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At $250, the Taurus G3 sounds like a bargain. However, most handguns range between $350 and $800 in price so you need to ask yourself: “can I depend on this gun to protect myself and my family?” With our reader’s safety in mind, I put the Taurus G3 to the ultimate test.
Some of you may know that I have quite the addiction to collecting handguns and my safe is bursting at the seams. Moreover, some of you will also remember that in the past I have been a critic of Taurus.
However, like its precedent, the Taurus G2, the G3 was a pleasure. The progress Taurus has made in recent years has deservedly led to a greater reputation as a manufacturer of reliable everyday handguns.
- Ergonomically excellent – the grip is comfortable and the stipple areas really help anchor the gun while firing.
- Takedown – easy to take this pistol apart, if needed.
- Thumb Safety – for those you like thumb safeties, this works well.
- Rail – you have three slots to work with here, not one. Great improvement.
- Extended Magazine with a standard 15 or 17 round mag plus one in the chamber, that’s plenty rounds for your protection.
- Sights – the three-dot, semi-fixed Novak-style sights work effectively. You can easily upgrade them if you desire.
- Affordable – you can’t argue with the price here.
- Trigger – our sample had a long-take up and a 6-7 pound pull, easily replaced with a drop-in replacement if it’s not to your liking.
Now even better… check out the awesome optics-ready version below in the Sights section!
It all started with the PT111 Millenium Pro. That was the small double-stack Taurus pistol that held 12+1 and included two magazines. Features included double strike capability, adjustable rear sight and some good ergonomics. It was a competitor in the small, double stack 9mm market. It was a successful gun and I owned two of them. Then, Taurus upgraded a few features (“stippled” grip and did away with the keyed safety lock) and called it the PT-111 G2, or just-plain G2C. Its slimmer cousin, the G2S, is very competitive in the single stack 9mm market. For a more complete history of the G2C, check out my article about that gun here.
A Bit Of History
In order to understand more fully just how far Taurus has come in its quest to provide top-notch firearms at a decent price, a little history of the company is in order. I covered it in some detail in my review of the Taurus Spectrum .380. You can go here for the company history…I recommend it. I was surprised at some of the facts I turned up in my research – it makes for good reading.
The company had earned, if that’s the right word, a reputation as a maker of lesser-quality guns, with not-so-stellar customer service. That was the case, sad to say, but then the company started to remake itself, in a better mold.
The G2C was a part of Taurus’s effort to re-boot its image in the shooting world. It started a few years ago when the company underwent a change of leadership. I have owned numerous Taurus products and have first-hand experience with their customer service, or lack thereof back then. It took 8 to 12 weeks to get a gun back that was sent in for any small repair, or for a minor part that was “restricted” and couldn’t be sent out. It was almost impossible to get through on the phone to CS. That is slowly being turned around, even now. (A hint: if you need to talk to Taurus Customer Service – utilize the chat feature on their website. In the past, I have sat on hold for an hour waiting to talk to a representative but after I discovered the chat button, I was “talking” with someone in under 5 minutes. WAY faster, at least when I did it). Under the new leadership team, the wait times both on the phone and at your doorstep for product returns has been cut, significantly.
Enter The Spectrum
The .380 Spectrum, with its rubberized grip and slide panels and truly pocket-friendly shape, entered the picture as one of the first guns to be made here in the U.S. (Miami). This little gun is available in many color combinations and, if mine is any indication, is very reliable with a variety of ammunition. This was one of the first guns that I can remember Taurus making that was uniformly well received by the shooting press. More importantly, it gained in popularity with everyday shooters. I have a very good friend who knows guns inside and out and has been a shooter for well over 40 years. Mitch bought one and carries it-this is as good an endorsement as I could offer. If you knew him, you’d see why that’s a good recommendation of the gun. And, he obviously isn’t the only shooter, old school or otherwise, to buy one… it sells very well for Taurus. Another factor that is helping its popularity is the price. The Spectrum can be purchased in many different shops and stores for well under $200, in most cases. But… if it doesn’t go “bang” every time you pull the trigger, it could be free but nobody would want one. Mine has been very reliable, once I broke it in. (Make doubly sure the firing pin channel is totally clean – they fill it with shipping oil from the factory). So the Spectrum has helped Taurus with its internal re-boot efforts. Now comes the G3…
After making the G2C, a 12-round pistol, the next logical step for Taurus was to make a slightly larger version. Usually, gun makers start out with a larger pistol then come out with a “compact” version – Taurus did it the other way around. The G3 is a four-inch barreled, 10-, 15- or 17-round 9mm. The one I received for testing from Taurus included one 15 and one 17 round magazine with finger extension. They also make 10-rounders for restricted states and show three separate models on their website – 10-round, 15-round and 17-round versions. Let me state right up front that the full-blown MSRP on the G3 as of this writing is exactly $345.23.
Speaking of cost, the Taurus site describes this gun as coming in a matte black or extra-cost stainless slide finish but all I could find in the model descriptions on the official Taurus website shows the matte black finish. I did not see any stainless slide guns. When the gun was first announced, the stainless slide was an extra-cost model by about $15. As of this writing, it has been removed from their site so I guess black is the only finish available now. At any rate, it’s a tough finish that should hold up well.
As I describe the gun to you, it should become apparent what a good deal it is (especially considering that dealers will sell this thing for probably well under $300). Let’s look at the gun’s vital statistics before going on.
|Capacity||10, 15, or 17 (with extended magazine)|
|Firing System||Single Action with Restrike Capability|
|Safety||Manual and Trigger Safety, Striker Block|
|Sights Front||Fixed (White Dot)|
|Sights Rear||Drift Adjustable (White Dots)|
|Slide Material||Carbon Steel|
|Slide Finish||Matte Black with a oxi-nitrocarburized finish|
|Recoil Spring Guide Rod||Steel|
|Weight||25 oz. (unloaded)|
|Magazines Included||either 2×10, 2×15, or 1×15 and 1×17|
|Additional Feature||Picatinny Rail (MIL-STD 1913)|
Pros and Cons
Let’s take a look, right up front, at what I discovered about the G3 when I shot my test sample. Bear in mind, this is just my opinion… your list could be very different.
- Ergonomically very pleasing. The grip was comfortable and fit my hand very well. The stippled areas really help anchor the gun when firing. Frame indentations for your thumb and forefinger are prominent as well, with similar “divots” to allow easier access to the trigger.
- Takedown. If you’ve owned a Glock, you can take this pistol apart easily.
- Thumb Safety. For those of you who like thumb safeties, this one works well.
- Rail. You have three slots to work with here, not just one.
- Extended Magazine. With the standard 15- and 17-round magazines plus the one in the chamber, you could have 33 rounds of ammo with you. Buy a couple of extra 17-rounders for more security (check out CCW insurances to round it off).
- Sights. The three-dot, semi-fixed Novak-style sights are a plus. There are aftermarket night sights available if you desire them. A lot of shooters complained about the plastic, adjustable rear sight on the G2C so Taurus went with the rear steel sight we have here.
- Forward slide serrations. OK, I’m reaching a bit here, but a lot of shooters like them for quick press-checks. If you don’t like them, you don’t have to use them.
- Trigger. The trigger on my sample had a long take-up, and then once the free movement stopped, you had about a 6-7 pound pull to drop the striker. It was a bit gritty, with discernable creep. It made me wonder that, if it had been better, my groups would be tighter. I DO, however, like the new trigger safety blade that Taurus is using – it is a bit wider, which makes it harder to pinch your trigger finger. Plus, the trigger itself is a little straighter than before.
That’s the only negative I could find with this gun, and that could be easily addressed by dropping in a replacement trigger. In my opinion, if you only pay $299 or so for a gun, that leaves some to buy replacement parts with.
If I had to rate the gun on a scale from 1 to 5 in the following areas, this is how it would fall out:
|Follow-Up Shot Speed:|
(Regarding “Concealability”, this is a 4-inch barreled gun, so take that into account. It does hide well in a good CCW holster).
These are my subjective, informal judgements in the areas shown. The main point of all this is to show that this gun will likely be another pretty big success for Taurus and that they will sell these about as fast as they can make them.
The Gun, Up Close & Personal
This gun is designed to compete with the Glock-19-sized compacts out there. I do believe that it will do nicely in the marketplace. Before going into more specifics about the gun, allow me to name one of my favorite features: the restrike capability. This feature has become fairly common with Taurus pistols, at least most of them. My G2C has two distinct sears, one of which is for the restrike feature. The G3 has one sear but is still capable of firing a recalcitrant cartridge with a second or third pull of the trigger, much like a double-action revolver.
There is the usual firing pin drop safety, as well as the bladed trigger…
This blade is a bit different from previous Taurus trigger blades, along with the trigger. It seems to be a bit straighter than the one on my G2C and is a little wider but doesn’t take up quite as much room in the trigger as does the blade in the G2C. The pull weight of the trigger is about 6 pounds and seems definitely smoother than previous Taurus triggers. This gun also has a traditional thumb safety, which you can use or choose not to. I think that, on a striker-fired gun, a thumb safety is sort of redundant but there are many who like the option…you can use it or not. So, you should be good to go in terms of having a safe firearm.
Here are some photos I took of the gun that I was sent to review…
If you’ve ever disassembled a Glock, this will be nothing new, right down to the requisite trigger pull.
Also fairly new to Taurus pistols…a three-slot rail. Most of the older guns had one or two at best.
Grip with molded-in stippling. This actually works to hold the gun in your hand…and that’s coming from a guy who thinks polymer grips ought to feel like 100-grit sandpaper. I use actual stair step traction tape on some of my guns, so this grip is refreshing.
The G3 uses the usual Taurus pistol sight set-up…a white dot fixed front and a steel, drift-adjustable two-dot rear. The sight picture is good, although if the gun were mine I would add some bright red or orange nail polish to the front dot…the poor man’s night sight. The sights are very useful.
It’s interesting to note that they did away with the fully adjustable rear sight that the G2C boasts. I’m a fan of adjustable rear sights, coming from a revolver background, but I also see the advantage of having a drift-adjustable rear given the mission of this gun. A self-defense weapon should have sights that are visible and rugged. The adjustable ones are great as you can adjust them to whatever load or reload, you’re using…that goes without saying…but most shooters will shoot factory loads as opposed to reloads. Sights tend to be regulated for an average, common factory load windage/elevation setting – it’s with some reloads that we sometimes run into problems with the gun shooting way off the mark. Now, I know this is a generality – I’ve had some factory loads that were pretty far off with the given fixed sight gun I was shooting. Conversely, most of my reloads are set to hit close to most factory loads’ point of aim. It’s just that, by and large, most factory 115-grain, 124-grain and 147-grain ammo will be close to where these sights look. I felt I needed to mention that because I’ve gotten questions from folks about regulating sights. It’s easy if there’s a screw adjustment – not so much if the sight is fixed or hard to drift. There’s where experimentation with different factory loads will help. Some will be more likely to be accurate and hit in the center of the target than others. The main point of all this is that these G3 sights work and are adjusted pretty well for most factory loads. If not, loosen the set screw on the steel rear sight and nudge it one way or the other. It is an improvement over the plastic sight I have on my G2C in terms of durability.
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The Optics Angle
The latest good idea from Taurus has to do with this G3 pistol and upgraded sights. They’ve come out with an optics-ready model that will take several different brands of red dot sights. This model is brand new and was unveiled in March of 2021.
The gun is the same, except for a cutout on the top rear of the slide and its cover plate. Here are some photos…
Four adapter plates with the original cover plate, included Allen wrench and screws
I put a Tru Glo red dot on to try. I had no problems getting it installed and tightened. The adapter plate (labeled 02) was machined very well and fit with no issues. As you can see, the existing three-dot sights were not made to co-witness with the dot, but that’s not a problem. I am anxious to try this set-up in my back yard range.
I do know for a fact that I shot my S&W Victor pistol better after I stuck a red dot on it (I know, this is not unusual), and I see no reason why this one would be any different. At least dot acquisition should be fast, with the 3 MOA dot. But, on the other side of the coin, a good friend of mine who was a deputy for a long while told me that their trainers discouraged red dots on duty guns – they said that your eye took an extra part of a second to acquire the dot that didn’t happen when plain ol’ three-dot night sights were used. Whichever side of that coin you’re on is your call – I do like the red dot on that .22 for woods walking and squirrel hunting.
The G3 Optics Ready (TORO) is a really nice 9mm and shows the commitment to the G3 platform Taurus made by investing in a model specifically designed to take a red dot sight. Most of the major red dot sights are covered, in terms of plates included. I don’t have a listing of those compatible sights available to me at present, but by the time this review comes out information should be there for you. If you are looking for a compact-sized 9mm that has the ability to mount a red dot sight, give the G3 a look.
The gun ships with one each 15-round and 17-round magazine…
I think the mags are made by Mec-Gar in Italy but would have to do some further checking to make sure. At any rate, they’re good mags. The yellow follower makes it easy to see when you’re empty, and the witness holes are ALL marked…a feature that some other makers might want to emulate. No guessing here. The finger extension with the 17-round magazine is unobtrusive and fills the void very well. I’ve seen some extenders that do not meet up with the frame and stick out while others simply don’t match the frame’s width. These magazines are very well made, and both were reliable. It’s interesting to remember that Taurus was among the first pistol manufacturers to use a brightly colored follower. Now, it’s fairly common. It only makes sense – you can see how soon you’re going to run dry with just a glance at that bright yellow hunk of plastic.
Uplula Not Needed
In terms of loading the magazines, I had little trouble inserting the cartridges by hand, without having to use my trusty Uplula magazine loader. If you’ve ever had trouble putting rounds in a magazine that was using a car suspension spring inside (or what seemed to be), then you will appreciate the relative ease with which cartridges can be inserted in the magazines. Please believe me here – buy an Uplula loader if you have a balky magazine for a gun you own. It is well worth the $29 or so that it costs. It’s just that I didn’t have to use mine here.
Shooting The G3
This gun was fun to shoot. (I wanted to say “hoot to shoot”, but I thought that might be a bit over-the-top). From its decent trigger (some take-up, some creep but not a lot of either) to the ergonomic palm-swell-enhanced grip, the gun was a natural shooter. It points easily and holds on target when you do the “eyes closed-point pistol” test. The sights line up as if they had a homing device in them and the gun is very controllable in recoil.
I’ll stick in a couple of targets here, with some ballistic data to go with them. I enjoyed shooting the G3 – it was like shooting an enlarged G2C, but with a slightly wider trigger safety blade and a longer grip. I was not trying to set a bullseye record here – I was just seeing how close the sights were.
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To Sum It All Up
The Taurus G3 is going to sell like hotcakes. The gun gives the shooter a light, ergonomic pistol with good sights and a very decent trigger, all at a price that will most likely be below $300. This is a phenomenal bargain, especially so if you consider the lengths Taurus has gone to in order to upgrade its customer service and reputation. The new Taurus guns that are coming out are earning very well-deserved high marks from reviewers and everyday shooters alike. There will always be a cadre of naysayers that will continue to make less-than-kind remarks about Taurus products – I was one of them a few years ago. But, with guns like the Spectrum, G2C, G3 and the just-announced Raging Hunter .357 revolver (American Hunter’s 2019 Hunting Handgun of the Year), Taurus seems to be working hard to rebuild its less-than-stellar previous reputation.
The G3 is one gun that will certainly help them in that quest. This gun is solid, decently accurate and well-built. I can see it giving other similar guns a run for their money. Speaking of cost again, I just saw this gun for sale online for $249.99. You almost can’t buy a decent, used 15-round 9mm for that amount. Add in the warranty, extra 17-round magazine and improved customer service and you have a winner. Check it out at your local shop and tell us what you think below. As always, stay safe and keep shooting!