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Taurus 85 Revolver , A Lightweight .38 ~ Firearm & Ammo Review

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Article first appeared at Ammo Land.

Apache Junction, AZ -(AmmoLand.com)- In spite of all of the semi-auto guns available revolvers are still popular with many people. They are still carried with good reason.

First, they are dependable and as a rule are easier to shoot than small semi automatic pistols. The Taurus 85 Revolver used in the test felt comfortable in the hand and the trigger is decent, even the double action. Some of the small semi autos have triggers that are very difficult to use.

You would think that they could design a better trigger but apparently, that isn’t the case. People with small or weak hands would not be able to use some of them.

When you have to focus on pulling the trigger instead of the situation at hand, then you have a serious gun problem. A self-defense gun should be able to get into action immediately without worrying about side issues. My pocket gun is always a revolver for those reasons. For side carry, a 1911 .45 is my choice. That’s why they make so many different guns, so everyone can buy one that suits their needs. Some may point out that you have only five shots, which is true and valid limitation.

However, in the Taurus 85 Revolver, they are .38 special rounds (+P Rated), which are more effective then many of the small rounds used in the semi auto pistols.

With the modern ammo available, you have five rounds of good stopper loads. In addition, it is uncommon in self-defense shootings that you would need more then 5 shots, especially if you have some training. Would I carry the Taurus 85 Revolver? That will be determined during testing. Taurus makes an extensive [some say crazy number of models] line up of guns and for more info you can go to www.taurususa.com

A novel .38 bullet 75 grs, nice for light target work
A novel .38 bullet 75 grs, nice for light target work

Shooting the gun with lightweight bullets proves to be pleasant. Even with the Liberty Ammo, recoil wasn’t an issue. In fact, if I carried it with the 50 grain, Liberty would be a top choice. Even with the short barrel, velocities over 1400 fps were achieved. The 90 grain Hornady is another possibility for carry. The single action pull on the Taurus 85 Revolver is nice and even shooting double action, the pull is very reasonable, something that can’t always be said about some DA guns.

Some revolvers are ridiculous to the point where they are useless as self-defense guns. If you can’t get the gun in action immediately then it is better as a paperweight.

I don’t see any need to use heavyweight bullets in the Taurus 85 Revolver, because in order to obtain enough velocity to be effective, recoil starts to become unpleasant. With such a gun, practice is important and a cast bullet weighing around 125 grains would be ideal.

Liberty makes some really fine defensive ammo in most common handgun calibers
Liberty makes some really fine defensive ammo in most common handgun calibers

There are various cast bullets available including some 9 mm weighing 115 to 125. If you mold your own then you can size them to .357 or .358. Even a .356 should work okay for practice. Liberty Ammo makes some really novel rounds as they use very lightweight bullets at very high velocities. I have worked with them a lot and the velocities are as advertised and they are accurate. For info on this innovative company you can go to www.libertyammunition.com.

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Hornady has been around for many years and they manufacture ammo, reloading components, and reloading equipment among other items. Sig is normally known for making fine guns but they have involved themselves in the ammo business. I have used their products in a couple of calibers and have always been satisfied. For info on their ammo line you can go to www.sigammo.com.

Sig produces quality ammo in some common calibers
Sig produces quality ammo in some common calibers. :http://goo.gl/93ncS3

The Taurus 85 Revolver grips are some kind of soft rubber and they feel comfortable and would aid in gripping. They also may absorb some recoil. The rear sight is a groove in the frame and the front sight is typical. I would add some white to enable the shooter to pick them up easier. We shot the Taurus 85 Revolver at 7 yards and group size averaged 2-3” which is fine for what this gun is designed for.

Slow single action shooting would probably produce smaller groups if that would interest you. The barrel is 2” and it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to use heavy bullet loads especially the + P types, although the Taurus 85 Revolver is rated for them. Besides excessive muzzle flash and recoil, I don’t see the gain in using such ammo. There is some good ammo out there in lightweight bullets, which would be effective and cut down the recoil to a manageable level. Shooting a gun that hurts you makes no sense because you will develop a flinch and avoid practicing with it. This is essentially a carry gun as opposed to a shooter. The action on the Taurus 85 Revolver demo we had was a little tight which would be usual in such a new gun, though it did smooth out some .

A unique feature of the Taurus 85 Revolver is the hammer spur is removable which would allow pocket carry without the fear of snagging. Just twist the hammer spur and it comes off then twist it back on for shooting.

The one feature of the Taurus 85 Revolver that stands out is the removable hammer spur.
The one feature of the Taurus 85 Revolver that stands out is the removable hammer spur.

The Taurus 85 Revolver would be good in a pocket or purse because of its light weight. Since it is a lightweight gun meant for self-defense, light bullets should be used for most testing. A couple of good examples are the Hornady Critical Defense Lite, which weigh 90 grains. Another possibility is the Liberty 50-grain loads. They produce high velocity and with the lack of weight, recoil should be manageable. For practice, a cast 125 grain bullet should be ideal as they are inexpensive and with the listed load recoil is mild. I don’t see any reason to use jacketed bullets for practice as they are more costly and less accurate.

Some suitable bullets for handloading. I would stick with the lighter ones.
Some suitable bullets for handloading. I would stick with the lighter ones.

The Taurus 85 Revolver’s Owner Manual gives the owner a lot of detail in regards to what type of ammo to shoot. They advise against handloads, which is a standard procedure for most gun manufacturers. The + P ammo is ok to use though they advise against using it a lot as it will accelerate wear.

Recoil would not be pleasant with + P loads especially with heavy bullets. In addition, there would be little to gain in the velocity department because of the short barrel. You would probably get an excessive muzzle flash with the + P fodder which could be a problem if you need a follow up shot and can’t see your target. Standard loads should be used for practice and the + P for carrying though you should shoot a few to get acquainted with their noise and recoil.

A nice combo, the .38 Taurus 85 Revolver with the Hornady lite ammo has virtually no recoil.
A nice combo, the .38 Taurus 85 Revolver with the Hornady lite ammo has virtually no recoil.

The Hornady Critical Defense Lite loads shot well in the Taurus 85 Revolver and the 90-grain Hornady had virtually no recoil. That would be an ideal load for the recoil shy person. There isn’t a lot of power but with the superior design of the bullet and good placement the results should be satisfactory. I did a second test and the results are very similar.

Again the secret to the success of this gun is to practice as much as possible.

Good shot placement makes up for other shortcomings either real or perceived.

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Taurus 5 shot revolver -loaded
Taurus 5 shot revolver -loaded

LOAD                    BULLER             VELOCITY       COMMENT

Liberty                   50 grain                 1429               consistent
Liberty                   50 grain                 1469.6            impressive
Hornady Lite         90 grain                  996.9             nice
Hornady Lite         90 grain                  962                fair
4.5 grains 231      125 grain cast         841                nice
Sig                        125 gr FMJ FP       769.7             mild
Sig                        125 gr HP               777.9             consistent
3.2 grains 231      148 gr WC               618                accurate

A look at the Hornady Critical Defense Lite load.
A look at the Hornady Critical Defense Lite load : http://goo.gl/JnkQRz

This Taurus 85 Revolver is meant for close range self-defense, so reliability is an important trait. Of course it has to be 100% reliable or it is just a paperweight. Under certain circumstances where lightweight was important I would carry it. For someone looking for such a gun I would recommend taking a serious look at this piece.

  • Model: 85B2ULFS
    • Finish: Blue
    • Status: Available
  • Caliber: .38 SPL +P RATED
    • Grips: Rubber
    • UPC: 7-25327-61126-4
  • Capacity: 5
    • Weight: 17 oz
    • Rate of Twist: 1:16.5″
  • Barrel Length: 2″
    • Height: 4.28″
    • Frame: Small
  • Width: 1.346″
    • Action: DA/SA
    • Front Sight: Fixed
  • Length: 6.5″
    • Grooves: 6
    • Safety: Taurus Security System,Transfer Bar
  • Trigger Type: Smooth
    • Order #: 2-850021ULFS
    • MSRP: $371.21
A view of some of the .38 bullets that can be used.
A view of some of the .38 bullets that can be used.

About Bob Shell:

A Custom Reloader of Obsolete and Antique Ammo, Bob Shell, writes about the subject of Guns, Ammo, Shooting and Related Subjects. For more information, visit: www.bobshellsblog.blogspot.com.

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