The final pistol tested, the PT 809, turned out to be my favorite; however, its size would discourage my carrying it daily. For home defense or recreational shooting, though, it would excel. During the evaluation, the handgun experienced a single failure to feed, which, like the PT 740, occurred early on. No other malfunctions were encountered.
Because the PT 809 wore Novak’s excellent low-profile sights, I expected it to exhibit accuracy superior to its brethren, and the pistol delivered. The most accurate load proved to be Hornady’s 115-grain Critical Defense, which averaged 2.92 inches. All loads impacted close to the bullseye at 7 yards, and obviously as distance increased so did bullet drop; however, it’s worthy of note that the pistol’s sights are non-adjustable for elevation.
More enlightening to me, though, was what occurred not during accuracy testing, but in the reliability evaluation. Having previously handloaded some practice-only ammunition—note the use of reloads voids all warranties—100 of them accompanied me to the range. Loaded with new propellant and old, yet properly stored, primers, the full-metal-jacket ammunition was suitable only for informal range work. Interestingly, four of the rounds failed to fire the first time—no doubt because of the aged primers, since all of the primers were properly seated—however, a quick, almost-instinctive, subsequent trigger pull fired three.
Just to ensure a light primer strike wasn’t to blame, after waiting 10 seconds—and avoiding direct exposure to the ejection port—the fourth round was removed and inspected. Indeed, the firing pin hit with full force; therefore, one could reason it was a defective primer. After rechambering the round, a subsequent trigger pull fired it.
This begs the question, “What’s the likelihood of new-manufacture ammunition failing to fire the first time?” Probably minimal; however, if you can have a second chance at making the cartridge fire, then why not? According to Taurus, “Research indicates a 93 percent or better chance the round will fire on a re-strike.” For me, all four cartridges that failed to fire on the initial pull indeed fired when the trigger was pulled a second time.
Know, however, that there are those who adamantly oppose this protocol, preferring “tap, rack, bang.” To this end I must say, to each his own—you can obviously do either with the single-action/double-action, hammer-fired semi-automatic PT 809, but for the PT 740, a striker-fired semi-automatic, it’s a seldom-encountered addition that gives the end user choices. The PT 738 offers no such choice.
Self-defense pistols are specialized firearms. The key has been, and remains, finding the one most closely designed for the circumstances in which it’s likely to be employed. Fortunately, Taurus recognizes this and offers conscientious concealed-carry consumers with a host of options. Among those the PT 738 TCP, PT 740 SLIM and PT 809 are likely to fit the needs of most any shooter.