Saturday, March 11, 2023

Size Matters, Except When It Doesn't

Taurus's older Model 85 small-frame .38 Special revolver was a five-shooter almost exactly the same size as Smith & Wesson's J-frame family, enough so that they fit the same holster.

Despite the protestations of some Taurus fanboys that the new 856 is the same size as the 85, just with an extra charge hole somehow magicked into the cylinder, it ain't. It's a bigger gun.

Here's a Taurus 327, built on the same frame as the 856, side-by-side with a Smith & Wesson 432PD. Both are .32-caliber six-shooters, albeit the Taurus is chambered for .327 Federal Magnum while the Smif is a .32 H&R Mag.

With warm .32 H&R Mag, like the 100gr LSWC from Ventura Munitions, the Airweight Smith is right on the edge of the dreaded "brisk-but-manageable" territory, which is old-school gunwriterspeak for "each shot felt like getting smacked in the palm with a tee ball bat". I tend to favor Federal 95gr LSWC ammo for carry for that reason. No, it doesn't expand, but it's got a nice flat meplat and sharp shoulder and it has yoinks of penetration.

On the other hand, being all steel and therefore a bit heavier, plus having just a teeny bit more grip, the Taurus 327 is plenty controllable with any .32 Mag load you put in it. With .327 Fed, on the other hand, it takes a lot more work for me to keep the muzzle from pointing skyward between shots.

While the Smith is light and small enough to be a coat pocket gun, that's not a role I'd ask of the Taurus.

On the other hand, in a tuckable AIWB belt holster like the Dark Star Gear Apollo, they're essentially the same size...

As an aside, I really wish they hadn't discontinued those compact hard plastic original gangsta J-frame Lasergrips. The closest these days are the LG-105s, which have the same abbreviated "boot grip" contour and smooth plastic construction that won't stick to your shirt like soft rubber does, but I think the placement of the second finger was better for me on the originals.