGerald, a Colt shooter, began to cut the Police Positive guns down to two inches for use as belly guns. In fact, FitzGerald went even further and bobbed the hammerspurs and cut out the front of the trigger guards in an attempt to make a real speed gun. They called them FitzGerald Specials, and many savvy gunmen preferred them for fighting guns.

    - Jim Wilson, writing in the May, 2003, "Shooting Times:

    The original square butt configuration was the most common revolver shown in detective movies during the late 20's through the early 50's though the first issue (generation) was only manufactured for about 10 years. It had an unshrouded ejector rod housing which gave it a distinct and unmistakable silouette with its square butt. The round butt was first produced in 1933 and the extractor was shortened and shrouded about 1958. Later issues of this handgun had a less distinct appearance. In all, there were four generations of the Detective Special by the time production ended. There are many of these fine revolvers still in service today, though, sadly, Colt no longer caters to the concealable snubby or the revolver market.

    Colts Detective Special is still considered by many to be one of the finest snubbies ever made.



    The first issue (generation) of this handgun (above) was produced from 1927 to about 1946.



    The third generation of this firearm shows the shrouded ejector rod but by now the handgun had a less distinctive profile.



    A custom engraved version of the handgun going for about $1750. Typically, used pricing ranges from about $250 to about $450 and even to $650 (asking price), depending on age, the generation and condition.




    THE MOST COMMON QUESTION ABOUT OLDER 2" SNUBBIES
    (As received in e-mail to this site)

    Q: Is it safe to use +P ammunition in my classic Colt not rated for it?

    A: The revolver was never rated for this higher power ammunition by Colt, not even the late production models. Anecdotal information suggests that current gunsmiths will say, "Sure, go ahead. No problem." This, of course, is an easily denied statement since there is nothing in Colt's literature to confirm or deny this position.
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  12. #12
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    The Colts will handle it. The question is, does a person want to subject a now discontinued revolver to a lot of use with heavy charges? No small issue is the expense of purchasing quantities of +P ammunition as would be necessary to shoot a revolver loose.

    It won't likely work for other bullet weights but when using 158 grain bullets, the standard velocity loads using this bullet weight print about an inch higher on target at 15 yards than the 158 grain +P loads. This is acceptably close for practice and the standard velocity loads are far less expensive and easier on the gun.

    Colt used to recommend that their small .38 Special chambered revolvers with steel frames be returned to the factory after 3000 rounds (figure unverified - from memory) of +P for a factory evaluation. Their aluminum alloy framed .38 Special revolvers needed the check-up after 1000 (again, from memory) rounds of +P.

    Colt once did advertise that their small framed .38 Special revolvers were up to the task of use with heavy loads. Though given a different model name, the Colt Detective Special is nothing more than an adaptation of the Colt Police Positive Special. Frame size and lock work are the same between the two models The differing feature being solely the 2-inch snub barrel offered on the Detective Special.



    Here's a Colt ad from 1940 asserting that their Police Positive Special would handle the .38-44 loading. The .38-44 variation of the .38 Special cartridge was, by all accounts, a truly hot load, putting current +P ammunition "in the shade" with the possible exception of the potent Buffalo Bore +P .38 Special load.

    Who can say just how many of these "almost .357 Magnum" .38-44 loads a pre-war Colt small framed .38 Special revolver could handle before requiring adjustment and repair but the capability is listed right there in the ad. It had to be hard to be hard on the revolver and would have recoiled like a fiend.

  13. #13
    Member Array DZcarry's Avatar
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    It should be noted that the Cobra is not Steel.

    While I appreciate all the info, people are citing info for the Dec Special and the Police Positive both of which are steel construction...

  14. #14
    Senior Member Array Andy W.'s Avatar
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    For what it's worth, I choose not to use +P in my steel Detective Special.

    According to Colt, limited use of +P is OK in the aluminum frame guns.

    Scroll down to the "Detective & Commando Special, Diamond Back, Agent, Police Positive, Cobra & Viper" link and check out the third page.

    Colt's Manufacturing Company LLC
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  15. #15
    Member Array Mike in VA's Avatar
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    I carry +P in my Cobra. I don't practice with it. When the need for your Cobra arrives, the least of your concerns will be wear on the gun. It will stand up to numerous +P rounds, but you'll likely never need even one.

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