My first experiences with Taurus products were with the original Smith & Wesson and Beretta look-alike handguns.
I considered Taurus to be a manufacturer of economical but high quality “clones.” Over the years, however, Taurus has become a true innovator in the firearms industry with an impressive array of original designs.
I recently obtained the new Taurus 709 Slim for review. The 709 is a subcompact 9mm designed specifically for concealed carry and is an excellent example of the new breed of Taurus compact carry pistols.
The nickname “Slim” is definitely appropriate for this diminutive 9mm pistol. The Slim is less than 1 inch wide in both the slide and frame. The small dimensions are also reflected in the overall length (6.25 inches) and height (4.5inches). With a weight of about 19 ounces empty, this pistol is comparable to some of the smallest single-stack subcompact 9mm pistols on the market.
Despite its small dimensions, the Taurus 709 Slim is large enough to have traditional full-sized pistol features. All controls are standard, with a left-side mounted slide release, magazine release and thumb safety. Although the magazine release can be reversed for left-handed activation, the thumb safety cannot. This may cause some difficulty for left-handed shooters. The 709 also features a loaded chamber indicator on the top of the slide that is easy to see or to feel in the dark.
Taurus 709 Features
The grip is just long enough for a firm, two-finger grip, which is common among sub-compact autos. The sights are low-profile but easy to see with the typical three white dot arrangement. The rear sight is actually adjustable for both windage and elevation — an unexpected feature on such a small pistol.
Taurus describes the 709 as a double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistol. I find this description to be a little misleading. More accurately, the Taurus 709 Slim is a single-action pistol that has repeat strike capability. In other words, during normal operation, the pistol always functions in a single-action mode. There is no way to de-cock the pistol for carry.
However, in the event of a failure to fire, the trigger reverts to a double-action mode, permitting another strike on the unfired cartridge by simply pulling the trigger again. The theory is that rounds with hard primers may, in some instances, fire on the second attempt. There is some disagreement in the training community as to whether you should waste time trying repeated strikes on bad ammo, but I see nothing wrong with having this feature available if desired.
The trigger is rather unique. The single-action design allows for a light trigger pull of about 5 pounds. The trigger pull, however, is very long with a long take-up before any resistance is felt. The resistance then stacks quickly, but the trigger breaks cleanly. The reset is short, which makes this trigger easy to manipulate for quick follow-up shots. This trigger system is very easy to use once you get used to the long initial take-up.
Since this gun is single-action, Taurus has included a manual thumb safety. The safety disables the trigger and locks the slide, permitting “cocked and locked” carry. The safety lever functions much like a 1911 thumb safety — up for “safe” and down for “fire.” The safety lever can be easily engaged or disengaged with the thumb by right-handed shooters.
Given the long single-action trigger pull, some who carry this gun will opt not to use the manual safety. The trigger face has an integrated safety lever, which is increasingly common in striker-fired pistols. Carrying the gun without engaging the manual thumb safety is not significantly different than carrying a Glock, and if similar precautions are followed, such carry should be safe — although our lawyers require me to add that any pistol should only be used as defined in the owner’s manual and that if you decide to do otherwise you should take responsibility for your own choices.
Ultimately the decision to carry with or without engaging the thumb safety will be up to the individual. Although I can see a case being made for either method, my personal preference would be to use the thumb safety.
Each Slim pistol ships in a hard case with two seven-round steel magazines and two keys for the Taurus Security System. Each key also has an integrated flat blade screwdriver for adjusting the rear sight. Taurus also offers extended nine-round magazines that can be purchased separately.
Shooting and Carry Impressions
For me, the Taurus 709 Slim fits an “in-between” size category. It is a little large for pocket carry in all but the largest pockets, and it is a bit small for inside-the-waistband carry, although it certainly works in that role. The 709 is well suited for ankle carry or other deep concealment methods. I would also consider a high-riding outside-the-waistband belt holster with a cover garment for those so inclined. There are many concealment possibilities for a gun this size.
At the range, I fired several hundred rounds of assorted 9mm with varying bullet weights and velocities. All ammunition functioned flawlessly in the 709. The majority of the testing was done with premium Hornady ammo, including the Hornady Critical Defense 115-grain FTX and the Hornady TAP 124-grain FPD. Either load would be an excellent choice in this gun.
Recoil was mild with all loads tested. Shooters of small stature or who experience recoil sensitivity will appreciate this gun. The ergonomic design of this pistol — together with its reasonable weight, — results in very manageable recoil.
The 709’s accuracy was very impressive. I attribute this to quality sights, a great trigger and high-quality ammo. I am not sure I have ever tested a subcompact gun that produced groups of less than 1 inch offhand at 15 feet. Once you pull through the long take-up, the single-action trigger pull is crisp and light. This pistol is very easy to shoot accurately. Head shots on a standard silhouette are not a problem, even at 25 yards, with deliberate fire. The reset is also very short, which aids quick shooting if you manage the trigger properly under recoil. This gun delivers all the accuracy you could reasonably expect from a sub-compact, and then some.
Final Thoughts on the Taurus 709 Slim
I am impressed with the new Taurus 709 Slim. This pistol is well-suited for concealed carry, being both big enough to shoot and handle well and small enough to hide easily. The 709 is also very affordable, available in blue (709B – $459*) or stainless steel (709SS – $475*). Actual street prices are much lower, and you can get both models for under $400 — which is a great value. A Titanium model may be offered in the future if the raw material costs come down. However, for a weight savings of only about 2 ounces, that may not be worth the cost increase.
This pistol is well constructed of quality materials. For additional peace of mind, all Taurus pistols are backed by a lifetime warranty that extends to all subsequent owners. In fact, Taurus was the first firearms manufacturer to offer a warranty of this type. I recently had to return a pistol to Taurus for warranty service, and the quality of the service and the timeliness of the repairs really impressed me.
I am not aware of any other 9mm sub-compact pistol that delivers this level of quality and performance for less than $400. If you are in the market for a sub-compact 9mm, the Taurus 709 Slim is definitely worthy of serious consideration.
*Prices as of March 2010.
[Duane A. Daiker is a Contributing Editor for Concealed Carry Magazine, but is otherwise a regular guy—not much different from you. Duane has been a lifelong shooter and goes about his life an armed, responsible, and somewhat opinionated citizen. Duane can be reached at [email protected] or through his fan page on Facebook. ]