Available in both .22 LR and .22 WMR, the Taurus Model 942 revolver exceeds expectations and should have shooters looking differently at the Brazilian gunmaker.
SHOT Show is a funny experience. You walk the 12.5 miles of exhibitors at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas over that third week in January. You handle, dry-fire and chat with product managers about dozens of new firearms.
When you get back home, your jealous buddies ask, “What’s new?”
You just shrug and say, “Uh, not much.”
A week or two away from that virus-infested casino air, memories of the better guns handled and guns discussed always percolate up. For me, I couldn’t shake that feeling of palming the new rimfire revolver from Taurus: the Model 942. Here was an all-steel snubnose that had weight—a real gravitas in the hand—plus a great trigger, great grip, interchangeability with aftermarket sights and grips, and a deep bench of available holsters—all this for a real-world price well under $400.
Snob that I am, I was surprised it was a Taurus.
To put it bluntly, Taurus suffers a reputation problem. For many years, its made-in-Brazil firearms hit the American market in sub-standard shape.
There were recalls. Class-action lawsuits. Settlements.
But, it wasn’t all bad. The .410/.45 Colt Judge revolver that was released in 2006 invented a category. Yet other innovations didn’t go over so well (remember the Curve?). Despite it all, many value-minded shooters stayed loyal throughout the rough spots—and for good reason: Where else can a broke shooter find a $300 .357 that goes bang! every time you pull the trigger?
Reading the news, focused always on the negative—and with zero Taurus trigger time—I was like so many keyboard warriors who’ve come to dominate our modern gun culture (I never publicly expressed distaste for Taurus, but I wasn’t going to buy one, either). But then I’d talk to buddies who had a Taurus and loved it, such as Gun Digest Editor Luke Hartle.
Luke bought a Model 44 when he was 18, because “it was the only .44 Magnum I could afford.”
It’s been running strong for almost 20 years. Topped with a red-dot, it’s still his go-to bait barrel bear gun. Another friend, an editor on a popular firearms website, bought a PT845 in 2010—a now-discontinued 12+1 SA/DA .45 ACP that had an MSRP of $260! Over the years, he’s put thousands of rounds down the barrel without a single hiccup.
“The hate on Taurus is mostly bullshit,” he told me. “It had some slip-ups, but overall, it makes great guns, especially now.”
The Old and the … Now
Forjas Taurus (Taurus Forge) opened shop in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in 1939 as a tool-and-die maker. Then, in 1941, it released its first revolver—the Model 38101SO, which drew on proven designs from Colt and Smith & Wesson.
In 1968, Taurus started exporting revolvers to the United States. In 1970, a controlling interest in Taurus was purchased by Bangor Punta Corp., then the owners of Smith & Wesson. In 1974, Beretta won a contract to make 92s for the Brazilian Army, which required in-country manufacturing. When that contract expired in 1980, Beretta sold its facility, along with everything within it—including the schematics, tooling and a skilled workforce that would soon churn out the well-received Taurus PT92 and PT99.
By that time, Bangor Punta had sold Forjas Taurus back to Brazilian ownership. The company now had facilities, designs and talent with Beretta and Smith & Wesson experience. In 1982, Taurus set up an affiliate company, Taurus U.S.A., in Miami to import its firearms and eventually design guns stateside.
Over the next 20 years, Taurus grew to one of the largest small arms shops in the world. It had a reputation for experimenting with alloys and Space Age materials such as titanium while offering standard features such as barrel fluting and interchangeable cylinders that the big American manufacturers only provided as high-dollar custom shop options. Young shooters on a college budget now had an option if, say, they wanted a .44 Magnum to take bear hunting.
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There were stumbles along the way. After a few high-profile models didn’t cut the mustard, Taurus got a new CEO, and all firearms imported to Miami “got a 100 percent inspection,” says Oliver Coulombier, director of engineering for Taurus U.S.A. “We rejected a lot of product at that time, and soon, the lights went on for the folks in Brazil.”
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Last year, Taurus U.S.A. opened a 200,000-square-foot manufacturing center and corporate headquarters on a 75-acre campus in Bainbridge, Georgia. Compared to Miami, there’s surely a big tax advantage in that move; however, it’s also allowed the company to expand stateside engineering and production capability. Currently, the TX22, PT22 and Spectrum are manufactured in the United States, and new models are in development.
If you still think there’s a quality issue with Taurus, I dare you to run anyone of those pistols or the new 942 rimfire revolvers.
A Wheelie Done Right
The eight-round DA/SA Model 942 is chambered in .22 LR or .22 WMR. It comes in 2- and 3-inch barrel lengths and in matte black or stainless steel. There’s also a 2-inch, hard-anodized, black, ultra-light model that comes in at slightly fewer than 18 ounces. The steel guns in 2-and 3-inch weigh 23.6 and 25 ounces, respectively, giving them a real command in-hand—as I first discovered on the floor at SHOT and later, while testing the 2-inch snubbies in .22 LR and .22 WMR.
Beyond the weight, part of that in-hand appeal is the ergonomic rubber grip, which seats well in my large, glove-sized hands. The grips are interchangeable with aftermarket options made for Taurus 85, 856, 605, 380 and 905 revolvers, including the red-laser option from Viridian. The weight and the grip make it a sound-handling iron.
Dimensionally, the 942 compares to the 605—a J-frame-comparable subcompact. The cylinder rotates counterclockwise, and the release and hammer have a nice burring. The drift rear sight, held in place with a small flat-head screw, can be adjusted for windage,. The replaceable front serrated ramp sight is pinned. It’s black, but that can be cured with a little nail polish or by swapping in a fiber-optic, if so inclined.
The 942 shares some DNA with Taurus’ previous rimfire revolver, the Model 94. The main criticism of the 94 was its overly stiff trigger. Taurus engineers corrected that with the 942 by improving the trigger leverage and tweaking the return spring design. In single-action, the trigger breaks at 4 pounds on my test .22 LR and 4 pounds, 6 ounces on the .22 WMR, as tested with a mechanical Timney gauge. There’s very little creep. In double-action, the trigger stages beautifully.
The overall package is accurate, laying down 3-inch groups with every .22 LR and .22 WMR load on my shelf … when I did my part. A 2-inch rimfire revolver will separate the crack handgun shots from the rest of us, which is the main reason I can see for adding this little gun to the arsenal. With its short sight radius, it forces good sight and trigger discipline—or shots run away quickly.
These pistols are safe to dry-fire, unlike most rimfires. Add the Viridian laser grip, and you have a first-rate, indoor dry-fire training tool. Ensure the gun is empty, point the laser at the wall, and then squeeze the trigger without the laser jumping all over the place. With no slide to rack, you can practice on easy repeat until your finger starts to blister.
In .22 LR, the 942 makes an excellent trainer, plinker, kit gun or hiking trip sidearm. In .22 WMR, all the same applies, but it’s also a self-defense tool for those unable to command a .380 or 9mm. (For self-defense applications, look at the Speer Gold Dot 40-grain GDHP-SB.) And, it’s a great backup firearm in an ankle holster A revolver is easily the best format for a rimfire self-defense handgun. If the shot doesn’t go off, squeeze again; the cylinder will still rotate, and the firing pin will still drop on a fresh round.
To try to replicate a malfunction—and as something of a backyard torture test—I put 600 rounds through the .22 LR in a single afternoon. At about the 400-round mark, the gun was so dirty that bullets started to tumble, leaving holes in my paper targets like little sideways rectangles. It takes 12 to 16 inches of barrel to burn up a .22 LR powder charge—depending on whether it’s subsonic or hypersonic ammo—so, in a 2-inch barrel, there’s inevitably a lot of fouling. Two hundred rounds later, I pulled the trigger, and there was no bang!—a light strike on the Aguila .22 target.
I switched over to CCI, Federal and Winchester bulk-pack ammo, and every round went off again. When I switched back to Aguila, there were two more light strikes, but the cylinder kept turning, and the remaining shots went off. Was it the ammo? The filthy revolver? Well, it was probably a combination of the two. In the real world, this is a moot point: If you put 600 rounds through a rimfire handgun and don’t clean it, you don’t deserve to own a rimfire handgun.
The Model 942 from Taurus is a compact, quality, rimfire revolver at a price that can’t be beat. It could play a role in a self-defense kit or as a kit gun in the mountains or on the water. But, more than anything, it’s simply a fun and accurate plinker—ideal for training shooters, both new and old.
Model 942 Specs:
Chambering: .22 LR or .22 WMR
Frame size: Small
Capacity: 8 rounds
Height: 4.64 in.
Width: 1.34 in.
Weight: 23.60 oz.
Barrel length: 2.00 in.
Overall length: 6.60 in.
Front sight: Serrated ramp
Rear sight: Drift adjustable
Safety: Transfer bar
MSRP: $369.52 (matte black); $384.97 (matte stainless)
For more information on the Taurus Model 942, please visit taurususa.com.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the August 2020 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.