Our tour began with a prefabricated gun blank for the famous tipup Taurus Model 22, which comes in .22LR and .25ACP. Dusty Sroufe is the new product manager at Taurus and he gave us the tour.
When I got an invite to the factory at Taurus Firearms, I thought I had just scored a free trip to Brazil! But little did I know, Taurus makes many of their guns right here in the USA, near my stomping grounds in Miami. Those of us who were invited from the gun media family got to see how they make the Taurus tipup pistols, called the small frame or Model 22, and many of the .380 TCP parts being made, as well as guns from Taurus’s Heritage cowboy gun series and even some of the OEM parts that Taurus builds for other manufacturers. You may not know this, but Taurus isn’t just a gun company. They are a huge multinational manufacturing company, and they even make many of the machines that are used to make their guns. Because of a hugely improved quality control system at Taurus, an entire floor of new customer support, and even a pro shooting team, this is a gun company on the move. The word on the street for a couple years now has been that new ideas, new guns, and rave reviews are what Taurus is about these days. We will see some new stuff coming this year even before SHOT Show.
This is a photo essay of the pieces of the manufacturing process we witnessed at the factory. I didn’t get model releases from the employees and for their privacy I have covered the faces of all but Dusty Sroufe, who is the new product manager at Taurus.
The blanks are forged off site, and the CNC makes the cuts and holes that turn it into a firearm.
The Model 22s are built in threes, clamped to a carrier system.
This is the CNC machine just after it opens with 3 finished guns.
This is a closeup of the gun with the primary cuts and holes.
I will be remembered at Taurus as the idiot who took a handful of razorblade like shavings out of the hopper to take a picture of them.
The CNC bits that are used to complete the Model 22 revolve into place on the robot CNC machine.
One of the things that will surprise you at Taurus is how much work is done by hand. This guy polishes the frames.
You would think that all of these guns came out finished, cachunk cachunk cachunk, but they are each worked on by a human before a part gets put into them.
In each batch a certain number of guns also go through laser tolerance testing to make sure that the bits didn’t jump while cutting.
Next we stopped at barrels. These are cast barrel assemblies for the same guns.
Another machine turns this bar stock into TCP barrels.
They come out like this, but not rifled.
Then the barrels go to the rifling machines. These are some of the machines designed and made by Taurus. There was one for the .22/.25 and one for the .380 set up for our visit. It basically draws a rod through the barrel and the rod has the cutters for the rifling.
Finished barrels after rifling.
Next we went to the MIM department, for Metal Injection Molding. These are hammers for the Heritage revolvers coming out of the machine.
MIM parts are made from a melted mixture of metal and polymer. They are cast 1.3 times larger than they will be in the gun. It’s crazy if you think about it because these parts have to be within thousandths of an inch, and they have to shrinky dink them down from .3x larger.
Then the parts get baked in a giant kiln, and that burns away the polymer, leaving like 98% metal.
Size isn’t the only amazing thing. You can weld, polish, cut and tool the MIM parts just like machined parts.
Even though these parts have to be hand finished like others, MIM greatly brings down the production cost of the gun, and your cost of the gun, without sacrificing reliability. MIM parts have no greater failure rate than machined parts these days.
Traditional barrels made in that same barrel machine for the Heritage guns.
Cowboy .22s on their way to final assembly.
The assembly room for the TCP. Most people don’t realize is that gunsmiths still make most guns.
You can use CNC machines to make parts, but it is always the people who put the parts together, make sure that the parts were made correctly, and make sure that the gun is running right.
Even the boxes are folded by hand at Taurus. These are the new orange boxes you’ll see already at the gun dealers these days.