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I have reviewed many Taurus guns, and have owned several as well. The Taurus name tends to have a polarizing effect on shooters. If you mention Taurus guns to some shooters, you might get stared at as if you had another eye appearing in the middle of your forehead, Twilight-Zone style. Some shooters just can’t think of Taurus guns as anything other than non-reliable pieces of cow pie. However… if you talk to other folks, you get a reasoned reply as to what a good deal they can be for the money. I tend to fall into the second camp, but with a few reservations…I haven’t drunk the Taurus kool-aid, but am generally impressed by their newer offerings.
As I reflect back on the guns that have lived with me for a least a while, I can testify to having owned the following Taurus models. Links are to reviews I’ve done of those particular models on this site.
- 24/7 .45 ACP
- 1911 .45 ACP
- G2C 9mm
- PT111 G2 9mm (owned 2 of those)
- Spectrum .380
- Taurus 85 Ultralite .38 Spl.
- Rossi R972 6-inch .357 Magnum
- Rossi R92 Lever Rifle, .45 Colt
I mention Rossi because that company is owned by Taurus, who now makes firearms under that brand name. These are the guns I can remember – there is a good chance that I’ve owned other Taurus guns that I’ve forgotten about. If you are interested in reading reviews of other Taurus guns that I have reviewed (but didn’t own), please go here and click on the links that interest you.
Yin or Yang?
I’m not much into Eastern philosophies, but I am aware of the very basic nature of yin/yang, yes/no, black/white…you get it. When I mention Taurus to some gun shop owners, it tends to be a Yin/Yang proposition. One dealer I know of has gone so far as to post signs on his display counters, telling prospective buyers to stay away from a few particular brands – one of which is Taurus. This is a pretty big gun store in our area, so the influence will definitely be felt. Yet, go to the very next shop literally just down the road and that guy has a display case half full of various Tauri (Tauruses?) and sells them accordingly. For another pro-Taurus example (not sure if that would be the yin or the yang), I just now checked on one very big box store’s website (whose name I cannot mention) that sells guns. They sell no fewer than 71 different Taurus gun models. (And, yes – I checked to make sure all 71 were different guns and not aftermarket Taurus grips, etc. They were all guns). I would think that if the Taurus brand was so… undesirable, to use a polite word… as some hold, this huge national store would not want to deal with the company. After all, this store has its reputation to think about.
So, you will have to draw your own conclusion as to the quality of Taurus products and to their viability. I will admit that I was once pretty fairly on the other side of the argument, and have had my dealings with what passed for customer service several years ago. After having a second encounter with their CS just a short while ago, I noticed that the time the gun was away had been cut at least in half from my first experience. This tells me that the company is trying to do better where CS is concerned. They also reinstated their lifetime warranty on at least nine different pistols and revolver models fairly recently. These had been changed to a flat one-year warranty a few years ago… with this change, Taurus is exhibiting confidence in their product and putting their money where their mouth is, so to speak. Another plus is their investment in a brand-new plant and facility in Bainbridge, Georgia – they seem to be here for the long haul. Something else I learned…Taurus was the first manufacturer to offer a lifetime warranty that followed the gun, not just with the original owner. At least this is what my research turned up. They have since changed their limited lifetime warranty to cover the gun as owned by the original purchaser.
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The Taurus Company
We have looked at Taurus quality in some detail…how about the company itself? I did a fairly complete look at the company’s history in my article on the Spectrum .380. It makes for interesting reading, especially when you consider that Taurus had, at one time, working relationships with both Smith & Wesson and Beretta. This explains why they can make some revolvers that look a lot like a S&W and then turn around and make a 9mm semi-auto that is a pretty faithful reproduction of the Beretta 92. It is all legal…read the history for details.
OK…Now For The Gun…
The 709 Slim has been around for a good while. It is not currently listed on the Taurus website, but you can still find new ones to buy online. I was fortunate enough to have been loaned this example by our youngest son, who carries it regularly (learn more about concealed carry insurance). Before we get into the gun too deeply, let’s look at the specs…
|Weight:||19 oz. (empty)|
|Safety:||Usual drop-safe trigger block with bladed trigger; left-side thumb safety|
|Trigger:||Single action with repeat-strike capability|
|Trigger Pull Weight:||5 pounds, 9 ounces (measured)|
|Misc.:||ships with hard case, 2 magazines and 2 safety lock/sight adjustment keys; stainless|
In case you were wondering where Taurus got the nickname “Slim”, look at the width measurement…less than an inch. That’s pretty slim in my book.
We all know that I tend to include way too many photos in my reviews, but I figure that some of you out there might appreciate the plethora of images. I’ll comment, in the caption, if needed. Without further ado, here is the 709 Slim up close and personal…
Profile, left and right. Darn near life-size!
I won’t detail the process, because you take it down exactly the same way as you would a Glock.
Taurus safety lock access (I know, but it’s here anyway!)
Notice the small built-in feed ramp, ejector and locking block.
Mag release is able to be moved to the other side. We lefties appreciate that!
Note firing pin block and orange striker channel. Note both the polished surfaces and those not so thoroughly polished…interesting!
Note loaded chamber indicator and rear sight set screw.
It’s surprising – this bargain 9mm uses a dual recoil spring. A good thing. The guide rod is steel.
709 Build Quality and Company Impressions
I get asked from time to time, by new shooters who think I actually know something about guns, “what about Taurus guns?” They are usually budget-limited and may have seen Taurus guns in a store or at a friend’s house they were visiting and were attracted by the price. My usual answer goes something like, “Taurus makes some pretty decent guns for the money, but you need to shoot a few and decide for yourself.” Notice I didn’t just make a blanket endorsement of the brand – I don’t do that with any brand of gun, as we can find even brand-new top-end pistols that need work.
I will be the first to admit that, once upon a time, a lot of Taurus guns and their related customer service were … well, not the best, to put it politely. I do think that the company is working hard to overcome that negative reputation. With their new HQ and factory in Georgia, they are making a statement that they are here to stay. This, in itself, should say to shooters that this company is wanting to be done with its bad rep and is wanting to look to better things in the future. At least I hope so. Anyway, the 709 is an older model that uses technology that has been modified and improved upon in the intervening years. Even so, I find very little to slam with this gun. Build quality is decent – I see no overt mold lines, burrs or overtly-heavy milling marks that didn’t get cleaned up. To be sure, I point out some minor milling marks on the underside of the slide above, but this is not a big deal. I’ve had some brands of guns (not Taurus) that were built with so little heed to quality control that you could hardly pull the trigger due to all the burrs present. Those guns do not stay on the market long, as their makers either go out of business or they clean up their act (and their burrs) and start making decent guns. Taurus has been there, done that and now they’re past it, at least in my humble opinion. I have seen, over the years, my share of Taurus guns, so I think I know a little about this area.
A quick side note for those of you who may not agree with me – that’s fine, I get it. I surely see your point. But, let’s take a quick look at some fairly recent releases that Taurus has made that have received some pretty decent reviews. There’s the G2C (double-stack) and G2S (single-stack) sub-compact 9mms, the G3 compact 9mm, the TX-22 (.22 LR, 16+1 pistol), the 856 6-shot snubbie, the Defender 856 3-inch snubbie, the 905 9mm revolver, the new model 942 .22 LR snubbie that comes in either a 2-inch or 3-inch barrel length, and the 617 7-shot .357 Magnum snubbie. (Edit: I just recently found out, after this piece was finished, that the G2S was named a Best Buy in a GunTests.com slim line compact 9mm shootout of 5 pistols).
The only reason I mention these guns is because I really think Taurus is trying hard to burn a new, better image of itself in shooters’ brains and wipe out that old one. (And, no, I don’t work for Taurus or any of its media representatives). Anyway, that’s all of that – I just wanted to point out some changes they are trying to implement.
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Shooting the 709
I shot the Slim and was mostly impressed. It IS slim in the hand – almost too slim, like the Ruger LC9S I had for a few years. My hand size is just average, so I would think the gun would fit well in a smaller hand. Of course, there is always the Hogue Hand-All slip-on grip cover – that tends to make the grip a bit wider.
Ah, grip texturing…not much here. That is the biggest kick I have about this gun. I had to re-grab (the technical term) the grip after each shot, as the gun imitated a small, squat snake and tried to wriggle free with every shot. I attribute this to two factors – the above-mentioned slim width of the grip and the lack of what I like to call “sticky” texturing. Manufacturers are finally starting to get it when it comes to grip texture. Some newer pistol grips, like the Sig P365’s, are just sticky enough – it feels almost like the grip was lightly stippled. The new Springfield Hellcat falls into this category, as well. Even Taurus got it right with their later-released G2C/S and G3 – those grips are textured very well. The 709 belongs to the previous generation of pistols, where parallel lines and small, raised squares were thought sufficiently effective in keeping the gun firmly in the shooter’s hand. I am a stippler – I have been known to use a small, pointy soldering iron to stipple many of my pistols’ grips… for a before-and-after example of my handiwork, check out this review. I have even been known to apply industrial stairstep tread tape (think skateboard tape on steroids) to my grips. Now, this is some seriously sticky stuff…the guns absolutely will not squirm in your grasp upon firing. This is not for everyone, I admit – I just think the Slim might benefit from a re-do with some frame texturing. The 709’s single-stack 9mm replacement, the G2S, has a nicely-stippled grip.s
But…How Does It Shoot?
Pretty well. Here’s just one quickly-shot target I held on to for a photo – nothing major here, but I was shooting offhand at 10 yards with a cold, wintery breeze blowing the targets around and making my shooting concentration a bit less than it is when it’s 75 degrees out and sunny. Anyway, here it is…
I shot a couple of magazines, 14 shots, using a center hold, at this particular target. As you can see, it grouped low and a bit to the right. The bright spot about this is that the rear sight is fully adjustable, so I could move it to put these Winchester 115-grain full metal jackets into the center of the black square if the gun were mine. There is a silhouette target at the top of this review – those shots are a little closer to center, from 7 yards. The gun is more than accurate for its intended purpose, and (with a trial of several different 9mm ammo brands), we could find at least one self-defense load that would be accurate and reliable. I didn’t have the chance to shoot some NovX 65-grain very-high-velocity fluted rounds but I’d bet those would work just fine here. I didn’t try my handloads either, since this was a loaner gun.
Before we end this little discussion, let’s check some pros and cons of the 709 Slim. Some pros might be cons in some eyes or vice versa, but this is just how I see it…
- Very thin – less than an inch wide
- Very light – only three ounces over one pound, empty
- Reliable with all ammo types I fed it
- Good sights – very visible, with white dots; rear adjustable for windage and elevation
- Loaded chamber indicator
- Field strips just like a Glock
- Easily hidden away in an IWB holster, but a bit large for a pocket
- Small profile (height, length) makes concealment easy
- Short trigger reset, with restrike capability. Trigger breaks cleanly after take-up
- Frame has “dimples” for your shooting finger when not in the trigger guard and for your support thumb
- Yellow magazine follower is easily seen
- Grip is very short – two fingers with included magazine base plates. Extended mags (10 rounds) and base plates are available from 3rd parties
- Grip is slippery – the gun jumped in my hand. More texturing would help
- Trigger exhibits a long take-up before engaging. Also the trigger safety blade sometimes catches when pulling the trigger.
These are about the only negatives I could come up with for the 709. As I said above, you may see things differently but at least this is a basis for discussion.
To Sum Up
I like the 709 Slim. I do know that Taurus sold a bunch of them while they were in production, and that some online gunsellers still have new ones in stock to sell. The very fact that these folks are still selling these guns is a testament to its perceived value – the gun is still popular. If you are looking for a small 9mm that’s less than an inch wide to carry, check out the 709 Slim – I think you might be glad you did. Please feel free to leave a comment below if you’ve had experience with one of these thin-gripped Taurus 9mms. As always, shoot straight and be safe!