Whether it’s camping, hiking, fishing, hunting or even just plinking, the need for a dependable small-bore handgun will always be greater than any other platform. With the lighter weight than that of a larger caliber gun and the ability to carry to a couple hundred rounds in the space normally filled about a pair of .45 ACP magazines, the small-bore demand has always been high. For most of these needs, the .22 LR platform has always reigned king, but there will always been those who prefer a bit more power and range. For these shooters, the .22 Winchester Magnum Revolver (WMR) offering an average of 30% more performance than the standard .22 LR will always be first choice. For this week’s article, we will take a look at a classic in the revolver market from a company you may not immediately consider when looking for an outdoor kit gun, the Taurus 941.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the company, Taurus USA was officially founded in 1984. Although that doesn’t seem very long, Taurus has been importing firearms to the States from its factory in Porto Alegre, Brazil since the 1960’s under various other names and partner companies over the years. Departing from its origins as a small tool maker, the first Taurus pistol rolled off its Brazilian assembly line in 1941. The model 38101SO revolver incorporated several design features influenced by Colt, Smith and Wesson and Spanish pistols of the time. This revolver helped Taurus become a powerhouse in the South American firearms market. By 1968, Taurus attempted to break through in the United States market with mild success.
After controlling interest in Taurus was purchased by Bangor Punta in 1970, who also owned 54% of Smith & Wesson, a huge information sharing process began between “sister” companies. Although the two companies remained independent of each other, copies of Smith & Wesson firearms were produced by Taurus using cheaper grade materials. From this era, Taurus earned the nickname of “The Poor Man’s Smith & Wesson.” The company has historically been plagued with a reputation for its “hit or miss” quality, but since changing ownership, Taurus has charged ahead in the affordable firearms market. Currently located in Miami, Florida, the present day Taurus USA is well known for its Smith & Wesson and Beretta clones. One particular firearm in the Taurus catalogue that’s well made and has found its place in the industry is this week’s featured firearm, the Model 941 chambered in .22 Magnum.
What is the Taurus 941?
Based off of Smith & Wesson’s J-frame model 63, the 941 is a small framed 8 shot revolver offered in 2 inch and 5 inch barrels as well as blued and stainless steel finish. This article focuses on a 5 inch stainless steel sample. This revolver is light and handy enough to fit into any pack for hiking and accurate enough to be used for hunting small game. The S&W model 63 was once a favorite of the outdoorsman until production of stainless steel models ceased in favor of newer, lighter materials and larger frames. Fans of the model 63’s heft and weight found new interest in its Taurus counterpart. With the absence of the model 63 in production, the 941 found a niche in the firearms market with a strong established following.
After reading and hearing an overwhelming interest in learning about small caliber revolvers from the hunting and hiking fans who reach out to the Swanson Media Group with questions and comments, a majority wanted to see a step up from the .22 Long Rifle to a .22 Magnum in our reviews. The sample Taurus 941 on loan for testing came from a collection owned by a well trusted and highly respected hunter of various small and large game with over 50 years of experience. Fortunately for me, that person also happens to be my father, Rick Swanson. A quick call to North Carolina and the promise of a fresh seafood dinner, I had my dad personally delivering the revolver to Florida a few short weeks later. Any excuse is a good excuse to shoot here in the sunshine state!
Once the revolver arrived, I immediately had to handle it. Giving it a once over, I first noticed its famed heft and balance. Weighing in at 27 oz, it did not feel like a light weight toy although it was nowhere never the heavy weight of my normal .357 carry revolver. Normally with longer barrel revolvers, they tend to be “barrel heavy” with wanting to dip forward when held. I was impressed by how well balanced the Taurus 941 was. My immediate thought was how closely balanced this pistol was to the legendary Colt Peacemaker! The deep rich colored wood grips were a nice contrast to the revolver’s brightly polished stainless steel finish. The action felt crisp with a tight cylinder lock up.
My father and I left out early the next day heading to The Swamp training grounds to put some rounds down range and discuss some discuss key factors in his choice of handgun. As we took turns loading the eight-round cylinder with the TNT Green all copper 30 grain hollow point hunting loads from CCI, Rick commented on how well these have performed on squirrels in recent years. As we shot on 4”x6” steel hanging targets roughly 20 yards out, it was clear how my dad made hits on squirrels at that distance look so easy. The pistol shot more like a target pistol that a standard production plinker.
Rick commented that he always loved the “Old West” single action look of a Colt Peacemaker, but hated the fixed cylinder and slow loading / unloaded of them. Once he decided on the .22 WMR platform, the double action and standard swing out cylinder were mandatory while still trying to have an outward appearance and feel of a Colt Peacemaker. After a long search, the Taurus would be his top pick to fit the bill. With the double action, Rick could still enjoy thumb cocking the hammer for a lighter trigger pull on long shots and still have the fast access for reloading. Outfitting the Taurus with a western style gun belt offered extra rounds to be kept close at hand and give Rick a wide belt for good weight distributions and lower back support.
After a couple of hours of plinking in the 90-degree Florida heat shooting videos and photos, it was time to wrap up and head out for the day. The Taurus ran flawlessly and chewed through over 200 rounds of ammo without fail. While Rick preferred shooting single action, I really enjoyed the double action as well. I would be able to focus more on the trigger pull in later testing with my wife at a local indoor range but initial thoughts were very positive.
- Caliber: .22 WMR
- Capacity: 8
- Finish: Stainless Steel
- Weight: 27.5 oz
- Rate of Twist: 1:15″
- Barrel Length: 5″
- Height: 4.98″
- Frame: Small
- Width: 1.346″
- Action: DA/SA
- Front Sight: Fixed
- Length: 9-3/4″
- Grooves: 6
Range Night with the Ladies
As a lot of readers know by now, as part of giving back to the community, I assist my wife in instructing the Jacksonville North Florida Chapter of The Well Armed Woman Shooting Chapters not-for-profit organization. This club offers ladies of all skill levels and ages over 18 to come to the range for classroom instruction followed by an evening of shooting on the indoor range owned and operated by Second Amendment Guns and Range located in Yulee, FL. Very often, when I receive firearms for review, I will take them to the range meetings and let the ladies shoot them in order to gain input from a wide range of experience, age, and physical statures.
Once the ladies were finished with the evening’s classroom instruction, I asked if anyone would like to assist me on the range with the Taurus 941. One by one, eager women took the handy little revolver for a spin down range. A few had previous experience with revolvers and were holding great groups at 7 and 10 yards. A couple of newer shooters voiced their dismay with the long, heavy double action pull of the revolver. Once instructed to shoot using the single action method of physically cocking the hammer prior to each shot, groups shrunk. One common factor with each and every lady who shot the Taurus 941 was the big smile while doing so! Not once was there mention of recoil which plagues most shooters subconscious when firing. The revolver’s weight absorbs anything the diminutive cartridge produces.
Before and after my lovely assistants helped out, my wife and I shot the revolver in both single and double action. After approximately 100 rounds, Candace and I both agreed the double action felt a bit gritty in its action, but the single action of the revolver was light and very crisp. Grouping proved to be very easy to hold tight and comfortably maintain for extended periods of time. A good trigger / hammer polishing and a set of Wolf custom springs could be in order to give this little revolver a more attractive feel to new shooters.
Once the night was over, I went back to home for the glorious task of cleaning guns and gear. While shooting, I had noticed how clean and brisk the ejector rod cleared spent casings. The first thing I did when starting the cleaning process was opening the cylinder and thoroughly wipe it down. I was impressed how clean it still was after shooting so many rounds earlier that night. The stainless steel finish allowed for trouble-free cleaning of the frame and action. After a brief cleaning rod and Hoppe’s #9 down the barrel, the little revolver looked as good as new.
The Taurus 941 .22 Magnum revolver is one of the company’s best examples of how it has turned itself around from their products being referred to as “Saturday Night Specials” as recent as 20 years ago to becoming a top contender in the US market today. With an average price point of U.S. $450, quality certainly meets affordably. The .22 Magnum chambering certainly offers the range and power small game hunters look for when venturing out into the field. Hikers and campers enjoy the light weight and small footprint the 941 revolver takes up on the belt or in the pack and had become a stand-alone favorite in the Taurus line up. Sadly, Taurus decided to stop making the model 941 revolver a few years ago, but did however, incorporate its design into a newer Taurus 992 models. Thanks to a huge second-hand market, the original 941 can often be found in “used” condition for a great price.
When I searched for a dependable and handy revolver to offer for this week’s review article, I trusted the choice of a gentleman with over a half a century of experience and hunting wisdom. If you are shopping for a great “kit gun” and have not shot a Taurus revolver in recent years or ever, I urge you to try out one of their current production models for yourself. Check out the complete line of Taurus products at 1800GunsAndAmmo.com and find the one that best fits your needs today.