Taurus PT1911 .45 ACP Semi-Automatic Pistol


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 23, 2006



Click for video!

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  185 1156
Buffalo Bore JHP  200 1062
Buffalo Bore JHP  230 979.5
Cor-Bon PowRBall 165 1269
Cor-Bon JHP 165 1242
Cor-Bon JHP 185 1168
Cor-Bon JHP 200 1047
Cor-Bon JHP 230 952.2
Olin Military Ball 230 813.9
Handload LSWC 200 840.9

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:  www.mernickleholsters.com.

Jeff Quinn

To locate a dealer where you can buy this gun, Click on the DEALER FINDER icon at:

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Taurus PT1911 .45 ACP Semi-Automatic Pistol.



Heinie sights are drift-adjustable for windage, serrated for glare reduction, and of a quickly-accessible "figure eight" pattern.





Safeties include (top to bottom): Taurus Security System incorporated into the hammer, high beavertail grip safety with raised bump for positive engagement, and (especially appreciated by a southpaw like Jeff) an ambidextrous thumb safety lever.





The PT1911 comes with two eight-shot steel magazines, complete with bumper pads.





One of the author's favorite 1911 carry holsters is the Mernickle PS6. The gun rides high and tight to the body, making even a full-sized 1911 easy to conceal.



Another nice solution for general carry purposes is  Fobus' Kydex paddle holster.





After a brief shoot-in period, the Taurus PT1911 exhibited match-grade accuracy. Function was flawless right out of the box, with no failures of any kind.



Taurus is a company we have come to count upon for reliable, accurate handguns that shoot as well (and look as good) as those costing several times their price. The PT1911 is no exception, and makes a fine addition to Taurus' product line.