SHOT Business August/September 2015 —by Robert F. Staeger
Dan Coonan isn’t out to create an arsenal. He just wants one perfect handgun
After 10 years off the market, the Coonan Classic .357 Magnum Automatic rose again with the founding of Coonan Inc.
Veteran gunmaker Dan Coonan has always focused on one gun—his Coonan Classic .357 Magnum Automatic, a gun that has its origins in his college dorm room.
“My roommate and I used to argue guns back and forth,” says Coonan. “He always said that he could reload his revolver just as fast as I could reload my automatic. Basically it came to the point where I challenged him to a shootout at the gravel pit.”
This being the mid-’70s instead of the Old West, they set up targets on 50-gallon drums, 20 yards away. “I shot and I reloaded and shot again while he was fumbling with the reloads,” says Coonan. “He couldn’t reload anywhere near as fast as I could.” His friend conceded that a semi-auto was a tactically superior gun, but maintained that a .357 Magnum had better ballistics. And until someone made a .357 semi-automatic, he planned on sticking with his revolver.
Coonan wouldn’t stand for that, and to prove a point, he started drafting plans for a semi-automatic capable of firing .357 Magnum rounds at school. His first attempt was a gasoperated semi-automatic, which he soon discarded due to its bulk. Next up was the money idea: adapting a .45 to a .357. “In graduate school, I actually got three credits for making the magazine and three more for making the pistol,” he says. “I started with a .45, and then cut and rounded, and braced and soldered, until I had a crude prototype.”