Taurus's PT 1911: A true Testament To The Grand Old 1911

The PT 1911 from Taurus is equipped to go head-to-head with the most dominant current Model 1911s, comes with even more trimmings than many custom-built guns, and lists for an incredibly low price.

The new Taurus PT 1911 comes standard with a full-length solid guide rod and a skeletonized match-type trigger.

The newest auto pistol from Taurus (Dept. ST, 16175 NW. 49th Ave., Miami, FL 33255; 800-327-3776; www.taurususa.com) is a very old familiar friend: a Government Model 1911.

The official name is Taurus Model PT 1911, and this .45 ACP pistol was introduced at the 2005 S.H.O.T. Show in January. It now becomes the firearms industry's latest testimonial to the world's seemingly insatiable demand for this most classic of all classic pistol designs. I got my hands on a preproduction model and can testify that it is a real tribute to the Model 1911.

Fully loaded with premium accessories, with individually tuned and fitted features, the PT 1911 leaps from the box already equipped to go head-to-head with the current Model 1911 market's most dominant names, with more trimmings than even many custom-built competition guns. All that at half the recommended retail price of any other equivalently equipped Model 1911. In fact, once the initial rush is over, you're gonna be able to buy a PT 1911 for the same real-world price as most other companies sell basic plain-vanilla Mil-Spec 1911s.

Here's a close look at the PT 1911 package.

The fundamental format is a standard full-size Model 1911 with a five-inch barrel, built exactly to the U.S. government's final official specifications set for the gun (circa 1947) and manufactured entirely by Taurus in its ultramodern Brazilian facilities.

An ambidextrous thumb safety and a beavertail grip safety with memory pad are also standard features on the new PT 1911.

It is available either in blued-finish chrome/moly steel at $599 MSRP or matte-finish stainless steel at $619 MSRP. The stainless version is stainless in all major components with "stainless-appearance" flash-chrome heat-treated carbon-steel working parts where appropriate (of course, sights, grip panels, and magazine components are also not stainless). Both versions feature plain black checkered rubber grip panels.

Taurus's "Custom Shop" Approach

For all intents and purposes, the PT 1911 is assembled with what we in the U.S. would call a "custom shop" approach. Slides and frames on both the blued and stainless versions are Taurus-forged, not cast, and are individually hand-fitted to match-level tolerances during assembly.

The forged match-grade barrels (stainless on both the blued and stainless guns) are also individually fitted, with a polished feedramp, polished barrel throat, an air-gauged solid barrel bushing, plus a hardened barrel link and lug for long wear and an enduring fit in heavy-duty use. Each PT 1911 hammer/sear/trigger setup is individually fitted and tuned, receiving a U.S. gunshop-equivalent "trigger job." The internal extractor is individually tuned. There are no "drop-in" parts. All accessories and operating controls are individually fitted.

Each PT 1911 comes with Heinie Slant Pro combat sights that feature the Straight Eight two-dot aiming system.

The list of those accessories is impressive. For lockup stability and forward weight the PT 1911 has a full-length solid guide rod and open-front spring plug. The extended competition/combat-style manual safety is ambidextrous. The hammer-cupping beavertail grip safety has a raised boss at the bottom to ensure that it engages even if your grasp is slightly offset in a rapid draw.

The internal self-engaging firing pin safety is a new Taurus design that involves neither the trigger pull (as do Colt Series 80 Model 1911s) nor the grip safety (as do Kimber Series II Model 1911s). The lightened and ventilated match trigger is a newly patented Taurus design that incorporates an internal self-compensation for overtravel. There is no adjustment screw to tinker with. The PT 1911 hammer is skeletonized for rapid locktime.

Other nice touches include a flat mainspring housing, checkered rubber grip panels, eight-round magazines with extended bases, and a skeletonized hammer.

The only "signature" accessories on the PT 1911 gun are the sights. They are Heinie Specialty Products's SlantPro Straight Eight two-dot system, which a rapidly growing number of law-enforcement and military operations units are adopting as superior to any type of existing three-dot sight. The Straight Eight consists of one white dot in the semi-Patridge front blade and one white dot directly below the bottom of the square rear sight notch.

Both the front and the rear sights are drift adjustable for windage. And varied height front blades are available. Unlike three-dot systems, which can confuse the eye with lateral spacing and alignment, the Straight Eight acquires immediately. All you do is "stack" the dots. If one is above the other, you're aligned.

Taurus Model PT 1911
.45 ACP Seminautomatic Pistol
Distributor:Taurus International
Model:PT 1911
Operation:Recoil Operated
>Caliber:.45 ACP
Barrel Length:5.0 in.
>Overall Length:8.7 in.
Weight, empty:38 ounces
Safety:Extended ambidextrous manual safety; hammer-cup beavertail grip safety; passive firing pin safety
Sights:Heinie two-dot Straight Eight sights; front and rear drift-adjustable for windage
>Sight Radius:8.8 in.
Rifling:6 grooves, 1:16 RH twist
Stocks:Checkered black rubber panels
Magazine capacity:8 rounds
Finish:Stainless or blued
Price:$619 (stainless); $599 (blued)

I have Heinie's Straight Eight sights on all my personal pistols--I'm simply quicker on target with them. The sight dots on the PT 1911 are nonluminous, but Taurus will install the self-illuminating tritium configuration unit upon order, or you can get them directly from Heinie Specialty Products (Dept. ST, 300 Oak St., Quincy, IL 62301; 217-228-9500; www.heinie.com). Incidentally, Taurus is also installing Heinie Straight Eight sights as standard equipment on all Taurus Model 24/7 pistols as of this year.

Other performance-enhancing refinements on the PT 1911 include slide serrations at both the front and rear, to aid in manual cycling and clearing; a lowered and sculpted chamber port for reliable and consistent case ejection; an extended magazine release button; and a beveled magazine well for positive engagement and easy insertion with rapid reloads. Each PT 1911 comes standard with two eight-round .45 ACP magazines with thick black polymer bumper pads for positive seating upon insertion and to cushion impact and resist magazine damage. The PT 1911's straight-back mainspring housing, the frontstrap of the grip, and the underside of the trigger guard are all checkered (30 lines per inch) to enhance security of grasp in either one- or two-hand hold.

All parts on the PT 1911 are manufactured by Taurus, including the magazines and the custom-style accessories, and they are specific Taurus configurations and not copies of any other brand-name designs. (Of course, all popular Model 1911 accessories, such as beavertail safeties, triggers, hammers, etc., are very similar in appearance.) Even the Heinie sights on the guns are actually fabricated by Taurus, under license and according to Heinie's strict specifications. Most of the small parts are manufactured through metal injection molding (MIM), which is a very precise, cost-effective process growing in widespread use throughout the entire world of precision metal parts fabrication in many high-tech industries. Taurus has become a national leader in MIM technology, and OEMs a large number of parts for other manufacturers throughout the firearms industry.

It is important to remember that in spite of the PT 1911 being an "all-Taurus" product, it is nonetheless a true-dimension Model 1911 pistol in all specifications--which means that a shooter can replace any of the gun's accessories or components with any other Model 1911 aftermarket parts for which he has particular preference with only the minor fittings or adjustments normally required for installation. At the same time, however, Taurus spokesmen observe that one of the main reasons they believe the performance of the PT 1911 outstrips similarly featured pistols that cost much more is that other manufacturers assemble their "loaded" guns with off-the-shelf parts from various sources without the unified design and quality-control coordination that makes the PT 1911 a truly integrated product.

Put simply, with the PT 1911 the basic gun and all the bells and whistles were designed, manufactured, and assembled under the same direction under the same roof. It makes a difference. Or as Taurus Vice President Bob Morrison wryly observed when I asked him about parts compatibility, "Sure, the other stuff will fit. But if you have a nicely equipped Mercedes, why would you want to switch its drive shaft with a part from Acme Auto?"

A Real Shooter

With all this pedigree, it's almost anticlimactic to say how the PT 1911 shoots--but it shoots well. Face it; the Model 1911 pistol is such a time-proven design, and all of its manufacturing idiosyncrasies have been worked out for so long, that a gunmaker would have to be really bad to screw one up. I had the opportunity to run five varied commercial .45 ACP loads through the preproduction review sample. Thanks to the Heinie sights and a crisp 3.25-pound trigger pull, my first full-magazine familiarization runs fired offhand at 50 feet with Federal's Personal Defense load printed at about 2.5 inches, which is certainly what I'd expect from any tightly fitted and full-featured Model 1911 pistol. The overall average for all five loads from benchrest at 25 yards was essentially the same.

All of which leaves us with the question that was on the mind of everyone who saw or heard of the PT 1911 at last January's S.H.O.T. Show: With its hand-fitted assembly, custom features, and long list of premium-design accessories, how can Taurus possibly afford to sell the PT 1911 at such a low cost? I asked Morrison exactly that question. His answer was thought provoking.

Full length guide rod & reverse plug$35
Heinie Straight Eight Sights150
Serrated slide rear and front100
Checkered 30-lpi trigger guard50

Checkered 30-lpi mainspring housing

Checkered 30-lpi frontstrap150
Ambidextrous safety125
Beavertail grip safety with memory pad120
Skeletonized hammer60
Skeleton serrated trigger100
Trigger job100
Custom fit barrel (air-gauged bushing)100
Custom slide to frame fit100
Polished feedramp and barrel throat50
Lowered and flared ejection port60
Custom internal extractor75
Extended mag release button35
Beveled mag well100
Extra 8-round magazine30
Basic Mil-Spec Model 1911 pistol500
NOTES: Prices are average of parts, installation, and fitting charges from five leading U.S. pistolsmiths based on a Mil-Spec basic Model 1911 pistol as the starting point.

"Think about bottled water," he said. "If you own the well and the bottling facility and make the bottles and the shipping cartons and print the labels, you can always sell water at a lower price than if you have to buy that stuff from somebody else and feed their profits.

The PT 1911 averaged 2.55 inches for five-shot groups at 25 yards with five different factory loads.

"At Taurus we do everything in-house. Our designers and production engineers have every conceivable way to produce parts right on site, from forging to machining to MIM-ing. We can produce virtually any shape of any part we design...if it's too complicated to be made by normal methods we just MIM it instead of machining it. Our new, totally equipped 1911 is unique because we went from concept to completely packaged product in our own plant, in our own environment. All components from design board onward were completely integrated from the get-go: dimensioning, finishing, hardening, heat treating, choice of metals, manufacturing method, fit and finish--all as a single operating unit, designed by one engineering team. That's why you get so much for so little. We made it all to our own tolerances, in-house. Every single part was designed to be mated to every other single part.

Factory LoadMuzzle velocity (fps)Standard Deviation (fps)25-yard Accuracy (inches)
CorBon 165-gr. JHP +P116872.50
Federal Premium Personal Defense 165-gr. Hydra-Shok104762.50
Hornady 200-gr. HP/XTP +P98892.63
PMC 230-gr. StarFire JHP1013152.88
Winchester 230-gr. SXT Personal Protection97152.25
NOTES: Accuracy is the average five eight-round groups fired from a sandbag benchrest at 25 yards. Velocity is the average of eight rounds measured eight feet form the gun's muzzle

"A lot of people still think that just because something costs more it's necessarily better. That's out-of-date thinking. Remember bottled water. The Taurus PT 1911 costs less because it's made better. It costs what a smart manufacturer's 1911 ought to cost."

Well, when you consider all the very advanced, very reasonably priced products Taurus has brought forth over the past eight years, it's hard not to agree with him.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Pinging Steel At Over A Mile Away

Big bore semiauto or a lever gun? We look at the futuristic .450 Bushmaster and how it compares to the tried and true .45-70. ISS Prop House gives us the rundown on the guns used in Enemy at the Gate. We ping steel with a .300 WinMag at over a mile.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Tactical Solutions Introduces New X-Ring Takedown SBR Rifle

Keith Feeley of Tactical Solutions sat down with Michael Bane at SHOT Show 2018 to talk about the new X-Ring Takedown SBR .22LR rifle.

Trending Articles

The new striker-fired STR-9 9mm semiautomatic pistol from Stoeger Industries is reliable, ergonomic, accurate, and priced right. Handguns

Stoeger STR-9 Review

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 17, 2019

The new striker-fired STR-9 9mm semiautomatic pistol from Stoeger Industries is reliable,...

The new Bushnell FORGE riflescope is “the only choice for long-range hunting enthusiasts.” Optics

Review: Bushnell FORGE 4.5-27X 50mm

Sam Wolfenberger - May 01, 2019

The new Bushnell FORGE riflescope is “the only choice for long-range hunting enthusiasts.”

Daniel Defense has blazed a new trail with its first-ever bolt-action rifle, the Daniel Defense Delta 5. Rifles

Daniel Defense Delta 5 Review

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 31, 2019

Daniel Defense has blazed a new trail with its first-ever bolt-action rifle, the Daniel...

True Velocity is exploring options to make its distinctive ammo available to civilians. Ammo

True Velocity Rifle Ammo

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 31, 2019

True Velocity is exploring options to make its distinctive ammo available to civilians.

See More Trending Articles

More Handguns

The new Springfield XD-M Elite 9mm line represent the pinnacle of performance in polymer-frame striker-fire pistols. Handguns

Springfield XD-M Elite 4.5” Pistol – First Look

Joel J. Hutchcroft - January 15, 2020

The new Springfield XD-M Elite 9mm line represent the pinnacle of performance in polymer-frame...

The .327 Federal Magnum offers plenty of power for self-defense and small-game hunting, and Ruger supports the round with a bunch of revolvers, including the Ruger SP101. Handguns

Ruger SP101 Revolver .327 Federal Magnum Review

Brad Miller, PhD - November 21, 2019

The .327 Federal Magnum offers plenty of power for self-defense and small-game hunting, and...

The Bond Arms Backup 9mm derringer is one of Bond's bestsellers, and it's an extremely well-built double-barreled self-defense pistol. Handguns

Bond Arms Backup Derringer 9mm Review

Joel J. Hutchcroft - March 09, 2020

The Bond Arms Backup 9mm derringer is one of Bond's bestsellers, and it's an extremely...

Pistol manufacturer Glock is entering the rimfire market with the introduction of the Glock 44 .22 LR pistol. Handguns

Glock 44 .22 LR Pistol — New for 2020

Shooting Times Digital Staff - February 07, 2020

Pistol manufacturer Glock is entering the rimfire market with the introduction of the Glock 44...

See More Handguns

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!


Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services


GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.