Old School Awesome

; .

The Model 44 from Taurus gives you a handful of
.44 Mag. power in a handy 4" platform.

Due to the explosion in popularity of polymer autos and black guns over the past decade, it’s fair to say interest in revolvers throughout the same time period has subsequently waned. With nearly every new introduction in the saturated tactical shooting market as uninteresting as the last, it’s clear that interest in the classic wheelgun market is primed and ready for resurgence with a younger crowd of shooters bored with the status quo.

Both as a gunwriter and a member of the aforementioned group, the time for tactical shooters to venture outside their comfort zone is long overdue. Recently, I decided to run with the bulls, diving headfirst into the world of wheelguns with a big-bore model from Taurus.


The barrel-length ejector shroud contributes to hefty, recoil-reducing mass.

The Model 44’s stainless steel construction makes it ideal
for lugging in nasty weather without worrying about rust.

Out Of The Box

I unboxed the Model 44 shortly before Christmas. The timing was perfect because I was able to take advantage of our annual family range gathering to conduct accuracy testing and compare the short-barreled 44 to my father’s Taurus Tracker 44, a 5-shot smaller-framed cousin to the M44. Like many hunters, my father has been carrying his Tracker for more than a few years now as his primary backup piece during bear hunts.

When compared to the Tracker, the Model 44 has only slightly larger dimensions and weighs 10 oz. more. Despite this, the additional sixth shot the M44’s cylinder provides gives dangerous-game hunters something to consider when selecting a backup gun.

The seasonal Midwest weather during the holiday wasn’t ideal for outdoor accuracy testing. Without the convenience of an indoor range, we dusted snow off the target frames and battled numb trigger fingers and watery eyes due to a wind-chill measuring into the teens.

With targets set at 25 yards, my father and I got to work, taking turns to increase efficiency and warm our hands between groups. My old man is no slouch when it comes to the shooting game, either. Every trip we take to the range turns into a friendly competition ending with no real winner — all the better when you’re performing accuracy testing on a gun.

For tactical shooters there’s something to be said about stepping outside the comfort zone of 9mm autos and stepping into the ring to play with the Big Boys. Felt recoil from the 44 is kept in check in large part due to its heavy weight and ported barrel. I’m here to tell you recoil from the M44 is practically pleasant, all things considered.

We tested a wide range of factory loads with bullet weights varying from lightweight 185-gr. jacketed hollowpoints to various 240-gr. whumpers. My best group of the day came from Hornady’s LEVERevolution. The 225-gr. FTX bullet printed a best 5-shot group of just 3.22″, with a 3-group average of 4.23″. Even better, handloads throwing 240-gr. Hornady XTPs won the gold medal for the day with a best group of 2.52″.

On a side note, and contrary to conventional wisdom, the additional heft and rigidity offered by the Model 44’s rugged frame didn’t seem to provide any increased accuracy when compared to the lighter Tracker. While both guns shot well (and hand-loads performed best in each gun), the Tracker’s groups consistently outperformed those of the 44 by about an inch with factory loads. But shooting the 44 was easily more pleasant, and the additional mass and bigger grip provided an overall feeling of a more solid gun.


Although the Model 44 is perfectly suited as a backup piece for
dangerous game, there's a lot more fun to be had with a short-barreled, big-bore revolver.

The saying goes, “Better to have it and not need it than to
need it and not have it.” The Model 44 carries a full 6-round
cylinder of .44 Mag.

While no lightweight, the Model 44 is a reasonably compact wheelgun.

Double-Action Dilemma

With accuracy testing complete, it was time for some double-action trigger time on a close-range steel plate. The problem? After locking a loaded cylinder into place, pulling the trigger would unlock the cylinder and it would begin to rotate before the trigger hit a brick wall, and all action stopped after 1/4″ of the DA trigger pull. At this point in the game just shy of 100 rounds had been sent through the 44, so it’s possible fouling was causing the issues, but this felt a little different. So the M44 was unloaded, cased and a more thorough inspection was scheduled for a later date.

Back at the house, the gun cycled flawlessly with an empty cylinder. I placed the Model 44 in Mom’s kitchen freezer, thinking maybe cold weather was the culprit. Not so much, and the plot thickens — everything still functioned properly on an empty cylinder. Another trip to the range would be required.

I started my second trip to the range a few days later and heated things up quickly by firing multiple cylinders — double action — in rapid succession without issue. Wind-chill temps on this day dipped into the negatives, so I let the gun sit on a range table for 30 minutes or so to try to replicate what had happened a few days earlier. And again the Model 44 ran fine.

Suspecting moisture levels might have been the culprit, I repeated the test a final time by placing the warm revolver on a tabletop covered with a few inches of snow. Sure enough, after brushing off all the frozen precipitation, the cylinder wouldn’t cycle. This time, however, I noticed although the cylinder would lock inside the frame, the cylinder release latch was stuck in the forward position. Internal components located behind the recoil plate had seized up and were causing the problem. After placing the 44 on the dashboard of my truck with the heat on high for 30 seconds, I could hear an audible click when things released, allowing me to finish out my range session.

This is not a dig at Taurus or the Model 44 — had any other revolver been subject to the same conditions as our 44, I’m certain it would have succumbed to the same fate. I returned the gun to Taurus for them to take a look and give me their two cents, and their conclusion was just about the same: lubricants reacting to the extreme cold weather. So what can be drawn from my little experiment? Care must be taken to properly protect your firearms any time they come into contact with moisture, even more so when it comes to revolvers.


The Taurus Security System employs a key-activated screw
below the hammer spur to lock the action for security.

The lightly textured rubber grip absorbs much of the
pounding otherwise directed straight into your palm.

The barrel is ported on each side of the front sight to reduce muzzle flip.

Awe-Inducing Appeal

In these modern times — where everything is mass produced and subsequently vanilla — the manufacturing mantra of “more for less” has managed to suck the character and soul out of seemingly every product — to include firearms. There exists, however, an almost hipster-esque appeal drawing shooters to revolvers. The moving pieces found in revolvers are required to travel in cadence with each other, akin to the gears of a finely tuned clock produced by skilled artisans using hammers and files to achieve the perfect fit — just like the action on the Taurus Model 44. It is a labor-intensive process, and the resulting revolvers still have to be affordable. Not an easy needle to thread, but Taurus did it with the $769 MSRP Model 44.

The .44 Mag. cartridge is the quintessential big-bore cartridge. From its introduction into pop culture with Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry to its omnipresence on the chest rigs of dangerous-game hunters, generations of Americans have relied on the powerful .44 Mag. The Model 44 is the product of a delicate balance between the hand-fitted craftsmanship of yore and Taurus’ modern, lean manufacturing processes, providing the knockdown power we crave at a price the average shooter can afford. 


A Bigger, Badder Bull?

Taurus is adding a new member to its popular “Raging” lineup of revolvers. The Raging Hunter is an optics-ready platform chambered in the popular and powerful .44 Mag. featuring a Picatinny top rail across the length of its 8- 3/8″ angular barrel. Shooters will recognize the striking red-colored cushioned grip backstrap insert which is a signature of the series and aids in a comfortable grip and recoil control. The Raging Hunter is available in a ridiculously good-looking two-tone finish, but for those who prefer a more subdued look, it also comes in matte blue. The weight is 55 oz. and the MSRP is $919.

As with other members of its family, the Raging Hunter is built for a lifetime of hard use. The sleek and modern appeal of the angular barrel and two-tone finish make me eager to get one in my hands to see what it can do. If the Raging Hunter handles half as good as it looks, Taurus will be scrambling to keep up with demand. 

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