Taurus Raging Hunter

By Jeff Johnston, FE Hunting & Shooting Editor

There are plenty of reasons to dislike a .44 Mag. revolver. 

Recoil is not so much a bitch but a nag, mainly because it’s disproportionate to the measly 900 or so ft.-lbs. of muzzle energy the round produces. Thank god a sturdy gun weighs about four pounds, or else it’d be like trying to ride the mechanical bull at Gilley’s after calling the operator’s mom a dirty stripper. Its size alone pretty much makes it impractical to carry without the implied declaration of: I’m a man, recoil makes me feel alive, and I’ll lug this damn hand cannon anywhere I so choose. And that, my friends, is exactly why we all need a big-bore revolver … not so much because we’ll use it all the time, or even a little of the time, but rather because daydreams of riding around a Texas ranch at night with a hog leg strapped is the stuff that gives us the strength to carry on. 

So which gun to choose? This question is a little more complicated. 

Back in the day if you owned anything other than a Colt Anaconda or a Smith and Wesson 629 you might be looked upon like a Memphis police officer looks at a Piggy Wiggly’s security guard. These days I don’t think the new Colts are worth the money they’re asking, and while Ruger still makes a tank of a double action in its Super Redhawk, you’ll pay about $500 more for it than Taurus’ Raging Hunter—and I know there’s not $500 worth of difference there. Basically, while other companies have been riding their names, Taurus has actually been reengineering its revolvers and adding features to offer shooters more value.

In 2019 the company’s upgrades to its Raging Bull line were so dramatic that it also gave it a new name, hence the Raging Hunter. Although the full Raging Hunter line consists of 31 models in five calibers with varying finishes and barrel lengths, I chose the 8 3/8-inch barrel, all black, .44 Magnum model to test because other than the .357 that I hardly call a big bore, it’s the easiest one to shoot of the bunch. (If I wanted it for a bear defense gun, I’d have chosen a model with a shorter barrel, likely the 5-inch model.)   

In a nutshell, the Raging Hunter was designed to be the ideal wheelgun for the modern big game hunter. First, I’m convinced its steel frame and cylinder are as robust as any currently available. Dual cylinder releases lend twice the locking strength yet remain easy to manipulate due to their being placed exactly where a right-hander naturally grasps the gun when loading and unloading. The Brazilian-owned, American-managed company has also placed great emphasis on making the action and the trigger very smooth, something that hasn’t always been done with the semi-auto pistols. While I’m not going to sit here and say that the Raging Hunter’s action is as whale-snot-slick as the hand-finished Smiths and Colts of 50 years ago, nothing, including a baby’s behind, is. Its double action trigger is consistent throughout its travel without major stacking. Fired via single action, the trigger averaged 7 pounds according to my digital scale. While this doesn’t sound great on paper, it completely surprised me, because with next to no creep and zero overtravel, I thought for sure it was closer to 5 pounds. (I must have dry fired it 100 times, and it still seems like 7 pounds is a typo.)

Basically, while other companies have been riding their names, Taurus has actually been reengineering its revolvers and adding features to offer shooters more value. 

Perhaps Taurus’ best work, however, was in recoil mitigation. Certainly this Raging Hunter’s 55-ounce weight alone goes a long way toward taming the beast (not that a .44 is even too beastly anymore when a .500 S&W model is available), but when combined with its integral barrel porting, a rubberized grip with a cushy backstrap insert, and an Aimpoint sight mounted to its barrel-length pic rail, this gun was just plain fun to shoot even with Hornady’s magnum XTP hunting loads. From shooting sticks, I hit an 8-inch steel plate every time at 100 yards once I was dialed in. 

In reality the toughest thing about enjoying this gun is finding a comfortable holster that will fit it (with an optic mounted) and then finding an excuse to break the big bastard out of the gun safe. Once you do, though, paying right around $1,000 for such a large hunk of a handgun will start to seem like a bargain. 

  • Cost: $1,000
  • Pros: accurate, integral pic rail for mounting an optic; soft-recoiling thanks to barrel ports and great grip; great iron sights; best .44 mag handgun for the money 
  • Cons: Any bigger and you might as well carry a rifle; It’s a damn shame Dirty Harry didn’t shoot a Taurus.

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