John Browning’s 1911 pistol is an icon. The early 20th Century design is still going strong nearly 100 years after its adoption by the U.S. military. Mr. Browning would take satisfaction in the fact that military units with a choice in the matter still choose to carry his design into harm’s way over any others. 1911 manufacturers have never been more plentiful. The Clinton magazine ban helped prompt the 1911’s resurgence in popularity. It is easy to understand why when comparing ten rounds of 9mm versus a similar number of .45ACP. What better platform for the .45ACP than the 1911? Its slim frame width makes it an ideal carry gun, and the single action trigger promotes accurate shooting. I do not intend to rehash all the well known 1911 design characteristics. I want to highlight one of the latest examples of Browning’s design on the market today — the Taurus PT1911.
When I saw the press releases announcing Taurus’ entry into the 1911 market, I wondered what niche they would try and fill. It did not seem natural for Taurus to go after the $2,000+ custom 1911 market occupied by several firms. This would go against the existing Taurus business model. Upon further reflection, many manufacturers seemed to have the entry to mid-level price ranges covered for the 1911. Often times, the simplest idea is the best. Taurus decided to take advantage of its manufacturing experience and offer a 1911 model with many custom features at near entry level prices. Brilliant. Taurus gives the consumer features found on semi-custom 1911s at a low price using their strength as a quality production manufacturer. Now granted, all of this is conjecture on my part, since I was not invited to any of the Taurus boardroom discussions.
Taurus PT1911 literature claims $1,600 worth of premium accessories come as standard equipment along with a forged ordnance steel frame, slide, and barrel. Taurus’s estimate is conservative. Let me list some of the accessories. This will serve as a good guide for what to look for with anyone interested in purchasing a 1911. The PT1911 .45ACP “with custom fitted five inch barrel includes an ambidextrous safety, skeletonized trigger, target hammer, serrated slide, checkered trigger guard, mainspring housing and front strap, genuine Heinie ‘Straight Eight’ two dot sights, a polished feed ramp, lowered and flared ejection port, custom internal extractor, beavertail grip safety with memory pad, two eight round magazines with bumper pads, and extended magazine release.”
Taurus is the only production manufacturer to ensure quality control by hand fitting every 1911 with matching serial numbers on the frame, slide, and barrel. How were all these features possible for well below $1,000? I must admit I was skeptical of all the claims. Surely short cuts were being taken with quality control?
All of these features mean nothing if the Taurus 1911 does not deliver on the range or in the field. I have owned and shot numerous 1911 models from different manufacturers. Some were disappointments. I admit not having much success with 1911 models utilizing short barrels and bushing-less designs. One time, I had a certain full-size 1911 from another manufacturer malfunctioning out of the box. I was informed by the manufacturer their pistol needed to be “broke in” by firing 500 rounds or more. I asked the rep to send me the ammunition or a check to purchase it since I had already invested over $1,100 in the pistol. I got nowhere with my argument. I sold the pistol.
However, I want to stay positive. The Taurus PT1911 had no such issues performing straight out of the box. I now have over 1,500 rounds through it without a hitch. Several associates were skeptical that the Taurus would deliver on the manufacturer’s promises, so I invited them to the range for the Taurus’s initiation. My first range session consisted of over 600 rounds fired without cleaning or any lubrication as soon as it left the box. While the bulk of my firing was with 230gr FMJ practice ammunition, I did fire an assortment of premium ammunition (Hornady TAP-FPD and Black Hills 185gr and 230gr JHP) through the PT1911 to verify reliability. Firing was at a relatively steady pace with different shooters running the Taurus PT1911 through its paces on plate racks, dueling trees, and other drills. Everyone commented on the Taurus PT1911’s uncanny accuracy. The Taurus fired groups into one jagged hole at seven yards and came close to this performance at 15 yards. If the shooter does his part, the Taurus PT1911 easily groups inside a silhouette target’s head at 25 yards. I am not a big proponent of bench testing a pistol for accuracy. It is a pointless exercise in my opinion. A weapon like the PT1911 should be fired as it is designed to be used — standing up from the hand. This is the true measure of accuracy, combining trigger pull, grip, and sights. I had to beat back offers for the PT1911 after that day with many later acquiring their own. Subsequent range visits have only reinforced my initial impressions.
The 1911 design is too well known for me to attempt any new expose story, however the Taurus PT1911, with everything it offers “standard,” is worthy of Mr. Browning’s approval. The PT1911 arrives ready to go right out of the box. Kudos to Taurus for including the right features for maximizing performance without turning it into a finicky or fussy competition gun. The Taurus PT1911 represents a good balance of features for daily use as a duty or concealed carry weapon. The buyer is gaining a lot of value for the listed purchase price on the PT1911. Taurus is due to unveil both blue, and stainless versions of the PT1911 with an integral accessory rail. Also, there is discussion of a smaller frame size version in the future. I look forward to trying out these new models. As mentioned above, the 1911 is an icon. Icon for me means everyone needs to own one (or more) and the Taurus PT1911 is worthy.
Thanks to our friends at the United States Concealed Carry Association for this gun review.