Every so often a gun becomes, at least in my humble opinion, greater than the sum of its parts , and the .357 Taurus 692 Tracker is one of those guns. I say “357 Magnum,” but the 692 really is a “.357 Magnum, .38 Special, 9mm and .380 revolver.”
The .357/.38 Special makes perfectly good sense because, as we all know, the .357 Magnum is simple a hotter and slightly longer version of the .38 Special, thank you, Elmer Keith. The 9mm/.380 part comes courtesy of the second cylinder for 9mm. The .380 is a bonus (that Taurus doesn’t suggest or recommend, BTW).. The coolest thing about the 692 is how easy it is to change cylinders.
Simply open up the cylinder and push the small button on the right side of the frame. Pull the .357 cylinder out; push the button again and put the 9mm cylinder in. No problemo.
Taurus isn’t the only gun company with a dual cylinder .357/9mm revolver. The German Korth, imported by Nighthawk Custom, has a number of guns in .357 with a “fitted and tuned” 9mm cylinder. Pricewise, the Korth Mongoose with two cylinders and a 4-inch barrel, comes in at a tidy $4,849. If you want the one with bells and whistles, the Super Sport, be prepared to pony up $6,149. Heck, I’m afraid to even touch a Korth for fear of scratching the surface and having to leave my American Express card in years-long bondage!
Did I mention that the 692 Tracker prices range from $639 to $705 MSRP. Best case, the 692 can be found for just below six bills. Yes, I am perfectly aware that one gets what one pays for, but when the prices reach up into the “ten days in Africa” or a nice two-cylinder revolver…I’m sure you understand!
Let’s do the specs…everybody loves specs!
- Frame Size: Medium
- Barrel Lengths: 2.5, 3.0, 6.5 inches, 8 ports
- Caliber/Capacity: .357/.38 Special, 7 rounds; 9mm. 7 rounds with aux cylinder
- Sights: Rear adjustable; red insert front sight
- Frame Material: Steel alloy or Stainless steel
- Finishes Available: Matt Stainless or Matt Black
- Weight: 32 – 46 ounces, depending on configuration
- Safety: Transfer Bar
- Grip: Taurus Rubber Grip
- Trigger: Wide, smooth
Mine is a 3-inch steel alloy matt black version, which I think is just about perfect for a general purpose revolver.
In terms of shooting, now after a mixed lot of about 250 rounds (hey, remember the days when we shot “Thousands?”) I have had no reliability problems at all. Nor did I expect any. I have a pretty deep relationship with Taurus revolvers; a couple of my all-time favorite revolvers are Taurus (including my Taurus .44 Magnum Raging Hunter). I have found them to be excellent guns. A good friend of mine to my Taurus Raging .357 and shot the best groups he’d ever shot from a revolver. I have an ancient steel-frame Taurus .44 Special, overhauled by the great Jim Stroh at Alpha Precision that will heads-up outshoot all of my other .44 Specials, and that includes S&Ws, Ruger’s and a custom from Hamilton Bowen. For years I cared a small frame ultralight weight Taurus .38 Special, and I never had the slightest trouble with it.
In general, I don’t shoot a lot of groups for an “evaluation.” That’s because my experience has been that each example of a specific model is slightly different than every other individual specimen. I have one, and in general extrapolating from a set with a single unit in it is pretty much a fool’s game. At 15 yards the baseline .357s that I use, Fiocchi 125-gr JSPs, printed center on my steel, and I didn’t have any problem stacking the rounds on top of each other. The 150-gr Federal 9mm Match rounds printed higher, but not significantly so. And they were cupcakes to shoot. The .380s were low, but, again, not crazy low.
I just came back from the range where I was shooting my two mostest-favoritest .357 loads ever — the Hornady Critical Duty (note…not “Critical Defense”) 135-gr@1275 fps and the late, lamented Cor-Bon DPX 125@1300 fps. You can see these are not cupcake loads. Here’s where I want to talk about two things I generally don’t like — a ported muzzle and rubber grips. The 692 has four ports on each side of the front sight, same as my .44 Magnum Raging Hunter. Bluntly said, they work. Working in conjunction with the Taurus rubber grips, those two loads felt like .38 Specials. Yes, this is a mid-sized frame gun, but I collect GP-100s…I shoot a lot of mid-sized frame guns. Seriously, this combo takes the bite out of “standard” .357 loads…it’s just plain impressive.
I would suggest if you get a 692, pick the round you plan to carry and sight the gun in with that. Sight it in at 10 yards, sight it in at 15 yards, pretty much any distance works. Then shoot a few of the other rounds you are thinking of shooting in the gun and see where they group vis-a-vis the primary round. Write the results down (or save the target)…there may well be a test. I usually sight my competition revolver in at 15 yards, then I “verify ” it at 25 and 50 yards.
The 7 1/2 pound single action trigger (10-shot average on my Lyman digital gauge) feels lighter because of the excellently designed smooth, wide trigger. The DA pull (10 round average, same same) clocks in at 11.1 pounds, which is pretty darn good for an out-of-the-box gun. There’s no trouble running full-bore .357s DA through it all day long.
The matt black finish and I may have issues…I have been routinely drawing out of a holster — we’ll talk about holsters a bit later — and the frame is already showing signs of wear. If you’ve watched SHOOTING GALLERY or read my stuff on the site, you know that in general, I don’t care how my “working” guns look. Use the gun, shoot it a lot, draw it from a holster and it’s gonna show signs of wear. I half-way think I might like to Cerakote the gun — no, not Walmart Terrycloth Jumpsuit Baby Blue! — and the .357 cylinder say, matt gray, then leave the 9mm cylinder matt black. You’ve already figured this out…I’ve run the gun out to my backyard range with a handful of .357 ammo and the 9mm cylinder…grumble grumble. I’d love to have the cylinders different color.
Holsters are just a bit tricky at this point. It will fit in some GP-100 holsters.
In my case, the 692 dropped into my 3-inch GP-100 Simply Rugged Pancake and my Simply Rugged crossdraw for a 5-inch GP-100 like it was made for it. I love crossdraws for a trail gun! On the other hand, the 692 will not fit at all in a Graveyard Jack’s GP-100 holster Kydex-wise, my 692 fits pretty well into an old Blade-Tech (I think) OWB…I don’t believe Blade-Tech lists that holster anymore.
I’ve also been using the amazingly good Garrett Silent Thunder Kydex lined with leather made for a GP-100 ages ago. Garrett builds exceptional holsters (and, yes, they are expensive), but it is a slick deal. I bought it to use as a competition holster for ICORE, but ultimately went to Comp-Tac Kydex race holsters.
How to Load the Monster
You certainly have a lot of options:
• With rimmed .38 Special and .357s, drop ’em in the appropriately labeled/colored cylinder.
• Speed strips, plastic strips that hold 6 or 7 cartridges. Originally, Bianchi was the only one making speed strips, but now you have lots to choose from (here’s the Midway USA link). I use Tuff Strips and have about a million of them. One advantage of speed strips is because they take up very little space you can use them for different loads. For example, if I am carrying a trail gun, it’s loaded for whatever problems I anticipate might pop up…shot for snakes, heavy for bears, etc. I can carry a Tuff Strip with my regular antipersonnel rounds…paranoid, but comforting.
• As you can see, 9mms can be dropped into the 9mm cylinder without a moon clip because it headspace on the case mouth. My cases just feel out, but it’s conceivable you might need to poke them out with a pencil. But they do work.
• The 9mms can be loaded in moon clips. I am currently using TK Custom .025 moon clips specifically for the 692. I have order some less expensive moon clips (from Revolver Supply and EZ Moon Clips) that are supposed to work, and I’ll let you know.
• The .stubby little .380s must be loaded in moon clips. I am using the .380- specific TK Custom moons at .032.
Some speed loader and moon clip management strategies…separate practice loaders from Real World-use reloaders. Drop the speedloaders or the moon clips on the ground enough times and 1) the speedloaders will crack and 2) the moon clips will bend. Ask me how I know this.
Plus, for the moons, you might well need some other gadgets, including a de-mooner to pop the spent cases out of the clips and a moon clip loader to pop them into the clips. You can do both without the tools, but your fingers will hurt and eventually you’ll bend a moon clip. Because I shoot a lot of revolver, I have such toys.
If you’re a gadget-free zone, use a pencil with an eraser to pop the spent round off the clip, and when loading, line the round up into the moon clip and then push it straight down while resting it on a flat surface. This is why my desk has funny little dents and scratches on it.
From a Prepper’s Standpoint
If I can sum up a pepper’s mindset, it is to be prepared for any number of “failures of civilities,” which particular failure not specified. As we are already in a pretty spectacular storm of problems in the U.S. today, it is worth noting that no matter what the crisis, after toilet paper, ammo is the first thing to disappear. Here’s a good example from this morning…Russian ammo is banned by the stroke of a pen. AK standard 7.62 x 39 ammo doubled in price between yesterday afternoon and midnight last night. It’s not 11 AM this morning and 7.62 X 39 is darned hard to fine, and there are already ammo purchase caps on many big Internet dealers.
That was quick, wasn’t it?
Trust me when I tell you it can get a lot quicker. If I could make a sweeping generalization, I would say that in terms of handguns, the vast majority of the people I know in the pepper community have settled on some flavor of polymer-framed, striker-fired 9mm semiautomatic as the pistol of choice. That means the money designated to a handgun purchase goes to the 9mm semi.
There are, however, things a revolver can do that no semiautomatic can match. Semis are designed to operate in a specific band of pressure, usually centered around the baseline loads. It is hard, if not impossible, to get a semiautomatic pistol to function with all ammo, from the very lightest to the very heaviest.
The great thing about a revolver is its ability to digest pretty much anything. The Taurus 692 with it’s .357/.38 cylinder can range from puffball .38 Special 148-gr wadcutter loads, which range anywhere from 530 to 800 feet per second to heavy bullet, high velocity .357 rounds designed for hunting deer-sized game. Whatever 9mm ammo you’ve selected for your primary handgun(s) will also work just fine in the 692 with or without moon clips. The TK .380 moon clips adds one more caliber opportunity. We have also learned in the COVID/Democratic administration ammo panics is that the lyrics to the classic Rolling Stone song couldn’t be more true:
“No, you can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometime you find
You get what you need”
A revolver that works with 4 calibers increases by 4X the opportunity for finding ammo to feed it. Should you have to pass off the revolver to someone without a lot of firearms experience, hits with 148-gr .38 wadcutters and 95-grain .380s still count toward one’s overall score, which is defined as “not dying.”
I have always thought that if I was limited to a handgun-only loadout, I would want my regular EDC (hint…,for the TEOTWAWKI, it’s a Glock 19) on my waist and a more powerful revolver in a shoulder holster on my weak side. The revolver would be stoked with hunting loads,, which will work equally well on all sorts of four- and two-legged animals. I even had Robert Hummelbaugh at Survival Sheath Systems work up a shoulder high for a .44 Magnum Redhawk.
Let’s Sum It Up
Everybody should have a .357 revolver. They work great as a home defense tool; work for carrying in the backcountry, work as an EDC if you’re willing to slog with the weight. As you may have gathered from this review and our TRIGGERED episode, The Taurus 692 impressed the heck out of me, more than I expected it to. Keeping in mind that Taurus is a sponsor and that I count Taurus CEO Brett Vorhees as a friend, I expected the 692 to be solid, but unimpressive. I was very wrong on that. The 692 is a very well thought-out revolver, one that I am happy to say I am purchasing rather than sending back to Taurus. To sum it up in a sentence, it fills a niche I didn’t realize I had. Good job, Taurus!