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Did you ever wish you had one gun that shot ammo in three different calibers? Imagine carrying just one gun to the range but with three different types of ammo. Those of you who own a .357 or .44 Magnum revolver know what I mean, at least as far as the .38/.357 and .44 Spl./Magnum calibers go. You can shoot .38 or .44 Special ammo in your magnum guns. This is not news. But…how about if you were able to bring not only your .38 and .357 ammo, but could include in the range bag 9mm ammo as well?
Rimmed And Rimless – Therein Lies The Problem
It’s fairly easy for a single-action revolver such as the Ruger Blackhawk to be able to do that, since the empties are poked out one at a time by the ejector rod. My .45 Colt Blackhawk does have a .45 ACP cylinder with it. The autoloading round is at least as accurate as the rimmed version in my gun, so this is not news. But – it’s really harder to make a double-action revolver multi-caliber-capable, at least in so far as rimmed/rimless cases go. Pushing on the extractor rod with rimless, semiauto-designed cases in the cylinder just pushes the extractor star past those cases, as there’s no rim to catch. So, we devise some sort of “moon clip” or similar gizmo to load the rimless cases into and then just eject them all with one push of the extractor rod. Again, this is not news. At least as far back as WWI we were loading .45 ACP (rimless) cases into moon clips and thence into revolvers. But…what is news is that there is a double-action revolver that can shoot both rimmed and rimless cases.
Enter The 692
The Taurus 692 allows you to do that, to shoot both rimmed and rimless-cased ammo. With its 10-second, no-tools-needed cylinder swap, you pull out the 7-shot .38/.357 cylinder and stick in the included 7-shot 9mm one. That’s it. Better have some moon clips (Taurus calls then Stellar clips) handy, or at least have a stick to poke the empty 9mm cases out of the cylinder, but that’s a small price to pay for the versatility offered. The change is accomplished by pressing in a button (more below) on the gun’s frame and swapping out the cylinders/yokes.
The Tracker Series
This revolver is a member of the Tracker family. What’s that, you ask? Taurus Trackers are revolvers are meant to go with you as you trek the hills & dales of our great land. Fairly small and compact, these guns are available in black or stainless finishes. (To my mind, if you’re out and about in rough terrain and questionable weather, stainless is the only way to go). Options include the above-mentioned finishes and extend to barrel lengths (2.5, 3 and 6.5 inches). At present, there are six 692 models available in a combination of the barrel lengths and finishes. It is interesting to note that all six of the 692s use an adjustable rear sight. At last Taurus gets it. Being an unrelenting handloader, I know the wide variety of points-of-impact that different loads display among the several handloads I can come up with for each of the three calibers discussed here. An adjustable sight is all but necessary for precise shooting. This gun not being self-defense oriented (not necessarily, at least – it would work fine as a carry gun) but more of a “kit gun”, a fixed sight is not called for. (I know that a lot of concealed carriers opt for guns with fixed, or drift-adjustable, rear sights so things can’t get knocked out of whack. I prefer a good adjustable one on my carry guns but that isn’t always possible). At any rate, these 692s are well suited for the woods, hiking trail or an IWB holster as a carry gun.
Features of the Tracker Series
Other features of the Tracker series include a good, recoil-reducing grip and a ported barrel. If you’ve never shot a heavy-caliber revolver with a ported barrel, you don’t know what you’re missing. I reviewed a Taurus Raging Hunter in .44 Magnum. The ported barrel made it feel like I was shooting .44 Special loads. It took a whole lot of the muzzle rise and palm-whack out of the equation. Of course, the gun’s 55 ounce weight helped, too. It was a very pleasant shooting experience.
Trackers come in the following calibers: 17 HMR, .22LR/.22WMR, .38 Spl./.357 Magnum and .44 Spl/Magnum. That’s quite a line-up. One last detail that I need to include is that not only does the 692 come with an adjustable rear sight as I mentioned above, but all Tracker guns do, as well. This is something fairly new. I’ve been familiar with Taurus revolvers over the years and know that they used to make at least one very-short-barreled Tracker with a fixed rear sight. Those days are gone.
Ok. We’ve looked at the Tracker series in general. What draws our eye on our test sample, this particular 692? Well, to start off with, you notice the short barrel. This gun’s 3-inch barrel is not as short as the available 2.5-inch version, but I would take the 3-incher over the shorter one. It’s a good compromise between a 4-inch and a 2-inch barrel. It just balances better. Other stand-out features would include the rear adjustable sight and the barrel ports, four on each side. Now we get to pick it up. What else do we see or feel? Probably, the “Ribber” grip makes itself known to our hand. The “ribs”, or fins, help hold felt recoil down by flexing a bit when you pull the trigger. Some Taurus owners swear by them while others swear at them. Only you could tell if they’d work for you – you’d have to see what they feel like as you shoot the gun. Another thing I will mention is the weight. When you pick this gun up, you know you’ve gotten hold of something with some heft to it. 35 ounces is a good mid-level weight for a gun but remember, this little guy only has a three-inch barrel unlike some of its 6.5- or 8-inch cousins. The weight is right in your hand, with a little bit of barrel heft – it is not barrel-heavy, but the full-length barrel shroud helps it to “hang” pretty well on target. It balances very well, you might think as you put it down.
The final feature that you’d notice is on the right side of the frame. There’s a button down there, in front of the trigger guard and below the cylinder. You open the cylinder, press the button in and hold it down. Slide the cylinder yoke out of its frame mounting hole. Stick the other cylinder in its place, release the button and close the cylinder and you just performed the equivalent of buying a second gun – you just changed your .357 into a 9mm revolver. It takes longer to write about it than it does to swap cylinders. 9mm wheelguns are all the rage right now. When you could actually buy ammo in a store, you could get 9mm fairly cheaply – a condition hopefully we will return to soon. (This shortage is making reloading a more attractive option – you might think about doing that. I cast bullets from wheel weights, powder coat them and then load them). At any rate, it is SO easy to swap cylinders with this gun that you will probably be shooting all three of its native calibers a lot, not just the .38/.357 variety.
So, we have seen our gun in a bit of detail. How about its specifications? Here you go, from the Taurus website and my notes…
|CALIBER:||357 MAG / 38 SPECIAL +P / 9MM|
|WEIGHT:||31.8 oz., weighed on my digital scale with .357 cylinder inserted|
|BARREL LENGTH:||3" (2.5” and 6.5” available)|
|TRIGGER PULL (measured):||DA, 9 lbs, 4 oz; SA, 5 lbs, 14 oz|
|FRONT SIGHT:||Fixed, orange insert|
|REAR SIGHT:||Adjustable, windage and elevation|
|MSRP:||$691.95 (stainless; matte black is $639.45)|
Here are some pics I took. Most are self-explantory – for the others, I’ll provide a caption
I’m always hesitant to remove the orange safety sticker on the trigger guard.
Taurus “Stellar Clips” … easy to load cartridges into, not so easy to remove the empties. I had to use kitchen knife to pry the cases out of the clip when I was indoors taking these photos.
Uses For This Revolver
Oh boy – one of my favorite parts of a review. I love to read what other reviewers consider what constitutes proper usage for a particular gun. In the same vein, I like to include what I see as some good uses in my own reviews. Let’s check out four ways in which our 692 might be used.
Trail Gun: Its most obvious use is that of a trail gun, or as some call them, kit guns. Whatever you call it, this gun would be right at home on your hip as you retrace Lewis and Clark’s arduous trek, or at least explore the back forty on your uncle’s farm. In my case, I would carry it as I ventured forth over our homestead and the surrounding areas of woods and fields. Its 35-ounce weight is a good balance between too-heavy and reassuring. Any heavier, and you might be better off with a chest holster. The reassuring part is self-explanatory.
Home Defense: OK, so it’s a 7-shooter, not a 17-shooter like a Glock 17. At any rate, it’s very quick into action and easy to use. You don’t have to wonder if its chamber is loaded, or if the magazine’s seated properly, or if… I have absolutely nothing against the venerable 17 or autoloaders in general – I just like wheelguns, too. Keeping this gun handy with an extra speedloader nearby might make for a bit of reassurance, as I mentioned above.
Target/Informal Shooting: These are uses that I need not elaborate on, as these are two areas that are covered by most guns in use today. I thought I would mention it, though, because with the additional 9mm cylinder, your plinking sessions just got ramped up in the “fun” and “interesting” categories. This would be one fun gun to take out plinking. Plus, this is one more reason to get into reloading as I mentioned above – I have ammo to shoot in these lean times because I make my own bullets and load them myself into cartridge cases. It’s not rocket science – maybe you might consider getting into it after reading my brief guide to the world of reloading – check it out. It extends your shooting hobby into other areas.
Self-Defense: Huh? Carry this thing? You’re kidding, right? Well, in a word – no. Many folks carry five- or six-shot revolvers as their main carry gun…why not carry a seven-shooter? With a reload (speedloader or strip) handy, you would be well-armed. Seven rounds of .357, .38 Spl.+P or hot 9mm would do much to discourage a bad guy and cause him to re-think his course of action against you. I know of many semi-autos that are around 1.3 inches wide – what’s another .2 of an inch? And, at 35 ounces plus ammo, it shouldn’t pull your pants down if you wear a good belt. There are IWB holsters that should work for this gun. The 3-inch barrel wouldn’t dig furrows into your leg as some longer-barreled guns are inclined to do. Plus, the orange insert in the front sight ramp catches your eye quickly…I could see this revolver making its way onto my belt, especially in the winter when longer coats, jackets etc. are the norm. You could do worse.
I’m sure you could come up with more uses such as competition/steels challenge or similar pursuits but you get the idea. This little revolver wouldn’t have to spend a whole lot of time in the gun safe – take it out, shoot it, then utilize it for other purposes. I don’t think you’d regret it.
Shooting The 692
I shot all three types of ammo in the test revolver. As you all are most likely aware of, ammo is practically non-existent on dealer’s shelves at the present time, so I dropped back to my default ammo supply – my handloads. I load for all three calibers that this gun handles, a fact that comes in handy when I need to shoot a gun for which I have no ammo. I do understand that my loads are not on the same plane with factory ammo – I am most aware of that – but they do a decent job for most uses. At any rate, here are some targets…
I was not happy with any of these targets – I can usually do better – but, given the time and rain constraints, they’ll have to do. I am really sure that another shooter, with factory ammo, would do better but that wasn’t in the cards. I was just happy to have something, anything, to shoot and also pleased to have one gun that shot all three calibers. As you can see, the groups are all low – the rear sight was all the way down. I didn’t have the time to adjust it and re-shoot, so I just left it where it was.
I approached the .357 load with a bit of trepidation…this is a loading that moves that 160-grain bullet at over 1200 f.p.s. out of a 4- or 6-inch barreled revolver, and over 1100 f.p.s. out of a 2- or 3-inch tube. It speaks with authority. Imagine the smile on my face after sending the first of several .357 Magnum bullets downrange and not having to rub the palm of my shooting hand to get the blood going again…the recoil was no worse than a lot of .38 Spl. +P loads I‘ve shot. I could see shooting this load for a couple of hours and not having to put my hand in traction…it was downright pleasant. That is definitely not my experience with most short-barreled .357s. What saves this gun in terms of recoil are three things… first, the ports. The barrel porting works to keep the muzzle down and the recoil more straight back, but that wasn’t bad. Secondly, the grip is such that recoil is tamed – it works. And last, the weight of the gun helps. This is no 20-ounce lightweight. When you get much over 30 ounces with a .357, you tend to start soaking up some of the felt recoil. So, the gun was pleasant to shoot. After shooting the Raging Hunter .44 Magnum with its ported barrel and then this gun with its ports, I’ve come to be a believer in barrel porting to help mitigate recoil. It just works, as does this little gun…I like it.
So, you’ve always wanted a short-barreled .357? A friend of yours just bought a Ruger SP101 in 9mm and you shot it and liked it? You were just given an ammo box half full of .38 Special cartridges? Well, here you go. Buy one gun to shoot all three types of ammo. You will save money over buying two different guns to shoot those three calibers and have fun doing it. What if you wanted an even shorter barrel, or (going the other way) wanted a gun that would work in the deer woods? The 692 comes, as I mentioned above, in 2.5- and 6.5-inch barrel lengths. Short barrel or long, Taurus has you covered. The adjustable rear sight is a big plus, as is the barrel porting. And, the grip tends to help with recoil.
Taurus is working hard to turn its reputation around and it seems to be working. I like to keep an eye on this company, as I own, and have owned, many different Taurus guns (and Taurus-owned Rossi and Heritage Manufacturing guns, as well). I have had experience with their customer service and it wasn’t pretty, if I am to be honest about it. However, that is beginning to change and I am glad to see it. At least they are trying to address their QC and customer service issues. Having brought out some very popular and highly-acclaimed guns such as the Judge, G3c, PT-92, TX22 and Raging Hunter among others, they are trying to make positive strides in a very competitive industry. If I sound like a cheerleader, that’s not intentional. I might sound like that, but I don’t have a dog in this fight – I don’t work for Taurus in any capacity. I’m just an interested shooter and owner who hopes they can go the rest of the way and build guns that are solid and work every time they need to.
The reason I went into that diatribe-of-sorts is because shooters tend to be sensitive to gun industry news, especially in this day and age of instantaneous communication. They hear about a company’s troubles so some tend to shy away from buying that company’s products. Or, they’ve had first-hand experience (as I did) with less-than-adequate quality control or customer service. On the plus side of the Taurus ledger, I do think this 692 should be a good bet if you are looking for a compact-but-heavy-enough .357 that also shoots .38 and 9mm ammo. With Taurus under new management and presumably charting a different course, hopefully their rough seas are behind them. I just know about that with which I have experience and, in this case,, it’s with this revolver. I like it. I could see carrying it on a hike or into the deer woods as a backup gun. It would also work in a concealed-carry role. I could also see me just taking it “out back“ and ventilating water-filled milk jugs with my cast-bullet reloads. As I like to say, you could sure do a lot worse. If you’ve had experience with one of these, please leave a comment below. As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!