Here we are at the planned end of the Taurus PT1911 Torture Test. I always wanted to close it out with something interesting like this, where I run the gun through something that’s beyond the limits of any gun’s normal operating environment. Hence the 500 rounds endurance test. By the end of the test, the gun was too hot to touch, mags weren’t dropping free, it was throwing brass everything, and it was filthy, but for two malfunctions it ran the test just fine.
A few days back I posted about the rumors that have gone round the internet about Taurus purchasing Colt machining to start their 1911 production. At the time, I reached out to Taurus directly to see if they could shed some light on the situation; due the holidays and how busy everyone is prepping for SHOT Show, it took a bit for them to get back to me. I spoke with their PR/Marketing Director, Tim Brandt via email, and on the topic he had this to say:
I just wanted to let you know that I was able to confirm that no Colt machinery was purchased.
After noodling on this, I do have a theory on how all of this started. It’s a well known fact that Springfield Armory, a reputable maker of 1911s, sources some of their slides/frames from Imbel, a Brazilian company. It’s also a well known fact that Taurus did buy the Beretta factory/tooling to make the PT92. So when you add those two factors together, with the internet being the delightful source of half-truths and misinformation that it is, I can see how people would end up spreading a rumor about Taurus buying Colt machining.
As it turns out, it’s 100% not true, just as I speculated in my earlier post. Thanks to Tim at Taurus for confirming the conclusion we had arrived at via a little detective work.
Today on the PT1911 Torture Test, I run the Taurus 9mm through the 10-8 Performance function check. The 10-8 Performance function check allows users to check their 1911-style pistol’s operation to verify whether or not the pistol is fit for duty or concealed carry. If a pistol fails any portion of the test with duty/carry ammo, it should be considered unfit for carry.
The Taurus PT1911 went over the 500 round milestone with no mechanical issues this week. As of today, it’s fired 606 rounds of mixed 9mm ammo, with one failure to extract coming on round 606 exactly. With that one exception, the gun has run like an absolute champ, and even that failure to extract came on the last round of the magazine, which meant it didn’t really tie the gun up in a meaningful way.
Here’s the first installment in the PT1911 torture test. If you want to sit through 22 minutes of me shooting a gun, feel free to watch the video, although it’s pretty stale. Some quick notes from the testing below the jump.
At least once a month I’ll get an email or FB message from someone who wants to know why I hate Taurus so much. The fact is that I don’t. I actually really want to like Taurus. I want their guns to be good, because the idea of affordable, reliable 1911s or metal framed revolvers is awesome.
“Hey, all these small .380s like the M&P Bodyguard, Ruger LCP, Glock 42, and Sig P238 are too hard to conceal”…said no one ever. And yet despite there being literally no market demand for a .380 that’s even easier to conceal, Taurus has pressed ahead where no one wants to tread and introduced a gun with a curve in the grip to make it more carry friendly and conform to the body’s contours. Literally nothing that I said is a joke. Here’s a photo followed by Taurus’ announcement text:
Your body has curves, so why aren’t pistols shaped to match? That’s precisely the question our engineering team challenged themselves to answer-and the results are unlike anything you’ve seen before. Introducing the Taurus Curve™, the world’s first and only curved firearm. Engineered to fit the unique contours of your body with no visible printing, the Curve is easily one of the most groundbreaking firearms ever conceived. An extreme departure from your typical compact .380, you’ll find the Curve takes form and function to an entirely unprecedented level. With its patented, snag-free design, the Curve boasts the industry’s first-ever light and laser built right into the frame. Exceptionally accurate and extremely lightweight at just 10.2 ounces, the Curve is one ultra-comfortable, ultra-reliable personal defense handgun.
We have reached the point where firearms manufacturing boilerplate officially sounds like it was written by the Onion. But hey, the gun does have some cool features. It has an integrated light and laser…that doesn’t feature instinctive activation, and it comes standard with a belt clip so you can slide a striker fired gun without a manual safety right next to your body without the benefit of anything covering the trigger guard! But hey, at least you’ll have 6+1 rounds of .380 on tap…which you could get in a Bodyguard, a Glock 42, a Ruger LCP, or a Sig P238, all of which are made by reputable manufacturers.
But the funniest thing about all of this was when I went to Taurus’ own promo page for the gun, TheGunYouWear.Com. On that page, right where god and everyone can see it is a typo – instead of “formfitting” firepower, it says “formitting.” It might be changed, so I screencapped it because lol. To see the image at full res you can click on it.
Which brings me around to my fundamental problem with this gun, is that it’s just not a serious gun. It’s a gimmick, and a poor one at that. The CCW market has not cried out to the heavens for a curved gun that conforms to our bodies, because the current crop of small .380s are easy to conceal. What’s going to happen instead is that Gun Store Cleetus is going to have a woman roll into his shop, and he’s going to recommend the little Taurus .380 for the little lady because it’s curvy like her hips and herp-derp ladies like stuff like that. Which means that a woman who was genuinely interested in personal protection will now be saddled with the worst kind of talisman pistol instead of something that would actually work, like an M&P Shield or a Glock 42.
That is really why I’m blasting this gun. Yes, it’s easy to make a few “lolTaurusSux” jokes, but what really grates at me is that instead of spending time and effort to improve their quality control on their existing lines of guns, they instead launched a gun that literally no one has asked for. It’s barely even a gun, because of the way it’s going to be marketed, it will most likely be purchased the same way one would buy a lucky cross – wave it in the general direction of evil and hope for the best.
IF the Taurus Curve is reliable, that would be an improvement. I doubt it will be. IF the laser and light are sturdy and easy to activate, that would be good. I don’t think they will be. But again, I come back to the key point of all this: this gun is nothing more than a marketing gimmick designed to separate uneducated customers from their money. In many other industries that would be fine, but here? The people that will buy this gun are buying a gun possibly to defend their lives with. They deserve better than a gimmick. They deserve quality control, and a reliable, dependable firearm. Not a gun that’s shaped to match their hips.
Before I get this post going, I want to make something clear. I really wanted to like this gun. The idea of a medium framed revolver chambered in .38 Special at an affordable price is really appealing to me. So I bought this Taurus with my own money to see if it would work in that role. Right off the bat, there were problems. The innards were rough, and the mainspring strut was actually bent. So, those problems got fixed. Nothing drastic, just straightened the mainspring, and gently buffed the bearing surfaces to remove any high spots that would cause an uneven trigger pull. That was part 2. After that minor work, yesterday I took the revolver to the range.
The range protocol was simple: accuracy testing, than endurance testing. For accuracy testing I’d fire multiple six shot groups using three loads that have proven to be incredibly accurate performers with other revolvers, and get the results. These would be fired at 25 yards, standing unsupported. First up was Federal 148 grain full Wadcutter, from our friends at Lucky Gunner. Contrary to my usual practice, I fired all these groups single action, because the 15 pound DA trigger on the Taurus was just proving to be a real problem (more on that later).
The first group gave me hope. The Federal WC is a famously accurate load, and out of the Taurus is shot under 3 inches, coming in at 2.78 to be exact. Up next I paired a Brazilian gun with some Brazilian ammo, specifically Magtech 158 grain LSWC.
That was disappointing to say the least, coming in at 6.34 inches. For comparison, the same load shot 2.94 inches out of a 2 inch barrel Ruger SP101. The last load was one of my favorite Special loadings, DoubleTap’s epic 158 grain LSWC at 1000 FPS. If you ever need to shoot clean through…stuff, this is the .38 load for you.
At 6.12 inches, this load was disappointing. Again, we’ll compare it to the same load out of a small snub gun, the SP101 fired this into a 3.043 inch group. 50% smaller from a gun that is considered much harder to shoot well.
On the accuracy front, the Taurus was disappointing; 6 inches with ammo that’s generally considered very accurate using the SA trigger is just not good. I also noticed that rounds impacting consistently to the left of the sights relative to the target, the fix for something like this on a gutter sight wheelgun is to open up the rear notch on the right sight to adjust the point of impact. That would require the use of tools that I’m not comfortable applying to the gun, because whenever you have to remove metal, you’re getting into the danger zone of ruining things.
After the accuracy test, I performed one of my favorite revolver tests: the endurance test. This may seem silly and a waste of ammo, and to a certain extent it is. However, revolvers are more likely to have problems when the get hot than they are for a single cylinder of cool ammo. The endurance test is simple: line up at least 6 boxes of 50 rounds of ammo in the trays so you can access the bullets. Shoot the gun as fast as you can, and then reload by twos out of the trays, repeating until you’re done. I used 420 rounds of ammo for this (because it was what I had left). When I was done, my support hand thumb was black from lead and powder, my trigger finger was exhausted, but I was having fun.
The reason I like this test for wheelguns is because it will expose any issues the gun might have with cylinder binding under heavy use, binding from lead fouling, etc. If a gun makes it through this test, it’s generally good to go on a durability standpoint. To its credit, the Taurus made it through the durability testing just fine, digesting over 400 consecutive rounds of the dirtiest lead ammo I could find, everything from 158 gr LRN to the aforementioned DoubleTap trainwreckers; even some Hornady Critical Defense and Federal 130 grain FMJ mixed in for good measure. However, it wasn’t all smiles and giggles, because the endurance test exposed a serious problem.
That’s the right side of the gun after the test; the silver discoloration you see that spreads out in an arc from the forcing cone is lead. Here’s the left side of the gun, notice that it’s lacking similar spray patterns:
What this tells me about the gun is that it’s out of time. One or more of the cylinders isn’t lining up correctly with the forcing cone, so as the round travels the cylinder it’s hitting the right side of the forcing cone and shaving itself off a little bit as it enters the barrel. That is the job of the forcing cone mind you – to make sure rounds enter the barrel properly, and this cone is technically doing that job. However, what you should see is a relatively even distribution of fouling around the forcing cone, indicating that the revolver is properly timed and the rounds are striking roughly centered on the cone. This revolver, as you can see, has rounds striking the right side of the cone, with little to no indications of fouling on the left side of the gun.
Also, in the left side photo, you can see bright spots on the inside of the frame under the forcing cone. Those bright spots are where the cylinder crane is impacting the frame under recoil. That’s also not supposed to happen, but in theory could be fixed by tightening down the yoke screw. However, there is no easy fix for the forcing cone issue. Fixing that would involve replacing the barrel and forcing cone entirely, or re-cutting the forcing cone at a slightly larger angle to allow the bullets an easier path. Either of those is beyond my mechanical skills by a long way.
So the final verdict on the Taurus 82? Yes, I know that this is just a sample of one, but even this sample of one has been deeply problematic. Coming from the factory with a bent mainspring strut and internals that looked like they’d been finished with a flint axe was bad enough; but those are things that can be fixed at the armorer level. The fact that a brand new revolver that’s never been shot was completely out of time to the point where I’d consider it dangerous to keep using it? That is a problem, and it’s a problem that can’t be fixed by the average gun owner.
The question now is “what to do” with the gun? I will probably send it back to Taurus, although because there’s documented evidence that I’ve had the sideplate off, that will likely void the warranty. I might keep it around the office as a grim reminder to my other revolvers to not misbehave. What do you think I should do?
After some judicious polishing, I was able to get the trigger pull of the Taurus 82 under 20 pounds. Right now it’s about 15 in DA and 6 in SA, which is about what I’d expect from a factory S&W revolver.
Smith & Wesson revolvers are elegant representations of early 20th century machining. Ruger revolvers are simple and rugged, reducing the revolver to as few components as possible. Taurus revolvers are…neither. In fact, the inside of a Taurus revolver is a confusing mess of design choices that look like a Brazilian simply turned up at the factory on a Wednesday and said “Here…here is good” and then went for a siesta or whatever they do down there.