The Taurus 44-Ten Tracker: A .410 Shotgun in Your Hand
by J.B. Wood
For a long time, several writers who specialize in home defense matters have recommended a shotgun as the best weapon. There were several good reasons. Two that come to mind are minimal penetration of walls, and a pattern that lessens the necessity of careful aiming.
There were some admitted drawbacks. Even a short shotgun, with a legal 18-inch barrel, will precede you around corners and could be grabbed by intruders. So, how about a handgun in .410? Actually, there was one a few years back, called the Thunder Fiveugly, but well-made and effective. It is no longer made. As with all .410 chamberings, it could also use .45 Colt (LC) cartridges. Its rifled barrel made it legal.
Then there is the currently-available BFR from Magnum Research. This is a BIG stainless steel single-action. While it would certainly do the job, its size and weight could be a problem for smaller hands. Beautifully made, it is also relatively expensive (and worth it!).
And now, there is the Taurus 44-Ten Tracker from Taurus International (16175 NW 49th Ave., Dept. GWK, Miami, FL 33014; phone: 800-327-3776; on-line: www.taurususa.com). It is offered in blue, or, for slightly more, stainless steel. Barrel lengths are 6˚ and 2˚ inches, and the 5-shot cylinder chambers either 2˚-inch .410 shotshells or .45 Colt cartridges. Like most (ahem!) older people, I usually refer to the cartridge as “.45 Long Colt” and, inevitably, some young squirt will correct me. Well, the barrel of the Taurus is clearly marked “.45LC/410.”
My 44-Ten is the matte stainless version, with the short barrel. While the published barrel length is given as 2˚ inches, the actual measurement, muzzle to cylinder face, is exactly 3 inches. Even with the elongated cylinder, the whole thing is a handy size, and the empty weight is just 38 ounces. The rear sight is a square notch in the frame, and the front is one of those pink-orange light-gathering jobs.
The trigger is wide and nicely smooth-surfaced, and the wide hammer spur has good checkering. On both double- and single-action, the trigger pull is excellent. The firing system uses a transfer bar, so there are no worries about carrying the cylinder fully loaded. The ejector rod has good, long travel for easy ejection of fired cases.
The one-piece rubber grip has the well-known Taurus “Ribber” feature, little flexible projections all down the frontstrap. Once you have the 44-Ten in hand, it’s going to stay there. Because of the grip and the good balance of the gun, the felt recoil is quite mild with either shotshells or cartridges.
In addition to the regular cylinder latch at the rear, there is also a front lock, a beveled plunger in the top of the cylinder crane. And, of course, there is the Taurus key-lock, set into the back curve of the hammer. Turn that out, and everything is stopped. I’ll never use it, but it works perfectly.
Before taking the 44-Ten out to the range, I went to a building supply place and obtained a broken section of ˚-inch wall-board, the type used for most interior house walls. Firing was then done from varying distances, using shotshells by Remington, Federal, and Winchester. Shot size was 7˚ regular field loads.
All gave good, dense patterns. However, let’s dispel some myths here. Even at 10 yards, you’re not going to “fill a doorway” with shot. Not even with a larger bore than .410. At 10 yards, the pattern measured l8 to 20 inches, and the plastic shot cup left a faint mark at the center.
Moving up to 7 yards, the classic “encounter distance,” the pattern diameter was 15 inches, and the shot cup left a dent in the board. At 4 yards, there was a 10-inch pattern, and the shot cup was imbedded in the board. Firing from 1-yard away gave a 6-inch pattern, and the cup was through and gone. Needless to say, any of these impacts would leave an intruder most uncomfortable.
How about penetration? Well, at all distances the shot pellets went through the board. However, logic tells us that they used up a lot of their force getting through the dense material. And, in home construction, there would be another piece of the same wall-board beyond. With the possible exception of the 1-yard shot, the pellets would likely not exit that one.
I also tried the Taurus with .45LC cartridges, and with Remington .410 Slug loads. The cartridges were Black Hills 200-grain JHP, and the distance was 9 yards. The .45LC rounds printed a nice little 2-3/8-inch group, in the center of a Champion VisiShot target. On a regular Outers target, the .410 Slugs grouped 2˘ inches. The 44-Ten is quite accurate.
As noted earlier, the felt recoil was not at all unpleasant. It’s more of a “push” than a hard slap. After the serious wall-board and target work, I was shooting .410 loads double-action at dirt clods and corncobs. Great fun!
Getting back to serious business, would the Taurus 44-Ten Tracker be a good “house-gun?” Absolutely! It could be handled well by anyone, and shotshell loads would afford a little “margin of error” in aiming. For the more proficient, you could load it so the first three rounds were shot, then have two .45LC rounds, if necessary. And, we haven’t even considered the camping and hunting applications. The last word: High quality, reasonable price.
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