Review of Taurus 627 627SS Tracker and Accessories

Revision 1.2

I had a chance to use a Taurus model 627SS Tracker chambered for .357 / .38 Special with a 4" barrel.  Some have said the .357 Magnum / .38 Special is the best overal revolver to own.  I also used speedloaders from HKS 587A and 5-star Firearms 7L-357/38, and Tuff 8357 Quickstrips.  I also was provided a Wilderness Speedloader Carrier. Lastly, I used a 4" revolver holster by Federal.  This page reports my observations.

A sister page documents how to clean lead out of a barrel after shooting 300 rounds of lead round-nose bullets.  Unlike most autoloaders, revolvers will work even when they are very dirty.  That said, a Sig P239 shot over 600 rounds without a cleaning and never glitched once.

HKS 587-A Speedloader

Looking at the bottom of the speed loader, you can see the shaft and roll pin that flips flops to either side of a ball bearing under spring pressure.  The rotating center shaft is in the CW position as shown in the picture.  When in the CCW position (as viewed from the top), little star corners stick out into the cylinder holes to hold the casings.

  speed-loader-2  cartridge-fits

Interesting, all of the cartridges did not fit!  The Armscor FMJ .357 dropped in fine.  The Hornady XTP .38 Special dropped in fine.  The Magtech LRN .38 Special did not fit.  I could push it in, but it absolutely would not drop out.  As shown in the picture, two cartridges are dropped in the holes, while the LRN catridge is balanced on the hole, and won't drop in.  You can't use this speed loader with this cartridge.

I got out my calipers and micrometer and checked a few things.  Cartridge body spec'd diameter is 0.379".  Spec size for the rim is 0.440".  Diameters in increasing rim size order are:

armscor hornady magtech

All the cartridges are smaller than spec, so they all should have fit into the larger speedloader hole.  I was intrigued why the Magtech .38 Special LRN catridge would not fit into the bigger hole.  It turns out the "round" holes of the speedloader are not quite round.  The holes are a little bit "dog house" shaped, which gave a loose fit only to cartridges significantly smaller than hole size.  I think this is a character of the HKS 7-cartridge reloaders; the walls between the holes are just so thin, the black plastic slightly deforms.


5-Star Firearms Speedloader

I received model L7-357/38.  These run about 2-3x the cost of the HKS speedloaders.  The 5-star loaders are milled from solid Aluminum blocks.  Notice the backside of the speedloader is solid, and there are no walls of metal between the cartridges like the HKS speedloader.  The lack of walls between cartridge slots makes this speedloader workable with all cartridge types I have.

5-star-loader  5-star-sideview 5star-w-magtech38s

So far, I don't like the "hexbolt" knob on the back side of the 5-star, believing the knurled knob surface of the HKS gives a better grip.  With the aluminum construction, 5-Star is able to paint or anodize loaders in various colors.  They even offer one anodized in light green with red accent paint for their "zombie apocolypse speed loader".  It seems they're just starting to experiment with the colored concept and have not matured the product line.  Different anodized colors would be perfect for different calibers or bullet types. For instance, maybe round nose in blue loaders, and hollow point in red loaders.  Or for the caliber I'm working with, it would be great to have two colors - one loaded with .38 Special and one loaded with .357 Mag.  My wife would grab one color, I'd grab the other.  For all the success Apple found doing this with MP3 players, I think 5-Star has room to expand their line.

The HKS loader has metal retention pins or star that press the bullets back against the outer side of the cartridge holes. The 5-star loader has a similar design except the metal retention star does not apply any radial pressure to the cartridge.  It just swings into place and prevents the rim from falling out.  The result is that the HKS is quieter and less "wiggly". The 5-star makes more rattly noise when wiggled, but lets the cartridges fall out freer when released. When secured in the loader carrier, the 5-star loader definitely rattles with each step. The HKS loader is silent. The 5-star speedloader also easily handles the Magtech .38 special LRN cartridges that were too snug of a fit in the HKS loader.

Lastly, something I did not expect, the HKS releases the cartridges when the back knob is rotated clockwise.  The 5-star loader releases cartridges when the back knob is rotated counter-clockwise. Uggh.. that bothered me a bit.  When situations get moving quickly, I want to have muscle habits down always doing things the same way.  For know, in the dark, if I feel knurling, I rotate CW.  If I feel a hex knob, I rotate CCW.  Not ideal.

Wilderness Tactical Speedloader Carrier

The best. It's sewn together in sort of a cross shape.  Side straps come around the speedloader from either side and secure down with hook-n-pile fasters.  Any diameter speedloader would fit. The top drops over the loader and is secured on the front.  A good design I didn't expect is the secondary strap that goes down the back inside of the carrier and hooks across the bottom.  This is a good way of securing the entire assembly onto your belt without a hook and without threading your belt through a sewn loop.  When I took the picture shown here, I tried to disconnect and set the belt strap a little bit crooked so you can see it in the picture.

carrier

I usually keep one or two of these on my belt-line and any other reloaders in a pocket or pouch the way an auto user would put some magazines on the belt and some in pockets.  I use the speed loaders in my pockets first and retain the belt-mounted ones for last or for when the fastest swap time is required.

Tuff Quickstrips

These proved to be WAY more useful than I imagined. The cylindrical speed loaders are good only for initial loads or "emergency" reloads when you've depleted the cylinder and need to respond quickly (animal or human aggressor is still coming, possibly shooting at you).  Get under cover and reload quickly by dumping all empties and put in 7 new bullets.

When running through some house clearing exercises, I ealized when there's a pause or the engagement is on my timeline, typically only part of the bullets were shot and there was no way I wanted to dump good bullets.  Instead I opened the cylinder and flicked out 2-4 bullets - which are always from the same locations in the cylinder of course, so this can be done even in the dark.  Then I pulled the quick strip from a rear pocket, reaching over the top of the gun.  I could put 2 bullets at a time as fast as the auto guys could rotate a topped-off clip into their handgun.  In practice drills using 2-4 bullets, I could top off and be back in my holster faster than the auto magazine swappers. Massad Ayoob demo.

In other words,  emergency reloads => use the cylindrical reloaders,  tactical reloads => use the quick strips.  See also Quickstrip Loading Drills.

Taurus 627SS Tracker Revolver

The gun alone weighs in at 37 oz.  Taurus' web page says it weight 28.8 oz, which is not true for the stainless steel model.  I think the published weight is for a titanium version.  Trigger pull DA is 12 lbs, and the trigger pull SA is 5 lb.  DA trigger travel is 1.4 cm.  Firing the gun with the hammer cocked back is very smooth and requires less than 1 mm of trigger movement.

Taurus627-with-HKS587A.mov

Using only the FMJ .357 cartridges, I practiced loading cartridges using an HKS 587A speed loader.  Drop the cartridges into the holes, and rotate the metal knob counterclockwise.  Rotating the knob clockwise drops them all out. I spent one night doing this over and over again, practicing until I could do it quickly in the dark.  Click on the photo to watch the Quicktime video.



Taurus627-broke-cylinder.movAfter about 50-100 practice load cycles, I pushed the cylinder closed, and it wouldn't close.  It pretty much locked up!  No gun should do this.  Especially a "reliable" revolver.  Especially a brand-new 4-day old revolver that had never been used.  I forced the cylinder open, and removed the cartridges.  The mechanisms remained stuck, and the gun became non-operational. In a real-life live-or-die situation, I could not have fired a cartridge in any way!  Ouch!!  Click on the photo to watch the Quicktime video.

What you see in this video:  Release seems to be properly forward.  Cylinder close is tight.  Hammer won't cock back.  Trigger won't pull.  Cylinder release did not click back (still sprung forward). Forcing cylinder open and closed again fixed the release.  Hammer is still unable to pull back. Trigger still won't fire the gun.


Taurus627-broke-trigger.mov

Fiddling with the trigger, cylinder release, hammer, and cylinder got it to lock up in various modes.  In this case, the triger stuck back. Click on the photo to watch the Quicktime video.

What you see in this video: Notice trigger is stuck back to start with, with nobody touching the gun.  Cylinder release will not operate. Cylinder will not rotate. Trigger does nothing (it's already stuck back). Hammer does cock and seems to release, but then hammer won't come back again, and trigger won't work. Can you imagine this happening when the bad guy is approaching? Double thumb jamming the cylinder release causes it to work. Hammer and trigger still non-operational.


transfer bar schematicAlso, amidst all of this, I noticed the transfer bar, which is suppose to block the firing pin from the hammer, can be depressed (along with the firing pin) no matter what position the trigger is in.  Taurus product specification says, "The transfer bar mechanism prevents the hammer from striking the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled fully to the rear." I'll have to investigate this more.

Taurus does offer a lifetime warranty.  Handguns have to be sent FedEx or UPS overnight by air.  That's a $100.49 bill one-way.  With a brand new gun, Taurus may cover the cost both ways. I agree with Chuck Hawks #1 rule for a home defense weapon: 100% reliability, so I'm concerned about the viability of the gun for this purpose. I will start gaining back confidence after putting several hundred rounds through it, with a burst of no less than 100, to see how it behaves with a hot barrel. Guns are survival tools, and must be meet high standards of trustworthiness.


4" Federal Holster

The holster  is just the right size for the 4" Taurus Tracker.  It's made with a tough grade of synthetic fabric, and has padding sewn into the fabric. It provides for an easy firm handle grip, thumb button release, and quick draw. Like any thumb release holster, putting the revolver back is probably a two-handed effort to secure the button. The belt clip is easy on/off, but is a bit more loose that threading your belt through the sewn on loop.  The thumb release strap is hook-n-pile secured on both ends, so it is adjustable back and forth to where you like it.

Stitching around the edge of the holster seems to be a 2-pass affair.  The second pass has really loose stitching.  Look at the picture below near the bottom round part.  It's almost as if the sewer ran out of thread while making this holster and started the next spool by double stitching for a few inches.  I'll update text here after the holster wears for a while.

I couldn't find the manufacturer website, so the link above is to the Amazon store.  The holster arrived in a plastic bag with what looked like a UPC label "X0002BKODL" with the words '4" Revolver Holster S&W 27, 29, 629, 686, Ruger Redhawk'.  However, the ASIN and Model number on the Amazon page don't match.

holster

Loaded with .38 Special LRN bullets, the gun and holster weigh in at 43 oz.  Notice this conflicts with the 28.8 oz empty weight claimed for the model 627 on on Tarus' website. The weight is enough to pull the belt down a bit, but when I get working, I forget it's there.  Size is fine for working around the garage or sitting at a desk.  With a pair of jeans, I wear it behind the side belt loop of the pants, putting it a bit aft of a direct side-carry.  For a weight comparison, my classic (old) Leatherman Super Tool with carrying pouch weighs in at 10 oz. Although the weight of the handgun package is 4x, the size and shape makes it feel maybe twice as "pull down-y" as the leatherman.

Safety and avoiding injury should always be your first concern when carrying a firearm.  Don't forget that laws vary from state to state concerning your gun as well. You don't want to end up in a situation where you have to hire a San Diego attorney to defend you in court for not following laws across state lines.


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