Review: Colt King Cobra .22 LR Target

posted on May 7, 2024
Colt King Cobra .22 LR Target

The return of Colt’s iconic series of “snake gun” double-action revolvers to the shooting sports marketplace began in 2017 with the re-introduction of the Cobra series. Since then, the company’s revolver catalog has continued to expand with new-production models inspired by classics including the Anaconda, Python and a target-shooting version of the King Cobra .357 Mag. that launched in 2019. But one niche that remained unfulfilled until 2022 was a model chambered for the popular .22 Long Rifle rimfire cartridge; this customer request was met during the NRA’s Annual Meetings that year with the launch of Colt King Cobra .22 LR Target revolvers with either 4.25" or 6" barrels—this evaluation takes a closer look at the 4.25" version.

King Cobra Target’s swing-out cylinder
The King Cobra Target’s swing-out cylinder accommodates 10 rounds of .22 Long Rifle ammunition, and aftermarket speedloaders are available to make reloading efficient.

Affectionately referred to as “the baby snake,” this version of the King Cobra Target is reminiscent of the Colt Diamondback, manufactured from 1966 to 1988, which was also offered in .22 LR, had a similar “D”-size frame and a barrel with a vented rib. However, the King Cobra Target is not a reincarnation of the Diamondback per se, but it does keep the vented rib—a feature not commonly seen on the Cobra-series models—which preserves the Diamondback profile.

This .22 LR bears a King Cobra barrel stamp because it’s intended to serve as an understudy to the centerfire models in this series and thus shares many of the same features. These include the same trigger configuration, along with interchangeable sight systems and stocks. The cylinder holds 10 rounds compared to the Diamondback’s six-round capacity.

This American-made revolver is wholly constructed from stainless steel finished to a mirror-like shine on most surfaces including the cylinder face. One exception is the top of the barrel, which has a matte finish to reduce glare. Because this gun is based on and built like its .357 Mag. predecessor, it is an exceptionally sturdy .22 LR that is intended to be shot a good deal.

Colt’s King Cobra Target ships with a square-profile, metallic front sight fitted with a red fiber-optic pipe, and the square-notch rear sight is fully adjustable for elevation and windage. The one-piece, 4.25", vented-rib barrel features Colt’s distinctive extended crown and a full underlug with a cut out that shrouds the ejector rod. The Colt-style left-side cylinder release is of the pull-back variety, instead of the push-forward (Smith & Wesson) or press-in (Ruger) types. Another feature mostly unique to Colt wheelguns is a swing-out cylinder that rotates in a clockwise direction when firing.

revolver’s Monogrip one-piece stock
The revolver’s Monogrip one-piece stock assembly features molded-in pebbled texturing on its sides along with finger grooves and a padded backstrap.

Knowing which way a revolver’s cylinder turns is useful information when there is not enough ammunition on hand to reload all of the chambers. With a Colt like this one, the rounds should be loaded to the left side of the cylinder so that they will rotate toward the hammer as the action is cycled; with most other revolvers, those rounds should be loaded to the right side. When in doubt, look at the direction that the rounded sides of the cylinder stop notches are pointed—they indicate which way the cylinder turns.

The revolver features a transfer-bar safety situated between the frame and the hammer to prevent the gun from firing, should the un-cocked hammer be bumped or the gun dropped. The smooth-faced, double-action trigger is housed in a traditional rounded trigger guard. The King Cobra Target exhibited a 7-lb., 10-oz., double-action trigger pull with a clean, smooth feel throughout the arc of travel. This revolver’s exposed hammer, with a grooved spur, can be manually cocked for single-action fire; this reduced the trigger’s pull weight to 2 lbs., 8 ozs., with a short stroke that feels akin to the clean break of a well-tuned single-stage rifle trigger.

The King Cobra Target is completed with a one-piece soft rubber Monogrip made by Hogue that features finger grooves, pebbled texturing and a padded backstrap to provide plenty of purchase and a comfortable feel. Overall fit of the gun sent for this evaluation was excellent. Although the polished surfaces are certainly eye-catching, they are also easier to clean between shooting sessions. This model has an MSRP of $999, which is in line with other higher-quality rimfire double-actions like the Smith & Wesson 617. But, with its unloaded weight of 33.8 ozs., the Colt is about 5.5 ozs. lighter than the 617.

square-notch rear sight, barrel
A fully adjustable, square-notch rear sight (left) works in conjunction with a fixed, red fiber-optic front (r.) to provide a precise, easy-to-acquire sight picture. A recessed screw in the front of the vent rib (r., arrow) allows the front unit to be changed out.

Our “baby snake” proved to be utterly reliable with all ammunition tested, which included a variety of loads ranging from bulk-box plinking rounds to premium hollow points. The all-steel construction is nicely balanced and contributes to minimal felt recoil that is easy to control, making the revolver enjoyable to work with on or off a bench rest.

As both casual and competitive target shooters know, regular practice with centerfire cartridges can be an expensive proposition. This is why it has been a common practice over the years for double-action revolver manufacturers to offer rimfire analogs to their centerfire competition guns. The reduced ammunition costs and low recoil inherent to .22 LR wheelguns allow for more shots to be fired while keeping the weight, balance, sights and trigger pull in harmony with the centerfire guns so as to hone muscle memory and trigger-management skills.

Colt King Cobra .22 LR Target shooting results

The target-shooting features of these mid-size rimfire understudies make them flexible, multi-purpose wheelguns that can do more than just punch paper. The .22 LR Colt King Cobra Target is an ideal option for casual plinking, new shooter instruction, small-game hunting and pest control, as well as training and competition. It’s a long-awaited and welcome addition to Colt’s revolver lineup.

Colt King Cobra .22 LR Target specs


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