Thursday, August 7, 2014

Taurus Model 85 View Review - A Clearly Different Revolver

At first glance, it may be easy to dismiss the Taurus 85 View as a gimmick or novelty handgun because it is so much different than anything else currently available in the stores.  Keeping an open mind, I recently spent several weeks with the sexy Brazilian import to see if the revolver was worthy of the $599 retail price Taurus has established for the View.  By the time I was done with the review, I had a new appreciation of how clearly different this Taurus was from any other model 85 revolver I have ever handled.

The -est Factor
The 85 View is available with silver (85VTA) or pink (85VTAP) frame.

What is the -est factor?  Currently, I'm a concealed carry minimalist.   That means I put a high value on tools that are fit for purpose, but are as small as practically possible.  When gear gets too big, I have a habit of leaving it behind instead of weighing myself down.  I'm always on the lookout for the smallest, lightest, thinnest gear because I know I will tend to carry it more than larger items.

The Taurus View is appealing because it has some -est factors going for it.  Weighing in at 9.5 ounces, it is certainly the lightest .38 Special revolver I've ever come in contact with.  Taurus also reduced the length and height of the revolver by nearly an inch in comparison to their previous pee-wee M380 mini revolver.  The View may still be part of the venerable model 85 revolver series, but it is clearly smaller than any previous model 85.

The weight of the revolver has been reduced to a minimum through the use of aluminum, titanium, steel, and polycarbonate (Lexan) as the primary construction materials.  The barrel and ejector rod have been shortened for weight savings and concealability.  The bobbed hammer, trigger, and cylinder release are similar to those found on other model 85 revolvers, but have been buffed to a high polish.  The total package comes in 6 ounces lighter than the Taurus M380 Mini Revolver and 4 ounces lighter than the Ruger LCR.  If 4 ounces doesn't sound like much of a weight savings, it's actually the same weight as 10 additional rounds of 110 grain 38 Special ammunition. 
When placed side by side with the Taurus M380 380 Auto (center) and Ruger LCR 38 Special +P (right) revolvers, the
diminutive View is visually smaller in nearly every dimension.  The LCR is still the thinnest of them all.

The polycarbonate side plate allows full visibility of the revolver
 internals.  After 100 rounds, it still looks new. 
Out of the Box

Right out of the box, I noticed two unique things about the View.  As you might expect, the translucent polycarbonate side plate was the first thing I checked out.  It was neat to see into the internal mechanisms of the revolver that are traditionally hidden from view by an opaque side plate.  While the polycarbonate side plate is pretty cool, I'm really curious to find out if it weighs significantly less than an equivalent side plate made of aluminum.  The good news with the side plate was no appreciable wear was noted throughout the review.  I had no reason to tighten the side plate screws so I can't comment if over tightening of the screws will crack the side plate.

The body contoured grip was a pleasant surprise.
The other thing I immediately noticed was the very small grip that literally had a unique twist.  I didn't realize ahead of time that the View grip frame was contoured for enhanced concealment.  Small frame revolvers are a natural for front pocket carry, but the butt of the grip frame will tend to print when carried in jeans with small front pockets.  Taurus shapes the grip and grip scales to minimize this problem when carried in the right front pocket.  The downside here is the grip frame prints more if you carry the revolver in your left front pocket.  After adjusting to the feel of the grip, I really liked the contour.  Taurus recently received a patent for a Body Contoured Handgun, so the View may have been the first small step in the development of that project.

As I continued to work with the revolver, other subtle points about the revolver started to surface.  In the picture above that has the View and M380 placed side by side, you may have noticed that the frame on the View has been given a carry melt.  All the sharp edges have been removed.  This is particularly noticeable at the top of the back strap and the front and back ends of the top strap.  A carry melt is typically a custom feature that Taurus has included as standard with the View.

The trigger on this View was very smooth and consistently
measured between 10.5 and 11 lbs.
Taurus calls out a 10 lb. trigger pull weight in their marketing literature for the View.   Having pulled a few Model 85 triggers in the past, I was skeptical.  The trigger on the View was unlike any Model 85 I've tried.  The trigger was quite smooth through the trigger stroke and broke between 10.5 and 11 lbs.  After another 100 rounds through the revolver, it could settle in at 10 lbs.  Again, Taurus doesn't call out the View trigger as special or different, but in my opinion it is smoother and lighter than other Model 85 variants.  As you will see in the range video, the trigger was a big contributing factor to accurate shooting.

Speaking of range video, it's probably a good time to transition to the video portion of the review.  All the neat and nifty features don't mean very much if you can't shoot the handgun with reasonable and practical accuracy.  With a bit of trepidation, it was off to the range to shoot this ultra small and ultra light revolver.

Range Video

Final Wrap Up

I think the greatest advantages of the View, over other snub revolvers, are the size and weight of the revolver.  On the other hand, the size and weight limit the revolver to standard pressure .38 Special ammunition only.  I didn't try to push the envelop and sneak in a cylinder or two of +P ammunition because I'm sure it would have been an unpleasant recoil experience.  With standard pressure loads the ultra-light View was controllable, accurate, and not entirely unpleasant to shoot.  Standard pressure .38 Special ammunition is quite common so finding ammunition for the View shouldn't be difficult.

The most surprising things I discovered was the View was easier to shoot with one hand than trying to work a two hand hold on the pistol.  The grip is really tiny so it's better to get a firm grip on the revolver with one hand than a less than firm grip with two hands.  The trigger worked better for me when it was placed in the distal joint.  Trying to use the trigger finger tip pad gave the illusion of better trigger control, but resulted in more trigger finger slap.  Once I figured all this out, my accuracy, speed, and shooting enjoyment improved dramatically.    
The range video and commentary was fairly extensive so I'll keep the wrap up short.  As I previously mentioned, I'm a fan of small, lightweight, and deeply concealable firearms.  They may not be the most pleasant to shoot, but they are the easiest to carry on a daily basis.  In a custom fitted pocket holster, the View will disappear into my front pocket and be forgotten unless it's needed.  It's definitely a handgun I can carry with me all day, every day.

The Taurus locking system is simple and effective.
Turning out the safety button prevents the hammer
 from cocking.
If you must shoot for groups, off-hand 7 yard groups of
less than 2 inches are a reasonable expectation.

The View ships in a velvet-like pouch with two security
keys and documentation.
I tried a few speedloaders with the View.  With so little
clearance available for the loaders, QuickStrips worked
the best.

The View has a barrel about a half inch shorter than the Ruger LCR.  Expect to
 lose about 30 to 50 feet per second vs. snubs with traditional 1.875" barrels.


  1. Great and thorough review, thank you for this. I followed your M380 reviews and purchased one, but it did not work out for me. I have no idea why Taurus would go to all the work of building the "View" with a curved frame and a stub for a grip without shrouding the hammer. I think you could "choke up" on a shrouded hammer version a bit more, and the weight penalty may be slight for what you get in control-ability, especially if they designed the shroud to function as part of the gripping area. Now if they would make a "View" in the shorter cylinder of the M380 in .380ACP or even a six shooter in .32ACP that would be interesting to say the least. The pocket pistols would have quite a run from that small a functional revolver. The .32ACP would not even need the moon clips like the .380 due to their small rim.....

  2. I believe that Taurus products are made for the very high percentage of gun owners who purchase a gun and a box of ammo, and put them in the nightstand, glove box, desk drawer, etc; like a fire extinguisher, to be used in an emergency.
    I think their quality is marginal at best based on my own experience. However, they are innovators, and the designs and gimmicks keep new gun owners coming their way.

    1. I have a View coming delivered from Buds only $457. I admit I am a collector so I will never shoot it. It is just so damn unique I had to get it.

    2. I have a View coming delivered from Buds only $457. I admit I am a collector so I will never shoot it. It is just so damn unique I had to get it.

    3. Gun is nice. There are fractures in the clear Lucite side by the screws however I believe this is common I am trying to get a replacement for future however Taurus Customer Service is non existent. Been trying for weeks and no one ever answers their phone or email. I can't even shit it back unless i get an approval from them.

  3. Have one. Fired it. Yes, it hurts afterward but in the heat of the moment I don't think this will be a concern. As for me, for personal defense at 10', or less, this 11.6 oz weapon (loaded with five Hornady 90-grain) is just what's needed as a last resort. Moreover, it beats the heck out of a 25 oz weapon sitting in drawer at home because it's too unwieldy to carry all the time. Best of all, with a wallet-size print in a pocket holster it's inconspicuous. Just saying.

  4. Great little gun, it is a 5 shot derringer essentially. And yes the Hornady 90-grain is most likely the best choice for this great little gun.