Taurus .218 Bee Model 217 Silhouette Revolver
by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

January 10th, 2003



Taurus International has introduced yet another interesting revolver.  This one is a variation of their fine Silhouette model chambered for the .218 Bee cartridge. 

The .218 is a fine little cartridge that has been around commercially for almost seventy years. It never achieved the popularity it deserves for some reason, but is a bit more powerful than the .22 Hornet, and in my experience, more accurate.  There have been a few rifles chambered for the Bee over the years, but no production revolvers, until now.

The folks at Taurus have developed  a good reputation for being at the forefront of introducing handguns that shooters want. During the past few months, we have reviewed here on Gunblast.com their excellent Tracker revolvers chambered for the .45 ACP and .17 HMR cartridges, and both performed exceptionally well.

The .218 Bee Silhouette revolver differs from the Tracker series in a couple of ways. The most notable feature of the Bee is its twelve inch barrel with a full length ventilated rib.  The barrel measures .715 of an inch, and is round in profile. This slender barrel gives the gun a nice muzzle-heavy balance, without excessive weight. I prefer this barrel profile over the heavier Raging series of Taurus revolvers for a cartridge such as the Bee. The .218 Silhouette model weighs slightly over three pounds.

The Taurus Silhouette revolver is made mostly from stainless steel, and has a nice satin finish to the metal parts. The grips are of a black synthetic rubber, and allow for a very comfortable and controllable hold on the revolver.

The sights on this Taurus are of excellent design. They are target style and made of blued steel. The rear sight is fully adjustable, and the front is set atop an integral ramp. The combination provides an excellent sight picture, and makes accurately shooting the weapon much easier.

The seven-shot cylinder on the Model 217 measures 1.528 in diameter and 1.642 in length, measured in inches, and has a nice bevel to the leading edge around the circumference. This is Taurus’ medium frame size, and makes for a rather handy package, considering the barrel length.
The double action pull is smooth with a pull weight of nine pounds, and the single action pull breaks crisply at three and one-half pounds. The hammer of the model 217 is equipped with the Taurus Security System, which renders the gun inoperable with the turn of a key, if one so desires.

The sole factory round available is the Winchester 46-grain hollow point, so I gathered a quantity of that along with a few different hand loads for accuracy testing. I mounted a vintage Charles Daly two-power scope onto the Taurus scope base. The base is made to mount atop the vented barrel rib using the slots for attachment. This is an excellent way to mount a scope on the model 217, and requires no drilling of the revolver.

The velocity variation of the factory load belies its accuracy. Measured by my PACT chronometer, bullet speed varied by  148.6 feet-per-second (fps) between the high and low, with an average of 1887 fps from the twelve inch barrel. The best handloads tried broke the 2000 fps mark using both Hodgdon Lil’Gun and Hodgdon 4227 powders with either Sierra 40 grain hollow points or Hornady 45 grain soft point bullets. Twelve grains of H4227 proved to be an excellent load, turning in the best group of the day, along with a speed of 2021 fps instrumental velocity, measured ten feet from the muzzle. In such a small case, pressures climb quickly with very little increase in the powder charge. I found the best accuracy to be a bit under the maximum loads.

The factory Winchester load also turned in respectable accuracy. The best that I could get it to group three shots at twenty-five yards was around seven-eighths of an inch, but it put a string of twenty-eight shots into one and thirteen-sixteenths of an inch at the same distance, showing remarkable consistency. Considering that this is from seven different chambers, along with the barrel to cylinder gap, that is very good performance, especially for a factory rifle cartridge fired from a revolver. Most handloads grouped around the one-inch mark, with the best group of the day measuring only three-sixteenths of an inch, but that was most likely a fluke, and not representative of the revolver’s accuracy. Still, a one inch average at twenty-five yards is great accuracy for a centerfire revolver!

I was at first concerned about the bottleneck cases locking up the cylinder, but such was not the case with the Taurus. The cases ejected easily, even with the hotter hand loads. Sometimes, bottleneck cartridges do not work well in revolvers, but it seems that Taurus got  it right with the model 217.

For a high velocity varmint or target revolver in a relatively compact package, this Taurus is hard to beat. It offers better velocity and a flatter trajectory than a Hornet, is easy to load for, and just plain fun to shoot.

Check out the model 217 and the entire Taurus line on the web at: 

Jeff Quinn

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The Taurus Model 217 revolver, chambered in .218 Bee, is a nice combination of a fine DA revolver and a fine little centerfire cartridge.



The cylinder for the Model 217 holds seven rounds of the little .218 Bee. The front of the cylinder is beveled for a nice aesthetic touch.



The Model 217's iron sights consist of a fully-adjustable rear and a blued front sight set in an integral ramp.



To more effectively utilize the accuracy potential of this gun/cartridge combination, Taurus' optional scope mount is essential. This simple and effective mount attaches to the barrel's vent rib slots, allowing repeatable mounting without loss of zero and without drilling holes in the gun.

Taurus' well-designed rubber finger-groove grips allow precise control in any weather conditions.



The Model 217 features the Taurus Security System, which allows the gun to be securely locked with the turn of a key.



Jeff tested the Model 217 with Winchester's 46-grain hollow point factory ammo, as well as a variety of handloads.



While the Winchester factory loads were not the most accurate loads fired, they did group 28 shots into 1-13/16" at 25 yards, indicating excellent consistency.



The best group fired from the Model 217 measured a mere 3/16" at 25 yards. While Jeff considers this particular group to be a fluke, overall accuracy of the Model 217 was what we have come to expect from Taurus...excellent!