For some odd reason, I have always been intrigued by the idea of a 9mm revolver. Sure, it does seem a little odd, but the concept is just one the resonates with me at an almost emotional level. So, when I got the chance to review the Taurus 905, I took it.
I was hoping for a top-notch revolver that could be carried for self-defense or kept as a nice piece in the safe to pull out for the occasional gun-related function. While the gun proved to be a reliable tool, it fell a little short in the fit and finish department.
Please read the full review, but the bottom line is in my estimation, this gun is a tool, not a showpiece. It functioned well and I would be happy to have it in hand should I need to defend myself, but it is not something I would consider a beautiful revolver. The good news is it is reasonably priced for what it is. [Editor’s note: Suggested retail prices mentioned in this article have been updated to reflect recent pricing.]
At its most basic, the Taurus 905 is a five-shot snubbie chambered for the 9mm cartridge. It has a 2″ barrel and short grip for easy concealment. A full-length underlug is used to envelop and protect the ejector rod.
Unlike some of the lighter revolvers on the market, the 905 has a steel frame to match the steel cylinder and barrel. While the steel frame adds weight to the overall package, it also adds strength while keeping the production costs reasonable.
The sights are pretty basic. The front sight is a serrated ramp that is part of the barrel. You would not be able to swap it out without significant machine work. The rear is a notch at the rear of the top strap.
Taurus uses a traditional spurred hammer in this revolver. All shots are double-action unless the shooter manually cocks the hammer. The double-action pull is heavier than my Lyman trigger pull scale can measure (more than 12 pounds.) Though heavy, the pull is fairly smooth.
The single-action pull feels great with a clean break and virtually no take-up or over-travel. I measured the SA pull at a little over five pounds on a 10 pull average.
Like Smith & Wesson revolvers, the cylinder rotates in a counter-clockwise fashion. Also similar to S&W guns, the cylinder release latch is pushed forward to open the gun for loading and unloading.
Taurus ships the 905 with rubber grips. Unfortunately, the grips are not the soft rubber used in the company’s Ribber grips. Instead, they are made of a hard rubber that does little to absorb recoil. Skip down to the Finishing Touches and Range Time sections for more information on the grips and recoil.
A 9mm Revolver?
Believe it or not, there have been a number of revolvers designed for rimless cartridges. Some famous competition shooters, like Jerry Miculek, like to use them because of the incredibly fast reloads they can achieve using the full moon clips. See more on those below.
There have been a number of wheel guns chambered in 9×19, though not as many as you might think. At the time of this review, there are only two others on the market that I know of: the competition styled 929 from Smith & Wesson and the Pitbull from Charter Arms. Let’s take a look at the Taurus 905 and see how it stacks up.
Since the 9mm cartridge does not have a rim that protrudes beyond the case wall, extracting fired cases without a tool is problematic. Generally, a 9mm cartridge will insert into the charge hole in a cylinder and space off of the leading edge of the case. However, when the round is fired, the case will expand and become stuck in the cylinder.
With a rimmed cartridge, the extractor star catches the underside of the rim and pulls the fired case from the cylinder when the ejector rod is pushed. With a so-called rimless cartridge like the 9mm, the extractor star has nothing to grab onto.
The solution for most 9mm revolvers including the Taurus 905 is the moon clip. A moon clip is a thin piece of metal that the 9mm rounds snap into. When loading, all rounds are inserted simultaneously like with a speed loader. Likewise, when the cases are extracted, all come out in a single group.
The Taurus 905 comes with several clips. Mine arrived with five. The clips are small and relatively easy to lose, but I managed to hold onto all five during my testing. Since the clips tend to be inexpensive, many people will order extras for their revolver.
This is the one area that I feel Taurus could really improve this gun. Little details can change this gun from just a tool to something a little more special.
There are several pins that have a slightly different color on the side of the frame. Talking with revolver expert Grant Cunningham, he advised that these are likely the cylinder bolt, trigger and hammer pins. It appears that the pins are made of a different alloy than the frame and did not take the bluing the same as the frame. Consequently, the pins have taken on a different color.
Looking at the grips, they simply do not meet up and form a nice seam around their edges. This is most apparent high on the backstrap and on the bottom of the grip frame.
Both of these problems are cosmetic only and did not affect the functioning of the revolver in any way. However, they do detract from the overall look of the gun. A quality set of aftermarket grips, like those from Altamont would vastly improve the look of the gun. However, something more drastic would have to be done to fix the bluing issue on the pins.
[Update: Since this review first published, Taurus changed the finish options on these guns. Now, the company offers a matte stainless and a matte black finish. These finishes resolve the problems of mismatched bluing. Further, the company uses a new style of grip that fixed the problem with the gaps. The guns look a lot better now, and my prior complaints are resolved.]
Frankly, I don’t have any of my own Taurus handguns, so I did not have a variety of holsters to try the gun in. (Ed. Note: Since I wrote this review, I did purchase a Taurus Spectrum for review.) However, one of my favorite pocket carry holsters, the DeSantis Nemesis, fit the gun nicely.
For pocket carry, the gun is a bit heavier than the Smith & Wesson 642 I am used to. However, it concealed acceptably well and was not so heavy as to drag my pants down. I think I would prefer to carry this gun is a belt holster though.
|weight (unloaded)||21.0 oz|
|MSRP||$530.63 (matte black), $582.87 (stainless)|
I’ve had this revolver to the range on multiple occasions. In fact, I had this gun for many months – much longer than Taurus or I intended. While the intent was not for a long term evaluation of the gun, it is ultimately what I was able to accomplish.
During my time with the gun, I put many hundreds of rounds down range. At the end of the review, I had shot 13 different loads through the gun: two inexpensive loads from Remington and Winchester plus 11 premium self-defense loads from Federal, Hornady, Speer and Liberty Ammunition.
Recoil is substantial with the 9mm. For shooters of semi-auto 9mm pistols, this might seem odd, but the revolver is a completely different animal. With a semi-auto, some of the felt recoil is absorbed by the gun’s action, while the revolver transmits the force directly into the shooter’s hand.
A quick comparison of cartridges shows the 9mm has a SAAMI spec of 35,000 PSI maximum average pressure, which is exactly the same as the .357 Magnum. A 9mm +P is rated for 38,500 PSI – closer to the fabled .357 Maximum (40k PSI) than the Magnum. So, running +P ammo through this gun is similar to running hot .357 Magnum loads. Keep this in mind if you are thinking that the 9mm will recoil about the same as a .38 Special.
Unfortunately, I managed to lose some of the ammunition data from the early trips. However, on the most recent trip, I put five different self-defense loads across a chronograph and recorded the results. They are list below.
|Federal 135 gr JHP Hydra-Shok||1,009 fps||305 ft-lb|
|Hornady 135 gr Critical Duty||941 fps||265 ft-lb|
|Hornady Critical Duty 135 gr +P||1,065 fps||340 ft-lb|
|Liberty Ammunition 50 gr JHP||1,927 fps||412 ft-lb|
|Speer 124 gr +P JHP Gold Dot (Short Barrel)||1,130 fps||352 ft-lb|
Performance measured with a Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital Chronograph at an approximate distance of 15' from the muzzle of the pistol. All measurements are an average of five shots.
Believe it or not, the super-fast Liberty Ammunition load was the lightest recoiling. The other loads were noticeably harsher on recoil, but the Speer had the most felt recoil by a wide margin. I cannot quantify what I felt, but it definitely had the sharpest impulse.
Measuring accuracy is both an easy thing and a worthless thing. If I bolt the gun into a Ransom rest, I can give you a measurement of the maximum potential accuracy of the gun. However, nobody shoots a gun from a mechanical rest. So, potential accuracy is largely meaningless.
I can measure groups when I shoot off-hand (and do as a requirement for other shooting publications I write for,) but I feel these numbers are also useless. The group size is most significantly affected by my imperfections than anything with the revolver. A better shooter will have smaller groups and a worse shooter will have larger. I will even vary from day to day depending on my mental and physical condition. Too much caffeine and my groups might open up substantially.
For me, I like to know I can consistently hit an 8″ target at 25 yards shooting double action only. Additionally, I ensure that I can rapidly put rounds into the same 8″ target at 7 yards. I can do both with this gun. In fact, I was much more accurate at 25 yards than the 8″ standard would suggest. If I needed to make a precision shot – say something head-sized – I would feel comfortable in doing so to 25 yards and a little beyond.
The Taurus 905 is a solid gun that worked very well for me over the course of many months. It was very reliable, and with the exception of a single round in the first cylinder, the gun fired every time the trigger was pulled. The DA trigger pull is heavy but manageable.
Although the sights are not ideal, the gun is still accurate enough for self-defense work. I’d much prefer to have a more visible front sight – like an XS Big Dot or a Hi Viz fiber optic. However, the simple ramp works well enough and will never bump out of alignment without twisting the whole barrel.
While the finish is not as nice as some of the Smith & Wesson and Ruger guns I’ve held, it still looks pretty good at first glance. A revolver aficionado might take exception with the off-color pins and the grip fit, but for the vast majority of shooters, these things will never be noticed.
The matte black model carries an MSRP of about $530, and the stainless version goes for about $583. I think these are fair prices for these guns as revolvers tend to be manpower-intensive in the manufacturing process. Comparable compact 9mm revolvers from other manufacturers are either more expensive or of questionable reliability.
The Ruger LCR in 9mm carries a suggested retail price of $669, while the Charter Arms is listed at $521. The LCR might be a little nicer, but it more than $100 more expensive. While I like Charter Arms guns in general, in my experience, the 9mm Pitbull has some reliability issues that lead me to not recommend them as a self-defense gun.
The bottom line? If you have a 9mm revolver itch, the 905 isn’t a bad way to go. However, if you are a collector looking for top build quality you might want to look for another revolver like the now-defunct Smith & Wesson 940.
This review has changed substantially since I originally wrote it in 2011. The original review was published here and then republished (with my permission) at The Daily Caller. Even though Google indexed and ranked the original review, at some point Google decided the review at The Daily Caller was the “original” and unlisted this review. Odd, but true nonetheless.
So, in an effort to eliminate whatever bad juju may be associated with duplicate content issues, I decided to completely re-write the review. You, the reader, benefit from this decision as I’ve decided to go into much more depth with this article, including ammo data and more.
I want you to know where I am potentially biased when I write a review. That gives you the best information possible if you are making any kind of buying decision about this revolver.
First, the gun was provided as a loaner from Taurus for the specific purpose of writing a review. Taurus did not encourage, demand or otherwise insist on a positive review. As with all guns and gear I review, I give the gear a real-world workout and write up what I saw, experienced and observed.
Second, Taurus is not an advertiser. Nor am I in any talks with them to be one.
Lastly, GunsHolstersAndGear.com is an independent, for-profit website. I do not charge readers a dime to access the information I provide.
Some of the links on this page and site are affiliate links to companies like Amazon and Palmetto State Armory. These links take you to the products mentioned in the article. Should you decide to purchase something from one of those companies, I make a small commission.
The links do not change your purchase price. I do not get to see what any individual purchases.
If you have any comments or questions about this review, please let me know in the comments section below. I ask that all comments be civil and free of profanity. I try to run a family-friendly site.