Things cost more these days, often lots more. Consequently, there's a trend to equate price with excellence. All of which often results in the case of someone knowing the price of everything, but the value of nothing.
Agencies fall prey to this syndrome and if anyone is most guilty, it's the tactical teams. I'm not advocating dumbing down your expectations, but simply keep an open mind when it comes to alternatives to the big-bucks equation. Not everyone needs a $5,000 tactical rifle and not everyone needs a $1,200 duty pistol.
Which brings us neatly to the case in point. Being equal-opportunity reviewers, we've touched on the products from Taurus once or twice before. Don't run in horror based upon assumptions from an experience 15 years ago. Today's Taurus, under the able leadership of Bob Morrison, the company's executive vice president, shares no relationship to the "old days" when quality was, at times, mediocre. Morrison, who was former vice president of Colt and Bianchi International, went on a one-man storm at Taurus, virtually re-creating the company. Today's Taurus is ISO9000 rated for quality-control excellence and has become world renowned for making fine firearms.
In a show of confidence in its workmanship, Taurus now offers a lifetime guarantee on each of its products. If a Taurus firearm breaks, the company will fix or replace it, period. Honest.
And from the letters I get at American Handgunner (where I'm editor), customers who have contact with Taurus for warranty work leave satisfied. My own experience with a wide cross-section of their products has left me impressed.
Taurus has recently introduced a new police duty pistol that's aptly called the "24/7" in honor of the commitment cops make to a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week community service. As soon as we lay our hands on a test copy, Police will run it through the mill and report on our findings. But for now, let's check out a revitalized Taurus classic.
An Old Friend
With all the excitement over the new, it behooves us to sometimes revisit the old, especially if it's old and improved. Taurus' PT92 is a close copy of the Beretta 92 series that has been around for decades, but has been improved again and again. With modern alloys, polished engineering, and new calibers (like the .40 S&W), the PT92 has kept pace with the passing years. If we still trust Browning's 100-year-old 1911 design, it would be silly to dismiss another trustworthy one, simply because it's a few years old.
The PT92 is a full-sized holster pistol designed for rugged, duty-type use. But even though there's nothing compact about this weapon, it's not that heavy. At 34 ounces, the PT92 falls somewhere between an ultra-lightweight polymer pistol and an all-steel brute.
With its aluminum alloy frame and all-steel components, the current incarnation of the Taurus PT92 is a classic combination of proven materials. According to a local indoor range that rents handguns, a PT92 they have has well over 30,000 rounds through it with only a couple of minor repairs involving a trigger spring and a grip screw becoming stripped. Not bad, considering those rental guns get essentially no routine care and are regularly abused by the clients.
If you've ever hefted a Beretta 92, you know exactly how the PT92 feels in the hand. But that's where the resemblance ends. Some mechanical bits are distinctly different.
The big thing the Taurus has going for it is the ability to be carried "cocked and locked" like the 1911 design. That means you can carry it with a round in the chamber, hammer back, and the safety on. To make it go, simply thumb the safety off (down, like all good safeties should go) and go to work. Continue mashing the safety down, and it will safely de-cock a cocked hammer. There is also a firing pin safety as an added bonus to help keep things quiet unless you intend them to be noisy.
Another option, and a nifty one, is to carry the gun in the "hammer-down" mode, with the safety on. With this option, the first shot is classic double-action (DA), but you have to thumb that safety off first. This might keep a gun-grabber confused long enough for you to shoot 'em with your handy backup gun (which you always carry, right?). So, we've got cocked and locked, hammer down and safety on (DA first shot) or simply hammer down and safety off for that DA first shot. Variety is the spice of life and the PT92 offers plenty of variety.[PAGEBREAK]
The magazine release is where mag releases are supposed to be, on the side of the frame, near the trigger guard. Other controls also work as planned, and are where you would assume them to be.
For example, the slide release falls easily under the thumb if that's what you do. Frankly, I believe in simply snapping the slide back with the off-hand during a slide-lock reload. It enables the slide to complete its full travel, which seriously enhances the chances of a round being fed correctly into the chamber from the magazine. It also works for every single auto out there, so if you end up fighting with a strange gun, there's no fumbling while you try to find a slide release. Stick the mag in, run the slide back, let it snap forward and you're back in the fight. Think about it.
Take Down and Such
The PT92 comes apart neatly; quite easily in fact. Its take-down lever is just above the trigger guard. Press the detent button and slide the lever down. Presto! The slide assembly slips off forward. Then, the barrel, recoil spring, guide rod, and other goodies can be attended to.
Which reminds me of another interesting thing about the design of the PT92. That open-top slide is good for something that few people think of. If you do have a malfunction (stove-pipe, double-feed, etc.), all that open room on top gives you plenty of room to clear the trash out. The set-up also allows a very good feed angle from magazine to chamber. Of course, as another writer has pointed out, all that open area also allows dirt and other unexpected visitors to get into the action. I guess you have to balance the good with the bad, or at least the potential bad?
The action on our test gun was smooth and easily manageable. Single action broke the scale at an average of 5.75 pounds, while the DA was probably around 14 pounds (more than our gauge could read), but very smooth. Sights are fixed and three-dot, but you can get any manner of aftermarket kinds, from tritium to adjustable sights (available from Taurus as the Model PT99).
Grip panels on our gun were a checkered, hard rubber and they felt quite nice. The trigger guard was squared and serrated and, honestly, on a pistol this big, I doubt anyone still puts that pointer finger there when they shoot. I'd like to see a more conventional rounded-trigger guard. Lord knows it would make holster selection easier.
I had an ancient PT92 about 25 years ago so I was familiar with the basic design. And I have to say our test gun was a much better pistol and showed a quality of workmanship and materials that my earlier gun simply didn't exhibit. While that first gun of mine seemed to run just fine (I used it to shoot at early IPSC matches and carried it some off duty) our test PT92 would certainly give me a much higher level of confidence. My early gun shot rather casual 4- to 5-inch groups at 25 yards, which, in retrospect, just might have been the shooter, so I was curious to see what the test PT92 would do on the range.
I scrounged up a lineup of ammo from Federal, Lapua, Black Hills, Wolf, Winchester, Remington, and even some Egyptian military ball and trundled off to the range. The test gun was brand-new so I dribbled a few drops of Tetra-Gun lube around, made sure the hole in the barrel went all the way through, and loaded up.
My procedure is to always make the first couple of magazines "one-rounders" in a new autopistol on the odd chance it decides to go full-auto. It's happened, trust me. No such luck with the PT92 (it can be fun ...).
After about 400 rounds of assorted 9mm ammo shot by a variety of shooters, I came to some conclusions about the PT92.
First off, it could shoot. Fifteen-yard groups hovered around the 2-inch mark, and we actually got one, golden 3-inch group at 25 yards with some Federal 147 Sub-Sonic ammo. Sub-Sonic 9mm ammo usually delivers excellent accuracy, and it was proven yet again during our test. One shooter carries a Beretta 92 as a duty pistol and was very curious about the PT92. He admitted sheepishly he actually liked the ergonomics of the safety on the PT92 more than on his own pistol and wondered idly why Beretta didn't make a model to match the PT92. For some, that "thumb-up" safety on most DA/SA autos is awkward at best, and the Taurus safety solves the problem nicely.
Well, you "pays your money and you gets what you pays for," they say. In this case, at around $575 at full retail, you get quite a bit for your money. Would I hesitate to carry this gun as a duty pistol if it was issued to me? Not at all. I'd shoot it lots first, just to make sure everything worked right. But then again, I'd do that with a $2,000 fancy pistol.
Barrel Length: 5 inches
Overall Length: 8.5 inches
Height: 5.543 inches
Weight: 34 ounces
Width: 1.606 inches
Grips: Checkered polymer
Sights: Fixed, white three-dot
Price: $575 (Street price around $525)
Roy Huntington is the editor of American Handgunner and a long-time Police Advisory Board member.