Taurus continues producing a true pocket pistol with its Model 25PLY chambered in .25 ACP. Thoughtfully, Taurus also chambers this gun in .22 LR, as the Model 22PLY, which can be used as a primary gun or as an inexpensive means of practice when using the 25PLY.
As to the origin of this pistol’s design, one strong candidate for this honor goes to the 1913-1914 French-made Le Francais .25 ACP pistol produced by MANUFRANCE (Manufacture Francaise d’Armes et Cycles de St. Etienne, France). The design was based on ideas furnished by M. Mimard, founder and president of the firm at that time. The designers came from the firm’s Service Etudes (Research Department).
In construct, the 25PLY uses metal for all but its polymer grip and magazine baseplate. The pistol is blowback operated and double-action-only. A spurless, flush-fit-to-the-slide hammer is used. Safeties include a manual thumb safety and a magazine disconnector. This latter safety freezes the trigger and slide such that the slide cannot be retracted nor the trigger pulled.
The 2.25-inch barrel pivots on a crosspin in the dust cover. The spring-driven barrel then releases by moving forward the grooved and domed lever, which is above the ample triggerguard.
The trigger is curved and smooth-faced and has a trigger pull weight of 12 pounds. The manual, left-side-only thumb safety is at the top rear of the frame with a red-colored dot exposed when the safety is off and angled down, moving with a positive and audible “snick” in either direction. The magazine catch is in its familiar place on the frame at the bottom rear of the triggerguard and is not reversible.
The 25PLY does not have a firing pin “drop” safety and the Taurus instruction manual specifically speaks to the possibility the gun might fire if dropped as follows: “…if dropped from a height at which the pistol is normally used, the manual safety provides strong resistance against accidental firing caused by such impact. BUT THE MANUAL SAFETY MUST BE ‘ON’ TO FULFILL ITS FUNCTION…”(emphasis in the original).
The slide has reverse fish-scale scalloping on about half of its length and extends only to the rear of the barrel. Its forward vertical edges taper inward, blending into an upright portion of the forward end of the dust cover. The square-notch pyramid in the profile rear sight is part of the slide.
The front sight has a centered vertical cut in its face, which attracts the eye. This cut can be filled with an eye-catching substance, further assisting in verifying muzzle if not the sight’s direction.
The 25PLY does not have a stand-alone recoil spring, as the hammer spring is used. The strength of this spring on the spurless hammer then controls and determines the slide’s velocity in its operation. No extractor is used, so manual extraction of a live round or a fired case which did not eject depends on either elevating the muzzle so that gravity or shaking of the elevated barrel will allow the round to drop out or plucking it out with a fingernail or other like object. In the firing sequence, the recoil force of the fired cartridge forces the case back against the slide and the two move rearward until the base of the case is struck by the left-side frame-mounted ejector, which then kicks the case out of the path of the now-forward-moving slide. The case can also be bumped out if it comes in contact with the top live round in the magazine. During my testing, ejection was totally reliable, with empty cases going to the shooter’s right and rear.
A one-piece wrap-around polymer grip secures to the frame at its bottom rear with one screw. The grip surface is very lightly pebbled in the gripping area and there are matching horizontal finger depressions in the upper sides of the grip. They are effective as thumb rests or a means to allow a shorter finger to more easily reach the trigger. The backstrap curves so that the web of one’s grasping hand is directed up against the small, rounded beavertail on the frame. All in all, the grip is hand-filling but still allows for a wide range of finger lengths and hand sizes to grasp the pistol well.
The Taurus Security System is in the grip, with its key lock in the lower rear of the backstrap. When the lock is placed “on safe” using one of two supplied keys, the body of the lock protrudes from the grip surface to provide a tactile indicator of the gun’s status by simply gripping the gun.
The nine-round magazine has a metal body and with eight inspection holes. The polymer baseplate is removable.
The 25PLY has a magazine disconnector and, per the Taurus instruction manual, “The pistol can be fired and the slide pulled to the rear only when the magazine is inserted…” This presents a problem for anyone who learned that to properly clear a semi-automatic handgun, the first thing you do is remove the magazine. Then retract the slide and inspect the barrel chamber and the magazine well. As noted above, with the now-immobile slide, this sequence cannot be followed.
A user could remove, inspect and then re-insert a verified-empty magazine to allow slide manipulation, but this is a recipe for disaster and violates the long-standing and well-proven safety rule of not having any magazine in the pistol when attempting to inspect or disassemble it. What is necessary is changing your gun clearing protocols for this design.
When the gun is picked up, the first action must be to insure the manual safety is on, then release the barrel so that its chamber can be viewed and felt to insure the chamber is empty. Next, remove the magazine and look up into the magazine well. Now if you want to retract the slide to further inspect the magazine well to doubly verify there is no round wedged in it, you can only partially insert the verified-empty magazine and release the manual safety, after which you can withdraw and release the slide. The slide does not lock open, nor is there any means of doing this.
If or when you want to clean the pistol, you are but only one more step away from its disassembly, which requires removing the slide. To do this, tilt the barrel further forward to allow room for the slide to completely separate from the frame when you pull forward on it. The slide is affixed and held to the frame by the combination of two rear, frame-mounted locking lugs being captured by the slide, along with the forward pressure of the hammer on the slide. To reassemble, reverse the slide removal sequence; but when doing so, use the slide to slightly push the hammer rearward.
I also suggest the following sequence to load this pistol, noting that at no time is it necessary for any portion of either of your hands to be in front of the gun muzzle. Begin with the manual safety applied. If you wish to have the chamber loaded, then release the barrel. Insert a cartridge and, keeping your fingers to the rear of the muzzle and with the gun in your shooting hand with your finger out of the triggerguard, push the barrel back down until it locks. Next, insert the loaded magazine. Again, if done correctly, at no time would any portion of either hand be in front of the muzzle and the pistol would remain unable to fire. The manual safety need not be disengaged unless you want to fire or manipulate the slide. I found I easily became habituated after an hour-plus of range time with the pistol.
While at the range, I began optimistically with the Warren IDPA reduced-training silhouette at 15 yards and shot for function and group, seated, using my gun bag as a rest. After jerking a few shots as I adjusted to the 12-pound trigger pull in a 10.8-ounce pistol, subsequent five-shot groups ran from 4 to 5 inches, with the group size only affected by how well or not I managed the trigger. My friend AJ Stuart also shot for groups at the same distance and equaled or bettered my groups, but did so standing, using two hands.
We moved to 7 yards and repeated group shooting, but quit after a few nine-round strings, for at this distance the shots piled on one another, varying only by how well or not we pulled the trigger and how fast we shot. (As an aside, we also did the same drills with the 22PLY in .22 LR and pretty much shot 15-yard fist-sized groups and at 7 yards made ragged one-hole groups.) We also did some “poke and hope,” firing as fast as was reasonable, along with some “two-to-the-body-and-one-to-the-head” drills at 7 yards. Bullets struck where we wanted when we did our part.
There was one malfunction with the 25PLY – a failure to chamber – using a partial box of very old (as the still-applied price tag read $8.95), verdigris-wearing Winchester 50-grain ammunition. The gun handles well and, as my other associate Bill Beradelli commented, the gun felt substantial in his hand.
Of course, any review of a .25 ACP-chambered pistol must have some discussion as to why this caliber should or should not be chosen for self-defense. I offer the following. The very small, lightweight handgun has been in use since such arms were first created and continues to fill the needs of those who choose them. A handgun, regardless of caliber, provides its user a sense of comfort that he or she may be able to deter, withstand or overcome a threat. For the frail, the weak and the infirm, there is no other defensive tool, which provides such comfort.
The small-in-caliber-and-size handgun does not even start to approach any of what are considered to be those handguns generally acceptable for self-defense, of course. For consideration, however, is that the .25 ACP caliber was created to provide the smallest yet reliable cartridge, which would – to a reasonable certainty – insure that an extremely small semi-automatic pistol would reliably function. Optimal requirements were that the round had to be centerfire and have a jacketed round-nose bullet, as that combination was found to cause the least malfunctions. The .25 ACP cartridge was designed by John M. Browning and FN in 1905 specifically for a pocket of Browning’s design. Now, after over 100 years and literally millions of similarly-designed-and-chambered pistols manufactured, both cartridge and pistol design have been well validated.
As to the effectiveness of the .25 ACP, I think that quite often this question and any answer is only a second or third consideration, with comfort of carry, ease of operation and cost preceding them. The .25 ACP is not a cartridge, which inspires confidence in wounding or “stopping” ability, but if you want or need the smallest, lightest semi-auto for whatever reason, you choose the .25 ACP. I have had to make this choice numerous times and was quite glad to have such a pistol on more than one occasion. The Taurus 25PLY is well made, reliable, concealable and affordable…which seems to cover all the bases.
Also worth noting is this from the Taurus USA website: “…The Taurus Unlimited Lifetime Repair Policy is for the life of the gun…not the buyer. The full terms are we will repair your Taurus firearm FREE OF CHARGE for the lifetime of the firearm.” Now, you can’t beat that! Find out more by calling 305-624-1115 or visit taurususa.com.