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Taurus Raging Bull .454 Casull: One Truly Gun (Or Cannon?)

Taurus Raging Bull .454 Casull
Taurus Raging Bull .454 Casull. Image Credit: YouTube Screenshot.

The term “Raging Bull” means different things to different people. It might bring to mind the 1980 Martin Scorsese boxing film that netted Robert DeNiro an Oscar. Westling fans might remember “The Ragin’ Bull” Manny Fernandez.

To handgun enthusiasts, though, it brings to mind one thing above all others: the Taurus Raging Bull .454 Casull revolver. 

Taurus Raging Bull .454 Casull: Origins and Specifications

Shooters thinking of the .454 Casull cartridge will tend to conjure up the first factory-produced gun chambered in the caliber, that being the Freedom Arms single-action revolver. Indeed, the late great James Caan wielded this gun in the classic 1988 sci-fi film Alien Nation.

In the scene where Caan first receives the gun, the LAPD armorer handing it over declares that, “You’re talking twice the impact energy of .44 Magnum hot loads.”

Unlike so many Hollywood exaggerations about ballistic capabilities, this statement was accurate. As the staff of Gun Tests noted back in 2000, “In terms of muzzle energy, the hottest .44 Magnum tested in our December issue registered 979 foot-pounds.

The combination of Hornady’s 300-grain XTP-HP Custom .454 ammo and the Freedom Arms revolver made this seem puny, with a thunderous explosion of 1,750 foot-pounds. We anticipated vicious recoil, and we weren’t disappointed.”

The cartridge was invented by gunsmith Dick Casull in 1959, four years after the invention of the .44 Magnum. To accommodate his new ballistic behemoth, though, Casull had to customize old Colt Single Action Army guns initially chambered in .45 Long Colt.

It wasn’t until 1983 that Freedom Arms came out with a gun that was built from the ground up as a dedicated .454 Casull gun.

The cartridge took the original .45 Long Colt brass and lengthened the case by 0.10” in order to provide sufficient wiggle room for the extra powder charge, analogous to how the .38 Special and .44 Special cartridges were lengthened for the development of the .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum. And just as you can safely and accurately fire the Specials through revolvers chambered for those two Magnum calibers, you can safely and accurately fire .45 Long Colt rounds through any .454 Casull revolver. 

In 1997, Brazilian manufacturer Taurus decided to get in on the .454 Casull game with a double-action wheelgun option, that being the Raging Bull. Like the Freedom Arms gun, the Raging Bull’s cylinder holds five rounds. (Yes, Ruger managed to make a 6-round cylinder for their .454 Casull chambering of their Super Redhawk.)

The manufacturer’s current info page provides specifications of a 6.5,” a weight of 53 ounces, factory barrel porting, a matte stainless steel finish, and rubber grips with a cushioned insert. 

Personal Shooting Impressions

I’ve only had one range session with a Raging Bull, at good ol’ Los Angeles Gun Club in 2003. It was actually one of my shooting buddies who rented the gun, so in order not to hog too much of his ammo, I fired a single 5-round cylinder’s worth – the range reloaded ammo was a whopping 50 cents per round. 

The muzzle flash and report silenced everybody else on the range as they stopped to gawk with a big “WTF?” look on their faces. This brought back highly amusing flashbacks of firing the LAR Grizzly .45 Win Mag at that same facility 13 years earlier.

But all five of those rounds found their intended mark at the 7-yard line, and that aforementioned rubber grip and barrel porting did a lot to tame the felt recoil.

Bottom Line: Yea or Nay?

The.454 Casull is overkill for home defense and CCW work alike. The kinder, gentler.45 Long Colt rounds could certainly fit the self-defense bill, but it would still rule out comfortable concealed carry on anybody built smaller than Andre the Giant. 

On the other hand, as Philip Massaro pointed out in a 2016 issue of NRA American Hunter, “you can effectively use a .454 Casull to hunt anything on the North American continent.” (Yes, that would presumably include grizzly bears.) The Raging Bull is certainly accurate, reliable and robust enough for the task. And if nothing else, it makes for one helluva fun power plinker. MSRP currently lists at $649. 

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Who Wrote This Piece and Their Expertise

Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.  In his spare time, he enjoys (besides shooting, obviously) dining out, cigars, Irish and British pubs, travel, USC Trojans college football, and Washington DC professional sports. 

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).