THE BULL FROM BRAZIL—THE TAURUS RAGING BULL
BY JOHN TAFFIN
After the arrival of the double action .44 Magnums from Ruger and Dan Wesson, foreign manufacturers took a good look at the .44 Magnum and importers soon had Astra and Llama big bore double action sixguns offered to big bore shooters. Taurus, the far-sighted handgun supplier that gave us the "J-frame" sized nine-shot .22 and "K-frame" sized five-shot .44 Special, went really big bore with their entry into the .44 Magnum field; first shown at the 1993 SHOT Show, the Model 44 finally became available only a little over one and one-half years later.
The Taurus Model 44 is still available in both blue and stainless models in 4”, 6” and 8 3/8” barrel lengths; the 4”model has a solid rib while the other two lengths come standard with ventilated ribs. All barrel lengths are of the heavy underlug style and carry a built-in factory compensator and stocks are a compact rubber. Sights are a micro click adjustable rear with a white outline and a red insert ramp front. It is no problem whatsoever to dial in the proper setting with the sights but, as usual, I have to blacken the red insert to be able to see it. This is a personal problem and certainly does not apply to every shooter.
My test Model 44 is an 8 3/8” high polished stainless steel with the finish being quite good. The action, as we have come to expect from Taurus is very smooth both in double and single action modes. The hammer spur is a subdued target style with checkering that will not bite into the thumb while the face of the wide trigger is polished smooth. Single action trigger pull, according to Brownell's Chatillon trigger pull scale, is 56 ounces or 3 1/2 pounds.
As soon as my sample Model 44 arrived I contacted Weigand Combat Handguns for their mount, which utilizes the ribbed barrel of the Model 44 with no drilling, tapping or removal of rear sights being necessary. This mount is approximately 6” in length and extends 2” ahead of the top strap with three scallops across the top to accept Weaver style rings. Before scoping, the Model 44 was shot with the standard iron sights. This .44 Magnum Model 44, with the combination of small rubber grips, heavy underlug barrel, and compensator, consisting of four small holes drilled on each side of the front sight, was found to be quite comfortable to fire as compared to many other .44 Magnums. Having long passed the invincible stage of life, I am now at the point in my shooting life when I have to be very careful as to how much punishment I give the wrist of my shooting hand at any one time but with the Model 44 I shot two hundred rounds with iron sights and followed this up with two hundred rounds the next day with a scope in place without any noticeable lasting discomfort to said wrist. With this many rounds fired in such a short time, the only malfunction occurring while test-firing the Taurus Model 44 was the standard double action malady of the ejector rod backing out. This is easily attended to with a small amount of Loc-Tite.
Upon shooting the Taurus with iron sights at 25 yards, I soon realized that I had a very accurate sixgun in my hands! For example, varied loads such as the Lyman 250 grain hard cast Keith #429421 over 10.0 grains of Unique at 1217 feet per second, RCBS's hard cast gas checked 300 grain #44-300 with 21.5 grains of H110 at 1375 feet per second, and Northern Precision's 300 grain JHP at 1252 feet per second using 19.2 grains of VV #N110 all put four shots into less than one-inch at 25 yards going 7/8", 3/4" and 7/8" respectively.
When the Wiegand scope arrived, it was bolted to the top of the barrel rib of the Model 44 using the supplied steel bars that slip into the slots on the rib, tightened down, and one of the new Burris 2X-7X Posi-Lock LER scopes installed with Weaver rings. The Posi-Lock Burris scope has a locking feature that holds the zero. One simply sights in, then tightens a screw that enters from the bottom left of the scope and the zero is locked in place. The principle is the replacing of the spring that holds the scope zeroed with a steel post preventing movement under recoil or rough handling. It certainly worked on the Model 44 Taurus .44 Magnum.
Shooting the Model 44 at 100 yards resting
on an Outer's Pistol Perch, using the Burris Posi-Lock set at four power, and
shooting Black Hills 240 JHPs at 100 yards resulted in five shots going into 2
1/4”. This just could not be! Accuracy such as this could not be possible from
a revolver with the price tag found on the Taurus Model 44. Could it be duplicated? I waited two weeks
and then shot the same
The original group was shot early in the morning when I was well rested and all was calm and still. The re-shot groups were fired late in the afternoon after a full day and my eyes were not so fresh and the wind was breezy. The results? Two groups were fired and I walked out to the target with ruler in hand. Group number one measured out with four shots in 2” and five shots in 3”; the second group measured out to four shots in 2 1/8” and 'opened up' to 2 5/8” with five shots. This is outstanding performance by anyone's standards.
In 1997, at the SHOT Show, Taurus unveiled a new big bore revolver to coincide with the Model 44, which was an extremely good shooting .44 Magnum. However, it fell a little short in looks especially with the end of the barrel profile and the design of the stocks. They just didn't have that real sixgun look. Someone obviously spent a good deal of time at the drawing board and the result in 1997 was the first Raging Bull. The Raging Bull has proven to be a raging success. Although first announced in a five-shot .454 Casull, as well as six-shot versions in .44 Magnum and .45 Colt, I personally have never seen one in .45 Colt and cannot say if any were ever actually produced. I have had considerable experience shooting both a blue and a stainless .44 Magnum Raging Bull. To my eye the Raging Bull is the best looking double action sixgun to come along since the original Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum of 1956; it is simply one great looking revolver!
Just about everything has been done right both as to form and function. The trigger, which is the same width as the trigger guard, is smooth with no checkering or serrations to irritate the trigger finger during long strings of fire. At the same time, the hammer spur has the right amount of checkering to allow for positive cocking for single action fire, and I personally can’t see using these sixguns any other way, without affecting the pad of the thumb in anyway again during long strings of fire. This user-friendly checkering is also carried out on both cylinder release latches giving a non-slip surface that does not bite into either thumb when they are operated. Yes it does take two thumbs to open the cylinder of the Raging Bull. A conventional latch is on the left side the frame behind the recoil shield while the second locking latch is on the crane in front of the cylinder. This provides a secure lockup to the cylinder and both latches must be pressed in unison to unlock the cylinder. There is no locking latch at the end of the ejector rod. The cylinders of the Raging Bulls are basically cut and formed from cube-shaped pieces of steel with a diameter of 1.770” and a length of 1.760”
The heavy barrels of all Raging Bulls are of the full under-lugged variety with a recess for the ejector rod. Integral to each barrel is a heavy rib with three ventilated slots on the 6 ½” versions and with one more added for 8 3/8” barrel lengths. The barrel, underlug, and ventilated rib are all machined from one solid piece of steel as is the ramp for the front sight. This heavy barrel measures 1.650” from top to bottom and when viewed from the front can be seen to taper from the center to the top of the rib and the bottom of the underlug.
The front sight itself, is a pinned in black blade that is matched up with a fully adjustable rear sight that is also black and featuring a rear blade that is slanted to help prevent glare. This is the best type of sights for my eyes at this stage of my life. Since the front sight blade is pinned in it can easily be changed to a taller or shorter, or even a wider or narrower blade according to one’s individual tastes. For my use, I need a higher front sight as with the rear sight bottomed out both 240 and 300 grain bullets shoot high.
On both sides of the barrel below the front sight one finds machined-in ports, four 1/8” holes on each side, to help control muzzle flip when shooting full house loads. Barrels are not rifled in the ported area, so in reality a 6 ½” sixgun is really slightly over five inches in true barrel length, while the 8 3/8” versions are rifled for approximately seven inches. This does not seem to have any adverse effect on muzzle velocity as these are relatively "fast-shooting" revolvers. Two cautions need to be advanced concerning the use of ported sixguns. First, they are noisy and hearing protection is an absolute must especially for anyone who may be standing close by. Perhaps even more important is the fact that when using cast bullets, material can be thrown through the ports and can be dangerous to bystanders. Ported guns should never be shot with anyone standing where they could get hit with any trash coming out of the ports.
All barrels are attractively marked with "TAURUS" on the right side, and "RAGING BULL" on the left side; above the barrel marking on the left side, one finds ".44 MAGNUM." Stocks on the Raging Bull are highly functional, pebble grained black rubber with a cushioned red insert along the backstrap area. Using red instead of black for the cushion was a good move as it identifies every Raging Bull at a glance and also helps to provide a more attractive look to normally drab appearing black rubber grips.
As with all Taurus revolvers, the Raging Bull is equipped with the Taurus Security System which consists of a blocking integral mechanism located on the back of the hammer beneath the hammer spur. A provided key is inserted and turned clockwise to lock the mechanism of the Raging Bull. In this condition the Raging Bull cannot be fired or operated until the key is re-inserted and turned counter clockwise.
I will not tell you the Raging Bull is pleasant-shooting when using full house loads. Anytime one chooses to shoot full Magnum powered loads in a sixgun there are trade-offs; one simply cannot escape recoil. What Taurus did was to make this sixgun as pleasant shooting as possible with the heavyweight construction, the ported barrel, and cushioned rubber stocks. This is about as much comfort as we can achieve and still have a packable sixgun.
Nearly all factory sixgun stocks are obviously designed by non-shooters. Most of the stocks are small at the top and big at the bottom, which is obviously backwards to anyone who has ever shot heavy recoiling revolvers. This poor design simply drives the gun down into the hand under recoil. The grips on the Raging Bull have been designed correctly being smaller at the bottom providing a secure grip during recoil.
The .44 Magnum cartridge is now celebrating its Golden Anniversary as the King of the Magnum Sixgun Cartridge Loads. We have seen double action .44 Magnums from the original manufacturer, Smith & Wesson, as well as Ruger, Dan Wesson, Colt, Astra, Llama; and single actions from Ruger, Great Western, Texas Longhorn Arms, Seville, Herter’s, Hawes, as well as various Italian imports. The Raging Bull ranks right up there with the best of them. A few good shooting loads for the Raging Bull .44 are Federal’s 300 Hard Cast for 1260 fps and five shots in 1” at 25 yards; Garrett Cartridges 280 KT-SWC, 1370 fps, 1 3/8”; RCBS 260 Keith over 10. grains of Unique, 1174 fps, 1 ¾”; BRP’s 290 KT-GC also with 10.0 grains of Unique, 1151 fps, 1 ¾”; and Winchester 250 Partition Gold at 1359 fps and a group of 1 3/8”. All groups fired with iron sights. Raging Bull it may be but it certainly tames the .44 Magnum.
33-1) Taurus also offers an ultralight version of their .44 Magnum for easy packing;
the grips are quite comfortable.
33-2) In addition to the standard model and lightweight model, Taurus also offers a
"Buntline” .44 Magnum with a 12” vent ribbed barrel.
33-3) Taffin shooting the Raging Bull .44 Magnum finds it to be one of the easier
33-4) The Dan Wesson .44 Magnum has proven to be an excellent shooting
revolver with various load levels.
33-5) Shooting offhand, two-handed at 100 yards produced this group.
33-6) Garrett Cartridges’ heavy .44 Magnum loads are easily handled by the
33-7) The Taurus .44 Magnum proved to be exceptionally accurate at 100 yards;
stocks are by Hogues.
33-8) The .44 Magnum Raging Bull shoots accurately and relatively comfortably.
33-9) Although it is one of the least expensive .44 Magnums available, the
Taurus .44 delivers excellent accuracy.
33-10) Taffin shooting the Taurus .44 Magnum; is that a .44 Special on his hip?