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Raise your hand if you’ve always wanted a neat little .22 revolver that didn’t take up much room and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. Add in accurate and reliable, and we have a winnah! The Taurus 942 is just such a critter.
Why Would I Want One?
I had requested this gun from Taurus to test earlier this year, but the virus thing disrupted plans and it took a while to get it. When I picked the gun up at friend Duane’s gun shop, I was impressed by two things…first, that it had actually arrived and second, that it felt really good in my hand and I couldn’t wait to shoot it. Why was I so keen on this little guy? Because it’s so versatile. Read on…
Uses For A Small Rimfire Revolver
Introduced at this year’s SHOT Show, this little gun fulfills a few handgun usage roles.
First and foremost, it’s a great kit gun. What is a kit gun, you ask? Well, my idea of a kit gun is a gun (revolver, mostly) that you can pack along on a hike, in a canoe or boat, in a tackle box or anywhere you go where you might have a need for a small, light, accurate gun. Light is essential – you don’t want to be listing to port or starboard from the three-pound hunk of iron situated in your backpack or on your hip. Accurate is a given – who wants to pack an inaccurate gun? As noted firearms expert, author and hunter Col. Townsend Whelen said, “only accurate rifles are interesting” – I might paraphrase it as “only accurate guns are interesting.” Another thing that puts this gun firmly in the kit gun/carry-it-a-lot column is the fact that it is a .22. You can carry a lot of .22 ammo and not be weighed down like you might be if you were carrying 9mm, .38/357 or .45 ACP ammo. A 50-round box of .22 LR is not too large and doesn’t weigh much. One last thought in the kit gun category – you could even use it on your trap line as you run your traps – this would be a great gun for that purpose. It’s not really a hunting gun, but for trappers it should work well.
A second use for this gun is that of plinker. Plinking is a time-tested way to pass an afternoon outdoors, taking informal shots at tin cans, dirt clods, or anything that moves or explodes when you hit it. Plinking could even incorporate paper targets, but reactive objects are more interesting. The 942 would be a lot of fun with its 8-shot cylinder and 25-ounce weight – no recoil to speak of.
Third, I would use it as a pest eliminator. Just last night we found a dead weasel in our yard, dispatched by our intrepid feline hunter, Ohno. (His name is a story in itself). Suffice it to say that Ohno is one heck of a good hunter for a black-and-white cat. He has deposited, at our feet, various critters ranging from mice and chipmunks to a couple rather large gray squirrels, and topped himself yesterday with this weasel elimination. Now, weasels are not necessarily nasty critters (Warner Brothers cartoons notwithstanding) but when you have chickens in a pen in your back yard, you really don’t want to see weasels around. Our varmint factor has been through the roof lately, what with the weasel and the two coyotes spotted barely 100 yards from our front yard doing chicken recon. So…this gun would come in handy as I hike the hills and dales of our property, dispatching vermin with abandon. I could definitely see it in that role, to be sure.
This gun would make an excellent introduction to the world of shooting for someone who had never shot a handgun before but wanted to learn. The sights and trigger are above-average, the grip is eminently grippable, and the weight of the gun is just enough to help it sit firmly in the shooter’s hand. Add in the almost total lack of recoil (start them out on .22 shorts) and you will have made a convert to our hobby.
The last use that I can think of for this gun is one I really don’t recommend but would work in a pinch, and that is self-defense. The .22 LR is not known as a manstopper, but definitely is better than a rock. I would imagine more folks have been “done in” by the lowly .22 than probably all other calibers combined, but I don’t have facts to prove that. Anyway, it’s a small, fairly light gun with hardly any recoil which should allow great shot placement and fast follow-up shots, so … you be the judge. At least it’s another use for the little gun, and I would rather have this gun in my hand when the you-know-what hits the fan than a stick or a rock.
The 942 is a re-do of an earlier Taurus .22 revolver, the model 94. The old 94 had a fully adjustable rear sight, a longer barrel and was built on a slightly larger frame. That gun was discontinued in 2010. The popularity of a small, .22 kit gun has not waned, however, so Taurus (re-)introduced the 942 in January of this year. Being built on their small frame, this gun is easily carried and (in its two-inch version) would fit in a pocket holster with ease. A quick visit to the Taurus website, shows us that the gun is available in ten different variations. These guns come with either a 2-inch or 3-inch barrel, matte black or stainless finish, and an alloy, stainless or aluminum frame. Other variables include total weight that ranges from about 18 ounces to 25 ounces and calibers .22 LR and .22 Magnum. Manufacturers’ suggested retail prices are either $391.67 or $408.33, depending on model.
Here are some photos I took of my test sample…
Gun, right and left profiles complete with the orange warning tag that Taurus sticks on all their guns…I decided to leave this one on the gun. (I usually take them off, but didn’t today).
This is a feature that Taurus incorporates on their small-frame revolvers and is a good thing. It’s one more layer of safety that helps keep the cylinder closed.
When I picked this gun up for the first time I was taken with how solid it felt. I think if you get used to a poly-framed semiauto’s light weight, then you might be really surprised when you pick up a steel- or alloy-framed revolver – it just feels heavier. It feels heavier because it is heavier. The 25 ounces that this gun weighs goes a long way in helping reduce recoil and helps it stay put in your hand. Coupled with its rimfire cartridge, this gun has basically no recoil and is very fast on follow-up shots.
The trigger is really consistent and breaks cleanly. There is very little take-up and creep. Add in the fairly light trigger pull weights and you have a gun that is conducive to very accurate shooting. Speaking of accuracy, the three-inch barrel aids in that department. You can get this gun with a two-incher, but for my money the three-inch works better in both the accuracy and velocity departments. You don’t gain a whole lot of either with the longer tube, but every little bit helps.
The rubber grip that Taurus is putting on its small-frame guns is excellent, in my opinion. It is large enough that you can get most of your hand on it but not so large that it detracts from concealed carry. If you look at the photo above, you’ll see a bit of a “notch” at the grip bottom – this is a place for your pinky finger. It’s just enough to allow your finger a resting place but not so much that it adds to the length of the grip. I really like this grip on my Taurus Model 85 .38 Special snubby. One more option is a laser grip – you can get one from the Taurus website for this gun. Of course, there’s always the replacement Hogue, Pachmyer, etc. grips out there if you just want something different.
The sights on this gun are better than they deserve to be. What do I mean by that? Usually, a 2- or 3-inch-barreled snubby has a trough cut into the frame at the rear that functions as a rear sight and an integral post milled or otherwise added to the top of the barrel. This gun is different. First, the front sight is a pinned-in post that is replaceable. This is a brand-new model so the aftermarket companies haven’t had a chance to get up to speed on sights, but I would bet that in a few months you’ll be able to buy an orange/red insert sight or a night sight for the 942. (The virus has pushed a lot of third-party plans to the back burner but hopefully that will be rectified soon).
The rear sight is an inspired piece of engineering. Granted, it’s not a new thing to have a windage-screw-adjustable rear sight on a revolver, but I was a bit surprised to see it here on this gun. It really does help – I don’t know how many .22 LR handguns I’ve owned or shot over the years that printed its groups to the left, up high, down low, etc. – you can’t do anything about the high/low but you sure can fix the left/right. When you buy any .22, be it a long gun or one of the shorter varieties, you are best served to put a whole lot of different brands of ammo through it to see what it likes. My 10/22 likes one load, while my handguns like others. If you entertain any thoughts of pest reduction, hunting, or just ventilating tin cans, it helps that the bullets go where the sights look. With this gun you can at least bring the windage adjustments into play easily, with a tiny (I mean tiny!) screwdriver. As our Aussie friends might say, good on ya, Taurus!
OK, now here’s something you’ll have to look pretty hard to find…if you look closely at the muzzle photo above, you’ll see just a bit of a crown. The rifling is protected to a small degree, but protected it is. This is pretty rare on lesser-expensive pistols, especially those in the snub-nosed category. Again, it isn’t a big, deep custom crown, but at least it’s there. A crown is something that should be machined on all revolvers but all too often isn’t. It’s a good thing to have.
Before we shoot this thing, let’s look at some specifications from both the Taurus website and my observations…
|TRIGGER PULL WEIGHTS (Measured)||DA: 9 lbs, 7 oz./SA: 3lbs, 4 oz.|
|CALIBER||22 LR (can also shoot .22 Longs and Shorts)|
|WEIGHT||25 oz. (lighter versions available with a 2” barrel)|
|FRONT SIGHT||Serrated Ramp, Pinned|
|REAR SIGHT||Drift Adjustable (Screw)|
|REAL-WORLD PRICE||~ $285-$325|
For more complete, model-specific instructions and information, download the owner’s manual here.
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Shooting The 942
I tried a few different .22 loads in the 942, with varying results. The gun was SO easy to shoot, with virtually no felt recoil. I have to throw a disclaimer out (excuse?) – my eyes don’t see the front sight like they used to. I really ought to hire someone to shoot these guns for me – bet that wouldn’t be a long recruiting process – or bring the targets in closer. But, I understand that you really don’t want to see targets shot at 4 yards, so we’ll go with what we have.
This gun is not a target pistol, but with the right experimentation you could find a load that shot accurately, to the point of aim. I was just playing around at 15 yards and have some targets for you, but I think this little gun could do way better in different hands. I did not chronograph any of this ammo – past experience with 4-inch rimfire revolver barrels has told me that most velocities are going to be under 1000 f.ps., and even the “hot” special loads aren’t near what they claim. This gun’s 3-inch barrel would yield even slower results. So, let’s just look at the holes in the paper…
I’ve always had decent luck with this “second-tier” ammunition. Vertical stringing aside, one could make an argument for further experimentation, even if the group is low.
This would be my choice out of the .22 LR ammo I tried – a few turns of the windage screw would bring this group to the left and more shooting would tighten things up. The elevation’s spot on.
…not too bad, but could be better. Again, further shooting and experimentation would tighten this group. CCI Mini-Mags delivered almost identical groups to the Federal. Now, for the most fun target…
Talk about NO recoil – it was just about like shooting an old-school cap gun. I could see using this round to take care of household-area pests and even some very-close-in squirrel hunting. For training purposes this round would be great. No noise, no kick, better than average accuracy…what’s not to like?
Notice all groups are to the right on the target – that’s how my eyes see the sights. At least you could fix that with this gun’s windage-adjustable rear sight.
You won’t win any bullseye contests with this gun, but for a fun gun, it works admirably. (If you like these targets click here to get them in your inbox, they’re free and are useful, at least to me).
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To Sum Up
So, what do I think of the 942? Let’s look at some pros and cons…
- Small frame, easily carried
- Rimfire, so will be cheap to shoot
- Fairly accurate
- Tight cylinder lock-up
- Adjustable rear sight
- Great grip
- Decent trigger
- Three-inch barrel
- Heavy enough to hold steadily on target
- Weight might be a little much for some people
- The three-inch barrel might put some off who wanted a two-inch
- Eight-shot cylinder – some guns in this class are nine-shooters
- It doesn’t come with a four-inch barrel
To be fair, some of the “cons” can be addressed: the weight and three-inch-barrel issues could be solved by buying one of the 17.6-ounce 2-inch-barreled models. Taurus does make other .22 guns with a four-inch barrel – the Tracker 992 for one.
I like this gun. As I said above, it would be a great revolver to have with you when you’re out back working – it would be great weasel medicine, at least. If you are looking for a small-ish gun to pack with you on your rambles or just want something to defend yourself with against raging watermelons or filled milk jugs, here’s your huckleberry. I sure think you could do worse for your gun dollar if you’re looking for a go-anywhere type of revolver in .22 LR. Whether you’re fishing, trapping, hunting, hiking, biking, or just out for a stroll in the boonies, this gun would be right at home on your hip. As always, please leave a comment below if you have experience with one of these guns. Now, get out there and go shoot – but be safe!