Taurus PT-1911 Beginner Gun Review

Taurus-pt-1911

For some reason, I’ve had this deeply held belief that a 1911 shouldn’t be a noob’s first gun.

It’s an expensive, complex gun with a large and powerful caliber round that spits forth from it.  While I’ve shot 1911s on many occasions, I’ve yet to put one through the tests.

Granted, this is partially because I haven’t been able to get my hands on one long enough to actually run my gauntlet.  For some odd reason, people don’t like the idea of me conducting my “limp wrist test” on their $1500 Dan Wesson Custom.  Can’t say I blame them, mind you, I cringe a bit when I do it to my own guns.

That’s the other problem with 1911s: most people aren’t going to drop more than $600 on their first pistol and, for the most part, a solid 1911 falls in the $800+ range.  There are a couple of exceptions, however.

Budget 1911’s

If you want just a bare bones 1911, Rock Island Armory has a good selection in the sub $500 range.  These are, however, truly bare bones.

Chiappa also makes 1911s in that range but, again, they’re pretty bare bones and I’m not familiar enough with their quality to say any more on them.

What if you want all the bells and whistles though?

I’m talking checkering on the backstrap, frontstrap and bottom of the trigger guard and a lowered and flared ejection port.  I’m talking ambidextrous safety, skeletonized trigger and hammer and front slide serrations!  In most cases, you better be ready to shell out some major cash….or should you?

Enter Taurus…

Taurus is known for making inexpensive guns.

With the management and procedural changes recently, they’re really earning the “good and inexpensive guns” title.

Let’s face it, the 1911 pistol has one heck of a rabid following.  Fans of the model are very particular and they won’t put up with shortcomings in any way, shape or form.

For a company… heck for any company to put out a 1911, well, it’s really sticking their neck out that’s for sure.  They had better be 100% confident in what they’re putting out lest the 1911 fanboys descend upon the factory with torches and pitchforks.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should inform you that the PT-1911 was a T&E gun sent to me from Taurus.  I assure you, however, that this has no bearing on my final judgement.  I’ve never had a problem calling a baby ugly…which is a good reason why some of my friends with kids don’t talk to me anymore.

Taurus PT 1911
Taurus PT 1911

So what is it about this pistol that gets people so obsessed about them?

I won’t go too far into their history but this is a gun that was designed over 100 years ago and has remained in service for that entire time.  Some parts of the US Military are still issuing it and other are still adopting it over more modern firearms.  The most interesting part, to me at least, is the fact that this gun has remained relatively unchanged to this day.

Sure, they’ve added the checkering and skeletonizing but those are arguably cosmetic.  The core functionality, however, is just the same as John Browning created long ago.  It’s a testament to his engineering genius, really.

The big question is: how did Taurus do?

For starters, they didn’t use their normal casting method to make this gun.  It’s hammer forged and machined to very exact specifications.  They also have pistolsmiths match everything and tune it.

A 1911 shouldn’t be an forge, stamp and ship type of gun and Taurus is taking their time with each one so we can check that requirement box.

Taurus-pt-1911-slide-open

Secondly, the thing people love most about 1911s is that super sweet single-action only trigger.  It needs to be short, smooth and super crisp.  The Taurus trigger achieves this as well.  It’s super short and weighs in at about a 5 pound pull.  It feels no different to me than the Kimber’s triggers that I’ve shot before.

Third is accuracy.  A 1911 should be a tack driver.

The general rule of thumb is that a 1911 should be able to shoot 2” groups at 25 yards out of the box.

Another bit of full disclosure: I can’t personally shoot 2” groups at 25 yards with any of my pistols.  I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m just not there yet.

What I can speak on is that it performed just as well as any of my other guns as far as putting rounds on target and, my friend who works at my local range owns one and he can hit those 2” groups with ease using his PT1911.  There is a benefit to having free access to a gun range any time you want, I guess.  Either way, the accuracy seems to be there.  This gun is definitely far more accurate than I am.

This is a pretty heavy gun also.  Weighing it at just over 2 pounds (unloaded), this completely stainless steel gun absorbs recoil very well and softens the pop of that beefy .45 ACP round.

Ok, so it’s a good gun.  Heck, it’s a great dang gun and a bargain at that.  As I’ve said many times in previous reviews, “This isn’t about how good a gun is”.  In this particular case, we’re putting my ultimate rule to the test: Is a 1911 a good first gun?

Ease to Breakdown

Use the included bushing wrench to twist the barrel bushing counter clockwise.  Hold you hand over the end to keep from launching the spring across the room.  Remove the spring then twist the bushing in the other direction and remove.  Pull the slide back until the takedown notch lines up with the slide release lever then remove the lever.  Remove the slide and then pull out the full length guide rod and then the barrel.

To reassemble, do everything in reverse and make sure the linkage on the barrel is lined up with the hole when you reinsert the slide release lever.

It’s not exactly an easy process and the full length guide rod makes it a little more difficult as it requires the bushing wrench although you can take it apart without the wrench in a pinch. 3.5 out of 5

35

Maintenance

I love those Winchester 100 round packs.

They’re great for testing because they’re cheap and, best of all, dirty as heck.  There isn’t a part of the gun that won’t be covered in carbon after 100 rounds.  It makes it very easy to get a handle on how it is to clean a gun.

In this case, there’s some gotchas.  There are a few areas where I really had to work hard to scrub after a day at the range.  Especially in the slide area.  There are grooves where it traps the barrel and boy those were a pain to scrub. 3.5 out of 5

35

Reliability

Until the Glocks came along, the 1911 was the pistol that showed a semi-auto can be as reliable as a revolver.

Even today, this 100 year old design goes toe to toe with Glocks.  There is an old belief that 1911s will only work with ball ammo and to avoid putting hollow points through them.  That may be the case with some models but I tried various personal defense ammo in this gun and it ate them all happily.  The polished ramps and chamber seems to do a lot to help that aspect. 5 out of 5

5 out of 5 Dunce Hats

Safety

In most 1911s, you have a manual safety and a grip safety.

Taurus went the extra mile with the ambidextrous safety as well as their “Taurus Security System”.  There is a small notch on the hammer that, when you use one of Taurus’ special keys, completely disables the gun.  You can’t rack the slide, can’t pull the trigger and you can’t pull the hammer back.  It’s also got a half-cock block (I can’t type that without giggling) that stops the hammer half way in case your finger slips off which cocking it.

I’ve always considered 1911s to be rather safe but adding these extra little tidbits bumps it up to a 4.5 out of 5.

45

Poor Technique

I tried so hard to get this gun to malfunction.  I was shooting it in ways that would simulate the absolute worst limp wristing a person could do and this thing just kept shooting.  The long sight radius makes it easy to keep on target and the legendary reliability of the 1911 takes care of the rest.

This is a very forgiving gun.  5 out of 5.

35

Starter Kit

Taurus-pt-1911_in_case

Historically, my biggest criticism of Taurus guns has been the sparse nature of their kits.  I understand you have to save money somewhere in order to keep the price down but still.

Maybe it’s because of the caliber of gun they’re shipping here but they really improved in this department.  Beyond the gun, you get a very nice hardshell case instead of their normal cardboard box.  You also get the bushing wrench and allen wrench for adjusting the sights as well as a cleaning brush.

One thing, however, almost gave me a heartattack when I opened the case: you get two magazines!  That’s unheard of for Taurus pistols (at least the ones I’ve tested/owned)!  Heck, my research has found that it’s pretty rare for 1911s in general to come with 2 magazines.

It may not be the most extensive kit but, compared to other 1911s, it’s got a good setup.  4 out of 5

44

Accessories/Upgrades

I may have mentioned it once or twice (or 20 times) in this article but the 1911 has been around for over 100 years.

Let’s just say that people have made one or two accessories for it.  You can replace just about anything on a 1911 however (and notice I made that bold and italic) very rarely are they actually “drop in parts”.  Even though every 1911 is based off the original Browning design, every company has made their own little tweaks.

For the most part, sights and grips can be traded easily.  This Taurus, however, will require some tweaking for many things.  For example: the ambidextrous safety and enlarged magazine release button (and other controls) means you’ll have to stick with grips made specifically for the PT1911 lest ye need to break out the Dremel tool.

Also, because of Taurus’ TSS key on the hammer, if you’re going to replace any part of the trigger system it will have to be a gutting of the entire trigger, not just one or two parts and that will require a gunsmith.  Other than that, the sky’s the limit and you can go crazy making this your 1911.

Check out our Ultimate 1911 Upgrades.  5 out of 5

5 out of 5 Dunce Hats

Final Word

Well, I’m not too big to admit I was wrong.  You hear that Mrs. Noob?!

I’m admitting I’m wrong about something.

I get the feeling she’s going to print this section out and frame it.  So yeah, I’ll no longer being saying that a 1911 is a bad choice for a first gun.

My opinion now will be “The 1911 makes for a great first gun IF you feel like you can handle the .45 caliber round”.  If you do so choose to make a 1911 your first gun, you certainly can’t go wrong with the Taurus PT-1911.  As I said, this was a T&E gun.  Instead of sending the gun back, however, I’ll be sending them a check.  This gun has earned its place in my collection.

Averaging out the scores, the Taurus PT-1911 gets a 4.5 out of 5

45 

Already got a 1911…check out our Best .45 ACP Ammo and 1911 Upgrades articles.

Previous Comments:

Posted @ 12/9/2013 5:41 PM by Regular Guy

Regular Guy's avatar

Love mine!

Had a little trouble with feeding at first; I’d get an FTF every 4th or 5th mag. Sent it off to Taurus and 5 weeks later (at no charge) got it back fixed up, slicked up and polished. Thousands of trouble free rounds have followed.

Posted @ 12/17/2013 10:06 AM by BlockHead

BlockHead's avatar

I got a Ruger SR1911 for my first gun, and I absolutely love it.

Posted @ 12/18/2013 9:00 PM by Pvt Cowboy

Pvt Cowboy's avatar

I have an 809C in 9mm from Taurus. The kit was pretty much the same as that. Maybe I’ll stick with Taurus and get that 1911 from them.

Posted @ 1/15/2014 12:14 AM by dbkfrog

dbkfrog's avatar

My first and only pistol is a Taurus PT809. I love it. Had a few FTE early on mainly due to poor cleaning on my part. Since then I’ve have had no problems. For my next gun I need to decide on which 1911 I want to get, the Taurus or the PARA Expert.

Posted @ 3/1/2014 3:52 PM by Len

Len's avatar

I recently purchased a Taurus PT 1911 SS for $609.00. I picked it up from my dealer and headed out to test it. I didn’t clean the gun before firing; not even the factory cosmoline. The barrel was unobstructed and that’s all I checked.

I had a full 600 + rounds with me and 8 magazines. I fired those 600 + rounds without any failures of any kind at all within about an hour. Yes, the gun got hot and smoked a little but it kept running perfectly.

No, I’m not recommending that everyone try this but as a retired LEO, I want to know my guns will run, PERIOD!

I have other .45 autos I could use; a Gold plated Colt Government as a retirement gift, a Series 80, and a full custom Kimber. The Taurus will ride with me as a second gun to the old Colt.

Yes, I trust my Taurus PT 1911 SS that much.

Posted @ 1/31/2015 4:09 PM by SSGJ

SSGJ's avatar

I’ve had my PT1911 for about two years now. In that time, I have had very few problems with it. The problems that I have had are magazine related; rounds sticking or not feeding properly. That was an easy fix with a couple of ProMag 8 round magazines.

Using the ProMag’s, I have had no problems. The gun is heavy, but that is great for taking up some of the recoil. If functions smoothly every single time and is a favorite of mine, and my family. And it will eat whatever I decide to feed it.

The only other addition that I put on this was a set of Pachmayr American Legend wrap-around grips. This made the pistol so much more comfortable and easier to aim with.

In all, for my first 1911, I’m glad I went with a Taurus. It is a smooth operator with a budget-minded price, and of good quality.

Posted @ 10/14/2015 8:31 PM by Bagpipe Mike

Bagpipe Mike's avatar

Good reviews overall! I bought mine new in 2010. I think I paid $790 at my local gun shop. That’s ok, help the little guy. Got it in stainless for Florida sweat. About 2000 flawless rounds through it. This is my fourth Taurus firearm. Love the quality & price. Haven’t done anything to any of them because nothing was needed! I did put Crimson Traces on TCP & mod 85 snub just to make them easier to shoot better. 1911 is perfect as is. Have shot other 1911s, none any better, fit,finish or function. Warranty, if needed, is best in bus. Life of firearm, even if purchased used. Can’t beat it. Saved so much, got three holster rigs for it. Inside, outside & shoulder rig! Peace.

Leave a Reply

4 Comments on "Taurus PT-1911 Beginner Gun Review"

Notify of
avatar
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Bill G.
Guest

I had a PT1911 perhaps 3 years ago and sold. No issues what so ever and considering buying another. Just wondering if the poster was using something other than brass cased ammo and how was the gun cleaned? MIM parts have been used forever and its also possible that Taurus had a run of bad parts.

James Reynolds
Guest
Well, I bought the Taurus PT 1911 as my first pistol and let me tell you, you certainly CAN go wrong purchasing a Taurus. I broke 2 ejectors in the first 300 rounds only to google it and find out I wasn’t alone. Their cheap MIM parts break and you can’t use after-market ejectors on a Taurus because of how they designed it. It must be sent back to the factory every time so they can put on more cheap MIM parts. A pistol that you can’t trust to work is not worth having for anyone. When a company has… Read more »
Eric Hung
Admin

Thanks for that insight! Unfortunate but it’s good to hear from actual users and their experiences.

SSGJ
Guest
I've had my PT1911 for about two years now. In that time, I have had very few problems with it. The problems that I have had are magazine related; rounds sticking or not feeding properly. That was an easy fix with a couple of ProMag 8 round magazines. <br /> <br />Using the ProMag's, I have had no problems. The gun is heavy, but that is great for taking up some of the recoil. If functions smoothly every single time and is a favorite of mine, and my family. And it will eat whatever I decide to feed it. <br… Read more »