Some time back, I came into a trade that included a rather plain-looking 38 Special revolver. A Taurus, it was not of recent manufacture. Exactly how old it was took some research, unfruitful until I called in a favor.
It was interesting in its simplicity; a three-inch tapered barrel, stocks that are similar in appearance to S&W’s “Magna” service stocks on its square butt, fixed sights. The trigger is grooved and the flutes in the cylinder are grooved too – not sure why. The muzzle end of the tapered barrel has a line around it, making it appear to be a sleeved barrel. I don’t believe it’s anything more than cosmetic.
I tried to shoot it when it first arrived, but found the lack of a grip adapter allowed the trigger guard to rap my knuckle. I put everything on hold until I found a grip adapter for K-frame revolvers. It was a newer version of an old classic grip adapter.
Styled like the Tyler T-Grip, it’s a two-clip grip adapter of polymer instead of metal. Available from BK Grips, they are available for Colt “D” and “E” frames as well as S&W J-frames and the K-L-N frames, in either ivory or black. I placed a BK Grip Adapter on the Model 80 – I’d determined the model number – and found it was a good fit.
Contacts with Taurus customer service were unproductive and the fine folks at Media Direct Creative intervened on my behalf.
The gun was indeed determined to be the Model 80, this three-inch version made in 1972. The Model 80 was the oldest Taurus model, according to Jacob’s source, who advised the line was launched in 1942. They were made in 2-inch, 2 ½”, 3-inch, 4-inch and six-inch versions.
The line was phased out in 1980. It appears the current Model 82 is the successor to the line of fixed-sight 38 revolvers.
It seems many people assume that the Taurus revolver is a knock-off of the S&W Hand Ejector line. While the thumb latch appears similar and the guns are of like size, there are internal differences and the parts do not interchange. I took the M80 to the range along with an “evidence locker special,” a 1980s vintage S&W Model 64. A four-inch heavy barrel 38, it has Pachmayr “Gripper Professional” stocks as well as a stylish evidence/case number, placed with an electric engraver, under the trigger guard.
Placing an NRA B-8 repair center and standing off fifteen yards, I tried a slowfire group with the 47-year old Taurus revolver. The ammo was CorBon 147 grain FMJ target .38 ammo. It felt stout in the old gun. The tiny front sight, reminiscent of pre-1990s snub J-frame sights, was hard to see against the shaded part of the target. The group wasn’t great – nor was the trigger press, but it was manageable and “good enough.” I immediately tried the same stunt with the S&W Model 64. The heavier barrel, better (though still “fixed”) sights, smooth faced trigger and better trigger press gave me a group that clustered just inside the Taurus’ group.
It was a wash. The groups were nearly identical.
I did a variation of the Five-Yard Roundup on a clean bullseye using the Taurus first. The ammo was factory remanufactured by a company long out of business. It featured 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter bullets. While not as light as match target full-wadcutter ammo, it was loaded lighter than the old CorBon range stuff.
Without a holster, I ran the drill from low-ready. I found the first hit out of the Taurus went way high into the “7” ring. I’d pointed the gun without visual confirmation on the front sight. It was the last time I made that mistake, ending with a 94/100.
Using the M64 – and having learned from my first mistake – I repeated the performance with the same ammo, yielding a 97/100.
What does that tell me about the vintage Bull? Well, it shoots well enough. It’s old enough I won’t run +P ammo through it and I won’t carry it. It’s an interesting artifact of an earlier time.
- - Rich Grassi