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Old 04-16-2003, 07:41 PM   #1
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Southwest
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Range Report: Taurus Model 431 .44 Special....

Hello. Some years ago, I bought this revolver as the price was right and examination in the gun shop showed it had a pretty good single-action and a usable double-action, though certainly not that of a Smith & Wesson. Unfortunately, S&W did not offer a .44 Special this size. The M431 is a fixed sight, 5-shot double-action revoler, having a 3" shrouded barrel. It is made of stainless steel with trigger, hammer, and internal parts appearing to be hardchromed steel. The pistol came with checkered, wooden grips. (I think they are Goncala Alves, but don't remember for sure.) I quickly replaced them with the black, checkered rubber ones offered by Uncle Mike's, now Butler Creek. The gun is very similar in size to an S&W K-frame.

The Revolver: The revolver is stock with the exception of the stock change mentioned above.


The revolver has small fixed sights and a wide, grooved trigger. The firing pin is frame-mounted. While I don't think that this model is still being produced, they can be found used in gun shops and at very attractive prices. The stainless steel finish is polished on the sides with the top strap and barrel top matte finished. The front sight is serrated.

Ammunition: In today's shooting, the following loads were used:

Average velocities were based on 10-shot strings, fired about 10' from the chronograph.

Triton 165 gr +P Quik Shok:
Average Velocity: 1097 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 34
Std. Deviation: 13

Corbon 180 gr JHP:
This is an older lot of Corbon and the bullet appears to be Hornady's 180 gr XTP. I do NOT know if this bullet is still being used or if they've gone with Sierra bullets as in other calibers.
Average Velocity: 1021 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 28
Std. Deviation: 13

PMC 240 gr SWC: (plated similar to Winchester's "luballoy.")
Average Velocity: 680 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 15
Std. Deviation: 5!!!!!!

PMC 240 gr JHP:
Average Velocity: 867 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 35
Std. Deviation: 13

Handload:
240 gr Rucker CSWC (moly-coated)
7.6 gr Unique
Winchester Large Pistol Primer
Starline Cases
LOA: 1.49"
Average Velocity: 878 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 109 ft/sec!!!!!!!
Std. Deviation: 41

Handload:
240 gr Rainier Plated "Funnel Point" (moly-coated)
7.7 gr Unique
Winchester Large Pistol Primer
Starline Cases
LOA: 1.50"
Average Velocity: 864 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 66
Std. Deviation: 25

Handload:
Speer 200 gr Gold Dot Hollow Point
8.5 gr Unique
Winchester Large Pistol Primer
Starline Cases
LOA: 1.48"
Average Velocity: 933 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 48
Std. Deviation: 20

Handload:
Hornady 180 gr XTP (moly-coated)
9.0 gr Unique
Winchester Large Pistol Primer
Starline Cases
LOA: 1.47"
Average Velocity: 1052 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 57
Std. Deviation: 27

Shooting: Groups fired at both 15 and 25 yards were fired seated and using a 2-hand hold with a rest, single-action. The double-action firing at 10 yards was done standing w/2-hand hold.

15 Yards: Each group consists of five shots.


Windage appears just fine and elevation's fine at this distance. The front sight is small and I did have problems seeing it clearly.

25 Yards: Two groups of 5-shots each were used. At this distance, you can see that with the heavier, slower load, a 6 O'Clock hold would be about right. The faster, lighter load had POI matching POA, at least for this revolver and my eyes.


Even with my less-than-great shooting today, it's obvious that at least this particular gun is dead-on with the faster rounds IF you like a dead-on hold.

10 Yards: 10-shots total were fired standing and using the revolver's double-action with each shot being fired as quickly as I could at least get a "flash sight picture."


The sharper-recoiling Corbon was used as it might be more similar to what would be used in a self-defense situtation.

Observations: First, there were no failures to fire and the primers were dented well and pretty well centered. I do not shoot this revolver much a tall, but it does remain loaded 24/7 as a house gun with a speed loader close to it.

Recoil was not a problem in this gun. While felt recoil is subjective, I would describe this as being like a +P .38 from a K-frame 2" like an S&W Model 10 or 2 1/2" Model 19, but with more muzzle flip and "big bore push." I do heartily recommend the rubber grips. Purchase was very secure and extremely comfortable...to me. The original wood grips banged the base of my thumb. A little reshaping might have solved that problem, but I much prefer and recommend the Uncle Mike's.

Extraction was positive and no cases sliped the ejector star, but you must briskly depress the ejector rod or the cases will NOT fully extract. I had no problem kicking out cases one-handed, but it must be done sharply.


I slowly depressed the ejector rod for this picture. As you can see, the cases didn't make it out. This is similar to the S&W J-frame .38s and their 2 1/2" Model 19. Just remember to "get with the program" and there will be no problems. I had none.

This is not the gun to try and boost to quasi-.44 Magnum velocities. Cylinder walls are thin and the forcing cone is not the heartiest I've seen, but for "sane" loads and probably limited +P commercial use, it should be OK.


Currently, I've been keeping the gun loaded with Triton 165 gr Quik Shok rounds, but was pretty impressed with the Corbon load. Though I suspect it IS, the Corbon box is NOT marked +P like the Triton.


Fired into water, this Corbon 180 gr JHP expanded to 0.60"X 0.59" by 0.44" tall. Recovered weight: 177.4 grains.

As Triton is rumored to be going under and I still have a bit of this left, it might be the next load used for serious purposes in this revolver. Estimated penetration in the water was about 14".

I was rather disappointed in the Speer 200 gr GDHP handload which was increased from my last use where it half-way expanded when fired from a 6 1/2" S&W Model 24. Kicked up to an average speed of 933 ft/sec, expansion was "iffy" in the "scientific mud expansion test."


[i]Two of the bullets expanded pretty well, but the third acted about like the lighter handload fired from the longer bbl of the M24 a time back. I suspect that this one needs about 1,000 ft/sec for reliable expansion, even though Speer recommends it for speeds of LESS than 1100 ft/sec. If I'm correct, this is a fairly narrow velocity range for reliable expansion. (It might be fun to crank this up in my 8 3/8" Model 629 for "explosive" effect on smaller critters. We'll see.)


This was an accurate bullet in the Taurus. I'll try for a little more speed, but might not use this one in the Taurus for longevity concerns.

Triton's Quik Shok expanded in the mud shooting, but none broke into 3 separate pieces as designed. I suspect that the velocity is just not there or perhaps it does better in tissue than in "scientific mud."


I've had good luck with the Quik Shok in 9mm, but am not all that impressed with it in .44 Special.

To me, this is a decent revolver. I do not like the grooved trigger as for me, a smooth, narrow trigger would've been prefered. My major complaint with the revolver are the sights. They're are small and I find them difficult to see in a hurry. Not only is the front sight similar to a nub, it tends to "fade" to my eye. I blackened it with a Marks-A-Lot and that helped. The double-action on this revolver is quite usuable, but it is no Smith & Wesson. Of course, you don't pay as much, either.

So what's it good for? Rightly or wrongly, there are folks who prefer a caliber beginning in a "4." Many of us tend to that with autoloaders so it should not be so surprising that wheel gunners might feel the same way. I like the fact that this is a K rather than N-frame size revolver, even if it does have "only" 5-shots. It is NOT the revolver for a SWAT officer facing a clandestine lab full of suspects, nor is it for taking out hordes of advancing enemy soldiers! I think it makes a viable house gun or one for the private citizen concerned with facing one or two punks intent on doing him or her with bodily harm. I personally think that in this size handgun, one's better served with something like a Commander, but if you don't like or trust autos, this is a sensible choice in my view. The PMC 240 gr PMC JHP is not that much different than 230 gr ball from a 5" .45 auto, as I truly don't expect the former to expand and the Corbon 180 gr JHP is sort of in the same "ballistic ball park" as the 185 gr JHPs available in "forty-five auto." You do have but 5-shots before a reload is mandatory, but it I THINK 5 well-placed shots will be sufficient for most situations that I, as a private citizen, might face. (NO! I emphatically do NOT favor limiting magazine size and strongly oppose the '94 Crime Law's ban on these magazines.)


I could sure be wrong, but I've generally thought that we run out of time before we run out of ammo in most deadly force scenarios. I also believe that most folks will wait too long to defend themselves against deadly threats. We've been taught all our lives to harm no one and this mind set's honorable, but must be overcome when dealing with violent predators. Otherwise, none of the rest matters.

I see this pistol as something for the hiker or camper wanting "something" not too "big," but capable of handling most critters, regardless of the number of legs, in the lower 48 states. It's a plinker, but will never be used for formal bullseye or IPSC competition, but primarily, it's a defensive arm......and the sights damned sure won't snag!


Even without the "best" defensive tool, a person using proper tactics and his head might well prevail against an aggressor. Still, there's a "luck factor" in any defensive situation and therefore, a roll of the dice.

There have been quite a few complaints about Taurus revolvers, but I've had no problems with them in my admittedly limit experiences with them.
This one's given perfect reliability. Should you opt for one, I'd suggest firing it quite a bit with lighter rounds like the PMC 240 gr SWC. Once the gun appears to be working fine shot after shot, you might fire a few of your chosen defensive load and then then clean it meticulously. Every so often, the pistol could be shot with the warmer loads, but do suggest that its primary diet be standard pressure .44 Special.

Best.
 
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Old 04-16-2003, 08:06 PM   #2
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Join Date: Sep 2001
Posts: 883
Another great writeup. Thanks Stephen. Nice watch also :wink:
 
Old 04-16-2003, 08:30 PM   #3
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Join Date: Mar 2001
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Posts: 2,371
Hello and thank you.

Best.

PS: The watch belonged to my father.
 
Old 08-22-2003, 04:04 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: California
Posts: 12
I was happy to see Mr. Camp reviewing the Taurus 431 .44 Special revolver.

I bought a 431 at the time Taurus was discontinuing them. It's a 4" blue steel version. I got it for $149 brand new in the box. For that price, I couldn't pass it up.

After I got the revolver, I had a local gunsmith do a duty tune on it (smooth, but no spring lightening) and remove the single action sear, rendering the gun DAO. I also put Taurus factory rubber grips on the gun. The revolver is loaded for home defense with Glaser Blue Tips. If I carry it, I change over to CCI Blazer Gold Dot HPs (200-grain).

The 431 is a reliable, reasonably accurate shooter. Because of its construction and operation with coil springs, it will never be as smooth as a Smith revolver, but it's satisfactory for the job it is required to do. Shooting it with the Blazer loads was pretty punishing with the factory wood grips, which is why I changed over to the factory rubber grips; however, I think I will probably try the Uncle Mike's grips referred to by Mr. Camp for additional recoil control.

My spouse, while a vocal supporter of the 2nd Amendment, is not particularly gun savvy and is actually not all that interested in firearms. She owns one gun, a 2" Smith J-frame, with which she is very accurate. She understands the revolver manual of arms very well, but does not want to be bothered to learn the more complex manual of arms associated with automatics. For that reason, the HD guns are revolvers. I particularly like the fact that she can grab this 431 if it happens to be the closest gun, use it effectively and handle it safely.

Thanks for the excellent report, Mr. Camp. I like my 431 a lot and it's a keeper as far as I am concerned.

Bob
 
Old 08-22-2003, 06:40 PM   #5
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Southwest
Posts: 2,371
Hello, sir, and thank you very much. I'm glad the report was of interest and use.

Best.
 
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