Taurus 82 range report and review

Taurus 82 lead splatter

Before I get this post going, I want to make something clear. I really wanted to like this gun. The idea of a medium framed revolver chambered in .38 Special at an affordable price is really appealing to me. So I bought this Taurus with my own money to see if it would work in that role. Right off the bat, there were problems. The innards were rough, and the mainspring strut was actually bent. So, those problems got fixed. Nothing drastic, just straightened the mainspring, and gently buffed the bearing surfaces to remove any high spots that would cause an uneven trigger pull. That was part 2. After that minor work, yesterday I took the revolver to the range.

The range protocol was simple: accuracy testing, than endurance testing. For accuracy testing I’d fire multiple six shot groups using three loads that have proven to be incredibly accurate performers with other revolvers, and get the results. These would be fired at 25 yards, standing unsupported. First up was Federal 148 grain full Wadcutter, from our friends at Lucky Gunner. Contrary to my usual practice, I fired all these groups single action, because the 15 pound DA trigger on the Taurus was just proving to be a real problem (more on that later).

Taurus Federal WC 2.78

The first group gave me hope. The Federal WC is a famously accurate load, and out of the Taurus is shot under 3 inches, coming in at 2.78 to be exact. Up next I paired a Brazilian gun with some Brazilian ammo, specifically Magtech 158 grain LSWC.

Taurus Magtech 6.34 inches

That was disappointing to say the least, coming in at 6.34 inches. For comparison, the same load shot 2.94 inches out of a 2 inch barrel Ruger SP101. The last load was one of my favorite Special loadings, DoubleTap’s epic 158 grain LSWC at 1000 FPS. If you ever need to shoot clean through…stuff, this is the .38 load for you.

Taurus DoubleTap 6.12 inches

At 6.12 inches, this load was disappointing. Again, we’ll compare it to the same load out of a small snub gun, the SP101 fired this into a 3.043 inch group. 50% smaller from a gun that is considered much harder to shoot well.

On the accuracy front, the Taurus was disappointing; 6 inches with ammo that’s generally considered very accurate using the SA trigger is just not good. I also noticed that rounds impacting consistently to the left of the sights relative to the target, the fix for something like this on a gutter sight wheelgun is to open up the rear notch on the right sight to adjust the point of impact. That would require the use of tools that I’m not comfortable applying to the gun, because whenever you have to remove metal, you’re getting into the danger zone of ruining things.

After the accuracy test, I performed one of my favorite revolver tests: the endurance test. This may seem silly and a waste of ammo, and to a certain extent it is. However, revolvers are more likely to have problems when the get hot than they are for a single cylinder of cool ammo. The endurance test is simple: line up at least 6 boxes of 50 rounds of ammo in the trays so you can access the bullets. Shoot the gun as fast as you can, and then reload by twos out of the trays, repeating until you’re done. I used 420 rounds of ammo for this (because it was what I had left). When I was done, my support hand thumb was black from lead and powder, my trigger finger was exhausted, but I was having fun.

The reason I like this test for wheelguns is because it will expose any issues the gun might have with cylinder binding under heavy use, binding from lead fouling, etc. If a gun makes it through this test, it’s generally good to go on a durability standpoint. To its credit, the Taurus made it through the durability testing just fine, digesting over 400 consecutive rounds of the dirtiest lead ammo I could find, everything from 158 gr LRN to the aforementioned DoubleTap trainwreckers; even some Hornady Critical Defense and Federal 130 grain FMJ mixed in for good measure. However, it wasn’t all smiles and giggles, because the endurance test exposed a serious problem.

Taurus 82 lead splatter

That’s the right side of the gun after the test; the silver discoloration you see that spreads out in an arc from the forcing cone is lead. Here’s the left side of the gun, notice that it’s lacking similar spray patterns:

Taurus 82 other side

What this tells me about the gun is that it’s out of time. One or more of the cylinders isn’t lining up correctly with the forcing cone, so as the round travels the cylinder it’s hitting the right side of the forcing cone and shaving itself off a little bit as it enters the barrel. That is the job of the forcing cone mind you – to make sure rounds enter the barrel properly, and this cone is technically doing that job. However, what you should see is a relatively even distribution of fouling around the forcing cone, indicating that the revolver is properly timed and the rounds are striking roughly centered on the cone. This revolver, as you can see, has rounds striking the right side of the cone, with little to no indications of fouling on the left side of the gun.

Also, in the left side photo, you can see bright spots on the inside of the frame under the forcing cone. Those bright spots are where the cylinder crane is impacting the frame under recoil. That’s also not supposed to happen, but in theory could be fixed by tightening down the yoke screw. However, there is no easy fix for the forcing cone issue. Fixing that would involve replacing the barrel and forcing cone entirely, or re-cutting the forcing cone at a slightly larger angle to allow the bullets an easier path. Either of those is beyond my mechanical skills by a long way.

So the final verdict on the Taurus 82? Yes, I know that this is just a sample of one, but even this sample of one has been deeply problematic. Coming from the factory with a bent mainspring strut and internals that looked like they’d been finished with a flint axe was bad enough; but those are things that can be fixed at the armorer level. The fact that a brand new revolver that’s never been shot was completely out of time to the point where I’d consider it dangerous to keep using it? That is a problem, and it’s a problem that can’t be fixed by the average gun owner.

The question now is “what to do” with the gun? I will probably send it back to Taurus, although because there’s documented evidence that I’ve had the sideplate off, that will likely void the warranty. I might keep it around the office as a grim reminder to my other revolvers to not misbehave. What do you think I should do?

14 thoughts on “Taurus 82 range report and review”

  1. I would send it back to Taurus with a list of the factory defects that you found, and repaired, or were unable to repair. The sight problem and cylinder off time render it useless as a competition or self defense firearm. They should be made aware of the poor Q. C. a professional customer experienced. If they do not honor the warranty, well you can always use another hammer.

    1. Oh, I think Taurus is perfectly aware of their crappy QC — they don’t do any –, it’s their entire business model. They know perfectly well most of their guns won’t be shot at all, and the ones that are will see a box of ammo a year and then stuck in a sock drawer.

      1. It curious to me that Taurus USA sacked their last president (Kressler?), who made a big deal about improving quality and customer support. Too bad.

        “I might keep it around the office as a grim reminder to my other revolvers to not misbehave. What do you think I should do?”

        Ship it in, see what they do. Taurus covers shipping the first year. (So I hear. “I read it on the Internetz, so it must be true.”)

  2. Burn it with fire. If you send it back to Taurus on your dime, they’ll open the sideplate and photograph your polished internals and massaged (with a hammer) mainspring strut for print ads in gun rags “look how smooth a Taurus is” then they’ll send you the bill.

  3. Send it back to Taurus. When they don’t repair it because you opened the side plate and voided the warranty, practice your metal work with the forcing cone and barrel.

  4. I would ship that revolver back to the factory and sell it upon it’s return without regret…. 🙂

  5. Send it back. Taurus will take back almost anything, so don’t worry about warranty issues. The timing problem is probably what’s ruining your accuracy, too.

  6. Clean it up and sell it on Facebook with the comment “maybe 10 rounds through it. Just looking for something smaller and lighter for my wife”

    But seriously, send it back to Taurus. If this really is an experiment, you should finish it up and get the full Taurus experience. Maybe they send it back and say it’s fine without looking at it, maybe they fix it and it outshoots your Ruger.

  7. On a technical note (while I dust off some old revolversmithing mojo), I believe your asymmetrical leading may not nessecarily be a timing issue but an “out of range” condition (although your gun could very well be out of time).

    Timing is a lockwork function as relates to cylinder rotation and the bolt fully locking the cylinder (in battery) prior to hammer fall. I’m a little rusty here but I’m fairly certain that a revolver can be in time but “out of range” meaning that the chambers do not align with the bore axis when the cylinder is fully locked prior to firing. I believe your problem could be that your 82 is out of range. You can verify this absolutely with a ranging rod.

    I’d let Taurus suss it out. If the warranty is void, then use it as a test bed for futhering your smithing skills. Who knows, in the future you may be marketing a “Giddings” retrofit kit for Taurus revos through Midway/Brownell’s?

    1. Thanks! I knew there was a different term than “out of time” I just couldn’t recall it. I did order a ranging rod from Brownells to check for this.

  8. Ship it to Iraqveteran8888 and ask him to run the hottest 38s he has available. You can make a sculpture from the remnants.

  9. The lead and the accuracy problems are related. The barrel isn’t straight on with the cylinder. It is cooked pointed left, which is why it is shooting left, and the lead is spraying out the right at the back.

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