Raging Bull .454 Casull Makes Dirty Harrys Day
by John C. Krull
Gun Week Production Manager
"This is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and it will blow your head clean off. Do you feel lucky, punk?"
Those, or close to them, are the words spoken by Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood) of the San Francisco Police Department, in the movie "Magnum Force." It was a very impressive line, and was possibly even true at the time. But, with the development of the .454 Casull that isn't true any longer.
The .454 Casull was originally called the .454 Magnum Revolver and was developed by Dick Casull and Jack Fulmer in 1957. The casing is 0.1-inches longer than the case of the .45 Colt to prevent chambering of this more powerful cartridge into firearms chambered for what some people call the ".45 Long Colt."
To the best of my knowledge, Freedom Arms was the first to start production of a revolver chambered for .454 Casull ammunition. The Freedom Arms revolver had a 7.5-inch barrel and weighed in at 50 ounces.
The Casull round is primarily meant for big game hunting, but if you're a Dirty Harry type you might want to carry it for self-defense. I guess there could be an advantage to this. If you don't hit the perpetrator you could always terminate him with the muzzle blast created by the fired round.
At a recent Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show I had asked Keeva Segal, Taurus' (16175 Northwest 49th Avenue, Dept. GWK, Miami, FL 33014; phone: 305-624-1115; website: www.taurususa.com) public relations person, if he remembered anyone having yet written an article on the Taurus Raging Bull chambered in the .454 Casull caliber for Gun Week. I hadn't thought so and he didn't remember it having been done either. So, we decided to have one shipped to my house for some testing and evaluation. (Webmaster Note: John Krull has a Federal Firearms License - FFL - and is able to lawfully receive firearms shipped interstate.)
I own and have reviewed several Taurus firearms over the last few years and I have always been happy with the results, so I was looking forward to this shooting experience.
The Raging Bull in .454 Casull first hit the market in 1998 and has been produced in a variety of finishes, including stainless steel, blued and case colored. Two barrels lengths are available-6.5 inches or 8-3/8 inches. The gun weighs between 53 and 63 ounces. With the 8-3/8 inch barrel the overall length of the gun is an impressive 14 inches.
Over the years the Raging Bull has been produced in several other calibers including .45 Long Colt, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum and .480 Ruger. In 2003 there was even a Silhouette version with a 12-inch non-ported barrel. At present it is not listed on their website, so I'm assuming that it is no longer available.
The .454 Raging Bull has a front patridge sight with fully adjustable rear sight, but for those who want to mount a scope this can be done with the addition of Taurus' scope mounting rail, which can be purchased separately.
The grips are rubber with a cushioned insert with slight finger-grooves. These grips really help you maintain control of the firearm during shooting and especially during recoil.
The cylinder holds 5 rounds and has a double-lockup system. There is a lock both in front of and behind the cylinder. At first this is challenging to open until you get the hang of it. After a few times, it becomes second nature as with any other revolver. But, I can see the wisdom of this double-lockup system with this very powerful gun.
The barrel is factory ported and I'm sure the porting helps considerably in relaxing the felt recoil and contributes to decreasing the muzzle flip.
The retail price for a Casull chambered Taurus is going to cost you somewhere in the neighborhood of $797 to $859, depending on barrel length and finish.
A couple of weeks ago we finally had some good weather on a Saturday on which I had plenty of time to go to the range to do some shooting with the Raging Bull. I loaded everything that I needed onto my Harley, so that not only would I have a fun day of shooting, but also an almost 100-mile round-trip ride to the range and back on my bike. That's something that is nice about testing handguns-everything that I needed fit into my saddlebags.
All the ammunition that we did firing with was provided by Winchester (427 North Shamrock St., Dept. GWK, East Alton, IL 62024; phone: 618-258-2000; website: www.winchester.com). We had four variations to test with. They were the Super X with a 250-grain Jacketed Hollowpoint bullet; the Partition Gold with a 260-grain bullet; the Platinum Tip, also with a 260-grain hollow-point bullet (they remind me of the Lone Ranger's bullets being all silver in color), and the largest of all the bullets weights at 300 grains-the Super X Jacketed Flat Point. This last one looks like it would perform really well for breaking bone on a big bear or moose, or maybe you'll want to go after Cape Buffalo.
Not having shot anything chambered for the .454 in several years, I wasn't sure what to expect so I started out with the 250-grain Jacketed Hollowpoints, guessing that they'd be the least powerful. At 25 yards the rounds were printing in 4-6 inches groups shooting unsupported. All the firing we did from the 25-yard line was offhand unsupported and all the shooting from the 50-yard line was with support on a couple of telephone books.
I was really surprised that I didn't have to spend any time at all with getting the Raging Bull sighted in. I believe that this gun had been out on loan in the past to at least one other writer who obviously knew what he was doing and had the sighting in process all done for me. Not only did it print well out of the box at the 25-yard distance but there was no sight adjustment needed for the shooting from 50 yards. This says a lot for the flat-shooting quality of this caliber. I can't remember any other instance with any other caliber where there wasn't significant difference in bullet placement at different ranges.
After the initial sighting in shots, we continued to fire 5-shot groups at both 25 and 50 yards. While the groups printing on the targets varied somewhat, with all but a few flyers, which I'm sure were the shooter's fault and not the ammo or the firearm, all would have been respectable kills on the whitetail deer in my area of Western New York state.
I couldn't have been more pleased with the results that were being produced on the targets; well, maybe a little.
That day we shot 80 rounds! I didn't realize it at the time, but felt it on the ride back home. On the ride home I could feel the results of having shot so much of this caliber in both my hands and shoulders.
The Raging Bull is equipped with the Taurus Security System. Taurus has incorporated an integral locking device with a special key into all of their firearms. On the revolvers, you insert the supplied key into the locking mechanism, which is located on the back of the hammer. To store the gun, you turn the key clockwise until a click is felt. The mechanism now partially protrudes above the surface of the back of the hammer. This locks the action and the gun cannot be fired. To unlock it, you do just the reverse. Just be sure when you go hunting that you have brought the key to unlock the action.
Taurus also has an Unlimited Lifetime Repair Policy. If it is ever necessary to have your Taurus repaired, all you have to do is sent it back to them for a free-of-charge repair. This of course doesn't cover the grips, sights, any accessories that you have added to the gun, or any damage that was caused by abuse.
Scope Mounting Rail
As I said before there is a scope mounting rail available from Taurus for the Raging Bull, but we didn't use it. The hunting in New York is usually done at a relatively close range, usually 80 yards or less. West of Interstate 81, in the western part of the state, we aren't allowed to use rifles so most of us stick to a shotgun loaded with deer slugs. You can also use a handgun if you have a pistol license.
I haven't liked using a scope on a pistol because of the magnification of your wobble that is presented. This can make me tend to rush the shot at that point when you happen to have the perfect sight picture and jerk the shot, therefore missing. I'm quite happy with the use of open sights and taking my time with the trigger squeeze and being surprised when the shot breaks.
Secondly, the use of a scope limits your field of view. In the heavily wooded areas that I hunt in, this becomes a detriment rather than an enhancement. So, since we didn't intend to hunt with a scope on the Raging Bull, we chose to not test fire this revolver with one. I'm sure that a scope when used from a rest would have given slightly better groups on a range, but wouldn't have helped in a hunting situation.
For some time now, the only targets I use for articles are the Birchwood Casey (7900 Fuller Road, Dept. GWK, Eden Prairie, MN 55344; phone: 800-328-6156; website: www.birchwoodcasey.com) Shoot·N·C self-adhesive targets. They come in several different sizes and quantity packages. The packages also contain a few pasters to cover-up holes in the targets. When hit, you not only see the hole in the target, but also the surrounding yellow halo formed around the hole. This way the shooter can easily see if and where the bullet has struck. I even put these in the center of the silhouette targets that I use for self-defense gun articles because they make much better pictures for the readers to see the results of the shots.
Whenever you are shooting you should be concerned about safety, which not only includes safe gun handling and knowing your target, but also good ear and eye protection.
Hearing protection has come a long way since the days back when I was shooting on the Marine Corps rifle and pistol team. I still have those earmuffs but have kept them more as a memento than anything else. They still work but not as well as the electronic muffs that are being produced today.
A few months ago I received a unique set of hearing protection from Peltor (AO Safety/Peltor, 5457 West 79th St., Dept. GWK, Indianapolis, IN 46268; phone: 800-327-3431; website: www.aosafety.com). Not only are they electronic and block the ear damaging decibels to prevent ear damage, but also amplify the lower decibels to enhance your hearing. In addition, they also contain an AM/FM radio.
At about the time that I was completing my shooting of the Raging Bull two other shooters showed up on the rifle range, which is located right next to the pistol range that I was using. Unlike many earmuffs the Peltors are very comfortable so I wasn't removing them between strings of fire and target changing, besides I was listening to the radio-Oldies 104.
The guys on the rifle range had started their rifle shooting so I continued to wear the muffs while making trips to the bike to get everything loaded. It seemed that they had greeted me a couple of times and I didn't even hear them. So actually maybe it's not a good idea to listen to the radio on the range.
I have also used the
Peltors while using my lawnmower, chainsaw and weed-wacker, so
they have uses other then just at the range.
They are not inexpensive but are well worth the investment. Besides you can't put a price on your hearing; once it is gone there is no way to get it back.
That pretty much covers the facts and my findings on the Taurus .454 Casull Raging Bull. It is a good revolver for hunting. It is built well and has proven its accuracy. While it is a little large and heavy for carrying, it is still smaller and lighter then the shotgun that would be my other choice to hunt with.
One problem that it does create, in New York state at least, is its concealability. It is not an easily concealable firearm. In New York state we are issued a license to carry a concealed firearm, and that applies even during the hunting season. When hunting with a handgun I have always carried it openly and have never had a problem, but there have been instances when hunters have run into problems for just that. So know what the laws are where you intend to hunt.
I do believe that the Raging Bull is the world's most powerful double-action revolver.
When inquiring to the manufacturers about any of these products be sure to tell them that John at Gun Week sent you.