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Serial Number Table

Cobra, Aircrewman, Courier and Agent Serial Numbers

Note: Aircrewman began 1951 and ended 1959. Courier began 1954 and ended 1956. Agent began 1962.

Serial Number Table

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I paid $400 for this 1974 example in 1997 and $650 for the 1978 gun for my wife in 2002. If you find one of these in "mint condition", it's a great gun to collect and/or carry. Use extreme care in cleaning the finish on this gun. I have seen many examples at gun shows that appear to have thousands of tiny scratch marks from being wiped with the wrong kind of cloth.

It was an earlier version of the Colt Cobra that Jack Ruby used to kill Lee Harvey Oswald. The serial number of Ruby's Colt was 2744LW (note the LW stands for Light-Weight). The Jack Ruby Colt Cobra was returned to his estate many years later and was sold at auction. An anonymous New Jersey gun collector paid $220,000 for it.

rear view of Colt Cobra with open loaded cylinder

Colt Cobra: Nickel plated alloy (15 oz.), .38 six shot revolver. At first glance, the most distinguishing feature is the full-shroud surrounding the ejector rod. The Cobra was produced in calibers .38 Special, 32 Colt New Police, and .22 LR. The .38 Special Cobra was available in 2, 3 and 4-inch barrel lengths. The .32 caliber version was availble in 2- and 3-inch barrel lengths. The .22 LR Cobra was available only with the 3-inch barrel.

Colt Cobra Market Report

October 2019 to October 2020

In my research I found 215 completed online auction sales of the Colt Cobra over the 12 month period from October 2019 to October 2020 and the Average Sales Price was $652. Of the 215 completed sales analyzed, I found that only 19 of those guns might be considered Collector Grade Quality. Further, of the 19 best examples, they sold between $1,000 and $2,400.

A closer look at the top 19 Cobras that sold during this time revealed that 3 went for more than $2,000, 5 sold for $1,200 to $1,800 and the balance of 11 guns sold for $1,000 to $1,200.

Note: Since these were online sales it is important to note that buyers likely paid $100 more than the reflected sales price to cover credit card fees, shipping costs and FFL transfer fees.



1974 and 1978 Guns

5 Stars

These 1970s lightweight guns get 5 out of 5 stars from me. This is the only model, of which I own two identical guns. I love the way it feels. The way it handles. And the way it carries.

a pair of 1970s Colt Cobras

Colts Light Weight Double Action Revolvers included the Cobra (1950-1981), Aircrewman (1951-1959) which was distinguished by the gold-metal Air Force medallion in the place of the silver-metal Colt medallion on the checkered wooden grips, as well as a cylinder made of aluminum alloy, Courier (1954-1956) approximately 3,000 Couriers were produced in .22 Long Rifle and 32 Colt NP, and Agent (1962-1979 and 1984-1986) the Agent was a lower-price version of the Cobra.

close up of a Cobra with the cylinder open

Ocassionally someone will question my collectibility rating system, let me say upfront that I give the Colt Cobra 5 stars as of August 2013 primarily for these reasons: 1) Colt won't make any more of these guns, 2) I believe the younger generation (future collectors) will eventually develop a "liking" of these revolvers, 3) this .38 caliber has staying ability (longevity, unlike the .32), 4) It has the unique feature of being lightweight, but along with that comes the inability of the finish to hold up to years of wear and tear (if you have one with a good finish, you have a jewel) and finally, 5) I think the sight blade, sight-ramp and full shroud give this gun a futuristic look unlike any other and especially for the 1970's.

In summary, I believe the Colt Cobra of the 1970's was Colt's last desperate attempt to redesign an older revolver to keep the public's attention on revolvers. By 1981 the public was already beginning their love affair with and headed down the road of thinking semiautomatics are king. It is true that Colt continued to produce revolvers after 1981, but they were all nostalgic old designs.

I will admit that I truly love this design and am partial. The firing pin on the hammer is but one feature I love. All prejudice aside, I think this is a gun to collect. Normally I don't disclose what I paid for a gun unless I have either already sold it or have no intention of ever selling it. These Colt Cobras fall into that latter category and therefore I can't give you a graph of the value.

Truth be told, when I bought these guns it was for carrying purposes as much as or more than collecting purposes. Did they double in value every ten years? Not as yet, but I think they will. Take a look at that Colt Vest Pocket Model 1908 page! If you owned that gun for the first 40 years you would have done very poorly. Forty years have passed for my 1974 gun and I believe these guns will come into thier own rightful place in collections worldwide.



Conclusion

The Second Model Colt Cobra

The Colt Cobra from the mid-1970's is one of my favorite revolvers and my all-time favorite revolver to carry. I used to say that this is the only Colt that I own two of, that are exactly the same, but...

"Recently while cleaning these Cobras with the grips off, I noticed a design difference between the 1974 and 1978 back-side of the grips."

When I get time, I will pull the grips on both and show photos side by side. The Cobra is one gun that I've never even considered putting pearl or ivory grips on. The wood on these are very light-weight and I like them. These guns are classics! My curiosity is peaked. My guess is that the design change was either an imrpovement or cost saving measure, but which I don't know.

My teenage years were all in the 70's and perhaps I'm a little nostalgic as I sit here humming "Country Side of Life" by Wet Willie. Some of you will recall that after a 36 year hiatus Colt brought the Cobra back in 2017. But it wasn't the same gun at all. I know there were a lot of musicians putting out new music in 2017 but I can't name one song from that year.

Author inspecting Colt Cobra
Author with one of his Colt Cobras

Okay, I do remember a song from 2017. My granddaughter was 4 and she loved to sing and dance to a song called "Havana."

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