Regular readers will recall how I 'torture-tested' two Taurus .44 Magnum revolvers at Blogorado last month. I followed up that post with another, discussing grip options for the Taurus Tracker medium-frame revolver.
I need to send off my .44 Magnum Tracker to get a trigger job and have the gunsmith hone the cylinders, to cure the slightly sticky extraction. However, I must confess that the compact, relatively lightweight Tracker was growing on me. It's a very comfortable gun to carry - about the same size and weight as a 4" S&W K-frame revolver. It carries only 5 rounds in larger calibers (.44 Magnum, .45 Colt and .45 ACP, the last two long out of production but still available on the used market), but 7 rounds of .357 Magnum. I therefore decided that I wanted to try a few more examples of it, while waiting for my own Tracker to come back from the gunsmith.
I've since handled three more Trackers, all in stainless steel (mine's blued steel). They were a .45 ACP with a 4" barrel, another .45 ACP with a 6½" barrel and a .44 Magnum with a 6½" barrel (shown below). All three of those models are now out of production, unfortunately, but they're still available from time to time on the used gun market.
Every one of them had a much nicer trigger than my blued 4" .44, and showed no sign of the 'sticky' extraction that I'd encountered; so I'm willing to concede that my Tracker may have been a not-so-good example straight out of the factory, and will almost certainly equal or exceed these others once it's been worked over by a gunsmith. Fitted with Hogue grips, which are (IMHO) a great improvement over the factory 'Ribber' grips, the Trackers balance well in my hand and point very naturally. Recoil is entirely manageable in .45 ACP, very similar when firing .44 Special rounds in the .44 Magnum guns, and stiff but still manageable with full-house .44 Magnum loads.
I was surprised to find that the 6½" barrel versions of the Tracker didn't feel muzzle-heavy to me at all. In the large-frame 6½" Taurus Model 44 which I tested at Blogorado, there was definitely a muzzle-heavy feel, thanks to the full-underlug barrel and a heavier frame. However, the medium-frame Tracker seemed much less prone to this imbalance. I've no idea why, but the longer barrel is a pleasure to shoot in the medium-frame Tracker. I think I'm going to buy one for myself to go with my 4" version. (The latter will be easier to carry, particularly if concealment is important).
The .45 ACP versions are a delight, offering very controllable recoil. Moon clips are freely available (I bought the Ranch Products version) and make rapid unloading and reloading easy (particularly using the Ranch Products extractor tool to empty the clips; there's an instructional video here). If you like revolvers, and live in a state with stringent magazine capacity restrictions (e.g. New York), then the Tracker with its 5-round .45 ACP capacity (or, in non-moonclip models, 5 rounds of .44 Magnum or 7 rounds of .357 Magnum) becomes a very viable option for concealed carry. I can see a .45 ACP Tracker in my future as well. They're not easy to find, having been out of production for some time, and they can be quite expensive on the used gun market (prices up to $600 are not uncommon for a good, clean example), but that's still a couple of hundred dollars cheaper than the larger, heavier 6-shot S&W Model 625.
I'm therefore going to give the Taurus Tracker range of revolvers my personal nod of approval, with the caution that you might find an example in need of tuning to get it to 100% operation. Taurus offers a life-of-the-gun warranty, so you can get any problems repaired (even on a used gun) by sending it back to them. In my case, I know a good gunsmith whose work I trust, so I prefer to pay him to work over my revolver to my specifications. New Trackers are available with 4" barrels in .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum (both also able to fire, respectively, .38 Special or .44 Special rounds as well, offering greatly reduced recoil and adequate defensive capability). My earlier warning about the effects of barrel porting still applies, of course.
I must admit, I've thoroughly enjoyed testing these Trackers. They're nifty little guns, and they grow on you. I might find my gun safe breeding more of them, if I'm not careful . . .