Taurus has earned a good reputation for affordable firearms that get the job done. While Taurus made its bread and butter on clones of well-known revolvers and the Beretta semi-auto, Taurus has also introduced its own innovative firearms. There really isn’t anything like the Taurus 856 six-shot small-frame revolver or the Taurus Tracker. The Taurus GX4 T.O.R.O. 9mm is another example of innovation, and I would dare say, excellence of design.
I have long been a fan of the G2 series and feel it offers good value for the money. However, the GX4 is a different beast, not a warmed-over miniature G2. There really isn’t much from the other striker-fired polymer-frame pistols in the Taurus GX4. It’s a good gun that has gotten better with the introduction of the GX4 T.O.R.O. optics-ready pistol.
Taurus GX4 Features
The GX4 is a unique firearm in design but not in handling. However, if you can handle a Glock, Springfield, or Smith & Wesson polymer-framed striker-fired pistol, the GX4 will not be a surprise. The manual of arms is simple. Lock the slide to the rear, insert a loaded magazine, then release the slide to load. Holster, draw, and then fire. It is as simple as that.
The GX4 is nearly the same size as several other popular handguns, but the size and weight fall into the ‘just right’ category for many of us. Striker-fired polymer-framed handguns with double-stack magazines are increasingly popular. While there is a place for the single-stack 9mm as a minimally-sized hideout, with the availability of the GX4, I simply don’t see the need.
My average-sized hand fits the GX4 fine. An advantage to the high-capacity 9mm is that the slightly-wider frame spreads recoil about the palm better than the single-stack 9mm. These days, it seems takeover robbers and gangs are the rule — even carjackers often come in pairs. I doubt we will need 20 rounds, but 10 quick 9mm cartridges may save the day.
The five-shot .38 snub is no longer viable in this environment, and the .32s and .380s don’t hit hard enough — based on my experience and research, they are practically worthless. In the beginning, I noted that the GX4-sized 9mm may be just right — if it would shoot. Spoiler alert… on the range, the GX4 T.O.R.O. proved it shoots very well in capable hands.
As for the design, the pistol is minimalist in footprint and controls. There is a magazine catch and slide lock. The trigger features the standard blade-type safety that prevents lateral discharge. The trigger cannot move unless you press the trigger across the face unlocking the safety lever. I like the design of the practically-flat trigger.
The GX4 features a texture across the frame and handle that offers an excellent balance of abrasion and adhesion. If you use the thumbs-forward grip, there are finger position rests on both the left and right side of the frame. There are trigger finger reliefs on each side of the frame. Some of us exert pressure on the frame when pressing the trigger. You need to train out of that. These slots in the frame help avoid this pitfall.
A spare grip insert is supplied. With the flush fit magazine, some hands will find a pinky finger riding off the frame. With the extended magazine, a good hand fit is realized.
The sights are a good design, with the rear sight featuring a serrated rear face black sight. This works well against a single white dot front sight.
The pistol is well designed. My early version has proven reliable and accurate enough to perform most any self-defense chore. It has consistently displayed better accuracy potential and control than other handguns in its fighting-weight class.
If there is a complaint, some do not like the takedown. Rather than using a takedown lever, the GX4 features a screw in the frame that is rotated to release the slide assembly. There are compromises in a small handgun, and this system takes up little space compared to a decocker. It is different, but not inferior, to other takedown systems.
Today, a maker introducing a new handgun will often design an optics-ready model. The GX4 T.O.R.O. is the newest Taurus optics-ready handgun. The pistol accepts a number of red dots, including the Shield RMSc, Holosun HS507K, HS407K, Sightmark Mini Shot A-SpecM3, Hex Wasp GE5077-MIC-RET, SIG Romeo Zero, Riton 3 Tactic MPRD2, and Trijicon RMR or Red Dot. Optional plates are available from Taurus.
This brings the new GX4 into the optics world. Many shooters find optics-ready handguns solve problems related to speed, target acquisition, and firing in dim light. If you are one of these people, you now have the opportunity to obtain one of the best buys in the 9mm subcompact strata and fit a red dot sight to it. My evaluation of the GX4 T.O.R.O. followed the same path as that of my earlier testing with the standard GX4 — they are, after all, the same pistol save for a modified slide.
I loaded both 11 and 13-round magazines with Federal American Eagle 9mm ball for the initial evaluation. The pistol came on target quickly and was controllable in rapid fire. This handgun wasn’t a lightweight at 18.5 ounces unloaded. Recoil wasn’t unpleasant. I found the sights properly regulated for 124-grain ammunition. American Eagle 9mm burns clean and provided good accuracy.
I also tested the Federal Syntech Defense 9mm 138-grain hollowpoints. Like all Syntech loads, this is a clean cartridge that leaves little to no residue after firing, this load is designed to produce good wound potential. The nose breaks in shards.
Testing in six-inch wide water jugs, the second jug had three distinct impacts illustrating this loading works as designed and breaks apart quickly. Unlike many low-penetration, fragmenting loads, the base of the bullet penetrated a full 20 inches. This should make for a good defense load. It combines the need for penetration with radial wound potential.
As for absolute accuracy, the results were similar to those I fired with an earlier GX4 9mm. Firing from a solid benchrest, using both the 124-grain and 147-grain 9mm American Eagle cartridges, the pistol provided a five-shot group of 2.0 inches with the 147-grain load and 2.15 inches with the 124-grain load. This is outstanding for a subcompact pistol.
The big news is the red dot application. When using the red dot, you do not aim as you would when using sights. Look through the sight and place the red dot on the target while holding both eyes open. The result is amazing speed and accuracy — for those who get it. It takes some time to acclimate and plenty of dry fire practice. Once you are squared away, you are well armed with the optics-equipped Taurus GX4 T.O.R.O. 9mm.
Carrying the GX4
Carrying the Taurus GX4 isn’t difficult, but it requires a well-designed holster that doesn’t move about and holds the pistol secure during movement. The original Crossbreed-type remains among the finest designs for comfortable, secure carry. This holster offers a lot of adjustment in angle, rake, cant, and ride as well as tension. Like many modern holsters, the holster is cut for an optic-mounted pistol. The balance of speed and retention is good, and nothing wears as comfortably as the Crossbreed.
The Taurus GX4 T.O.R.O. is a good improvement over the original and offers the option of using a red dot sight for those who prefer it. I trust this pistol and will carry it often.
According to the author, the verdict is already in, and the Taurus GX4 is a winner. Your only choice is whether you prefer the standard GX4 or the Taurus GX4 T.O.R.O. Which red dot would you run it with? Give us your top choices in the comment section.