March 31, 2023
With so many new micro 9mm pistols on the market it can be difficult to choose which gun is right for you, but one pistol that caught the attention of lots of folks was the Taurus GX4. The gun was a success right out of the gate, and it didn’t take long for the GX4 family to grow—figuratively and literally.
The GX4 XL, the newest member of the GX4 line, comes with a 3.7-inch barrel. That’s considerably longer than the 3.06-inch barrel on the standard GX4, but at 6.05 inches long, the new XL version of the GX4 is hardly difficult to conceal, and the extra barrel length is designed to extend the sight radius and help control muzzle rise.
Width stays the same at 1.08 inches, so the XL version tucks close to the body just like the original. The GX4 XL comes with one 11-round and one 13-round mag. For those who live in restrictive states, there’s also a version that sells with a pair of 10-round magazines. It’s available with an uncut slide or a Taurus Optics Ready Option (T.O.R.O.) slide. I tested the latter, and this slide is cut for sights built on the Shield RMSc footprint, and it’s a direct attachment—no plates.
The 3.7-inch barrel is treated to a DLC coating, and the internal frame is stainless steel.
The polymer grips have fine texturing on the frontstrap, backstrap and grip panels, and it also has a feature you don’t see on other micro compacts: interchangeable backstraps. There are two, and they offer a slight or pronounced palm swell. The larger of the two inserts worked best for me. They’re easy to swap by knocking out a pin.
The pistol has no manual safety, but it does come with a striker block and a trigger safety. There’s also a cutout in the rear of the chamber that allows you to visually inspect the chamber. The GX4 XL’s bladed trigger has a flat front. Take-up was light and short, and the break weight was just above six pounds.
The GX4 XL proved to be very reliable during testing, and after 200-plus rounds there wasn’t a single stoppage when using the five test loads. That’s consistent with the level of performance seen in current GX4 and G3 pistols.
Slide operation is relatively smooth, although not, I would say, as smooth as that on competitors like the Springfield Hellcat or SIG P365. During testing, and after a few applications of lubricant, the gun ran noticeably more smoothly than when it came out of the box. The stainless frame was clean and free of machining marks, and slide-to-frame fit was good.
With a SIG Romeo Zero optic in place, the GX4 XL managed groups in the 2.5- to four-inch range from a fixed rest at 25 yards, which is suitable for self-defense.
Recoil is still stiff with this 20-ounce pistol. The magazine texturing and design do a pretty good job of managing muzzle rise and pushback, though. Molded finger rests on the polymer frame provide landing points for your fingers and thumbs and promote a high handhold, as do the grip and trigger undercut.
GX4 XL pistols have a user-friendly control layout. The magazine release is trapezoidal in shape, and the slide stop is minimized but still functional. I found I could drop the locked slide without a lot of twisting and finagling. Unlike the larger G3 pistols that offer transverse takedown pins, the GX4 XL uses a rotating takedown screw.
The gun is comfortable to carry, with rounded and beveled edges that neither dig into the flesh nor print under light clothing. With a belly band or minimalist inside-the-waistband holster, the gun virtually disappears, and it’s light enough to wear during exercise. The gas nitride coating holds up well, and the GX4 XL would make a very affordable trail or everyday carry pistol.
There’s little doubt that Taurus with its GX4 XL is coming after the SIG P365 XL. In profile the guns look very similar, and both share the same barrel length. Width is a wash, and the SIG is almost a half-inch taller. The GX4 XL has an edge with its 13-round magazine, while the SIG has a stainless steel versus carbon steel slide and day/night sights compared to the Taurus’ rather basic black rear/white dot front sights. However, P365 XL pistols carry a price tag of more than $600 while the Taurus GX4 XL is priced at $459 for the T.O.R.O. version ($429 without optics cut).
Taurus has ambitious plans for the GX4 XL, but this gun has proven to be capable and well-designed. With so many options available, you’ll have a tough time choosing the right stack-and-a-half micro 9mm, but the Taurus GX4 XL deserves a spot on that list and not just because it costs less than the competition. Tired of being bullied by more established brands, Taurus has lowered its horns and is charging toward the competition.
Taurus GX4 XL Specifications
- Type: Striker-fired semiauto
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 11, 13
- Barrel: 3.7 in., DLC coated
- OAL/Height/Width: 6.4/4.4/1.1 in.
- Weight: 20 oz.
- Construction: Gas-nitride carbon steel slide, stainless steel internal frame, polymer grips
- Trigger: Flat-face, 6 lb. pull (measured)
- Sights: Serrated, plain black drift-adjustable rear, white dot front post; T.O.R.O. optics-ready slide (as tested)
- Price: $459 (as tested)
- Manufacturer: Taurus USA, TaurusUSA.com