Title Photo: A Taurus GX4XL with a mounted Holosun EPS Carry MRS on a nightstand next to a full size Glock 22 and corresponding .40 caliber magazine for perspective on a hotel nightstand.

I hate little guns, I really do. I am talking about the extremely popular category of slimmer polymer frame striker fired pistols that are all of the rage right now.

Why do I hate them? Because they’re smaller and harder to shoot. Frankly, you have to treat them differently to shoot them well. I don’t think they will ever be as exciting as full-size high performance blasters. But let’s be honest, these guns are currently popular for a variety of very good reasons, especially being optimized for carry. We should definitely not take this crop of modern slimline striker guns for granted. These days, many of them can hold between 10-15 rounds of 9mm Luger depending on the size [of the gun], the model or magazine extensions used. It wasn’t even that long ago that guns of this size and form factor at most held 6 rounds–maybe 8 if you were lucky. And before that, the previous wave of compacts optimized for every day carry, your other options were snubbies or sub-caliber autos. 

But as Bill Blowers kept reiterating over and over when I trained with him a few months ago, everything is a trade-off. In the case of these “slimline” nines, obviously they are designed for portability and concealment. Their trade off is the convenience of carry for something harder and snappier to shoot well. As someone who typically carries duty sized pistols, it’s hard to deny the ease and convenience of rolling out with a smaller and lighter gun, though. 


Recently, I reviewed the Taurus GX4XL and given my bias against “little guns” I was on my best behavior to keep an open mind after I took possession of the pistol. Fortunately I was able to get in touch with my friends at Big Tex Ordnance who very graciously let me borrow a Holosun EPS Carry electronic sight for use in my review of this slimline Taurus. Currently I have fired less than 200 rounds, but on the flip side, the gun has cycled everything I feed it without issues. The more I shoot it, the better it feels too, like a gentle break-in. I am not in love with the trigger, but the way it broke at round #165 was certainly better than how it felt at round #23.

Initially, I did not fire a single round until after I had mounted the EPS Carry and  let the blue loctite cure. And that’s where I had my epiphany: sure, I typically dislike such guns because they have smaller grips along with harsher and snappier recoil, but you know what….? Having a mounted dot makes up for a lot. I wouldn’t call myself a dot fanatic, but I have been deeply immersing myself in dot shooting since the spring–for the sake of my writing and expanding my knowledge at least. At this point, if I have to deal with a small pocket rocket, I definitely want an enclosed emitted dot as an option. If I must give up performance, I want to “break even” at least, with the mounted dot (by getting something back in my favor). The first time I shot this Taurus, I was roughly standing at 10 yards, and I was shooting a standard USPSA target. I took a few shots and adjusted the EPS Carry until I was dead on at 10 yards. I kept shooting at the smaller A-zone in the head area until I was satisfied with my groups. Since the EPS Carry variant mounted to the gun was the multi-reticle option, I opted for the 32 MOA circle with the smaller 2 MOA dot in the middle. Hitting that A-zone was surprisingly easy.

On a different occasion, I decided to take the Taurus GX4XL to the 25 yard line and put 20 rounds through an NRA B-8 target. I wasn’t shooting for score per se, I merely wanted to see what I could do with the pistol at this distance. I want to point out that the particular Taurus I was shooting really seemed to favor 115 grain rounds, so I used the last 20 rounds of my Federal 115 grain 9mm Syntech ammo that I had on hand. As you can see in the picture, I was able to get mostly solid hits, and that was my first time shooting it at this distance. I did better than I expected, even with those flyers and in spite of the fact that the gun’s grip is small enough that tI can only fit two fingers on the front strap. Obviously, I had to be careful with the trigger too lest I dropped shots. I doubt that I would have been able to print a B-8 like that without the EPS Carry.


With the standard iron sights found on either the Taurus GX4XL or the regular GX4, you get a very short sight radius and lose a good amount of precision. Sure, at bad breath distances it’s no big deal. Due to the way dots work, having one means that sight radius is irrelevant. Their feedback is super valuable too. You can see how the gun naturally moves when you extend it and point it at a target downrange. The Taurus GX4XL’s trigger out of the box isn’t honestly anything special, and if you don’t grip the gun correctly you can make the gun dip when you break the sights and drop shots. Having the dot allowed me to immediately pick up on this so I could change the way I was shooting the pistol accordingly. 

Ultimately, I think we all understand the compromise of having to carry something smaller that’s harder to shoot because it’s easier to conceal and easier to deal with. So if you can, why not add a dot and cheat?

P.E. Fitch
I am a shooter first, and a writer second. IG & Twitter: @pfitch45