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Review: Multi-Caliber Taurus Tracker 692 Trail-to-Town Revolver

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Over the last few years, I’ve enjoyed exploring what can be called ‘trail-to-town’ guns. These are handgun models that can comfortably transition from riding a hip in the great outdoors for defense against dangerous game, to being carried concealed in town when it’s time to grab some dinner then head back to the hotel.

Although my growing list of potential trail-to-town models includes semi-automatic and break-action pistols, double-action, medium-frame revolvers continue to be a particularly good fit in this role. In those areas where this caliber is sufficiently potent to manage local wildlife, a two- to three-inch barrel .357 Magnum double-action with a seven-shot cylinder checks both the powerful and portable boxes. With the right holster system these wheel guns are concealable and relatively comfortable to carry.

Taurus 692

The .357 Mag. revolvers in this class are also flexible. They can be ramped up with full-power hunting .357 Mag. loads for dangerous game, dialed down to .38 Special +P for troubles of the two-legged variety or toned down even more with standard pressure .38 Special loads for target shooting and casual plinking. In those areas where venomous reptiles and pests are a concern, the first chamber or two can be charged with snake-shot loads while the remaining chambers are stoked with defense-grade ammunition.

Taurus 692 Barrel Stamp

But one particular series of double-action revolvers which adds yet another convenient layer of flexibility to this formula, are the members of the seven-shot Taurus Tracker 692 caliber-convertible lineup. Manufactured by Taurus Arms in Brazil, these models are available in blued alloy steel or matte stainless steel finishes. Customers have the choice of 6.5- or 3-inch barrels with factory-installed barrel porting or 2.5-inch barrels with no porting.

But what sets these guns apart from the revolver crowd is the inclusion of a second quick-swap seven-shot cylinder chambered in 9mm. Since this caliber has been crowned the victor of the defensive pistol caliber wars it is now a ubiquitous ammunition option. Available in a wide variety of bullet styles and power levels, it’s readily available and more affordably priced than most centerfire revolver rounds. The 9mm bulk practice-grade loads are noticeably cheaper making them an ideal option for casual plinking and practice sessions at the shooting range.

Taurus 692 Tracker Right

The Tracker 692s employ one of the most convenient and easy to use caliber-conversion systems that I’ve worked with so far. Trading out the .357 Mag. cylinder for the 9mm can be accomplished, literally, with the press of a button. The cylinder removal release is located on the right side of the frame at the front of the trigger guard.

Taurus 692 Cylinder Release Button

The swap starts by opening the cylinder and verifying the revolver is completely unloaded. With the cylinder in the open position, press and hold the frame-mounted release button. Pull forward on the cylinder and the entire cylinder assembly—including the crane arm (or yoke, if you prefer)—slides out of the frame. With the release button pressed and held once more, insert the alternate cylinder’s crane fully into the frame and then release the button. Verify the cylinder assembly is fully seated by closing the cylinder and running a quick bench check of the controls and operations. The entire process takes about 20 seconds if you’re not in a hurry. With no tools required or microscopic screws or bits to drop in the dirt, the caliber conversion is easily accomplished at the shooting range or in the field.

Taurus 692 Front Sight and barrel porting

In regards to loading and unloading each of the provided cylinders, the processes differ depending on the caliber. The .357 Mag. and .38 Spl. cartridges are headspaced off of the cartridge rim. They can be dropped in one at a time, loaded two at a time using a speed strip or all seven chambers can be filled at once using a speed loader. Once the rounds have been fired, the ejector star engages the cartridge rims to press the spent cartridge cases out of the cylinder’s chambers to make room for fresh rounds.

Taurus 692 with .357 Mag. cylinder

However, the semi-automatic 9mm pistol cartridge has a rebated rim and is headspaced off of the cartridge mouth. This means there is no mechanical means for the ejector star to press out the spent cases. This issue of ejecting semi-automatic cartridges from double-action revolvers was resolved by designers at Smith & Wesson during World War II.

Taurus 692 with cylinder removed

To meet the U.S. military’s request for .45 ACP revolvers, the developed 3-round half moon clips and, later on, the 6-round full moon clips. These thin, spring steel clips hold an entire cylinder’s worth of cartridges together in a single unit that can be dropped into the cylinder in speed loader fashion. When the rounds have been fired, the ejector star engages the moon clip to press out all of the spent cases at the same time. In the case of the Tracker 692 models, the revolvers ship with five seven-round ‘stellar’ clips in the box. Additional clips sets are available for about $22 through Taurus’s online store or 3rd party manufacturers. But if no clip is available, individual 9mm rounds can be safely loaded and fired. You’ll just need to use a cleaning rod, punch or similar tool to poke out each of the spent cases.

Taurus 692 9mm Bullets in stellar speed loaders

For this evaluation, I opted to work with the model outfitted with a compact three-inch ported barrel in matte stainless steel finish. It arrived with a pinned, bright orange highlighted sight up front and a fully adjustable square-notch sight at the rear. To the left and right sides of the front sight are sets of four muzzle ports (for a total of eight) set down into slots called gas expansion chambers. These ports are milled into the barrel with the intention of reducing muzzle flip by redirecting a portion of the high-pressure gases produced from the burning powder charge upwards. This in turn presses the muzzle downwards in order to mitigate muzzle rise and felt recoil.

The three-inch barrel is laser engraved with the Tracker series logo on the left side. It has a deeply recessed crown and a full underlug which shrouds the ejector rod. For those who are wondering where the caliber markings are, they are skillfully hidden in plain sight in small text along the bottom edge of the under lug. For this model, the markings read ‘9mm/.357 MAG*.’

Taurus 692 loaded with 9mm

The exposed hammer’s spur is checkered for improved purchase as is the wedge-shaped, Smith & Wesson-style cylinder release located on the left side of the frame. The cylinder rotates counter-clockwise and swings out to the left of the frame. The two unfluted, interchangeable cylinders are clearly laser engraved with their calibers and sport the same serial number as the frame and barrel.

The trigger is curved, smooth-faced and housed in a traditionally shaped trigger guard. The longer, heavier double-action trigger pull was a clean, smooth 10 pounds 4 ounces. Manually cocking the hammer for single-action fire yielded a short, clean break with 6 pounds 7 ounces of trigger pull. This revolver is capped off with a compact, textured black rubber grip which provides support for all three fingers of the shooting hand. The grip’s 0.3-inch thick backstrap provides some welcome padding in between the shooting hand and the stainless steel frame. Unloaded, the revolver I worked with weighed in at 33.2 ounces.

Taurus 692 with ammo boxes

At the shooting range the Tracker 692 fed, fired and ejected reliably with all the calibers and bullet types fired from both cylinders. The controls all cycled smoothly and operated in proper fashion throughout the course of testing. The benefits of the barrel porting were less pronounced with the 9mm and .38 Spl. loads. However, there was no doubt the system was doing its job when shooting full-power .357 Mag. ammunition. Muzzle rise and recoil were reduced by about a third which contributed to more comfortable shooting and quicker follow up shots.  Does barrel porting make enough of a difference in muzzle rise and recoil to justify the added noise and muzzle flash? In this case I would say that yes, it does, especially when using souped-up ammunition intended to stop threats from dangerous game.

Taurus 692 types of ammo

With the revolver’s trail-to-town role in mind, the 9mm ammunition selected for formal accuracy and velocity testing included the G9 Defense 124-grain +P Woodsman, topped off with a pointed deep penetration copper solid, and Sig Sauer’s Elite Performance 124-grain +P V-Crown jacketed hollow points. The .38 Spl. loads included a fairly sedate 148-grain full-lead wadcutter target load from DoubleTap Ammunition, along with a defense-grade 125-grain +P V-Crown jacketed hollow point from Sig Sauer.

.357 Magnum Super X Winchester Ammunition and three shot group (ragged hole)

This was an ideal opportunity to work with Underwood Ammo’s .357 Mag. Xtreme Penetrator loads which launch a uniquely shaped 140-grain fluted copper solid. Wrapping up the ammunition set was Winchester’s .357 Mag. Super-X 158-grain jacketed soft point. This load is representative of the general purpose loads in this caliber which are commonly available at big box and sporting goods stores.

Here are the accuracy results for three bench rested three-shot groups fired at seven-yards. The bullet velocities were measured for 10-shot strings fired next to the top-notch Garmin Xero C1 Pro chronograph:

Taurus 692 Ballistics and accuracy chart

When the formal accuracy work was completed I rolled the targets out to longer distances and fired additional triple sets of three-shot groups using the Winchester Super-X .357 Mag. load, just to see what this short-barrel revolver could do. At 15 yards this gun and ammunition combination punched out a best group of 2.53 inches with a group average of 2.82 inches. With the targets set at 25 yard the best group with this load was 3.44 inches with an average of 3.64 inches. This revolver was also used as part of an upcoming multi-caliber test of DoubleTap Ammunition’s recently released DT SnakeShot loads, the link to which we will add here when posted.

Parting Shots

The Taurus Tracker 692 caliber-convertible revolver met or exceeded my expectations as a short-barrel trail-to-town gun. It’s tough, reliable and outfitted with a set of useful features. But it should also be a particularly attractive model for those who already shoot 9mm pistols and are looking to add a revolver to their collection.

Competing stainless steel seven-shot, medium-frame .357 Mag. revolvers with un-ported barrels currently have suggested retail prices starting at about $1,000. This Taurus model is ported and it can fire the full range of commercially available .357 Mag. cartridges, .38 Spl. +P, .38 Spl., 9mm +P and standard pressure 9mm ammunition. That’s a good deal of ammunition flexibility in an easy to use revolver package, with a suggested price of $780.99. And just as I was wrapping up this review, Taurus announced the launch of the new addition to the lineup—the spruced up Executive Grade version of the Tracker 692. For more information, visit taurususa.com.

Taurus 692 cylinder stamp and receiver logo

Technical Specifications

  • Type: double-action revolver
  • Caliber: .357 Mag./ .38 Spl./ 9mm
  • Cylinder Capacity: Seven rounds
  • Barrel: 3-inch; stainless steel; full under lug; shrouded ejector; 1:10-inch RH twist
  • Trigger: 6-pound 7-ounce (SA), 10-pound 4-ounce (DA) pull weight
  • Sights: adjustable square notch rear; fixed orange highlighted front
  • Grip/Stocks: one piece textured black rubber
  • Metal Finish: matte stainless
  • Overall Length: 8.14-inches
  • Weight: 33.2 ounces, unloaded
  • MSRP: $999; taurususa.com
  • Article by B. GIL HORMAN

 

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