Taurus M405SS2 40 S&W Revolver
When it comes to concealing a handgun, there is only so much space available on the hip, inside a handbag, or somewhere else on the body or in clothing. That’s why there are snubnosed revolvers and subcompact pistols. Choosing a handgun, then, becomes a balance of firepower versus weight and overall structural dimensions. Gun Tests magazine recently tested guns that will fit into a box approximately 5-by-7 inches in size — which represents a handgun that can be carried easily in just about any manner of traditional concealment.
GT tested the $523 Taurus 40 S&W M405 stainless-steel revolver.
The cartridge versus cartridge debate rages on, largely based on the stopping power of one single shot. But let us offer an alternative viewpoint suggested by TacPro Shooting Center’s Bill Davison. Davison, a former Royal Marine and one of the most complete training consultants in the United States, offers that when rating the firepower of a handgun, the amount of energy it can deliver should be the sum of its entire capacity rather than the energy of one lone shot. For example, a 9+1 capacity pistol, wherein each bullet registers about 330 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle, should ultimately be considered more powerful than a six-shot pistol that fires ammunition capable of delivering 500 foot-pounds with each round of fire. Food for thought.
Here’s what they said:
For our tests, we began by shooting five-shot groups (the capacity of the Taurus) from the 15-yard bench. Then, we applied what we think was a more realistic test. Each gun was fired from a distance of 5 yards at a humanoid paper target. Start position was with the gun lowered to rest on a oil-barrel top about waist high. We used a CED8000 shot-activated timer to provide a start signal and record elapsed time of each shot. We took note of the first shot to see how fast we could get the gun into action and the last shot to see how long it took to deliver two shots to center mass and one shot to the head area. Altogether we recorded five separate strings of fire. We scored the hits A, B, C, or D, looking for ten hits to the preferred 5.9-inch by 11.2-inch A-zone at center mass and five hits to the A-zone in the head, which measured 4 inches long by 2 inches high. The catch was that the test was performed strong hand only. (By a right-handed shooter holding the gun with only his right hand). We weren’t trying to be cowboys or go Hollywood. It’s just that in close-range fighting where guns such as these would most likely be used, applying a support hand may not be possible. On the semiautos, there wasn’t much room for a support hand in the first place.
For testing the Taurus revolver, we chose Winchester 165-grain FMJ ammunition sold in a value pack, Federal Premium 135-grain Hydra Shok JHP ammunition, and Hornady Custom 180-grain XTP jacketed hollowpoint rounds. The 165-grain rounds were also used in our action shooting test.
Taurus M405SS2 Revolver 40 S&W, $523
The configuration of the Taurus M405 SS2 can be read from its name. It’s a 40 S&W 5-shot stainless-steel revolver with a 2-inch barrel. The pistol round demands the use of moon clips to provide the proper position or headspace in relation to the breech face and firing pin. Does this make it a modern firearm? No, not really. Moon clips holding six rounds and half-moon clips holding three rounds apiece inside a thin spring-grade steel bracket is an invention almost as old as the hand-eject revolver itself. Then again, semi-automatic pistols are more than one hundred years old, too.
The appeal of a revolver over a semi-automatic handgun may be limited due to lesser capacity, but here is a list of wheelgun advantages. First, statistics show that civilian confrontations do not require a high round count. When was the last time a confrontation listed in “The Armed Citizen” column of an NRA publication reported that either party had to reload their weapons?
Next, consider that leaving a revolver loaded for a long period of time has no affect whatsoever on its ability to function. Also, a revolver will fire any type of ammunition of any velocity ranging from a plastic domed load of snake shot to solid lead bullets or any type of frangible you can name without worry of malfunction.
The Taurus M405 revolver is available with either a blued-steel or stainless-steel frame. Features include a ribbed-rubber one-piece grip that attaches from the bottom of the butt frame. There was a wide spur hammer with integral locking system that cannot interfere with hammer movement unless activated with the supplied key. The rear sights consisted of a frame notch with diffuser gap. The ramped front sight was integral with the barrel shroud. It was grooved perpendicular to the bore to prevent glare. We found this rugged design was easy to see even in bright light. The cylinder latch was reshaped to let spent rounds pass easily from the cylinder, and its contact surface was checkered. The cylinder was fluted and the ejector rod was full length ensuring the ejection of spent cartridges. With cylinder closed, the ejector rod was protected inside a long notch that ran the length of the full underlug barrel. There was a spring-loaded detent on the crane that locked into the frame to increase strength of lockup. The tip of the ejector rod did not take part in locking up the cylinder. But it was capped with a finely checkered knob to ensure comfortable, positive operation. The trigger was wide and smooth, and the gun could be fired continuously double action or single action only by manually pulling back the hammer.
Taurus calls the moon-clip system Stellar Clips. That’s okay with us. Lunar Clips makes more sense, but whatever. To load the M405, you had to first load the clips by pressing each round into place. Here’s where you become aware of the difference in case dimensions specifically at the rim. The Winchester cases were hard to get on and off, but the Federals were almost loose enough to fall off on their own. The Hornady cases were somewhere in between. Once the clips were loaded, you had to push all five rounds into place and make sure the center of the clip was all the way down against the cylinder. Once the rounds were fired, the empty cases were ejected together along with the clip. Removing the spent shells from the clip can be accomplished by hand or by using a special tool. Where necessary, we just stuck a piece of brass tubing of slightly less diameter into the mouth of the empty shell and pried them off the clips.
If you have ever seen revolver shooters on the Practical Shooting circuit, you’ve seen moon clips. Tuned competition guns accept and release moon clips holding up to eight rounds almost like magic. The Taurus clips weren’t nearly as fluid, but a little polishing of the clips around the center where they touch the ejector rod would make them a lot faster and more efficient. It would also help to chamfer the chamber mouths. Chamfering changes the angle of the chamber mouth from 90 degrees to as much as 45 degrees, creating a funneling effect. This is not an expensive modification, about $40 on average, and we’d like to see revolvers with chamfered cylinders as standard equipment.
After a few shots single action only from the bench, we thought maybe we were cheating. But if you have the time to take a careful shot, pulling back the hammer manually is a viable option. In fact, we have found that even standard-production revolvers offer a single-action press superior to most semi-automatic pistols. The results showed a 0.8-inch group firing the Winchester 165-grain FMJ rounds leading the way to a 1.0-inch average size group. The 135-grain Federal Hydra Shok rounds were less accurate but produced almost 400 foot-pounds of muzzle energy. Our favorite load was the Hornady 180-grain XTP hollowpoints because the Taurus was dead on in terms of point of aim/point of impact. Resulting groups ranged in size from 1.1 inches to 1.5 inches across. To compare the effects of single-action versus double-action fire, we tried repeating our benchrest session shooting the Hornady ammunition double action only. The Taurus double-action trigger was smooth, but once we began our stroke, the trigger seemed to multiply the action and take us through the shot. When we fired the 405SS2 double-action only from a rest, our groups ranged in size from 1.2 inches to 1.8 inches across. Calculating our Hornady groups, the actual average was 1.35 inches single action versus 1.375 inches double-action only — effectively no difference.
Firing a revolver in our action test was very different. As we moved to our first target we were able to roll the cylinder and prep the trigger with more vivid control than we could with others. First shots ranged from 0.73 seconds to 1.01 seconds. But our overall elapsed times for each run suffered due to the greater recoil of the heavier 165-grain bullets. Average total elapsed time was about 2.50 seconds. We think we could have done better with one easy fix. The ribbed rubber grips were great from the shaded bench. But downrange in the afternoon sun, our hands were sweaty and the ribbed rubber grips caused the gun to swim in the shooter’s hands. A proper wooden grip (of which there are several available) would have helped us tame recoil, reduce elapsed time, and improve our score. Target points were five B-zone hits to the head with five A’s, three C’s and two D-zone shots below.
Our Team Said: With a change of grip and minor refinement, the M405 would be a fine tactical weapon. We could have chosen more radical ammunition without worry of malfunction. The larger-diameter projectile makes this gun a formidable choice.