Bane's blog on the Taurus Thunderbolt....


August 27, 2005, 06:46 PM
Oh man, I gotta get one of these.

Hurry, Taurus, Hurry!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, here's the bit from Michael Bane's blog on the Thunderbolt.

And below that is the link.


Tuesday, August 23, 2005

First up was the Taurus THUNDERBOLT. Essentially, the Thunderbolt, made in Brazil, is externally a copy of the ill-fated Colt Lightning rifle (here's Kim du Toit's short take on 'em), a pump-action rifle in pistol cartridges aimed at the Cowboy Action Shooting market. The gun was announced a year or so ago, but it has taken a bit of time to get it to the arket. In fact, the blue-steel .45 Colt Gaucho I have is the ONLY one presently in the country and was overnighted to me by Taurus head honcho Bob Morrison.

The Lightning was originally made in the mid-1880s to compete with those pesky lever-action Winchesters, which were in the process of Winning the West. There were two main problems with the original Lightning it featured a Rube Goldberg pump linkage that was virtually guaranteed to fail under use, and, more importantly, it seriously pissed off Winchester. The (possibly apochraphal) story's told in Hartford CT of how Winchester execs showed up at Colt's doorstep with three really nice single-action revolvers that Winchester was "considering" producing. The Colt Lightning quickly vanished.

Flash forward to CAS, where speed is everything. On paper, a pump rifle could indeed run with the short-stroked Winchester 1873s, with the added benefit of the shooter only having to contend with two, rather than three, types of firearms (pump shotgun and pum rifle rather than lever rifle and pump shotgun). There have been a couple of Lightning revivals, most notably the beautiful U.S. Firearms version, but they all suffered from being copies of a flawed original.

Enter Taurus, primarily a handgun manufacturer who just started dabbling in long guns. Taurus' first long gun, interestingly enough, was a copy of the venerable Winchester M62 "gallery gun" .22 LR pump. The 62 was one of the first guns I ever shot (along with several generations of kids), and I spent a fortune in quarters on various carnival midways winning teddy bears with gallery guns. The opening sequence of SHOOTING GALLERY, by the way, features a Taurus gallery gun...

With a single action revolver in the works, Taurus already had the SASS market in their sights. Rather than enter the already crowded lever action sweepstakes, Taurus took an innovative path. First, remember that SASS is primarily interested in how guns look as opposed to how guns work. To wit, the Ruger New Vaquero is a modern design made with modern tooling to current standards, but it looks like an old Colt. And, realistically, all modern guns must be made to modern safety standards if you plan to keep your company longer than the length of the first lawsuit!

So Taurus created a gun that is a letter-perfect duplicate of the Lightning, but, internally is a beefed up M62, probably the most tested and perfected pump gun in existance. My test gun is, as I said, a blue .45 Colt with a 26-inch barrel and a 14-round capacity. Finish and fit is uniformally excellent the blue is a deep blue/black, much like the original Colt blue on the Lightning. The hardwood stock (looks like walnut to me) and forend are excellent, with good pressed checkering on the stubby little forend. The wood-to-metal fit on the stock is EXCELLENT, and the curved metal buttplate is a really nice touch. The gun features Taurus' signature locking system on the back of the hammer, but it's unobtrusive. Sights are a Marble-styled buckhorn and a neat dovetailed-in half-moon front with a "bump" on an excellent sight picture. I'd like a gold bead, but I'm pissy about stuff like that.

The Thunderbolt has a side loading gate just like a lever gun pull the pump all the way back. It opens the top-ejecting action and let's you feed the rounds in. The feed angle for the fat .45 Colts seemed a little steeper than on a lever gun, but in about 20-30 rounds you get the hang of it. I had to remind myself that I've been feeding rounds into a Winchester since I was, like 6 years-old...anything else seems abnormal!

Trigger is about 5 pounds (no, I didn't measure it). Let's put it like's crisp, clean and light enough that I wouldn't bother sending this off to Steve Young! One thing I like about the Thunderbolt is, in keeping with its period flavor, the absence of external controls work the pump; pull the trigger. What else do you need?

I took this sucker to the range with a bunch of Winchester Cowboy .45 Colt ammo. I don't shoot a lot of .45 Colt, but my experience with Winchester's Cowboy .44s has been that it's about as accurate as you can get...a boatload more accurate than my sloppy practice handloads!

First...THIS THING IS FAST FAST FAST! The pump stroke is about 2 inches, as opposed to four inches on my Remington 870 for example. You seem to barely have to move your arm to run the gun. My pal Mark Stringfellow, an IPSC A-level shooter, were loading 10 rounds in the tube, when WHIPPING through them.

The Thunderbolt will SLAM-FIRE, that is, hold the trigger down and work the pump, and it'll fire every time. This has some interesting implications for CAS shooting, especially on some of the larger, close-up rifle targets. I believe a master shooter could make this thing run like a Thompson on close-up steel I'll find out this weekend, when I hand it over to Tequila, host of COWBOYS and 5-time World Champion, to wring out. Yes, of course we'll be filming it!

I shot it for accuracy at 12 yards, putting 10 shots into one ragged hole. Then we backed up to 20 yards and had no trouble holding similar-sized groups. The gun is a shooter! Part of that is because of its fit and the risk of sounding stoopid, the gun wants to stay snugged on your shoulder, and the short pump stroke allows you maintain your cheek weld easily. The little bump on the front sight does an admirable job of collecting light, which makes the front sight really stand out. That surprised me.

Mark and I ran a bunch of multi-target drills. We finally stoppped because we ran out of ammo. I had to pry the little Taurus out of Mark's hands.

Okay, here's the bottom line...this is the first gun in the country. It was superbly accurate right out of the box. We had ZERO malfunctions. It was disgustingly fun to shoot. It does not need to go to a gunsmith to be dinked. It's MSRP is less than $500. You do the math.

Taurus is getting scary.

I have a .357 version on order and plan to use it in competition.

If they decide to make this sucker in .44 Magnum carbine, you'll see deer hunters sitting up and barking like seals.

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August 27, 2005, 06:56 PM
can these things take the pressures of some of the higher end hand loads? i'd be very interested in one in 357 or 45 colt as a companion to a nice revolver on a good long deer hunt. . .

August 27, 2005, 08:57 PM
Man, oh man, give me that gun in .44 Magnum and I'll have every woods hunter in north-central Louisiana salivating, panting, and drooling all over it! What a lovely woods carbine that would make... Please, Taurus? Pretty please? With a scout scope mount option? :D

August 27, 2005, 10:10 PM
The two most magical words in the entire entry are "slam fire."

A 15 shot .38 special rifle that can be slam fired?

My knees are getting weak....................


cracked butt
August 27, 2005, 10:22 PM
I'd buy one.

August 27, 2005, 10:35 PM
Bogie want.

How much?

Baba Louie
August 27, 2005, 10:47 PM
It's MSRP is less than $500. Stainless? Blued?
Done and done.
But wait. Taurus is a third world mfg of Brazilian wannabe's, not a fine American Firearms Manufacturer with provenance.
Better forget it guys. All our friends will laugh at us while we're busy making money turn into noise.
Check it out

August 28, 2005, 05:46 AM
I might be, essentially, a total back-asswards artard with respect to aesthetics, but that gun just doesn't "do it" for me. I see the market, and I see the utility of a handy pump-action carbine in a wide variety of light to heavy pistol/revolver cartridges, but the eyefull of it just doesn't do it for me.

At that price, though, it might go on the wish list just on general principles.


August 28, 2005, 12:56 PM
Just one correction I would make to his history of the Colt's Lightening rifle. It was the Colt's , Colt-Burgess lever action rifle, made from 1883 to1885 that prodded Winchester to visit Colt with their new revolver prototypes. The demise of the lightening was due to it's fragile mechanism.

August 28, 2005, 01:39 PM
Here's a place that's accepting pre-orders. Just scroll down until you see it.

Retail is $340 for the blued version.

That's $340 for a brand new, .357 mag pump rifle that holds 14 shots (15 if you stoke it with .38 special).

The stainless verison is $10 more.


August 28, 2005, 02:29 PM
I feel like such a whiney little insert derogatory term.

I want the max chamber pressure info (for high-test field ammo) on the .45 Colt. This could be a fun woods gun for up here.

Also, since I'm being demanding, when will they chop the barrel to 18"? I figure it'd drop capacity to 9 or 10 rounds but think what a handy little carbine.

Brian Williams
August 28, 2005, 02:38 PM would be a great woods gun with a 16.5" barrel. With a 14+1 cap cut down it would be 8 +1, even at 18" it might be 10+1... It might be a reason to give my Marlin 1894c a work out.

Added a little photoshopping

With a shotgun butt

August 28, 2005, 03:17 PM
13" length of pull on that shotgun stock, since I'm askin'.

That'd be the bee's knees.

Course, I DO personally know a couple guys at the shop that created the "Co-Pilot" take-down, improved Marlin. :scrutiny:

August 28, 2005, 06:50 PM
So when can we expect delivery? I have my cash reserved for it (& have been waiting for almost 2 years for this thing to come out.)

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