Firearms

Review: Taurus Tracker 44

Taurus tracker 44 revolver with

Forjas Taurus (translated: Taurus Forge) is a Brazilian company now very familiar to American shooters. In 1941 it produced its first gun, a revolver. Decades later, Taurus has changed hands and handlers a few times. Of note, in 1970 it was purchased by Smith & Wesson’s parent company, Bangor Punta. That helped! Shared technology. Later, on and after a contract with Beretta to produce small arms for the Brazilian army ran out, the manufacturing facility they had built there for that contract was purchased by Forjas Taurus.

 Taurus Tracker 44 revolver on a stainless steel background
The Tracker 44 has a ported 4-inch barrel. Stout recoil. I recently fired a friend’s Taurus Raging Bull .454 Casull and mine won the kicking contest! That’s 35-oz. against 63 though.

Taurus then owned all the blueprints and tooling, and had access to a skilled workforce (another stipulation of the contract with Beretta was to use local labor). The next big step was when Taurus opened a U.S.-based operation in Miami in 1982 and went to work making its products more appealing to the U.S. market. Good move! There’s more, and there’s a link to a couple of sources for those interested, and there’s a reason I included this much of it here.

That is because Taurus has that sort of reputation (now) of being a combination of borrower and innovator. Taurus has taken what it’s learned from Smith & Wesson and Beretta, and also from feeling the pulse of the diverse American market interests, and has developed a product line that’s all its own. Still, though, is a tad amount in the shadows of the giants behind it.

Inevitable Comparison

Although there are lesser-known revolver manufacturers (such as Korth) that make a better gun, Smith & Wesson, overall, is the standard for modern double-action revolvers. Taurus, therefore, gets compared to these. The general essence of that comparison usually takes this shape: “Well, Taurus isn’t as ‘nice,’ but it’s half the price…”

Charter Arms Bulldog 44 with open cylinder and speedloader
It takes a speedloader for a Charter Arms Bulldog 44. It’s a slim cylinder and there’s not a lot of room to work, but the Maxfire loaders get in close enough to do the job quickly. This unique design works better than anything else I tried.

I agree.

I still bought one.

So, that (finally, I know) brings us to the point of this—the Taurus Tracker 44. And this is actually “my” Taurus Tracker 44.

I guess I must fall in that “diverse market interest” because this is the only revolver, after shopping its competition, that had all I was looking for.

What I was looking for? Something big enough to shoot well with, small enough (and light enough) to store in a backpack, and with the most power I could get. And something durable and reliable! High (enough) quality. I was seeking a backcountry companion, a defensive sidearm for use against threats that might be a few times my size, and, somewhere in my mind at least, there was also the thought of something that could suit urban needs toting that same backpack.

taurus Tracker 44 on a red backpack
The Tracker is ideal as a backcountry companion.

What It Is

The Tracker 44 is a 5-shot .44 Remington Magnum built on what amounts to an “L-frame” as produced by Smith & Wesson. Four-inch ported barrel, 35 ounces empty, 5.3-in. height, 9.0-in. length overall, 1.6-in. wide. Not a big gun. Stainless steel, matte finish. Adjustable rear, standout ramped orange-insert front sight.

Its nearest match is an S&W Mod. 69, but that gun is a little bigger, a little heavier, and isn’t ported. And, this Taurus was just at that “half-price” difference.

The overall finish on the gun suits me, but it’s not as smooth and not nearly as shiny as a Smith & Wesson. All the “functional fitting” is likewise just fine. Lockup is tight, and no hitches or issues with unlatching, ejector mechanism, or ejection. I had heard there might be some stickiness in ejection, but none at all in mine. The grip is a proprietary patent Taurus calls the Ribber. More about that in a bit…

Taurus 44 Tracker revolver with security lock key
Fresh out of the box, and Taurus Security Lock key at hand. Matte stainless, 5-shot, 4-inch barrel, 35 ounces.

The Tracker, for me, is a well-balanced gun and has exactly the feel I like in any handgun. It’s fast to move, easy to stop, and sits the hand very well. It’s very stable on target and I have zero doubt that I simply cannot miss with this gun! It has enough barrel to allow precision sight alignment and enough frame size to get an effective hold, but not too much of either. It’s not nearly as bulky and unwieldy as most revolvers in this caliber.

Trigger is better than I expected but not nearly what I would call “great.” Yes. Smith & Wesson is better. The double-action stroke on the Taurus isn’t as light, but it is smooth. There’s only a little discernible “stacking” through the stroke. That’s when you feel an inconsistent increase in the trigger pull as the trigger is arced through its stroke. Spring tuning (and parts smoothing) can work wonders, but don’t cut it too close (the hammer has to hammer). Single-action broke just at 5 lbs. on my Lyman gage and that is likewise good, but not great.

What It’s Not

It’s not pleasant! I didn’t expect it to be. At 35 oz. (40 loaded) that’s not much mass to offset the recoil of a .44 Mag. This gun weighs less than a standard 1911. I want to believe that the porting helps but, dang, I also have to believe I’m glad it’s there! Porting does indeed help. I’ve shot enough side-by-side comparisons with other guns to tell you it’s very effective in reducing recoil.

Taurus 44 Tracker revolver with speedloaders
Here’s what it’s for, for me. I have 100-percent confidence in this revolver, and its contents.

Magnums sting the hand and shock the wrists. I get a cylinder-full on target and take a break.

“Controlling” a .44 Mag., or similar, is a little bit of an illusion. It’s not really possible to keep the gun flat. What matters is learning how to let it recoil and then see it return to the target, and that’s all about stance, posture, grip. That’s mechanics, but once you learn “how,” it’s not the recoil that misses a target. It’s the flinch! Just being honest. I get a kick out of gun writers who suggest that lower-recoiling guns are more accurate and can be fired more accurately. No. They can be fired successively on target more quickly, but realizing that requires developing another skill set. Of course, one reason for the choice of a .44 is the radically lower likelihood of needing successive shots. That’s actually THE reason.

Now, back to that grip. I did not like it. It’s distractingly squishy (as descriptive as I can be) and too small. The idea is that the ribs absorb recoil. After experience with a replacement, I can’t say it helped soften the shock a whit. I replaced it with a Hogue. Much better! A huge part of softening the bite is getting a healthy handful of grip. The Hogue is recommended; it’s bigger and better contoured, or sure is for me.

Taurus Tracker 44 revolver right profile
Big frame revolvers deliver maximum power with a lot of recoil. Don’t be afraid to switch out the grip for that works well with your hand.

Target Time

Speaking of recoil, one of the wonderful things about “big” revolver rounds is that they have a little brother. I took an assortment of ammo with me, and one reason was already suggested: I wanted to shoot more than a few rounds that morning.

I packed up some Hornady .44 Special 165-gr. Critical Defense, and 180-gr. XTP Custom. The “business” round test included three Hornady .44 Mag. loads—200-gr., 240-gr., 300-gr.—and Winchester 240-gr. That’s a bag-full of pain, folks, and a bag-full of serious power.

With the Specials, especially that 165-gr., recoil was little to no more than a striker-fired semi-auto. Special is a lot lower pressure than magnum. Switching to the mags, I started lightest first, and really should have ended there instead. The 300 was brutal. However, it’s what’s in the cylinder now.

Taurus 44 Tracker with Hogue grips
The gun has an overall very nice balance (visually and in the hand) and handles superbly. It’s not a big package, but packs a big punch. The grips got replaced with Hogue. Huge improvement!

The upshot is that it all shot well. Well enough. At 15-yards using a sandbag to support my hands, 5-shot groups hovered under 3 inches, and none were 3 inches. The best was the 200-gr. Hornady Custom .44 Mag. load, just under 2 inches. I went 15 yards because that’s a realistic distance for what I had in mind for this gun.

And?

This one here fits very squarely into the “niche” category that all the market research likely found for Taurus. My recommendation of this gun hinges totally on subjectivity. What it is, to me, is the most powerful handgun I could find that I was willing to carry, and willing to pay for. That’s actually a lot of things it is, and a lot of things it isn’t. It’s not the most pleasant, or the most powerful, or the easiest to carry, or the “most” of any one thing. It’s a lot of a few things that mattered to me, and something that mattered very much is that its quality got a “good” box-check.

Would I recommend it? Yes! No! As a gun, yes, I recommend it. As a concept, no, not unless you need what I need, or what I think I need. There is a 7-shot .357 Mag. version that might be more agreeable for more people.

Hornady Critical Defense 44 ammunition boxes
If you decide on something like this, don’t forget to let Little Brother tag along! Running .44 Special makes this Tracker very pleasant (and still potent). The 300-gr. Hornady .44 Mag. makes it beyond potent. Such power choice is unique to revolvers.

I’ve shot the fool out of this revolver (nearing 600 rounds so far) and I have absolute faith and confidence in it.

Objectively, I’m impressed with it, and more than I thought I would be. I have fairly high expectations for all firearms, by the way. It’s my first big revolver that wasn’t a Smith & Wesson, and it’s my first Taurus, and, while it is not a Smith, it’s about 90-percent of one for 50-percent of the cost.

Do you own a Taurus Tracker 44? Share your review in the comment section.

Check out the Zediker Publishing website for more articles and to see all the books written by Glen.


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Comments (13)

  1. I own a Taurus Raging Bull 44 mag with a 6.5 inch barrel and a red dot on top. The gun is heavy (not sure how heavy) but that weight makes it easy to shoot. The most I’ve shot out of it in one sitting was 35 magnum rounds. Even one handed shooting is relatively easy. It’s more taxing to hold the thing up than it is to shoot it. My purpose for the gun was hunting. It fits that purpose well. I have shot the red dot out to 80 yards off of a rest and am able to keep groups around 8 inches with the dot. I know this gun is capable of much more precise accuracy with the proper optic. I limit my range to 50 yards with it when hunting. 240 grain hollow point hydroshocks.

  2. I have spent a fair bit of time prospecting, fishing and camping in interior Alaska and north central Idaho. After a run in with a bull moose way out in the Seward Peninsula, 100 miles north of Nome, (It was being chased by a grizzly, we found out the next day from the tracks) I realized that it made little sense to carry the 12 gauge as my only critter gun, because when I was working with prospecting equipment the shotgun was leaning against the 4 wheeler or something, and not where I could rapidly get it. Same went for camping trips, the shotgun was usually not at hand unless I was traveling or hiking. I put it down in camp. So I bought 2 Trackers, the 44 Mag for Alaska and the .357 for Idaho (where I go in Idaho is black bears and cougar country only, no grizzlies). These are not target guns for lots of practice or fun, especially the 44 Mag. Shoot a full power 44 mag under a tin roof at the range and the whole roof rings like a bell. Quite pleasant to shoot the 44 Specials in however. I have smaller than medium hands and the factory ribbed grips work wonders for me. I am in fact a big fan of the factory ribbed grips. As the writer of this article said, though, the bottom line for me is that it is the lightest full power (not the overpower Buffalo Bore etc. loads) 44 mag defense pistol I could find. Carrying it all day on my hip is much easier than the big Rugers and Smiths, and so it is more likely to be on me when I need it instead of put down “over there” because it was interfering with my activities. My wife has taken to the 357 very well, she doesnt shoot very often but when she does she will shoot, standing unsupported, a 3 inch group of all 7 rounds at 15 yards using 38 Special wadcutters her dad loaded. It is her home defense gun as well, even though she also has a Trooper III in .357/.38. The 44 Mag tracker with regular magnum loads is truly a gun meant “to be carried often and shot little”.

  3. As a fan of the 44 bullet,, Bottom line in .44 caliber for me is: 44 Magnum loads are for my Marlin Lever Action Rifle, and 44 Special are for the pistols. Shooting a Magnum load from a hand gun, especially a 4 inch or less barrel is mostly a waste of powder.
    The 44 special is an excellent hand gun load, But the Magnum loads in a pistol just adds needless recoil and is less stable.
    However,,,,, if you’re one of the immature types that gets all giggly from seeing a BIG ORANGE FIRE BALL come out of your gun, then by all means, shoot the 44 Magnum loads

  4. I bought a Taurus Tracker for my wife 2 years ago. I would have to agree with most of what is in this article. Compared to my Smith and Wesson 629-1 it is not as comfortable to shoot and the trigger in double action and singles action is not as refined, However, it is very good. With lighter loads in 44 special recoil is on par with a 9mm in a full size auto. Heavy 44 mag ammo is not pleasant but it wont hurt you either.
    My wife and I have a cabin in northern WI with more bears for neighbors than people. I picked up the Taurus for my wife based on size and weight. She needed something lighter and more compact than my 629-1.
    When loaded with Underwood 44 Special 255 Grain 21 BHN Lead Keith-Type Semi-Wadcutters at 1000 fps its plenty for black bear defense. It really doesn’t kick more than a hot 158 grain .357 mag with this load but it provides big bore diameter with nearly 100 grains more bullet weight. It could really be described as a lighter loaded and lower recoil 44 mag.
    I consider the 44 tracker a nice handgun and a great value.

  5. I wonder how this stacks up to the 45 LC that Taurus has like the Judge. I have 2 different ones and always wondered about the comparison.

  6. In your email blast the picture is of a Colt Python… not that Taurus Tracker. That’s the second one I’ve received with a wrong pic.

  7. yes I’m a taurus fan & I have 2 tracker 44 (1 blued & 1 stainless). I use the 44 mag as my home defense round & the 44 special as my range round, but since I’m a reloader I found the 44 Russian is a great introductory round to the 44 & can be fired with very little recoil.

  8. I recently purchased the companion to this revolver – Taurus 692. Which is a 3″ version of the same frame in.357/38 spl and 9mm. The 692 version is also ported and has a 7 round cylinder. It is dual cylinder model coming with a 9mm cylinder and what Taurus calls “Stellar” clips (aka “moon clips”) I can concur that the fit/finish of the stainless steel was actually good. The trigger is well, just acceptable. I think with some use it will improve but it does stack a little, not enough to be a deal breaker but enough to be noticed. I’ve fired about 350 rounds of .38spl and 9mm and it has performed without any issues. Cylinder exchange to 9mm was simple and functioned as expected. The “Ribber” grip is in my hands ok but I think a replacement may be in this gun’s future. The one thing that should be brought to the attention of potential buyers is that Taurus has done away with its lifetime warranty. Any firearm manufactured after July 1, 2017 is now on a 1 year warranty which is pretty much like the rest of the industry. Taurus does say that any firearm manufactured prior to July 1, 2017 will still be honored under the previous lifetime warranty. Given the spotty reputation that Taurus has, I don’t think this was a wise move on their part unless they truly have improved their quality control. Personally, I own several different Taurus models both revolver and semi-auto and have not had any issues with any of them with the exception of one semi-auto being somewhat ammo sensitive which could happen with any manufacturer’s line of guns. One design or another is bound to be picky about its diet. Bottom Line… If you have interest or a need for a medium frame reliable revolver and don’t have a thousand dollars or more to spend, the Taurus Tracker line is worth the consideration, Just understand that it isn’t a S&W, Colt or Kimber K6.

  9. I’m looking at getting the .44 as I have the .357 tracker and love it. Taurus may not be perfect but I’ve owned mine for 20 years now. I also switched to the Hogue grip on mine.

  10. Tracker is not a .44 Mag gun. If you are a handloader, then the Tracker is a greater .44 spl +P+ gun. Loaded as a “.44 lite Mag”, this is a great trail/backpacker gun. Using “starter” loads, with your bullet of choice, Tracker is also a great “HOG” gun. If you want to shoot full power .44 Mag loads, then get a Ruger!

  11. I own and love the Tracker 44. No I don’t carry it often, but any time I am headed for big bear woods it is sure to be on my hip or in my pack. I found this gun to be surprisingly accurate, especially with the HSM Bear Load which is a 305 grain hardcast lead bullet. This bullet is made to punch through heavy bone, not to expand. While recoil is quite heavy I wouldn’t carry anything else in bear country. Off of the bench I was able to achieve a 1 1/4” 5 shot group at 50 yards with this particular load from my gun. To say I was thrilled is an understatement. Yes I was taking my time but it proved to me the gun is very accurate as long as I do my job, and no I don’t usually shoot a handgun at 50 yards, but at 10 yards the groups encouraged stretching farther. I did have to lower the rear sight almost the whole way down to shoot point of sight at 25 yards but have been very pleased with this gun. As far as 240 grain recoil it is quite stout but in perspective by brother in law has a small frame S&W in .357 Mag which I think kicks every bit as hard but is harder to hold onto due to small hard grip. To each his own, but for the $ this big bore pistol is hard to beat. Oh and they load the Travker down to a .17 Rimfire as well. Very fun little squirrel gun, with similar fit and feel to it’s big big .44 brother.

  12. Good article and I agree with your points. As Smith & Wessons, and some of the other brands, reach the price point of a grand or more (yes, they have guns less than that, but, not the caliber/configuration I want), many of us non-independently wealthy shooters are forced to step down the counter from the S&W display, to look at other options. Taurus does indeed fill a niche. The problems of a few years ago, appear to be behind them. Hopefully it stays that way.

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