December 19, 2022
Taurus has invested a great deal of time, money and energy expanding its G3 pistol line, adding new variants and building upon what has become a very successful pistol family for the brand. The latest addition is a dedicated duty pistol: the G3 Tactical. While this gun will undoubtedly appeal to anyone who loves a pistol with all the battle-ready bells and whistles, the G3 Tactical is something of a statement piece for Taurus.
The G3 Tactical sure looks the part of a dedicated operator’s pistol with its Cerakote Patriot Brown slide, a Magpul flat dark earth full-size frame, suppressor-height sights and threaded muzzle. The beefy grip houses 17-round metal magazines, and there’s a three-slot Picatinny rail on the dust cover for mounting lights and lasers. Front and rear slide serrations allow for improved control while operating the pistol, and the angled slide cuts help reduce weight and give the gun a more stylized look.
Perhaps the most important feature found on the G3 Tactical—at least from the viewpoint of modern tacticians—is the T.O.R.O. slide. T.O.R.O. stands for Taurus Optic Ready Option, which means that the slide is cut to accept modern reflex or red dot sights. The Taurus slide comes with four different optics plates that allow users to secure a variety of optics to the gun. The list of compatible optics includes Leupold’s DeltaPoint Pro, Trijicon’s RMR, Holosun’s 407c/507c, Burris FastFire optics and several more, so there’s a good chance your favorite full-size reflex sight will fit on this pistol.
In addition to the slide cut, the Taurus comes with sturdy suppressor-height iron sights. The rear sight is dovetailed into the slide while the serrated front is held in position by an internal screw. They’re well engineered for the rough-and-tumble life a true service gun leads. The blacked-out profile offers a bold silhouette for fast aiming. The rear sight has a flat tactical front, so even if you don’t have an optic in place, you can still perform a single-handed tactical manipulation of the gun quickly and efficiently. The rear sight is drift-adjustable in the dovetail slot and, like the front sight, comes with a textured surface that helps cut down on glare.
Early Taurus pistols had heavy, uneven triggers, but with the release of the G series trigger, the brand now offers one of the best triggers in this segment. The new G3 Tactical features this new trigger, which is a flat-faced, bladed design. It’s a two-stage trigger, with a quite long but smooth take-up and a relatively clean break. There’s no gritty feeling when pulling the trigger, and when the trigger weight increases at the second stage, a short press is all that’s required to fire the gun.
The average trigger pull weight was right at five pounds when measured on a Wheeler gauge for 10 consecutive pulls, which is very good. Trigger reset is short enough that you can deliver very fast follow-ups. In addition to being smooth and clean, the G3’s trigger offers something you won’t find in many other semiauto pistols: restrike capability. Unlike most striker-fired pistols, which require slide manipulation to reset the striker, the Taurus allows the shooter to fire again with a simple press of the trigger.
The advantage of the system is obvious. In the unlikely event of a hard primer, you can quickly restrike the primer with an additional pull of the trigger. Sometimes the additional strike ignites a finicky primer, and with the nationwide primer shortage and handloaders turning to whatever reloading components they can find, there’s probably more of a need for restrike now than ever—although the problem is still quite rare.
As with most tactical pistols the Taurus does not have a manual safety. Instead, the G3 Tactical features a trigger safety, striker block and a loaded-chamber indicator. Under the G3 Tactical’s Patriot Brown-finished alloy steel slide you’ll find a 4.5-inch stainless steel 1:20 twist barrel with a diamond-like carbon (DLC) exterior coating. The barrel is threaded 1/2x28 and is ready to accept suppressors or compensators. Takedown is simple and straightforward thanks to the transverse takedown tab that extends from either side of the frame.
It’s no secret that Taurus has been making improvements in quality over the last several generations of its pistols, and that progression is perhaps most apparent when you look inside the slide and examine the internal components of the gun. Early Taurus guns from the 1990s were very coarse inside, with minor attention paid to fit and finish. The modern G3 Tactical’s insides are largely on par with top brands and boasts a clean interior finish and smooth operation. The feed ramp isn’t as polished or smooth as guns from brands like SIG, but the Taurus didn’t have any reliability issues.
Taurus has also improved the frame design of its semiautomatics over the years, and the micro-texturing on the frontstrap, backstrap and side grip panels is modern and functional. It’s not as fine as the texturing on SIG’s pistols, Springfield’s Hellcat or even the Taurus G4, but it gives the gun a modern look and feel and is appropriate on a full-size duty-style pistol. Taurus does not offer interchangeable backstraps with this gun, but I think most shooters will find the upright grip angle and hand-filling backstrap design comfortable. The grip is certainly large enough to accommodate even the largest hands, and the trigger guard undercut and beavertail design promote a high grip for good control.
The G3 Tactical’s 1.1-inch-wide slab-sided grip is comfortable and functional. Overall ergonomics of the G3 Tactical are as good as most of the guns in this class. Like most service guns, the G3 Tactical’s controls are straightforward and simple to operate. There’s an angled slide stop on the left side of the frame and a reversible magazine release button. The controls are on the small side, but they’re functional. The slide stop is still large enough that you can manually operate it to lock the slide when there’s no magazine in the pistol, and I can drop the slide with my thumb, which is my litmus test for slide stop functionality.
With its 4.5-inch pipe, the G3 Tactical measures 7.8 inches long and weighs 24.8 ounces unloaded. Height is 5.2 inches, and overall width is 1.2 inches. Two 17-round magazines are included, and the gun ships in a zippered nylon case with Velcro pockets for additional mags, optic plates and other accessories and a large pocket for storing the operating manual and other papers. It’s a nice addition, especially for a gun with a suggested retail price of $589.
That’s considerably less than guns like the Springfield XD-M Elite 4.5 OSP 9mm FDE ($733) and the FN 509 Tactical FDE ($1,069), although the Springfield does come standard with two 22-round magazines, a grip safety and ambi controls, and the FN offers up to 24-round capacity and comes standard with Trijicon suppressor-height sights. Nevertheless, the Taurus is a great value.
And that’s a refreshing development, because, to be frank, Taurus had a bad reputation for reliability in years past, although the guns were, and are, backed by a lifetime warranty. But the Taurus of today is very different from the company of 20 years ago, with management changes; upgrades to equipment and machines; new gun designs; and, most recently, a new U.S. facility constructed in Bainbridge, Georgia.
The G3 and GX4 series are two shining examples of what today’s Taurus has been able to achieve, and testers were quick to notice these and other models were holding up well against the competition in terms of accuracy and reliability. I first tested the G3 Tactical on the set of “Handguns & Defensive Weapons,” and while I didn’t put a ton of rounds downrange during filming, I did have a chance to run through drills in the shoot house and shoot a handful of targets outdoors as part of the show. In the dark confines of the shoot house, the Taurus performed very well. The full-size grip and added weight and barrel length made it noticeably easier to deliver fast and accurate second and third shots on target.
This gun manages recoil well. The trigger is quite long but predictable, and the press is clean and relatively smooth. I do wish the slide stop and mag release were a bit larger, but the gun felt quite manageable, and there were no reliability issues. Following the “Handguns & Defensive Weapons” shoot, I had time to test the Taurus thoroughly at the range, and it produced five-shot groups as small as 1.55 inches from a fixed rest at 25 yards. Based on that, it was clear to me that the G3 Tactical boasts accuracy potential as good as or better than some of its more expensive competitors.
It’s worth noting the results in the accompanying accuracy chart were produced with a 3.5-m.o.a. red dot and not the factory-supplied iron sights. With the Ameriglo removed, I fired shots with this pistol at self-defense distances and found them satisfactory, although not as clear as competing guns with tritium sights. The G3 Tactical sights are sturdy enough to allow for one-handed cycling, and the serrations on the front and the rear sight cut glare effectively even in full sun.
Reliability was excellent, and by the time that filming and testing were completed (I also used the Taurus for a series of ammunition tests), I had well over 250 rounds through the gun without a failure. I attribute this to the G3’s refined design, especially the large externally mounted extractor that bites down on each cartridge. Having a cutout in the chamber to determine whether a cartridge is chambered is a small but nice touch—if there is ample light to see the cartridge. I’d prefer a loaded-chamber indicator that is tactile as well as visual.
Despite being labeled a tactical firearm, this G3 might be the best target or competition gun in the company’s lineup. Many of the features that make it a duty gun—like greater capacity, a longer barrel and sight radius and the ability to mount an optic—also make it a superb choice for a day at the range. Plus, the included zippered carry case provides an easy way to transport the gun and organize accessories.
Perhaps “G3 Tactical/Range” doesn’t sound as sexy, but there’s no doubt this gun makes a sensible option for someone who wants a 9mm to shoot on the weekends just for fun. The G3 Tactical also makes a sensible home-defense weapon. This pistol is oversized for daily carry, but that added size and capacity are an advantage when something goes bump in the night. You could easily mount a light or light/laser on the gun thanks to its frame rail, and the redundancy of two sets of primary sights ensures you’ll be able to obtain a clear sight picture in any lighting condition.
It’s also compelling to have 17+1 9mm rounds available as needed. Perhaps most gun owners in America identify their daily carry gun as their primary home defense weapon, but if I have the option I’d prefer to delay reloading as long as possible. The G3 Tactical is a statement gun, and that statement is that Taurus offers not only affordable firearms but also pistols that can compete with other major domestic brands in terms of reliability, accuracy and performance.
Taurus G3 Tactical Specs
- Type: Striker-fired, semiauto
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 17+1 rds.
- Barrel: 4.5 in.
- OAL/Height/Width: 7.8/5.2/1.2 in.
- Weight: 24.8 oz.
- Grips: Polymer FDE
- Finish: Patriot Brown Cerakote (slide), DLC (barrel)
- Trigger: G series; 5.1 lbs. pull (tested)
- Sights: Black dovetail rear and pinned front suppressor-height sights, T.O.R.O. optics-ready slide
- MSRP: $589
- Manufacturer: Taurus USA