Pat's Product Review: Taurus 800 Series Pistols

Saturday, Jul 23, 2011

Many years ago, when I was living back in Chicago, Illinois for a couple of years I was working as the Investigation Manager for a large detective agency, that had offices all over the USA. As an extra duty, I also maintained the company-owned firearms that our armed security officers used. We had well over 200 armed security officers in our Chicago office alone, and most of them were armed with company-owned Taurus .38 Special revolvers. I used to keep a supply of spare parts on hand, as those guns were breaking with regularity. Truth be told, I spent more time than I liked on repairing those firearms - when I should have been overseeing some important investigations. Luckily, I had a good staff on investigators working for me, so I only had to check on their work from time-to-time.

Back in those days, Taurus revolvers were anything but "good" in my book. They were meant to be used only when necessary. If you did a lot of shooting with a Taurus revolver back then, you had to expect a lot of problems and repairs in order to keep your Taurus up and running. The detective agency I worked for, didn't require their armed officers to do a lot of shooting, but many did, on their own time, go to the gun range and shoot, and this led to a lot of guns breaking. So, I have something of a history and a lot of experience with Taurus firearms.

I'm happy to report that Taurus has come a long way from what they used to be. Today, Taurus firearms are just as good, if not better, than any of the big name firearms on the market. As an aside, I'm the first gun writer to do web site only gun articles, and my first articles started appearing several years ago on the Taurus web site www.taurususa.com as a result of working with Chuck Fretwell who handles the Public Relations and Marketing for Taurus firearms. Chuck is one of the good guys, he's an ex SpecOps guy, and he knows guns.

The guns under review in this piece are from the Taurus 800 series of handguns. Some folks simply don't like striker-fired handguns. Personally, I don't have any problems with striker-fired handguns, they always seem to go "bang" whenever I pull the trigger. However, some folks prefer a hammer-fired handgun, and Taurus listened, and came out with their 800 series of handguns. These include:

I have had the opportunity to test and evaluate the Taurus 809 (9mm) and 845 (.45 ACP) handguns, and they are both outstanding firearms. My good friend and fellow gun writer, John Taffin also tested the 845 a couple years ago, and he also thought very highly of the pistol.

My 809 sample came from Chuck Fretwell during a visit with him to discuss doing web-only articles on Taurus firearms. I was more than a little excited to get home from Lake Oswego, Oregon to my digs 70 miles away, so I could test the 809. I was really taken with how nice the 809 felt in my hand - it felt "just right" as Goldilocks would say. The grip frame is about as thin as you can get side-to-side, as well as front-to-back. It just plain 'ol felt good in my hand.

The 809 can be carried cocked 'n locked, like the venerable Model 1911, or you can chamber a round, and use the frame-mounted safety/decocker to safely lower the hammer, and carried the gun with the hammer down, in which case, the first shot would be double-action. With the hammer cocked, with the safety "on" - you simply swipe the safety "off" and the first round is fired single-action, with all subsequent rounds being fired single-action - my preferred method of carry on this gun. The trigger reach is outstanding in either the single-action or double-action method of carry. All buy those with the smallest hand and trigger reach will like the way this gun feels in the hand.

Coming in at 30.2 ounces, the 809 is heavier than a Glock full-sized model 17, however the 809 doesn't feel much heavier in the least, as it balances very nicely in the hand. The magazine release, slide release and safety are all ambidextrous, too - so the gun is great for right or left handed shooters. Carrying 17-rds of 9mm, the 809 is also right up there with other hi-cap 9mm handguns [like the Glock 17] when it comes to carrying a lot of rounds. The polymer frame helps keep the weight down on the 800 series pistols.

The frame has an extended beavertail-type frame extension, which helps control the gun during rapid-fire - nice touch. White dot sights adorn the slide, and they are quick to pick-up, under most lighting conditions. Taurus isn't offering night sights on the 800 series of handguns, and that's too bad, wish they would - at least as an option. The frame has an integral Picatinny-style rail for mounting lights or lasers, and this is fast becoming the norm with a lot of pistols these days.

Take-down of the 809 is fast and easy, and requires no tools or paperclips. You can break-down the 809 in less than half a minute for cleaning and maintenance. The grip frame on the 809 has horizontal serrations for a secure grip under just about any weather conditions, too. Finish on the slide is a black Tenifer, which will stand-up to the harshest weather conditions you can throw at this gun.

If you want more technical information on the 800 series of handguns from Taurus, go to their web site. I don't want to bore SurvivalBlog readers to death with specifications.

So, how does the 809 shoot? Well, this is an excellent shooting 9mm pistol. In over 300-rds of shooting, in one range session alone, I never experienced anything remotely looking like a malfunction of any type. I fed my sample all manner of 9mm ammo from Black Hills Ammunition, Buffalo Bore Ammunition and Winchester's white box, USA brand. The 809 ate up 115 grain FMJ as well as JHP rounds, as well as 124 grain JHP rounds and 147 grain FMJ rounds without any problems. The 809 didn't seem to prefer any particular brand or bullet weight over another when it came to accuracy at 25-yards. I could keep  5 round inside of 3" standing on my two legs. The 809 can also handle +P 9mm loads. While most gun manufactures advise you to not use +P+ loads, the 809 handled some Buffalo Bore +P+ loads without any problems. However, be advised, accelerated wear can occur with super-hot loads.

The 809 has a suggested retail price of $656 - and you can usually find most Taurus firearms deeply discounted in most gun shops. In my book, the Taurus 809 is a best buy in a 17-round 9mm pistol.

I purchased the Taurus 845 .45 ACP pistol out of my own pocket, at my local gun shop. Given my druthers, I'll usually take a .45 ACP handgun over a 9mm when the chips are down. I'm not about to start a discussion over which round is "better" - I just happen to prefer the .45 ACP over the 9mm in most cases, especially if I were limited to using only FMJ ammo, as opposed to JHP loads as a man stopper.

Like the Taurus 809, the 845 is very similar in most respects. It has a 4" barrel, polymer frame, etc. It weighs in at 28.2-oz so it's a bit lighter than the 809 is. All other specs are the same as the 809.

The 845 holds 12-rds of .45 ACP in their magazines, and you get one spare magazine with the 845, just as you do with the 809. I personally don't understand why all gun makers don't provide at least one spare mag with their guns. And, it seems like, the more expensive a handgun is, the less chance there is of getting a spare mag - shame on those gun companies who don't provide a spare with their handguns!

As I mentioned previously, my good friend and fellow gun writer, John Taffin, tested the 845 at about the same time I was testing my sample, and he loved it. I concur with most of what John wrote in his article, with one exception. My 845 sample shot low with all ammo tested - and we're talking a couple inches low at 25-yards. This could be easily corrected with a lower front sight - I asked Taurus to send me one - never heard back from them. I've read some place, and I can't remember where, that Taurus uses the same front and rear sights on their 800 series guns, 9mm, .40 S&W and .45 ACP. I don't know if that's true or not, however I measured the front sight height on my 9mm and .45 ACP samples and they were the same height.

I really liked shooting the 845, even more so than the 809 sample. Then again, as I mentioned, I like the .45 ACP round better. The 845 had zero malfunctions, and I tested it with Winchester's USA 230 grain FMJ, Black Hills Ammunitions's 230 grain JHP and FMJ loads,  and Buffalo Bore's 185 grain JHP+P loads. As with the 809, the 845 didn't seem to prefer one brand of ammo over another when it came to accuracy, and I could easily keep most loads in the 3" range at 25-yards. I will say, the Buffalo Bore 185 grain JHP +P load catches ones attention - they are stout, to be sure. And, the 185 grain JHP load shot lower than the 230 grain loads, which is to be expected.

I'd like to see Taurus replace the 845's front sight, with one a little bit shorter, so it would bring my point of aim, to the point of impact. Then again, John Taffin, didn't have any problems with his sample hitting point of aim, point of impact. So it might have just been my sample.

The suggested retail price on the 845 is $674 and again, you can usually find Taurus handguns deeply discounted at most gun shops. As with the 809, the 845 is a best buy in a full capacity .45 ACP.

Now, if there is one serious complaint I have with most Taurus handguns it is this: It is very difficult to get spare magazines from Taurus, from your gun shop or most mail-order places. Look, I know the President of Taurus USA, Bob Morrison, and even with that personal contact, I have a difficult time getting any spare mags directly from Taurus. I discussed this with Chuck Fretwell from Taurus, and he said he doesn't understand this problem, either. In any event, you get one spare mag with either the 809 or 845. So, you have a good start with being able to carry your 809 or 845 with just one spare magazine - and you should always carry at least one spare mag with any semi-auto handgun. Spare mags are out there for Taurus handguns, you just have to look for them. [JWR Adds: My philosophy on buying guns when magazines are scarce is to buy a half dozen spare magazines before you buy the gun itself. You never know when another magazine ban might be enacted!]

In the past dozen or so years, Taurus firearms have come a long way from what they used to be, and its all for the better, too. I would have no problem carrying any Taurus handgun, in a fight-stopping caliber, for self-defense. And all Taurus firearms come with a lifetime warranty, too - and they have some really outstanding customer service should you have a problem with your Taurus firearms. If you're in the market for a new pistol, then take a close look at the Taurus 809 or 845. - SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio


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