The external extractor is a proven, reliable design and has the added feature of a loaded chamber indicator, which shows red if a round is in the chamber. But remember, since it merely indexes on the cartridge case, the "loaded chamber" could just as easily be an empty case.
The now ubiquitous polymer frame design, common on many of today's autos, works nicely on the PT111. It's lightweight with molded-in checkering and the combination works well in the hand. The trigger, also polymer, is smooth-faced, as a double action trigger should be.
If we had any complaint it was the fact a few shooters wished the frame allowed the hand to ride higher in the grip. This would put the recoil axis closer to the hand and, besides being more comfortable, help to tame the snap of the slide somewhat. Recoil isn't bad, but for rapid follow-up shots, every little bit helps.
The magazine release is positive and pops the magazine out briskly. There were no problems with accidental mag releases during shooting or during our short time carrying the gun.
Range time had several shooters handling the PT111. They ranged from advanced, competition-level shooters to raw beginners. The beginners had some difficulty keeping groups under control, mostly due to their inexperience and trigger pull of the PT111, which was slightly gritty and stacked just before let-off. The advanced shooters found the PT111 to be accurate and easy to control. With experience comes the ability to understand the needs of different designs and to adapt to them accordingly.
Reliability was very good with a modest range of ball and hollow-point loads. Groups at seven and 15 yards were easily covered by a saucer, but we felt no need to measure group size in such an obvious, close-range defensive handgun. Suffice to say, a head shot at 15 yards would have been very easy for the experienced shooters. The magazine (one supplied) had sharpish feed lips but that's a common syndrome in many of today's autos.
Sights are a bold, three-dot system and appear to be very rugged.
Take down requires some thought. After locking the slide back and turning the take-down lever, carefully read the manual while it walks you through slipping the slide off the frame. It may require some careful manipulations of the trigger at the same time, but once you get the hang of it, it goes smoothly every time.
When the flying brass settled, we came to a few conclusions. At a full-boat retail price of about $425, the PT111 is affordable. In reality, we'd imagine the street price to be around $375 or so, if you shop around a bit. Reliability was top-notch and the list of features reads like a full-sized gun. The locking feature will either be a powerful drawing card for you or a negative one. Just remember, you can always elect to simply not lock it if it causes you concern.
Accuracy was up to snuff and, in all honesty, for the money, we think it's hard to beat this little gun. If your agency doesn't approve Taurus models yet, give Taurus a call and ask for a test and evaluation gun. We think you'll be surprised at how much cooperation you'll get, not to mention how impressed you'll be by the products.
Take Down: A careful touch is necessary to coax the slide off the frame but the PT111 takes down nicely for cleaning.
Caliber: 9mm (also available in .45 ACP and .380)
Finish: Stainless slide, polymer frame (available with Titanium slide also)
Weight: 18.7 ounces
Action: Double Action Only
Shots: 10 plus one
Sights: Three-dot, fixed
Length: 6-1/8 inches
Safety: Manual, firing pin, slide-lock
Grips: Checkered, integral
Barrel length: 3.25 inches
Price: $425 full retail
Roy Huntington is the former editor of Police, and current editor of American Handgunner.