Tested: Taurus G3 and TX22 Pistols

posted on September 9, 2019

Taurus International is known for producing innovative handguns that sell at fair prices. A variety of the company's outside-the-box offerings have flourished in the market place, including factory ported revolvers, the .45 Colt/.410 Judge, and the Raging Bull series of hunting revolvers. However, a few of the more gimmicky options such as the translucent sideplate View revolver or the Curve pocket pistol, have not fared so well.

This year Taurus has chosen to take a break from stretching the boundaries of unconventional design to focus on practical answers to customers’ requests along with a continued emphasis on quality construction and reliability. For those in the market for a compact, double-stack 9 mm pistol, the new G3 is the next step in the evolution of the popular G2 semi-automatic pistol series.

Designed and built right here in the United States, the new TX22 chambered in .22 LR successfully breaks the single-stack rimfire pistol magazine mold with an adroitly designed 16-round magazine.  

Taurus G3 9 mm Pistol
To say that the mid-size, striker-fired 9 mm pistol market is crowded with options these days would be something of an understatement. Often inspired by the success of Glock's G19, these polymer-framed, double-stack semi-automatics provide larger grips and increased ammunition capacities when compared to sub-compact pocket pistols. Yet their dimensions make them compact enough to carry comfortably and conceal more easily than duty-size models.

Taurus clearly targeted this segment of the market in 2005 with the release of the Millennium series of striker-fired pistols. In 2013, the company introduced the updated Millennium G2. This new model shipped with a company emphasis on low cost and improved quality. The rate of pistol returns dropped significantly while real-world prices for the G2s hovered around $200. This led to an increase in consumer confidence which in turn has provided support for the development of the company's latest offering, simply called the G3 which has a suggested retail price of around $350, depending on the configuration.

Like its predecessors, the G3 is a striker-fired semi-automatic pistol made in Brazil that employs a short-recoil, locked-breech action. Although some G2 cosmetics have been preserved, the 9 mm G3 incorporates some key changes in its design. It will eventually be available in a variety of finish options with different magazine sets. For this review, the G3 sent for evaluation has a matte black carbon steel slide and shipped with one blued steel 15-round, flush-fit magazine and a second extended 17-round magazine with a fitted polymer sleeve that acts as a grip extension.

The low profile polymer sights feature white dots, front and back, with a rear sight that is drift adjustable for windage. The deep flutes located at the muzzle end of some Millenium G2 models have been replaced with a squared off profile that allows for front cocking serrations to match those found at the rear. While the slide does have a square profile the nose is beveled and the back end is well rounded to give it a snag-free profile. The ejection port is beveled for improved function and the slide is fitted with an over-sized extractor claw.

The 4" stainless steel barrel is cut with traditional lan-and-groove rifling, making it safe to fire with lead bullets. A witness hole located on the top of the barrel's chamber acts as a loaded chamber indicator. The interior configurations of the slide and frame have clearly been influenced by the Glock Safe Action design. The barrel is supported by a dual recoil spring assembly consisting of steel rods and captured round wire springs. 

The polymer frame has been thoughtfully designed to fit comfortably in the shooting hand without a set of interchangeable back straps. The trigger guard has been lifted from the G2 while the grip shape has leanings toward the Smith & Wesson M&P design. The dust cover features a molded in 2" MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail. The rail contains a serial numbered plate with additional copies of that number found above the trigger on the left side of the frame and the barrel's chamber. Just behind the rail are left and right side indentations (Taurus calls them Memory Pads) that provide a resting place for the tip of the trigger finger.

The metallic slide catch and manual safety lever are located on the left side of the frame along with a polymer magazine release button which is reversible for left or right handed operation. The top of the grip features thumb shelf indentations which were a good fit for my somewhat smaller hands. The polymer trigger features an integrated safety lever and Second Strike capability. This means that unlike many striker-fired pistols, the trigger can be pulled a second time if the firing pin lands on a hard primer. The trigger of this particular pistol exhibited a light, smooth take-up before breaking cleanly with 4 lbs. 5 oz. of trigger pressure. The trigger reset is short and distinctive to contribute to quicker follow up shots.

The grip has a total of six molded-in texture panels to provide added purchase on all sides. It's an aggressive texturing comparable to skateboard tape, meaning, a rough grit texture that feels almost like sand paper. Some folks prefer this aggressive texturing because it’s exceptionally effective with shooting gloves and in wet conditions. The trade off is that it can be abrasive to clothing or to bare hands during extended shooting sessions. Because the texture is incorporated into the grip, it's a take it or leave it proposition.

The magazine well is dimpled on either side to allow the magazine base to be gripped and pulled out in case of a malfunction. A short extension at the base of the grip's back strap prevents the magazine base from pinching the shooting hand. Internal and external safeties include a manual safety lever, the trigger safety and a firing pin block. The model tested does not have a magazine safety. This means the pistol can fire with the magazine removed from the grip.

Dismantling the G3 for cleaning follows a slightly different procedure than other striker-fired pistols. Before starting, remove the magazine and open the action to verify the pistol is completely unloaded. Begin with the slide in the closed position. Retract the slide 0.25" and hold in that position. Pull down the takedown lever and release, and then press the trigger. The slide can then be pressed forward off of the frame. Remove the recoil assembly and barrel from the slide and the pistol is ready to clean.

When evaluating Taurus offerings, I tend to go over them with a fine tooth comb in regard to their overall quality, fit and finish. I've been examining and shooting this company's handguns for nearly 25 years now and, to be honest, not all of them have been winners. However, the production-grade G3 I worked with was clean and well-made inside and out. The machining of the slide was top notch and free of any dings, scratches or blemishes. The interior components were properly fitted and the exterior blends together neatly. The controls were smooth and operated correctly.

Formal benchrested accuracy testing was conducted at 25 yards by firing five 5-shot groups using the pistol’s factory installed iron sights. Bullet velocity was measured for 10 rounds fired next to a Lab Radar chronograph. Geco's 115-gr. full metal jacket averaged 1214 f.p.s. of muzzle velocity with a best single group of 3.41" with a five group average of 3.56". Hornady Critical Defense Lite 100-gr. FTX flew along at 1125-f.p.s. with a best group of       3.46" and a group average of 3.68". Winchester’s W Train & Defend 147-gr. jacketed hollow points launched at 950 f.p.s. and produced the tightest single group of 3.07" and the best group average of 3.26".

The trigger in particular is a step up from typical factory options in this class thanks to a clean take-up and short reset. The grip was also a comfortable shape to work with. The pistol was utterly reliable throughout the testing process with ammunition ranging from bulk box practice loads to premium defense rounds. With 5-shot, bench rested groups fired at 25 yards hovering right around the 3.50" mark, I have no complaints about the pistol's accuracy. Overall, it's a solid option for regular trips to the range, daily concealed carry and home defense.

Taurus TX22 .22 LR Pistol
Although I am a dyed-in-the-wool fan of purpose-built rimfire handguns for plinking and practice, I haven't invested much in models intended to replicate the look and feel of defensive cente-rfire pistols. Few of them have been enough like the guns they're supposed to mimic to catch my fancy. They've generally been physically larger than a .22 needs to be with a bulky grip, a not quite right trigger pull and magazines that only hold 10 rounds instead of 15+ rounds. The result is a handgun without the benefits of a model built to make the most of the .22 LR cartridge while being a lack luster centerfire substitute since its features are not the same as the centerfire pistol it's modeled after.

Armed with my preconceived notions of what kind of gun the TX22 was going to be, I was surprised by how quickly it won me over. Not only does it successfully tackle the role of defensive pistol understudy it's obviously meant to fill, it's an enjoyable, reliable, stand-alone rimfire pistol .22 in its own right.  

The TX22 is a blowback-operated, striker fired semi-automatic designed for competition and casual plinking. Although it is not a clone of any particular defensive center-fire pistol, it has the looks, features and feel of popular compact models. The first time I picked it up I couldn’t help but notice how light the TX22 is. According to a digital postal scale it’s just 17.4 oz. with an empty magazine in the grip. Not only does this low weight make it easier to practice with at the range, it makes the pistol a comfortable to carry companion for outdoor adventures.

The square profile slide is machined from 7075 aluminum and treated with a matte black hardcoat anodized finish. The top edges of the slide are beveled, as is the ejection port, with cocking serrations milled into the slide at the front and rear. The polymer 3-dot sight system consists of a fixed blade in the front and a rear sight with two adjustment screws for windage. A steel block is pinned inside the slide to support the barrel's chamber and the spring loaded extractor.

The muzzle of the 4.01" barrel fits flush to the slide. Retracting the slide reveals a threaded muzzle fitted with a removable thread protector. The pistol arrives with a threaded adapter in the box that allows sound suppressors, muzzle brakes and other devices to be attached to the barrel. Including this adapter is a nice touch since finding aftermarket adapters can often be a challenge.

Removing the slide from the frame reveals an aluminum support block pinned into the frame just above the trigger assembly. This block houses the takedown lever extension and two sets of support rails, all of which work together to lock the barrel's chamber into the support block. It's a smart design that provides the stability of a fixed barrel while allowing the barrel to be removed for cleaning or replacement. The front set of rails also have extensions which support the slide. A third set of rails support the slide at the rear of the frame just above the external safety lever. The recoil assembly consists of a polymer guide rod with a captured flat wire spring.

The styling of the TX22's polymer frame, including the finger rest trigger guard, takedown lever and grip shape, has been strongly influenced by the Walther PPQ series of pistols but without the interchangeable backstraps. A 1.75" MIL-STD-1913 accessory rail is molded into the dust cover along with left and right side grooves that provide resting points for the tip of the trigger finger. The serrated metallic magazine release is reversible for left-handed use. The slide stop is found on the left side of the frame just in front of the low profile ambidextrous thumb safety.

Rather than having a safety lever in the center of the trigger, the TX22 has a polymer trigger shoe that wraps around the trigger. This shoe is hinged to swing slightly, to disengage the safety, before depressing the trigger that rests inside of it. The trigger pull is 5 lbs. even with a slightly mushy take-up and break that feels like the typical factory triggers found on striker-fired defensive pistols. This model does not have the Second Strike capability of the G3 9 mm. The grip features a molded-in texturing that wraps around the grip for improved purchase. It's an effective texture option without being as aggressive as the G3.

Once you see the TX22's polymer magazine you'll wonder why it's taken so long for a gun maker to produce it. The answer is that getting any rimfire semi-automatic pistol to run reliably with the broad range of .22 LR bullet types and power levels is a tricky business. Moving away from the ultra reliable single-stack magazine design, which set the rims of the cartridges directly on top of each other, took some careful consideration. Technically speaking, the TX22 is not a double-stack magazine. It's a single-stack because the cartridge cases rest on top of each other. However, the magazine allows the cartridge rims to kick out to the left and right as they are loaded. This allows 16 cartridges to be stacked in a magazine that's not much wider or longer than a traditional 10-round magazine.

Generally speaking, rimfire pistols have a reputation for being ammunition sensitive. It’s not uncommon when testing .22 semi-automatics that certain loads, and even entire brands, will not operate reliably in a given model. Usually I discover at least one or two rounds that prove to be indigestible. However, the TX22 proved to be one of the most ammunition tolerant .22 pistols I’ve worked with. In fact, every load tested, from bulk-box plinkers to hunting-grade hollow points, operated properly without any hiccups or hang-ups. The only malfunction in the course of firing hundreds of rounds was a single failure to fire due to a faulty primer, which was not the fault of the pistol.

The formal accuracy and velocity testing for the TX22 followed the same formula as the G3 pistol.

Aguila's Interceptor 40-gr. copper-plated flat-point load proved to be the fastest with an average velocity of 1470 f,p.s. This load printed a best single 5-shot group of 2.91" at 25 yards with a five-group average of 3.16". Browning's BPF 40-gr. copper-plated hollow points traveled at 1435 f.p.s. with a best single group of 2.66" and a group average of 2.76". Federal Premium's cleverly packaged BYOB Champion 36-gr. copper-plated hollow points generated 1260 f.p.s. of velocity with a best group of 2.89" and an average group size of 3.01.

The TX22 exhibited an overall fit and finish, inside and out, that's top notch. I couldn't find anything to complain about, which is quite a positive statement considering that I went into this review expecting the pistol to be a disappointment on some level. The slide and controls are smooth and easy to operate. The sights are useful and the grip is comfortable to work with. It ran reliably with all of the types of ammunition it was fed. The TX22 is listed with a suggested retail price of $349 but real world prices, as of this writing, are closer to $250. Considering this pistol's affordable price, light weight and 16-round magazine it's a real bargain for use at the range or in the field.

Manufacturer: Taurus
Model: G3 (1-G3941)
Action: Short Recoil, Locked-Breech Semi-Automatic, Striker Fired
Caliber: 9 mm
Slide: Matte Black Steel, Front and Rear Cocking Serrations
Frame: Matte Black Polymer
Accessory Rail: 2" MIL-STD-1913
Grip: Aggressive Wrap-Around Texturing
Trigger: Single Action with Restrike Capability
Trigger Pull: 4 lbs. 10 oz. (As Tested)
Safeties:  Left Side Manual, Firing Pin Block, Trigger Safety
Magazine Release: Reversible
Sights: Polymer 3-Dot, Drift Adjustable Rear
Barrel Length: 4.00"
Overall Length: 7.30"
Height: 5.20"
Slide Width: 1.00"
Grip Width: 1.25"
Weight:  24.6 with Empty 15-Round Magazine
Capacity: 15+1 or 17+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:10” RH
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: One 15-Round Magazine, One 17-Round Magazine, Lock, Owner's Manual
MSRP: $345.23

Model: TX22
Action: Striker Fired Blowback-Operated Semi-Automatic
Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
Slide: 7075 Aluminum, Matte Hardcoat Anodized, Front and Rear Cocking Serrations
Frame: Matte Black Polymer
Accessory Rail: 1.75" MIL-STD-1913
Grip: Wrap-Around Texturing
Trigger: Single-Action Only
Trigger Pull: 5 lbs. (As Tested)
Safeties:  Ambidextrous Manual, Firing Pin Block, Trigger Safety
Magazine Release: Reversible
Front Sight: Polymer White Dot
Rear Sight: Polymer Adjustable 2-Dot
Barrel Length: 4.10"
Overall Length: 7.06"
Height: 5.44"
Slide Width: 1.00"
Grip Width: 1.25"
Weight: 17.4 ozs. with Empty Magazine
Capacity: 16+1 Rounds
Twist: 1:16” RH
Rifle Grooves: 6
Accessories: Two 16-Round Magazines, Magazine Loader, Threaded Barrel Adapter, Lock, Owner's Manual
MSRP: $349       


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