Two interesting sporting revolvers in .44 Magnum caliber: the Taurus Tracker National Match, available in two different barrel lengths
I received two Taurus Tracker National Match double-action revolvers in .44 Magnum caliber for testing. This line of revolvers is named after the Camp Perry National Match that is held in the U.S. ever since 1903, with over 6.000 handgun and rifle shooters participating every year.
The Taurus Tracker National Match .44 Magnum caliber revolvers are available with 4" or 6.5" barrels lenghts.
Both models come with the same issued set of accessories: a user manual in English, Spanish, and Portuguese; a synthetic cleaning brush; an orange empty cylinder indicator ring that dubs as a safety flag; a rubber protector for the adjustable rear sight; a screwdriver for the adjustment of the sights; an Allen key for the removal of the rubberized grip and a second key for the screw that dubs as a manual hammer safety.
The Tracker National Match revolvers are built on the Taurus Compact frame – compact in that it's dimensioned for 5-shots cylinders, which in the case of a .44 Magnum keeps the overall dimensions of the firearm down.
Both the barrel and the frame are manufactured out of stainless steel, with a matte stainless finish.
At a glance
The Taurus Tracker grip shape features no finger grooves, but nonetheless it will fit the size and shape of any hand.
The neoprene grip overmold features deep horizontal cuts that make it erven softer, more comfort and practical to hold. But practically speaking, this is still a .44 Magnum revolver and maintaining control over the grip still requires some level of experience.
Both models come with eight-holes ported barrels that reduce muzzle climb when firing.
The ergonomically-shaped cylinder release lever is located at easy thumb reach – a good compromise between shape, dimension and position, it's never in the way when firing and is easy and practical to operate when necessary.
The Taurus Tracker National Match revolvers all come with a fixed front sight equipped with an orange high-visibility insert, and with a sporting-type rear sight that's adjustable for windage and elevation.
The rear sight comes with a white square line for fast alignment with the front sight.
Adjustment clicks are well audible and the rear sight will keep steady; no movement has been detected all through our test.
The high visibility orange insert on the front sight allows faster target engagement – quite a useful feature for sport shooting.
The two samples we tested had fairly similar triggers, although the 4" barrel variant seemed to sport a slightly smoother double action trigger pull.
I have measured the trigger weigth on both models, with the following average measurements:
4" barrel model
2,3 kg / 5 lbs in single action
4,7 kg / 10.36 lbs in double action
6.5" barrel model
2,5 kg / 5.51 lbs in single action
5,1 kg / 11.24 lbs in double action
We measured a trigger travel of approximately 3mm / 0.11" in single action and approximately 13 mm / 0.51" in double action for both models. The large and smooth-surfaced trigger is quite apt to double-action shooting, as it allows a natural proper trigger placement during the rearwards movement of the transfer bar.
Talking of safeties on a revolver may sound odd, but the Taurus Tracker National Match revolvers have them indeed.
The automatic safety system is activated by a classic transfer bar ignition system that engages only when the hammer is cocked and the shooter is applying pressure on the trigger.
When the hammer is down, the transfer bar remains disengaged and the hammer can't physically reach the firing pin.
However, shooters should never forget Jeff Cooper's four rules of gun safety, and should follow them strictly at all times to stay safe from accidental or negligent discharges, regardless of the safety features on their firearms.
Those revolvers come with a manual safety device – dubbed the Taurus Security System – consisting in a key-actuated grub screw located right behind the trigger. Using the factory-issued key, the shooter can twist it clockwise to make it pop out from its seat, preventing the hammer from being cocked.
Manual safeties of this kind – whose purpose is to allow a gun owner to temporarily deactivate his or her firearms – are mandatory in some jurisdictions in the United States, but their usefulness is a matter for debate. In my opinion, that depends vastly from the environment.
If a firearm is kept in an environment where it must not be always ready to use and there are children or untrained persons in the house, this kind of device will vastly increase the safety of the firearm during storage. But if the firearm is kept in an environment where no particular precautions are necessary, or if immediate use could be necessary at any moment, these devices are better kept deactivated and their keys kept in a drawer.
The .44 Remington Magnum cartridge – one of the most powerful and accurate handgun calibers currently available, also commonly used on carbines and light rifles – was invented by Elmer Keith in the early 1950s, based on the .44 Smith & Wesson Special round.
The .44 Magnum was later commercially developed by Remington to be used on the Smith & Wesson revolvers built around the massive N-frame – most notably the legendary Smith & Wesson Model 29 – which was necessarily sturdy to withstand the pressure levels generated by such a powerful cartridge.
The .44 Remington Magnum cartridge can push a 240-grains ball at a velocity level of around 480 meters per second (about 1574 feet per second), developing around 180 kgm / 1765 Joules of energy. All revolvers chambered in .44 Magnum can still use the less powerful .44 Special round.
Commercial .44 Special rounds generally use 240 grains bullets, pushed at about 280 meters per second (918 feet per second), which will still develop high levels of energy – most times well over the 60 kgm / 688 Joules threshold. But very hot .44 Special loads can almost match the performance of their Magnum sister.
Our shooting test
Tested at the range, the Taurus Tracker National Match revolvers confirmed my expectations. Given the low weight, even with their ported barrels and even just with standard commercial loads both models will still return generous levels of recoil and muzzle climb.
For recreational shooting or training, I'd kindly suggest shooters to use light loads or .44 Special ammunition. In those cases when the gun could be used to save your life – from a Grizzly bear, probably – then you're clear to go for hotter .44 Magnum loads.
But after all, recoil is a personal sensation that may vary depending from a shooter's own experience with a particular firearm, the initial feeling of comfort (or lack thereof) when handling it, and his or her build. In any case, shooting with a .44 Magnum revolver requires experience and diligence.
The shape and material of the grip requires some amount of training to master, and will initially give the sensation of the gun wavering in the shooter's hands.
I could definitely do better than the groups I got with the Taurus Tracker National Match .44 Magnum revolvers. The single-action trigger weight ranges around 2,5 kg (approximately 5.5 pounds) and is not exactly adequate for precision shooting.
The bright orange insert in the front sight can definitely facilitate quick target alignment and help the shooters in strong front light conditions. But if the shooter has a strong light source on his or her back – as it was my case – the white finish of the gun and the excessive brightness of the insert will actually make aiming harder. As a result, my groups came out a little bit wider than I'd liked.
But since .44 Magnum revolvers are mainly intended for personal defense against malevolent four-legged or two-legged beings, a slightly less accurate but faster target acquisition is preferable. Shooters seeking to increase contrast among the front and the rear sights can adopt makeshift expedients; personally, I use a black marker on the rear portion of both sights, on all my guns.
Main intended use
In the United States, the Taurus Tracker revolvers have been popular for sport shooting, personal and property protection, and even hunting for a number of years. That's no surprise – revolvers are just that versatile.
Revolvers can easily handle all kinds of handloaded ammunition, allowing shooters to adapt the power of their ammunition and have effective personal or home defense loads and lighter loads, even using Wadcutter balls, for training, competition or leisure shooting – quite a funny activity, with a .44 Magnum! Some slight modifications to the trigger will make the Taurus Tracker National Match revolvers apt for competition shooting in those specialties that allow the use of the .44 Magnum.
In those places where large dangerous animals can attack at any time, even close to urban areas or human dwellings, having a powerful revolver such as any of these Taurus Tracker National Match models can make a difference; in those cases, the recoil and muzzle climb of .44 Magnum would be the last of our problems.
But after all, you may just want to get a Taurus Tracker National Match revolver just because... it's cool to have one!
Taurus Tracker NM - Technical specs
Taurus Tracker National Match
.44 Remington Magnum
Automatic transfer bar firing pin safety, manual Taurus Safety System
4" or 6.5", ported
Rear sight adjustable for windage and elevation
Fixed ramped front sight, with high-visibility insert
- 229 mm / 9" (4" model)
- 292,5 mm / 11.51" (6.5" model)
- 825 g / 29.1 oz (4" model)
- 1.036 g / 36.54 oz (6.5" model)
Stainless steel with matte brushed finish
- €939.00 for both versions (Prima Armi, Europe)
- $693.02 (4" version, U.S.A.)
- $741.86 (6.5" version, U.S.A.)