By Aiden Pheil
As a millennial gun owner, the length and breadth of my life experience with firearms is polymer. The GLOCK 19 is our generation’s 1911; after all Tupac sure wasn’t bustin’ any of John Browning’s designs. If somebody my age says they “prefer revolvers,” check their closet for skinny jeans and their fridge for a case of PBR. I don’t prefer revolvers. They’re cool, sure, but you’ll never catch me arguing the superiority of a wheelgun. More reliable? Maybe, but if a GLOCK 19 jams . . .
it’ll probably be ten rounds into a magazine that holds the equivalent of three fully loaded revolvers. But if you can’t get it done with five, you can’t get it done with 15, right? Tell that to the guy who shrugged off 22 shots of .40 S&W before expiring…minutes after the last shot. Well then it’s all about placement, you say.
If I am ever in a defensive gun use I will consider myself blessed by the almighty Jerry Miculek if I hit my target even once. The only factor under your control is the weapon you bring with you, and last time I checked, 15 chances was more than 5. Somebody with a calculator may want to check that.
I still wanted a revolver though, just for the experience and to diversify my caliber portfolio. I’ll be honest; a big part of my decision to buy the Taurus Model 85 was price, coming in at $305 for the Stainless Ultra-Lite model. I disregarded the usual advice of “save up another hundred and get the Smith & Wesson 637/642” because I’m a huge narcissist this wasn’t meant to be a heavy use shooter or a carry piece. It might turn out that way though.
Let’s start with the packaging and presentation, which matters to the more vainglorious firearms enthusiasts, or millennials weaned on video game collector’s editions. Most rifles come in a cardboard box just to keep all the parts together and protected during shipping. Handguns, if you’re lucky, come in a nondescript plastic hard case, like power tools. In fact that’s the best comparison I can make: when in their respective cases, my Ruger P345 is almost indistinguishable from my Ryobi (side note: is it any wonder guys like power drills so much?).
If most handguns are packaged like tools, the Taurus 85 is packaged like a smart phone. It comes in a clean, colorful box with Taurus’ AGGRESSIVELY millennial slogan smeared on the side. I mean seriously, do even a fraction of a percent of those who use Keep Calm and Etc. in their daily parlance even know who Margaret Thatcher IS!? [Historical note: this World War II era slogan returned to prominence after the death of former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher due to use on social media by the British, and was then co-opted by people even younger than me everywhere else.]
I will say I like the idea behind the slogan, other gun manufacturers sometimes seem embarrassed about the prospect of their firearms being carried defensively, whether as a concession to the anti-gun lobby, or for liability reasons. The lion’s share of Taurus’ line-up is carry guns, so I’m glad they’re owning it.
Inside the box, the modern, minimalist, cheap presentation continues. A GLOCK comes with a ream worth of paper in manuals and flyers, a proof-of-life empty casing in a hermetically sealed manila envelope, a spare magazine, a loading tool, and some cleaning tools. The Taurus 85 comes wrapped in a silky drawstring bag, with keys for the absurd Taurus Security System I’ll never use, and a Carry On decal to put on the back of your MacBook.
The GLOCK comes with paperwork. The Taurus 85 comes with a sticker.
It works though, when inspecting my Ruger P345 at my LGS prior to accepting delivery, I opened the case, frowned, and nodded in the most matter of fact way I could muster. When I opened the Taurus 85 it was Christmas, and I was 10 years old. If I’d said anything, it would have been “This looks great!” with each word an octave higher than the last, and my voice cracking noticeably on “great.”
The Taurus 85 Ultra-Lite has an alloy frame, allowing it to shed 4 oz from the steel framed model. It has an exposed hammer, though Taurus does make an otherwise identical with a shrouded hammer called the 850. Given the mixed track record Taurus has on The Forums, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the gun looks slick, with an excellent satin finish and no errant tool marks. The checkering on the cylinder latch, ejector rod, and hammer is sharp and clean and provides excellent traction. I don’t have a black (ultra dark blue?) model to compare it to, but I’m willing to bet cash money the stainless looks better. If there’s something wrong with the Taurus 85, you can’t tell by looking.
Strangely, Taurus has updated the rubber grips on the 85 more recently than they’ve updated their website. The website shows the older rubber grips, as does almost every picture of it I can find on the internet. They weren’t bad looking grips, and you can still buy them for 10 bucks on Taurus’ webstore, but the new ones are a definite improvement. I have hands capable of an octave plus three, and I can still get all of my fingers comfortably on the grip. They have the added benefit of looking hella sweet, with a charging Taurus bull outline on an otherwise unbroken pattern of rubber, instead of the old Taurus medallion. A shrouded ejector rod gives the Taurus 85 a bit of menace, and visual balance. Aesthetically, I’d put The Taurus 85 on par with the Smith & Wesson 637, and give it the edge over the Ruger LCR. Polymer is not a good look for a revolver.
Aside from fears about cosmetic imperfections, I was also wary about build quality. Luckily (should I even have to say luckily?) my Taurus 85 locks up tight out of the box, with an almost imperceptible amount of cylinder wobble, and a stable double action trigger pull. At first the trigger clicked loudly through the stages, but after the first 50 round box of target ammo and some dry firing, it smoothed out leaving only a slight grittiness. My big ol’ hands force me to pull the trigger with the joint of my finger, and not the pad, but most normal people won’t have that problem.
The finish didn’t fare as well as the trigger. I’m a fan of Fobus paddle holsters, so I bought one for the Taurus 85. It was a tight fit, even for a Fobus holster, though that loosened up with a few practice draws. Each draw was accompanied with shavings of holster-plastic stuck to the trigger guard.
Unfortunately the smooth matte finish on the Taurus 85’s barrel also loosened up, and fell off. You can see the scuff marks on the right side of the barrel shroud, where the revolver rubs against the holster, and a thin scratch on the left side where it scraped against something during a draw. I was able to cause this damage in five minutes with a plastic holster, so I can only imagine what a year’s worth of carry and use might do.
I’m not too broken up about it because of the price point, and because the Taurus 85 is a utility gun and shouldn’t be confused for a safe queen.
I’m not an experienced revolver shooter (stop the presses), but my double action shooting seemed to go pretty well. If accuracy is what you need, single action is the way to go, but shooting fast double action is the best indicator of defensive performance. Bench resting a snubnose revolver is like putting your Prius on the dyno; you know the results are going to be disappointing, and it doesn’t matter anyway.
The basic fixed sights are silver on silver, and my crummy eyeballs have a hard time getting the front blade into focus. If you were desperate to use the Taurus 85 for target shooting, you could apply some paint to the blade, but why bother? A carry revolver is a contact distance weapon, and the Taurus 85 is as accurate as it needs to be. I was hitting the target, and happy about it.
The Taurus 85 is compatible with HKS model 36 speedloaders, but the angle of approach is obstructed by the rubber grips. You can still get it in there, it just isn’t as speedy as the name of the device would have you believe. I also tried loading from Tuff Quick Strips, which are easier to carry but not as quick, though still an improvement over loose rounds in every conceivable way. They also clear the rubber better than the speed-loader.
What the Taurus 85 represents is value. Not as cheap or chancy as a Charter Arms, and not as shiny and spendy as a Smith & Wesson. The Taurus 85 is a good choice for a first revolver, or an only revolver. The question remains: will it last? I think it will. I may have used too many qualifiers when describing the fit and finish of the Taurus Model 85. If I knew nothing about Taurus products I would be delighted, but the crushing weight of history is conspicuous on my shoulders every time I try to praise the gun.
Ultimately the shopworn advice of “save up a hundred more for X gun” doesn’t pass the logic test. I’m a gun collector of inexpensive tastes, and a BIG appetite. With the extra $100+ I would have to spend on a Ruger or Smith & Wesson, I can keep building up my collection of quirky Saturday night specials, and the Wonder Nines my demographic is actually interested in.
Would I carry the Taurus 85? Absolutely. “But wait, I thought you said you’d only carry a high capacity 9, like the late warrior poet Tupac?” Yes I did say that. But I was wrong.
Specifications: Taurus Model 85SS2ULFS (from Taurus’ website, may not reflect the new grip design)
Caliber: .38 Special +P
Barrel Length: 2″
Overall Length: 6.5″
Height: 4.28″ (from Taurus’ website, my measurement with the new grips is 4.75”)
MSRP: $386.36 (that’s oddly specific, but street price in my area is $305, or $350 for the 850 “CIA” shrouded hammer model)
Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
Style, Fit & Finish: * * * *
Smooth, clean satin finish with no tool marks and good looking grips (on the new model anyway). Classic snub-nose lines, but not gorgeous. Finish is prone to scuffs and scratches.
Accuracy: * * *
Perfectly cromulent, especially for a snub-nose. The sights are rudimentary, but they’re sharp and on-target.
Carry: * * * *
Can be wedged into a pocket, but in a nice holster it evaporates beneath an overshirt. The Taurus 85 is an enduring design so just about everybody makes a holster for it. Cylinder width makes it tougher to conceal than a comparable semi-automatic, but that’s to be expected for the type.
Ergonomics: * * *
Maybe it’s the new rubber grips, or maybe it’s because I’m gigantic, but I found recoil perfectly manageable with target and +P defensive loads. I didn’t find myself missing the extra 4 oz. of the steel-framed model. The trigger isn’t world class, but it smoothes out quickly.
Reliability: * * * * *
Unsubstantiated bullshit warning: to hear the internet tell it, Taurus doesn’t always have the best track record. The 85 feels solid out of the box and has been completely reliable so far, but only time and a few dozen boxes of +P will tell if it holds up.
Customize This: * * *
Taurus offers a wide range of wooden grips on their webstore, and they still sell the older style rubber grip (if you prefer it). You can also get a full range of wood and rubber grips from Hogue. Lasers are also available from Crimson Trace and Laserlyte.
Overall: * * * *
In terms of quality alone, I don’t think the Taurus 85 quite stands up against the Ruger LCR or a Smith & Wesson 637. In terms of value, Taurus knocked it out of the park. The Taurus 85 is just plain nice; I have no complaints and it cost barely more than a Kel-Tec. It may not be packaged like a tool, but it does the job like one, and at this price you don’t have to be afraid to ruin it. Taurus’ reputation is the Sword of Damocles over your head, but it’s been up there so long, is it ever really going to fall? I’ll let you know if it does, and if I’m still alive.
In before the haters!
You only beat the haters by about 7 minutes. 🙂
One can readily see why it’s called an Ultra-Lite. It’s missing half of its pistol grip.
Taurus, say no more. It will be a cold day in hell before I ever buy another Taurus. I have two Taurus PT 145s that have been useless for 10 yrs. The piece that keeps that main spring in the slide cracked in both after less the 400 rds fired. I sent the spring assemblies back to Taurus in 2005 and never heard anything back. In 2009 I decided I was going to get on them about it. They immediately acknowledged that it was a known issue and agreed to replace the parts. It took a full year of continued emails and phone calls to get any action. In late December I received a package. I was immediately annoyed that it only contained a part for one pistol. I was even more annoyed when I discovered it was the right part for the wrong pistol. Hopefully I have cost them many sales over the years since I repeat this story every time anyone mentions Taurus. Burn in hell Taurus!
This has been my experience too. I know a guy who really likes their guns, but I’ve owned 4 Taurus guns (2 revolvers, 2 autoloaders) and 3 of the 4 had to go back. Both revolvers had significant light strikes (like, more than half). They came back from Taurus with triggers so heavy I almost needed to use both hands. Sure the light striking was fixed, but now the guns were practically useless.
Never again Taurus.
Never owned one, but I was mighty tempted to buy one of their .44 Magnum Trackers years ago as a hiking gun for bear land. Just because of the weight and size. But then I remembered my friend’s first pistol which was a Taurus PT92, the Beretta knock-off. He got just over 100 rounds out of it and the hammer cracked clear in two. This was over 20 years ago, so it may have no bearing on Taurus quality now. That kind of stuff just sticks in my memory.
I am actually toying with the idea of getting something even cheaper than a Taurus though. Lately, there is something seductive about those bargain Armscor revolvers, the M200 and M206, which resemble old Colts. The snubby M206 looks like a classic detectives revolver someone refurbed with a cheap park finish. Supposedly, they can be had for as little as $200 new. All the web reviews I have seen say they work fine and would be a good truck gun that you wouldn’t cry too much over if it got stolen. Wish TTAG would review one.
“Wish TTAG would review one.”
Buy one, write the damn review yourself, submit it as a Henry entry and maybe win the rifle for yourself…
If TTAG wants to hire somebody to review exclusively cheap-ass shit, consider this my resume.
I think Cobra has a new compact 380 out…. 😀
Yeah, I could do that Geoff, but lately I am in the habit of letting TTAG vet the guns I think I want before I buy them. I committed to my M&P15 Sport and SR9c purchases based on reviews here. These were not the only reviews I had read by a long shot, but they were the ones I tended to believe.
From what I have read, an Armscor revolver is like a cheap date you can count on to put out, but won’t leave you heart broken if she runs off with another man, because she is a little rough looking. Maybe thats true, but I’d believe it more more if one of the TTAG writers dated her first.
I’d pass on the Tracker if I were you. I have one of the Rossi models (made by Taurus, identical to the tracker) that was a black Friday special from Academy. $280 for a 44 mag was too good of a deal to pass up. While I won’t say I regret the decision, the gun does scare the bejezus out of me to fire. The hammer doesn’t always 100% lock when pulling it back and if I’m not super careful to make absolutely certain the hammer is locked before I take my thumb off of it, it could potentially fire without touching the trigger. The four rules exist for a reason, and thankfully the first time this happened it resulted in nothing more than a round in the backstop and an extremely surprised shooter. The gun works fine most of the time, but occasionally the hammer won’t lock back and I have to ease it down and just move to the next round. Absolutely not something I ever let anyone else shoot or would ever bet my life on.
Yeah, I got cold feet and passed on the Tracker. I was looking for something a little lighter and less bulky than my 6 inch Colt Anaconda to hike with in Alaska. I ended up going to a stainless Ruger Super Blackhawk with a 4 1/2 inch barrel. It was only about 8 ounces lighter but more svelt and it carried easier in a chest rig for me. Plus it had a certain old west charm, even with the modern sights. Unfortunately, I found it was much less fun to shoot hot magnum loads at the range with those slick and hard wood grips. Now that I am back in Old Virginny, I have no need for a hand cannon. I do miss the Anaconda sometimes though. It was a pleasant shooter with .44 specials, and super accurate in SA mode. Made me look good at the range.
I had a similar experience with para ordinace…..was thinking of getting The trorus ultra light
but after your post, haveing second thoughts….thanks 🙁
Simth and Wesson is buying taurus
My LGS guy brought out my wife’s Ruger LCR in the box. He started wrapping twine around it. I guess this is some kind of CA requirement. Me: “Uhhh…could you show us that there is actually a gun in there?” There was in case you were wondering.
My brother carried a Taurus snubby as his off duty weapon when he was a cop. Said it was great and no issues.
I have had a Taurus 85 for years. It was my first carry gun. The only thing I could afford at the time. It still makes a great back-up piece. My wife enjoys it. I put a set of Pacmyers and carved some of the rubber off the left grip and the speed loader slides right in.
It is a good gun for what its designed to do.
I drink PBR and love revolvers. And Id prefer if I could drag every hipster I met chained to the back of my truck.
Well, you like guns, so you’re already not hipster. And PBR is the only thing in my fridge.
High-Life, FOR life.
They co-opt any and everything all generations hold dear; they don’t discriminate.
They nearly ruined Redwing boots for me.
“And Id prefer if I could drag every hipster I met chained to the back of my truck.”
Who wants to clean Hipster guts off your truck back and chain?
No cleaning required. Just drive faster
I have the Titanium frame model, and have had no issues with it. I have not shot it a lot though, probably less than 150 rounds. Wheel guns don’t need the break in, as auto loaders do.
The double action trigger on mine is fairly decent, but the single action kinda scares me. I’m guessing it to be one or two lbs.
To sum it up, I think this is a great carry gun. since I haven’t used it much, it’s not “wore out” and I don’t worry about it falling apart, as others have, according to stories I have read.
I have the shrouded hammer Smith Airweight and it has probably seen 800-1000 rounds, all +p. People don’t think of it as a range gun but for some masochistic reason I like it, and I like unleashing it on my unsuspecting friends when they mock me for saying it is a bit snappy. It is also my main carry gun. After about seven years, whatever the clear coat is on the backstrap looks pretty dingy, there is an exceptionally fine timing mark on the cylinder, and a little scratch above the trigger that I just noticed. Other than that it looks brand new. I want to say it cost $440. One of these days I will remove the lock.
Very nice write-up by the way.
I have bought and sold three 442s. The last was a Pro model with moon clips. Now I want another one. Never had a problem with any of them. It was always “but this semi has more capacity and is slimmer”. And then sooner or later I get some failure to eject or some damn thing with a small semi and I think back fondly on those little revolvers that never failed me. I don’t know if I will ever learn.
For your intended purpose – and at that price point – I can see your logic, and it appears to be a viable option for a CCW. Good review.
I too have had a bad experience with Taurus (little spring fell out of transfer bar so it rattled like hell and was a pain to get them to fix), but those type of issues aren’t just limited to Taurus these days unfortunately, and I’m not sure that would dissuade me completely from a Taurus at this price point. Like you said, better than a Charter, not as good as a SW. Guess you’ll see how it pans out over time – and if it’s a total fail, well then it’s a $300 lesson to write-off, I suppose.
I too am from the ‘Polymer generation’, but have recently matured a bit in my tastes and added a nice 1911 and a pre-lock SW 686 to the collection, and it’s surprising how they still compete with ‘new stuff’, and in some ways, are still better. If I had the time, I’d do a review/comparison on G19 Gen4 vs the SR 1911 Lightweight Commander for CC (not as a ‘combat’ or ‘service’ sidearm) and think it would be pretty surprising to some (as it was to me) as to how they actually match up.
No surprises here. I carry my lighweight Ruger sr1911 more than my glocks. It is more narrow and concealable. Plus I enjoy shooting it more.
That makes two of us. It was a bit of a surprise to me I guess how a 1911 ends up on my hip more than a (higher-capacity) polymer gun. I was never one of those ‘old-head 1911’ guys… but damn if I don’t see what they were saying now.
A revolver review that starts with a bit of revolver-bashing? I can’t point fingers because I’ve “bashed” Taurus revolvers in the past.
I’ve had a number of revolvers, one of which was a Taurus Raging Bull .454. The gun was perfectly reliable, but the trigger was a little rough. I sold it an got a Ruger Super Redhawk .454. That was a cool gun, with a better trigger. But I sold that and got a Smith .460 XVR. Great trigger, and accurate. But it’s the 8 3/8″ version, so it’s pretty muzzle heavy.
Anyways, my Taurus .454 worked just fine until I sold it.
ooooo ahhh, SW .460 XVR. drool drool.
I’d love to pair one of those up (probably in a 3.5″ config) with a Thompson Center Pro Hunter Katahdin
(man, funny how my tastes have changed with age)
Between woeful capacity and difficult reloads, I’d say revolvers bash themselves. 🙂
My dad just gave me his 85, it’s the all steel model and seems to have held up well for the better part of a decade he had it. The finish does get rubbed and scratched kind of easily though and that would be my only complaint.
The cylinder on his was nicked up pretty bad on one side where it was dropped so I wound up rubbing it with fine sandpaper and gave it a brushed finish, its actually kind of a nice contrast with the satin frame.
Between us we own four Taurus handguns, the 85 and three autos, and the only trouble we’ve ever had was the factory mags for my 1911. Aside from that one issue everyone I know personally with a Taurus finds them very reliable.
Ridiculously overwrought writing style. The author desperately needs to get the hell over himself.
I beg to differ. The author clearly knows his way around the English language and has delivered a review that harks back to the prototypical TTAG style established by RF, Dan, and Ralph.
I had fun reading it, and I get the feeling he had fun writing it.
I rarely read revolver reviews but I scanned the first couple sentences expecting to skip the article got hooked and couldn’t stop reading. And now I want to buy a Taurus revolver just for the pretty wrappings and awesome grips!
“The late warrior poet Tupac”. Yeah, this guy definitely knows his way around the language. Jesus.
I take it you’re more of a Biggie Smalls fan?
“I had fun reading it, and I get the feeling he had fun writing it.”
Good photography and a fun read.
And Tupac shouldn’t have run his mouth like he did.
The tongue is the most dangerous organ – Somewhere in the Bible.
Yeah, you could omit whole paragraphs that only talk of themselves and not the gun in these “gun” reviews. It’s mostly opinion. Where they get the idea there’s matters, i don’t know.
A gun review is kind of like a story, and in this case the non-review paragraphs serve as a qualifier. I.e. this is how I feel about the gun, but because of my background, your mileage may vary.
I think these are perfect toilet guns. It’s the gun you keep under the sink or in a plastic bag underneath the top cover if the toilet. Then if you are in the shower and crack heads break in, you at least have something ready to go.
haha nice… and so a new term is born: ‘toilet gun’. I like it
Isn’t that what Michael used to whack the Turk and the chief?
McClusky was a crooked cop who got mixed up in the rackets and got what was coming to him.
I’ve got an 1895 Nagant with some of the old Mil-surp ammo as mine.
I’ve had both Taurus Auto’s and Taurus Revolvers….
The Revolver’s have been 100% which makes sense as they started out as licensed S&W clones ( from what I’ve read) back in the day.
The Auto’s have been spotty at best, and I own none of those any more.
My wife loves her stainless 85, and it doesn’t look bad next to my S&W model 60. Definitely a difference in refinement, but the utility and reliability are the same.
Never shot a taurus auto. But I’ve owned and used a number of their revolvers. Not a problem with them.
I like my Taurus auto – and some TTAG staff do too:
I’ve owned 4 Taurus semi-autos, only one had minor issues with a pin starting to walk out (easily remedied). About to try the Ultralite; not too worried since revolvers are more known to be reliable.
Get some 6 round strips… another round might make a difference some day.
I use 6-round strips, but I still only put 5 rounds in them. The empty spot is on the end with the little grip tab, so it gives you more area to get hold of when trying to use the strip quickly.
I’ve had 4 Tauri’ that ran perfectly-including a used blued 85ultralite. I didn’t enjoy shooting it. After I sold it the wife informed me she wanted one. Go figure. Oh-Safariland speed loader worked perfectly-I disliked HKS and returned it and bought the Safariland. YMMV-and my next gun more than likely will be a Taurus. Good entry but quit the millennial crap-Boomers rule…LOL
I would say the writer’s inexperience with revolvers led to conclusion #1, buying this particular gun, which is entirely erroneous.
Yes, everyone should get practical experience with revolvers. But no, a first choice and purchase being an ultra-light five-shooter is about as far as possible from a useful first wheelgun. Then, being a Taurus (and I’ve owned them, some good, some awful) of current manufacture compounds the problem.
One very large dealership we instruct at all but refuses to sell these guns- way too many have to go back for work. Another place we work had an outstanding master gunsmith with a bit of a penchant for profanity. However, his vocabulary quickly exhausted while explaining to me the numerous mechanical issues he was finding in the little Bulls.
Gruesome triggers are another problem, and Tauruses suffer from some pretty bad ones. Shooting a revolver with a good trigger is a good, workable way to get bullets to do things you need done. Shooting a revo with a bad trigger is not only not a good way, it’s not even a functional way.
Now, proceeding from the precept that one should never, ever fire their self-defense revolver via thumb-cocking, and I cannot stress strongly enough how bad of a thing it is to do that, you need to master the double-action operation… but a bad trigger, badly assembled with inferior parts in a poor design (such as is the case here) will make it nearly impossible not only to shoot things, but to even learn to understand the revolver and what it can do.
Better to have spent the money on a Smith Model 10 trade-in and learn what a useful tool a revo can be, than to be scarred for life by the wrongness of a poor gun, that’s too small and too light to enjoy shooting enough to master.
Yes, there is a J-frame (642) in our safe, and yes, it does go along for a ride every once and a while, but the amount of work needed to gain proficiency and confidence with it is considerable; I invest a lot in it (and the Colt Cobra I much prefer) just to maintain adequate skill.
A poor, undersized, clunky revolver will not bring the shooter to do that.
The glock 19 works and works well. A shrouded hammer j frame revolver works better for a pocket gun. The longer, heavier trigger pull of the j frame that folks get upset about is a safety feature.
How often do we hear of ad’s with a glock in comparison to a revolver?
Restricting yourself to just revolvers or just semi’s seems to be a bit narrow minded. Having said that, I prefer a revolver. But I also have semi’s in my tool box. And my only .22 revolver is a single action complete with loading gate. Find a speed loader for that.
You already have one, the five fingers on your right hand!
It’s a valid point, about a ULW, 5-shot Taurus not necessarily being a good choice first (or only) revolver – to learn on, etc.
I have a feeling though it might not be his last wheelgun. I know I’ve entered into different areas myself (1911, AK, precision bolt-action) in perhaps not the wisest fashion (not the best first purchase) and ended up taking a little hit to transition to something better (more practical, useful) after I learned a lot more about that particular ‘platform’ and really got to appreciate it’s attributes. I’ve also gotten lucky a few times too and got the right thing (in that area) the first time. Guess it’s all part of the learning experience. Interesting thing is how wheelguns are still very relevant (and very enjoyable) after so long…
Can somebody give me the age groups for the generational stereotypes?… Millenials, Gen Xr’s and y’s and boomers, greatest generation?……. and.. did I miss anyone?..im old school.. S&W for me thanks. and Ruger for single action.
Well, let’s see…this is just off the top of my head, but maybe I won’t be too far off.
Greatest Generation: Born after WWI. Came of age around WWII. Mostly dead now.
Baby Boomers: Conceived when the GG got busy after the war. Would be in their 60s and 70s now.
Gen X: Children of the Boomers. People called us the “slacker” generation. We’re mostly in our 40s & 50s now.
Gen Y: A sort of ‘tweener generation spawned by the younger boomers and older Gen-Xers. I dunno what these people are doing with themselves (except that my supervisor is one of them). Apparently they’re in the prime of their lives or something.
Millennials: Courtesy of Gen X, this is our current crop of misguided youth — today’s high-school & college students, hipsters & gamers.
Love me a good wheelgun!
(…but unfortunately, this isn’t really a good wheelgun – ouch)
Oh well, there’s always next time!
My old Taurus 38 Special revolver from the 70s made me a Taurus fan and because of it, I bought a Taurus TCP. I would not hesitate to buy another but the gun snobs would never dream of it. I don’t think my S&W or Ruger are any better performers.
Gun snobs don’t pay my bills-I’m with you.
Bought a model 85 back in 1987 for my wife who was used to a snubby from her previous work in private security. Worked fine then and still works fine now.
I’m sorry, did you call Charter Arms cheap? In what way exactly? My Bulldog 44 cost $50 more than yours, and I got a dealer discount, so it would have cost $100 more, therefore not financially cheaper. So you are calling my Bulldog inferior build quality to your Taurus? Nothing like putting down another brand to elevate your own superior and elitist views. I’d take my hand crafted, American Made 100% reliable CA Bulldog over your tarnished Taurus reputation any day of the week, and twice on Sunday. Furthermore, when I called CA with a question, you know who answered the phone? The owners daughter. On the second ring. Getting the job done, just like their products. When I go to my safe, every time I leave my house, my hand hovers over my BLACK S&W 642 and my BLACK CA 44. Decisions I love to make.
I seem to recall that the last Charter Arms revolver reviewed on this website was flinging shavings of hot lead into the shooters face.
Yes, a full-size, .44 Special Charter Arms Bulldog does cost more than a compact, .38 Special Taurus. If you compare similar models though, the prices are comparable. The only difference is, Taurus has a reputation for better quality than Charter Arms (even if not by much).
And I guess, finally, if Taurus’ really ARE cheaper, why would liking them make one an elitist? Isn’t that backwards?
That’s a lot of butthurt for a single sentence from the articles hook.
I like this review for the contest lead so far.
Love my wife’s .357 Pug. Almost didn’t give it to her for Mother’s Day. Made me realize I enjoy a good, stout recoil.
$305 is a pretty good price point. Man I’d have to paint something (hi-viz) on that front sight though
THIS exact same SS model is selling for WAY less than $305 on Gunbroker…
wow yeah, see one there now sitting at $230 (NIB, 11 bids, No reserve, 1.5 hours left).
I have had exactly one bad experience with the many Taurus firearms I have owned… and it was a Judge which wouldn’t eject spent shells. Every auto has been good to me and all the other Judges and current 85 have been as well. I have the exact same 85 in an old Case Logic CD case with two HKS speed loaders. I bought it because when I saw it at Academy for $285.00 I said, “That is too cheap to NOT buy it!” I have since replaced the (old style) grip with a purple Hogue… because all my taste is in my mouth. There, I said it so you don’t have to!
Pimpin’ Purple. 🙂
I like the presentation, but we have to consider results. Taurus is (as I understand it) hit and miss with QC. And as I say, results are what counts.
I have a long history with revolvers. When I started collecting handguns the S&W M29 and BHP were the hot items. I bought a M27, 8 3/8 Nickel, 3Ts, in the presentation box and a BHP in nickel. I couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with the BHP, but I hit every thing I aimed at with the M27. I still have the M27.
Later on, when I was an FFL, I took a S&W M66-2 4″ in trade. And I loved the thing so much I kept it. When my son was shopping for his first handgun I bought him a S&W M66-1 with a 6″ barrel (the dash 1 version is superior in that it has recessed cartridge heads in the cylinder). And he hit every dang thing he aimed at too!
So revolvers are a thing to consider. I don’t know that I would carry one into CQC, but I’m not going to sneeze at them either.
My second handgun purchase was a Taurus Hy-Lite 856. It is basically a six shot magnesium alloy framed version of the model 85. It has been a reliable and tolerably accurate shooter for me. Its light weight, small size and six round capacity make it a good carry option in either a primary or back-up role. The only time I’ve had an issue with it is shooting Freedom Munitions reloads at the range. With this ammo I have occasional light strike issues when shooting double action. I haven’t found any other ammo it doesn’t like and I CC it loaded with Hornady Critical Defense.
I’ve had a Taurus PT92, PT911, PT145, and still own a PT1911 and a 617 snubby. All of them were/are 100% reliable. Frankly, my 617’s trigger is light years better than the Mod 36 S&W I used to own (which was the primary reason I let the 36 go and kept the 617).
That’s not to say I don’t believe that others have had issues with the brand, but every one of them that I’ve owned have worked great. The 617 is a great little 5 shot snub that now spends most of it’s days in my dresser drawer, but I still carry it from time to time, and bring it to the range here and there for something ‘different’ to shoot. The PT1911 has also been relegated to safe duty (believe it or not, I carried that anchor IWB for a year, before realizing that the lower back ache I started having was the result of carrying over 40 oz’s of steel on my hip for 18 hours a day), but is much fun at the range.
To each their own. With all the negative feedback that seems to dog Taurus, I wouldn’t blame someone for passing on one if they’ve never owned one, or did and had a bad experience. But for those of us who have owned a bunch of ’em with no issues, getting another one some day is not out of the question.
This review is great. It speaks to me, haha. Well done, Sir!
I can’t speak from personal experience but, in the town I live in, Clarksville, TN, there’s a gun store down the street from me called TN Gun Country and they don’t carry Taurus revolvers anymore because, over the course of a few months there would be problems with them.
Like the cylinder would fall off right out, it wouldn’t close right, all right out the box and then they would have to pay to send them back. It became to much of a hassle so they quit carrying there revolvers but, they still carry the semiautos.
“Maybe, but if a GLOCK 19 jams”
Then there is a good chance it was a contact shot which happens quite a bit. I do not even own a revolver and I can see the advantages in them. Can’t limp wrist them, contact shots all day, and you clear a dud round by simply pulling the trigger. 5 or even 8 rounds is not enough for a go to war handgun, but for a backup piece or ccw they are a viable option.
bought a taurus 357 with shiny cylinder. took it to the range and the plating or shiny part of the cylinder mushroomed off after 5th shot and sliced my brothers neck about a inch from his juglar. I refuse to buy any revolver or gun that is shiny but that never stopped me from owning a taurus revolver. I just picked up another one 85 model 38+p love it. will always buy a tuarus.
Good write up. I’m enjoying all the mixed reviews. My SS 85 ultra light has been flawless for almost 9 years now. Plenty of range time too. Maybe 600 rounds. Added Crimson Trace grips and a Fobus paddle. Perfect CCW rig for me in hot,humid Florida. I own two other Taurus products. Both stainless & flawless so far. 1911 & TCP. Both have 500+ rounds through them. No problems.
I really love my Taurus 85 ultra-lite. I have had it for close to 12 yrs. In all that time, not one malfunction of any kind. Accuracy?,Well lets just say its as accurate as the day is long.Absolutely cannot believe how amazingly dead nuts accurate my 2″ Taurus is. My first snub I shot, when I was 16 was a S&W 36. That was 40 yrs ago, and I was’nt to bad then. When my 85 can hit a blade of crabgrass at 15-16′ away, I’ll call that precise.
All things manufactured can have lemons or sub-par products. My 2 Taurus’s have been 100%.
$250 on sale. It was the all black. Lots of fun to shoot put about 500 rounds down range(5-15) yards with no problems. Carries nicely. Shit I’d blow $250 on some weekend partying in my younger days.
Like Taurus or not this was a good deal.
Also enjoyed the review. Thanks.
I don’t normally post but decided to. I bought a m85 Taurus ultralight 38 recently. I also bought a smith 442 38 special as well . Both are brand new, and both have 300 rounds of assorted factory ammo thru them. I have never had a smith revolver and believed all of the hype about quality and so forth. First trip to the range the smith would shoot ok but on one of the cylinders the trigger after firing would stick and not return easily to its forward position. I took it back to the certified gun smith and he said there was grit on that bore and proceeded to clean and also mention that it was really dry on the inside. The action still feels sticky to me, but the gun functions. The Taurus feels like it’s perfect and the action is very smooth. I shot both these guns side by side and I am more accurate with the Taurus. I know it sounds like I am hating on the smiths but this is the second m85 I have purchased. The other one has thousands of rounds thru it over the last 20 years and still works great. Prior to these purchases I bought a brand new lcr 38 , I really liked this gun and after 300 rounds the trigger literally broke!!! I sent it back to the factory and it was fixed, but when I got it back it was very loose when cycling, nothing like the brand new gun I had purchased. I guess what I am trying to say is all of the gun manufacturers have inferior products, for me however the Taurus revolvers have been excellent for the price I paid for them.
Another one of these tactical gear-queers wants to trash revolvers for low capacity. This guy thinks he’s Jack Bauer and will be in a 4 hr gun fight with jihadist at wal mart. Ask Charlie Askins if he ever needed a plastic toy that holds 20 rds in the dozens of gun fights he’s been in.
Great review. I planned to buy one after checking out a friend’s. He loves it and carries it. Your article reinforced my good vibes about this little revolver. Waiting for a sale at my LGS to buy it.
This review is like my own experience. I’ve got a bit newer model because it’s summer 2018 now. It is Taurus 856, the same as 85 but 6 shots. Awesome toy, love it. I don’t know why revolvers are so much fun. This one is my first and the only revolver so far. My favorite carry is Shield 45, my war gun is Glock 19 … but this revolver is now my carry because it’s so much fun to carry this thing. And it actually can defend me too, I didn’t mind if it didn’t. I don’t care that it’s just six shots. Shield is also six.
Mine is the 85 UL in black. I’ve had it for a few months as a BUG. My wife has a Smith 642. It is prettier than the Taurus, but the trigger had to be worked on to be useful, and the recoil is significantly worse than the 85. I am also more accurate with my gun than hers. I’ve read the reviews, but not many complaints about the 85, or my other Taurus the M44. I’ve had zero problems with it, either.
Have had my Taurus 85 UL for about 2 years now, also owned a Smith & Wesson 642 with it. Well all I could day is this I liked the Taurus so much better I sold the 642. When it comes to full size 38 caliber revolvers nothing can replace my S&W model 10.
I have had this same pistol since 2016, I actually purchased it as the machining was in my experience better then a similar S&W or any other comparable 5 shot .38 special. The cylinders on all the other revolvers I was considering had much greater gaps, considerably more play in the alignment and had visible machining defects. The defects were not serious on the other options and on the 85 UL I still had to do some deburring on the margins of the hammer and a few other parts. I also looked through about 10 individual 85UL’s to find the best of the lot. Some did have slight visible manufacturing defects e.g. burr’s but the one I settled on was the best of the lot. I have fired at least 1000 rounds without any issues. Cheaper cartridges tend to result in unburnt powder and large muzzle flash but high quality 140 grain rounds fire completely clean. I have never had a single jam or problem. Some people seem to think 140grain rounds with the light weight result in excessive recoil but it is not significant in my opinion. At 7 yards firing single action on the first shot then double action I can still keyhole the first 2-3 rounds and the remaining rounds tend to hit slightly higher up but at that distance I can reliably get every round in a 3 inch circle. The trigger does have a fairly heavy pull but it’s not a serious issue in my opinion.
The extra hundred dollars for the S&W isn’t for the parts that are visible. There is a noticeable difference once you open them up. I have both Brands and both are great guns, but the Taurus does have less robust internals, and the internal machining is not on par with the Smith’s. Just saying, you need to look beyond the outside. They aren’t crappy guns, but they aren’t completely innocent of their reputation.