Review: Taurus PT1911

The author with his new PT1911

The author with his new PT1911

Dear Taurus International Manufacturing, Inc.:  I sincerely hope you’re reading this and take measures to address what I’m about to tell you.

I’ve wanted a 1911 for longer than I can recall. I’ve owned a Glock 36 for many years, but don’t really like Glocks.  I have small hands and pudgy sausage fingers, and Glocks feel like a big bar of soap to me.  I also don’t like how they sass back when I pull the trigger.  I do love that they just work every time.  I just don’t find them pleasurable to shoot.

Last Wednesday (Oct 27, 2010), I purchased my very first 1911 pistol, a Taurus model PT1911B in .45 ACP (what else is there?). The pistol looks and feels amazing.  The price is incredible (I got mine for less than $600 NIB).  With a new set of cherry grips, I think this thing will look beautiful.  The pistol looks and feels almost as nice as any Kimber I’ve felt, and at half the price.  But I digress.

Today, a mere four days and literally a single handful of .45 ACP later, I took the pistol back to the store to have the dealer ship it to Taurus for repairs.  Four days.

In all honesty, I shouldn’t say “four days,” because it was really more like 4 shots, as I didn’t get to the range until this morning.  Saying “four days” actually makes it sound like the pistol lasted longer than it really did.

The range master and the dealer both took a look at it.  Both seemed to agree:  “the extractor looks like it’s been sheered off.”

This was pretty much the norm all day.

This was pretty much the norm all day.

Let me repeat that:  The extractor (a pretty damned important piece of equipment in any autoloader) was gone.  Torn off.

For the uninitiated, an extractor is basically a claw that is supposed to hook a spent cartridge, pull it out, and extract (hence, the name) it from the weapon.  In a nutshell, the extractor is responsible for removing the old casing and ejecting it from the weapon so that the next round can be seated properly.

I have never experienced an extractor being damaged, let alone torn off, in over 20 years of experience with handguns.  Not once.

Note the marks on this bullet left by the previous, unextracted cartridge having jammed up against it.

Note the marks on this bullet left by the previous, unextracted cartridge having jammed up against it.

Before buying the PT1911, I did a lot of research.  I read forums.  I looked at reviews.  There were very few negative reviews, all of which boiled down to the stock magazines being less-than-awesome.  The reviewers all claimed that as soon as they had switched magazines (say, to a nice Wilson), the pistol operated flawlessly.  Some suggested the springs were too strong.  Some suggested filing a little from the lip of the magazine to aid in feeding.

None that I found experienced anything like this.  While a mechanical failure in a brand new pistol is not likely (maybe 1 in 1,000), it can (and obviously does) happen.  Basically, I am now left with a 1911-shaped Colonial pistol that can only handle one shot at a time and requires me to manually lock the slide back, remove the magazine, and clear the weapon between every shot.

Actually, scratch that.  I’m really left with nothing.  The pistol will be making its way back to Taurus on Monday.  Taurus has an “Unlimited Lifetime Repair Policy™,” so at least I shouldn’t have to pay for them to repair my brand new pistol.  I’ve seen claims that repairs should be turned around within 2 weeks.  But I’ve also seem people say that they were without their pistols for months.  I am really hoping this doesn’t happen to me.

To those who are new to pistols (and who live in an enlightened state that allows them to not only own, but actually carry a firearm), let this be a lesson to you.  Never, ever, ever, ever assume a new handgun is actually going to work.   Never rely on a handgun for personal defense that you haven’t personally put at least 200 rounds of ammunition through without a hitch.  Never.  I hope my thoughts on this are unambiguous.

I took a big chance buying a Taurus.  So far, I’m not very happy about that decision.

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  • http://hackerhaus.com hackerhaus

     I can’t see myself ever buying another… maybe a revolver.  Definitely not another 1911.

  • Chrisgunshooter

    I also bought a Brand New Taurus last week. Fired 5 rounds thru it and the extractor broke.

    I sent the gun to the factory to find out it would be a 7 week repair time.

    Not exactly what you want to hear when you buy a new gun.

    Avoid Taurus!

  • http://hackerhaus.com hackerhaus

    What did you decide on?  What has your experience been?

  • http://hackerhaus.com hackerhaus

     That’s already been taken care of.  :-)  But I agree.  Their injection molded extractor didn’t impress me.  I’ve heard of people replacing them with after-market parts and having luck, but I haven’t gone that far.

  • http://hackerhaus.com hackerhaus

     Since getting the extractor replaced, I’ve hat the PT1911 out to the range, and it’s one of my best shooters.  It’s a touch big to carry CCW, but it sure is damn accurate and easy on the hands.

  • http://hackerhaus.com hackerhaus

     That’s why I never trust a gun I haven’t put at least 200 rounds through personally. 

  • Gk Price

    the “one shot at the factory” thing is a bit puzzling to me … I personally would be much happier if I knew a gun I was purchasing NIB had a magazine full put through it !

  • Gk Price

    I have 2 PT 1911′s that I purchased used and both have, so far, operated flawlessly – One is the lightweight 33oz model and I honestly haven’t put more than 50 through it so may not be a fair review BUT it outshoots ANY 1911 I’ve ever fired for accuracy – the other is the basic 38oz model CM black and I shoot it all the time (handloads both) with never so much as a hiccup – I have less than $1000, way less, in BOTH combined too …..

  • D.L.

    Taurus dosn’t test fire any of their pistols before they are shipped, they onlt test them after they come back on waranty if at all, good luck.

  • D.L.

    As a 1911 enthusiast and tool & die machinist all I can tell you is that Taurus/imbel is infamous for their bad metalurgy, castings and heat treating, I have seen 10 times more breakage issues with Taurus than ANY other QUALITY gun manufacturer, I cannot recomend them and have NO respect for any gun mag writter that does, best wishes to you, please consider getting a 1911 from a credible manufacturer.

  • Steve

    Thank you for posting your experience with your Taurus 1911. After reading your very well written review about what happened with your brand new pistol, I think I will look at either the Citadel or Springfield 1911′s.

  • Pingback: Review: Taurus PT1911 (Update) | HackerHaus

  • http://hackerhaus.com hackerhaus

    So, the replacement extractor from Taurus JUST came in and has been replaced by a local gunsmith. The word is that the piece was on back order, which suggests to me that Taurus is experiencing a lot of problems with this particular part of this particular pistol.

    I’ve yet to test it out, but plan to do so in the next few days. I’ll keep you apprised of my findings.

  • http://hackerhaus.com hackerhaus

    Update #2: I called the dealer today, and she said that Taurus had agreed to just send her the needed part and she’d have a local gunsmith do the repair. The only question that remains is whether anyone at the dealer verified what the problem really is before settling. I should have another update next week.

    In the meantime, I’m planning on attending an IDPA event Saturday morning. Sans 1911.

  • http://hackerhaus.com hackerhaus

    I went back to the dealer to follow up with them sending my 1911 to the manufacturer for repairs. While the pistol was supposed to have been sent out on Monday, there it was… still sitting on the shelf 3 days later. The nice lady that runs the place could see that I was upset about this, so she offered to see if Taurus would just send them a new extractor so they (the dealer) could foot the bill for a gunsmith to replace it.

    I have my fingers crossed that this gets taken care of quickly. I miss the feel of a 1911 already.

  • http://hackerhaus.com hackerhaus

    Which models of Taurus have you owned? I’m always on the lookout for good stuff.

  • http://hackerhaus.com hackerhaus

    Thanks for reading and commenting.

    Like I said, I’ve heard LOTS of good stuff about Taurus in general, and about the PT1911 in particular. People are literally fawning all over it. I’m hoping my problem is the 1 in 1,000. Once I get it back, I’ll be heading for the range tout de suite to see how it performs.

    I’m thinking the “one-shot OK” by the manufacturer may not be good enough in many cases. I’ve read a few reviews that describe problems that, I think, could’ve been caught at the factory if they had only put more rounds through the pistols. I recall getting a spent cartridge with my new Glock 36, but not with my PT1911. I’ll check the box again to see if I missed it.

    I looked for a Taurus USA presence on Twitter, but was unable to find one. For now, I’m trusting the system.

  • http://rynoweb.com Chuck Reynolds

    Well first off let me say that I’m sorry you had an issue so soon with your Taurus. All mfg’s, as far as I know, test fire at least one round through and cycle it before it gets shipped – most new pistols I’ve bought include that shell casing and the ‘all systems passed’ tag along with it.

    As far as Taurus – I’ve been happy with mine for years. I have a PT111 9mm that I’ve put well over 1000 rounds through with not a single issue – including having it pretty dirty through testing and once soaked in water, brought up and fired 2 mags through instantly. My only issue is I couldn’t carry it concealed which lead to another different purchase, but that’s not the pistol’s fault. I didn’t get that PT111 brand new – was a purchase through a military contact who had used it for about 300 rounds.

    I like what you said at the end of the post, that nobody should trust a firearm to work right off the bat – though to me this SHOULD be common sense but I am also aware that most people in general don’t have that. Knowing your weapon is a BIG part of gun ownership… everybody thinks it’s just fun to go shoot paper, when in reality I’m testing different mags, ammo, sights, grips, etc etc and shooting switch-hand and goofy footed and from my knee etc etc etc just to get a feel for it in different situations. I shoot with a round jammed in or with a blank just to keep me in the ready state.

    ANYWAYS… hit them up on twitter and see if they reply. etc. I have some guys give me shit for owning a Taurus but everybody loves/hates something different… it’s stupid really which is why I only have a few trusted sources I ask for intel on new weapons… because they get everything and fire everything and beat the shit out of each one to see how it lasts and works afterwards…

    Good luck w/ the repair process… let me know how it goes…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000340026682 Chuck Clark

    I’ve never had any trouble with Taurus products or service over the years. Stuff happens to the best of us…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000340026682 Chuck Clark

    Over the years I’ve never had any trouble with Taurus. You should have a similar experience. Stuff happens to the best of us…