Why I don’t work on Taurus revolvers.

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Occasionally someone will call or email: “I’m looking for a good gunsmith – do you work on Taurus revolvers?” When I politely inform the person that I do not, the result is often indignance, as if to say “how dare you decline to work on my fine possession! You have insulted me, suh!” (Delivered in the best antebellum manner, of course.)

Taurus revolvers possess many positive traits: they’re available in a wide variety of calibers and configurations, they are usually fairly reliable, and they are priced right. Unfortunately, it’s that last bit that gets me into trouble.

You see, the most expensive part of building a handgun, particularly a revolver, is the finishing work. You can’t automate the polishing process, and Taurus revolvers are generally very well polished and finished. Given their low price point, this means that finishing is a large percentage of the purchase price. This means that they have to skimp somewhere, and the place that they do is in parts fitting.

Taurus guns have parts that simply do not fit as tightly – as precisely – as some other manufacturers. Yes, you can do a shadetree action job, maybe swap springs, and improve the action – but it will never be truly ‘great’ without rebuilding the gun.

I’ve purchased more than a few Taurus revolvers (Taurii??) to work on, to evaluate. While I like the guns (the now-discontinued model 445 is really neat, and I carry it occasionally) the effort to put a truly world-class action job on one results in huge labor costs.

Look at it this way: if you want a top-end wheelgun you have to pay for fitting parts at some point. With a Taurus, it doesn’t happen at the time of purchase; it can only occur in the gunsmith’s hands, which drives the cost up considerably. Like the folks who commissioned custom Norinco 1911s about a decade ago, what you end up with is a really expensive $300 gun that no one wants to buy.

I have a finite amount of time to spend, and I’d rather spend it working on revolvers that will actually see an increase in value after quality work has been done. That may sound arrogant, but I suspect their owners share my point of view. That value increase just won’t happen with a Taurus, because after all is said and done it’ll still be a Taurus: a good gun for the money you spend, just not a good candidate for customization.

-=[ Grant ]=-


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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  1. Stefano  October 8, 2015

    Good morning Sir, I find very useful and clear your article.

    I want to praise your care regarding the correct use of the plural related to the latin word “Taurus”: in this case, because “Taurus” is a commercial trademark, it’s right to use its singular form. Intstead, for eaxample, if you would like to speak about the ancient Celtic people that found the Italian city of Turin, you have to use the plural form “Tauri”, with just one -i- at the end; this is a noun belonging to the second masculin declension, the meaning is “Bull”.

    I would like to add also other tips:

    Forum Fora
    Curriculum Curricula
    Scenario Scenari (this is not Latin, instead it’s modern Italian noun)

    Many thanks for sharing and best regards from Italy.

  2. Ed Harris  August 31, 2015

    My experience has been that people are willing to spend more for a solidly built, plain vanilla, but good quality used gun that works, than for a fancy new one that requires constant care and doesn’t work for you out of the box without a “break in” period or modification by supporting a growth industry of after-market products. I don’t know how it is in your part of the country, but my observation has been that the reason you don’t see as many used Rugers in gunshops as you do Smith & Wessons is that the people who own them don’t get rid of them. They may not be fancy, but they work. They also stand up to alot of use and soldier on with minimal attention.

    A Ruger may not be as nicely finished or have as good a trigger pull as an old Colt or current S&W, but if you want a solidly built, durable and safe gun for the dollar value, a used Ruger, if you are lucky enough to find one, is almost always a safe bet. I hasten to add that for any carry piece a gunsmith inspection is mandatory unless you are a factory-trained armorer yourself. But my observation has also been that you seldom find a used Ruger that is mechanically unsafe or nonfunctional. Parts and factory service may not be available on some discontinued models, but if your choice is still in production, in the very rare worst case has something wrong with it, if the factory can fix it, they will, at reasonable cost and turnaround, and sometimes for free.

  3. Gerald Herrin  August 30, 2015

    I meant “conceal and carry”.

  4. Gerald Herrin  August 30, 2015

    very well, I own a Taurus .38 Special. I bought it a few years ago when money was tight (three children in school). The revolver has been reliable, and I’ve had no problems. I keep it because in an isolated country own, a dog who barks loudly. I have looked Rugers, maybe I should go with a Smith&Wesson. I don’t know. Any suggestions? The kids are gone, the budget is stabilized but I still don’t want to pay an exorbitant price, especially if name is the selling point.Any suggestions. I’m also considering a corneal and carry permit here in Missouri.

    • Grant Cunningham  August 30, 2015

      “especially if name is the selling point”

      I’m aware of no revolvers on the market for which that is true. The reason S&W guns cost more than Taurus guns is simple: their construction is better.

      You won’t go wrong with either Ruger or S&W. What model you choose is dependent on your carry conditions and your shooting ability, but it’s hard to buy a lemon from either.

    • Steven  October 2, 2015

      Regardless of who makes it a 38 is better than a slingshot. Beretta had a contract with Breazil’s armed forces ad found it was more cost effective to build a factory in Brazil than to manufacture them in Italy and ship them to Brazil.When the contract expired Beretta sold the factory to what would become Taurus. Most of the machinery and factory equipment was worn out and was not within tolerances of building a quality firearm. They did nothing about this issue and alienated many gun owners, myself included. The factory was sinking fast when it was purchased by a group of investors who came in and cleaned house from the engineers to the equipment.1 thing still is every Taurus you look at has a “familiar” design. They reverse engineer many firearms and make their version of them. Their quality has improved greatly. I have many friends with Taurus’s. I am a Smith and Wesson and Sig Sauer man myself but Taurus has improved greatly and are an excellent entry level firearm. A well placed round from a Taurus makes you just as dead as one from a Sig Sauer. With a personnel or home defense weapon you want a reliable firearm as 1 failure can cost you and those you love more than money can replace. Sig Sauer has a logo “To hell and back reliability”. 99.9999% will never use our firearms for anything except a paper punch. A revolver is a very simple tool, so you will probably be fine with one. 16.7% of police hit their intended target in an emergency situation. As you are firing you are firing to get to cover which is reverse of the ARMY and the USMC that is an offensive situation. Once again any firearm is better than nothing but if you can afford a Sig or a Kimber, Glock, Smith and Wesson get one, if not at least you have something. As I say a revolver is a very simple machine . 20 years ago somebody was telling me about Glock and composite firearms I laughed and said never in my collection. I was very very wrong.

  5. Hugh Jeffert  August 23, 2015

    Sounds reasonable.


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