Coonan .357 Magnum Automatic compensated, better got better.

It was last year when I published the Coonan Classic .357 Magnum review, and you can read that by following this link.   When I was given the opportunity to review the Coonan Classic with factory compensator, I was interested in seeing what difference the comp made. The compensated model is not very different from the standard Classic, except the obvious compensator at the muzzle.

Initial Impressions 

The Coonan comped model is built to the same quality as the standard Coonan. The recoil on this pistol feels…..well, odd. Expecting a sharp recoil impulse and muzzle rise the compensator really does the job, but at a price. The compensated model will not reliably cycle .357 Magnum with bullets lighter than 135  grains and will not cycle .38 Special as the non comped model will. The reason being, the comp directly threads on the barrel, and once affixed it adds that much mass to the barrel. Similar principal as threading a silencer on a barrel without a piston, it will affect reliability.


Right side profile.


Left side profile. The grip frame is elongated to accommodate the .357 Magnum cartridge. It is a feat in itself to design an autoloader to reliably cycle rimmed cartridges designed for a revolver.


Factory compensator, doing it’s part to lessen muzzle flip.


The slide stop and extended thumb safety were well serrated and worked as they should. You can see here the pivoting trigger, that broke clean at four pounds with very little take up, and some overtravel.


Rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. You will also notice the external extractor. This pistol is more of a hybrid Hi-Power and 1911.


Front sight is dovetailed in.


Rear sight as also serrated on the face to cut glare.


Field and detail stripping is a bit different than your standard 1911. The slide has to be removed as an assemble, capturing the recoil spring with your hand.  The stocks have to be removed to access the mainspring housing pin. Once you get to the trigger, the trigger bow is removed from the rear, then the trigger pin, located under the slide stop, is pushed out and the trigger removed. Notice the linkless barrel, again different from the 1911 design. There is no firing pin safety in the pistol. Coonan recommends not removing the compensator when cleaning the pistol.


Click on the accuracy chart for a larger version for the groups shot at 25 yards from a rest.

Range Days 


After some 350 rounds of various .357 Magnum rounds, here is what I have learned. The compensator really makes a difference in the perceived recoil and muzzle flip. Like was said above that comes at the cost of not cycling the weaker and lighter .357 Magnum rounds. The sweet spot I found was anything at 135 grains or heavier was 100% reliable but when you go much lighter than that reliability can become sporadic. At bullet weights of 110 grains the gun would not cycle or lock the slide back. How bad is that really? Well in my opinion I would steer clear of lighter bullet weights in the .357 Magnum for any serious work. In my opinion, culling the lighter weight bullets for the benefit of the comp is a square trade.  One thing worth mentioning is the Coonan always draws a crowd to the firing line. This pistol would serve well as a trail companion against two and four legged predators as well as a hunting sidearm. Daily carry would be a bit challenging due to the style and size, but if you found a holster that would accommodate it, and could dress around the gun, it could be done. After the smoke cleared and brass policed, the Coonan Classic with the compensator is an interesting pistol if you are looking to tame the recoil of the standard Coonan. Though it is an expensive pistol, I believe it offers a few advantages over the revolver, with increased capacity, reduced perceived recoil, and the speed of reloading a fresh magazine.


Caliber .357 Magnum, will not cycle .38 Special

Barrel Length: 5 inches  (4340 Carbon Steel)
Construction: Stainless Steel
Magazine Capacity: 7 Rounds + 1
Weight: 42 oz empty / 48 oz loaded
Length: 8.9 inches overall
Height: 5.6 inches
Width: 1.3 inches
Sights: Dovetail Front & Rear, Black, Fixed
Trigger pull 4 3/4 pounds
MSRP $2020




By Hunter Elliott

I spent much of my youth involved with firearms and felt the call early on to the United States Marine Corps, following in my father's and his brother's footsteps. Just after high school I enlisted and felt most at home on the rifle range, where I qualified expert with several firearms and spent some time as a rifle coach to my fellow Marines. After being honorably discharged I continued teaching firearm safety, rifle and pistol marksmanship, and began teaching metallic cartridge reloading. In the late 1990s I became a life member to the National Rifle Association and worked with the Friends of the NRA. Around that time my father and I became involved with IDPA and competed together up until he passed away. I began reviewing firearms for publications in the mid 2000s and have been fortunate to make many friends in the industry. Continuing to improve my firearms skills and knowledge is a never ending journey in which we should all be committed. I am also credited as weapons master on a few independent films.

3 thoughts on “Coonan .357 Magnum Automatic, compensated. Better got better.”
  1. When I saw this gun the first time I knew I wanted it. That`s the kind of firearm this is. You just want to add this to your collection. A 357 Magnum in Auto, amazing!

    1. Robert, I know exactly what you are saying. The Coonan Classic and the comped Classic are fine pistols. Coonan has a new .45 Auto out I reviewed a few weeks ago that is also worth looking over.

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