My experiences with a Taurus 85UL
Previously Posted on Another Forum I no longer go to.
With updates added.
Taurus 85 Ultra-Lite, Stainless Steel
I had been yearning for a snubby revolver in 38 Special +P for some time now. Summer is coming and it gets really hot and muggy here in the south and it becomes very difficult to conceal anything well. My tax refund had arrived the previous week and I had a little extra cash for discretionary spending. It was Friday, 3 April, 2009 and I had just gotten off work so off to the local gun shop I go!
I've owned Smith & Wesson revolvers before (large frames) and I was familiar with their quality and intended to give my attention to the S&W snub-nose models. They were nice but the little birdie on my shoulder kept whispering in my ear, cheap cheap… cheap cheap. On average, each Taurus model was from $100 to $140 less than its comparable S&W cousin. I was willing to consider a Taurus because I had heard so much about how they had improved so greatly over the years from their past quality troubles. In the end they (Taurus 85UL and the little birdie) got me. It was $349 + tax.
I took home the Taurus 85 Ultra-Lite, Stainless Steel with 2-inch barrel. The barrel shroud is labeled just ".38 SPECIAL" but their web page clearly states that it is +P rated. It is double action only (DAO) with the concealed hammer that follows along the contour of the frame. It sports the now standard rubber boot grips with finger groove and a handy & comfortable palm swell. It is comfortable enough to hold in spite of my pinky finger dangling in the air, which I hate on a semi-auto but don't seem to mind as much here. The front and rear sights are both fixed. There just isn't any room to put anything adjustable there.
It has the 'key' safety lock on the back of the concealed hammer. I played with it for a while to see how it worked but probably will never use it. Turning the key raises the lock out from the hammer and stops it from opening far enough to cock and fire by butting against the frame. Simple and effective. It comes with 2 keys.
It is a nice looking little revolver that has the Taurus Ultralite-Alloy frame that is a light silver color with a matt finish. The barrel shroud, cylinder and cylinder hinge are a darker 'gray' color that does not show as well in the picture as in person (sort of a two tone if you will). Inserted in the barrel shroud is the 'bright' stainless steel barrel. Actually, when comparing my revolver to the pictures on Taurus' web site it looks more like the Titanium model and the Titanium model is the only one on their web site that sports the concealed hammer. It would also be more in line with the weight I got on the kitchen scale. But I certainly did not pay the Titanium price. It was at least $150 more.
Taurus International Manufacturing Inc
Taurus' web site reports the 85UL SS 2-inch as weighing 17 ounces. The only scale I have in the house is a food scale in the kitchen, not the greatest but it'll do. It shows the little Taurus weighing in at somewhere between 14 ˝ and 15 ounces empty (they are cheap scales), did I mention the little birdie that sits on my shoulder? Add 5 rounds of Speer Gold Dot 38 Special +P, 135 grain and she weighed in at about 17 ˝ ounces.
Off to the indoor range. That night I shot the following due to time constraints.
35 rounds of Remington 38 Special, 130gr. FMJ
25 rounds of Magtech 38 Special +P, 158gr. SJHP
The little Taurus felt surprisingly good for as small as it is, I think the palm swell in the grip helps a lot. The trigger is a long DAO pull but smooth and was not a big problem. At only 15 feet it was accurate enough, but I'm inexperienced with snubbies so only time will tell for sure. Everything went well without a problem.
Note for future reference: HOLD TIGHT onto that grip when firing +P ammo, it rocks!
I didn't get around to cleaning it until Wednesday Night. It was a little tough cleaning it with Rem-Oil, all the residue didn't come off. Oh well, I'll get it later with some Hoppes #9. I wiped it down and loaded it with some ammo to put it in the armoire for an emergency grab.
The cylinder wouldn't close. Shake it a little and try again, still won't close. Maybe the rounds aren't seated in the cylinder right. Looks OK, still won't close. Removed the ammo, cylinder closes fine. Opened the cylinder again, inserted the ammo. Close the cylinder, it still won't close. Frustration! I held it up to the light sideways while trying to close the cylinder, Uh-Oh! The firing pin is still forward! Took the ammo out. Pushed on the firing pin. It was lose but stayed inside the frame. I closed the cylinder and dry fired it. The firing pin remained forward again. I thought, man! I broke the firing pin! I couldn't get to the gun shop until Saturday but I called them ahead of time. The man on the phone said to bring it in and let their gunsmith look at it, it may be something simple.
Simple! My firing pin broke!
I thought, 'my snubby is a week old with less than a hundred rounds through it and it's DEAD'!
So I fretted until Saturday and took it in. The gunsmith was very understanding of my concern and he opened it right there at the counter in the middle of the store, that's where his work bench is (I just thought that was strange). He started taking little bitty parts out and when he got to the firing pin the spring was compressed and would not push out. A little wiggle work and it came off and he found a small sliver of metal had gotten in between the spring and the firing pin and jammed itself compressed. The piece of metal was not brass which was my first thought but we could not determine where it came from. Nothing appeared to be damaged or missing. OK, I'm a little shook but relieved.
He asked me if I had been dry firing it. I said yes a little. He looked me in the eye and said "don't dry fire a Taurus". That didn't make me feel comfortable. He put it back together and then he… DRY FIRED IT! I guess you have to make sure it does function. I thanked him and left thinking that the next time I take it to the range I probably should wear full body armor and a welder's helmet.
Tuesday I took it back to the indoor range, without the welder's helmet, and fired the following;
50 rounds of Atlantic Arms (cheapo) 38 Special, 130gr. FMJ WC
15 rounds of Remington 38 Special, 130gr. FMJ
25 rounds of Magtech 38 Special +P, 158gr. SJHP
No problems noted. Man, it's getting dirty.
Thursday after work, it's time to try cleaning it again. I got all my gun cleaning paraphernalia set out on the dining room table including the Hoppes #9 (there's no one here to object). :0)
I gave it a thorough cleaning and really scrubbed out the barrel and chambers. But getting the chamber end of the barrel and the front of the cylinder clean is proving to be tough. I used a medium stiff toothbrush and scrubbed them with the Hoppes. The barrel end got a little better but the cylinder face was having non of that. I scrubbed and scrubbed but the cylinder now has 'raccoon eyes' around each chamber.
Going back to Taurus' web site, the data says the frame is constructed of Ultralite-Alloy and in a separate entry it states that the "finish" is stainless steel. Does this mean that the finish is a coating? And that I have burned the coating around the chambers of the cylinder by using +P ammo and that it will forever have 'raccoon eyes'? If I use a stiffer brush perhaps brass or bronze, will it take the finish right off the metal? There are several places where they could have been a little more attentive to detail, like rough edges at the back of the frame cutout for the cylinder. A small file may do the trick but then, will this remove the finish and start a process of the finish peeling back from the frame?
I've been told one can remove the 'eyes' with various semi/abrasive cleaners but decided against it.
I've since learned better about this but, looking back it is kind of humorous. :embarassed:
But here is the kicker, take a look at the front of the cylinder hinge. See that black speck? That is a hole! An air bubble hole? I took a straight pin and inserted it into the hole without any resistance whatsoever. Then I used some needle nose pliers to hold the pin, marking the depth as I pulled it out. It measured almost exactly half an inch.
The gun handles well but the perceived quality questions are making me nervous. I was thinking that 300 trouble free rounds would be proof of its worthiness, but now I thinking… maybe a trade is in my future?
The old adage still holds true, even for cheapskates, "you get what you pay for"!
All in all, the little Taurus will probably suffice for its purpose but in the back of my mind I keep thinking…
'You should have gotten the Smith'.
If that little birdie ever sets down on your shoulder…
She did it again! a couple days ago. The firing pin spring got stuck again during a run at the range. It's going back.
A check at the Taurus web site appears to require me to pay shipping to get it to them. I'm going to call them Monday to see for sure. I certainly don't feel that I should have to pay to send it since it is so new. When this all over, lil'miss 85UL is going to find a new home.
Well I did not send it in the last time. I had thought that since it appeared to clear itself there was no need and if I had no more problems with it, it would be OK.
A few days ago I was at the range spending some money. She quit again. I took it to gun store where I bought it and had it shipped back to Taurus for a broken transfer bar. I'll let you know when I have an update. This is not looking good.