There are many choices available when it comes to defensive handguns. But with more options comes more difficulty in finding a good fit at a good price. Taurus offers affordable, workmanlike designs that have gained a reputation for good performance.

Taurus began by manufacturing affordable imitations of popular revolvers. These were not exact copies but closely mimicked the outline and function of proven American revolvers. Through the years, however, Taurus has designed its own pistols such as the G2 and G3 series. And the exceptional GX4 is among the latest.

Taurus Revolvers

The Taurus 85 is a five-shot .38 Special with a 2-inch barrel. Its smooth action and sights designed for superior acquisition are standout features. The rubber grips found on the Model 85 offer good recoil control. And, innovative of Taurus, another round was added to the five-shot revolver. It is a standout in value, performing as well as many more expensive revolvers.


Caliber: .38 Special
Overall length: 6.5 inches

Taurus 85

The Taurus 85 is a well designed revolver. Note: grips separate the hand from the revolver’s hard frame.

Barrel length: 2 inches
Weight: 22.2 ounces
Capacity: 5 rounds
Average price online: $287

But Taurus modified the five-shot .38 Special into a six-shot .38 in its 856. With good, fixed sights and a smooth action, the 856 is a respectable defensive handgun. Better yet, Taurus considerably improved the shooting characteristics of their small-frame revolvers with the Defender upgrade. This is simply the 856 revolver with hand-filling grips, a 3-inch barrel and a tritium front sight insert.

Caliber: .38 Special
Overall length: 6.55 inches
Barrel length: 2 inches
Weight: 22 ounces
Capacity: 6 rounds
MSRP: $378.79

The Model 605 Defender is a similar revolver in .357 Magnum with a five-shot cylinder. For home defense and most types of concealed carry, the Defender revolvers are excellent choices. They offer greater control and hit probability with little more difficulty to conceal.

Taurus Defender

The Defender, with large grips and a 3-inch barrel, is a nice handling revolver.


Caliber: .357 Magnum/.38 Special
Overall length: 7.5 inches
Barrel length: 3 inches
Weight: 23.52 ounces
Capacity: 5 rounds
MSRP: $479.99

Taurus Tracker

The Tracker is an in-between frame size, smaller than many .357 Magnum revolvers but heavy enough to offer good control. Its action is smooth, and these revolvers handle well. Among the most desirable is another upgrade in capacity, a seven-shot .357 Magnum.

Tracker grips are the best designed in the industry. While many grips simply do not fit the hand properly and beg for aftermarket replacement, the Taurus Tracker ribbed grips separate the hand from the revolver’s metal frame. Revolvers with 3 or 4 inch barrels are good concealed carry guns if carried in a proper holster. Among the most attractive choices is a version with an interchangeable 9mm cylinder.

Specs (Taurus Tracker 692):

Caliber: .357 Magnum/.38 Special/9mm
Overall length: 8.14 inches
Barrel length: 3 inches
Weight: 35 ounces
Capacity: 7 rounds
MSRP: $719

Taurus revolvers are available in a variety of finishes. Stainless steel revolvers are never a bad choice. A 3-inch barrel Model 692 makes a great home-defense, concealed carry and outdoors revolver. There are also large-frame Taurus revolvers more suitable for hunting than personal defense.

Taurus 9mm pistols

Among the Taurus pistols I have the most experience with is the G2. The G2 evolved into the G3 and the GX4. The G2 is a lightweight, sub-compact with good handling characteristics and a good reputation for reliability. The G3 is a mid-sized 9mm with good handling features.

I am especially pleased with the performance of the GX4. You cannot make a small gun shoot like a big gun, but you can make a small gun handle better and shoot well. The grip treatment and slide design of the GX4 are among the best in the business. The GX4 and the new ‘long slide’ GX4 XL are small guns that shoot and handle better than most in their size and weight classes.

Taurus G2 G3 GX4
Caliber 40 S&W 9mm 9mm
Overall length 6.3 inches 7.28 inches 6.05 inches
Barrel length 3.2 inches 4 inches 3.06 inches
Weight 22 ounces 24.83 ounces 18.7 ounces
Capacity 10 10 10
MSRP $299 $339.99 449.99
Taurus 9mm

A lightweight 9mm offers a good trigger action and restrike capability.


These handguns have proven reliable and accurate in a variety of tests. The Taurus Optics Ready (TORO) version is ready to accept a modern red-dot sight and makes for an improved combat ability. The GX4XL I am currently testing is among the best-balanced handguns I have hefted in some time. There is much to choose from among these modern concealed carry pistols.

PT 92

Some of us like a full-sized 9mm for light recoil, large magazine capacity and overall accuracy. The Taurus PT 92 is a popular double-action first-shot pistol. Similar to the Beretta 92 9mm, the Taurus features a slide lock safety that allows cocked and locked carry and also serves as a decocker. The pistol is a good choice for tactical use or as a home-defense gun. The PT92 is among the most widely distributed Taurus 9mm handguns.


Caliber: 9mm
Overall length: 8.5 inches
Barrel length: 5 inches
Weight: 34 ounces
Capacity: 17 rounds
MSRP: $599.99

Taurus 1911

Taurus offers affordable 1911 handguns in several calibers.


A few years ago, Taurus introduced its 1911 clone. The pistol doesn’t deviate much from the 1911 format offering new shooters a good value, entry-level 1911. The pistols are well-finished, particularly the stainless-steel version. The Taurus .45 1911 offers a straight to the rear trigger compression, good sights, a slide lock safety and grip safety. Also offered in 9mm and a seldom seen .38 Super option, these are credible handguns.


Caliber: 9mm
Overall length: 7.9 inches
Barrel length: 4.25 inches
Weight: 38 ounces
Capacity: 9 rounds
MSRP: $677.18

Taurus offers a wide range of revolvers, polymer-frame, double-action first-shot and 1911 handguns. Don’t neglect to look at Taurus when choosing a handgun.