My interest in 1911 type pistols started about
1979. I had been reading the words of writers like Jeff
Cooper and Mel Tappan, who both extolled the virtues
of the pistol and its .45 ACP cartridge. I was hooked, and had
to have one. I had landed a construction job in Dallas, Texas
making what seemed to me to be an insane amount of money, and
was determined to buy a new Colt. After inquiring around
about where in that big city to purchase a gun, I ended up in a
dandy of a gun store called Ray’s Hardware. That place
had more 1911 Colt pistols than I had ever seen in my life, even
to this day. After three trips to Ray’s, I never did finish
looking at all of the .45 Governments and Commanders, and was
suddenly transferred to Lawton, Oklahoma, without purchasing a
new Colt. After getting back to Tennessee a month later, I
commissioned Richard Binkley of Clarksville to build for
me a custom 1911, and he did a fine job of it. I still have that
pistol, and it still shoots as well now as it did when new.
Most serious 1911 shooters back then either had
a pistol custom built, or spent about 700 bucks on a new Colt,
and about that much more to make it run right with good
hollowpoint ammo. Taking a basic Colt Government model, it
usually meant getting the feed ramp polished and the barrel
throated to make it feed the "Flying Ashtray", which
was the nickname for the Speer 200 grain hollowpoint
bullet that was so popular in those days. Lowering and
flaring the ejection port, tuning the extractor, and adding a
longer ejector was also done to insure reliability. The standard
sights left a lot to be desired, and most shooters had those
changed also, to either a Bomar adjustable or a good
high-visibility fixed sight on the rear and a taller post on
front. A beavertail grip safety was added to prevent
hammer bite. Lefties such as myself, and those desiring every
tactical advantage, added an ambidextrous thumb safety.
The Colt collet bushings were swapped for a solid fitted
version. Trigger pulls were lightened. Checkering or stippling
was added to the mainspring housing and front strap, and if
better accuracy was desired, the slide was tightened and a match
grade barrel and bushing was added. Buying a couple of
good quality aftermarket magazines completed the package. It was
not unusual at all to drop 1500 bucks on the pistol and
customizing, but the owner ended up with probably the best
defensive pistol available at the time.
Now, almost thirty years later, the market seems
flooded with good quality 1911 type pistols that work really
well right out of the box. Many such pistols are still supplied
with lousy sights and terrible triggers, but most will feed
hollowpoint ammo reliably. However, even today on a
thousand-dollar 1911, most do not have an ambidextrous safety,
and must be fitted later for those who need or desire such.
The 1911 is more popular than ever, and several companies now
make really good 1911 pistols. Comparing today’s dollar with
that thirty years ago, 1911 pistols are more affordable than
ever. It really is a buyer’s market, and gun makers are trying
hard to compete in the popular 1911 pistol market, and shooters
are reaping the benefits with better pistols and better prices.
One no longer has to buy a basic pistol and send it and several
C-notes off to a pistolsmith to get a first-class 1911.
The latest major player to enter the 1911
marketplace is Taurus USA. Taurus has been making
firearms for decades now in Brazil, and the quality seems to be
getting better all the time, especially with their handguns.
Their entry into the 1911 market has a pistol loaded with what
was once aftermarket options, at an entry-level price. I
first saw these 1911 Taurus pistols at the 2006
SHOT Show in Las Vegas, and was impressed with the
quality of the prototypes. I recently received a production gun
for evaluation. The first thing that I looked for, and happily
found, was an extended ambidextrous safety! I wish that
other pistol makers would take note, and at least offer an
ambidextrous safety as an option. On the Taurus, it is
standard equipment. Also standard is a good set of Heinie
sights. The front and rear are dovetailed into the slide, and
are both windage adjustable. The Taurus has a flat
mainspring housing that is checkered with a fine
thirty-lines-per-inch pattern. The front strap is also
checkered, along with the bottom of the trigger guard. I do not
know why the trigger guard is checkered on the bottom, but it
is. I have seen this treatment on the front of 1911 trigger
guards before, but never the bottom. Interesting. The trigger is
lightened with three holes, which is both functional and
attractive. The grip safety is of the high beavertail type, has
the popular raised bump at the bottom for positive engagement,
and is relieved for the Rowell-type hammer. The hammer has the Taurus
Security System key lock incorporated, which allows the user
to lock the weapon from unauthorized use, if desired. The black
plastic grip panels have impressed checkering in the
double-diamond pattern, look good and offer a secure hold.
They are also thankfully a bit thinner than most 1911 grip
panels, offering superior control and a better feel to my hand.
The slide has diagonal grooves front and rear to help with
operating the slide. The ejection port is lowered and flared to
facilitate positive ejection, along with the extended ejector.
The rear of the slide is serrated to prevent glare. The magazine
well is slightly beveled to assist in smooth magazine changes.
Along with the thumb and grip safeties, the Taurus has a firing
pin safety that prevents the pin from touching a primer unless
the trigger is pulled. The PT1911 has an extended recoil spring
guide rod, which many prefer. Being made primarily of steel, the
Taurus weighs 40.2 ounces with an empty magazine. Taurus also
supplies the PT1911 with a hard plastic case, cleaning brush,
instruction manual, two Security System keys, an Allen wrench
for the rear sight, and two steel eight-shot magazines with
extended bumper pads. That is a lot of features for a 1911
priced along with most competitors' basic stripped version.
For carrying a full-sized 1911 concealed, I
really like the Mernickle PS6
holster pictured here. It carries the weapon high and tight, to
easily conceal the big pistol under a lightweight shirt or
jacket, and it does so comfortably, while allowing quick access
to the weapon. For slipping on a 1911 quickly, I sometimes
use the inexpensive Kydex Fobus paddle holster. The
Mernickle conceals much better, but the Fobus can be handy to
throw on a gun to head to the field or woods.
I shot the PT1911 using a variety of factory and
handloaded ammunition. Functioning was one hundred percent with
all loads tested. There were no failures to feed, fire, or
eject. The weapon proved to be very controllable in rapid fire
with high performance ammunition. In the video, I am shooting Cor-Bon
PowRBall ammo. This is a very good choice for a self
defense load in the 1911. Accuracy was at first a bit
unspectacular. I could get the pistol to group just under
three inches at twenty-five yards, and that was it. However,
after about fifty rounds, the parts got settled in, and the
PT1911 started grouping very well, as can be seen in the
picture. It would cluster five shots of my handloaded 200 grain
lead bullet into an inch at twenty-five yards, when I did my
part. One very nice feature of the Taurus PT1911 that made this
accuracy achievable was its excellent trigger pull. The trigger
released crisply at just three pounds and thirteen ounces. It is
the best factory trigger pull that I have seen on a production
gun in a long time. Taurus deserves a lot of credit for putting
a trigger this good on a production pistol. It really makes a
difference, and it is a feature that many manufacturers ignore.
The chronograph results are listed in the chart
below. Testing was done with an air temperature of
eighty-five degrees, with the chronograph screens set at ten
feet from the muzzle. All velocities are listed in
feet-per-second. Bullets weights are listed in grains. JHP is
jacketed hollowpoint. LWSC is lead semi-wadcutter.
|Buffalo Bore JHP
|Buffalo Bore JHP
|Buffalo Bore JHP
|Olin Military Ball
As stated above, all ammo functioned perfectly
with both magazines provided with the pistol.
The Taurus PT1911 is an all-steel, five inch
barreled 1911, just as John Browning intended his .45
caliber pistol to be. After almost one hundred years, the 1911
.45 automatic is still the standard to which all fighting
pistols are compared. Even with all of the designs introduced in
the past few decades, the 1911 is still the choice of
professionals who have to carry a handgun into a fight. The
Taurus is a superb weapon, right out of the box. The only change
that I would make if this were my personal weapon would be to
add a set of night sights for use in very low light situations.
Another good alternative would be Crimson Trace Lasergrips.
The Heinie sights are very good, however, and offer a good sight
picture, but I just prefer tritium inserts.
The PT1911 is a heck of a good value in a
quality 1911 pistol. It is made from forged steel, has a very
good blued finish, and a long list of upgraded parts that would
cost extra on most pistols in its price range. I usually don’t
list retail prices in my articles, as the articles stay up on
Gunblast for years, but this PT1911 sells for about the same
price as a basic 1911 did thirty years ago. The suggested retail
price on this gun, as of July 2006, is only $599 US. That is a
real bargain for a 1911 with this many features, with this good
of a trigger pull, that is this accurate. It is a high quality
fighting pistol, and I highly recommend this Taurus PT1911.
Check out the full line of Taurus firearms
online at: www.taurususa.com.
For the location of a Taurus dealer near you,
click on the DEALER LOCATOR icon at: www.lipseys.com.
For a high quality Mernickle holster, go to:
To locate a dealer where you can
buy this gun, Click on the DEALER FINDER icon at:
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