Taurus has a spotty reputation. Their efforts as a manufacturer of long-lived revolvers have never borne much, and their most popular, or at least, mediagenic revolver, the Judge, is a solid novelty/niche firearm.
But their self-loading pistols on the other hand, have a strong following and are in service with several agencies, particularly in Brazil, where they’re made and issued as the standard side-arm of the military and police.
Of course we’re talking about the PT92, (and its family) the once-clone of the Beretta 92 that is now wholly a Taurus product of its own. Beretta supplied Taurus with equipment to produce 92-series pistols for their military and police contracts in South America, and over time, Taurus bought the facility and now with the patents lapsed on the 92, are making their own with Beretta facilities.
They are different than Beretta 92s, and every change is an improvement. First up is the safety. Beretta’s 92 uses a slide-mounted safety, and up is hot. That’s not popular for a bunch of reasons, cough-the 1911 nailed it-cough, and so the smiths at Taurus fixed that up right, by frame-mounting it. It’s also a 3-way safety, on, off, and decocker, which is just tops.
The magazine release is a little larger and easier to reach, and the grips (fractionally) smaller. But the biggest improvement is the magazine capacity, up two from 15 to make the pistol competitive with other, more recent service pistols, like its main competitor at the time, the Glock 17. Taurus also offers 20-round factory 9mm magazines.
Taurus has developed several pistols based on the PT92. The PT99 is the same with an adjustable rear sight, the PT100 is chambered in .40 S&W, and the 101 is a forty cal with an adjustable rear sight. Taurus also makes compact PT92s, the PT917C, with more modern sights.
And it delivers on all these improvements without losing quality, since it’s made exactly the same way, but at significantly lower prices. For the same price as a Beretta 92FS, you can get a Taurus PT92 with a couple of extra magazines, a holster, and some ammo. If you’re still wary of Taurus by reputation, here’s what Massad Ayoob had to say about them:
“We see a lot of Taurus pistols at Lethal Force Institute. The PT-92 through PT-100 models in 9mm and .40 S&W come in, shoot several hundred rounds, hand leave without a malfunction or a breakage. Acuuracy is comparable to the Beretta, but cost is hundreds of dollars less. Finish may not be quite so nice, nor double-action pull quite so smooth, but these guns are definitely good values.”
If you’re looking for a dependable brick of a make my day for not that much, put Taurus on your list.