Taurus 605ss w Speed Strip of 140gr VOR-TX

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By Nate Parker

Anemic is generally the word that comes to mind when I think of “pocket guns” or sub-compact handguns. The guns that fall into that category are easy to carry —  that’s kind of the point — but the flavor of the day always seems to be .380 ACP or 9mm. What if I want something with a little more sauce on it? There is an answer. The “MORE POWER” crowd can have their cake and eat it too in the form of the .357 Magnum snubnose revolver. For over half a century, the snubnose revolver has ruled the “pocket gun” niche, only being seriously challenged on the market by semi-auto pistol designs in the past five years or so. Even so, the snubnose revolver has held its own. So what separates the snubnose from everything else in the category? The option to add sauce, and lots of it . . .

The traditional players in the snubnose .357 Magnum revolver game are Smith & Wesson and Ruger, both building exceptional guns. The less traditional and generally cheaper option is Taurus. The Taurus 605 is the quintessential 5-shot, 2” barreled small frame snubnose revolver with a small grip, small sights, and a heavy trigger. Unlike most of its semi-auto counterparts though, it packs a wallop worthy of being featured in a title fight.

Dosing up the target with some extra sauce.

Out of the Box

The Taurus 605 comes in a fancy cardboard box with some Taurus artwork on it, and all the usual suspects (owner’s manual, etc.) in the box with the gun. As with all other Taurus firearms, it also includes two keys for the built-in locking mechanism located on the rear of the hammer. The rubber grip is not what I would call substantial, but it’s large enough to make the gun feel secure in the hand and does cover the backstrap, cushioning some of the blow when running hot loads. The front sight is nicely serrated, but the sights in general are still small. Fortunately, there are laser grips available from Crimson Trace to supplement the iron sights if the user decides to go that route.

The trigger is typical of revolver double action triggers, long and heavy, but it is smooth and without any immediately noticeable hitches as it works through the mechanics of rotating the cylinder, retracting, and releasing the hammer. The 605 does have a spur hammer so that the gun can be run in single action, although the spur is abbreviated somewhat as compared to other revolvers and might be a little harder to actuate in a hurry. The single action trigger press is a little on the heavy side, but is crisp and breaks clean for those that might use it.

Out of the box, the gun locks up very tight on two cylinders, decently well on another two, and a little loose on the fifth cylinder. Not perfect, but close enough for Taurus apparently. Outside of that one issue, the fit and finish on the gun appeared to be good.

In the Holster

Weighing in at 24 ounces, the 605 is not a lightweight, and on the heavy side for dedicated pocket carry. It worked well in the Vertx pants I wear, but may not fare as well in a more traditional style of pant. Carried in a fleece The North Face jacket it noticeably weighed the pocket down, enough so that I wasn’t comfortable carrying the gun in a jacket because I felt it was too obvious. I settled on carrying the 605 in a hybrid leather and kydex IWB holster where it disappeared under a single layer of clothing and was barely noticeable when carried all day. Even though the weight complicates pocket carry, every one of those 24 ounces was greatly appreciated when the gun is stoked with the rocket fueled .357 Magnums, so it is a tradeoff I thought worthwhile.

5 rounds of Barnes 140gr VOR-TX from 25 yards, shot standing, unsupported.

On the Range

Even though the gun is small, it shoots well and when loaded with .38 special is not what I would call punishing. It shot to point of aim at 25 yards with the loads I tested, Magtech .38 Special 158gr FMJ and Barnes .357 Magnum 140gr VOR-TX. To measure how accurately I could shoot the 605 compared to other guns I used a drill that I have shot in the past called the 300. It consist of 10 rounds shot freestyle, 10 rounds strong hand only and 10 rounds weak hand only from 25 yards at a B-8 replacement center target. On my first attempt with the 605 I shot a 209. That score isn’t as high as what I can do with a fullsize pistol like a Glock, but is slightly better than what I have done with similarly sized pistols to the Taurus 605. Trying to press the long, heavy trigger well with my non-dominate hand hurt my score a little. If I were more accustomed to working that heavy a trigger with my left hand, I think I could match my best score with this gun. Even though snubnose revolvers are often called “belly guns” or “get off me” guns, the reality of it is they are actually quite capable. I found the 605 to live up to that expectation, at least from an accuracy standpoint.

Where I found the gun to fall short is in the rapid application of multiple rounds on a target, in other words, trying to shoot multiple rounds quickly inside of 7 yards. With .38 Special, it was doable, but that isn’t the point of the 605. The point of the 605 is MORE POWER, which means .357 Magnum and that wasn’t quite so easy. Trying to tame the muzzle flip under recoil is a chore that requires spot on technique and considerable grip strength, I am not sure I meet either of those qualifications.

f

Even though I am a performance driven shooter and trying to get off 5 rounds of .357 Magnum in a hurry is a difficult thing to do, I loved shooting .357 Magnum through this gun. The over mold rubber grip cushioned the blow enough that it wasn’t excruciatingly painful, and there is nothing quite like feeling that much bang come out of such a small gun. It is like rooting for the underdog, it just feels right.

Running the last of .357 Magnum through the gun.

Overall, the gun performed better than I expected. I confess I am generally not a fan of Taurus, but so far they haven’t let me down on this one. In my opinion the gun shoots well, carries well in an IWB holster, and has been reliable. The MSRP is right at $500.00, but you can find these retailing for $350 or less all day long. For that price, I would say they are a worthwhile gamble if what you need is a mouse gun that roars like a lion.

 

SPECIFICATIONS:

Caliber: .357 Magnum
Barrel:
2”
Overall Length:
6.5”
Weight (unloaded):
24 ounces
Grips: Rubber
Sights:
Fixed Ramp Front/Gutter Rear
Action:
Double Action/Single Action
Finish:
Stainless
Capacity:
5
MSRP:
$501.92
Retail: $300.00-$350.00

 

RATINGS (out of five stars):

Style * * * * *
Anytime you carry a .357 Magnum snubnose, you gain style points.

Ergonomics (carry) * * * *
It’s a snubnose revolver, pretty easy to carry. I deduct one star for being a little heavy for pocket carry though.

Ergonomics (firing) * *
I am only grading with regard to shooting .357 Magnum. The recoil is vigorous, the shooter certainly feels it.

Reliability * * * *
The gun was perfectly reliable for the couple hundred rounds I have through it. If it makes it to 1,000 without an issue I will give it that fifth star.

Customize This * *
New grips is about all you get.

Overall * * *
I am conflicted here. The gun us a blast to shoot (pun intended), easy to carry, and this one at least is reliable. The flip side is the shooter has to be in beast mode to run this gun seriously. So I deduct 2 stars foe being so hard to shoot well when loaded with .357 Mag.

 

 

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75 Responses to Gun Review: Taurus 605 Revolver

  1. Nice review, Dan. Wish Taurus or S&W or Ruger made a new small-frame .44 Spcl, like the old Charter Arms “Bulldog Pug”. Useful amount of power, large-diameter heavy bullet, but less recoil than the .357.

    (Minor gun geek terminology edit: “…the gun locks up very tight on two cylinders, decently well on another two, and a little loose on the fifth cylinder…” – Those should read “chambers” within the cylinder.)

      • I have been running a Taurus 605 2″ for four ior five years now and it displays outstanding performance. Many load types have been tested and Car Bon 110gr. 38+P have printed the best groups, but it is at the ready with some full house Hornaday Defense loads with red plastic expansion tips. While the stock grips were punishing, the replacement Hogue grips bring a little more real estate and subtracts punishment to my larger hands beautifully.

    • Charter is still around and making the Bulldog. I think they’re in their 4th incarnation now with nos. 1, 3, 4 building quality revolvers (for the money) and the 2nd incarnation being junk. So if you look for a used one I think it was the 90s that they went to pot. I’ve never bought one, but it would be nice if they could stick around and not go bankrupt this time.

    • In reference to the “lockup on cylinders 1 thru 5” thing, that did take me 2 or 3 tries to figure out what he meant. Otherwise excellent review.

  2. How much to you gain in a 2 inch barrel by moving from a heavy .38 +p load to a .357? I’ve heard this debated, but haven’t seen many chronograph readings. I’m sure loads could be developed to get more out of a short barrel, but I’ve never seen such loads.

    • Buffalo Bore has a .357 Magnum round specifically for snubbies. They claim it gets a 158 gr bullet to 1000+ fps out of a 1 7/8-inch barrel.

        • Thanks, Nate. From everything I’ve seen and experimented with, the secret to snub nosed .357s are to use long bullet loads, either the solid copper Barnes type hollow points, or a heavy conventional bullet, like a 158 or 180 grain hollow point. As best I can figure, they work well because it takes less powder in the case to reach magnum pressures, so a higher percentage of powder burns inside the barrel, as compared to the typical 125 or 110 grain defense load. The end result is that the heavier bullet is running just as fast as the lighter bullet out of a snubbie, with more muzzle energy and less flash and recoil.

    • Even with a 2″ it’s huge, but you do lose a lot over a 3″ or 4″. The hotter loads will get you about 700lb/ft. of energy out of a 4″, 600lb/ft out of a 3″ and maybe 450lb/ft out of a 2″. Buffalo Bore does have a .38+p they claim to get 379lb/ft out of a 2″. Most .38+p loads probably barely break 200. Another thing to note about .357 is the hot loads are not +p but the actual original standard pressure loads, but the bigger ammo companies only put out lighter loads for the recoil averse.

        • I might add that I pared down those energy numbers just a bit because I’m pretty sure Buffalo Bore is kind of full of sh!t.

      • I know several people who have chrono’d Buffalo Bore rounds (not this particular one, but other stuff), and they matched what BB advertises.

        • Well if they are accurate you can add about 10% to my estimations. Personally I carry Double Tap’s 158 gr. Nosler SJHP round but I’ve never chronoed them because of a little incident I had last year with my .44 magnum. I think my chrony still works but I need new sticks for the defuser or else I have to wait for a cloudy day. There’s definitely a substantial difference in recoil over pretty much everything else I shoot. They claim 544lb/ft out of 1-7/8″ revolver with that load. If that’s legitimate I should be getting at least about 625lb/ft out of my 3″ GP100WC. Definitely a step up from 9mm/.40S&W/.45acp. But I figure if your going to limit yourself to 5 or 6 shots you’d better make them count.

        • On a 41 deg day this last October I chronographed Buffalo Bore 158gr 38Sp +P from my 2″ Taurus 605 at 988/968/959 fps. Compare that to the same cartridge fired from my 4″ Taurus 627 Tracker (.357) at 1075/1096/1069 fps. I also fired Remington SJHP .357 125gr: Tracker 1371/1359/1383; 605 1138/1151/1221. Also Remington SJHP .357 158gr: Tracker 1185/1165/1182; 605 1042/1017/1033. Finally Remington’s “FBI load” 158gr 38Sp +P clocked 869/859/879 from the 4″ Tracker and 772/795/779 from the 2″ 605.

  3. Picked one of these up used a few years back, for $225. Looked new, not even a cylinder ring. The wife has kind of commandeered it. She likes it better than her SR9c, granted she uses 38 Special in it. She is quite confident and capable with it, and that matters a lot.

        • The 9mm is hotter than a .38 or .38 Special + p (but not a .38 Super, which is a completely different animal). The 9mm +p and +p+ from a full sized pistol are hotter than a .357 from a 2″ barrel. I’m speaking in generalities, but there are some exceptions. A .357 from a 16-18″ lever gun is actually similar to a .30-30. I have lots of fun with ballistics.

      • Only reason I would get a .357 snub is for the added weight so that .38 specials are even more comfortable.

        + with a so short barrel you don’t get much more velocity but you do get much more flash and recoil if you use .357

        Though of course, I will always recommend a good 9×19 semi auto.

    • You’re right about that meaning a lot. I recall a quote in an article about the .327 Federal, about a “resolute homeowner with a weapon he is familiar with is better off than someone with a weapon he is afraid to shoot”. It stuck with me (mostly).

      • I have given thought to trying to steer her into just that. The ammo is hard to find, but it shoots a couple other 32’s as well. The smaller projectile is a negative, but higher power makes up for some of that, and an extra round or two in the cylinder can’t hurt.

        • Try seeing if your FLGS can order some for you. My local store has not had a problem ordering the.327 Federal 100-gr loads (50/box, about $27). That load hits 1500fps out of a 5.5″ barrel in a Ruger Single Seven – not sure what it will do in a 2-3″ bbl, but it is a hot round As you say, you can also shoot 32H&RMag .32 S&W Long, and .32S&W from the same gun (The last 2 are about like shooting a .22LR)

  4. Having not done any gun reviews myself I am certain my comments will be taken with a grain of salt, but the 5 star summary thing… We are looking at a .357 magnum snubby, shouldn’t the stars be awarded not based on the most ideal and perfect gun that could possibly be designed, and instead based on the most perfect and ideal .357 snub nose revolver that could possibly be designed?

    I know this gun would have a hefty amount of felt recoil, that’s the trade off for carrying such a hot round in a potato chip… Why should we cut down on a rating just because it kicks as hard as we think it will?

    Just my $.02

    • I think reviews are for people that are not going to shoot every single gun ever made. Should be a lot of people in that category. For that reason, I feel it is more important to rate the guns in comparison to other guns with the same purpose. In this case, a small conceal carry handgun. It should be compared to all guns that are meant to be pocketed or easily concealed. So if he deducted stars because the recoil makes it hard to shoot well, then that is only fair to other pocket guns that are easy to shoot because they are a smaller caliber or a semi auto.

      • If you deduct points because it’s harder to shoot than a different gun in a lighter caliber, shouldn’t you then also add points because it shoots a beefier round and therefore has more “stopping power”?

    • Taurus has seemed to reach the perfect compromise here where people will complain about both the weight and the recoil.

      • ^ +1

        I think the deal with a snubby is that when you’ve reached the best of both worlds you’re left with a gun that’s only mildly unpleasant to shoot

  5. this gun is punishing to shoot with .357 rounds . after only a few rounds i had a big red mark and it wasnt enjoyable anymore. and yes i hold the gun proper its just a lot of power in a small frame and the grip almost bites into your palm when you fire. out of all my guns this one sucks to shoot the most because its just painfull

    • You guys want to know what “punishing” is? Try shooting .357 out of S&W 340PD. That gun is 11 oz dry weight, more than twice as light.

      When you pull the trigger, the first thing you’ll say is OW FUCK. And the second. And the third, until you start feeling your palm again.

  6. I have one of these, built before the addition of the internal lock. It is punishing to shoot with .357 magnum loads, but a dream to shoot with .38 Special +P loads.

    The trigger on mine is incredible. The pull is smooth as glass and the break is crisp. I don’t find the trigger to be heavy, but, since is an older model, perhaps that explains the difference?

    • Could be. Ours has the lock, but is older, looking back I have had it over six years now. DA pull is nothing to write home about, but the SA is quite good. Shooting 357 doesn’t bother me, but wife doesn’t enjoy it. 38’s she could shoot in it all day long.

    • I agree. I have a couple of older ones, a stainless 85 (made in 1989) and a blued 83 (made in 1987), and they are both excellent guns. Both were bought used for peanuts in like-new condition, and both are laser-beam accurate, have great triggers (both DA and SA), and are possibly my favorite handguns to shoot.

      I didn’t even think I was a “revolver guy” until I got my first one (the 85), and now I find myself shooting the wheelguns more than my semi-autos.

      • I really offended someone recently when I said I’d rather have a sharp spear than a Taurus revolver. I was kidding. Mostly.

    • I’ve never shot a taurus semi. But I’ve owned and shot enough of their revolvers to know that they are serviceable. Generally not as smooth as a smith but they go bang when needed.

      I had the model 65 which is the k frame sized .357. Worked like a charm.

    • Ive owned a few Taurus revolvers for the neat factor a few of them present. I bought a polymer protector, a Taurus 450 45 colt snubnose, a Model 82 (Only a 100 bucks) and a medium frame 357 (can’t remember the number) With every weapon I’ve had issues. The 450 wouldnt lock into single action, the 357 would constantly miss the primer in double action but worked fine in single, the polymer protector’s trigger would get locked to the rear, and the Judge’s cylinder catch sheered off. The Model 82’s cylinder would lock up.I love their ideas, i just wish they would work. But my Taurus autos work like a dream

  7. If any revolver could benefit from Taurus’ proprietary Ribber grip, it’s this one. It does increase grip width a tad, but your shooting hand will thank you.

  8. I guess for my money an extra $160 gets you a Ruger SP101 without an internal lock and first class service. They even throw in an excellent padlock.

  9. Good review. But why 3 stars? Odd you deducted one. I had an 85 and it ran perfectly. Now the wife wants one or similar for CC. And I had a 605 on layaway that I switched to a pump shotgun. BTW these are under $300 on the internet on many sites. And most other Tauri are extremely low priced. Like a millenium G2 for $240. Anyone know what the Brazilians are doing?

  10. These reader’s review things seem working very nicely. I already learned a couple of things, namely:
    – The accessory missing from my XD box was a mag loader (stiffed by a previous owner, not a fault of SprgA)
    – Taurus is not as bad as they say, I want one in .45ACP

  11. Isn’t the point of this revolver close in self defense? It’s inability to place rounds accurately down range when fired rapidly should be a huge negative.

  12. All is not as it appears in ballistics-land. 9mm +P gives up absolutely nothing to .357 out of a 2″ barrel, and very little out of a 3″ barrel.

    That means that my Beretta Nano is shorter (5.63″), lighter (~18 oz unloaded), carries one extra round and packs an equivalent ballistic punch.

    If wheelguns (or .357s) are your thing, then go on with your bad self. But don’t just assume or promulgate that a .357 is “better” than a 9mm in all places at all times. Oh, and you can consider the new Ruger LCR in 9mm, which is +P rated. The reviews have it as a very pleasant shooter.

    Some external ballistics data on 9mm vs .357:
    http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/9luger.html
    http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html

    • The difference is that those are relatively mild .357 loads. In the case of .357 the Buffalo Bore and Double Tap etc. loads are the actual full pressure loads, not +p loads. At some point the big ammo makers started downloading their .357 rounds for the recoil averse. Using the hottest loads available (+p+) a full size 9mm with a 4.5″-5″ barrel will still be weaker than the hottest .357 loads in a 2″ revolver and the revolver will be 30% below proof testing instead of 13%. But then you won’t have to manipulate a speed loader after the first 5 rounds either.

      • Gov,

        I’d love to be convinced of this. Do you have any good links?

        Oh, and I’d really wonder how that baby would handle with hotter .357s. It didn’t sound like follow-up shots were forthcoming with the loads he was using.

        • From Buffalo Bore;
          Our 357 mag. ammo adds more power than ever before to the 357 mag. This ammo is safe to shoot in ANY all steel 357 revolver – this includes J frames. This ammo is no harder on your gun than any other normal 357 ammo. Please don’t phone us and ask if this ammo is safe in your gun. It is, providing your gun is in safe condition for use with any normal 357 ammo.

          We don’t recommend this ammo to be fired in super light alloy revolvers as bullets may jump crimp under recoil, but the ammo itself wont hurt these super light weight revolvers. These revolvers are simply so light that the recoil is severe enough to cause crimp jump.

          https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=102

          Have you ever seen a round advertised as .357+p? They don’t exist. Every firearm is proof tested at 30% over SAAMI pressure ratings. +p rounds are up to 10% over standard and while there is no official standard for +p+ they are generally limited to +17% over standard pressure.

          While it’s not really fair to compare +p+ 9mm rounds to standard (full) pressure .357 rounds, the advantages of each are strictly a property of the laws of physics. .357 is a stronger round because there is more space in the case for powder. 9mm has the advantage of squeezing a lot of rounds in a small magazine and being capable of rapid follow up shots for the exact opposite reason, it has a much smaller case. Sometimes you want apples. Sometimes you want oranges.

  13. My 605 is my EDC gun, would rather have 6 rounds, but then if i am expecting a problem requiring more then 5 and a couple reloads, i carry something else. Am old, comfy with wheelguns.

  14. If you really want to understand the difference between Taurus and S&W, put one of each on the bench, take the side-plates off, and have a look inside.

    Taurus makes a serviceable firearm, but you get what you pay for.

  15. I had a 605 for a couple years, awesome gun for the price (I got it new for 299). But the trigger pull didn’t inspire much confidence in me and I ended up selling it. But I liked it enough that I sold it to my uncle who grew up shooting snubbies so I can always shoot it again.
    The LCR has eclipsed the 605 in every way possible, from weight to trigger pull to recoil mitigation. If you absolutely can’t afford it, the 605 is a perfectly reliable gun, but the LCR is worth the extra money

  16. Shot a bunch of IDPA drills with my 605 (double-action only) with a friend from IPSC days 30 years ago. Shot both standard .357 125 grain and standard .38 special 158 grain. I shot much slower with .357 but scores were higher (Comstock) since I had to take take for each shot and they were all A’s except for a couple of B’s. .38 Special were more B’s than A’s. We were shooting 5, 10, 15 and 20 m.

  17. I picked the 605 up about a year and a half ago, and have put close to 1000 rounds through it. i love the thing. Yeah, my glock 22 is my go to for most things (i was trained on the glock, it feels like an extension of my hand), but the 605 is my go-to for conceal.

    That said, i normally carry .38+P rounds in it. Maybe i’m just used to it, but i don’t find the .357s that hard to shoot. I love shooting bowling pins with .357s. they rock those pins. But with the .357, my follow up is slow.

    I find the .38+P to be quicker to follow up shots with accurately.

    I’ve never had a reliability issue with the gun. Any issues have either been ammo or user related. I keep looking for a semi-auto conceal weapon, but hell if i don’t just keep coming back to the 605.

    just my experience and opinion

  18. I purchased an M605 with 3″ barrel (not sure they put it out with 3″ now) from well known mail order dealer a few years back. It consistently hung up, locked up on 2 or 3 chambers right out of the box. Performance was better using single action. Ratchet looked poorly machined. Looked like some sort of binding was going on with pawl and cylinder ratchet. Had to return it to Taurus in Miami at my expense and they sent back a completely different gun with no explanation which seems to work OK although I have not put a lot of rounds through it. This was my first experience with a revolver and now it appears they are not such simple devices, having many parts that must work in sequence, like a cuckoo clock, some under much stress. Still, they have been around and apparently have been dependable for ages. No denying they are simple to operate as long as there are no problems.

  19. A few years back, I bought a vintage Taurus 605 (circa 1995) with 2 1/8″ barrel. I swapped out the original walnut grips with a set of rosewood combats that give me a firm grip on the gun. The fit and finish of this blued gun is excellent, and its accuracy with WW 158 gr. hollow-points is spot on. I have complete confidence in the performance and reliability of this revolver and carry it with me everywhere I go. I don’t feel under- or over-gunned with it, and its five-shot cylinder gives it a slim profile for comfortable carry. Like it so much that I am searching for its companion in stainless for my fly-fishing forays into wilderness trout waters where rust could be an issue, along with other critters, four- and two-legged. Don’t know how the newer iterations of the 605 perform, but Taurus did itself proud with this version.

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