Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Check Out My Brazilian!

Yesterday I picked up a Taurus PT92 AFS (the shiny one) as a training stand-in for the much more expensive Beretta M9. I would have picked up a blued one, but they didn't have one in stock and the price was right anyway.

First off, Taurus builds the PT92 on old Beretta tooling they bought in the early 90s. The biggest difference is that the Taurus's safety is frame-mounted and has three positions: safe, fire, and decock. The Beretta's safety is mounted high on the slide and isn't as handy to use. The Beretta offers a better fit and finish, as I'll explain later, but the Taurus is several hundred dollars cheaper. Yesterday before dark, James and I headed out to give the PT92 AFS a good wringing out. 500 rounds later, I reached a conclusion.

My PT92 AFS came with two 17 round magazines, and that's about it. No plastic case or loading tool or any fancy extras that other makers give you, but again, that is reflected in the price. There are some tool marks on the inside, but not bad. The trigger was shockingly good. The double action pull was slick and nice. The single action pull was light and pretty crisp, which made for some tight groups at the range. From 25 yards, I could make repeated hits on my zombie target's 4" square scoring zone target made from printer paper and a thick sharpie. Accuracy was really quite good. Also, because this is an all steel, large-frame 9mm handgun, there is very little felt recoil. It handles FAST. Not through cleverness or science and math, but simply because they used 44 tons of stainless steel in this gun. It really started to grow on me by the second or third magazine.

But there were hints of Taurus's sordid quality control history. The issue was the magazine release, which hadn't been fully screwed into place. Just like the Beretta mag release button, one side is a nut and the other is threaded. You simply screw it in to lock it down. It had been screwed in, but was left one rotation short of being fully in place. That meant that under recoil, the button would shift downward and prevent the mag from being ejected when the button was pressed. When we got back to civilization, it took about five minutes to fix this, but it shouldn't have been an issue in the first place. On the range, this issue was annoying. On the street, this could have been fatal.

Additionally, Taurus has retrofit its 15 round PT92 mags to hold 17 rounds by changing the follower. And it hasn't really worked. It was hard to get past 15 rounds, and one mag held 17 while the other could only get to 16 before giving up. I'd rather just have 15 round mags that worked a little better. I had two occasions where the slide wasn't held open at the last round, but that could have been an ammo issue too, as I had some REALLY crappy NATO-knockoff stuff that had sleepy primers. I also had one double feed out of the 500 rounds expended. This was a mag problem and not a gun problem, so I'll let that go.

Over all, the PT92 series is a great Beretta knockoff. There are still some hiccups, but they are not huge issues. The mag button was a quick fix, and the mags worked, but I did order some Beretta brand mags from CDNN, and might relegate my factory mags to range use only. Mechanical function was outstanding. The only malfunction in 500 rounds was a double feed, which can't be blamed on the gun. It fired 115-124gr FMJs from three different manufacturers without issue. This gun is accurate and I think it is one of the fastest handling guns I've used. The only gun I can shoot any faster is the M&P9, and it wasn't a lot faster.

If you're okay with spending some cash on Beretta, Mec Gar, or C-Products mags (which are all pretty affordable--say $15-$20 each), then the Taurus is the gun to get. Especially if you're looking for a bargain-priced stock class competition gun. I can't wait to get a weekend off and take this thing up to the IDPA club.