In my early 20s, when my wife and I were just starting out and our desire for a gun for self-defense nearly outstripped our financial reach, there was really only one choice for me: the Taurus PT92 9mm, my dad’s favorite handgun.
At the time, the entry price was around $400, a nice, round number that was just barely within our limited budget. We could’ve bought used, but that option potentially opened a whole other can of worms. And since I knew this was going to be our only gun for the foreseeable future, I wanted something reliable for the long term, with a high-capacity, 15-round magazine and a large, intimidating size that felt solid in the hand.
Long story short, we saved our pennies and found a gorgeous stainless steel AFS model – just like my dad’s. And while the blued models were certainly more tactical, we loved the stainless look and the wood grips.
Now, before you think we rushed into this purchase solely for nostalgic reasons, forsaking numerous other worthy candidates along the way, think again. As a martial arts instructor, I’ve always favored practicality. My dad drilled into me that, even though the Taurus was a Beretta 92 clone, he preferred the Taurus. And since our family never had a lot of money, it was also a whole lot cheaper.
Pushing aside thoughts of family betrayal, I decided to compare the two. If the Beretta was better, we’d just have to save our pennies for a while longer. After all, this gun was going to be used by my wife, too, so it needed to be multipurpose, reliable, and we both needed to agree on it.
In a side-by-side comparison, for us there was no comparison.
First of all, it’s well known that the Taurus offers a lifetime repair warranty – which is also transferable to other owners. That’s a pretty huge selling point.
Secondly, my dad had many years of experience with his PT92 and he always said it would fire anything he ran through it, regardless of quality, without ever jamming or misfiring. Obviously, for a self-defense weapon, reliability is a key deciding factor.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, I wanted a gun that we could both quickly draw and thumb off the safety one-handed – all without our fingers needing to leave the trigger. Even with my big hands, I could only barely do that with the Beretta. For my wife, there wasn’t a chance. The safety was awkwardly placed and she had to arch her hand backward to reach it (or use her other hand). With the Taurus, however, we could both easily thumb off (or on) the safety while maintaining contact with the trigger. This was doubly important given the decocking function of the Taurus. Plus, the safety is ambidextrous, a feature we might someday need if injured or carrying a child.
That purchase is now 22 years in the past. I’ve bought and sold a number of other guns over that time, but I still own that Taurus. It’s never been anything but reliable. In fact, it hasn’t so much as jammed on me or my wife or friends who have borrowed it, even after thousands of rounds fired through it. I briefly flirted with selling it back in 2004 and even had several enthusiastic buyers following me around a gun show having an impromptu bidding war. Fortunately, my brain won out over my wallet and I now realize my dad was right all along.