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Budget Gun Review: Taurus Model 66
Budget Gun review:
Taurus model 66-.357 magnum.
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…
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!
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!
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.
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!
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…
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.
Gonna need a few of these...
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!
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.
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.
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.
Last edited by Scrapper; 4/19/2010 3:29pm at .