Pocket Predator TTF Mini-Taurus
For about ten years now I have mainly been shooting small, over-the-top slingshot frames. My preference is for 3 1/8" to 3 5/16" (80-85mm) fork widths that allow for a high anchor point when aiming at close 10 yard targets. This somewhat narrow width also allows for an ear walk aiming style for shots from 20 to 50 yards.
I find the typical TTF frames are often large in size with forks widths that require a wide hand web stretch and a low anchor point when aiming. Some shooters get along well with frames that require a wide stretch but an old thumb injury always gives me grief when shooting these catapults. Another complaint I have with the common TTF design is with the chunky universal fork tips that block out lots of the visual when aiming sideways (gangsta style). With narrow OTT fork tips I get to see more of the area surrounding the target.
Last summer I purchased the Pocket Predator OTT Mini-Taurus and spent plenty of time trying to figure it out. Some days I did very well hitting plastic golfball targets at 10 yards and pop cans at 20. Other days the handslaps would return along with the flyers. The OTT Taurus required a carefully matched band and ammo set for comfortable and accurate shooting.
On the advice of some forum members I ordered the TTF Mini-Taurus and have been shooting it extensively for almost four months. In my opinion, this frame behaves completely different than the OTT version. They both have the same comfortable handle but the band motion seems much different. The TTF Taurus has become my go-to frame for comfort and accuracy. I like this frame so much that I obtained a second one so I can band them up differently.
We all have personal desires for our idea frame design. I'll use a Pro & Con explanation to show why I greatly enjoy the TTF Mini-T.
--- Pros ---
1 - Small frame size: 3 1/8" width x 5" length. As explained above, the narrow fork width allows for my ear walk aiming style to work. Anyone can use this aiming style as long as your cheeks don't stick out past your ears. Sometimes a little head tilting is needed to get your eye directly over your bands when aiming. The 5.0" frame length leaves enough handle to easily support my pinky. Fork gap is still a comfortable 2" with a 1.7" fork length, measured to the bottom of throat.
2 - Fork tip width: Most TTF frames seem to have blocky fork tips. This Taurus design sports a narrow .60" fork width. The narrow fork width works well with the skinny 1632 tubes (Smart Ties) for band securing. The tubes are fast to secure, hold with authority and give a very clean appearance. I finish off the tube tie by slipping the nylon end stick into the tube rather than pushing it into the band loop (see pic). Either way works.
3 - Fork tip length: The tips allow for up to a generous 1 ¼" band width. I'm currently shooting a mild 3/4" band width and it works fine. The tips have a large, centered aiming notch that even my old eyes see well when shooting. This is my first frame with a notch and I'm liking it.
4 - Low profile fork design: The inside fork height is generous with 1.7" of clearance to the bottom of the throat; however, the forks are a low profile when viewed from the side. The bottom of the fork tie is only ¼" from my thumb and even closer to my index finger. The center of the aiming groove is only ¾" from the top of my index finger. There is enough frame clearance for safety without negatively affecting shooting behavior. This low profile fork design puts less stress on the wrist and helps with achieving top accuracy. The TTF design completely eliminates the handslaps that I sometimes encountered with the OTT version.
5 - Hand web support area: The web contact area is the heart of this fine frame design. Your hand web slips under the frame lip and into a slightly downward sloping position. It somewhat reminds me of the comfortable grip on a 10m air pistol but scaled down in size. This web area helps give the stability and accuracy that we desire. The frame control is achieved without relying on thumb tip pressure and joint tensions. The contact length along the web area and sides of the frame measure a generous 3 ½". If you wrap your fingers around the frame front you end up with approximately 5 ½" of circumference contact. I prefer a loose hold on the frame front so I get around 4" of contact control around the hand web, index finger and thumb. Even with all this contact area, the actual pinch spread width is only 2". My old injured thumb has no problem with this width due to no real stretch. It's a natural web width for a relaxed hold.
6 - Handle shape: The Taurus handle has a mild arch on the front with a heavier curvature at the back, due to the sloping web area. This palm swell at the back contacts the meaty area at the base of the thumb. The front of the handle is slightly peaked to match the inside of your finger joints and allow for a more compete hand fold. My thought when first holding the frame was that the handle length was a bit too short. After many shooting sessions I realized the pinky tip was still fully on the grip when at full draw. With this grip style the pressure on the pinky is very low. The holding tension comes from the second and third fingers. With mild drawing target bands I can shoot fine without even using the pinky. The narrowest section of the handle is near the bottom and measures 0.9" in width with a slight flare just before the rounded base. The bottom of the frame sports a genius lanyard hole that has grooves down the front and back to allow a 550 paracord rope to imbed flush for added comfort. I'm currently shooting the Taurus with a bracelet style paracord lanyard but it also shoots fine without.
I have heard this style of handle called a hammer-pinch or pinch-hammer or recurve grip. It's not a true hammer grip due to the increased circumference at the handle top. It's not exactly a common pincher frame because the frame is shot with a slightly straighter wrist and with full web contact.
7 - Frame material: The frame is molded from solid black polycarbonate with a mild texturing on the handle surface. Polycarbonate is a durable, light-weight plastic material with high impact resistance. It is commonly used for eyeglass lenses, automotive headlamp lenses, bullet proof "glass", police riot shields and visors, cell phone cases, and CD/DVDs. The material is often referred to by its brand name "Lexan". Polycarbonate is more durable and has higher impact resistance than HDPE, acrylic, nylon and ABS. My TTF Mini-Taurus weighs only 3.8oz (115g) with a bandset attached and no lanyard.
8 - Appearance & Design: My first impression of the TTF Taurus came when viewing the many pictures that were posted by Bill Hays during the production phase. I immediately decided the OTT version looked balanced while the TTF was awkward and long in the fork. The images didn't capture the truth, IMO. After a short while of shooting I quickly became attached to the small TTF frame and started noticing the design details.
After spending time with this frame you quickly understand how much thought went into the design. The frame feels balanced when shooting and sits well throughout the shot. The design directs the draw pressure mainly to the web area of the hand rather than having to battle uncomfortable wrist tension and heavy reliance on the pinky and ring finger. The handle design creates a straight wrist position to deliver the draw weight through the stronger forearm musculature. The frame has so many well thought-out design characteristics that it's difficult to capture them all with a simple forum review.
9 - Shooting comfort: The typical OTT flat frames are often highly pocketable but I always find myself wrist flipping during the shot cycle. It's just a natural movement and accuracy is fine with the flip. Unfortunately, I developed a mild wrist problem from shooting flat frames too much over a 10 year period. The Taurus frame allows for a stable wrist position through the shot cycle. It feels somewhat like shooting a recurve bow. The frame doesn't jump or move much during the shot and accuracy can be easy to develop. My wrist tendonitis healed up after spending most of my shooting sessions with the Taurus.
This TTF, straight wrist, hammer-pinch frame generates a smooth recoil feel without the bands crashing back against the forks or fingers. I have yet to experience a handslap with this frame. The low forks are gentle on your wrist while the deep fork gap keeps your hand safe. Another look at the design shows a thin 0.40" thickness to the lowest area of the forks. The strength in this area is maintained with an increased front-to-back thickness. This characteristic is a one key to producing low forks while still maintaining a deep fork gap.
10 - Price: When first introduced, the Taurus frame was selling at a promo price of $29.95 for a 3-pk with all three fork versions (OTT, TTF & tuber). After a very reasonable period of time the price jumped to $14.95 for a single frame. The single frame price is now at $24.95USd with deals still available for doubles and triples.
--- Cons ---
1 - Fork width: Some slingshot enthusiasts might prefer a wider 3 ½" to 4" fork width. Those who are firm on a low anchor point will struggle with high shots when using the TTF Taurus at close distances. My TTF Taurus is set up to shoot 8mm ammo at 205-210 fps. I anchor on my ear flap (tragus) and aim approx 2" low for 10 yard hits. This ear walking aiming style shines with 20 yard and longer shots where I can still anchor on parts of the ear and aim dead on the target. Maybe Bill will eventually offer the full size Taurus in polycarbonate or a slightly wider Mini-Taurus for those shooters who prefer larger frames.
2 - Pocketability: The frame is not large with the 3 1/8" width and 5" length; however, the thickness is 1 ¾" at the web support lip. A loose cargo pocket or jacket pocket would work fine but the Taurus will never be as pocketable as a basic flat frame that slips into a back pocket. It's a trade-off for the shooting comfort and stability.
--- Summary ---
If you are looking to try a great slingshot and what something a bit different then the TTF Mini-Taurus might be an option for you. Being a dedicated OTT fan, I was skeptical at first but the TTF-Mini-T has become my current favorite. It's a good choice for those with thumb or wrist injuries or for someone who wants an inherently accurate slingshot design.
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