Taurus 66 Silhouette Revie
The Taurus Model 66 Silhouette is tailor made for long-distance revolver work.The Taurus Model 66 Silhouette is tailor made for long-distance revolver work.
I like short-barreled revolvers. When you’re going to pack a wheelgun around all day, every day, there’s nothing like a snubbie with two inches or so of tube out front. And for nearly all of my working life as a deputy sheriff, I carried and used the “cop’s compromise,” an easy-to-holster 4-inch number. But when it came to bulls’ eye or PPC shooting, where you needed a little more precision, I was no different than most of my fellow competitors.
I gave up on practical portability and opted for a full six inches of barrel length. Later on–when facing the challenge of a steel ram 200 meters downrange–I took up a big magnum revolver with 8 3/8 inches of barrel. When your target is way off, you just plain need more barrel.
Clearly, Taurus understands this equation. Determined to fill every possible shooting niche, these energetic Brazilians now offer a high-quality revolver with a barrel that measures one foot from forcing cone to muzzle crown. That’s right–12 full inches of tube. Where modern revolvers are concerned, that has to be some kind of record.
The gun itself is a variation of the company’s bread-and-butter Model 66–a seven-shot .357 built on a medium frame. It’s called the Model 66 Silhouette.
The Benefits of More BarrelLonger barrels at longer ranges are better for two reasons. First, when the barrel is longer, the sight radius (the distance between the front and rear sights) is longer. And the greater this distance is, the more precisely the sights may be aligned.
While a longer sight radius does not–in and of itself–make a gun more accurate, it does allow a competent marksman to get a little closer to the gun’s full accuracy potential. But there is a downside to that long sight radius. A front sight that’s farther away from the shooter is harder to handle.
That distance magnifies tremors on the part of the shooter. But to be honest, when you’re shooting from a rest or any other stable position, this is less of a factor than it would be when shooting offhand. As far as the new Taurus goes, I suspect many of them will be equipped with a scope or projected dot sight, and thus the sight radius problem will become moot.
The second advantage of the long barrel is that it gets the most from the ammunition. In most handguns, varying amounts of powder are left unburned when the bullet exits the muzzle. A longer barrel simply gives the system a longer combustion chamber. A great deal of current .357 ammunition comes loaded with fast-burning powder and light bullets.
This is done in the interest of lowering the recoil impulse and making short-barreled defensive revolvers more efficient. But remember that the first .357 loads–made in the mid-1930s–came with 158-grain bullets and were loaded to some really hot (up to 1,500 fps) velocities.
At present, you can buy .357 revolvers with barrels less than two inches to as long as a foot. You can also buy .357 ammunition with bullets as light as 110 grains and as heavy as 180. To get the most out of the long-barreled revolvers at their intended long range, use 180-grain bullets.
The laws of external ballistics tell us that longer bullets of a given diameter tend to retain their energy and trajectory better than the shorter ones. And that is exactly why Taurus took the radical step of putting a 12-inch barrel on the Model 66. This is a revolver intended for serious long-range work.
Considering ErgonomicsThe visual impact of this new revolver is pretty abrupt–the barrel just seems to go on forever. The Taurus logo–lasered into the barrel–seems isolated at the mid-point of the tube. My particular test gun was blued, but it can also be had in matte stainless. But I am pleased to report that an unscoped Model 66 Silhouette doesn’t really feel awkward when you pick it up.
That’s because the designers bucked the current trend toward heavy, full-length underlugs. Instead, this gun has a short underlug that’s just long enough to shroud the ejector rod. The remainder of the barrel is round with an integral sighting rib on top.
As part of my shooting evaluation, I tried several one-handed shots at a bulls’-eye target and it was easier than I thought; the long barrel isn’t all that heavy.
The gun comes drilled and tapped for scope mount bases on the barrel, but since I didn’t have time to install a scope for my range test, I removed the base in order to use the excellent plain black sights. The rear is adjustable for windage and elevation, while the front is an integral ramp. This sighting arrangement is just what it needs to be–large and easy to see, plain black, offering a clear and distinct sight picture.
The Model 66 Silhouette’s rubber grips, in the author’s opinion, are excellent and do as much as anything to add ergonomics and “pointability” to an outsized revolver.
I also like the grips very much. They’re rubber and of a shape that Taurus has developed over several years of experimentation. Completely surrounding the square butt frame, the grips are shaped with shallow finger grooves. They are also just a little smaller at the bottom (where the little finger sits) and taper upwards to where the long middle finger comes around. The shape is excellent and contributes to the general pointability of a really outsized gun.
It’s a relatively easy revolver to manage. This subjective impression was reinforced when I tried the trigger.
Taurus uses a DA/SA revolver action that is usually quite good, but the single-action trigger on my specimen was excellent to outstanding–clean and crisp at about three pounds, with no creep and very little overtravel. That’s exactly what a handgunner needs in a tool intended to shoot long-range targets.
It’s a fact that long-range shooting is now well established with American handgunners. With this model, Taurus has introduced a gun well suited for shooting varmints and at least medium-sized and (possibly) deer-sized game.
In competition, the new Taurus qualifies for the Unlimited Class in IHMSA shooting. But aside from these specific uses, I suspect the revolver will become a “just plain fun” gun. Taurus also offers the Model 66 Silhouette in .22 Long Rifle and .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire.SHOOTING RESULTSTAURUS MODEL 66 SILHOUETTEAMMO USED AVERAGEVELOCITY(fps) STANDARDDEVIATION(fps) GROUPSIZE(in.)HORNADY 140-GR. HP/XTP 1,411 21 1.60PRO LOAD 158-GR. JHP 1,298 36 1.55REMINGTON 165-GR. JSP 1,456 13 1.63HORNADY 158-GR. HP/XTP 1,419 21 1.74REMINGTON 165-GR. CORE LOKT JHP 1,349 14 1.33WINCHESTER 180-GR. PARTITION GOLD JHP 1,146 45 1.61FEDERAL 180-GR. JHP 1,231 54 1.07REMINGTON 180-GR. SJHP 1,248 24 1.27PRO LOAD GAME STOPPER 180-GR. FPJ 1,161 13 1.49NOTES: Accuracy results based on a 7-shot group fired at 25-yards from a RansomRest. Velocities were measured with an Oehler Model 35P chronograph with skyscreens placed approximately 12 feet from the muzzle.
RANGE RESULTSPreparing for a trip to the range, I loaded the ammo box up with an assortment of nine different loads. For the reasons already stated, I chose ammunition with the heavier bullets. There were four 180-grain loads, one 165-grain, three of the traditional 158-grain weight and a single 140-grain load.
I like to try every .357 revolver that comes along with that Hornady 140-grain XTP, as it is probably the single most accurate .357 Magnum round I’ve found.SPECIFICATIONSTAURUS MODEL 66 SILHOUETTEImporter: www.taurususa.comAction: Double-Action RevolverCaliber: .357 Magnum (also .22LR and .22 WMR)Capacity: Seven roundsBarrel Length: 12-inchesOverall Length: 17 1/4-inchesWeight: 50 ouncesSights: Fully adjustable rear,integral ramp frontGrips: RubberFinish: Blued or matte stainlessPrice: $414 blued($461 matte stainless)
At the range I set up a Ransom Rest and C-clamped it to a solid concrete bench. Then I placed the revolver in the machine rest inserts and clamped it down tight. A barrel this long develops a great deal of leverage against the recoiling rocker arm of the Ransom Rest and I anticipated that it would take quite a few rounds in order to settle the gun into the rubber inserts before I began to get good results. As anticipated, the first few groups were elongated vertically, but several dozen shots downrange produced nice, round groups. Then I started shooting a seven-shot group with each load. I also had the Oehler 35P chronograph working and clocked the velocities. Once the gun was settled in and working, the session proceeded uneventfully. The target, by the way, was 25 yards from the firing point.
I was very pleased with the results. This particular revolver was happy with just about everything in my ammo assortment. After firing all nine loads and measuring the groups, I averaged the group sizes and found the Model 66 Silhouette would reliably produce 7-shot groups (once around the cylinder, one shot from each chamber) which averaged 1.48 inches.