The Taurus Model 72 Stainless
edited by John Dunn
Click on the thumbnail images for a larger photo.
The Old Winchester Exposed Hammer, slide-action rimfires were a shooter’s staple in the early years of the 20th Century. The rifle, with minor variations, persisted from 1890 up until the beginning of World War II and is back again in the myriad of variations and calibrations produced by Taurus International/USA.
Spanning three centuries of tradition.
The popularity and persistence of the Models of 1890, 1906 and Model 62 stem from several factors. A Winchester Repeater of moderate price was a long step up from the 19th and early 20th Century single shot boy’s rifles--particularly the ones earned by selling multiple cases of Cloverine Salve and the like. By 1940, the rapid-fire rimfire clan could get a Winchester Hammerless Repeater for $24.87 while the popular Marlin 39-A levergun was a luxurious $29.77. The Model 62 sold for $18.01 – an important distinction in the days of the silver standard.
Two great .22 magnum rimfires
In addition, exposed hammer arms with the half-cock safety position have long been regarded as safer to carry and use than the enclosed hammer, safety button types.
Close-up of the 72's firing pin block safety
Mike Parsons, a central Texas varmint hunter and bench rest competitor already had a vintage model of 1906 and a receiver sight-equipped model 62 when he decided to round out his collection with one of the more energetic chamberings form Taurus. He was torn between the new .17 HRM and the not so old but reliable .22 Winchester Magnum rimfire. The ever-widening variety of ammunition seems to have tipped the scales toward the 1959 vintage cartridge. The front loading tubular magazine would hold ten rounds of the high powered .22s. He optioned his rifle in stainless steel in the traditional full sized rifle trim.
The barrel is 24" long providing an overall length of 30" and weights in at 80 ounces. I note that the trigger releases at 3.2-oz – very much like the original Winchesters and the "clickity--clack" sound of the action running is likewise authentic. The Taurus number--designated "Model 72", has a firing pin block manual safety on top of the bolt and the turn-key hammer block arrangement common to all of the firm’s revolvers Hoping to get the most from the Magnum cartridge, He mounted a vintage Weaver K-3 Scope. His expressed hope was that he would be able to get two to three inch groups at 100 yards with selected loads.
"Why don’t you sight it in for me – fifty yards would be fine and you can write it up if you want to." Always on the look-out for projects that will keep me off the street and out of trouble for a day or so, I split for the local L. M. Burney distributorship and laid in a variety of magnum rimfire rounds. In recent years, the choices in magnum rimfire ammunition were straightforward. You either used Winchester Western full metal jacket or jacketed hollow point or CCI loads with the same choice of 40 grain projectiles. There is now such an array of WMR ammunition that it would be quite a chore to keep up with all of the variations. What I found on the shelves were the more or less original WW loads and the apparently unchanged CCI hollow points. There was also a PMC 40 grain jacketed soft point to add to the companies’ hollow point loading, the new-to-me Remington plastic tipped 33 grain V-Max and the CCI explosively light weight TNT hollow point.
I headed for the range secure in the knowledge that I would be the only one there. An arctic front was moving in and the day was informed by a howling cold wind and gathering dark. I started out the session with Parsons’, Pre-WWII Model 62 Winchester using the u-notch and bead sight set-up on paper squirrel targets at 25 yards. The first two ten round strings landed eight of ten rounds each in the head region and my off-hand shooting began to deteriorate after that. I moved to a steady bench rest and the fifty yard range hoping to get the Model 72 sighted in and to produce some representative groups.
Taurus' recently introduced receiver sight for the 72
From the Ammunition data table, it is evident that the varieties of WMR ammunition worked with a certain sameness that is not apparent when firing the same and similar loads from my revolvers. The 40 grain traditional loadings showed very nearly the same average velocities and the hyper velocity numbers were a mere one foot per second apart for the five round average. Five round, fifty-yard groups ran from 1.5" to 2.1" with the WW full metal jackets producing the smallest group of the day.
The CCI TNT--a mediocre grouper from my long barreled Single Six, showed promising consistency from the Taurus rifle with the 1.8" cluster evenly distributed and closely resembling groups from the other rounds. I recorded groups that seemed to represent the best I was able to do with this particular rifle discarding a couple with called flyers. Significantly, even the culled groups did not exceed 3" for the five round spread.
The Taurus Model 72 definitely captures the flavor of the old 1906 and the slightly evolved Model 62 Winchester. The feel of the cycling action was virtually identical right down to the sound effects as previously noted. While I did not use the factory open sights on the 72, I could see them under the scope mount and noted that they would be easier to pick up than the rather crude shallow V on the ’06 and the bead and U-notch of the Winchester 62. Feeding was positive as was ejection except on those occasions when the Magnum case would bounce downward from the scope mount and hang up the action.
My overall accuracy results are not quite up to Mike Parson’s ideal. The good news is that his superior bench shooting skills will very likely narrow the groups considerably and my foul weather shooting represents something of a worst-case scenario. The shooting experience adds to my growing impression that the Taurus people are great Americans--standing out in the firearms industry because they really do care about what they are doing.
My predictions proved accurate as Parsons put five of the Remingtons into..75" fifty yard group from his bench rest rig
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