Gilding the… Dandelion?

I have some handguns for specific purposes. I have a long-barreled .44 Magnum for hunting. I have a number of smaller guns for concealed-carry, and some just for recreational target shooting. Most of them aren’t quite as specialized as my Taurus Model 415 .41 magnum. That’s my, ‘Peeing-in-the-woods-oh-crap-is-that-a-bear?!’ gun.

The Taurus Model 415 .41 Magnum. Matte stainless finish, 2-1/2″ ported barrel and recoil-absorbing 1-piece neoprene grip.

There isn’t much chance I’m going to run into a dangerous animal in the woods while hunting, but it could happen. It makes sense to have a carry gun; something powerful enough to deal with an irritable or inquisitive Black Bear.

To be clear, this is not a ‘hunting handgun,’ it’s a sidearm to carry while hunting, just in case. IN Washington state a handgun used to hunt big game must have at least a 4″ barrel, so this one is right out of the running.

So, relatively small, only slightly larger and heavier than a S&W K-frame but firing a very powerful cartridge. Easy to carry, doesn’t get in the way too much… but it kicks hard. The stock grips do a pretty good job of making the recoil tolerable, but they are a bit ‘sticky,’ tending to grab clothing, and the squishiness of them isn’t ideal for control in rapid-fire. I made a set of custom grips, and while they impart excellent control they are painful with full-power loads. That’s a compromise I can live with; I mean, it’s not like I am going to care if I need to use it. But if I could come up with something better…

The custom grips on the Taurus. Excellent rapid-fire control, but not at all comfortable doing it.

A couple of years ago a friend gave me a set of grips for a large-frame revolver for Christmas. Very fancy, with black enamel and mother-of-pearl inlays. I have a large hand, so these worked out nicely. Some time later I sold that gun, but I kept the grips. I mean, I was bound to get another gun they fit sooner or later.

I ran across those grips last night and thought, ‘I wonder…’ The thing is the Taurus is based on their Tracker revolvers, meaning it has a non-ergonomic grip-frame; one piece grips are slipped on over the frame and secured with a screw at the bottom of the grip. So they might fit, but they’d need some adaptation to secure them.

The solution was pretty simple; I cut some wood pieces and glued them into the grips to properly surround and secure the tang.

The wood inserts secure the grip-frame nicely. The circular piece in the center secures the grips against slipping out.

So, quite a good fit and provides a really nice grip. But it seemed out of place against the matte stainless finish of the gun. OK, that’s easy enough to solve; some buffing, some 3000-grit sandpaper and Flitz metal polish and the now-shiny gun looks much better with the grips.

I left the top-strap matte; there are some bits you don’t want to be shiny.
Since this gun is meant to be deployed in a hurry I cut away the right side if the front of the trigger-guard so my trigger-finger can move between a safe position on the frame to the trigger more quickly and easily.

So, How’s it Shoot?

Better than I do, but that’s not unusual. The large grips have done the trick; while recoil with full-power loads was not what I would call pleasant it wasn’t bad, and with .41 Special loads (210gr. LSWC @ 900 fps.) it was downright tame. I mean, relatively speaking. This gun consistently shoots high and right; I’m likely to modify the sights.

,41 Special, 1 shot per second at seven yards. Shooting high and right, as usual. I think it’s time to make an adjustment to the sights.
Full power .41 magnum loads, rapid-fire at seven yards. Aim point was 6 o’clock.

OK, But… Why?

Not many people will bother to work on a Taurus, and the reason is simple; they can be an iffy proposition. Quality control on Taurus has been… let’s call it whimsical. Generally the Model 85s are consistently good, and some of their new semi-auto pistols are well regarded. Others are catch-as-can; if you get a bad one it’s bad. If you get a good one it can be very good indeed. This irregularity has caused people to regard them, somewhat unfairly, as junk.

This is a good one. But leaving that aside the question remains; why spiff up a working gun like this? My response is, why not? Why shouldn’t I have a ‘fancy’ gun as a sidearm for hunting? I’m not stalking perps through dark alleys; it doesn’t matter if the gun is reflective or has fancy grips. If the gun is holstered the shiny bits are covered; if I need it the shininess is irrelevant.

Anyway, it’s my gun, it’s cool and I like it. Good enough.

Michael Tinker Pearce, 18 January 21

3 thoughts on “Gilding the… Dandelion?

  1. Cory Cepelak Sr

    Well, she looks purty. I may someday try a Taurus revolver, I passed up a very good deal on an 85 years ago and it haunts me.

    What are you carrying this in, something homegrown?

  2. Mort

    I’ve always thought a 4” barrel was a great size for a ‘field gun’. I’ve got 3 that qualify as field guns: two Charter Arms Target Bulldogs in 32 Mag and 44 Special. The 44 Special is wicked accurate, can make soda cans dance at 50 yards. And used it to dispatch a moose head shot

    But my field gun while hunting has become a Taurus Tracker 45 Colt. Now if I could only find some Speer shotshells for grouse/ptarmigan.


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