Back-Up Gun Extraordinaire.
Announced at the SHOT Show in January 2014, the Taurus View gave many of us in the industry a “WTF?” moment. A clear sideplate to see the internal workings? Why? A vestigial little grip frame? No one’s gonna be able to hang onto it, and at only nine ounces, the recoil’s gonna be impossible. And, good Lord, a 1″ barrel? Nobody’s gonna be able to hit anything with it! And, the first thing most noticed after the clear side-plate: Shouldn’t there be, like, an ejector rod?
Once I got one in my hand, it turned out that while some criticisms were justified, at least in part, the Taurus promised to be a whole lot more useful than it looked.
The View is the smallest, lightest .38 revolver we know of.
Works best for deep cover and a sort of “last ditch” back-up gun.
This is the master grip that worked best for Mas with the Taurus
View. The middle finger tucks tightly under rear of triggerguard,
giving room for the ring finger to wrap around grip, while little
finger curls snugly under the butt. Note clear side plate, hence
the “View” moniker.
First View of the View
The initial response of most to the transparent sideplate was (cough) gimmick (cough). But hell, my own first reaction was a mental image of a Model 10 S&W with Lexan sideplate from Brownells, on a demonstration gun for beginning students to show them how a revolver worked. It used to sit next to my cutaway Glock 17, kept for the same purpose. Part of the mission parameter of the View was to be the smallest, lightest .38 Special revolver ever. They have succeeded in that, and I wonder if the transparent sideplate took off an ounce or a fraction thereof to help make the goal.
The “1″” barrel actually measures more like 11/2″ on my test View, serial number GZ79524. The front sight resembles a reverse dorsal fin and, as we’ll soon see, should have been made higher. The grip-frame is a bit under that 11/2″ in the front-strap, and only about 2.2″ down from the horn of the backstrap. This brings the whole gun’s height down to a mere 31/2″, a little over 3/4″ shorter than the Taurus 85 series from which it was adapted. If you have a big hand with sausage fingers, there’ll be barely room for your middle finger to wrap around the grip. Almost vestigial little super-flat plastic grip panels are found on each side, sharply checkered to offer what little grip traction they can.
Speaking of “vestigial,” that’s the word for the ejector rod. It extends no more than .20″ from the front of the crane. A spent .38 Special casing is .90″ long, just so you know.
Construction is a vichyssoise of metallurgy used to make the super-light weight parameter. The barrel is reportedly Titanium for weight reduction, inside an aluminum sleeve. The cylinder is Titanium. The transparent sideplate is Lexan. Aluminum is used heavily (no pun intended) throughout.
With its stubby ejector rod, sometimes the View’s spent casings clear, and
sometimes they don’t. That’s normal even with the longer ejector rod in the
more conventional small-rame guns.
Here, Mas rapid-fires the Taurus View. With the right grip, it’s controllable,
but is not +P-rated, and that’s not a bad thing.
View: The Shooting
When the View first came out, there was some question as to whether it was rated for +P .38 Special or not. Taurus finally announced it wasn’t. “Damn,” growled what’s left of my youthful, macho self. “Thank God,” squeaked my somewhat arthritic gun hand.
Recoil is almost everyone’s first question about this little beast, and it just wasn’t that bad. Not a whole lot different than standard-pressure ammo in the S&W 342 Titanium .38 Special, which is rated for +P and maybe an ounce or two heavier than the View. And similar to the same light loads in the 11-ounce S&W 340PD .357 Mag., which with full Magnum ammo is a combination revolver and torture device.
The entire grip-frame is swept back, as if trying to give the revolver a Luger-like grip angle. It pulls the middle knuckle of the middle finger away from the back of the trigger guard and doubtless saves some bruising.
With little to hang onto, I found by trial and error I got the best control of the View with a modified grasp by the primary hand. I tucked the median joint of the middle finger under the rear of the triggerguard, where it would be on a spurred trigger guard such as the old S&W .44 Russian Model of the 19th Century. This is the grasp the great Oklahoma gunfighter and FBI instructor Jelly Bryce used on his N-Frame Smith & Wessons. On the View, it created room for the ring finger to get its fingerprint solidly wrapped around the grip-frame, with its fingerprint flat on one grip panel. The little finger tucked tight under the butt, to keep the little gun from rolling upward on recoil. The thumb was straight under the cylinder: not far enough forward to be in the way of the barrel/cylinder gap, but where it couldn’t block the trigger finger. Taurus has rounded and polished the cylinder latch to keep it from scraping the thumb on recoil. I appreciate that.
The DAO trigger pull was pleasingly smooth, and evenly distributed from beginning to end. Rolling slowly, one could catch a two-stage feel. The gun pre-timed — a good thing — and the early lockup let an experienced trigger finger know the gun was about to fire. On a Lyman digital gauge, pull weight proved very consistent and averaged 11 pounds, 11.3 ounces.
With no front lug, View’s forward lockup occurs when niche in frame
(1) captures spring-loaded lug on cylinder crane (2).
Arrow shows “prairie dogged” 158-gr. lead bullet that has moved forward from
recoil of previous shots, blocking cylinder rotation as it hits breechface of
barrel. Interestingly, round in next chamber has not done so.
I started testing with lead bullet loads, 148-gr. wadcutters and 158-gr. standard velocity service loads. The latter didn’t work out well; after two to three shots, the gun locked up every time. Recoil force was bouncing the heavy lead bullets forward out of their weak crimps, until the bullets “prairie-dogged” their noses out of the front of the cylinder and came to a dead stop against the breechface of the barrel.
By then I had already discovered that from 25 yards, both Black Hills 148-gr. mid-range Match wadcutters and Winchester 158-gr. round nose lead “service loads” weren’t hitting the IPSC target. They were going high. I moved in to 7 yards, held for a center head shot, and fired one shot. No hole appeared in the target. Another WTF moment. I lowered the sights to the center of the throat, and squeezed off two more wadcutters. Two clean holes appeared on the upper right corner of the head. Hmmm …
I obviously needed something that usually shot low from a .38, and fortuitously, I had some 130-gr. full metal jacket .38 Special practice loads already on the table, which fit that description. Aiming at a big Shoot-N-C bulls-eye belly high on the target from 25 yards, the shots went high right into the silhouette’s left shoulder area. I held on the very bottom left edge of the silhouette, and was at last rewarded with five “center mass” hits on the IPSC target, four of them in the center A-zone and one to the right in the C-zone. The group measured 5.4″ for all five shots, with the best three in 23/4″. The group was approximately 15″ high at 25 yards, and 7″ to 8″ right.
I moved in to 7 yards and reloaded. Most of the spent casings throughout the test fell free of their Titanium cylinder despite the stumpy ejector rod, though a few did hang in and force me to pluck them out. Well, we got used to that about 65 years ago with the first S&W Chief Special and its somewhat less stubby ejector rod. An HKS Speedloader for a J-Frame sort of fit; I say “sort of” because it hung up on an angle on the plastic grip panel. The folks who carry speedloaders tend to carry revolvers with longer rods, and generally, larger revolvers.
From 7 yards, holding for the throat, I squeezed off five 130-gr. FMJ Winchesters. All five hit in the head box of the target, in a 1.65″ group, the best three in 0.55″. The group was centered some 3.8″ high at 7 yards, and about an 11/2″ right. Looking at the gun from above, the barrel seemed tilted just a whisker to the right.
At that point, I gave up on the accuracy testing.
As with S&W J-Frames, small-frame Taurus revolvers have better rear sights than
in their early days. Note the spurless, flush-fit, double-action-only hammer,
with integral gun lock keyway.
Taurus View, below, is distinctly smaller (and lighter!) than
conventional small frame Taurus 5-shot, above.
If my View had a whiff of lemon in it, my friend Chris Christian’s did not. At 7 yards, Chris told me he was getting 1.5″ groups about an 11/2″ above point of aim with his View, and dead center for windage. He liked his test sample so much he bought it to carry as a backup in the pocket of his jeans. A Master shooter in IDPA, he considers it a super-close-range “get off me” gun.
(Editor’s Note: My own test View, serial-numbered about 20 higher than Mas’, grouped about like Chris’ but was about 2″ right and 3″ high at 7 yards with 148-gr. wadcutters. RH)
The View carries an MSRP of $599. Titanium ain’t cheap. It absolutely is the smallest, lightest .38 Special ever made to my knowledge. It’s so small and light you can literally forget it’s there. Whether that is good or bad depends on the situation. Except for the lead bullet 158-gr. ammo locking up the gun (Taurus needs to warn about that, as S&W did with their super-light revolvers), there were no malfunctions.
By Massad Ayoob