Saturday, November 17, 2018
Following Mike's recommendation concerning larger-caliber firearms, I've been trying to upgrade my defensive battery. Ideally, I'd like to replace my .38 Special snubnose revolvers with .44 Special equivalents, accepting the slightly larger size and greater weight of the latter in return for greater power and (hopefully) better performance.
In the process, I happened to run across this beauty. (Click the image for a larger view.)
It's a Taurus Model 431, a fixed-sight 5-shot .44 Special revolver. This example is one of the relatively rare 4" barrel models (most were made with 3" or shorter barrels). It was made during the 1980's, but is in near-mint condition, looking as if it's hardly ever been fired.
A lot of people are "down" on Taurus for poor quality control. They certainly had that problem during the late 1990's and early 2000's, and I've seen plenty of examples of their firearms that I wouldn't buy. However, their earlier guns (like this one) and those of more recent manufacture were, and have been, significantly better made. This one's in great condition, and locks up tightly. I'm very pleased with it - and its price made the purchase a no-brainer. The seller could have charged a hundred dollars more for it, and still found a buyer. I just happened to get in ahead of the pack.
It's worth keeping your eye open for deals like this on the firearms auction sites. There are bargains to be had, if you're patient. I've seen several Charter Arms Bulldog .44 Special revolvers, old and new, available for $275-$325, which isn't bad at all. Like Taurus firearms, Charter Arms' quality control can be spotty, so you'll have to inspect them carefully; and they can't handle a steady diet of higher-pressure ammunition (so-called "+P" rounds). Nevertheless, a good example is worth that price, IMHO - and the Bulldogs are smaller and lighter than the Taurus 431's and 441's (which is the same as the 431, but with adjustable sights), making the Bulldog easier to carry. For those of us on a budget, the Taurus and Charter Arms .44's will get the job done, provided we pick good examples and test them thoroughly.
Color me happy with this one. I'll put on a set of grips that fit my hand better than the factory originals, and call it good.