Colt Kodiak - .44 Magnum

I was born in 1960. Just about every young man I knew growing up had seen the "Dirty Harry" movies, and we were all fascinated by the ".44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world..." (since eclipsed by many other calibers). The Dirty Harry gun is a Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver (though there's a strong rumor running around that much of the film actually featured a .41 Magnum Model 57). It was never my strong desire to own the very same model, there was just a part of me that imprinted on ".44 Magnum" as something that might be fun to own.

So it happened that the third gun I bought, after the Walther PPKs and Beretta 92, was a .44 Magnum. The Colt Kodiak is a 1993 special edition of the Anaconda, one of 2,000 made. It features a six inch ported barrel, smooth non-fluted cylinder, Pachmyr grips, and special markings. It was only available in stainless steel finish. It was available for not much of a premium (maybe no additional cost?) over the base Anaconda model. I remember at the time thinking it might actually be an "investment", something that will be worth more in later years. I have since come to more or less detest "investment guns", as the only guns I actually enjoy are the ones I actively shoot, and that I'm not afraid of getting dinged up.

I had no particular use in mind when I bought it, just a fun gun to shoot. I would certainly give consideration to carrying it if I was tramping around in bear country, however. I have never bothered finding a holster for it, though if I did, I'd probably seek a hunting style "across the chest" variety. The Kodiak weighs a whopping 54 ounces empty; 59 ounces when loaded. It's not for concealment, and it will take a toll when carried all day.

The double action trigger is very smooth, and I don't hesitate to shoot it that way. Single action is still available if there is time to take a deliberate precision shot.

The weight, the porting and the cushioned grips make the Kodiak among the least "punishing" .44 Magnums to shoot, at least among the half dozen or so that I've had the pleasure of shooting. The porting consists of two half inch long, one-sixteenth inch wide slits on either side of the front sight blade. Porting diverts a small amount of muzzle energy into a downward force on the front of the barrel. This helps control muzzle flip, or the tendency of the gun to rotate upwards during recoil.

In my time at the range, I've noticed that experienced shooters 'put their back into it' with larger caliber guns. You roll your shoulders down and forward, and the recoil energy gets coupled into your back area. If the shooter is wearing something like a t-shirt, you can see his / her back muscles just below the shoulder blades 'twitch' with the shock. I remember watching a teen-age girl compete with a .45 ACP 1911 gun. She probably weighed around 100 pounds, but she had no problem whatsoever with that gun, as she 'put her back into it.'

I used to compete in a 'social' league for pistols and revolvers. It was sort of like a bowling league, show up once a week and shoot fifty rounds on some sort of timed fire scenario. Might be multiple targets, strong hand and then weak hand, flashlights, stuff like that. After eight weeks they give trophies, and typically for two weeks we're not "shooting for score". My Beretta 92 was my league gun 'for score'. On one of those "off weeks", I decided to compete with the Kodiak. I took the Kodiak to the range the Saturday before and brushed up on my re-loading / speedloading skills. I think I went through 100 rounds of ammo and said to myself, "I'm ready."

The following Thursday evening, after a full day at work, I took the Kodiak to league night. I think one of the stages called for something like, "shoot six rounds into target one, reload, shoot six rounds into target two, fifteen seconds max." I took a little too long on the first half of the stage, then fumbled with the reload and left myself with like three seconds to get six rounds on target. I did it, but each recoil moved me about half a step back in the lane. When I was done, my gun was still between the walls, but my body was out in the aisle. I learned that there's a difference between training "fresh, first thing in the morning" and performing when you're tired from working all day. This is maybe a corollary to Frontsight's advice that in a real gunfight, you'll only be half as good as your last day on the range.

A 'Dirty Harry' trivia moment - I had heard for many years that Frank Sinatra, whose music / lyrics I feature elsewhere on this site was offered the starring role in Dirty Harry, but that he had trouble handling the gun. It was not until I did the research writing this page that I learned that he had broken his wrist filming Manchurian Candidate, and that's the reason he had trouble with the weight and recoil of the .44 Magnum.

More ramblings - Sharon and I found ourselves in Honolulu in 2002, spending three days on Waikiki beach to round off five days on Kauai. Strolling down Kalakaua Ave, arguably some of the priciest commercial real estate in the Western USA, I was startled to see a gun shop, complete with indoor range. The 'Ave' is full of art galleries, *multiple copies* of high end stores like Tiffany's, Niemann-Marcus, etc. What's a gun range doing there? Answer - Honolulu / Waikiki is a destination for many Japanese tourists. And one of the things Japanese tourists want to do is shoot guns. Like the "Dirty Harry" gun. Which this gun shop advertised as a rental....

In updating my insuracnce files, I find this gun might be worth as much as $3,000 (at least pristine ones are commanding that much). Hmm. I never buy guns with the idea that they're an "investment", but it is attention getting.

Link to another site, descriptions of Colt Python / Anaconda variants

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