Gun Review: Taurus 651.357 Magnum Revolver in Stainless Steel

Hi Robert,

I haven’t forgotten about writing something for TTAG. I planned (I did mean past tense here…) on a review of the Taurus 651 stainless 5-shot .357. I started to outline what I wanted to do; it was going to be a review on a cheap and cheerful revolver. Something along those lines, with a smattering of snark for all the Taurus haters out there. It would be a positive review and an honest read. I think I’ve said before: I owned one of these little revolvers several years ago. It was one of the first guns I ever bought and it served me well. They aren’t bad little guns—especially for the price (MSRP $480). And then I went and actually bought the damn thing . . .

That’s when the problems began. I just printed off the shipping label to prepare my 651 for its THIRD trip back to Taurus in as many weeks. The gun has an issue where there is an excessively long trigger pull between the time the cylinder stops rotating/locks and the hammer releases/falls to strike the firing pin. It’s like two distinct trigger pulls. Two loud clicks. It sucks.

I have never had a  revolver do this. I’ve been on the phone with Taurus multiple times trying to explain what’s going on. They get the gun back, do whatever it is they do and send the damn thing back in the same exact condition it left in. Which is broken.

I can not in good faith write a review on this gun at this point. I would not recommend purchasing this gun to anyone. And the world doesn’t need another Taurus-bashing screed. If I write the review and include the three (at this point) trips back to the factory for repair then what will that accomplish?

Any suggestions on this?

J

33 Responses to Gun Review: Taurus 651.357 Magnum Revolver in Stainless Steel

  1. avatarRobert Farago says:

    John,

    You have the gun now, right? If so, please document the problem (video if you can). Then take it to a top notch gunsmith for examination (invoice TTAG). Video/photo the internal issue(s).

    Have the gunsmith reassemble the 651. Send the handgun to Taurus with a note on the piece’s sad history along with a short description of what needs fixing, from the gunsmith.

    A) If Taurus refuses to touch it—you broke, you own it—buy the 651, charge us, have the gunsmith fix it and then review it.

    B) If the revolver comes back again fixed (finally), make sure it works (safety first) and test it. Mention your troubles in the article, but give the Taurus an honest review.

    Fair enough?

    • avatarJohn Fritz says:

      I’m on it. I will keep you posted.

    • avatarMATT LIT says:

      I have now sold off two Taurus revolvers which have failed on me. The first, a 627 Tracker Ti, failed while shooting at the range. The entire cylinder and yoke screw fell out! Sent to Taurus, essentially asking for a new revolver since something like that should NEVER happen to a gun so new (under 100 rounds). Customer service was horrible, rude, demeaning and very secretive. Received gun back and it had clearly not been tested as the gun still did not function (no trigger pull, no cylinder rotation…and no test-firing brass). Was extremely amazed and upset a manufacturer would allow that to happen. After a second trip and again complete secrecy about the problem, I received it back. It did work and never failed after that…however it continued to have issues of spent brass not ejecting…a gunsmith told me the cylinder was just not cleanly manufactured. Got rid of it.

      Last year I purchased the .44 4″ ported. In less than 50 rounds the trigger assembly/cylinder completely locked up. This time, I had my FFL return it, figuring maybe Taurus CS would be more open to hearing from an FFL. WRONG! He told me he was amazed at how rude and (again) secretive the CS rep was. I received the gun back. It had not been test fired. I never took it to the range. I sold it to a Taurus dealer at a loss of $150 to me.

      I am amazed at the number and consistency of complaints regarding Taurus (revolvers). I even asked on a forum recently, how a gun manufacturer is allowed to sell weapons in which there is an obvious issue of quality control and subsequent failure. My dismay is in seeing the NRA molly-coddle and fawn over Taurus when it should, in fact, suggest strongly to Taurus that it get its quality control act together.

      My 8.3/4 cents.

      from somewhere on Colorado’s Continental Divide…

      “NikonFotoMatt”

  2. avatarDonWorsham says:

    Ask Taurus to replace the gun.

  3. avatarChris Dumm says:

    The fact that so many shooters have stories like this is shocking. I had a Taurus .357 about twenty years ago, but today the brand is radioactive. As in “don’t even touch them.”

    • avatarDonWorsham says:

      I owned a couple of Taurus (3 actually). All fine guns. The model 605 (.357)was my carry gun for a long time. My S&W 642 (.38spl) has gone back for repair more times than my Taurus (shot the snot out of both). There are lemons in all brands. So if it is not right, get it fixed or replaced.

  4. avatarVan says:

    While I was shopping for a pocket 9 I looked at a Taurus 709. Out of the case the gun did not seem to function properly. I could not pull the trigger with the magazine inserted (yes the safety was off). Handed the gun to the clerk and he could not get it to work either.

    Just prior to looking at the Taurus I had remarked how I still had a bad perception about Taurus’ reputation for quality. The clerk laughed and said, “Well, this probably won’t help.”

    I ended up buying a Ruger LC9.

  5. avatarTim Smith says:

    I own a Taurus 651, 357 magnum in total titanium, I love this gun. It has fired everytime I pulled the trigger, I would have to say I would highly recommend this firearm to anyone.

  6. avatarRalph says:

    Never owned a Taurus, and now that I live in MA I can’t buy one since they’re not approved for sale here. The word of mouth that I hear from people I trust in states other than MA, including owners and dealers, is that Taurus makes a good product and backs it with absolutely deplorable customer service.

  7. avatarJoe Grine says:

    Friends don’t let friends buy Taurus.

  8. avatartaurus609 says:

    I have a Taurus PT 92, and a Taurus 609 TI, both are 9MM and fire anything I put through them. I even carry the 609 as my concealed handgun, because I know it will fire every time. In fact, I originally had a Taurus 85SSUL as my carry gun, but because of a motorcycle accident 7 years ago, I couldn’t get a good feel for the grip because of hand issues, so I traded it for the 609. At seven yards, I can fill a 8 inch target all day long. So I don’t understand the disdain for Taurus handguns, everyone I’ve owned has worked flawlessly! My only regret is, that Taurus has discontinued the 609, and I can only guess it was because of the high price of Titanium, since the 609 was around $600.00, but with the light weight and 13 +1 capacity, it has worked exceptionally for me.

    • avatarHSR47 says:

      “…I don’t understand the disdain for Taurus handguns…”

      As has been said above, it seems to generally be due to their customer service failing to make good on firearms that should not have made it through QC in the first place.

      That said, whether or not the quality of the product requires me to utilize the manufacturer’s CS department, the type of response I’m likely to get from them is a large part of my purchasing decision.

      • avatartaurus609 says:

        HSR47,
        I also own a Sig and an M&P, have never had a problem with either of them, but I would imagine, that there are folks who have had issues with their CS. So would that mean I shouldn’t have purchased their (Sig, S&W) products either? And for CS from Taurus, a very good friend bought a brand new 380 (it’s like the Ruger LCP), but I don’t remember the model. Well it wouldn’t cycle a new round, so he took it back to the gun shop we frequent, and they sent it back to Taurus. Had it back in two weeks, with a new slide, sounds like very good customer service. And before anyone jumps on the “it was junk in the first place bandwagon”, he has arthritis real bad, and can’t hold that small of a weapon tightly, hence that’s why it wouldn’t cycle a new round. And by the way, it worked flawlessly for me, before he sent it back, and after it was returned. Improper grip control, not a faulty product.

  9. avatarMogg says:

    I own several taurus weapons, two revolvers and an auto,
    all are good, serviceable weapons.

    None have ever given me any problems at all.

    My tcp has never had a failure to feed, fire, or eject.
    My .357 is accurate and reliable, as a revolver should be.
    My .38 has been my companion for years, and never failed
    to do anything I asked of it.

    I’ve owned two other taurus weapons in the past, both
    were also good weapons.

    I know taurus gets bashed a lot, but mainly it’s by people who don’t own one.

  10. Well, rather than relying on anecdotal evidence, we can take a look at 83 actual tests of Taurus firearms conducted by Gun Tests magazine:

    http://www.yankeegunnuts.com/2010/12/28/quality-1911-glock-taurus/

    Bottom line: 16 guns were unreliable, and 16 guns broke during testing (fell apart, lost parts, or locked up during use).

    • avatarPhil says:

      Nice meta. Dern, I was thinking someday I’d pick up a Taurus 1911. Always enjoyed my Series 80 Gold Cup but sold it after buying a Taurus 24/7 compact .45. Liked the 24/7c so much (though it came with one bad mag that Taurus promptly replaced) that I bought a 24/7 OSS 5″ in .45. Then got interested in the little 380s. Diamond Back felt good in hand but new small company and teething problems made me leery. Ruger LCP didn’t feel quite right so I went with the Taurus TCP though it had plenty of net negative. Ran about 300 rounds of differing ammo and no failures.

      Just a guess but Taurus’ problems may just be they produce too many different guns.

      • avatarChris Dumm says:

        I think you’ve got a real point there. They just make too damned many kinds of guns, so there’s nothing that resembles a ‘core competency’ for all their technicians and engineers and craftsmen to concentrate on.

        Twenty years ago, Taurus concentrated on revolvers (and their full-size 9mm Beretta clone) and they were pretty good. I owned one and just about all of my shooting friends owned at least one too; we shot the hell out of them and never had a problem. The revolvers were all transfer-bar versions of the Smith & Wesson J- and K-frames, and they reasonably priced and well-built.

        Now Taurus has gate-crashed almost every handgun market segment they can find: pocket mouse guns, Wondernines, 1911s, shotgun-pistols and .454 Casull hand-cannons. They build a lot of handguns, but they don’t build them at a consistently high level of quality.

  11. avatarRichard says:

    I have owen both Taurus 1911 pistol in blue steel tauus copy 92 f stanless steel found them both be good shooting guns. Only grip is put really weak blueing job on my Taurus 1911 seem wear off gun fast. All seem ship my brand new Taarus 1911 lot crap in barrle for new gun in which spent alot time clean out . Othe than that had no trouble so far with there guns.

  12. avatarGossven says:

    This seems like the same story you hear a lot about Tauruses(Taurii?) I’ve heard from lots of people who own them that they are solid dependable guns but then you always hear about that one they got that had to be sent back to customer service 3-4 times. I know that any company can make a lemon it just seems that Taurus produces more than average. While I myself don’t own any there are a few that I’ve thought about purchasing and if the price was right I would probably snag it up and then just test the holy hell out of it to make sure I didn’t get one of the bad ones.

  13. avatarPatrick Carrube says:

    “Any suggestions on this?”

    Yup – tell them to keep it and send you a check for what you paid plus shipping… then, go out and pick up any pre-lock J/K/L-frame in .357 Magnum :)

  14. avatarSilverWings says:

    It seems that whenever I read a thread on Taurus quality and reliability problems there are several or more current or past Taurus owners posting comments about their own real-world personal bad experiences with Taurus. Then someone later posts a comment that it seems the only ones bashing Taurus are people who have never owned Taurus. WTF?!

    Some owner’s Taurus buys work out fine and good for them. All manufacturers can make lemons (as another person commented) and it does appear that Taurus makes proportionally far more lemons than other makes and then Taurus fails way too frequently to fix the lemon problem.

    If I can’t rely upon a Taurus or another make gun to shoot then I’m better off buying a slingshot and a machete. I’d rather spend 25-30% or whatever more dollars and buy a Ruger.

  15. avataragedagent says:

    I have a Rossi .357 6 round 2″ revolver, model R461, made by Taurus. I have had no problems with it. Has anyone else had problems, first hand, eyeball, trouble? No hearsay, please.

  16. avatarSteve Holvik says:

    I have a 651 stainless and am very pleased with it. I got it in a collection i bought out and had originally planned on reselling it when I priced the collection. Although I appreciate the tactical reasoning behind a “hammer-less” revolver for carry purposes I never really liked the looks. After running it at the range several times I gained a fondness for the gun and decided to keep it….many rounds later I am still pleased. It has a hefty DAO trigger pull (as it should) and is more accurate then I would have thought when i got it. I absolutely trust that particular gun to work…I would never trust any gun with my life (regardless of the name stamped on it) without verifying it’s dependability myself. I have come across junk and masterpieces from manufacturers A-Z, some are just more consistent one way or another. So, I guess the moral of this story is…buy a used taurus from someone you trust?

  17. avatarLalo Chang says:

    Hey Goober, the 651 is a well made revolver. It is like having a two stage trigger.
    You sent the weapon back, not because it had a problem, but because you couldn’t see the trees for the forest. Get with the program boy. lalo

  18. avatarSpud says:

    Ive owned a number of Taurus revolvers, i did have a problem with my wifes 5 shot 38 model 85 i think it is, it locked up, this back in the 90′s i think, or early 2000′s, had a gun smith fix it for about 40 bucks. hasn’t had a problem since. I have had the model 66? 6” ported with vented rib, wish i could have kept that one, i could shoot a bowling bowl pin at 100yds and hit it 5 out of six shots consistently. had to sell it for homeschooling supplies, oh well. I have recently purchased the 627 tracker ss. 4″ barrel ported. It locked up after about 50 rounds of reloads, i thought that maybe the primers weren’t seated enough. I was able to get it opened up again, the cylinder would instantly stick and not rotate, i cleaned it up a bit and then it seemed to work fine, i might have had a burr somewhere, i used some abrasive pads on the cylinder and frame mating surfaces, i have put about 300 rounds through it since, and it is very accurate. I then took it completely apart and polished
    the internal mating surfaces and did a spring job, to be honest I used the lightest hammer springs and trigger springs, but got misfires, then went to the next heaviest hammer spring and it works fine now, but i really don’t perceive an appreciable difference in Double action shooting. single action is sweet, hair trigger almost. but double action is still a bit stiff me thinks. not gritty by any means just sorta hard. It supposedly comes with a 14 pd hammer spring, the one i ended up using is an 11 pound. should be 3 pound difference, but i don’t notice it so much in da shooting. spring kit is only about 12 bucks, comes with two trigger springs and 3 hammer springs. I would buy a smith or ruger if they had the features that Taurus comes with stock, like porting or vented rib etc…the ribber grip is great, most smiths have grips that are much bigger and i think more difficult to deal with. I understand the people who had bad experiences and wont ever but it again, I have had some as well, but i like to see WHY these things happen and fix them myself. I save some money, and learn something as well. I used to be fearful of tearing apart a gun, but there is so much material and resources out on the web now, you can get picture perfect descriptions for what to do and how to do it. That wasn’t available back in the 90′s for me. Anyway i would recommend the Taurus tracker 627 in-spite of my own issues, I worked through them and now its a great little gun with some fire breathing fun to boot.

  19. avatarRyan1Dog says:

    I’ve had a Taurus 24/7 40 cal for 6 or more years now. I thoroughly enjoy it. Have spent over 2,000 rounds in it and never had to take it to the gun shop to replace anything. It is my go to gun for home protection, even though I have a Kimber 1911. It is extremely accurate, very comfortable (more than a Glock), and has chambered every time with no fails.
    Not sure if you can see this picture, but i centered the bulls eye 3 times at 75 feet with my 24/7.
    I’m going to get a .357 in their personal defense so I can have a pocket carrier with me.
    Yes I know they’re cheaper than most, but they do make good products.

    Just keep your weapons clean. That’s 50% of problems with guns that don’t shoot properly.

  20. avatarwjohnson357 says:

    I’ve owned two Taurus firearms in my time. One was a Rossi .357 magnum 3″ revolver (made by Taurus). It was sent back to the factory 4 times before I finally got rid of the damn thing. The next gun was a 640 Pro subcompact .40 s&w. That gun’s slide wouldn’t go into battery, ever. I never got to fire a round. I didn’t even deal with the factory that time, just sold it right away. It has been my experience that Taurus’ quality control is at best subpar, and more likely, non-existent. I’m so disappointed in this gun maker and would recommend all to avoid their products. Remember, you get what you pay for. Buy American.

  21. avatarKenny says:

    I owned a Taurus once. Brand new, took it out shooting, and the slide went back into battery then off the gun. The slide literally flew off of the gun.
    I bought it for $150, sold it for the same, I refuse to own anything by Taurus because of their reputation. As an employee in a small gun shop, thats the last gun I will show, and will only show it if they ask to see it.

  22. avatarPhilippe Rockholt says:

    I think I am giving up on Taurus! Few years back I had a Taurus 85 and one day while cleaning it and working the action the whole mechanism locked up on me. Couldn’t open the cylinder, cock the trigger or pull the trigger. The gun was sent back to the factory and Taurus replaced the gun with a new one which I thought that was awesome except for the waiting period again. Well I spoke too fast, about a week ago with the new gun, I was working the action without dry firing just pulling the hammer and gently releasing it, the cylinder would not lock when rotating it counterclockwise. So now it’s back to the factory. Who knows maybe I will get another new model 85 but this time I will sell it.

  23. avatarCaligula says:

    Taurus firearms are like a box of chocolates, you never know if you if you picked a lemon until you fire it. Their quality control is deplorable.

  24. avatarJeff A says:

    I have the 651 357 stainless. Never had a problem. It has a two stage trigger when shooting DA. Not a problem for me. Get to know the personality of your firearm. I have numerous handguns. My Taurus fits nice on the hip with a nylon Uncle Mikes holster with a couple of speed loaders in my cargo pocket. I feel that it is nice affordable handgun. Glad I did not get a lemon with ths one. I use snakesot in the first chamber and Critical Defense in the other four chambers. Shoot 38 spl and 357 FMJ at the range no problems.

  25. avatarBobo says:

    Have 2 Taurus revolvers, 651 stainless and a 627 Tracker (stainless with a 4″barrel) both purchased used. As such have no idea as to total round count on them, but have put in the neighborhood of 500rds thru each myself (mix of 357 n 38)
    ZERO issues with either of them. The 651′s trigger was smoother then the S&W J frame I looked at at the same time (can’t say if it was worked on or not though)

    Also have 2 Taurus semi-autos. An early gen 1 PT111 (this was lady bobo’s gun) and a 2nd gen PT145, again zero (functional) issue with either one. The only thing about the 111 neither of us cared for was the size/shape of the trigger guard, found that we both would drag our finger along it and after a few magazines it would get uncomfortable. Recently looked at the newest version at the lgs and see the guards shape is different/larger so probably wouldn’t have the same issue with it.

    Would certainly consider their product(s) again if they had something that caught my eye.

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