History of Colt’s Snake Guns

T. Logan Metesh

One of the most iconic groupings of handguns ever made has been Colt’s Snake Guns family of seven deadly serpents that includes the Python, Diamondback, Cobra, Anaconda, King Cobra, Boa, and Viper.

Related Article: Gun Stock Reviews: The Redesigned Colt Cobra

Each model has been incredibly popular since the first gun in the family-the Cobra-was introduced in 1950. They’ve all been in and out of production a number of times over the decades, which only adds to their allure. However, the biggest boom to the seven serpents has been over the last couple 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.

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 .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.

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. Production ran from 1966 until 1991.

Introduced in 1950, 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.

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.

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, 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

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.

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. Made from 1986 until 1998, theKing Cobra was reintroduced in 2019.


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 HortonDistributing. 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. The Viper was made for just one year: 1977.

For more information on the Colt Snake Guns click here.

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