I'm sure many of you read my 'torture test' of two Taurus .44 Magnum revolvers, which I published a couple of weeks ago. One of them was the relatively lightweight Taurus Tracker 5-shot revolver with a 4" ported barrel. I had this to say about its factory grip:
The smaller Tracker was less popular, partly because its lower weight didn't provide as much counterbalance to recoil energy, partly because the factory Ribber grip proved less capable of absorbing and controlling recoil than the Hogue grip I'd installed on the Model 44. (The Ribber grips consist of a rubber core surrounded by horizontal layered 'ribs' of soft rubber, which 'squish' in one's hand as one tightens one's grasp. One shooter described them as 'funky'.) I found them acceptable, but not great. If I keep this revolver, I'll replace them with a set of Hogue grips for this model, and I'll recommend the same to any of my disabled students who buy one. Customer reviews of the Hogue grip on Amazon.com are uniformly very positive in comparison to the factory Ribber offering.
I had a couple of other issues with the Tracker, none of them serious enough to cause it to fail the test. A gunsmith will address them during the next few weeks. However, I thought I'd fix the grip problem before sending the gun to him.
The Taurus 'Ribber' grip looks like this:
I replaced it with this Hogue unit:
The difference is like night and day. The Hogue grip transforms the Tracker, giving it acceptable recoil control even with full-house .44 Magnum rounds (I tested it with Federal 300gr. CastCore loads, which fit into its shorter cylinder, whereas specialty rounds like Garrett Hammerheads won't). In fact, in this particular cartridge (as opposed to less powerful ones), I can't understand why Taurus doesn't just go with the Hogue grip as original equipment. The latter offers so much improvement that it makes the gun as a whole a much more attractive proposition.
The 'lumpy' double-action trigger and slightly 'sticky' cylinders about which I complained in the test will be addressed shortly. Once that's done, it'll be off to the range once more with the Tracker, and we'll see whether it's now up to my standards. I must admit, I'm growing fond of it as a relatively light, well-balanced .44 Magnum for packing in situations where you don't need or can't afford the weight or bulk of a full-size gun, but still want short-range protection against potentially dangerous large game (elk, moose, black or any other kind of bear, etc.). I think the Tracker offers a much better option for this purpose than the lightweight S&W Model 329 or Taurus Model 444 Ultralight, both of which recoil so hard as to be, IMHO, dangerous to the shooter's health (as I observed in the earlier test). In my experience, the Tracker has enough weight to absorb recoil better than the ultra-light-weight revolvers, while being smaller and lighter enough than its full-sized Model 44 brother to be much more 'packable'.
I'd be interested in feedback from any of my readers who own, or have owned, a Tracker in .44 Magnum. Did your experience square with what I've reported so far? Did your firearm also need the attention of a gunsmith to attain satisfactory performance? Also, did any of you have the 6" barreled Tracker, as opposed to its 4" stablemate that I tested? How did you like it? Please let us know in Comments. (I think I'll have to look for someone with a 6" Tracker, to borrow it for comparative tests.)