There's a time-honored tradition among gunmakers of mixing and matching existing components within their product lines in order to create new models. This includes stretching and trimming slide lengths for semi-automatic pistols. Long slides increase barrel length and sight radius while shorter barrels can make pistols easier to carry. Usually, the grip frame extends or shrinks along with the slide, but not always.
This year, Taurus USA has released a 'hybrid' 9 mm G3 series pistol called the G3X. It blends the more compact slide assembly of the G3c sub-compact with the increased ammunition capacity and grip length of the G3. This review takes a closer look at the first version out the door, which has an all-black finish and a plain slide, is not optics ready and carries a suggested retail price of $342.98.
The G3X blends the shorter slide of the model G3c with the compact grip of the model G3.
Like other models in the G3 lineup, the G3X is a polymer-frame, striker-fired, semi-automatic pistol that is made in Brazil. The G3 models employ a short recoil, locked-breech action with some features and cosmetics lifted from its predecessor, the G2. However, the G3 incorporates some noteworthy changes in its design.
The squared-off subcompact slide gives this pistol an overall length of 6.30". It is made from carbon steel and treated with a durable Tenifer finish that provides wear and corrosion resistance. The slide’s nose is beveled for easier re-holstering, while the back of the slide, just below the rear sight, is rounded to match the shape of the grip frame. Canted cocking serrations are cut into the slide at the front and the rear. The interior edges of the ejection port are beveled for improved reliability.
The G3X (Left) compared to the G3c (Right).
It's not uncommon for concealed-carry practitioners to choose to trade out factory-installed sight sets for fiber-optic or night sights. To facilitate this modification, the G3X has a front sight port and rear sight dovetail sized to be compatible with Glock-type aftermarket sight systems. However, Taurus installs an all-steel sight system consisting of a white-dot sight up front and a drift-adjustable, serrated, square-notch sight at the rear.
The 3.2" barrel is made of stainless steel with traditional land-and-groove rifling and a witness hole in the top of the chamber that serves as a loaded-chamber indicator. Some budget pistols ship with barrels that are a bit rough around the edges, but Taurus makes sure the feed ramps of the G3 series are properly polished. The barrel is supported by a two-piece, dual-spring recoil assembly comprised of steel components.
The metallic sight system is compatible with most aftermarket Glock sight options.
The frame is mostly borrowed from the G3. This gives the pistol a height of 5.20" and a double-stack magazine capacity of 15 rounds. The grip is both longer and larger, front-to-back, than that of the G3c. Although it is still a good fit for smaller hands, this grip is more likely to be a better fit for medium and large hands when compared to the G3c. One notable change to the frame is the abbreviated dust cover sized to accommodate the G3c-style slide assembly. The shorter dust cover's molded in one-slot Picatinny accessory rail has been reduced from 2" to 1.25". Otherwise, the frame's features remain the same.
The dust cover sports the frame's serial number plate. Between the dust cover and the takedown lever are left and right side frame dimples (a.k.a. Memory Pads) intended to serve as touch points for the trigger finger. The slide rides on four short rails incorporated into the steel front and rear support blocks which are held in place by roll pins. The metallic slide catch and manual safety lever, along with the grooved polymer magazine release button, are located on the left side of the frame. The front of the trigger guard is slightly curved to serve as a finger rest.
This version of the G3 accepts 15-round magazines.
At the top of the grip, on both sides, are thumb-shelf indentations that make the magazine release more accessible. The grip has a total of six aggressive texture panels to provide a high degree of purchase. Similar in texture to skateboard tape, these rough panels keep the grip from becoming slippery in wet, cold or sweaty conditions. They are also quite effective when wearing gloves. The trade-off is that the grips can start to feel abrasive to bare hands over the course of extended practice at the range. An easy fix for this is to wear shooting gloves for longer shooting sessions.
A few simple steps are required to break down the pistol for cleaning, much like other striker-fired pistols.
A short extension at the base of the grip's backstrap prevents pinched fingers when slapping magazines home during quick reloads. The magazine well is dimpled on either side so that, if the magazine has to be pulled out in the course of correcting a malfunction, it’s easier to grip the magazine’s base plate. This pistol ships with two blued steel magazines with bright yellow polymer followers and numbered ports along the back to keep track of the number of rounds remaining. This model does not have a magazine safety, which means the pistol can fire with the magazine removed.
The G3 series was released with a new trigger system, which eliminates the relatively heavy and mushy take-up of typical striker-fired guns. The face of the trigger is grooved and flattened with a wide safety lever. This ignition system incorporates second-strike capability, meaning the trigger can be cycled more than once in case of a hard primer. The trigger of the pistol tested exhibited a light 2-lb. take-up with a firm resistance before breaking cleanly with 5 lbs., 9 ozs. of trigger pull. The trigger reset is short and distinctive, which contributes to faster follow-up shots when needed.
The G3X operated flawlessly with all ammunition tested.
So far, I've had positive range test experiences with G3 series pistols, and the G3X did not disappoint. The trigger was better than the price would imply, and the pistol's controls worked properly. The gun did not experience any malfunctions in the course of informal or formal bench-rested testing.
Looking over the range results shows that the relatively short 3.2" barrel generated subsonic bullet velocities with all of the standard pressure 9 mm Luger loads used for formal testing. The Hornady load is already dialed down to subsonic levels, while the Fiocchi USA loads can travel faster from longer barrels. This drop in velocity has its advantages. The pistol's report is less concussive, and the lower velocities contribute to reduced levels of felt recoil. This, in conjunction with the full-size grip, made the G3X quite comfortable to work with compared to some compact models. It felt more like shooting a .380 ACP than a 9 mm.
The shorter barrel and fuller grip contribute to more easy going range sessions.
But if you prefer to give the gun a performance a boost, look for ammunition which is specifically tuned for short-barrel pistols. Due to the popularity of compact and subcompact carry guns, most ammunition manufacturers offer at least a few loads designed for them. In regards to accuracy, this particular pistol exhibited a preference for bullet weights greater than 115 grains. The heavier bullets shaved around an inch off of the group sizes at 7 yards.
With so many shooting products sized to fit into small, medium or large categories, it's good to see that Taurus is willing to develop a defensive pistol that fits somewhere in between. I tested the G3 and the G3c prior to working with the G3X and found reasons to like them both. I was a bit surprised to find out just how much I liked the G3x. Its combination of features provides a different shooting experience than the models it's based on. The full-size, no-compromise grip is hand-filling and secure. The compact slide gives the pistol light, quick handling that balances nicely with the grip shape. And the 15+1 ammunition capacity is certainly a plus. For more information, visit taurususa.com.
Manufacturer: Taurus USA
Model: G3x (1-G3XSR9031)
Action: Short Recoil, Locked-Breech Semi-Auto, Striker Fired
Caliber: 9 mm
Slide: Matte Black Tenifer Treated Carbon Steel
Cocking Serrations: Front and Rear
Front Sight: Metallic White Dot
Rear Sight: Metallic Serrated Square Notch, Drift Adjustable Rear
Barrel: 3.2" Stainless Steel, Polished Feed Ramp
Frame: Matte Black Polymer
Controls: Metallic with Black Teflon Finish
Accessory Rail: 1.25" One-Slot MIL-STD-1913
Grip: Wrap-Around Aggressive Texturing
Trigger: Single-Action with Restrike Capability
Trigger Pull: 5 lbs., 9 ozs. (As Tested)
Safeties: Firing Pin Block, Trigger Safety, Loaded Chamber Indicator
Magazine Release: Reversible
Overall Length: 6.30"
Slide Width: 1.05"
Grip Width: 1.15"
Weight: 22.5 ozs. With Empty 15-Round Magazine
Capacity: 15+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:10" RH
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: Two Magazines, Lock, Owner's Manual
Suggested Retail: $342.98