I do NOT
have an older one and I've never shot an older one. I do have a new one and it's a fantastic handgun and runs like a top in my hands when:
--I run full power loads and nothing light
--I shoot it, though I've seen it fail to feed in other folks hand
Literally, I can shoot four straight mags, then hand it off and watch someone else have 2 or 3 failures in one mag, then I'll take it back and run the rest of the day with it. In my experience, it's got to be related to how it's held. I have no struggles with it.
The new pistol also comes with a lighter 10 lb recoil spring intended to be used with .38 Special, but it's my experience that you've got to run hard and hot ".38 Special" through it to make it run well with that spring. I'm a handloader and shoot handloads EXCLUSIVELY, I've not yet fired even one factory round through my Coonan. I'm still perfecting .38 Special loads to run my pistol with the 10-lb spring and I'm close to that point, but they are ever so slightly beyond the max published loads for .38 Special +P.
Let me put that another way... if all new Coonan Classic pistols are like mine, don't buy the pistol if you hope and intend to shoot mostly .38 Special through it, as you'll likely be disappointed.
Coonan tells you that it needs a good 200-250 through it before you should expect .38 Special success... mine is over a thousand rounds.
It's reliable, well built and very accurate. It's likely the most fun gun that I own. If I have to make one complaint is that is desperately needs checkering on the front strap of the grip, and on the back strap wouldn't hurt. I don't particular care for the monolith style, but it likely helps with the muzzle flip.
The older Coonans typically have a decent reputation for quality and performance, but with what I've seen, I wouldn't buy one unless it was a steal. And I don't see them sell for enough under a new one to make it worth it. I believe the frames weren't produced under as close or repeatable tolerances and that makes the magazine well a bit erratic in how they will or will not handle the new magazines. And you will
want the new magazines because they are flawless AND available where the older magazines are hard to get and expensive. I have heard that Coonan can modify an older Model A or Model B to work reliably with the new magazines, but you'd have to investigate that.
There is one thing that the older Coonans have over the current Coonan -- the new one is hard as heck to find right now as they have sold these pistols before they are produced and it may be a while before they catch up.
I absolutely love mine and it's (by far) the most I've yet spent on one single firearm, but I have zero regret and no manner of any buyer's remorse whatsoever. It's not a low priced handgun, but when you consider how many choices you have for a .357 Magnum chambered 1911 on the market... I believe it's a bargain.