I’m a huge fan of the 1911 style of handguns. I have been, just about all my life as a shooter. I’m a sucker for a well-made 1911, new or used, at a good price, too. Today, we’re checking out the disappointing Taurus PT1911, full-sized 1911 in .45 ACP. Pictured is my test gun, with some upgraded grips.
The following hyperbole is a snippet directly from the Taurus web site:
“Destined to become the standard that all 1911 pistols are compared to, the Taurus 1911 offers you the most accurate and feature-laden model on the market today. Starting with our own hammer-forged not cast-ordnance grade steel frame, slide and barrels. Our skilled pistolsmiths hand-fit and assemble each firearm in our state-of-the-art factory. Available in the powerful .45 ACP or 9mm, this aggressive, rock solid firearm is ready to go, right out of the box. The Taurus 1911 is an unbeatable firearms that also provides an unbeatable value.”
Wow! Those promises are quite a bit to take in.
To be sure, this is not the first Taurus 1911 I’ve owned, I’ve had several since they were first introduced some years ago. And, on my Taurus sample, it is marked PT1911 – on the Taurus website, they simply refer to it as a “1911” – something changed some place along the line, for some reason.
I’ve owned several different Taurus PT1911 models over the years. I really liked the Aluminum-framed full-sized model, but it simply refused to feed 100% of the time – no matter what I did to it – and I’ve been ‘smithing 1911s for at least 45 or 50 years now. I’m more than a fair hand at fine-tuning 1911s to make them run better. However, the lone Aluminum-framed Taurus PT1911 I owned would not be a pistol I’d carry for self-defense. I really liked their stainless steel model with the Picatinny rail on, great gun. However, let me say this: I really, and I mean, I REALLY have to take Taurus to task for their claims that their 1911s will “…become the standard, that all 1911 pistols are compared to…”
Every Taurus PT1911 that I’ve owned could have used a tighter fit between the slide/frame/barrel. Oh sure, they were more than accurate enough, but not even close to match-grade in the accuracy department. And, the sights: Be advised they are set-up for a bullseye hold – not a six o’clock hold! I don’t care for the cheap, black plastic grips that come on their 1911s. Come on, Taurus, you can do a lot better than that, I know you can. Some of the ambi-safeties do snick on/off with authority, while other are some are sloppy. This is a sign of inconsistent manufacture! The “match-grade” triggers: Um…they could stand some tweaking, too – most samples I’ve owned broke the scale at 6+ pounds – more about this, shortly. The machine cut 30 lines per inch on the front strap of the frame – not very well done – and way too shallow, too.
Okay, enough complaining, let’s look at the sample I recently obtained. My local FFL dealer had several different PT1911s in-stock, one really caught my attention with the FDE (Flat Dark Earth) finish on it, and some eye-catching grips – nice grips, Taurus! However, the grip safety was “fitted” so that it took about 15-lbs to depress it, and it had to be fully depressed in order to pull the trigger. Plus, the “finger” on the grip safety was rubbing against the trigger bow. Hmmm, not good. And trigger pull was easily 12-lbs – totally unacceptable. On to the next PT1911 sample…same thing – the trigger pull was unacceptable, as was the grip safety dragging on the trigger bow. Not good. On to the third sample, the less expensive of the bunch at $469 – it was very nicely finished in a subdued parkerized-type of finish. However once again, the same problem with the grip safety weight, and the grip safety “finger” dragging on the trigger bow – even with the grip safety fully depressed, and the trigger pull was about 10-lbs – not good! This is the gun that I reluctantly obtained for testing. I knew I could make it a lot better than it came straight from the factory.
So, am I missing something here? If this gun was “hand-fitted” by the pistolsmiths at Taurus, then they were asleep on the job. As for final inspection? No way there was one or none of these guns would have left the Taurus factory – period! The 30-lines per inch checkering on the front strap – almost so shallow that you couldn’t feel or see it – why? The ambi-safety did snick on/off cleanly. At least they did a nice job on that fitting job.
My Corrective Gunsmithing
I partially disassembled the frame so I could access the trigger/sear/grip safety spring. It has three “fingers” on it – to control those three parts. Starting with the finger for the grip safety: I simply bent it forward a little bit so there wasn’t so much tension on it – easy enough to do. Also, the “finger” on the trigger – bent that back a touch – much better. The “finger” extension on the grip safety – it hadn’t been fitted at all, it was rubbing on the trigger bow – how could any pistolsmith miss this? I took a stone to it, and smoothed it out and made sure there was enough clearance so that it wouldn’t drag on the trigger stir-up. Again, an easy job – for someone who knows their way around a 1911. But this gun shouldn’t have left the factory this way. I also replaced the cheap black plastic grips, with a pair of my own-designed “Code Zero” 1911 grips, that are made and sold at Mil-Tac.com – needless to say, I favor these grips. Note: It is those grips that are shown in the photos accompanying this article–not the ones that came from the Taurus factory.
Very little “gunsmithing” brought the grip safety pressure down quite a bit, and the finger on the grip safety easily cleared the trigger bow – it operated smoothly. The trigger pull – just by tweaking the trigger finger on the spring, brought the pull weight down to 6 pounds even – acceptable, but still not outstanding. I lubed the inside of this area of the frame and reassembled it. Now, we had a decent 1911 – not a great one, but a decent one. Surely, not one “that all other 1911s will compare to” – far from it. The slide-to-frame, to barrel fit was pretty good – a little bit of play between the slide and frame, and it was rock solid between the barrel and frame – that’s good!
Some specs on this gun are as follows, this is a full-sized 1911, with a 5-inch barrel, and it came with one 8-rd mag, made by Mec-Gar – really good magazines. I should mention that the first PT1911s had a pretty cheap magazine, if you ask me. Of course, this is a single-action only gun, which means, the trigger only performs one task, when pulled it releases the trigger so the gun will fire. The gun was chambered in .45 ACP – great! The sights are Novak’s drift adjustable front and rear – adjusted by moving their left or right – takes some doing – but on this gun, they were dead-on – just remember, to take a bullseye hold, and not a six o’clock hold. The front sight had a single white dot, and the rear sight had two white dots, one on either side of the sights’ opening. There is a Series 80 type of firing pin block – ugh! I can live without those. The gun weighed in at 42-oz, a little bit more than some other full-sized 1911s. The barrel was throated and the feed ramp nicely polished – and the extractor was fit perfectly.
I had a great selection of .45 ACP ammo on-hand, for testing – and shooting was conducted at 25-yards, over the roof of my pick-up, using a bunched up jacket as a rest. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their 160-gr Barnes TAC-XP low recoil load, 185-FMJ FN, 255-gr Outdoorsmans load Hard Cast FN +P, 230-gr FMJ FN +P, 185-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P, 200-gr JHP +P.
From Black Hills Ammunition, their HoneyBadger 135-gr all-copper solid that you have to see to believe, 200-gr Match Semi Wad Cutter, 230-gr FMJ, 230-gr JHP, 185-gr Barnes Tac-XP +P – again, an all-copper solid. So, this Taurus PT1911 was in for a real test. In all my shooting, I fired more than 500-rds – I’ve cut back on shooting so much for my review articles, but this time around, I really wanted to see what this Taurus could do – all things considered.
At Least it Functioned Well
There was NOT a single malfunction of any type, not feeding, ejection or anything – the gun perked along with any problems at all. I was more than a little surprised, a brand-new 1911 that didn’t need a break-in period? Hmmmm! I usually replace the factory standard 16-lbs recoil on a 1911 if I’m going to shoot any amount of +P loads – however, this time, I didn’t. Needless to say, you could feel the difference between the standard pressure loads and the +P loads.
I even mixed several magazines with different brands and types of .45 ACP – always a good test, to see if it will feed those different types of bullet shapes – not any problems were encountered at all. I was pleased. I used several other magazines from my magazine box, and the Taurus didn’t have any problems with those mags, either.
Many guns will favor one type of ammo over another – just the way it is. This PT1911 favored 185-gr bullet weights – and that’s not a bad thing if you ask me. Both the Buffalo Bore and Black Hills 185-gr rounds were running neck and neck for best accuracy. I was getting 3.5-inch groups – most other ammo was slightly bigger when it came to groups. There was a surprise in the bunch – the Buffalo Bore 255-gr Outdoorsman Hard Cast FN +P load – it gave me several groups of 3-inches. Usually the hottest or fastest ammo isn’t always the most accurate in my experience. The Outdoorsman ammo is perfect for hiking out in the boonies, where you might experience some dangerous 4-legged critters like black bears, it’s easily penetrate their skull – it’s also a good load if you have to shoot through heavy cover. However, a steady diet of this load takes its toll – it does recoil more than a little bit. Plus, as I stated, if you do any amount of shooting with a 1911 and the rounds are +P, replace the recoil spring with a heavier one.
I’m going to replace the trigger that came on this 1911, with an Aluminum match-grade one, and perhaps replace the trigger/sear/grips safety spring with a much better one – to get the trigger pull weight down – I think we can get it down to 5-lbs or less without too much trouble, maybe a little bit less.
So I am issuing a weak “conditional” buy on the current crop of Taurus PT1911s. But only with the expectation that you will probably need to do some gunsmithing if you buy one. Yeah, they are priced reasonably, and a decent pistol. However, given the three recent-production examples I looked at, their quality control is obviously lacking. And the one I ended up getting should have NEVER left the Taurus factory. in that condition. Obviously, someone was sound asleep when they were “hand fitting” these three guns – they should have never left the factory like this!
So, if you are looking for a decent 1911 at a good price, make sure you inspect any PT1911 VERY closely before laying down your hard-earned money. Yes, Taurus will make your gun “good” if you send it back, but you shouldn’t have to. My sample is now a keeper. But even after I had corrected some basic problems it still just needs a little more tweaking to satisfy me.