For many years the standard concealed carry handgun was some type of .32 automatic or a small revolver. The Chief’s Special .38 Special brought greater power to small handguns and later the polymer frame compact 9mm did even more to allow Americans to be well armed without a heavy tug on the belt. The Kel Tec PF 9 brought affordable protection to many homeowners. The Smith and Wesson Shield did much the same while the Glock 43 was a sensation when introduced- and a model of reliability. The market for small 9mm handguns is a lucrative one and a crowded market as well. The major makers fight it out based on performance but also on value. The price point is important. All of us have bills and obligations and savings is important.
An important trend is the development of quality compact 9mm handguns. The Shield is perhaps the most popular, the Glock 43 another good pistol. SIG upped the ante with their small but high capacity SIG P365. Other makers followed suit. The Springfield Hellcat is a contender, and now we also have the Shield Plus and Ruger Max 9. The most affordable of the new breed of slim high capacity 9mm pistols is the Taurus GX4.
The GX4 is interesting on the basis of size and function. Taurus isn’t breaking new ground on the technical side but what they have put together is very interesting. The whole package seems ideal for concealed carry. I consider the Glock 19 9mm size pistol practically ideal for concealed carry but many, perhaps most shooters, want something more compact. Sales bear me out in this observation. The Taurus GX4 is an ideal size based on my research. The rub is small guns are sometimes difficult to shoot well. This has been addressed by good design in the Taurus grip frame, recoil system, trigger action and sights. The pistol isn’t really similar to the Taurus G2 or G3. The steel slide is nitride coated. The slide is just under an inch wide. The slide features forward and rear cocking serrations. I use the rear serrations to rack the slide and the forward serrations for a press check. The front of the slide is scalloped to allow ease in holstering. The sights are low profile snag free but allow a good sight picture. The front sight features a small dot in the center. The sight dovetail and front attachment are the same as Glock sights. This makes sense as there are many examples of Glock aftermarket sights available. The barrel is a few tenths of an inch over three inches. Of interest is the spring within a spring recoil spring assembly. This takes the bite out of 9mm Luger ammunition. There is recoil and the shooter must use good control techniques but the springs do their part in controlling recoil as well. Internally the pistols action is housed in a stainless steel chassis in the modern fashion. The slide to frame interface exhibited no slop or lateral play.
The polymer grip frame is nicely stippled. The result is a good balance of abrasion and adhesion. The trigger is a modern flat face type with a safety lever inset. The trigger is a single action design. Trigger compression is even and crisp after take-up and breaks at 6.7 pounds. The trigger is among the best features of the pistol. The magazine release and slide lock are positive in operation. The pistol is supplied with two 11 round magazines. The magazines offer one more round than most of the small high capacity pistols. Taurus doesn’t ship with an extended magazine. The flush fit magazines seem the best choice if you are concerned with maximum concealment. The magazines are not difficult to load and seem to have good spring tension. The Taurus GX4 is supplied with a single extra grip insert. I did not use it during the test.
Take down is quite simple. Be certain to clear the magazine and chamber, and then release the striker by pressing the trigger. Rotate a screw on the right side of the frame and slide the slide assembly off the frame. The recoil spring assembly is lifted out and the barrel is angled out of the slide. When you replace assembly on the frame the screw snaps back in place. As simple and easy to use system, this new type of break down works well in such a compact handgun.
I took the pistol to the range with standard pressure ammunition in a number of variations. A note on the short barrel 9mm- compared to the Glock 19 or Beretta APX on hand on average the pistol will exhibit about 75 to 100 fps less velocity normal for a three inch barrel 9mm. +P loads are counterproductive. Recoil will be sharp. Velocity really isn’t that great with a +P load in a short barrel. The pistol will not suffer a cracked frame or blown barrel with +P loads but the small parts take a beating. I used the Black Hills Ammunition 115 grain FMJ for most of my range work. I also fired a quantity of the Black Hills Ammunition 115 grain EXP. This is a loading designed for maximum velocity without resorting to +P pressure. Powder burn is clean and accuracy as good as it gets in any 9mm ammunition. The pistol feels good in the hand, comes on target quickly, and fires to the point of aim. It wasn’t a chore to draw from a Crossbreed holster and simply eat out the X ring at 7 yards. I fired at multiple targets and the steel gong at 5 to 10 yards with good results. Firing from the MTM shooting rest in an effort to gauge absolute accuracy I fired two five shot groups at 15 yards. The pistol stayed in three inches by a hair’s breadth, quite a feat for such a small handgun. Of course this is a stunt with little in common with personal defense shooting. It shows I understand the technical aspects of shooting and the pistol is accurate enough for most chores. The dynamics of shooting will save your life.
I like the Taurus GX4. I think that with an MSRP well below four hundred dollars- and on the shelf prices likely even lower- this is a winner on all counts.
Action: Striker Fired, Locked-Breech Semi-Auto, single action trigger
Caliber: 9 mm
Length: 6 in.
Width: 1 inch
Weight: 18.5 oz.
Barrel: 3.06 in.
Capacity: 11 round magazine, two supplied