Taurus 605 Defender Review: .357 Magnum Concealed Carry

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With a history of reliability and simple operation, revolvers remain a go-to for many when it comes to concealed carry. Specifically, fewer moving parts equals less chance for malfunction. For this reason, Taurus continues to grow its wheelgun catalog with models like the 605 Defender, chambered in .357 Magnum.

The Taurus 605 Defender

Millennials and Gen Xers continue to carry out the debate between 9mm Luger and .40 S&W. However, there is a boomer at the end of every gun counter smiling to himself because he ended it long before it even started.

He’s smiling because he knows that no matter how effective these rounds become, they will still be far behind in downrange energy when compared to the .357 Magnum. Furthermore, no matter how reliable semi-autos get, they can’t hold a candle to the ol’ wheelgun.

Of course, getting .357 up to its intended velocity requires a little more barrel length than conventional snubbies. Not to mention, affordable options are few and far between. However, Taurus has an excellent reputation for identifying these market gaps. And in early 2022, it introduced a lengthened version of an old standby.

Meet the 605 Defender.

A Revolver Built For CCW

Based on the company’s best-selling 2-inch deep concealment platform, this 3-inch version yields a wider sight radius and 50 percent more runway for that bullet to get up to speed. Keeping with the spirit of the 605, Taurus managed to get it together for an MSRP of less than $475.

As a guy with a severe revolver deficit in his safe, I was elated when Combat Handguns editors asked me to review it for this issue’s Wheelhouse column.

First off, the “entry-level” model comes in that slick-looking matte stainless finish. Likewise, it features some extraordinarily comfortable Hogue grips. Typically, these are costly upgrades over standard wooden stocks and a conventional blued finish. However, those are also available options for the new Defender.

Soft rubber Hogue grips with aggressive studding are the ultimate in comfort and controllability.

Surprisingly, that price point also includes a front night sight. But mine was an early production and was only fitted with a plain black ramp-style post.

Looks aside, picking up the 605 Defender is an experience all its own. The overall geometry helps it to point instinctually and balance without any effort. These attributes are the byproduct of the 3-inch barrel coupled with a slimmer five-round cylinder.

Shaving that round off allows the gun to retain a more conducive profile for IWB concealment. Not to mention, it takes a lot of the clunkiness away from the general design. Further attention to concealed carry can be noticed by looking at the barrel’s contour, as it is sleek and free of any snag points.

This theme carries over to the ejector rod, as it is sunk into the frame to keep it out of the way. This helps to protect it and eliminates yet another potential garment hook. Furthermore, it is extended and knurled, making it a snap to actuate should you need a hasty reload.

A recessed ejector rod eliminates a major snagging point and provides a smoother draw stroke.

Smooth & Safe Operator

Moving onto functionality, the 605 Defender is relatively simple. The cylinder release is found on the left side of the frame and must be pressed forward to swing the cylinder out. I discovered that although closely fitted, one could snap it out with a flick of the wrist.

Besides being fun to do, this is important because it leaves the other hand free to grab ammo. As a result, this could potentially cut your reload time in half.

The cylinder release is found on the left side of the Taurus 605 Defender frame and must be pressed forward to swing the cylinder out.

As this is a DA/SA, I turned my attention to the hammer and appreciated the checkering that was cut into the spur. This texturing helps to keep your finger right where it should be during cocking and, perhaps more importantly, decocking.

A transfer bar is employed to reduce the chance of negligent discharge during these procedures. Correspondingly, it serves as the 605 Defender’s sole safety device.

Some might consider the heavy 12-pound-plus, double-action trigger pull to be a setback. However, that is never my attitude towards stopping an ND. Although, I will concede that it’s an excellent feature to have on a handgun destined for a personal-protection role.

Cross-hatching texture on the hammer spur allows for effortless cocking for single-action shooting.

No matter how careful we are at keeping our finger out of the triggerguard, funny things happen when you are in fear for your life. The same holds true should a struggle break out over a weapon. And in this scenario, any number of appendages can inadvertently get wrapped around a trigger.

While the double action was stiff, the single action was a delight to shoot. When we put it on our Lyman Digital Trigger Scale, we measured an average break at 7 pounds, 5 ounces. This isn’t half bad for a carry revolver, especially when considering how cleanly it broke.

Range Results

With the essential handling examination out of the way, it was time to take this bad boy to the range. As this gun is more than capable of bad-breath defensive work, I set targets at 15 yards to conduct a formal accuracy test.

Using .357 Magnum fodder from Hornady and Doubletap, I fired five five-round groups. Likewise, I did the same with Norma’s new Safeguard .38 Special.

I chose the Doubletap to start with, figuring the hard-cast bullets would be loaded to cowboy-action velocities. But boy, was I wrong. These 180-grain pills hit the dirt with authority and indeed yielded that “.357 Magnum” experience that thrill-seekers look for.

The author tested the Taurus 605 Defender with Double Tap’s .357 180-grain hardcast solid ammo.

Moving over to the lighter Hornady rounds, felt recoil went down a bit. But I definitely knew that I was still shooting .357 Magnum. The two rounds produced similar-sized groups and, for all intents and purposes, shared the same point of impact. Specifically, about 3 inches low from my point of aim.

The author also tested the Taurus 605 Defender with Hornady’s .357 125-grain XTP.

A finicky shooter might go as far as to file down the front sight to dial this in. But after my first few rounds, I was able to hold off to center up my groups. Integral sights are a bit of a trade-off, and it pays to understand the pros and cons so that you can best match them to the intended use of a gun.

For defensive weapons, they aren’t a bad thing as they have no chance of drifting or, even worse, falling off. For this gun, I’ll take reliability over precision any day. After all, the human body doesn’t have scoring rings.

Slinging .38 Special with the 605 Defender

I finished my morning of paper punching with Norma’s new .38 Special loading. This ammo felt like shooting rimfire after sending all of that .357 downrange a few moments prior. Aside from being a joy to shoot, this ammo grouped about as well as the other two rounds that day. Thus checking another vital box.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll repeat it: there is nothing like a gun that isn’t picky with ammo. These days, it’s a “get what you get” type of market. This puts an extra bit of value on this 605 in this area.

The Taurus 605 Defender ends the CCW caliber debate with five shots of .357 Magnum.

I finished the day by running a few more boxes of each ammo on a full-sized Caldwell Steel IPSC target. This was done to get a feeling for its recovery and just to have a bit of fun.

Shooting in DA mode was challenging, but the trigger was smooth enough to get a full cylinder on target without much fuss. So long as I did my part.

During this portion of my evaluation, I also turned my attention to reloading and was delighted to see that the cases all dislodged without having to pound the ejector rod. Sadly, that happens often with inexpensive revolvers. This is because the cylinders don’t receive the same amount of polishing that many high-dollar offerings do.

The author was delighted to see that the cases all dislodged without having to pound the ejector rod.

Parting Shots

I wrapped things up by cleaning the new revolver, which took a little more work than usual. But only because it wore such a nice finish. A little Hoppe’s #9 and a stiff nylon brush got things straightened out.

However, it’s only fair to mention that if it weren’t for cosmetic reasons, there wouldn’t be any reason whatsoever to clean this gun after just one range session.

The Taurus 605 Defender proved to be as reliable and easy to handle as its smaller parent gun. The added barrel length makes for a handy woodland carry gun or the perfect hiking companion. Especially for those seeking the classic confidence that only a .357 Magnum revolver can bring.

For more information, please visit TaurusUSA.com.

Taurus 605 Defender Specs

Caliber .357 Mag, .38 Spl
Barrel 3 inches
Overall Length 7.5 inches
Weight 23.52 ounces (empty)
Grips Hogue
Sights fixed night front, fixed notch back
Action DA/SA
Finish Stainless steel
Capacity 5
MSRP $473


Hornady .357 125 XTP 1,323  2.6
Double Tap .357 180 Hardcast Solid 1,310  3.0
Norma .38 Spl 158 JHP 1,156 3.0

Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in feet per second (fps) by chronograph and accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 15 yards.

Norma’s New Safeguard

Norma’s new Safeguard ammunition.

Don’t forget that .357 Magnum revolvers can also fire .38 Special ammunition. This feature opens them up to more utility and is a simple way to remedy the Magnum cartridge’s overpenetration issues.

Norma’s new Safeguard ammo is built to expand rapidly once it enters a liquid medium. This helps it to stop inside the threat without passing through. I used these rounds for the most considerable portion of the function test and found them to be as accurate as everything else tested—easy to shoot and easy to eject.

For more information, please visit Norma-Ammunition.com.

This article was originally published in the Combat Handguns January/February 2023 issue. Purchase this issue in print or digital at OutdoorGroupStore.com.

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