Two years ago, I re-named the then-new Taurus Curve the Taurus Turd. It all came about because I panned a gushing Guns & Ammo “review” of the novelty self-defense gun without sights at gunssavelife.com. G&A then threatened to sue GSL for ridiculing their “review.” Thankfully, they backed down. Personally, I’m no fan of Taurus after a bad experience with their customer service. But I’ve put all of that under the bridge.
I won this Model 85 at a Guns Save Life monthly meeting some time back. It had occupied the “New In Box” shelf in my safe since then and I recently took it out to give it a test drive. Taurus didn’t give it to me to review (and keep), so I don’t owe them anything. And while Taurus and I don’t have a lot of love for one another, I’ve still got fond memories of the first Taurus 85 I bought as a gift to fiancee #1. That one left with her twenty-plus years ago.
This 85 doesn’t achieve the perfection that GLOCK claims of their products. Then again, if GLOCKs were so darn perfect, then why the adjustable backstraps? And why can’t they decided whether or not finger grooves are a good idea?
But back to the Model 85….
This old-school snub-nosed revolver is made of not-so-old-school stainless with a matte finish. The manufacturing looks well done, with parts fitting together well and little to no tool marks. It’s a five-shot revolver, chambered in .38 Special and rated for +P loads.
One of its biggest selling points is its price. The model 85 carries a $371 MSRP, but can be easily found for about $300. That’s pretty affordable for those on a limited budget.
Why a 5-shot revolver over some of the newer, small-framed .380 Autos or even similar 9mm products? Revolvers can be fired from inside a pocket or purse without malfunctioning, giving a bad guy or gal the suprise of a lifetime. Revolvers are also operate using the original point and click interface. And malfunctions in wheel-guns are typically much fewer and farther between than with affordably priced semi-autos.
Another plus: wheel guns will deliver contact gunshot wounds with less likelihood of a malfunction. They’re easy and simple to load and unload for novices — anyone who’s ever watched a wester can figure one out. What’s more, I have it on good authority that when God shoots recreationally, he brings his revolver.
The .38 Special is a versatile round. It’s a potent man-stopper in the old FBI load, the 158-grain semi-wad cutter hollow-point in +P. The recoil adverse can shoot standard-pressure loads with lighter bullets down to a 95-grain, .380-style projectile. In fact, you can load up paraffin “bullets” into primed cases and practice shooting indoors if you’re truly hard-core (and don’t have any neighbors). Try doing that with Gaston’s Perfection™.
The Taurus Model 85 is comfortable to hold and looks good. The cylinder release is a little more difficult to engage than I’m accustomed to with tuned S&W Model 64s and 65s. The cylinder doesn’t swing out perfectly smoothly, but it doesn’t hang up or bind up either.
The ejection rod felt as though it had been lubricated with extra-fine sand, but a big drop of oil smoothed it right out. That was the extent of the pre-shooting lubrication/maintenance I employed.
The lighting at the C.I. Shooting Sports range where I test fired the gun was a long way from what I’d get on a sunny day outdoors. To make matters worse, the poor illumination made the gray front sight kind of fuzz out against the same stainless steel gray of the rear notch for my almost 50-year-old eyeballs. So I used my handy red Sharpie to color the top half of the front sight blade red. I could have used a match and sooted the front sight blade, too.
The trigger pulled smoothly, although it stacks at the end. Like most guns could probably be tuned into something better by a skilled ‘smith. As you’d expect in a revolver, it’s a fairly long pull, and my big trigger finger tends to bump into my support hand when fired in my favored two-handed isosceles stance. Ladies or guys with girlie-sized hands probably won’t have that problem.
The revolver weighs in at 22+ ounces empty, twice the weight of a loaded Kel-Tec P3AT. That’s a few ounces lighter than a Ruger SP-101, so it’s not a complete boat anchor…more like a partial boat anchor, but that heft helps tame the recoil. As a long-time instructor, I’ve shot a few ultra-light snubnosed .38s. Some of the exotic featherweight metal guns feature recoil akin to corporal punishment of the hands.
By the time I’d shot through nearly two boxes of factory Remington 130gr. FMJ ammo, my trigger finger ached. Granted, I had test-fired a few cylinders of 158gr. the old FBI .38 Special +P loads too. Those were extra lively, but manageable. By the time I finished shooting the +Ps and some more miscellaneous practice ammo, my trigger finger was begging me to go home.
I encountered zero malfunctions, which was exactly what I expected. I had a handful of shell cases hang-up a bit when lackadaisically plunging the ejector rod, but that’s a user-caused problem – I’ll take the blame there. Given how it’s not a full-length ejector rod (as on K-framed Smith & Wessons), that’s not unexpected. The primer strikes looked good, too, as they should.
If you have a problem with the gun, Taurus offers lifetime warranty on their modern production guns. While I needed no service with this little pistol, my sole experience with Taurus warranty service wasn’t auspicious. Let’s hope that recent rumors of improvement in that area are true. Or — better yet — you won’t need to find out.
The Whole Package
For the money, this old-school snubby offers good value and should provide a lifetime of service unless you’re working it heavily. It’s a very affordable pocket gun that does what it’s supposed to do and does it well.
Specifications: Taurus Model 85
Caliber: 38 Special +P
Finish: Matte Stainless Steel
Caliber: 38 Special +P
Capacity: 5 rounds
Weight: 22.2 oz
Overall Length: 6.5″
Barrel Length: 2″
Front Sight: Fixed
Safety: Taurus Security System,Transfer Bar
Ratings (out of five stars):
Aesthetics: * * * *
I think it looks pretty, but then again, I think Mila Kunis is hot, so take that for what it’s worth. Everything fits together nicely and it looks professionally manufactured. It’s certainly old-school and lacks some of the sexiness and features of some of the newer self-defense semi-autos.
Accuracy: * * *
The average end user is never going to use this wheelgun to poke holes at Olympic shooting competitions. For minute-of-bad guy, this gun gets it done. I suspect it will shoot tighter groups than I was able to achieve. Given the limited sight radius, long trigger pull, and a front sight blade that disappeared in the poor lighting where I shot, the Model 85 gives you the minute of bad guy deterrence you want in a snubby.
Ergonomics-Handling: * * * *
The rubber grip provides a comfortably solid hold on the handgun. It points naturally. It’s got some heft, but it’s not like the anchor my Ruger SP-101 is. The long trigger pull trigger pull is smooth but stacks at the end. Large-handed shooters will have to adapt.
Ergonomics-Firing: * * * *
Better than average for a snubbie revolver. Its heft and the grips help attenuate perceived recoil. Your trigger finger will take the bulk of any punishment the 85 doles out. You won’t want to take it to a class where you’re shooting 250 rounds over a weekend, but for a 50-round trip to the range, the little Taurus handles about as tolerably as a revolver of this type can.
Customization: * * *
There’s no rail. There’s no adjustable grip panels, although you could probably swap out the grips (although I think you’d be a fool to do so unless you’ve got unique needs). The trigger could benefit from a fluff and buff by a gunsmith. Holsters, speed loaders, and gear are relatively easy to acquire as it’s the same size as the millions of S&W J-frames out there.
Overall: * * * *
The Taurus Model 85 provides good value for its low-$300s street price. For those on a budget needing a purse or pocket revolver (and who don’t mind the exposed hammer) it’s very viable option. You can spend more on a Smith or Ruger, but if you want to keep a few more dollars in your pocket, you can rely on the Model 85 to do what you need a pocket gun to do.
I carried a 85 for years. It’s not fun to shoot but gets it done.
I purchased my Model 85 from Sports Authority out west in 1992. It was for my Mom.
She didn’t like it, so it stayed with me.
With a Sig 226 and 239 around, I did not shoot it much.
Impressions: the full double action trigger is predictable, but a little crunchy.
Going to single action saw the very best trigger action I have ever encountered. Sig, S&W, even bolt rifles like the Savage Accutrigger are outclassed by it.
But it is a snub nose with barely any sights.
Eventually, I found the best way to shoot accurately.
Hold in two hands next to body about rib cage high.
Extend arms toward target and begin double action pull near the end of your reach.
Do not use sights at all. Just keep an eye on the muzzle.
All in one motion.
Amazing. Even doubles were easy. Recoil was not noticeable.
2 shots, 2 shots, 1 shot. Dump cylinder and repeat.
Just takes a little practice at point shooting.
Nice little revolver. Mine has wooden grips; I think Rosewood.
Be safe and have fun.
Had an 85. Sold it awhile back. It was used but ran great. Now the wife wants one. Oh yeah for you Indiana/Illinois folk Big R has these for 259everyday(blued). Had on sale for 239 last month.And SS for 279…CUBS WIN(and Chicago didn’t burn down).
“CUBS WIN(and Chicago didn’t burn down)”
Yeah, watched it until the end. That was probably the best baseball game I’ve ever seen.
I was surprised there seemed to be more Cubs fans in that stadium than Indians fans…
Cubs fans are like a disease. Once they infest one stadium… they move on to another.
Back to the Taurus. Love my model 85. Had it for a few years. Zero breakage and zero malfunctions. Unless operator induced. It’s a wild ride with +p ammo. Wouldn’t ever get rid of it.
Don’t know how this was tracked but 80% of tickets sold were out of Ohio and a very substantial % of those were Chicago and you Jp can go suck start a glock.
Keep dreaming sweetheart.
“In fact, you can load up paraffin “bullets” into primed cases and practice shooting indoors if you’re truly hard-core (and don’t have any neighbors).”
Those yellow 3M cylindrical earplugs loaded flush with the mouth of the case (wad-cutter style, primer *only*) works very well and won’t leave marks on interior surfaces. Used to do that with my Super Redhawk .44 mag…
Is that what they make those ‘lead-free’ primers for?
Quite possible, I suppose.
Since I don’t eat earlpugs and wash my hands after doing gun things, I’m not too worried…
What is wrong with Mila Kunis?
I thought the same thing. She is beautiful.
Like the author, I also thought she was hot.
Then I realized I didn’t. Figured she’d become un-hot somewhere along the line.
Then I rewatched the first season of 70s Show and realized I don’t think she was hot then either.
Now I honestly have no idea why I once thought she was smoking hot.
Attractive, yes, beautiful, no.
I was always a Laura Prepon guy.
Well she has blossomed out of that 14yr old girl into a beautiful woman in the time since
Sounds like Taurus upped their game. I had 3 model 85’s back in the 80’s, and all 3 were turds. Soured me on the brand for a long time. Now? I still have reservations based on what I see while working at a retail gun shop. The 85’s don’t come in for repair / return as often as the other models, but I can’t bring myself to spend the cash on one. I may have to reconsider.
Bought one a few months back new for $230. It’s a better gun than the price would indicate and in place of the Ruger LCRx I sold, a lot easier on the hand. I guess I’d say it is what it is. I really like the new grip.
Really? A LOT easier on the hand than a Ruger LCRx? What kind of loads do you shoot? I put 50 rounds of 158 grain through an LCR last weekend and figured the LCRx with the bigger grip would be a little nicer to my hand.
It’s the weight. The snubby LCRx is 13.5 oz with the boot grip vs. 22oz for the Taurus.
The bigger 3-inch LCRx I bought with the full size grip is only 15.7 oz. I’d be pretty happy with it if not for the snagtastic adjustable rear sight.
I have a petite niece that loves shooting a LCR .357 Mag with full house 158 gr JSP .357 loads, calls it fun. The LCR is the easiest recoiling snubby I have ever shot.
Mila Kunis is hot.
But I bet she carries a Ruger LCR.
Mila Kunis/Ruger LCR
Not “classic” beauties, more like cutting-edge, hey-check-that-out beauties.
Mila Kunis Hi-Point C9
Hates on Glock but can’t write an article with using the name. Bashes on Glock for the grip while trying to use revolvers that all have removable and replaceable grips. Whines about the disappearing front sight due to poor lighting. To bad it doesn’t have a rail like Glock to see with an add on light.
Made a decent article shit
Why is it that Glock fans always seem to have absolutely no sense of humor? Is it because Glocks are Austrian, or what?
I didn’t come here for humor I read this for a serious review and a possible purchase. You read an article about a chevy truck you don’t want half of it bashing chevy blazer or maybe you do funny guy. It’s a good article otherwise but seriously if that’s all you got then hush
“Came HERE (emphasis added) for a serious review” that’s your problem. That and GLOCK
Goddamn, man. I am no big fan of Boch’s work as a general rule, but this was a neutral article giving a fair assessment of a gun and he took a few light hearted jabs at Glock. Like, way light hearted.
If you’re that damn sensitive, you need to rethink whether you are mentally strong enough for the Internet.
When a Taurus works, it performs above its price. When a Taurus doesn’t work, you’re SOL.
25 years ago, when I was a kid working 2 jobs, I bought a couple of Taurus pistols. I thought they were a step up from Intertecs, Jennings Bryce, etc., (plus they were what I could afford). I had great luck with all 3 of them. No problems whatsoever. Fast forward 20 years, I am a Glock and S&W revolver guy. When my wife got into shooting with me, I told her she could pick any gun she wanted. She hates revolvers and didn’the care for Glocks. Heresy! Anyhow, she picked a Tcp. It broke immediately. Then a 709. Wouldn’t work right out of the box. Their customer service sucks! You will be lucky to see your gun again inside of 6 months, if they even send the right gun back. I wouldn’the touch a Taurus auto with a stick, but I hear their revolvers are still decent.
Still own an 85. Have had wonderful luck with the revolver side of Taurus products. Owned a Taurus “Raging Bull” in .454 Casull, 2.5″ ported barrel. Amazing to shoot in low light!!
But loved the gun, it was maybe the best SA trigger I owned. Sold it to purchase a Ruger .454 Alaskan, and (though I’m a big Ruger fan for many reasons) I’m not sure it was really a ‘step up’.
Why the Glock hate? Ruined an otherwise unremarkable review. Note to self, don’t take a class from this guy as he cannot stay on target.
Had a model 85 and after about 150 rounds it became inaccurate as hell. I don’t know what the problem was, the cylinder seemed to be lining up correctly. It just wouldn’t put a round where you wanted it, they were all over the place. Never did figure it out.
I owned the standard blued 85. No problems at all and it was as accurate at self defense ranges as a j frame. My step son has an 85 with a 3 inch barrel. Makes me want a 3 inch snubbie. Completely changes the feel and performance of the gun. In a good way.
I don’t understand why it is so hard to find a new quality-brand 3-inch carry revolver. Not everybody wants a J-frame size revolver for pocket carry. I want one for IWB carry, because the 5 shot models are slimmer in the waist band, and the longer barrel is not going to make it any less concealable, while offering clear benefits in balance, velocity and sight radius.
There are so many nice 3 inch revolvers they used to make, but these days the only small frame ones seem to be marketed as ‘kit guns’, and they stick adjustable sights on them. A feature almost nobody wants for a concealed carry gun, and for good reason. If Ruger offered the 3-inch LCRx with the original channel sights or low profile novaks, I think the clouds would part over me and the angels would sing. I’d be almost as a happy with a 3-inch 442 or 642.
Taurus revolvers would seem to be foolproof, until you get one that isnt timed properly, i e you pull the trigger and the cylinder doesnt revolve enough on one chamber to have the firing pin hit the primer. Didnt think it was possible till I came across a Rossi 357 that did it. Taurus took it back and replaced it after a 2 month lay over. The replacement had loose screws but at least would shoot all 6 rds.
Taurus are perfect for somebody thats going to buy it, shoot it one time, then put it in a nightstand drawer. Thats about it. If you really value your life, spend the extra hundred on a Ruger or Smith.
Purchased a Model 85 Stainless (Rosewood grips) around 1992 for Mom. She didn’t care for it so I kept it.
Not to easy to take carefully aimed shots, what with a very small front sight and a itty-bitty notch in the back. Double action is a bit crunchy as well. On the other hand, thumb cocking and shooting single action is nice. In fact, in that mode is is a clean and crisp as any high end semi-auto, revolver or rifle and often surpasses them (I own three SIG’s, a Browning, and an Accutrigger Savage 110 for comparison)
Found out the there really is no need to use the sights, just a straight two-handed torso to extended-arm motion, looking down at the front of the barrel for reference. Worked wonderfully that way. Just a little practice to hit centers in DA mode consistently. Also recoil in negligible, even with +P 129 gr. Federals.
Firm grip, point, shoot. Fun.
Whats the diff between a Taurus and a rock?
You might hit what you aim at with the rock.
And the rock wont shoot you in the ass when you drop it.
Have one, bought it new for under $250. My experiences are typical to the author’s except 100 rounds of 158 grain didn’t hurt hand or finger. Had an LCRx which was a punishment to shoot 25 rounds. I’ll take the extra weight and enjoy shooting a snubbie.
I wouldn’t say I’m a huge Taurus fan-boy, but my experience with the brand has been favorable. I ran a PT92 in IPSC competition for a while, rebarreled to 9×19 and reloaded to Major PF, and it functioned very well and was plenty accurate. I currently own two Judges (his and hers), a Tracker in .45ACP with moon clips, a scoped, long-barrelled Raging Bee in .218 Bee, and another long-barrel Tracker in .17HMR. All of them are perfectly serviceable.
The .45 Tracker had a pretty crunchy trigger pull, but after a bit of polishing and a set of Wolff springs, has a very nice trigger. I wouldn’t stack any of these against my old Trooper Mk. III or my S&Ws for fit and finish, but as Ralph pointed out, they shoot above their price point in my experience.
I was stupid enough to buy 3 Taurus revolvers over the years, including 1 Model 85 that literally came apart in my hands. None of them were worth a damn.
I have one Model 85 which is reasonably accurate but the cylinder locked up during a day at the range. I have had this revolver for over two years and probably have shot a thousand rounds through it? I had to take the side plate off to be able to open the cylinder and unload the gun. I called Taurus – was on the line for about ten minutes before a service woman was able to talk with me. She told me I could pay $68 for a pre-paid shipping label – I refused – I mailed it to Miami through Fed Ex for a lot less. I got the gun back after seven weeks – Taurus paid for shipping to my home. They fixed the problem and the gun seems to be running fine after shooting 100 rounds of standard .38 Special 130 grain FMJ rounds through it. I have two Taurus Model 605’s. One an older model (I bought back in the mid 1990’s)) and one, a new model (bought in 2016) – I bought both new in box. I had to send both guns back right out of the box! The older one was skipping chambers and/or not turning the cylinder at all new out of the box, It also was shooting way left. I sent it back, I got it back in four weeks with a note stating what they did to repair the problem and that they corrected the point of aim problem. They had a target enclosed showing the bullet holes and the distance shot. I took it to the range, it shot to point of aim and impacted almost identical to the target they had enclosed. I was happy and still have that same revolver which is my favorite gun when hiking or backpacking in the forest. I shoot .357 Magnum 158 grain JHP ammo in it just fine and it is accurate. The newer gun, out of the box, had a horrible trigger pull and what was happening the cylinder was actually dragging against the barrel and the barrel cone was digging into the face of the cylinder! How could this leave the factory that way? I had to have it sent back twice ( luckily, the gun store did it for me so I wasn’t out any money, just a lot of time without my gun) Taurus sent it back to the gun store the second time and it was obvious that they replaced the cylinder and that did correct the one problem but the gap between cylinder and barrel was excessive (.013) using feeler gauges. It shoots okay and will work for a bedside, home protection weapon but that’s probably the last Taurus I will purchase. Yes, I am happy with my Model 85, before and after the repair, and older Model 605 after they repaired it but I had to send all three guns back for repair with two of them brand new out of the box – come on Taurus, where is your quality control?
I wish you luck to all that may purchase a Taurus, their prices are hard to beat.
Just picked up the exact same model for $230 before tax and after 100 rounds or so it reminded me why I love a .38 snubbie. Shot 158 grain +P JHP without any problem or any much punishment and the regular Winchester target loads was quite nice. Had the silhouette target ran out to 10 yards and absolutely shot great. Not the greatest or worst shot in general so I was satisfied it would do the job. Choose the stainless as I shot a buddies S&W J Frame Airweight .38 and it was not pleasant. Maybe I got a “good Taurus” but I’m more than happy with the purchase. Actually quite like the decision to purchase this nice little shooter. The only complaint is the ejection will hang one empty on the grip but if you’re needing to rapid reload you’re in deeper doo doo than I plan to be in.
I purchased a NITB Taurus Model 85 Stainless in 1992. Nicely made and the wood grips are smooth and good looking. It’s not a S&W, but neither does it carry a S&W price.
With only a small notch at the rear, and a small front blade in front, it is not an easy pistol for aimed shooting, including single action (more on that in a bit). Finally, I went to range and shot a number of rounds, including a box of Federal 129 gr. +Ps at 7 yards.
Starting position about heart-high, elbows retracted to where they touched ribs on both sides of the body.
Quickly and strongly extending pistol forward in a two-hand grip, pulling the trigger in Double Action just as I reached maximum extension. I used the front of the barrel as the sights, viewing it from above.
Right off the bat, hitting center of mass. Sure the DBL action trigger is not all that smooth, but I didn’t notice it since I was simply pointing and shooting.
Recoil was not noticeable for the same reason. Even double taps were fairly close together.
One can cock the hammer manually for single action. In this mode, this little gun has The Best pull of any weapon, piston or rifle, that I have ever shot, including my two SIGs and Savage with the Accutrigger. Light, crisp, with absolutely no creep at all. But for defensive purposes, the SA is not needed and may even be a little dangerous, and with virtually no sights, one can hit on target a modest ranges without using them.
Have fun if you have one of these.
Did all of you that just like females, love the bashing of stuff only because you like jumping on the bandwagon, and love to nag….(I thought this type of discussion, weapons, ammunition and things that go bang, was something that all man liked, all real man at least) But no, you just can help opening your big fat mouth and just talk shit. By the way, do you’ll simple minded little girls forgot that number one, you love being cheap as hell, but are quick to talk, talk, talk shit. Number two Taurus was bought by S&W? So their newer guns are almost identical,have the same parts, materials and mechanisms. So if you didn’t know, well now you do, and hopefully you stop talking so much caca, or just don’t buy cheap stuff if you gonna pick it apart the second you get a chance.
And last thing, i have a 357 snob, which is been shot at least 300 rounds, and maybe my hands are manly and they don’t hurt one bit, although not gonna lie, my ears did ring for a while because I didn’t use earplugs…but last time I checked it’s a gun, and is loud, and kicks like a mule, but I need that before hand, is a 357 magnum, and for whomever that said is got a small sight, and couldn’t hit a target from 2 and a half feet, maybe is the shooter and not the gun, because my is pretty reliable when talking about problems and being accurate. Fucking bunch of babies
It’s a coating and not stainless
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