Big Bore Bulls Of Brazil

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Taurus revolvers have been around for a long time, providing exceptional value for the dollar. But, for me at least, there was always something missing in the area of aesthetics. They functioned well. But there was definitely something lacking in form. This changed in the late 1990s, so I’m assuming that someone came on board who understood what a sixgun should look like.

At the 1997 SHOT Show, Taurus unveiled a new big bore revolver. But before this, they once offered the Model 44, which was an extremely good shooting .44 Magnum that fell a little short in looks. Especially the barrel profile and the design of the stocks. They just didn’t have that real sixgun look.

Someone obviously spent a good deal of time at the drawing board, and the result in 1997 was the first Raging Bull. The prototype displayed at that particular SHOT Show did not look as if it could handle the high pressures that come from firing such cartridges as the .454 Casull it was chambered for. In fact, this particular gun did not even appear to have a forcing cone.

Of course prototypes are not finished products. And a year later, when Taurus unveiled the Raging Bull in final production form, all who viewed it and handled it were quite impressed.


Front locking latch of the Raging Bull.

Perspective Of Time

Now years later, and the Raging Bull has proven to be a raging success. Although first announced in a five shot .454 Casull, as well as six shot versions in .44 Magnum and .45 Colt, I personally have never seen one in .45 Colt. And I cannot say if any were ever produced.

I have had considerable experience shooting both a blue and a stainless .44 Magnum Raging Bull, as well as three of the .454 Casulls: an 8 inch blue model and two 6 inch stainless versions, one satin finished, the other wearing a high polish finish.

In shooting all five of these Raging Bulls, the only problem that surfaced was trying to ignite .454 Casulls with rifle primers when shooting double action. To my positive experience with these five Raging Bulls I have added a test of the newest version chambered in the newest sixgun cartridge — the .480 Ruger. And the first order of business was a general look at the Raging Bull.

I have always been somewhat biased against foreign manufactured sixguns. Not because of their function or durability, but because of the subjective viewpoint that they simply do not please my eye. They just do not do anything for me artistically speaking, being about as exciting as a claw hammer or a nail gun.

This viewpoint changed with the advent of the Raging Bull, which to my eye is the best looking double action sixgun to come along since the original Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum of 1956.


Ported barrels along with good stocks and reasonable weight make these pleasant shooting for their caliber.

Control Surfaces

Just about everything has been done right to both form and function. The trigger, the same width as the trigger guard, is smooth with no checkering or serrations to irritate the trigger finger during long strings of fire.

At the same time, the hammer spur has the right amount of checkering to allow for positive cocking in single action fire. This user friendly checkering is also carried out on both cylinder release latches, giving a non-slip surface that does not bite into either thumb when operated.

It does take two thumbs to open the Raging Bull’s cylinder. A conventional latch is positioned on the left side of the frame behind the recoil shield while the second locking latch is on the crane in front of the cylinder. This provides a secure lockup of the cylinder, and both latches must be pressed in unison to unlock and open the gun. There is no locking latch at the end of the ejector rod. The cylinder of the Raging Bull measures 1.770″ inch in diameter with a length of 1.760″ inch.

The heavy barrels of all Raging Bulls are of the full under-lugged variety with a recess for the ejector rod. Integral to each barrel is a heavy rib with three ventilated slots on the 6.5″ inch versions and with one more added for 8 3⁄8″ inch barrel lengths. Barrel, underlug, and ventilated rib are all machined from one solid piece of steel as is the ramp for the front sight. This heavy barrel measures 1.650 inches from top to bottom and when viewed from the front can be seen to taper from the center to the top of the rib and the bottom of the underlug.

The Taurus Security System locks the mechanism for safe storage.

Adaptable Sights

The front sight itself is a pinned-inplace black blade mated with a fully adjustable rear sight. The rear sight blade is slanted to prevent glare. At this stage of my life, this is the best type of sight for my eyes. Since the front sight blade is pinned in place, a blade of different height or thickness can be easily substituted.

For my use, I needed to change the front sight blade on the .44 Magnum Raging Bull. With the rear sight bottomed out, both 240 and 300 grain bullets shoot high. The same situation exists when using 400 grain bullets in the .480. A taller front sight blade will take care of this.

The barrel is ported below the front sight to help control muzzle flip when shooting full house loads. Barrels are not rifled in the ported area, so in reality a 6.5″ inch barrel is really slightly over five inches in bore length, while the 8 3⁄8″ inch versions are rifled for approximately seven inches. This does not seem to have any adverse effect on muzzle velocity, for these are relatively “fast-shooting” revolvers.

In .454 and .480, Taurus' Raging Bulls have bull-strong fiveshot cylinders.

Ported Barrel Precautions

Two cautions need to be advanced concerning the use of ported sixguns. First, they are noisy. Hearing protection is an absolute must especially for bystanders.

Perhaps even more important is the fact that when using cast bullets, hazardous material may be ejected through the ports. There is no need to over emphasize this. But be certain anyone near the firing line is wearing proper eye and ear protection.

Stocks on all Raging Bulls are highly functional, pebble grained black rubber with a cushioned red insert running along the backstrap area. Using red instead of black for the cushion was a good move, for it identifies every Raging Bull at a glance. It also provides a more attractive look to normally drab appearing black rubber grips.

I briefly mentioned the finishes available, three in all. Blued guns are a very attractive, deep, well polished blue rarely found on factory sixguns today. The standard stainless steel versions are a glare-reducing frosted matte finish most hunters will probably prefer. The highly polished stainless steel finish would be the choice for the more flamboyant amongst us.

As with all Taurus revolvers, the Raging Bull is equipped with the Taurus Security System, which consists of an integral safety mechanism located on the back of the hammer beneath the hammer spur. A provided key is inserted and turned clockwise to lock the mechanism of the Raging Bull. In this condition the Raging Bull cannot be fired or operated until the key is re-inserted and turned counter clockwise.

Raging Bull in .480 Ruger is good lookin' and straight shootin'.

Recoil Dampening

Raging Bulls are heavy sixguns, with both the .44 Magnum and the .454 Casull weighing 55 ounces and the new .480 Ruger version one ounce lighter — all in the 6.5″ inch version. If I have any complaint at all about Raging Bulls, the same observation must be made for almost every sixgun, single shot, and semi-automatic of current production — the heaviness of the trigger pulls.

Using the RCBS Premium Trigger Pull Scale, the single-action trigger pull of both the .44 Magnum and the .454 Casull weigh 4.5 pounds, while the .480 Ruger is 8 ounces heavier at 5.5 pounds. A competent gunsmith is definitely called for here to bring these down to a more usable 3 pounds.

I will not tell you any of these sixguns from Taurus are “pleasant shooting” when firing full house loads. Anytime one chooses to shoot full Magnum powered loads in a sixgun there are trade-offs.

One simply cannot escape recoil. What Taurus has done is to make these sixguns as pleasant shooting as possible, with their heavyweight construction, ported barrels, and cushioned rubber stocks. Yes, they still recoil. But this is about as much comfort we can hope for and still have a packable sixgun.

Taurus Raging Bulls are available in .44 Magnum, .454 Casull and .480 Ruger chamberings.

Vital Detail

Nearly all sixgun stocks on factory revolvers appear to have been designed by non-shooters. Most are small at the top and large at the bottom, obviously backwards to anyone who has ever shot heavy recoiling revolvers. This poor design drives the gun down into the hand under recoil. The grips on the Raging Bull are properly designed, being smaller at the bottom to provide a secure grip during recoil.

Test In Three Calibers

All three Raging Bulls were tested with a variety of ammunition, factory and handloads, with all three proving to be good shooting, fairly easy handling, and accurate sixguns. My results are in the accompanying tables and I would expect someone with younger eyes and wrists not ravaged by decades of shooting heavy recoiling sixguns to achieve even better results. All groups were fired with iron sights from a sandbag rest at 25 yards.

The Great .44 Magnum

The .44 Magnum cartridge is fast approaching its Golden Anniversary as the King of the Magnum Sixgun Cartridges. Actually, its roots go back even farther to the late 1920s and early experiments by sixgunners such as Elmer Keith with heavily loaded .44 Specials.

Keith beat the drum for a “.44 Special Magnum” for nearly 30 years until Smith & Wesson and Remington teamed up to produce the first .44 Magnum revolver. That Smith & Wesson sixgun, now known as the Model 29, and Remington’s cartridge gave completely new meaning to the word Magnum. A long succession of worthy double and single action revolvers have been chambered for this great cartridge since then. The Raging BulBull ranks right up there with the best of them.

More Power — The .454 Casull

While Smith & Wesson, Remington and Elmer Keith were teaming up to bring forth the .44 Magnum, a young gunsmith out of Utah was working on his idea of the perfect sixgun firing a .45 Magnum.

Dick Casull converted Colt Single Actions to five shot sixguns. He later built his own revolver with five shot cylinders, converted Ruger Super Blackhawks to five shot cylinder .45s, and in 1983 finally teamed up with Wayne Baker to bring forth the five shot Freedom Arms .454 Casull. All of Casull’s previous experiments had been with heavy loaded .45 Colt brass. However, when the .454 Casull from Freedom Arms became a reality, the .45 Colt was lengthened to become the .454 Casull just as the .44 Special had been lengthened to produce the .44 Magnum.

Taurus’ .454 Raging Bull has been in the field now for years. Unlike Ruger’s .454 Super Redhawk, which has a six shot cylinder, the Raging Bull has a heavy five shot cylinder with .155″ inch of steel between chambers and outside walls of .110″ inch in thickness. Shooters desiring a .454 now have three choices: a single action five shooter from Freedom Arms; a six shot Ruger double action; or a five shot double action from Taurus.

New Kid On The Block

The latest cartridge on the sixgun scene and the latest offering from Taurus in the Raging Bull is the .480 Ruger. This cartridge was a joint effort between Hornady and Sturm Ruger to bring forth a big bore sixgun combination offering shooters more power than the standard .44 Magnum.

Original factory ammunition from Hornady consists of a 325 grain XTP-JHP rated at 1,350 fps, which puts it in the same velocity class as a heavy loaded .44 Magnum or a .45 Colt. The .480 cartridge case itself is nothing more than a shortened .475 Linebaugh. The .480 has been personally tested in three different sixguns: the Ruger Super Redhawk; the Freedom Arms .475 fitted with an extra .480 cylinder; and the Taurus Raging Bull. It has proven to be an exceptionally accurate cartridge in all three sixguns and more than adequately powerful for most hunting purposes. Of the three cartridges offered by Taurus in their Raging Bull, this would be my first choice.

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