In this Article:
It weighs 55 ounces. And yet, this is still about half a pound less than a Raging Bull. The Taurus Raging Hunter was also American Hunter Magazine’s 2019 Hunting Handgun of the Year.
It has all the qualities that hunting revolver aficionados look for in a pistol, including a modern design, solid construction, and a reasonable price. Let’s find out in this review its actual features, and performance, and find out if it’s the right gun for you.
Before we get too far into the features of this gun, let’s look at its specifications.
Taurus Raging Hunter Specs
|MSRP||$919.55, ~$700 real world|
BONUS OFFER: Get your free shooting range targets to print at home!
Get your free targets to print at home!
Taurus Raging Hunter Features
This gun incorporates the best features of top-quality double-action revolvers, then adds a couple of features not usually seen on standard revolvers. Here’s a list of features, with photos to illustrate.
Dual Cylinder Latch
The .44 Magnum cartridge can generate some wrist-thumping pressures. Taurus borrowed a feature from their Raging Hunter revolver in its top-pressure chamberings. It also has a latch for the cylinder not only at the back, as is usual, but at the front of the cylinder as well.
But this really is nothing new — I had an original Dan Wesson Model 15 back in the early 1980s that used a front latch. It does help keep the cylinder shut and latched when shooting high-pressure loads, so this is a good thing.
There are four vents on each side. These holes direct gases outward and upward, thereby helping push the muzzle down during recoil. This goes a long way to help alleviate muzzle jump.
And, speaking of muzzle jump, you definitely want to keep away from the hammer spur when shooting .44 Magnum loads. I saw a guy plant the hammer spur from a S&W .44 magnum in his forehead when he wouldn’t move his head further back when we warned him, away from the scope that was mounted on the revolver.
The .44 generates some pretty good recoil (about 18.5 ft/lbs of recoil energy), but these vents help. And, in case you’re thinking that 18.5 ft/lbs of recoil energy is nothing, bear in mind that the .243 Winchester only generates 9 ft/lbs out of a 7-pound rifle. Another point about shooting the Taurus is to wear good hearing protection. The vents do tend to increase the blast.
This versatile rail allows the mounting of a scope, red dot sight, or laser. With 13 slots, you can place your sight close to your eye or further away. Another point: you usually don’t see a long Picatinny-style rail on revolvers. If they have one at all, it is usually short. This one is long enough to be useful.
The Raging Hunter (and other hard-kicking Taurus revolvers) use this grip (taken from the Taurus website): GRIP RUBBER RED 454,444,45, 22 HORNET
The black, rubbery finger-groove-molded grip allows for a firm engagement with your fingers and hand, while the red strip is harder and helps to soak up recoil. As it says above, they put this grip on their large, .44 Magnum and .454 caliber revolvers. It must work or they would have changed it out by now, yet, this has been around a while.
If you look closely at the older S&W Model 29 above, you’ll notice that the firing pin is attached to the hammer. Taurus doesn’t do that with this gun. The firing pin is frame-mounted and is on;y struck by the hammer’s force when the trigger is pulled and the transfer bar is in place to transfer the hammer’s energy to the firing pin. Aptly named, for sure.
The front sight is pinned. Let’s look at that photo again of the barrel vents, only this time we’ll look at the sight.
Notice the pin under the sight. This is good — you could conceivably change it out for a taller one. I couldn’t find that to be the case in my research, but in my experience anytime you see a pin below a front sight on a handgun, that says that the sight is removable and possibly replaceable.
If I owned this gun, I might change it out to some sort of night sight — that would help it stand out against the black rear sight.
The rear has a good, square notch set into an adjustable housing. (I’m not sure how all that oil got on there — I hadn’t shot it yet when these photos were taken. I like to keep my shootin’ irons clean. Probably whoever reviewed this gun before I got it put that oil there).
The adjustments are about as plain as day. No special tool or tiny jeweler’s screwdriver — just a plain flat-blade screwdriver will adjust your rear sight. My only concern is that the sight is very old-school black-rear-black-front, like target guns. I tend to paint front sights a bright orange and outline rear sight notches on other guns I own in order to make them more visible to my aging eyes.
This is doubly important on a hunting gun, where shots will more than likely be taken in dim lighting conditions. Whether dawn has just dawned or the sun is fading fast in the evening, most deer that I have taken have been in not-so-great lighting conditions. But you can always stick a red dot sight on one of the 13-barrel rail slots.
BONUS OFFER: Get your free shooting range targets to print at home!
Get your free targets to print at home!
Cylinder Wall Thickness
My beloved 629 has a cylinder with walls that aren’t so thick. I’ve always heard to keep the 29/ 629’s loads under the maximum because the cylinder wasn’t that sturdy and the single latch could be problematic.
Whether that’s true or not (I have shot many wrist-thumpers through this gun), I like moderate-level loads anyway, so that’s not an issue. The cylinder on this Raging Hunter, though, is a different one. Look how beefy the cylinder is:
Not bad at all. And, while we’re looking at the cylinder, look at the star on the rear of the cylinder — pretty well-built here, too.
Two-Part Barrel Assembly
The barrel on a Raging Hunter is, unlike that on a Raging Bull, a two-piece affair. The actual barrel is screwed into the frame and then the barrel shroud is affixed to the front of the barrel, a la Dan Wesson except the barrel is not replaceable by normal mortal humans unless you work for Taurus. This saves weight as the Raging Bull weighs about a half pound more than the Raging Hunter, and most all of that is in the barrel. Here’s the muzzle:
These are the areas that I think Taurus did a really good job when designing the Raging Hunter. It truly is a very good revolver for its intended purpose. The nice part is that they make it simple to add a sight by putting a really long section of rail on the barrel shroud.
They even considered the hunting environment in terms of finish. Whereas the Raging Hunter could be had in an all-stainless, fairly shiny finish, the Hunter is matte black with a stainless frame (or black) and barrel. This makes it pretty invisible in the field.
The finish is a very flat, utilitarian black that you wouldn’t mind taking to your deer stand and bumping around. It should be fairly simple to touch up. Look at the photos above and examine the finish. I do think this beats a very shiny coat.
Here are a couple of shots of the barrel and frame engraving…
Shooting the Taurus Raging Hunter
I couldn’t wait to get to my shooting bench in the back yard, but I had to exhibit patience. We had a cold front move through right after I picked this gun up from Duane’s shop and it was nine degrees for a few nights with attendant cold days.
I am used to shooting a long-barreled .44, given that mine has the 8 3/8-inch barrel so this won’t be anything new. It will be different, though, and I am looking forward to being on the bench with this beast. I’m hoping the extra weight (55 ounces vs. my 629’s 49.5) and the porting help tame recoil to a considerable degree.
After scraping a few inches of snow off my shooting bench, I finally got to shoot this gun. I wanted to try it with one of my hunting loads — a 260-grain, hard-cast semi-wadcutter over 6.5 grains of Tite Group. This load has been a consistent performer on deer. It’s not a “pedal-to-the-metal” type of load. It chronographed at 1080 fps out of the Raging Hunter, long barrel, but it hits with authority.
Shooting the Raging Hunter produces 680 ft/lbs of energy, which is more than enough to put a deer down this side of 100 yards or so. Over the 30 or so years that Iâve hunted with my long-barreled 629, I’ve found that I didn’t need a heavy, hard-cast bullet moving at 1300 f.p.s. to put a deer down for good. Also, a velocity between 1000 and 1100 fps works just as well and is easier on the shooter and the gun.
This is not exactly a 100-yard load in terms of accuracy, as the target shows, but around 50-75 yards it will work. Also, this is just one of a few loads that I put together to hunt with. Others would probably print differently on the paper.
This was the first time I shot this gun, and that can have a bearing on accuracy. When I have the chance, I’ll try it with my other loads. I just needed a quick photo, hence this target. After putting several dozen more rounds down range, it will be dialed in and ready for the hunt. If I connect with the gun, I’ll edit this piece to reflect that and post photos.
Taurus Raging Hunter Review: Shooting Performance
The Taurus Raging Hunter shot very well. For recoil, it was like I was shooting a lighter-bullet, slower load. Heavy bullets tend, with all else being equal, to generate more recoil than lighter bullets. This bullet, from an older Lee mold, casts right around 260 grains as I pointed out above.
The barrel ports really helped tame the muzzle flip. But to be honest, a 55-ounce revolver putting a 260-grain bullet out of its muzzle at 1085 fps won’t have a whole lot of muzzle flip, to begin with. Out of my 49.5-ounce 629, it is more pronounced.
This gun is a bit muzzle-heavy, what with the full-length underlug and the rail on top. That really helps tame recoil. I did not notice any torque when I pulled the trigger. But sometimes, heavy-bullet loads will twist the gun in your hand, yet I didn’t experience any of that.
As for the muzzle blast, with the hearing protectors in place, I didn’t notice an increased blast. (Yes, I can tell the difference between different loads’ levels of noise with muffs on. I couldn’t tell a difference here). The gun was a pleasure to shoot and would be welcome in a deer blind.
Taurus Raging Hunter: Wrap Up
I guess an 8 3/8-inch-barreled .44 Magnum is no stranger to me, but even so, I was anxious to see how it compared to my S&W 629. The gun was specifically made for hunting, to be sure, and the big plus is the finish as it’s available in stainless steel, barrel, and all. The Hunter has an optional stainless frame (the one I had), but barrels are only available in black (as of this writing).
About the only thing I might change would be the sights — not the way they operate, just their visibility. Many handgun hunters don’t want to put an optic on their favorite revolver for several reasons, so maybe the iron sights that come on the gun could be a bit more visible. A front tritium sight would help the shooter acquire it more quickly in the dim light of most hunting conditions.
I can vouch for the adjustability of the rear sight. The gun was shooting high (shot the metal-rod arm off a target stand), so I got my decades-old little Smith & Wesson screwdriver that came with some revolver I’d owned over the years and screwed the sight down a few turns.
The shots printed just where I wanted them to — a bit high at 25 yards. That way, they’re just a touch high at 50 and just about right on at 75. (I know, there are many ballistics trajectory calculators out there, but for an open-sighted .44 Magnum throwing great big gobs of lead downrange, it will be close enough. I’ve shot these loads long enough to know where they will hit at different yardages.
All in all, it’s a great gun for the deer woods. I can’t help but think Elmer Keith would be proud. As always, go shooting and stay safe.
Nice review, Mike. I’ve been curious about how this beast would shoot since I first saw a photo of it. ??
It shoots very well! Try to get your hands on one – you’ll like it. Thanks for the comment!
> “(And, a side note to reloaders…those yellow-topped cartridges are Speer shot shells loaded into .44 Special cases. You fill them with shot and load them like bullets. I haven’t seen them in stores for years).”
Hi Mike, Aren’t these translucent blue capsules the same thing?
I load ’em with #12 shot for rattlers. (It’s easier to carry a wheel gun around our homestead than a shovel! ;)) Somewhat inconveniently, #12 (from BPI) is pretty much an expensive mail order proposition, but it’s more effective than even #9 on rattlers and worth it.
CCI loads the capsules in various centerfire calibers (but not with #12 shot):
The #12 is reserved for 22 rimfire, AFAIK:
Calin, I stand corrected! I didn’t see these. Yep, they’re the same thing in blue. Thanks for pointing this out!
You bet, Mike! It’s always a pleasure to read and discuss your articles. I just didn’t want you or your readers to be missin’ out on those Speer shot capsules. Sometimes they can be a little hard to find–either online or at the local gun shop.
Calin, I’ll have to look for them. Thanks again!
I bought the SS Raging Bull in 44 Casull, twice the power & much better looks. I can buy or load 45LC to 44mag specs but Go Big or Go Home. I paid $469/shipped ea & bought 2 NIB. I started in 1980 with the same Ruger SBH in 44 mag.
Flylo, sounds like you have it covered pretty well- that .454 is a heck of a round. It does make the .45 Colt feel like a .45 ACP going off in that huge gun. Very effective deer medicine-thanks for your comment!
I don’t have the Hunter, but had the Raging Bull in .44 mag…FANTASTIC revolver. I currently have the RB in .45 Colt/.454 Casull and love it even more!!! Excellent trigger, finish and a top quality revolver, one of my favorites!!!
Samuel, you can’t beat the Raging guns. I think they surprised a lot of Taurus-bashers when they came out. They are well-built, tough and built for hunting. Thanks for the comment!
This is one of the funniest things Ive read, written about 20 years ago on the 454 by pro gun testers https://www.gun-tests.com/issues/12_2/features/-4467-1.html
Flylo, yeah, that’s an interesting article. Little did they know then that the .454 would be one of the premier handgun hunting cartridges in a few short years. Thanks for writing!
While readin Mike’s personal description my old eyes and much traumatized brain read “bullet catcher” instead of caster. While I knew what had happened, and happens too often now, it reminded me of the old joke about the job of “javelin catcher” at the Olympics. So good article and don’t be catchin no bullets. L8r.
Interesting handle…trauma magnet…reminds me of my brother, who was very accident prone in his early years. I don’t intend to catch no bullets – thanks for the humor!
hello sir, great and detailed review. i have a question, am i correct to assume that if one chooses the ALL black Raging Hunter, the frame on those is alloy instead of steel?
The barrel shroud is the only thing not steel all other components are steel. I own this revolver in .454 casull and .44 mag. . The .44 is two tone and the .454 is all black. The two tone frame is stainless and the black is normal blued gun steel. They are tested identically under the same conditions.
Nice, honest review, Mike…it has me rethinking a Taurus hunting handgun. I must admit I’m a Glock 40 10mm & S&W 29 revolver fan…but things change. They always do. At least this model leaves you room for an Alaskan guide holster and some ammo.
Gregory, I’m with you, what with me owning a 629 but you need to shoot one of these Hunters…I think you’d be impressed. Thanks for writing!
I have an older Raging Bull. I just purchased a Raging Hunter, .44 with the 8 3/8 barrel. I can’t wait for deer season next Fall.
Ken, I have taken many deer with my .44 – you will be properly equipped! Thanks for writing!
Would you recommend this gun for bear defense? If not,what would you use? Thanks for your time.
Will, first let me say upfront that I have zero experience shooting bears, so take what I say with the proverbial grain of salt. Having said that, I would think the the big Taurus .44 should work for most bears, at least in the lower 48. I have seen upclose & personal black bears in Tennessee (not hunting, just hiking) and it seemed to me that the ones I saw weren’t all that big (when compared to big brownies or the polar variety), so I don’t see why the big .44 wouldn’t work, at least on the smaller bruins. I would load it with 260-grain-or-more hard-cast semi-wadcutters or similar bullet, for penetration.
Anyone else out there with actual handgun-and-bear experience, please chime in and correct me if I’m wrong!
Hello Mike, I am thinking about Ragin Huner for quite a while, but it was always one of the next guns I will buy. Yesterday I was driving by Fur Feather Fin Outfitters and wanted to check it out. I have never been there before. There I saw black Raging Hunter and it looks soo good. I am so close to buying one but today I saw that Ruger Blackhawk Hunter is only $100 more. I like stainless because it is easier to maintain but black would look great with the scope (it’s black as well) I planned for this gun.
Can you please comment, what would be (if any) the advantages of New Model Super Blackhawk Bisley Hunter over Raging Hunter or wise versa? I know that Blackhawk is a single action only. I am a new hunter/gun enthusiast, I may be wrong but I would say that in hunting one would very rarely use DA. Please comment.
Mladen, you are right in your assumption that one usually will shoot game in single action mode, from a thumb-cocked hammer. I remember reading in Shooting Times magazine MANY years ago an article written by one of their contributors, Bob Milek, about his taking a deer in double action mode – it was so unique and noteworthy that he wrote about it. Either gun will work. The main difference between the two (except for the obvious SA vs. DA/SA) is that the Taurus, when thumb-cocked, will probably have a slightly better trigger pull than the SBH but the Ruger can be tuned to obviate that advantage. I would also normally say that the Ruger would have a strength advantage in terms of hotter loads over the DA, but with the Raging Hunter that point is pretty well moot, too… it’s one heck of a well-built gun, with a triple-locking cylinder. You just have to look at each one, handle them, and determine which feels better to you. I assume you can’t shoot them to test, so you’ll have to go on your instinct. Remember that the SA gun will roll in your hand, given factory grip panels, over the DA/SA which will tend to come more straight back. If this is an issue to you, you might need aftermarket grips. Also, in my experience, the “Dragoon”-like trigger guard of the Ruger thumps my middle finger in recoil, but your experience may be different. Look also at resale value and warranty – compare both guns. You can do this easily online. At least hunting holsters are available for both.
– tends to be very strong;
– rolls in your hand under recoil;
– factory trigger might need some tuning;
– the “Dragoon”-style trigger guard thumps my middle finger in recoil;
– harder to mount an optic;
– recoil rolls the guns up in your hand, taking it off target. Some folks like the rolling recoil, others see it as a negative. Aftermarket stocks may help
Raging Hunter Pros:
– SA trigger tends to be lighter (let’s face it, you’re only going to shoot at game in SA mode. I remember, years ago, Shooting Times contributor Bob Milek writing an article on hunting deer and shooting one in double action mode – it was so unique, he made an article out of doing it).
– top rail allows for scopes or red dots to be easily mounted
– gun is very strong – uses a triple-locking, beefy cylinder
– barrel is ported, helps reduce recoil
– recoil tends to be straight back, not rolling upward like a SA
– barrel porting–some say it causes the gun to be louder
You have to decide. I really liked the sample RH they sent me – it was very heavy and hung on the target very well. But, I also liked my SBH – I took it for what it was, a single-action revolver and didn’t expect it to be more.
Look at both guns’ warranties and resale value — this might enter into your decision as well. Let us know which way you go, OK? Thanks for writing.
I wish I could help you narrow it down more, but either will suffice – it’s whatever melts your butter. Thanks for writing!
Thank you very much for such a detailed comment. I will take my time, don’t want to rush. I have a TC Encore in 44 Mag that I will use until I decide what revolver I will go with. Encore I have is an additional reason why I want to go with 44 Mag, I tend to have as little calibers as possible, it is more practical and cheaper (or at least it seems like that). When I was getting that Encore last year, I wasn’t familiar with Raging Hunter, otherwise, I would probably go with it.
I wish I was warned how slippery hunting/gun hobby is 🙂
Mladen, you are right – it’s a slippery slope! Buying one gun makes you want that ___ (fill in the blank), then downhill you go from there…or so it seems. It’s a fun trip, though, sliding down that slope…it’s one I’ve enjoyed for over 40 years and I still haven’t hit the bottom yet! Thanks for writing back.
And…it does make sense to limit your calibers to a few. I really wish I’d done that but it’s too late now…
Hi mike..i am buying a raging hunter 44 mag i love the looks of the gun.i just need to know..can i shoot buffalo bore 340 gr +p+ out of it ??
Michael, I am always wary when I read about ammo rated with two pluses…you might want to call Buffalo Bore and ask them about it. The Raging Hunter is one very tough revolver but you don’t want to bend anything, or worse. I’d give them a call. Thanks for writing!