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Taurus Tracker - Page One
By Dick Metcalf, Technical Editor, Shooting Times.

Taurus’ new DA Tracker revolver brings the advantages of titanium to handgun hunters and even rifle hunters who are looking for a close-quarters companion gun.

f Taurus has plans to move any faster than it has been lately, it’s going to need warp drive. Hard on the heels of the recent industry-stunning introduction of its extensive Total Titanium and MultiAlloy line of snubnose law enforcement and personal-defense revolvers in six different chamberings and two frame sizes, the Brazilian-based manufacturer has now brought forth a new Titanium Tracker series of medium-frame, target-sighted, full-featured, four-inch, all-titanium revolvers for sport, field, and handgun hunting.

Originally planned for public introduction at the canceled NRA Show in Denver the first weekend in May 1999, just as the first commercial shipments of the initial Total Titanium and MultiAlloy guns began to arrive in-country, the Titanium Tracker lineup will initially include a five-shot .41 Magnum Model 441TT and a seven-shot .357 Magnum Model 617TT. Both will be available in a choice of Matte Spectrum Blue or the new Stealth Gray finish. Five-shot .45 Colt and five-shot .44 Special four-inch models will follow if customer interest warrants. Other chamberings may also be developed, and the company is considering the introduction of matte stainless versions of the Tracker configuration for those who prefer the additional weight of conventional steel.

Technically, the new Titanium Tracker models should be considered an extension of the Total Titanium series. They employ the same total-titanium construction in every major part and component—frame, cylinder, yoke, barrel, studs, and pins. They offer the same advanced metallurgical and design features as the fixed-sight snubnose Total Titanium guns. And, like all other Taurus titanium-component models, the Trackers feature the key-activated Taurus Security System hammer lock. What’s different is the added benefit of a new-for-Taurus full-profile, integrally ported, four-inch titanium barrel design plus topstrap frame modifications to accommodate a heavy-duty, precision-adjustable rear sight, which, as I found out during my range testing, resulted in a surprisingly high level of accuracy.

Truly A Trailblazer
All Titanium Tracker models have titanium frames, sideplates, yokes, and barrels that are drop-forged in Taurus’s metallurgical facility outside Sao Paulo, Brazil. The titanium cylinders and titanium internal studs are CNC-machined from extruded titanium barstock. Taurus acknowledges that in spite of the Total Titanium label applied to the entire family of these guns, not every part is actually made of titanium. Instead, the company’s catalogs and promotional flyers note that the Total Titanium concept means “every component that can and should be made of titanium, is made of titanium.”

SPECS
Taurus Titanium Tracker
.357 Magnum DA Revolver
Distributor ......Taurus International Mfg.
16175 NW. 49th Ave.
Miami, FL 33041
Model ............Titanium Tracker (M617TT)
Operation ........................Double action
Caliber.............................. .357 Magnum
Barrel length ...........................4 inches
(ported titanium barrel
with stainless-steel sleeve)
Overall length ..................8.625 inches
Weight, empty ..................24.0 ounces
Safety .....................Transfer bar ignition;
Taurus Security System
hammerblock
Sights ..........................Pinned red-stripe
Baughman-type blade front;
adjustable white-outline notch rear
Sight radius ........................3.25 inches
Rifling ..........6 grooves; 1:18.75 RH twist
Stocks Ribber Grip
Cylinder capacity ..................7 rounds
Finish .................................Stealth Gray,
Matte Spectrum Blue
Price .....................................$650-$675

The reason for the quibble, if that’s what it seems, stems from the fact that titanium as a workable metal alloy can only be hardened to about 42 to 44 on the Rockwell hardness scale. Above that level it goes brittle. However, a revolver action’s operating parts (which include the hammer, trigger, and sear, among others) need to be hardened to at least 52 to 54 Rockwell. Accordingly, the hammer, trigger, cylinder latch, ejector rod, and some other small parts such as springs and sideplate screws on all of Taurus’ new titanium series revolvers are made from casehardened, high-tensile-strength chrome-moly steel, which is a better material than titanium for those particular parts.

As I see it, the Taurus Total Titanium revolver line is certainly as much “all-titanium” as any of the so-called “all-stainless” revolvers on the market are entirely all-parts stainless (not), so I’m not overly concerned by the particular nit-picky details. Even if they’re only “mostly nearly total titanium,” these revolvers nonetheless have a huge advantage compared to steel models in terms of weight and durability. Titanium is less than two-thirds the weight of an equivalent volume of steel, so an all-titanium revolver actually weighs less than a same-size aluminum-frame/steel-cylinder revolver. The .41 Magnum and .357 Magnum versions of the Titanium Tracker each weigh exactly 24 ounces (the five-shot .41 Magnum has bigger holes, but the seven-shot .357 Magnum has more holes; it evens out). Compare that to a similarly featured four-inch adjustable-sight current Taurus Model 66SS .357 Magnum or previous version Model 669 in the same size frame made from steel. They weigh 38 ounces. The Tracker is nearly a pound lighter—37 percent lighter, in fact.

As for durability, titanium comes as close to being indestructible as any manufactured material can be. The titanium/vanadium alloy components used in Taurus revolvers are resilient, stronger, and more elastic than steel, and—unlike stainless steels or even aluminum—titanium is chemically inert and essentially impervious to corrosion. Even the best grade of stainless steel will eventually rust or corrode. Titanium will not—which is why it’s used for desalinization plant piping and for bone-replacement material for permanent implantation within the human body, among other things.

The Matte Spectrum Blue and Stealth Gray finishes offered on the new Titanium Tracker models are distinctive. The Matte Spectrum Blue has a smoky, sky-at-midnight quality. The slicker surface Stealth Gray has the almost invisible “what color is it?” hue of military stealth aircraft. On both the effect of the casehardened-steel smooth wide-combat trigger, checkered-spur hammer, cylinder latch, and sideplate screws offers a pleasing, subtle contrast. These colors, like the additional colors (Bright Spectrum Blue, Matte Spectrum Gold, MultiAlloy Gray) offered on other models in the overall Taurus titanium lineup are not arbitrary choices; they are the result of the proprietary treating processes that the Taurus forge applies to its titanium firearms in production.

Other Tracker features include the yoke detent system originated for the Total Titanium line, which is a spring-loaded latch in the top of the yoke that ensures the cylinder remains tightly closed within the frame at the moment of fire and eliminates any latch point at the tip of the ejector rod. This allows length to be added to the ejector rod in short-barrel revolvers, which enables a more positive ejection of fired cases than previous short-design snubnose revolver ejector rods. The effectiveness of this system is illustrated by the fact that the ejector rods on the four-inch Titanium Tracker models are the same length as the rods on the two-inch Total Titanium models.

The Tracker grips are the new patented Taurus Ribber design, and they absorb recoil and increase controllability to an amazing degree. See the accompanying sidebar for more information about these innovative grips.

The sights on the Titanium Trackers are also well executed. The black Baughman-type front blade is pinned into a heavy-duty ramp base and is serrated with an inlaid fluorescent red visibility stripe. At the rear, thickly raised bosses in the frame topstrap enclose a heavy-duty, precision-click-adjustable sight assembly that features large flush-headed adjustment screws with clearly indicated directional markings, a broad and flat sighting wall with a rear-angled surface to eliminate glare, and a crisp white-outline notch. It fits tightly in the frame with virtually no slack and provides one of the best overall sight pictures I’ve ever seen on a factory-issue revolver system.

The most individual aspect to the Titanium Trackers, of course, is the new-design four-inch barrel that has a contoured full-profile underlug and four compensator ports sculpted into each upper side of the barrel below the front sight base in the same manner as the ports on the massive Taurus .454 Casull Raging Bull. In fact, the entire barrel profile is styled in the same manner as the Raging Bull barrel, giving the Tracker the overall look of a scaled-down version of that gun. It’s just plain neat!

Like all other Taurus Total Titanium and MultiAlloy revolvers, the Tracker barrel is constructed of forged titanium with a high-tensile-strength stainless bore liner. Titanium is much more elastic than steel, which makes it extremely durable but also means an all-titanium barrel will not hold rifling. It stretches flat with the bullet’s pressure impact. The stainless-steel bore sleeve solves that problem. Of course, the resulting light weight of titanium guns also results in very abrupt recoil acceleration, which is effectively counteracted by the integral ports.

Page One - History, Total Titanium, Durability, Finishes
Page Two - A Real Tackdriver, An Outdoorsman's Dream, Accuracy/Velocity, Grip Design

This article was originally published in Shooting Times magazine in August, 1999.

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