April 16, 2020
Over the last few years Taurus has been in the process of revamping its striker-fired pistol lineup, a process that began with the G2 and continued with the G2c. Compared to previous models, the G2’s improved ergonomics, build quality and reliability paved a way for Taurus guns to come, and when Taurus wanted a new full-size striker-fired pistol, it already had a successful platform in place. Enter the G3.
Borrowing the best elements of the G2’s architecture, the G3 offers the same firing system with a beefier frame and a longer slide. It comes with a four-inch barrel, the dividing line between full-size duty guns and carry pistols, and the full-size polymer frame provides plenty of space to fit double-stack magazines.
The gun comes standard with one flush-fit 15-round magazine and an extended 17-round mag, but shooters who live in areas where magazine restrictions limit capacity can opt for versions of the G3 with two 15-round magazines or two 10-round mags as required by law.
It’s available with a stainless steel or a carbon steel slide and comes with a stainless barrel. The carbon steel version I tested featured a matte black finish, and the stainless model comes with a matte stainless slide.
Even with its full-size frame and longer barrel, the G3 weighs just 25 ounces unloaded, which is only three ounces more than the G2c. That makes the G3 an appealing option for those who prefer a full-size concealed-carry pistol. The overall length of the G3 is 7.3 inches, which is very close to the Glock 19 (7.36 inches) and slightly longer than a Walther PPQ M2 (7.1 inches).
The Taurus comes with a manual safety and measures 1.25 inches across the controls, though the slide and grip widths are closer to one inch, and the gun is easier to conceal than the specs may indicate. Overall height (with the flush-fit magazine in place) is 5.2 inches from the base pad to the top of the sights, about 0.1 inch taller than the Walther or the Glock.
There is a large and growing cadre of four-inch, striker-fired 9mms on the market, so Taurus had to find ways to stand out from the crowd to make the G3 appeal to consumers. For starters, this gun offers excellent ergonomics. The Taurus has a flat frontstrap and rounded backstrap that fills the hand and promotes a high hand position. The sides of the grip are flattened, and the grip surface features textured sections that are easy to grip without being overly aggressive.
There are also depressions on the sides of the frame—“memory pads” as Taurus calls them—that are designed to increase comfort and promote a consistent hand position. The trigger guard is oversize and comes with a flat front, and there’s a Picatinny rail for mounting aftermarket accessories like lights and lasers.
Beveling on the edges of the G3’s carbon steel slide helps reduce weight, improves carry comfort and gives the Taurus a modern look and feel while slide serrations fore and aft allow for positive grip during manipulations. A large, beefy extractor rides on the right side of the frame, and there’s a port at the rear of the chamber that provides visual confirmation regarding the gun’s condition.
The G3’s three-dot sights are basic, comprising a drift-adjustable rear sight that’s screwed into a cutout on the slide and a front sight that is pinned. The sights have a noticeably lower profile than many competing striker pistols, so there’s little chance of them hanging up when drawing. The dots aren’t particularly large, but they’re visible under most lighting conditions, though shooters with poor sight may find them difficult to pick up as quickly as larger dots.
Designing controls for carry pistols is a balancing act. If the controls are too large, they add bulk, make the gun less streamlined and, depending on carry position, can dig into the shooter’s skin. Very small controls give the gun a streamlined profile and minimal width, but these miniature controls are a nuisance to manipulate under range conditions and even more problematic in a self-defense situation.
Taurus plays the middle ground with the G3, and the controls are easy to operate yet not so large as to be obtrusive. The safety lever measures about 0.75 inch long and is triangular in cross-section, and it extends just far enough outside the frame that a downward thumb stroke will reliably disengage the safety.
Serrations provide just enough purchase to prevent the thumb slipping off the safety lever, and the safety sits inside a molded lip on the frame that prevents accidentally engaging it while shooting. It’s virtually impossible to engage the safety unless done intentionally, and even then it’s simpler to rotate the gun for better control.
The safety and slide stop are not ambidextrous, and in addition to the manual safety the G3 also comes with trigger and striker-block safeties. The serrated slide stop, like the safety, balances compact size and functionality.
One feature sets the Taurus G3 apart from most other striker-fired guns on the market: second-strike capability. If you encounter a stubborn primer, you can simply pull the trigger a second time and strike the primer once more.
Takedown is similar to Glock firearms with dual tabs extending from either side of the frame, and the magazine release button is located behind the trigger and is tucked out of the way so accidental mag drops aren’t likely.
The metal Mec-Gar magazine seems well-constructed, and the bright yellow follower is a nice touch. There are ports on the spine of the mag that allow you to determine how many cartridges are on tap, and the G3’s ports are properly aligned so you get an accurate round count.
Internally, the G3 features a steel guide rod and spring assembly, and the interior is relatively clean and mostly free of machine marks for a gun in this price category.
And what is the price category? Suggested retail price for the G3 varies from $345 to $361 depending upon which model you select. That places it squarely in competition with the Stoeger STR-9 ($329) and the Ruger Security-9 ($379).
The G3 handles like other four-inch 9mm handguns. Recoil pulse is on par with its competitors, and the Taurus does a good job of promoting a high hand hold, which helps mitigate muzzle flip. In fact, Taurus does almost too good a job in that regard. While shooting the first couple magazines, I had the slide contact the top of my hand, and though it wasn’t really a slide bite, it was enough to motivate me to make me aware of my hand’s position on the gun when firing.
Grip geometry is good, and the gun fits comfortably in the hand. The texturing provides a secure hold on the gun without giving the impression that you’ve just grabbed a cheese grater.
As mentioned, the G3’s sights are very basic. However, the sights were dead-on at 25 yards and required no adjustment. They’re not as easy to see as those on the Stoeger STR-9 and lack the tactical ledge. However, the robust and low-profile design of the G3’s irons makes them functional for concealed carry. For most shooters and most shooting conditions, the sights are perfectly fine, and having the Picatinny rail offers shooters the options of adding a laser if they so choose.
Trigger take-up is quite long on the G3, but the trigger break is crisp for a striker-fired pistol. On my Wheeler gauge, the G3’s trigger broke at 5.8 pounds, which is slightly less than advertised, and once you get used to the long travel, the trigger is predictable.
I was impressed by the G3’s accuracy, especially considering the austere sights that are more appropriate for close-range, personal defense shooting than punching targets at 25 yards. The best group of the day measured 2.05 inches for five shots, and four of the 20 groups fired measured under 2.5 inches.
In practical shooting at seven yards, it was easy to keep shots inside an 8x16-inch torso target. The grip architecture and overall design of the G3 make it easy to balance and improve pointing characteristics, and even though the trigger reset is noticeably longer than many other striker-fired 9mms, it’s easy to get back on target and deliver fast follow-up shots during drills.
Slide operation is relatively smooth for a 9mm at this price point, and spring tension is not so heavy as to preclude shooters with weak hands from operating this pistol.
For those who prefer a manual safety on their carry guns, the G3’s safety is about as innocuous as you’ll find. It rides close to the frame and doesn’t interfere with the hand hold, and it’s easy to sweep into the off position when drawing the pistol from a holster. The safety also provides a tactile and audible slick, and it moves precisely from one position to the other without play.
During the course of the evaluation, the metal magazine never failed to fall clear of the gun when the mag release was pressed, but there’s a depression at the juncture of the grip and magazine base pad should you need to strip the magazine manually.
Beveled edges on the slide and minimized controls allow the G3 to ride comfortably against the body when carrying, and there are few external features that could cause a hang-up while drawing the gun. Whether a four-inch, double-stack 9mm is too large for concealed carry is a matter of personal opinion, but if you’re going to carry a full-size pistol, the G3 is a good option since its design makes it easier to conceal than some other pistols in this class, especially with the flush-fit magazine in place.
The gun I tested came with the matte black finish, which is nitrocarburized and so should hold up well to daily exposure to sweat and moisture.
Takedown is simple and straightforward, and the only issue I had when assembling/disassembling the gun was that sometimes the safety lever had to be pressed down slightly to allow the slide to be fully fitted on the frame rails.
Reliability during the range test was good overall with one failure to chamber on the sixth shot of the test. After that, the gun ran smoothly, and there were no issues with feeding, extraction or ejecting. On three occasions the slide failed to lock open after the last shot was fired. Otherwise, the G3 ran without any issues and did so with a variety of 9mm loads ranging from 900 fps to 1,200 fps.
Competition is fierce in the full-size, striker-fired 9mm segment, and Taurus wants to claim its share of the market. The company has the gun to do just that with the G3, and every indication is this pistol will be reliable and accurate. In addition, it’s priced affordably and offers features that are on par with other guns in this class.
A lot of time and engineering effort has gone into the development of the G3, and based on initial testing, it seems Taurus may have found its new flagship full-size 9mm.
- Type: striker-fired semiauto centerfire
- Caliber: 9mm Luger
- Capacity: 15+1, 17+1, 10+1
- Barrel: 4.0 in
- OAL/Height/Width: 7.3/5.2/1.25 in.
- Weight: 25 oz.
- Construction: black polymer frame; matte black (as tested) or matte stainless slide
- Trigger: 5.8 lb. pull (as measured)
- Sights: three-dot; drift adjustable rear
- Price: $345 (as tested)
- Manufacturer: Taurus, taurususa.com