Taurus Defender 605 TORO: Optic-Ready .357 Magnum

— William LawsonCADRE Dispatch

I’ve never been much of a revolver guy. I got heavy into firearms about a dozen years ago, but I was all about polymer-framed semi-auto handguns. But recently, I’ve been looking for guns with more personality.

I still love my other guns, but it’s time to broaden my horizons, and I’ve been noticing revolvers a lot more recently. One that grabbed my attention at SHOT Show 2023 was the Taurus Defender 605 TORO.

Man holding a revolver
(Author’s Photo)

The Taurus 605 TORO has much to recommend it, apart from the cool name. Taurus has given us a compact, concealed carry revolver chambered in .357 Magnum. But it’s not really a snubbie, having a 3-inch barrel. So, you get a little extra recoil mitigation and bullet velocity without sacrificing much concealability.

The gun’s main selling point is that it’s optic-ready. That’s right. The Defender 605 TORO is the first optic-ready concealed carry revolver on the market. “TORO” stands for “Taurus Optic Ready Option,” and other Taurus firearms have that designator.

I’ll admit that a red dot-equipped revolver is weird. It certainly looks weird. But the idea has a lot going for it, and I admit to being a convert, if only reluctantly at first. So, let’s look at why I think Taurus has a winner here, but first, some specifications.

Taurus Defender 605 TORO Specs

  • Caliber: .357 Magnum/.38 Special (+P Compatible)
  • Capacity: 5 Rounds
  • Single Action/Double Action
  • Barrel Length: 3 inches
  • Overall Length: 7.5 inches
  • Overall Width: 1.41 inches
  • Overall Height: 4.8 inches
  • Weight: 23.52 ounces (Unloaded)
  • Frame Size: Small
  • Frame, Cylinder, and Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
  • Finish: Matte Black or Matte Stainless
  • Transfer Bar Safety
  • Extended Ejector Rod

Taurus Defender 605 TORO Features

The 605 Defender TORO, as the name implies, is built on the popular 605 Defender Revolver. The optic-ready top strap is the only difference. Taurus even left the grooved rear sight if you don’t want to run an optic. Just don’t install the included optic plate and you’re good. The serrated, ramped front sight is quite functional, and it’s pinned to the barrel, so you can replace it if you want.

Taurus Defender 605 TORO Revolver optic plate
(Author’s Photos)

The optic plate is compatible with the Holosun K footprint, giving you several options. I went with the Holosun 407K red dot, and it seems perfect for my gun. It snugged up tight, and I haven’t noticed any movement or loosening. It’s held zero through all my range tests, including firing magnum rounds.

The 605 grip is a little small for my hands, but it is a concealed-carry revolver. I do, however, like the rubber grips. They have a Hogue-like shape with the finger grooves, though the texturing is a little different. My hands are fairly large, so I can’t get my pinky finger all the way on, but there is a small indentation near the butt that provides some purchase.

Taurus Defender 605 TORO Revolver with Holosun 407k optic
(Author’s Photo)

The revolver’s frame and trigger guard are very much like the Smith & Wesson J-Frame with the exposed hammer. The Taurus 605 Defender will fit many J-Frame holsters, but you’ll need to make sure the holster will work with your optic. The 3-inch barrel allows a longer ejector rod, which I appreciate. I’ve noticed that some manufacturers use the shorter rod on both 2 and 3-inch barreled revolvers.

The hammer and cylinder catch are both textured for positive purchase. The hammer is also fairly wide, which enhances the shooter’s control. The cylinder swings out smoothly and locks up tight. The crane has a sharp corner or two, but we’re talking about a $400 revolver here.

Shooting the 605 Defender TORO

This gun is fun. My adult son helps me test products, and we both enjoyed this one. He is a revolver guy through and through, so I relied heavily on his expertise. He taught me to shoot and reload properly, as well as altering my grip for a revolver.

Man firing a Taurus Defender 605 TORO Revolver with Holosun optic
We zeroed the optic at 7 yards but shot it out to 15 yards at times. (Author’s Photo)

One thing I hadn’t initially considered, but which became apparent on the range, is that revolver-mounted optics don’t take quite the beating that semi-auto-mounted optics do. A semi-auto pistol’s slide reciprocates with each shot, transferring some of that energy to the optic. Revolvers, obviously, don’t do that, meaning the optic endures lower recoil stress.

I also noticed that reacquiring the dot was a little easier with the revolver than with a semi-auto, especially with the lighter-recoiling .38 Special rounds. The optic never moves, so it’s a little quicker.

A revolver optic sits much higher over the bore than a semi-auto. We measured it at just over half an inch. Co-witnessing the front sight is pretty much impossible. The front sight would have to be ridiculously high for that. But, as always, firearms and accessories are a series of trade-offs. That’s one of them.

Taurus Defender 605 TORO Revolver with Holosun optic
The red dot sits high. (Author’s Photo)

The trigger is pretty good, though the double action is a little heavy at about 12 lbs. I had trouble shooting accurately from double action, especially with .357 Magnum rounds. .38 Special was much better, though firing DA requires practice. The single action trigger has just a tiny bit of creep with a crisp break at about 5 to 5.5 lbs. We both liked it.

We worked with the DA quite a bit since this is a concealed-carry revolver, but my .357 groups weren’t great. And the .357 recoil impulse is harsh. It hurts after a while. We soon decided to drill with .38 Special, which is very pleasant. I might carry this gun with .357 if my accuracy improves, but it will be .38 Special +P for now.

We used these .357 Magnum loads:

  • 158-grain Sellier & Bellot FMJ
  • 158-grain Federal American Eagle JSP
  • 158-grain Federal Hydra-Shok JHP

For .38 Special, we shot:

  • 130-grain Federal American Eagle FMJ
  • 132-grain PMC Bronze FMJ
  • 158-grain Sellier & Bellot FMJ
  • 148-grain Magtech LWC
  • 129-grain +P Federal Hydra-Shock JHP

The ammo was generously provided by the good folks at AmmoToGo.com. We thank them for their kind sponsorship that allows us to shoot these guns as we need to.

The gun was very accurate for my son, whose greater experience was evident as we ran drills on paper and steel. I still need some work. But that’s me, not the gun. We have every confidence that the 605 TORO, especially with the dot, is quite accurate. Other than the glitches in the first 50 rounds, the gun was 100 percent reliable with everything we fed it.

revolver swing out cylinder
The ejector rod is positive and dumps the empty cartridge cases cleanly. (Author’s Photo)

General Observations

  • Like any revolver, performance noticeably declines as the gun gets dirty. The crane and cylinder aren’t smooth, and accuracy suffers. Cleaning straightens it right up.
  • We noticed that the timing seemed a little off for the first 50 rounds or so. The cylinder didn’t want to advance properly. But it smoothed out afterward, and we haven’t had any issues since then. We figured it just needed breaking in.
  • Long-term durability is still an open question. We have 450 rounds through our gun. 150 of those were .357 Magnum. The rest were .38 Special. Perhaps we’ll do an update as the round count gets higher.
  • We’ve noticed some light wear on the crane and a line tracking the cylinder’s movement. But that’s a finish issue and does not affect performance. If anything, the gun is smoother than it was out of the box, assuming we keep it clean.

Final Thoughts

We like this little revolver. It’s comfortable, handles well, and is accurate. In fact, it’s more accurate than I am right now. We carried it around the house and the range in a generic sleeve holster, and it was concealable and comfortable. We would need a real holster to carry it for real, but we believe it would be the same. My son regularly carries a Ruger GP100 revolver, so I trust his judgment there.

We also think this revolver is a great value, with retail prices hovering around $400.00. “Budget guns” are sometimes a little rough, but we were very pleased with the Defender 605 TORO’s performance. I can see myself carrying it once my proficiency improves and I get a proper holster.

Taurus Defender 605 TORO Revolver
We like this little revolver. It’s comfortable, handles well, and is accurate. (Author’s Photo)

Taurus had a rocky reputation for a while, but the company has made real efforts to improve its management, designs, quality control, and customer service. I’ve recently tested a couple of their newer semi-auto handguns and they ran very well. The Taurus 605 TORO seems to continue this trend.

We hope that’s the case because reliable firearms that don’t break the bank benefit the entire industry and gun owners as a whole. And it sure doesn’t hurt that this revolver, and its cousin the .38 Special-chambered Defender 856 TORO, enable shooters to use the latest sighting technology. Sounds like the proverbial win-win.

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