In an industry interview after retiring last year from a long and distinguished career with Taurus, that company’s departing leader Bob Morrison commented that he tried to bring out something new and different every year.  This past year, he certainly succeeded with the Taurus Protector Polymermer.

Taurus has been making their counterpart of the S&W J-frame revolver for many years. Until the coming of their fabulously popular Judge, in .45 Colt/.410 shotshell chambering, Taurus’ most popular line had been their Model 85 series of five-shot .38 Special snubbies.

Savvy marketing man and gun guy that he’s been as long as I’ve known him, I suspect Bob Morrison picked up on the popularity of ultra-light .357 Mags from other makers, and realized that the big complaint customers had with those guns was their absolutely vicious recoil with full power loads.

Gun Details

That would explain the format of the Polymer .357 Mag snub from Taurus’ Protector series.  A little bigger than pocket size, the weight is comfortably over a pound: 19.75 ounces, to be precise, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.  In something of a homage to another industry success story, the Ruger LCR, Taurus makes extensive use of polymer on the Protector models.

Almost 20 ounces absorbs recoil a heck of a lot better than, say, the 11 ounces of Smith & Wesson’s lightest .357, the Model 340 PD.  To further cushion kick, the Polymer comes with Taurus’ famously recoil-absorbing Ribber grips.  Yes, they make it a bit big for pocket or ankle carry.

However, this is a gun that will be at home in belt or shoulder holster. While its resemblance to the Ruger LCR is the first thing that catches your eye, the second gun the Protector Polymer put me in mind of was the S&W Model 12.  Introduced in the early 1950s as the Military & Police Airweight and given its numerical sobriquet a few years later, the Model 12 was an alloy-framed K-frame revolver, with a six-shot .38 Special cylinder. It had a full-length grip-frame, buyer’s choice of round or square butt, and could be had with 2-inch or 4-inch barrel.

With aluminum frame and steel cylinder, the Model 12 weighed 18 ounces. Gun-wise cops of the time, restricted to .38s for both on and off duty, appreciated the Model 12 as a plainclothes gun. It normally rode in a shoulder rig, or a holster on or in the belt.  If you had offered those old cops a gun the same size and shape, with one round less cartridge capacity but chambered for the powerful .357 Mag, I expect a bunch of them would have taken you up on it.

Of course, that gun would be the Protector Polymermer .357.  Roughly the same size as the snub-nose K-frame? Check.  Grip long enough to hang onto with all your fingers? Check. Five-shot cylinder? Yup.  Chambered for .357 Mag?  The Protector Polymermer most definitely is.  Similar weight? This new Taurus is only an ounce and three quarters heavier than the old S&W.

 

Shooting Impressions

I passed this gun around to several fellow shooters, most of them cops and all owners of small, powerful revolvers for backup or “light carry.”  What impressed most at first was how light this Taurus .357 felt for its size.

The cylinder latch is not the usual S&W style found on Taurus revolvers. It’s rectangular, extremely flat, and blended into the heavy-duty recoil shield that rises from the frame behind the cylinder.  In fact, it’s so well blended there that it took extra effort to open the cylinder.  I found it slow enough to operate that it literally slowed down the whole reloading process.

So did the fact that an HKS speedloader full of .357 Mags gave me the devil’s own time before it dumped its payload into the five chambers.  The problem turned out to be the Ribber grips, which were hitting the drum of the speedloader and taking it off angle.  With the one-piece grip removed, the HKS dropped the five .357 rounds into the cylinder smooth as glass.  If this gun belonged to me, I’d simply pop open my C60 knife and give the left side of the Ribber a  “Spyderco grip trim.”  Since the gun belonged to Taurus instead of me, I didn’t, and through the test we all loaded the Protector Pro one or two cartridges at a time, the old fashioned way.

Truth to tell, when I carry a snub revolver it’s generally as backup, so my spare ammunition for it is usually in a flat little Bianchi Speed Strip, which worked fine with this revolver. The speedloader incompatibility is not a slam on Taurus: we’ve seen it over the years on Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Ruger, too.  All eventually caught on and fitted their guns with speedloader-compatible grips. I’m sure Taurus will soon, too.

The gun comes out of the box in traditional double-action firing mode. The hammer rides within a built-in shroud a’ la’ the old S&W Bodyguard, introduced in the 1950s and still selling right along, and copied as an option within Taurus’ own line of all-metal .38 and .357 snubbies. On those guns, only a little “cocking button” protrudes from the slot in the shroud for the shooter’s thumb to draw back and cock the gun to single action mode.

On the Protector Polymermer, curiously enough, the “cocking button” is more of a conventional, checkered hammer spur, and it rises high enough out of the shrouding slot to be easy for the thumb to catch.  This also makes it easier to uncock the revolver if the shot does not have to be fired.

However, it also protrudes enough that it can conceivably snag coming out of a pocket. I don’t think that’s terribly likely – I had to pretty much make it happen in testing – but the point is, I could make it happen, and that’s never been true of Taurus’ all-metal small-frames with this styling, nor the original S&W Bodyguard.

The sights were better than snubbies used to have. Big front, big rear.  Both are molded from polymer, the rear notch rising out of the polymer topstrap and shielded by it, and the front being part of a polymer sleeve for what appears to be a stainless steel barrel.  The polymer makes them look gray instead of black, but a saving grace is a fiber optic front sight. It’s red, and not the brightest of its kind I’ve seen, but it does catch the eye well enough, even on gray days.

I found an interesting dimensional problem with that. With the top edge of the front sight level with the top edges of the rear, in the conventional marksman’s post-in-notch sight picture, it was easy enough to stay on an 8-inch diameter steel plate at 15 to 20 paces.  However, when the shooter tried to focus on the glowing red orb of the fiber optic up front, the shots tended to go high.  The reason was easy to figure out: with the conventional sight picture, the bottom edge of the red “dot” was buried in the trough of the rear sight notch. When the shooter wanted to “see the red thing on the target,” that raised the sight…and the shots went high.  We found ourselves using a 6 o’clock sight picture if we wanted to hit with our focus on the fiber optic red ball instead of on the silhouette of a conventional sight picture.

I tested the trigger pull on a Lyman digital gauge.  In single-action, the average weight of pull was 4.1 pounds.  Perceptible trigger backlash was insignificant. Double-action was heavy. How heavy? I honestly can’t tell you: the Lyman gauge tops out at 12 pounds or so, and every reading said “over…over…over.”  That left several experienced revolver shooters to make educated guesses as to double-action pull weight. I would have guessed about 16 pounds.  I heard as low as 14 and as high as 20 ventured by other shooters who tried the Protector Polymermer.

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Show Comments
  • Leslie Hoerwinkle

    That DA trigger pull sounds pretty stout for a small gun.

    • Parshman

      Stout but manageable. I think, however, that it is best fired as single action.

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