More than half a century ago in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a small tool manufacturer started business under the Portuguese name Forjas Taurus (Taurus Forge). Since that humble beginning, Taurus International Manufacturing has grown into a diversified international company and one of the world's largest small arms manufacturers.
The company produced its first revolver in 1941. That first Model 38101SO combined elements from several manufacturers, including Colt, Smith & Wesson, and some Spanish brands. Forjas Taurus, soon after, became a major player in the South American firearms market.
Solid market performance put Taurus on the radar of a large and powerful U.S. conglomerate called Bangor Punta. The massive company, which was a force in the firearms, boating, and aircraft markets, bought controlling interest in Taurus. It also owned Smith & Wesson.
Thus began a strong relationship between the Brazilian upstart and one of America's most venerable gun companies. The two companies became something akin to sisters. But they were independent companies, kind of like Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken, which were once owned by Pepsi and are now part of the spin-off company called Yum! Brands.
Still, even though they were separate companies, Taurus and S&W shared technology and manufacturing techniques. Taurus says that, contrary to popular belief among gun enthusiasts, much of the information that was transferred between the two companies was sent from its headquarters in Porto Alegre to S&W's headquarters in Springfield. But the relationship also helped Taurus gain presence in the American market.
Sometime during the '70s, Bangor Punta broke apart like conglomerates are prone to do, and in 1977 Taurus' present ownership bought the American company's Taurus holdings. But the new owners were not content with the status quo at Taurus. They began a quest to improve overall quality of the Taurus product and a dynamic program to expand the company and its firearms catalog.
That agenda received an unexpected boost from one of Taurus' competitors. In 1974, the Italian firearms giant Beretta won a substantial contract to produce small arms for the Brazilian Army. The deal mandated that Beretta build a Brazilian factory and use Brazilian labor. So Beretta built a huge state-of-the-art handgun factory in Sao Paulo, but when the Brazilian government contract expired Beretta had a Brazilian handgun factory that it no longer needed.
Taurus stepped up and took the factory off Beretta's hands, lock, stock, and barrel (see the clever gun reference there). It was a really good buy. Taurus now owned everything that once belonged to Beretta, including drawings, tooling, machinery, and a highly experienced work force. Taurus was really in the pistol business now.
With the increased manufacturing capacity and improved quality afforded by the Sao Paulo plant, Taurus made a concerted push into the U.S. market, even opening a U.S. headquarters for Taurus USA in Miami. Still, entering the U.S. market was not easy for Taurus. In the beginning, its distribution network was weak and its name recognition among American gun buyers was poor. Taurus guns had not been advertised or written up in the American shooting press. But within a few years, American shooters knew the name Taurus.
OK, so why the history lesson, you may ask? Most of us know about Smith & Wesson. Most of us know about Colt. They're part of our nation's history. Most of us know about Beretta now that our military has adopted the M9 as its issued pistol.
But Taurus is still for many shooters an unknown commodity. Or worse, many gun enthusiasts have unfairly prejudged Taurus as a south of the equator company that knocks off Smiths, Colts, and Berettas. In truth, Taurus' Smith & Wesson-like and Colt-like revolvers and its Beretta-like autoloaders all have a legitimate lineage from the company's evolution.
A few years back, Taurus launched its line of Millennium polymer-frame pistols initially chambered for the 9mm cartridge. That line has now evolved to encompass most of the popular calibers, including.45 ACP.
Again, why all this background? Well, it's important because, one, I'm trying to explain to you that Taurus does make quality weapons. And, two, I'm laying out the family tree of the company's newest pistol and its first model designed specifically for the law enforcement market, the Taurus 24/7, a duty pistol now available in 9mm and .40 caliber. There are also reports of a .45 ACP model on the way.
The 24/7 is a double-action-only (DAO), striker-fired, polymer-frame pistol. It seems that every gun manufacturer has one these days. But as anyone who has seen the 24/7 can tell you, this gun really takes the requirements of law enforcement to heart.
One of our primary concerns as cops is that the guns we use work every time. A beautiful, well constructed, accurate ,but finicky, handgun is really not an option. I'll take ugly, well built, and accurate enough at 25 yards any day over a work of art, as long as it shoots every single time.
But I'm here to tell you that the Taurus 24/7 combines the best of both worlds. It is a handsome gun that is well constructed, accurate, and it works every time.