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
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
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
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
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
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:
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