Taurus Model 941 Ultra-Lite .22 Magnum Revolver


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

December 16th, 2006




Anybody who reads much of what I write knows that I am a big fan of the little .22 Magnum cartridge. The little magnum seems to kill all out of proportion to its size. It is, like its little brother the .22 Long Rifle, a very efficient little cartridge. However, many people think of it as just a souped-up .22 Long Rifle, which is a mistake. The magnum can be had with bullets that wear real jackets to control penetration and expansion. It is closer to the .22 Hornet in power than it is to the Long Rifle. Out of a carbine, it is an excellent killer for control of vermin and predators, and has been used many times to take whitetail deer, even though there are better cartridges for this.

Out of a handgun, the .22 Magnum offers better penetration than many cartridges that are commonly preferred for social situations, like the .380 Auto and the .38 Special. The .22 Magnum also has a lot less recoil, offering faster follow-up shots. I often recommend the .22 Magnum as a handgun for those who, for whatever reason, cannot handle the recoil of a more powerful defensive handgun.  A crime victim who can quickly place a few twenty-two caliber holes into his/her assailant is no longer a victim. The problem is finding a good quality lightweight .22 Magnum revolver. There are a few, but a very few, on the market. One of my favorite handguns is a Taurus Model 941 stainless revolver with a five inch barrel. It gets a lot of holster time when I am in the woods, but is a bit long to conceal in a pocket or in a compact holster on the belt. It is however, a very accurate and reliable revolver. With that in mind, I placed an order for the 941 Ultra-Lite .22 Magnum with the two inch barrel. Weighing in at just under nineteen ounces and carrying eight shots of .22 Magnum, it is just about the right size to be a real handy packing gun. Besides handling an unsavory social encounter, a small .22 Magnum revolver is ideal for quickly dispatching poisonous snakes, and I have popped a few with my longer-barreled 941, using CCI shotshells. The rimfire shotshells pattern better than do the centerfire versions, and the .22 Magnum has plenty of shot to quickly turn an ornery rattler into a nice hatband.

The Taurus 941 has several features that make it suitable for a carry piece. The adjustable rear sight allows it to be sighted in to suit the chosen ammo. The eight shot capacity gives it a three-shot advantage over most .38 Special revolvers of comparable size. The short barrel allows for easy concealment and makes the gun harder for an opponent to grab.  The synthetic rubber grip offers a very comfortable and secure hold.

Like all Taurus revolvers, the 941 has the Taurus Security System internal lock, if that is important to you. It securely locks the hammer in place, rendering the weapon inoperable until unlocked with the key.  If you have to leave the gun stored in an unsecured place while away, it is probably a good idea to lock it up.

For any firearm that might be called upon to use in low-light situations, I like some type of night sights. Therefore, I installed a Crimson Trace Lasergrip on the Ultra-Lite Taurus. This new version has a softer texture than did the earlier Lasergrips, and is a very comfortable grip, offering a secure hold on the weapon. Equally as important, the Crimson Trace Lasergrip makes it a lot easier to place shots on target in low-light conditions. See my previous article titled Shots in the Dark. If you can see your target at all, you can hit it. The CT Lasergrip adds no bulk to the weapon, and it requires no special holster to accommodate it. The Lasergrip is activated naturally with a small button which falls under the shooter’s middle finger when properly gripping the weapon.

The Taurus 941 proved to be very reliable as delivered. However, I found one fault with the weapon, which is a problem with any lightweight rimfire revolver. The trigger pull in double action mode was very heavy. To me, this is no real big problem. However, to some it may be. To a shooter who is not particularly strong, the trigger pull is just too heavy. I passed the gun around to a couple of women, and these were not small weak women, but some pretty strong gals, and they found the trigger pull to be too heavy for them to operate. In the meantime, I have a friend who lives in Michigan who is in his seventies, and has rather weak hands. He tried a Taurus 941 Ultra-Lite .22 Magnum, and found that he could not operate the weapon in double-action mode. His gunsmith installed a weaker hammer spring, but it caused severe reliability problems. He ended up having the original spring installed, and sold the weapon. I was hoping that the .22 Magnum would work out well for him, as recoil is also a problem for my friend with his hand condition. The problem lies with reliably setting off the priming mixture in a rimfire cartridge. It has to be hit hard to ignite it. With a light hammer and a short double-action stroke, that means that a strong spring is required. The double-action pull on this Taurus measured about sixteen pounds. This is estimated, as my gauge only goes as high as twelve pounds.  I put in a call to Brownell’s for one of their spring kits for a small frame Taurus. These are made for the centerfire revolvers, but it was also helpful on this rimfire 941. Replacing the hammer spring resulted in too-light of a hit on the primer, so I had to go back to the stock spring. However, replacing the trigger spring with the one from the Brownell’s kit helped tremendously in reducing the trigger pull, getting it down to a manageable eleven and one-half pounds.  This makes for a usable trigger pull for most, but those with small or weak hands might want to try the trigger pull on any small rimfire revolver before purchasing, because you can only lighten the pull so far without sacrificing reliability. On a defensive handgun, reliability is paramount. I have encountered this same problem on compact .22 revolvers from other makers as well. It is just the nature of the beast. I would prefer a larger, heavier hammer with a lighter spring.

The Ultra-Lite is made of stainless and aluminum, making it very rust resistant. That is important for a gun that is carried a lot. The short-barreled 941 also is capable of very good accuracy. Shooting at a standard human silhouette target rapid fire, it is very easy to keep all hits in the kill zone. The 941 proved to be very accurate. I fired for groups using the Ransom Rest. The little Taurus could keep six shots into under two and one-half inches with all loads tried. With the Winchester Supreme JHP loads, it grouped consistently under one and one-half inches. The best group measuring just one and one-quarter inches, is pictured. Also pictured is a group fired rapid fire standing offhand at ten yards, aiming for the head of a human silhouette target. The light recoil makes placing the shots accurately and quickly very easy to do.

The little Taurus displayed respectable velocities from its short barrel, due to it having a good, tight barrel/cylinder gap. The velocities are listed below in feet-per-second (fps), with bullet weights listed in grains.

Winchester Supreme JHP 34 1300
CCI Maxi-Mag TNT  30 1229
CCI Maxi-Mag +V 30 1262
Winchester Dynapoint 45 996.2
PMC Predator JHP 40 1079
Federal Game-Shok JHP 50 907.5

The little Taurus 941 Ultra-Lite fills a niche that needed filling in the small revolver market. It is a good little defensive piece whether used against snakes, wild dogs, or predators of the human kind. Its eight shots and light recoil make it particularly well-suited for those who are bothered by heavy recoil. The little magnum offers good penetration and accuracy, in a small package. If you can handle the heavy trigger pull, I definitely recommend the little Taurus .22 Magnum. Be sure and try the trigger before you buy one. If the pull is to heavy for you, and you still need light recoil, look at the same revolver chambered for the .32 Magnum. It is a centerfire, and the spring can be lightened a bit for a better trigger pull.

Look at the extensive line of Taurus firearms online at:  www.taurususa.com.

For the location of a Taurus dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR icon at: www.lipseys.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Taurus Model 941 Ultra-Lite .22 Magnum Revolver.



Adjustable sights allow use of a wide variety of loads.





Like all Taurus revolvers, the Model 941 Ultra-Lite features the "Taurus Security System" internal key lock.





The .22 Magnum is a dandy little cartridge.





Crimson Trace Lasergrips are a worthy addition to a defensive weapon.



Crimson Trace Lasergrips are self-contained (top) and easily adjusted for windage and elevation (bottom).



Laser activation button (top) allows for automatic activation using a natural grip, while on/off switch (bottom) is out of the way but easy to use.





Six-shot group fired from a Ransom rest (top) shows the Taurus' accuracy potential, while eight-shot rapid fire offhand 10-yard group (bottom) shows how this accuracy potential translates to practical use.