Handguns > Semi-Auto

Coonan Classic .357 Magnum Automatic

The Coonan is a powerful, high-performance handgun that is not meant to be a first handgun.


Dan Coonan designed the M1911-based, .357 Mag.-chambered Coonan pistol while still in college and started manufacturing it in the late 1970s. Coonan sold Coonan Arms to Bill Davis in 1985, and five years later he left the company. In 1994, Coonan Arms filed Chapter 11 and eventually was incorporated by JS Worldwide Distribution. Both Coonan Arms and JS Worldwide were dissolved in 1998.

Dan Coonan met Dave Neville when their daughters were going to school together, and in 2009 they joined forces with Gordy Davis to form Coonan, Inc. It reintroduced the Coonan .357 Magnum Automatic Pistol, calling it the Classic.

The stainless-steel Coonan Classic .357 Magnum Automatic has 18 parts that are interchangeable, six parts that require some modification from the original M1911 design and the remainder unique to Coonan’s design. For example, the barrel does not have a link, but does use a muzzle bushing. The barrel flares larger at the end for a smoother and tighter lockup. The sample pistol’s fit and finish were excellent with all parts well machined and devoid of tooling marks.

The gun features a large, full-length dust cover and while not actually much larger than a standard M1911, the gun gives the overall perception of being a large handgun. For example the grip, just below the grip safety, measures 2.2 inches wide compared to an S&W M1911 .45 ACP, which measures 1.95 inches. The distance from the grip safety in the collapsed position to the trigger is 2.83 inches, compared to the S&W’s 2.73 inches. The front of the trigger guard is about 1/4 inch farther from the back of the grip on the Coonan. Of course, the magazines are larger to accommodate the longer cartridge so the grip size reflects that. The magazine holds seven cartridges, giving the pistol an eight-round capacity overall.

The .357 Mag. cartridge was developed for a revolver where it could headspace off the rim. Traditionally, feeding of rimmed center-fire cartridges is problematic in box-magazine-fed firearms. That problem, however, has been addressed well with the Coonan. The cartridges are staggered, with the rim of each cartridge in front of the one below it in the magazine.

Although the Coonan’s gripframe is larger than that of a standard M1911, after having several shooters try the gun, there was a consensus that it was not an issue and that even those with average-size hands had no trouble reaching the trigger. Some shooters, however, may find it difficult to reach the magazine release button with the right thumb.

Both of the sights are dovetailed into the slide. The front sight on the sample gun was a serrated black ramp with a steep contour, while the black rear sight was adjustable for elevation with a single screw. Windage is controlled by drifting the sight in the dovetail. Trijicon night sights are also available as an option.

The safety is right-hand-only, but Neville says that most any aftermarket ambidextrous M1911 safety will fit. The extractor is the external style. The slide release is oversize for easy use.

The two-stage trigger is a pivoting design inspired, as was the linkless barrel, by the Browning Hi Power pistol. The break was clean and crisp at 3 pounds, 3 ounces, on our sample. The stocks are smooth black walnut with the Coonan logo laser engraved in the center.

We function tested the pistol with several different .357 Mag. loads, with bullet weights from 125 grains to 180 grains. It ran well with most, but did not function properly with reduced-power “personal defense” ammunition. When the gun was fed full-power .357 Mag. ammunition designed for handguns, it ran fine.

The Coonan could serve well as a dual-purpose pistol pressed into hunting and defensive roles. Company advertisements read, “Looking for your first pistol? Well this isn’t it!” They are right—the Coonan is a powerful, high-performance handgun, and like anything that’s high-performance it runs best within a narrow band and requires careful attention to detail. But with that attention comes the reward of ultra-high ballistic performance from the M1911 platform.

Manufacturer: Coonan Inc.; (763) 786-1720; www.coonaninc.com
Caliber: .357 Mag.
Action Type: recoil-operated, center-fire semi-automatic pistol
Barrel Length: 5"
Rifling: six-groove, 1:16" RH twist
seven-round, detachable box
Sights: black elevation-adjustable rear; black, serrated-ramp front (Trijicon Night Sights optional)
Trigger: two-stage; 3-lb., 3-oz. pull
Stocks: smooth black walnut; Coonan logo laser engraved.
Overall Length: 8.3"
Height: 5.6"
Width: 1.3"
Weight: 42 ozs.
Accessories: owner’s manual, carrying case, safety lock, 10-lb. recoil spring for .38 Spl.
Suggested Retail Price: $1,249

Coonan .357 Shooting Results

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7 Responses to Coonan Classic .357 Magnum Automatic

Mike M wrote:
October 07, 2014

Have owned a model B since 1985. Carried it for a duty weapon in law enforcement until retirement. Had a friend that carried one also saved his life. Hundreds of rounds shot thru it, no malfunctions. Extremely accurate. Would buy again no problem.

D.L. wrote:
October 19, 2013

Coonon is a supporter of the latest trojan horse anti gun rights group, 'Evolve.' Avoid Coonan unless you want part of your purchase dollars going to anti-gun rights groups

gene fl wrote:
June 18, 2013

have model A and find it works great with factory ammo. HAS THEE BEST TRIGGER OF ANY GUN EVER!!!

jim hood wrote:
April 14, 2013

I have an original Coonan B, mid 80's manufactured. I compare my accuracy with a Series 80 Gold Cup I have owned about same length of time. I have groups almost half the size with the Coonan, and just as reliable and able to shoot .38 spec. with just a spring change. If you already have a .45 put a smile on your face and get a Coonan. Cheers

AΩ357 wrote:
March 01, 2013

Tom B. - do not make your decision based upon only one review/perspective. Here is a much more comprehensive review that you should consider. https://www.coonaninc.com/userfiles/file/ShotgunNews_PeterKokalis.pdf

Tom B. wrote:
February 20, 2013

It seems the average shot grouping is really nothing to get excited about. . I am so disappointed! The cost of this weapon compared to a 1911 at about the same cash out lay would perform circles around this weapon. An additional let down was the a inability of the weapon to perform as implied. I would think long and hard before buying ,I mean who wants to purchase something that 'sort of ' works? I am on a short list to buy one but after reading this article,I don't know. I guess I could be like the manufacturer and ' sort of' want one.

Bruce wrote:
November 10, 2012

In my opinion the Coonan is based more on the High Power than the 1911 (linkless barrel, external exptractor). It's parts are shaped and sized like the 1911, so some parts are interchangable with the 1911. However, the internal workings are more like the High Power.