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.

Duty Pistol

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.[PAGEBREAK]

Lots of Goodies

The safety features on the 24/7 are enough to make any risk management type smile. But the 24/7's safety features will also impress street cops. After all, gun safety must always be one of our priorities and not just a concern for bureaucrats.

DAO guns like the 24/7 are inherently safe by design. In fact, the DAO system makes an autoloader almost as safe as a revolver. This is why most companies don't even put a thumb safety on their DAO models.

The 24/7 is not only a relatively safe weapon because of its DAO firing system. It also has a thumb safety. It's your choice whether to use it. But when the 24/7's thumb safety, which locks both the trigger and the slide, is combined with its striker block and the double-action trigger pull, the result is one extraordinarily safe pistol. You will really need to go out of your way to have an unintentional discharge if you're carrying a 24/7.

To take things a little further, this gun also includes the Taurus Safety System, a locking device on the right side of the slide that disables the gun. The Taurus Safety System locks the slide and the action. Two keys are provided upon purchase. Obviously this feature is more likely to be used by civilian gun owners than law enforcement officers.

It Feels Great

All of its safety features may lead you to believe that the 24/7 is more about safety than shooting. Forget that idea. This is a really well-designed gun.

The 24/7 has about the most comfortable grip of any polymer gun I've ever shot. It feels narrow due to the finger grooves, which have an integral ribbing on the front that feels soft to the touch and tapers toward the sides of the grip. This grip design is much more comfortable than the checkering on most polymer-frame pistols, but it offers the same positive grasp under recoil and reduces muzzle flip.

Taurus markets the 24/7 with the slogan "Fill Your Hand." The 24/7 does exactly that. Its palm swell makes the gun feel very positive and controlled in your hand. A deep cut at the web of your thumb naturally places your hand high on the back strap and in doing so lessens felt recoil by placing your hand close to the line of the bore. When you combine these design ergonomics just in the grip, it's hard to get an improper hold on this gun.

Another nice touch in the 24/7's ergonomics is the slight dimple in the frame just above the front of the trigger guard. It's designed as a reference point for indexing your finger alongside the gun. This functions as kind of a reminder to keep your finger off the trigger until you want to destroy something. The designers also included a dimple on the left side of the frame for left-handed shooters.

Trigger Pull

Other features on the 24/7 also show that this was a well-considered design project. One of the tricks used by revolver competition shooters is to smooth out the face of the trigger and round off the sides. It makes for an easier trigger pull and a smoother break. Taurus included this feature on the 24/7. Additionally, the trigger pull is very smooth and consistent throughout the entire stroke with just enough stacking right at the end to let you know you're about to fire.

Another plus is the extended dust cover that serves two purposes. The first is to limit dirt, grime, and holster dust bunnies from entering the inner workings of the pistol. The other is a place to mold in a Weaver-type rail for mounting a light, laser, or combination of the two.

I was able to shoot both the 9mm and .40 S&W models of the 24/7. Accuracy was not a problem. Both easily held 3.5-inch groups at 25 yards. In this case, I'm sure these guns can outshoot the operator.

The rear sight on the 24/7 is small but big enough for even shooters with less than 20/20 vision. Its design is smooth and ramped from front to rear, allowing you to easily rack the slide when performing malfunction drills without taking off a hunk of hide.

My only complaint with the sights is there is no adjustment for windage even though adjustment was not needed in this case. But they are well regulated. And the gun shot well with both calibers. Followup shots were easier with the 9mm, but that has nothing to do with the gun.

So what's the bottom line on the Taurus 24/7? I like it a lot. This is a very well built duty pistol that's really designed for working cops, i.e. it shoots well and it shoots every time. The safety features on the 24/7 are truly a cut above the competition. And dare I say it, the 24/7 also looks good. The stainless slide and black polymer frame is a great combination. The all black version is appealing as well.

All we need now for the 24/7 are duty holsters. Gould & Goodrich and Bianchi have prototypes already and Aker is working with Taurus as this is being written.

Once the holsters are available, I would proudly carry the Taurus 24/7 in the field.

Taurus
24/7 Duty Pistol

Caliber: 9mm, .40 S&W
Capacity: 10 plus 1
Action: Double-action only
Barrel Length: 4 inches
Overall Length: 71/8 inches
Weight: 27.5 ounces
Height: 5.5 inches
Width: 1.25 inches
Material: Polymer and steel
Grips: Rubber grip overlay
Sights: Front, 1 dot; Rear, 2 dots
Safety: Manual safety, firing pin block, trigger block
Price: $594
www.taurususa.com

Dave Douglas is a contributing editor for Police magazine. He has spent more than 27 years in law enforcement and is currently a sergeant with the San Diego Police Department assigned as the department's rangemaster.

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