Taurus has come a long way this century as a major handguns manufacturer. The firearms company has put to bed its old reputation for quality — which had been somewhat spotty until recent years — and has come up with a number of innovative designs.

My first experience came in 1986 during my “gun of the week club” days when I was working as a full-time police patrolman. It seemed that some of my fellow officers and I were always on the hunt for different handguns and rifles. As a result, we would sometimes end up trading guns. For some reason lost to the mists of time, I wanted an all-stainless-steel Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 revolver for off-duty carry.

However, there was a problem that was keeping my dream from becoming a reality: I didn’t have enough cash to purchase it. I had to figure out another option to get myself a stainless off-duty revolver.

Entering the Big Leagues

At that time, Forjas Taurus Ltda. (Portuguese for Taurus Forge) handguns were manufactured entirely in Brazil. In 1971, the Bangor Punta Corporation, which at the time owned Smith & Wesson, purchased a controlling interest in Taurus. The result was that the sister companies shared technology.

Taurus’ lineup mostly consisted of revolvers that were patterned after Smith & Wessons. Its expansion from a bargain-basement brand to a major player began seven years later when the Brazilian owners of Taurus purchased the company back from Bangor. While the relationship had been very beneficial for Taurus, severing the ties allowed it to move from being a subsidiary of Smith & Wesson to being a competitor.

In 1980, Taurus purchased Beretta’s Sao Paulo manufacturing plant. Beretta had been contracted to produce pistols for the Brazilian Army in 1974. The contract ended six years later, and besides Beretta’s Sao Paulo plant, Taurus also purchased its technical specifications, tooling and machinery.

This permitted Taurus to produce several pistol designs based on Beretta’s designs. The Taurus PT92 and PT99 9mm pistols are a testament to that purchase. These handguns are exact copies of their namesake Beretta 92 — save for the safety selector switch operation and location.

QUITE AN ENTRANCE Taurus’ TX22 is its first all-American-made gun, a light little number that is about the size of a Glock 19, but far lighter and chambered in .22 LR.

Turning to Taurus Handguns

Used Model 60s were as scarce as hens’ teeth in those days. I had just about given up on owning a stainless off-duty gun when I spotted a brand-new stainless steel Taurus Model 85 .38 Special five-shooter in the display case of a small gun shop. The revolver was nicely finished, polished bright and had attractive checkered walnut-finished grips with gold Taurus medallions mounted on them. The Model 85 also cost $100 less than the Smith & Wesson Model 60 that I had desired.

The main difference in appearance between the Taurus Model 85 and the Smith & Wesson Model 60 is that the former has a shrouded ejector rod, while the Smith & Wesson’s is exposed. The Taurus Model 85’s external finish was certainly nice, exhibiting no tool marks or visible imperfections. I noted that the trigger pull was very smooth — smoother than that of the Smith & Wesson Model 60s available at the time. The cylinder lockup was reasonably tight.

I went ahead and traded whatever was the previous gun of the week for the Taurus Model 85. It was a good shooter, although none of my compadres got particularly excited about it. As I recall, the holsters I had for the Smith & Wesson Model 60 worked fine with the Taurus Model 85, including the ankle holster I had on hand.

One thing about Taurus has remained constant: The company has never been satisfied with its market position. It is obvious that the manufacturer has been keeping an eye to the future.

Lost to time is when and what firearm I exchanged for that Taurus Model 85. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have it long. I am speculating that it was about the time I traded for another Colt Agent .38 — which gave me a much lighter gun with one additional shot — but who knows.

In any event, that revolver wasn’t traded away because it was junk. Instead, I came away with the opinion that Taurus made very good conventional handguns that no one got excited about. There were no “take a look at this boys, you’ve got to get one of these” types of conversations with my fellow officers. But these handguns were affordable and got the job done.

One thing about Taurus has remained constant: The company has never been satisfied with its market position. It is obvious that the manufacturer has been keeping an eye to the future. The old Avis car rental slogan — “We Try Harder” — could certainly be applied to Taurus’ philosophy of striving to be better.

Lifetime Repair Policy and ISO 9001

Two major events marked a turning point for Taurus in terms of quality concerns about its products: the company’s implementation of the firearms industry’s first Lifetime Repair Policy in 1984 and being awarded the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) 9001 rating in 1999.

Taurus’ Unlimited Lifetime Repair Policy was groundbreaking. Up until Taurus initiated it, firearms manufacturers had a one-year warranty policy. The firearm’s owner was responsible for any repair costs afterward. Today, every manufacturer has a similar policy, so Taurus’ move benefited all firearms customers. Here is what Taurus’ warranty covers for each of its firearms:

Taurus warrants to the original purchaser that the enclosed firearm was made free of defects in material, function and workmanship. Taurus promises to remedy any defect in material, function or workmanship for the entire time that the original purchaser owns the firearm. This warranty covers the firearm’s finish, grips, magazines, sights or accessories for the first year. Any claims of defect related to lasers must be directed to the manufacturer of the laser. This warranty terminates automatically upon the transfer of this firearm to any individual or entity other than the original purchaser.

This is a good deal for everyone involved: The policy encourages increased sales of Taurus products while benefiting the end users considerably.

The ISO 9001 rating was also critical in assuring consumers that Taurus’ products were truly worthy of consideration. The award recognizes excellence in manufacturing and marketing and is not bestowed on substandard companies. It went a long way toward letting consumers know that Taurus firearms could be purchased with confidence.

A Footprint in the USA

The brains behind Taurus realized that if the company really wanted to become a major player in the gun industry, it had to establish an affiliate company in the United States — the largest consumer of handguns and related products in the world. Taurus established a facility in Miami, Florida, which gave it easy port access to the products still being produced in Brazil.

In 1997, Taurus expanded its reach further by acquiring the Rossi line of revolvers. At the time, these were viewed as less-expensive, lower-quality versions of Taurus revolvers. As a Taurus subsidiary today, Rossi no longer manufactures handguns.

It has become the “long gun” branch of Taurus USA and is best known for its extensive line of R92 Winchester 1892-style lever-action rifles and carbines that are useful for sport, hunting and self-defense. Rossi’s R92 .44 Magnum carbine is slightly more than half the cost of an equivalently set up Winchester Model 1892 .44 Magnum carbine — $668 versus $1,069. What’s nice in an odd way is that Winchester Repeating Arms shifted its manufacturing to Miroku Corporation of Kōchi, Japan, via Browning. Now there is no longer an issue with not purchasing a Rossi rifle because it’s not American-made.

Rossi also makes two .22 rimfire lever-action rifles very similar in appearance to basic Henry Repeating Arms lever-actions and an exposed-hammer pump-action .22 rifle similar in appearance to the Winchester Gallery rifle.

The brains behind Taurus realized that if the company really wanted to become a major player in the gun industry, it had to establish an affiliate company in the United States — the largest consumer of handguns and related products in the world. Taurus established a facility in Miami, Florida, which gave it easy port access to the products still being produced in Brazil.

The most interesting gun in the Rossi lineup is the Circuit Judge revolver carbine, which hearkens back to the famous yet unsuccessful 19th century Colt revolving carbine. Chambered in .45 Colt/.410, the Circuit Judge starts out with a Taurus Judge action and frame onto which Rossi adds an 18.5-inch blued or stainless barrel and nicely executed hardwood stocks. Shielding to protect the hand — which was sorely lacking on the original Colt revolving carbine — now sits around the lower portion of the cylinder.

Besides looking way cool, it appears to have great utility as a shotgun or pistol-caliber carbine that can be rapidly fired double-action for speed or single-action for precision. The blued version has an MSRP of $737.36, while the stainless version is $790.08. It appears that Rossi has definitely found its niche — making some innovative long guns — in the Taurus family.

Taurus Handguns: Advanced Designs

I have no doubt that one of the major reasons Taurus has progressed so far over the past 30 years was its decision to establish its American presence. There is nothing that contributes to keeping up with any company’s customer base — their wants and needs — like having headquarters and manufacturing located in the country you are attempting to serve.

Yes, jet travel and the internet have made communication much easier, but there is something to be said for a constant “boots on the ground” presence in fulfilling customer desires. Taurus’ designs have come a long way since the days when they were mostly variations of Smith & Wesson revolvers and Beretta automatics. Many Taurus handguns either feature innovative adaptations of existing designs or are innovative in and of themselves.

November 2018 was basically my Taurus reporting month. I reviewed four different Taurus handguns for the U.S. Concealed Carry Association. It was my first chance to work with Taurus handguns since I carried that Taurus Model 85 so many years ago. I came away very impressed with every single one of them. Let me recap the two that best illustrate the Taurus success story.

Taurus 1911

The Taurus 1911 is an excellent gun that includes a number of advanced features. For an MSRP of roughly $900, you get a 1911 capable of doing anything you could ask of it; the one I assessed delivered fine accuracy at 100 yards. I found the reason that Taurus is able to keep the price low for such a full-featured handgun is that the company makes 100 percent of its components in its own factory — no need to depend on the whims and market fluctuations of an outside manufacturer.

For $900, you get the following: ambidextrous extended safeties, safety lock in the rowel hammer, three-dot fixed combat sights, ventilated long trigger, flat backstrap, eight-round magazine with bumper pad, finely checkered frontstrap and backstrap, checkered synthetic Double Diamond Taurus grips, extended beavertail grip safety, and front cocking serrations. That’s a lot of bang for the buck.

Taurus Judge

READY FOR FUN The American-made TX22 ships with a threaded barrel (shown covered by the included guard for when not in use) and an accessory rail.

This is the gun with which Taurus popularized the concept of the .410-gauge/.45-caliber double-action revolver. The Taurus Judge has proven to be not only an apt home-defense and carry gun but also one that excels for outdoor carry and survival use. The revolver was developed in 2006 when Bob Morrison, who was at the time the executive vice president of Taurus, learned that judges in Miami, Florida, courts were buying original Taurus 4410 revolvers for self-defense in their courtrooms. These judges felt that .410 shotgun shells offered less chance of overpenetration than standard revolver cartridges, including the .45 Colt. The Taurus Judge, developed from the original 4410, became so popular that Smith & Wesson introduced its own version — the Governor.

2020, 2021 and Beyond

In December 2019, after four decades of being located in Miami, Florida, Taurus moved its United States facility to Bainbridge, Georgia, where it also opened a 200,000-square-foot state-of-the-art manufacturing center and corporate headquarters. Continue to expect great things from Taurus.

THE ‘BARKEEP’ Manufactured by Taurus’ Heritage line of single-action revolvers, this American-made .22 LR ships with an off-gun ejector rod and 3-inch barrel.

Taurus is still big in the revolver business, offering a very wide selection of mostly stainless steel models, with several coated in matte-black oxide for additional rust resistance. Caliber choices include .22 LR, .22 WRF, .380 ACP, .38 Special/.357 Magnum, 9mm, .44 Magnum, .454 Casull and, of course, .45 Colt and .410. The calibers and revolver configurations cover everything from concealed carry (the 16-ounce spurless hammer Model 380 in .380 ACP is a particularly interesting variant) to hunting very large animals via the various models and configurations of the .357, .44 and .454 Raging Hunter revolvers.

When it comes to semi-autos, the two hottest Taurus commodities right now are the all-new G3c Compact 9mm and the TX22 .22 LR. The TX22 was the recipient of the prestigious 2019 Guns and Ammo Handgun of the Year Award. The G3c Compact is the compact version of the full-sized G3, enhanced for concealed carry.

In December 2019, after four decades of being located in Miami, Florida, Taurus moved its United States facility to Bainbridge, Georgia, where it also opened a 200,000-square-foot state-of-the-art manufacturing center and corporate headquarters. Continue to expect great things from Taurus.

One of the many excellent features of the G3c Compact is the use of a Tenifer-coated slide. Tenifer was the vaunted finish for Glock pistols through most of its history. It is likely the most rust-resistant finish that could be applied to the steel surfaces of firearms. Changes in manufacturing caused Glock to stop using Tenifer a few years back, but, fortunately, Taurus is able to use Tenifer — and now has one of the most rust-resistant slides available on the market.

The Taurus TX22 is a .22 LR semi-automatic sporting/self-defense pistol. It is not configured as a traditional target .22 but rather was clearly designed with self-defense in mind (as evidenced by its rail for mounting lights and laser-sighting systems). And equipped with a 10- or 16-round magazine, it is clearly up to the task.

One other .22 of interest is the Taurus PT22 Poly Pistol, a small polymer-frame pocket pistol chambered in .22 LR. It is Taurus’ take on an original Beretta design, with a polymer frame and stainless steel construction. Its tip-up barrel design makes loading and unloading the chamber a snap because it eliminates the need to rack the slide to accomplish those tasks. It is a “carry all day and out of sight” gun.

The Road Ahead for Taurus Handguns

While the 2021 SHOT Show was canceled, it doesn’t stop new products from being introduced, and Taurus will surely be one of those companies with new wares to display. It will be exciting to see the high-quality, affordable products Taurus has in store for the shooting public.

After 80 years since it was first established, Taurus has come a long way — from its humble beginning as a small tool manufacturer in Porto Alegre, Brazil, to one of the three largest small arms manufacturers in the world.

Sources

Rossi USA: RossiUSA.com
Taurus USA: TaurusUSA.com


A Versatile Company

Taurus is now the only major handgun manufacturer that does not produce rifles under its primary banner — specifically AR-15s, although it certainly could. By focusing on handguns only, the firearms manufacturer is able to adapt adroitly to changing market conditions and is able to innovate. — Scott W. Wagner