Taurus first began producing firearms in 1941. While it is certainly not the oldest firearms company around, it is certainly one of the best known to American shooters. One big reason for their success is the PT92 pistol, first imported to the U.S. in 1984.
Outwardly, this semi-automatic, recoil-operated, steel-framed pistol, with its 17+1 capacity of 9mm ammo and traditional double-action/single-action (DA/SA) hammer-fired system, very much resembles the modern Beretta M9. While the PT92 pistol is undeniably an offspring of the Beretta, Taurus has made this pistol their own, and it is very different internally.
As the story goes, Beretta sold its Sao Paulo factory with all the machinery and equipment to Taurus in 1980, having concluded a government contract to manufacture firearms for Brazil’s military. Taurus immediately began producing their own pistols, dubbing them the PT92 and PT99 (with adjustable sights). In doing so, Taurus kept what they felt was best about the original design and improved every other aspect of it. The end result is the current Taurus PT92, officially designated the 92B-17.
Like the original pistol, the PT92 keeps the safety securely mounted on the frame of the pistol instead of on the slide. In my opinion, this allows to the operator to more easily engage the safety. The new version also features an ambidextrous and elongated safety, which makes it all the easier to use with a firm click up for safe and down for fire.
The Taurus also features a decocker as part of the safety, so when it is pressed all the way down the hammer safely drops from the full to a half-cocked position and from single- to double-action mode. By retaining and improving the frame-mounted safety, Taurus PT92 can be carried “cocked and locked” if so desired.
This full-sized pistol shares the same racecar look and feel of the Beretta, with its open-top, drop-hammer-forged steel slide. The Taurus PT92 features fixed, steel, three-dot sights with the front sight machined into the slide itself and the rear slide dovetailed into the slide—thus drift-adjustable for windage.
One of the first handguns I ever purchased was the original Taurus PT92. This new version is significantly different and improved, including the larger and wider cocking serrations on the slide, which make slide manipulation a lot easier, especially under inclement conditions or when exposed to dirt or liquids. The open slide covers a 5-inch steel barrel with a 1-in-9.8-inch, right-hand twist rate and six grooves.
There are certainly those who are not fans of polymer pistols, and they will be pleased with the almost complete lack of polymer on this gun and with its weight and feel. In order to try and reduce the weight of this mostly steel pistol, Taurus does uses new ordnance-grade aluminum alloy frame. The frame and slide have been specially designed for added safety and to help prevent any chance of cracking or failure from using overcharged ammunition. However, Taurus specifically cautions against the use of +P or +P+ ammunition.
The frame has a very familiar squared-off triggerguard at the front. This feature is so common that many shooters may think it was always so; however, the original Beretta had a more traditional rounded triggerguard and it was Taurus who first changed this design feature. Another upgrade over the original Taurus PT92 is the addition of a built-in accessory rail on the dust cover, which is large enough to accommodate most tactical lights or light/laser combo units.
The front and back of the frame feature vertical slide serrations, which do a good job of providing a firm hold on the pistol without biting the shooter’s hand with an overly aggressive checkering pattern. The rear of the frame also has a well-contoured beavertail that helps properly align the shooting hand with the trigger and greatly adds to the comfortable feel of the pistol. It also helps prevent hammer bite.
My original Taurus PT92 carried checkered wooden grips with a gold Taurus medallion. The current version carries more practical and durable black rubber grips that give the pistol a more tactical, all-black, all-business demeanor. The grips feature good checkering and carry Taurus’ distinct charging bull logo.
In addition to the frame-mounted safety, The PT92 has a loaded-chamber indicator, which is actually the external extractor itself. With a case in the chamber, the extractor will protrude slightly and has a bright red marking on top. This provides both a visual and sensory indication (in the case of a low-light situation) of a chambered round. There is no magazine disconnect safety, however, and the pistol will fire with a round in the chamber and no magazine.
Taurus has also added another security feature not available on the original PT92—the Taurus Security System. This can be seen as an inconspicuous round tab at the rear of the frame. With the provided special key, the user can lock the action of the pistol so that the slide will not retract, the trigger cannot be depressed, nor can the hammer be cocked. Of course, the pistol should be unloaded with the chamber cleared before placing the pistol in the locked condition.
The Taurus PT92 also features a hammer drop safety in the form of a firing pin block. This bar blocks the firing pin from going forward unless the trigger is fully depressed, preventing the gun from firing from inertia (i.e., being dropped). As the trigger is depressed, a firing pin block lever raises the firing pin block—thus when the hammer strikes the firing pin, it can go fully forward to fire the pistol.
The PT92 also shares its progenitors’ distinct action-locking mechanism, which uses a separate locking block very similar to that found in the World War II-era Walther P38. Most recoil-operated, semi-auto pistols use a block integral with the barrel, which operates by causing the barrel to tip up when the slide moves rearward. With the Taurus PT92, the locking block shifts down to unlock the slide and allow for it to move rearward as the barrel remains parallel to the frame.
Other than the safety, the pistol does not have any ambidextrous controls. The steel magazine release is located right at the back of the triggerguard on the left side of the frame. The original Beretta 92 had the magazine release at the bottom rear of the frame on the left side. The steel slide release is very easy to engage with the thumb for right-handed shooters.
One of my favorite features of Taurus’ 92 series has always been the ease of disassembly and maintenance. Simply remove the pistol’s magazine, lock the slide to the rear, rotate the takedown lever down by depressing the corresponding button on the right side of the frame, and then release the slide to go forward. Make sure you maintain a firm hold, however. Then remove the solid steel guide rod and guide rod spring—with caution, as they are not captive—and then remove the barrel.
At 34 ounces unloaded and with an overall length of 8.5 inches, the PT92 is not going to be mistaken for a pocket pistol. This is a full-sized gun and handles like one. The grip will fill the hand of the average shooter, while those with smaller hands may have some difficulty. The attractive, matte black finish has an almost satin texture, and looking at it closely, the finish is evenly applied to all the metal surfaces, leaving the gun with a durable and protective coating to help prevent corrosion.
The main advantage of a full-sized gun like this one can be felt on the range. With self-defense ammunition, it was extremely comfortable firing the PT92. Using target ammunition, recoil was negligible. Any shooter could comfortably fire the pistol all day and not have to worry about flinching or anticipation. The pistol also functioned flawlessly right out of the box with no cleaning or maintenance and no break-in period required. I fired it over two days using a mix of ammunition, including full metal jacket and hollow-point rounds.
The well-rounded trigger, which has a smooth surface, was very comfortable in both double and single action, with an 11-pound double-action pull and a 5-pound single-action pull. In double action, the pull remains smooth and consistent throughout its travel, and there is no stacking or overtravel. In single action, it works as a two-stage trigger with a slight amount of travel before the sear engages. Then you get a clean and crisp break.
To evaluate the handgun’s accuracy, I tested it from a pistol rest at 25 yards distance using three different kinds of ammunition for three 5-shot groups. Each ammo tested produced tight and consistent shot clusters, with several measuring less than 3 inches while firing in single-action mode.
The Taurus PT92 is eminently well suited for home-defense and it provided a lot of comfortable and fun shooting on the range. Its time-proven design lends itself toward outstanding reliability and good accuracy. Taurus further improved the new version of the PT92 with a 17-round magazine, replacing the old 15-round magazines that were originally issued with the gun. A limited 10-round magazine version is also offered for those states and localities where it is required.
With a variety of options available, including those chambered for .40 S&W instead of 9mm and models made of stainless steel, there is something to satisfy every shooter out there. To further sweeten things, Taurus is also offering a free one-year National Rifle Association membership with every new pistol sold. For more information, visit taurususa.com or call 305-624-1115.