I’ve dubbed Taurus‘ new polymer-framed, stainless, .357 Mag wheelgun the “MIGHTY small.” As a concealed-carry firearm, the DT delivers on the promise of being best in class for size, weight and accuracy. But what exactly is this class of firearm?
The Taurus is a unique design, and its closest competitor is the Ruger LCR. Ruger’s approach is modular and utilizes three major components: a stainless steel cylinder frame/barrel assembly; a polymer fire-control housing, which includes a trigger, hammer, sear and mainspring; and a stainless steel cylinder/crane subassembly. The DT builds on an integrated design that was pioneered by the Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer. Like the Public Defender, the DT has a full-metal skeleton bonded to a polymer exterior frame. Underneath it is a steel substructure that goes all the way around, over the top of the stainless cylinder and down the back to form the recoil shield. The crane and ejector rod are seated into another steel subframe, and a polymer topstrap and barrel shroud surrounds the 2-inch barrel and supports a notched rear and raised red fiber-optic front sight. The frame is black polymer with a subtle, almost shiny bead-blasted look, contrasting the polished stainless cylinder, ejector rod, hammer and trigger.
The trick to making this 20-ounce, 2-inch snubnose manageable to shoot is energy-absorbing grips, and the DT’s Taurus-designed rubber grips do the job. This is, nonetheless, a handful to shoot with .357 Mag tactical loads like Federal Premium 158-grain Hydra-Shok JHP, one of three types of ammunition used for the range test. The step up from a .38 Special +P to a .357 Magnum is a pretty big one, considering that a high-power CorBon .38 +P sends a 110-grain bullet from a 2-inch barrel downrange at 1,050 fps on average, while a 100-grain CorBon Pow’RBall .357 Mag clocks in at nearly 1,500 fps.
As a carry gun, the DT .357 stacks up nicely against other small-frame .357 Mags, with an overall length of 6.7 inches, a height of 4.6 inches and a maximum width of 1.25 inches. Compared to all-steel .357 Mag snubnose revolvers like the Taurus Model 651, the weight savings is approximately 5 ounces, and while that may seem nominal, it is over a quarter-pound, a big number when you’re talking concealed-carry firearms.
Somewhere between shoulder holsters, pocket holsters, belt rigs and ankle holsters is the inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster. Among concealed-carry techniques, IWB is one of the most effective, especially with smaller handguns like the Taurus DT .357. Looking at a variety of carry methods for the new Taurus, I decided to try the DeSantis Gunhide Intruder IWB. DeSantis makes leather-and-molded-Kydex IWB rigs for revolvers and semi-autos. While physically very large, the Intruder is designed to provide a new level of comfort for concealed carry, and since almost all of it is out of sight, size really isn’t a big factor in this case—with the DeSantis Intruder, it is, in fact, a plus.
Most IWB rigs use a spring-steel or injection-molded clip to secure the holster to the wearer’s belt, and the entire holster pouch, the gun’s upper frame and grips are left up against the wearer’s side. The Intruder takes a different approach, using a contoured Kydex holster riveted to the front of a large, contoured leather skirt. The leather forms around the body to keep the hardware from making contact and thus provides a buffer between you everything but the gun grips, which are made of soft rubber in the DT .357’s case. Two large, spring-steel clips that go over the belt secure the Intruder, and an included set of alternate clips can make the holster fully tuckable. Covered by a shirt, sweater, sweatshirt or jacket, the Intruder provides excellent concealment and quick access to your firearm. The molded Kydex holster solidly retains the gun, which clicks firmly into place while remaining easy to draw. The Intruder is also adjustable for both height and cant. The Taurus dropped right in, sat securely and was easy to draw, reholster and conceal. The Intruder is available in black only for $59.95.
Although this is a comparatively small and lightweight gun for a .357 Mag, it is no featherweight when it comes to handling. The double-action trigger pull on my test gun punched past the 12-pound limit with 0.75 inches of travel to cycle the action and drop the hammer. But thumb-cock that shiny, checkered, stainless steel hammer and the trigger pull drops to a modest 4.8 pounds on average. The hammer is wide and the checkering deep, so cocking the DT .357 is almost effortless, and there’s plenty of room alongside the steeply angled polymer triggerguard to safely rest the trigger finger until needed. Firing single-action, the DT .357’s trigger operates smoothly, and even in double-action, with a little practice that long, heavy pull becomes predictable though still a bit heavier than most.
The cylinder rotates counterclockwise like an S&W, and the large, serrated, stainless steel thumb release makes quick work of getting the cylinder opened for a quick reload. The cartridge dump, however, is slow, with one or two rounds habitually needing to be physically extracted after working the ejector.
My test ammunition was a mix of grain weights beginning with CorBon 100-grain Pow’RBall followed by Hornady Critical Defense 125-grain FTX and then heavy-hitting Federal Premium 158-grain Hydra-Shok JHP. All three brands clocked over 1,000 fps from the DT .357’s 2-inch barrel: 1,490 fps with the 100-grain CorBon, 1,060 fps with the 158-grain Hydra-Shock JHP and a swift 1,170 fps with the Hornady Critical Defense 125-grain FTX, which was the most accurate, printing a 1.25-inch, five-shot group in the bullseye. Next best, and no small accomplishment with its hefty kick, was the Hydra-Shok, which grouped at 1.75 inches with one in the 10-ring at 2 o’clock and four in a vertical line to the right. CorBon, which was the fastest through our ProChrono traps, also grouped 1.75 inches in the 10- and 9-rings at 4 o’clock.
Based on the three loads evaluated, the best ammunition for this gun was the one in the middle for grain weight, the Hornady Critical Defense 125-grain FTX, which also had the most manageable recoil. All three brands delivered results that would be fight-stopping at the test distance of 21 feet. All shots were fired single-action at one-second intervals using a Weaver stance and two-hand hold. And with a gun that has a barrel scarcely a half-inch longer than the cartridge, two hands is really the way to go.
Taurus has packed a lot of power into a comparatively lightweight polymer-and-steel revolver that looks like a sci-fi version of an S&W Model 49 (or a Taurus 651) with a slightly raised hammer. That may be the best way to describe the DT .357. It is futuristic, the type of gun that, despite being a revolver, has the design and structure to endure well into the 21st century. It’s cutting-edge technology in a gun that, by design, is more than 50 years old, proof that some things are timeless and that technology has the potential to make what’s old new again—even a five-shot revolver. For more information, visit taurususa.com or call 305-624-1115. For more information on DeSantis, visit desantisholster.com or call 800-424-1236.
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