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Scrapper
4/16/2010 3:27pm,
Budget Gun review:
Taurus model 66-.357 magnum.
http://www.taurususa.com/images/imagesMain/66B4.jpg
Model: 66B4
Caliber: .357 MAG
Capacity: 7 Weight: 38 oz Rate of Twist: 1:16.5"
Barrel Length: 4" Construction: Steel Height: 5.68"
Frame: Medium Width: 1.496" Action: DA/SA
Front Sight: Fixed Length: 10-1/2" Grooves: 6
Safety: Transfer Bar Trigger Type: Smooth
MSRP: $493.00 Rear Sight: Adjustable

This weapon is a little pricier than my typical review. But don’t let the MSRP fool you; this weapon typically sells for $400.00 even at your local gun shop. I paid $375.00 for a brand new one in 2008. This is not your Daddy’s .38 revolver. This is a modern, well designed, powerful piece of engineering that will offer great service to you for many years. It has the typical revolver caveats, but handles them better than most of its competitors. Read on, dear friends…

THE GOOD-

Total beast:

This weapon is chambered in .357 magnum; (IMNSHO) the king of self-defense rounds. We are talking about a best-possible kinetic energy dump of 899 ft-lbs with Buffalo-bore 180-grain big-game loads. For comparison, Dirty Harry’s .44 magnum is good for about 789 ft-lbs. This weapon is fully +P rated, and is built to take the nastiest ammo you can get. What does this mean to you, the shooter? It means that you get massive holes in bad guys, whether they are wearing body armor or not. It also means that walls, table-tops, and doors are not cover. So watch out for over-penetration with the hotter loads!

Even standard, nothing-fancy, white box .357 delivers twice the energy of 9mm, 35% more than 45ACP, and 25% more than 40S&W. It’s a definite man-stopper!
http://media.midwayusa.com/ProductImages/Medium/946487.jpg

Failure is not an option:

I love revolvers. They are the most reliable weapons in the world. A sharpened stick breaks more often than a well-made revolver. The bottom line? THIS WEAPON WILL GO “BANG” WHEN YOU PULL THE TRIGGER! I covered this in my 605 review, but I’ll reiterate: Mechanically simple, few moving parts, and 150 years of refinement and vetting have produced revolvers that can go thousands of rounds without mechanical failure, and are entirely safe without extra buttons or switches to operate. The Model 66 is one of them. I have nearly 3000 rounds through mine, where the only failures were ammo-related. Of course, with a revolver, there is no “critical-incident” drill when this happens. Just pull the trigger again!

Horseshoes and hand grenades? I think not.

The great thing about full-size revolvers, is that they sit in the hand nicely, have a long site radius, and employ no gas-operated mechanisms to interfere with the chamber pressures. This means that with practice, you should be shooting VERY consistent, VERY tight groups. I will testify that I am no competitive shooter, but I can shoot 2” groups at eight yards with this pistol if I go slowly enough. The sights are fully adjustable, and once you dial in your trigger pull, there is no reason this weapon won’t put the bullet in the same hole every time. The weapon’s weight also makes recoil very manageable, even with VERY hot loads. I will say from my own personal experience that this is the most accurate, comfortable, and consistent handgun I own. Period. And I own a scoped Super-Redhawk!

Staying power:
This model comes with a 7-round cylinder. That is one more than typical revolvers, and 2 more than most concealed-carry revolvers. There is even a model 608 that holds eight. Not as good as an automatic, but most 1911’s only hold eight, anyway. Basically, it’s better than most other revolvers out there for ammo capacity, and certainly eclipses competitors at this price.
http://www.taurususa.com/images/imagesFeatures/H_7_rd_cylinder.jpg

THE BAD-

Get to the gym!:

38 mother-loving ounces!!! Loaded, this thing weighs over 3 pounds. It has a full underlug, one of the meatiest frames I’ve ever seen, and not one stinking ounce of titanium, scandium, or composite anywhere. It’s all steel, all the time with this monster. This is why it can chamber damn near anything, and why recoil is not so bad, but for the love of god carrying it can be a chore. Exotic construction materials cost money though!

Conspicuous:

This is a bulky SOB. Definitely not a carry weapon for little guys, unless you want to get very creative in your outfits. It is a maxim amongst gun-carriers that you have to “dress around the gun,” but unless you are a bigger person, you might want to pick something smaller. Like your humble author, this weapon is wide, it’s thick, and it’s heavy. It WILL pull your pants down. It will stick out too far if you carry outside the waistband. It will print, and it will bulge, and it will peak out from under your shirt. I manage to concealed-carry this thing every day (except the summer time) and it can take some creative dress. I recommend a shoulder holster and a blazer, but I get away with a IWB rig most of the time. Of course, I weigh 230 pounds…

Slow mover:
Why are automatics the kings of the tactical and self-defense world? Because they are fast. They shoot fast, they cycle fast, and they reload fast. Barring significant expense, revolvers do not do anything as fast as an automatic can. You have to cycle the action with your trigger finger in double-action shooting (which is what you will be doing in a SHTF situation), and when you go dry, reloading is a bit of a trick. Practice can speed this entire process up, but you will never be as fast as the guy with the automatic. That’s just how the real world works. Sorry about that.
http://www.pistoleer.com/hks/pics/speedloader.jpg
Gonna need a few of these...
THE UGLY-

Cutting corners:

To produce mechanically superior weapons at a price that CRUSHES Smith and Wesson, Taurus has cut some corners. The cylinder release is not as ergonomically accessible as I’d like, and this can slow down combat reloads. The stock grip is plastic, ugly, and about as pleasant as hanging onto an M-80 when shooting hotter loads. Get the Hogue Monogrip and you will be MUCH happier. This is a great grip for shooting, but it makes concealing even harder…as if we needed that!
http://base0.googlehosted.com/base_media?q=http://www.keenzo.com/pimg/image/Products/500/KSG-3564234.jpg&size=20&dhm=7c0c281d&hl=en

Bad-Assery:

The whole pint of having an “ugly” section I my reviews is to discuss the intangibles that influence how we feel about a weapon. So I must bring up the bad-ass factor…or the “zombie-killing” quotient as it were. While this has no effect on performance, you must admit that this is a bad-ass gun. It’s big, it’s powerful, it hearkens to the days when men were men, and side-arms were powerful enough to bring down large game. When the tactifags at the local gun shop are talking about their SureFire lights, and their laser sights, and their 20-round magazines, you can smile knowingly, and point out that your weapon can penetrate an inch of plywood and still kill whatever is behind it. You can point out that even if you miss your target, they (and you) will almost certainly be deafened and blinded by the flash and report of your weapon, thus negating their combat effectiveness. You can also point out that double-tapping a bad guy is for sissies with little bullets. If you need two bullets to kill your bad guy, your gun is too small, or your bad guy is too big. Your call.
http://contexts.org/socimages/files/2008/07/gun2.jpg
Do ya, Punk?

Lots of options!:

You can get this in 6, 7, or 8 shot versions; you can get it in stainless or blue. There also several available barrel lengths. The model reviewed here is a 4”, blue, 7-shot version. Other versions have varying prices, of course. You can buy replacement springs top adjust trigger pull and other intangibles, and it does not take a mechanical engineering degree to work on it. Most S&W grips will fit this, so feel free to get whatever suits your little fancy to spruce it up. LaserGrips are an option, but they cost almost as much as the gun does.

Not a picky eater:

Like all .357 revolvers, this will take .38 special and .38 Special +P ammo. As mentioned earlier, this will also take just a gnarly a round as you care to put in it (Obvious sanity/intelligence checks for you adventurous hand-loaders out there! Don’t be a moron…or do be a moron and remove yourself from the gene pool!). The nastiest one I have found is the Buffalo Bore 180-grain .357 big-game round. Even this insane bullet’s felt recoil is fairly manageable in the Model 66. As such it is my preferred self-defense round.

CONCLUSION-

This is not a weapon for everyone. I am notoriously recoil-oblivious, so .357 has never bothered me in any weapon. But if you do struggle with recoil, or have small hands, this may not be comfortable to shoot with full-house .357 magnum. If that is the case, .38+P doesn’t even wiggle this thing. It’s just too damn heavy. That being said, there are many far more convenient packages to deliver .38 special than something this big and heavy. It is safe, reliable, powerful, and backed by the Taurus 100% lifetime guarantee. You might be able to do better with something more expensive, but you could certainly do a lot worse.

Three seasons out of the year, this is my carry piece. It can be a pain in the ass (literally) to carry, but it brings A LOT of peace of mind to the party. Not to mention it fits my meaty paws perfectly, and considering the thousands of rounds I have put through it, I can’t seem to miss with the damn thing.

dwkfym
4/16/2010 3:31pm,
2 inches at 8 yds? Thought you were a better shot!
Nice review, glad you take the time to write it all out.

Scrapper
4/16/2010 3:34pm,
That's pretty damn good, buddy!

Permalost
4/16/2010 5:46pm,
I don't own any guns, but I enjoy reading these gun reviews for when I eventually start getting some cheaper ones. I've read concerns about such powerful guns being a poor choice for home defense because they can go through walls and hit people, even if you hit the bg first. What are your thoughts on that?

dwkfym
4/16/2010 6:20pm,
In that situation, I personally would worry about hitting the BG and bringing him down before worrying about overpenetration. It is what it is; some bullets will overpenetrate, while others won't but won't be as powerful.

A shotgun might be a better balance for you; plenty plenty of power and a lot less over penetration for its given power

har har question jacked.

bigskymma
4/16/2010 10:45pm,
Do you have links to your other reviews? I am looking to add to my collection a bit this summer.

Anything you would reccomend as a automatic carry weapon? I currently own a Glock 19 and a H/K USP 45

IMightBeWrong
4/16/2010 11:34pm,
Very thorough and well done, but I have to disagree with your admittedly not so humble opinion about the .357 Magnum. I think it's actually TOO powerful for practical self defense purposes. I've seen it out penetrate the .223 with both rounds in FMJ loadings by shooting up an old truck. It's absolutely nuts.

As for bigskymma, you're doing just fine. Don't worry about adding a new carry weapon, take the Glock 19 (for carry comfort over the USP) to the range and practice your ass off. You're better off with one or two weapons and a lot of training than a bunch of weapons with less. Buy some ammo!

IMightBeWrong
4/16/2010 11:40pm,
In that situation, I personally would worry about hitting the BG and bringing him down before worrying about overpenetration. It is what it is; some bullets will overpenetrate, while others won't but won't be as powerful.

You've oversimplified this matter. It's not about power in Self Defense Handguns. Instead of worrying about over penetration, you could just buy a weapon in a more controllable and less penetrating caliber and not have to worry in the first place. The major problem here is that the power difference between something like 9mm, .40, or .45 compared to .357 in this situation isn't going to change your chances. The only things that can stop an attacker dead in his tracks are head shots, CNS shots, or the mental reaction of your attacker being "oh damn, I'm shot, I give the **** up" followed by him/her falling over. There is no handgun round in existence that's both comfortable enough to carry and powerful enough to stop an attacker with one shot without the right placement. It's situational, always. Handgun stopping power doesn't exist. Shot placement rules the day.

Scrapper
4/17/2010 9:06am,
Zaohu-

I'm with you, mostly.

Power helps. It's like saying size doesn't really matter in a fight if you know what you are doing. You are mostly right, but damn, size helps!

Against a determined attacker, a 9mm bullet to the brain is just as deadly as a .357, 44 mag, or 50 AE. That's how it works; but what happens if you hit at a shallow angle on a moving target? 9mm will often pass or skip off bone, .357 punches right through, 44 mag even more so, and .50 AE blows half the area apart.

It's all conjecture anyway. Statistically, just the appearance of a firearm tends to end the confrontation instantly. Therefore, caliber will be irrelevant 95% of the time, so why does it matter.

It comes down to the individual's personal philosophy on combat. I am with Massad Ayoob on this: Always bring as much gun to the fight as you can safely handle. The details are unimportant after that anyway.

Scrapper
4/17/2010 9:09am,
Over penetration is not like a lot of people say it is. Under certain circumstances, hotly loaded .357 will exit the bad guy. Ballistics gel testing has shown that when this happen the round rarely maintains lethal velocity when doing so. Modern self-defense bullets are designed to dump their energy quickly, ensuring that the bad guy gets as much damage as possible. If a bullet leaves the bad guy with a lot of energy left over, then it was not as effective as it could be.

Get some semi-jacketed hollow points and it will never be a real problem, unless your are shooting anorexics at point-blank range.

Scrapper
4/17/2010 9:17am,
Bigskymma:

You already have a couple of really nice carry pieces there! Most of my "Budget guns" won't be able to outperform the weapons you already have.

IMightBeWrong
4/17/2010 12:36pm,
Zaohu-

I'm with you, mostly.

Power helps. It's like saying size doesn't really matter in a fight if you know what you are doing. You are mostly right, but damn, size helps!

Against a determined attacker, a 9mm bullet to the brain is just as deadly as a .357, 44 mag, or 50 AE. That's how it works; but what happens if you hit at a shallow angle on a moving target? 9mm will often pass or skip off bone, .357 punches right through, 44 mag even more so, and .50 AE blows half the area apart.

It's all conjecture anyway. Statistically, just the appearance of a firearm tends to end the confrontation instantly. Therefore, caliber will be irrelevant 95% of the time, so why does it matter.

It comes down to the individual's personal philosophy on combat. I am with Massad Ayoob on this: Always bring as much gun to the fight as you can safely handle. The details are unimportant after that anyway.

Pretty spot on. I'm in a different school of thought, though. I'm a fan of capacity and practice with 9mm, .40, and .45 since they are more controllable when making follow up shots and much easier to find than other rounds right now which allows for a lot more range time.

bigskymma
4/17/2010 7:49pm,
As for bigskymma, you're doing just fine. Don't worry about adding a new carry weapon, take the Glock 19 (for carry comfort over the USP) to the range and practice your ass off. You're better off with one or two weapons and a lot of training than a bunch of weapons with less. Buy some ammo!

Thanks. I do carry my Glock on most occasions but during summer it is difficult to dress around. I am not a huge guy (5 11 and 160'ish) but my USP can be carried during the summer anyway if called for.

As for ammo, I have owned the Glock for less than 2 months and already have 1500-1700 rounds through the her. The USP has less (and been owned a bit longer) rounds through it just because of the price on rounds and being a broke student.

Any reccomendation on carry rounds for the glock? I have been using Hydra-Shoks. Thank God, I have never had to use them in a defense situation.

Vorpal
4/17/2010 8:16pm,
Another great review. You should be writing for one of the gun mags. If you ever get into the north jersey area give me a shout. I could have you shooting clover leaf groups at 8 yards with that beast in about 20 minutes.

dwkfym
4/17/2010 9:36pm,
Another great review. You should be writing for one of the gun mags. If you ever get into the north jersey area give me a shout. I could have you shooting clover leaf groups at 8 yards with that beast in about 20 minutes.

Thats more like it ;)
I've never owned a gun and I used to place ragged holes at 15 yards with a 1911. Now, I don't know I haven't fired a gun in years.

However, I can't shoot the following worth a damn:
1. revolvers
2. glocks (my thumb must be doing something, because the shots stay in line but go left and right)


Aw crap. thinly veiled boasting. sorry for shitting on your thread. lol

Scrapper
4/18/2010 9:37am,
Vorpal,

I may take you up on that, but keep in mind, with .357, cloverleaf groups are only about an inch and a half, anyway!