A review of the Taurus Raging Hunter by Larry “Mr. Whitetail” Weishuhn.
“Ever hunted deer with a handgun?” I asked. Brandon Houston nodded his head in the negative. “Well, it’s time you did!” Before he could say anything, I continued, “As part of my lease agreement, my guests or I have to take nine does this season. You’ve been appointed to take at least one with my Taurus Raging Hunter handgun!” Brandon smiled and nodded approvingly.
Moments before, hunting Brandon’s property, I had shot a hundred-pound wild hog with my .44 Mag Taurus Raging Hunter. The Hornady 240-grain XTP dropped it in its tracks. Brandon had filmed my hunt for an upcoming episode of The Journey; I had seen a glint of interest in his eyes earlier, loading the double-action revolver for that afternoon’s hunt. No doubt he was keen on hunting with a handgun. That night, I explained how I shot my double-action revolvers single-action-style to reduce trigger pull. I showed him how to access the cylinder for loading and removing spent cases using Taurus’ cylinder releases. And I explained how I used Trijicon’s SRO red-dot sights for quicker target acquisition than long-eye relief scopes.
I took Brandon to the range at my hunting lease a few days later. He soon put bullets within 3 inches or smaller groups at 25 yards. That was sufficient because I knew we could get within that distance of a doe. Hidden in a ground blind later that afternoon, Brandon shot his first deer with a revolver. He was hooked! Two days later, I sent my .44 Mag. 6.75-inch-barrel Raging Hunter and a couple of boxes of Hornady 240-grain XTP ammo home with him to use on hogs and deer. “You’re welcome to keep my .44 Mag until you get your own Raging Hunter,” I said, knowing he would be ordering one from his local gun shop as soon as he returned home.
Several weeks earlier, I had lent my .357 Mag Taurus Raging Hunter to Luke Clayton to use on wild hogs; Luke and I have done a weekly outdoor radio show for the past fifteen years. Earlier in the year, I had procured four Raging Hunters, one each in .357 Mag., .44 Mag., .454 Casull Mag. and .460 S&W Mag. I shot all four at my range shortly after getting them. Thus, in Luke’s case, I knew the .357 Mag — attractive in Taurus’ “two-tone” black and silver format — was highly accurate out to 50 yards. I did not attempt to shoot beyond.
From a solid rest, I shot several loads through the .357 Mag. The two my Raging Hunter liked best, based on group size, were Hornady’s Custom 158-grain JHP/XTP and Handgun Hunter 130-grain Mono Flex HP loads. Thankfully, I had six boxes of both in my ammo cabinet. With the Custom load, which it slightly preferred, at 50 yards using a 2.5 MOA SRO sight, I could consistently group all seven rounds within a hair over 2 1/2 inches. I felt the round’s 460 ft-lbs of retained energy at that range was sufficient to kill a hog. If I were using the .357 Mag. to hunt deer, I would limit my shots to 50 yards. Luke planned on using it exclusively on hogs, and his shots would be less than 25 yards. He’s used the combination on several wild hogs.
With my .357 Mag and .44 Mag Taurus revolvers in the hands of friends, I turned to my .454 Casull. I topped it with a Trijicon SRO 2.5-MOA red-dot sight. Mounting this sight was simple, thanks to the integral Picatinny rail. The rail system, too, would make it easy to mount an extended eye relief scope. I truly appreciate when the scope base or sight mount is part of a hunting handgun. With an integral rail in place, I do not have to be concerned about finding bases or the base loosening from recoil.
The Taurus’ rail also adds a bit of weight. The .357 Mag. weighs 53 ounces, the .44 Mag. is 55 ounces, and the .454 Casull with an 8.375-inch barrel is 57 ounces. The big-bore .460 S&W Mag. weighs 63.6 ounces sans SRO sight and ammo. Raging Hunters are available in several barrel lengths, including 5.125, 6.75, and 8.375 inches. Weight and overall length vary.
I have fortunately never been “recoil conscious” when it comes to shooting hunting handguns. But having shot several .454 Casull single and double actions, I know the cartridge’s recoil can be a “handful.” The Raging Hunter’s stainless barrel assembly is ported within a shroud. Thanks to the porting system, the .454 Casull’s recoil is manageable and not unpleasant. Taurus’ signature “recoil absorber grip” dramatically reduces felt recoil.
In the past, I’ve taken numerous whitetails, mule deer and elk, plus a bison and a sizable Alaskan Brown Bear with the .454 Casull. It’s one of my all-time favorite handgun rounds. I also must admit that I love the .44 Mag and the .460 S&W Mag.
Factory Raging Hunters have fairly heavy trigger pulls, north of 10 pounds shooting double action and about 8 pounds shooting hammer-cocked, single action. After shooting numerous rounds with the factory trigger pull (no creep), I got “used to it,” particularly in my .44 Mag. Knowing I wanted to do considerable hunting with the .454 Casull, I had a pistolsmith friend do a trigger job. It’s now in the neighborhood of 3 pounds, fired hammer-cocked. I plan on having him work on the .44 Mag and .460 S&W Mag during hunting’s off-season for big game.
At my range, I shot Hornady .454 Casull 240-grain XTP MAG, 300-grain XTP Mag, and 200-grain Monoflex Handgun Hunter at 50 and 100 yards in five-shot groups (the cylinder holds five rounds). All three loads were accurate, essentially 3-inch (average) groups at 100 yards. The smallest were 1.5-inch groups with 240- and 300-grain XTP MAG loads. Remember, the red dot covers 2.5 inches at 100 yards.
My best groups with the 200-grain Monoflex Handgun Hunter loads were just over 3 inches. Such groups at 100 yards, considering their substantial downrange energy, make all three lethal for elk, deer, bears, hogs, and javelina-sized animals. I used the 200-grain Handgun Hunter loads for javelina while hunting the brush country of South Texas. There, I stalked to within 40 yards and got a solid rest in the crux of an ancient mesquite. The javelina, shot through both shoulders, collapsed on the spot. The bullet exited after doing extreme damage to the vital organs.
Several weeks later, I was hunting with Double AA Outfitters, owned by long-time friend Craig Archer and headed by his brother David, when we spotted an old 3×3 whitetail buck across a canyon. Before we could get within a reasonable range, the buck disappeared. We returned to the vehicle and drove to the other side of the canyon to rattle. However, before I could start rattling, the 6-point reappeared. When he stopped at 70 yards, I placed the red dot on his quartering-to left shoulder and, taking a deep breath and exhaling to steady myself, pulled the trigger, sending the 240-grain Hornady XTP. The old buck dropped in his tracks. I could not have been more pleased!
Later, I recovered the spent bullet, finding it just under the skin of the opposite hindquarter after traveling through about 40 inches of tissue and bone. It had passed through the scapula, ribs, and femur.
Later, while hunting antlerless whitetails with the .454 Casull, I used 240- and 300-grain XTP MAG Hornady Custom loads. The first doe stood broadside 50 yards distant. The bullet took her squarely through the shoulders. My second doe was almost exactly 100 yards away. She dropped in her tracks; the 300-grain XTP MAG penetrated both shoulders and spine before exiting.
With the deer properly cared for, I headed to the range and replaced .454 Casull ammo with .45 Colt, which can also be shot in the Casull chamber. Shooting at 25 yards, I placed five shots easily within a 3-inch circle. I will use that .45 Colt load on wild hogs in the future.
This brings us to the .460 S&W Magnum Raging Hunter, a fabulous big game hunting round. Should I again hunt Alaskan Brown bears or dangerous game in Africa, the .460 S&W Mag. would be my choice. The largest animal I have taken with that beefy cartridge was a monstrous-bodied bison.
Maybe it’s just me, but shooting the .460 S&W Mag. is a “double handful” in terms of recoil. Even so, with Taurus’ ported barrel and recoil-absorbing grip, I can shoot three cylinders full (fifteen rounds) before I need to set it aside for a break. I’ve been unable to do the same with any other manufacturer’s gun chambered for the same round.
I enjoy hunting with the .460 S&W Mag Taurus Raging Hunter, but it is not a round I would recommend someone new to handgun hunting start with. However, on second thought, the fantastic thing about revolvers chambered for the .460 S&W Mag. is that you can shoot .454 Casull and .45 Colt ammunition in the same chamber. So, starting with a revolver chambered in .460 S&W Mag. may not be such a bad idea after all!
I shot that big Raging Hunter at the bench with .45 Colt, .454 Casull, and .460 S&W Mag. sighted in dead-on at 100 yards (the .454 Casull load was a 240-grain Hornady XTP MAG). At 50 yards, I shot two rounds each of Hornady’s LEVERevolution 225-grain FTX .45 Colt, Hornady 300-grain XTP MAG and Hornady Handgun Hunter .460 S&W Mag 200-grain Monoflex holding on the target’s center diamond.
The two .45 Colt loads hit 1 1/2 inches above the center diamond, creating one ragged hole. The .454 Casull 300-grain XTP struck the target just to the top-right of the center diamond and the second very slightly left. The 200-grain Monoflex bullets smacked the target nearly 2 inches low, directly under the center diamond. The second shot cut the hole of the first. From this, I would have no qualms about using any of these rounds without any sight adjustment out to 50 yards on whitetails. The 4-inch vertical in-line “grouping” of all six shots would have struck nicely within a deer’s 8-inch vital zone of heart and lungs.
One of the many things I like about the Raging Hunter revolvers, beyond their real-world price (ranging from about $700 to $800) and their accuracy, is their non-glare matte finish. I can appreciate a shiny revolver, but when it comes to hunting, non-glare matte finishes are crucial. As an entire package, why the Taurus Raging Hunter received the American Hunter 2019 Handgun of the Year Golden Bullseye Award is easily understood.
Before this article was due, I got a message from Taurus’ Cody Osborn: “Sending you another Raging Hunter. Let me know what you think.”
A few days later, I got a call from the local FFL dealer. “Get down here! You got something really interesting from Taurus!” I hurried to his store. After completing the appropriate paperwork and being approved, I was handed a large-framed black and silver double-action revolver. The revolver’s 10-inch barrel, of which 4 inches extends beyond the shroud, and is four-fluted, ends with a flash suppressor-style porting system. The barrel shroud held Picatinny rails above and below the barrel. The fiber-optic open sights were easily seen. A quick look confirmed the large-cylinder revolver was chambered in .460 S&W Mag. Overall, the package had a somewhat futuristic appearance, which is popular today. I could hardly wait to shoot it!
That night, I called Osborn. He told me the new Raging Hunter I’d received would be introduced at the upcoming 2023 SHOT Show. When asked my opinion of the gun, I said I would let him know as soon as I shot it. The next morning, long before daylight, I headed to a whitetail and javelina hunt in South Texas brush country. Arriving in camp, I set up a target at 25 yards, then loaded five 200-grain Monoflex Hornady Handgun Hunter rounds. From a reasonable rest, I shot the new revolver single-action style.
My eyes are no longer fond of open sights, but there had been no time to mount a red-dot sight before leaving for the hunt. The fiber-optic sights were greatly appreciated. All five shots were kept easily within a 3-inch group. I was ready to hunt javelina.
It had been a “no deer morning.” On the way back to camp, I spotted a small herd of javelinas and stalked within 20 yards of a toothsome boar. With the big revolver resting on tripod shooting sticks, I cocked the hammer and started my trigger pull — heavy, but no creep, and crisp. The Taurus raged, and the chosen javelina went down, shot through both shoulders. That evening, I sent Cody a message. “Love the new Raging Hunter! Javelina down! Need to do more research. Please send more bullets!”
Editor’s Note: This article is an excerpt of Gun Digest 2024, 78th edition.
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