Magnum Opus III: Enter the Bull

As it turns out, my experience with the Nano wasn’t the only surprising discovery I made at the range today. You see, in addition to his brand-new Beretta, my friend also brought along his .357 Magnum revolver. It was a Taurus-manufactured clone of a Smith & Wesson K-frame. I’m not sure of the exact model, but the equivalent S&W would be the Model 66: a stainless-steel gun with target sights. His gun sported a four-inch barrel and wooden grips.

Now as you probably remember, for me the .357 Magnum has proven to be very much an acquired taste. I had a very unpleasant experience with a Smith & Wesson 686P, and then a sorta-kinda enjoyable one with a Ruger GP100. When my friend mentioned he’d be bringing it to the range, I asked if he wouldn’t mind bringing some .38 Special ammo too. Yes, I am a wimp.

Anyway, we opened our range session with the Taurus. The two of us took turns putting a cylinder of .38 Special at a time through the gun. Then after maybe 2/3 of the box, my friend loaded up the .357s. He put all six down range no problem, then turned and asked if I wanted to try it. I didn’t really want to, seeing as how that Taurus would be the lightest .357 Magnum I’ve shot by a decent margin. The Ruger LCR doesn’t count, as I only shot standard-pressure .38 Specials through it. But I wasn’t about to wuss out in front of my friend, so I loaded up one round, took careful aim, braced myself for pain, and fired.

Wait… what the… ? That didn’t hurt at all!

I immediately loaded up a full cylinder and put all six shots downrange fairly quickly. And while I definitely felt each and every shot, none of them were really painful at all. I was actually enjoying the .357s! Quite a lot!

I’m chalking this up to one, possibly two things. First and foremost is the Taurus’ aforementioned wooden grips. They were identical, or at least very similar, to the old Smith & Wesson “Target” or “Magna” grips.  They were checkered, and very wide & girthy, very hand-filling.  I was able to really hold onto the pistol when I was shooting, much better than I was able to even with the GP100.  The second possible reason was the ammo. With both the 686P and GP100, I was shooting American Eagle 158-grain Jacketed Soft Points. The ammo my friend had brought with him was PMC Bronze 158-grain JSP. I don’t know if the PMC is loaded a little lighter than the American Eagle or not, but it is a possibility.

Unfortunately, those seven rounds were all the .357 Magnum I was able to shoot today. It turns out that my friend’s Taurus was suffering from a mechanical issue. Three of the chambers would index smooth as butter, but the other three would drag. Two weren’t so bad, but the third felt like it was going to lock up. Took a great deal of effort, either by pulling the trigger or cocking the hammer, to get the cylinder to lock up. I didn’t mention it before, but the GP100 I fired was afflicted with this same issue, only the GP100 had it much worse. On that gun, you could actually hear a sharp metallic screech! when you indexed the cylinder. The Taurus was nowhere near that bad, but at the same time the problem was getting noticeably worse.

We’re not sure exactly what it is, and I’m 99% sure it won’t make the gun explode in his hand, but we both agreed that my friend should get the Taurus checked out by a gunsmith. So our time with the Taurus ended after my seven shots, my friend put another six through it, and we agreed that yeah, this isn’t good. He decided to put the Taurus away, and I didn’t argue. Like I said, I’m 99% sure the gun is safe to fire, but like I said, the problem was getting worse. Better stop shooting it then and cut our fun short temporarily than keep shooting and have the gun lock up on us completely.

But despite my aborted time with it, I really, really enjoyed shooting the .357 Magnum. So much so that I’ve decided that I’m definitely going to add one to my collection… someday. I’m thinking a Smith & Wesson K-frame (the genuine article, not a clone), but no matter what model I get, if it doesn’t come with nice, girthy wooden grips, I’ll be adding a set ASAP.

Going to the range with a very good friend, finding my future carry piece, AND learning to love the .357 Magnum, all in the same range session? Yeah, I’d say today was a very good day.

Until next time, peace.

-Raptor

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