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New Reviews Posted Up

The news section of the site has been a bit quiet since I shifted the focus of the site slightly. Instead of trying to pump out the latest news and press release information, I am focusing on providing more reviews of gun related products. As one of the few sites that fully discloses all biases in each review -and- doesn’t have annoying advertising plastered all over, I hope that the product evaluations I write are a help to you.

Ammunition Performance in Revolver

Here are some of the latest reviews I have published:

  • Anker LC90 Flashlight Review – Flashlights are must-have piece of equipment for daily life and self-defense. Although Anker tries to position this as a tactical flashlight, it is better suited for daily use in my opinion. I have a full review of it including runtimes and an examination of its questionable specifications.
  • Beretta 1301 Tactical Shotgun – Sadly, I wrote this review some time ago and failed to link to it from the rest of the site. So, this one sat unread by most people. While not “new” in the sense that I just wrote it, it is likely “new to most people” because it hasn’t been seen by many people at all.
  • Caldwell Platinum Series G3 Electronic Hearing Protection Review – These earmuffs proved to be a bad deal at any price. Feel free to read the full story, but the short story is hard pass.
  • Defensive Revolver Fundamentals Review – A great book about the use of revolvers in self-defense by recognized expert Grant Cunningham.
  • IWI Tavor X95 Review – The X95 proved to be a great shooting rifle. And while its price tag is larger than the budget of many shooters, it is a top-shelf, compact rifle that was reliable and accurate.
  • Ruger American Compact Pistol Review – Beefy. Generally, this is not a term associated with a compact handgun. Nevertheless, the Ruger American Compact pistol is just that. It works well, though it is not my first choice for concealed carry.
  • SIG SAUER P320 Airgun Review – This might be a fun gun to play with, but its not a training pistol. It has some positive aspects, but don’t expect it to replace your actual P320 for practice or training.
  • SIG SAUER Airgun Accessories – In addition to the P320 above, I looked at a number of airgun accessories from SIG: a Texas star spinner, reflex target and a quad shooting gallery.
  • Smith & Wesson Model 66 Review – I take a look at a pair of the modern manufactured .357 Magnum wheelguns from Smith. Some purists won’t like the two-piece barrel design, but these were good shooting handguns.
  • Taurus Spectrum Review – As much as I want Taurus to succeed, the company can’t seem to make a working gun at launch or fix its customer service woes. I detail both in this review.

I have also updated these reviews to reflect new versions of the books that have been released.

  • Black Man with a Gun – From my brother from another, Kenn Blanchard released a follow up to the original book. I updated the review to include information on the new tome.
  • Cartridges of the World – This is one of my go-to reference books for firearms information. The updated edition has been expanded and includes even more information than before.
  • Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson – Another fantastic resource, this book is a must have for any S&W collector. The current edition is even better than the previous – and I was not sure that would be possible.
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Taurus 856: Return of a Classic Revolver

[Editor’s note: Taurus announced the new Defender 856 at the 2020 SHOT Show. The new guns are +P rated with a 3″ barrel and a front night sight.]

Taurus USA announced the return of the Model 856 revolver.

While the gun is interesting on its own, I find that it is an even more compelling introduction when it is put head-to-head with the Colt Cobra. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s first take a look at what the gun is.

Just the Facts

At its most basic, the Taurus 856 is a 6-shot, compact revolver with a steel frame. It comes in at less than 1.5 pounds unloaded and is chambered for the venerable .38 Special cartridge.

Taurus 856 revolver

The gun has sights typical to concealed carry revolvers of this size: a fixed front ramp with a trench-style rear that is integral to the frame and top strap.

Taurus uses a set of its own rubber stocks on the gun. I’ve not had a chance to shoot a gun with these grips yet, but they look to be an improvement over some of the grips the company used in the past. The profile looks similar to Pachmayr Compac grips I’ve used occasionally on my Smith & Wesson J-frames.

(Update: Taurus will introduce new frame colors for the 856 at the 2019 SHOT Show.)

Six Shots or Only Five?

When Dirty Harry asked that question, he was talking about the rounds in his 6-shot .44 Magnum. But a lot of cops were asking themselves the same question when that movie was released. Should their backup gun hold six shots, or only five?

While many compact wheel guns use a 5-shot cylinder to decrease the gun’s width, there are a lot of people who are hesitant to give up that extra round of ammunition in their defensive handgun.

Guns like the Colt Cobra battled the 5-shot J-frames from Smith & Wesson for position in the ankle holsters of cops in the 60s and 70s. That single extra round of ammo made the decision easy for a lot of lawmen. A little extra width and weight were a cheap price for 20% more firepower.

With the renewed interest in the compact revolver, companies have expanded their wheelgun offerings in recent years. This includes Colt, that rolled out its updated Cobra in 2017.

Bull vs. Snake

The new Taurus 856 is a direct competitor to the new Cobra. Both are compact, steel-frame revolvers with 6-shot cylinders.

There are differences, of course. Here’s a look at some of their specs:

Taurus 856Colt Cobra
Caliber.38 Special.38 Special
Capacity66
ActionDA/SADA/SA
Barrel Length2″2″
Overall Length6.55″7.2″
Unloaded Weight22.1 oz25.0 oz
Frame Materialcarbon steel or stainless steelstainless steel
Height4.8″4.9″
Width1.41″1.40″
Sightsserrated front ramp, fixed trench rearfiber optic front, fixed trench rear
GripTaurus branded rubberHogue Overmolded
Finishmatte blue or matte stainlessmatte finish
MSRP$329$699

While I would prefer the Colt’s fiber optic sight to the Taurus’s serrated ramp, the specs seem to heavily favor the Model 856 when you factor in the final comparison: the price.

The Colt Cobra is more than twice the price of the Taurus 856.

I would never buy a self-defense handgun on price alone. However, the huge price difference is likely to sway many people standing at a gun counter.

For me, the key differences are the ones not listed in the spec chart above. What kind of reliability can I expect out of each gun? How smooth is the trigger? Does the gun feel good in my hand?

Those are things that I can only determine through testing of the guns.

Final Thoughts

Taurus USA and its parent company have been through some rough years. I don’t know if the bad times are truly behind them, but I do like the guns I’ve seen announced at the SHOT Show this year. The guns expand on the company’s best lines and are interesting enough to bring in new buyers.

Taurus 856 Custom
Since this article was written, Taurus introduced multiple versions of the 856 revolver including this model with special VZ Grips.

The Model 856 seems to be introduced with the same reasoning. It is a known winner and is competing in a popular niche with relatively little direct competition: compact, 6-shot revolvers. With such an inexpensive MSRP, I suspect these guns will be good sellers.

If Taurus quality control can keep these guns in the hands of its customers and out of the repair center, I think this gun can go a long way in restoring trust to the Taurus brand.

Last Update: October 17, 2022

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Taurus 692 Multi-Caliber Revolver: .38, .357 and 9mm

Taurus 692

Rumors of a multi-caliber revolver being introduced at the SHOT Show are true. Say hello to the Taurus 692.

The Model 692 is a revolver that is chambered in .357 Magnum. As most shooters know, you can shoot .38 Special loads from a .357 Magnum wheelgun. The twist, however, is that you can also shoot common 9mm rounds through this gun with the use of a conversion cylinder.

Taurus already offers a 9mm revolver, though it cannot shoot other cartridges from the gun. (Read more on the Taurus 905.) The 692 is designed to give your greater cartridge flexibility with a single gun purchase.

Swapping a revolver’s cylinder is easy and takes just a minute with a screwdriver. One of the things I like about the cylinders on this gun is that they are unfluted. Generally, I like a fluted cylinder, but the unfluted version looks good on this gun.

Taurus 692 revolver

Taurus offers the 692 in two different barrel lengths: a 3″ model for concealed carry and a longer 6.5″ model for target shooting and fun at the range. Interestingly, Taurus elected to port the barrels on this model. The porting should help reduce muzzle rise and felt recoil, though it is possible this could increase the visible flash in low light.

Both versions of the revolver are available in either a matte black or matte stainless finish.

Although many people still refer to revolvers as six shooters, the Taurus 692 is not. It is a seven shooter. In both the 9mm and the .38/.357 cylinders, you have seven rounds. For the 9mm shooter, Taurus includes its stellar clips so the rounds are easily loaded and the empty cases can be extracted without any problems.

Taurus model 692

Up front, Taurus uses a pinned ramp sight. An adjustable rear sight is standard.

The Taurus 692 is a double-action gun that can be cocked for single-action shooting. The spurred hammer is fully exposed.

The suggested retail price on this gun is $659. Your dealer sets the final price, so I imagine you could get out the door with a Model 692 for less than $600.

Caliber.38 Special, .357 Magnum, 9mm
Capacity7 rounds
ActionDA/SA
Barrel Length3″, 6.5″
Weight35 oz (3″), 46 oz (6.5″)
Sightspinned ramp front, adjustable rear
GripTaurus rubber grip
Finishmatte black or matte stainless
MSRP (at launch)$659

Update from the SHOT Show

Taurus 692 at SHOT Show

The 692 was on display at the 2018 SHOT Show. The gun was pretty much as described, porting and all. The one thing I didn’t like was the huger “TRACKER” logo down the left side of the barrel assembly. Otherwise, the gun looked good. Early indications show a lot of interest in this revolver, so I am expecting to see Taurus sell a good number of them.

Update

Yes, the Model 692 made it into production and can be purchased now. I know that the company has failed to deliver some announced guns in the past (28 gauge Judge cough, cough,) but this one is real.

Last Update: October 17, 2022

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Rumors of New Taurus Revolvers for 2018

If rumors are to be believed, Taurus has a number of new revolvers coming out in 2018. These have not yet been announced by the company, but I have had a number of sources provide details that make them appear credible. So, with a sizable grain of salt, here is what I am hearing:

Raging Hunter

(Update: This rumor has been confirmed, though with a few detail changes.)

Taurus has never been afraid to build a large framed revolver. The Raging Hunter appears to be designed in the same spirit as the Raging Judge Magnum (in .454 Casull, .45 Colt and .410 bore) and the ill-fated Raging Judge XXVIII (a 28-gauge revolver.) Only the Taurus Raging Hunter is a milder cartridge: the .44 Magnum.

From what I am hearing, the new revolver will have a Picatinny rail on the top of the barrel for adding a scope.The barrel is 6.5″ long with an octagonal shape. It is ported. The gun will ship with sights including an adjustable rear.

I am also hearing that the Raging Hunter will be available in both two-tone and black finishes. It will have the company’s recoil reducing grips with the red stripe down the back.

The Taurus Raging Hunter sounds like a revamped version of the older Model 444 Raging Bull. This was a .44 Magnum revolver that was offered about seven years ago. With the exception of the barrel, the gun was nearly identical to what has been described to me as the Raging Hunter. The older revolver’s barrel did not have a Picatinny rail but was vented instead.

Model 856

Taurus 856 Revolver

(Update: This rumor has been confirmed, though with a few detail changes. See the details on the Taurus 856 revolver here.)

The new 856 revolver is a six-shot, .38 Special handgun with a steel frame. It has a 2″ barrel and a weight of about 22 ounces. This makes it a direct competitor to the recently reintroduced Colt Cobra – another 2″ wheelgun that holds 6 rounds in the cylinder.

This gun appears to be a reintroduction of the prior steel framed model 856 revolvers. Those were also 2″ steel framed guns that held 6 rounds and weighed 22.2 ounces. The original 856 revolvers appear to have been discontinued in later 2012. The guns appeared in the Taurus 2012 catalog, but not in the 2013.

The above photo is of the original Taurus 856 from 2012.

Older 856 revolvers also had an option for a magnesium frame that dropped the weight to less than a pound. The new guns do not appear to have this option.

Model 692

(Update: This rumor has been confirmed, though with a few detail changes. See the details on the Taurus 692 here.)

While the two rumored revolvers previously mentioned have older versions of them, this is one that may be a new entity entirely.

The Taurus 692 is supposed to be a .357 Magnum revolver that comes with a 9mm conversion cylinder. This means that you could shoot .38 Special, 9mm and .357 Magnum from the same gun. I know that Taurus offers a 9mm revolver and convertible rimfire revolvers, but I don’t recall ever seeing a centerfire convertible revolver from them previously. (Feel free to comment below and let me know what I’m forgetting.)

The gun is said to be available with a 3″ or 6″ barrel and have a steel frame.

Final Thoughts

While these new guns are just rumors at this point, all of them make sense to me. Taurus has not had a lot of new product introductions in the recent years and could do with an injection of some fresh models. As some of these seem to be reboots of older guns that were popular in their time, I see them as quick wins. With a new CEO dealing with legacy quality control issues and a class action lawsuit, grabbing some of the low hanging fruit is a smart – and safe – move.

Last Update: October 17, 2022

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Red Magazines for the Holiday Season?

Red Lancer Magazine

There is a popular joke that comes up every year around the holidays:

There are only two kinds of people in this world: those that believe Die Hard is a Christmas movie and those that are wrong.*

Die Hard is a great action movie based on a Christmas party that gets crashed by Professor Snape and his squeeze cocker. But beyond this movie, there is a strong association between the holidays and shooting for many families. From putting food on the table for the Christmas dinner to giving your child his or her first rifle, the shooting and hunting sports are closely related to the holidays.

So, to get your shooting in the Christmas spirit this year, Lancer Systems is offering a festive version of its Advanced Warfighter Magazine (L5AWM). The new L5AWM has a translucent red body that really stands out.

Just because these are a fun color doesn’t mean they aren’t a serious magazine. The red L5AWM gets all of the same features that the standard Advanced Warfighter Magazine gets including the steel feed lips, non-tilt follower, stainless steel spring and relatively thin body.

Red AR Magazine

I’ve got a few Lancer Systems magazines and have been pleased by their performance. They have worked in a wide range of AR-style rifles and pistols that I have shot, and I would feel comfortable relying on them for serious use.

According to Lancer Systems, the red L5AWM is only available through GunMagWarehouse and can be purchased by clicking here. It looks like these are selling for less than $20 as I write this.

Full disclosure – I have written for GunMagWarehouse in the past, but do not currently have any financial interest in the company.

*Actually, it’s not a joke. Die Hard really is a Christmas movie.