The Return Of The Taurus 917C Pistol

This re-release of the classic compact is a welcome addition to the PT92 series lineup.

posted on March 7, 2024
Taurus 917C

While the semi-automatic pistol market continues to yield innovative and truly new models from time to time, we currently live in an era of copious copies and clones of existing models and designs. In recent years, the Glock Gen3 G19 pattern pistol has become one of the more popular subjects of various manufacturers’ cloning experiments. We still see a good number of overseas offerings that descend from the M1911, Beretta and CZ-75 gene pools.

At the end of 2023, Taurus USA announced the re-release of the 9 mm Model 917C. This pistol is a part of the company's long-standing PT92 series, which, in turn, takes its design cues from the Beretta 92. It's tempting to write this gun off as Brazilian clone of an Italian military pistol. However, there's more to the story than that.

Taurus 917C pistol handgun black gun shown on wood table 9mmThe Model 917C is a member of the Taurus PT92 family of pistols.

Taurus has a production history that stretches back to the late 1930s. But the story of the PT92 starts in 1974 when Beretta won a contract to supply sidearms to the Brazilian military. As part of this contract, a factory was built in Sao Paulo to produce the 'M975' variant of the Beretta 92. It remained in operation until 1980 when the contract expired. The factory and its equipment were sold to Taurus Armas S.A., which is the parent company of Taurus International Manufacturing located in Florida. After the purchase, the machinery was transferred to the Taurus facilities in Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.

Taurus 917c closeup slide barrel frame stampingsThis particular model is manufactured in Brazil and imported by Taurus USA.

This purchase provided a turnkey operation that allowed Taurus to branch smoothly into semi-automatic pistol manufacturing with the introduction of the Pistola Taurus (PT) 92 series. Launched in the early 1980s, Taurus integrated changes to the PT92 to make it a unique offering. It had the advantage of a battle-proven pedigree, a readily recognized physical profile and a price tag that was notably lower than those of its Italian counterparts when sold here in the United States. In short, Taurus has been producing these pistols for more than four decades, which shows in their current production models.

Taurus 917c front sight barrel closeup wood backgroundThe front sight is integral to the slide, while the rear sight is drift adjustable for windage.

One of the Model 917C's more distinctive modifications, when compared to the standard PT92 design, is a barrel that has been trimmed to 4.3". This makes it 0.70" shorter than the standard-size options. Cropping the slide assembly, along with the aluminum frame, contributes to an unloaded weight of 32.8 ozs. The magazine capacity has been bumped up from 17 to 18 rounds. This version also sports a milled-in 2" long, two-slot, dustcover accessory rail to support a wide variety of lights and laser sight modules.

Taurus 917c black pistol left-side view on woodThe Taurus 917C in 9 mm has a 0.70” shorter-than-standard barrel and a two-slot accessory rail.

The open top design of the carbon steel slide reduces its mass and is reputed to eliminate stove-pipe jams. Treated with a matte black finish, the slide's integral front sight blade sports a white dot that aligns with the two white dots of the square-notch, drift-adjustable rear sight. Other slide features include a classically rounded top, an oversized extractor and rear cocking serrations.

Taurus 917C pistol closeup left-side view of controls shown on wood tableThe external controls include a takedown lever, slide stop, round button magazine release and an ambidextrous thumb safety which also serves as a decocker.

The stainless-steel barrel is treated with a matte black finish that matches the rest of the pistol. It's worth noting that the barrel does not tip up as the action is cycled. This is due to the falling locking-block system inspired by the Walther P38 to allow the barrel to remain in alignment with the slide as the action cycles. The recoil assembly consists of a single, round wire spring supported by a full-length stainless steel guide rod. The muzzle end of this rod is highly polished, which is a nice touch.

Taurus 917C pistol black color closeup  grip frame controls finger grooves wood tableThe grip features a finger-grooved front strap and textured polymer grip panels.

The one-piece aluminum frame has a trigger guard that is curved along its front edge to serve as a finger rest. The sides of the trigger guard feature indentations to serve as touch points for the tip of the trigger finger. The steel bow trigger is deeply curved with a smooth face in the traditional PT92 style. The external controls include a takedown lever, slide-stop lever and a round-button magazine release, all of which are located on the left side of the frame.

Taurus 917c 18-round capacity pistol magazine black steel in hand wood backgroundThe magazines now hold an additional round of ammunition.

The grip's frontstrap features "love-it-or-leave-it" serrated finger grooves. Many folks prefer a straight frontstrap, but I found the grooves to be a good fit for my particular hand shape. The two checkered, black polymer grip panels are each secured to the frame via a pair of standard screws. The backstrap features straight-line texturing with an extended beavertail at the top to protect against hammer bite. The polymer bases of the blued-steel, 18-round magazines rest flush against the magazine well.

Taurus 917c pistol 9 mm disassembled view parts slide barrel spring frame magazine shown on woodThe 917C is easily disassembled for cleaning and routine maintenance.

The Model 917C is configured as a double-action/single-action (DA/SA) pistol with an exposed three-position hammer. It can rest at a fully forward position (against the firing pin), in what I'll call a "safe" or partial-cock position (0.25" away from the firing pin), or it can be fully cocked by either a thumb or the rearward movement of the slide. This hammer is paired with a frame-mounted ambidextrous thumb safety with two important functions. First, it can be set to Safe with the hammer in any of the three positions. Secondly, it serves as a decocker, which allows the hammer to be dropped into the 'safe' position with the chamber loaded.

The positioning of the hammer affects the trigger pull. Firing with the hammer forward, or in double-action mode, results in a longer, heavier trigger pull reminiscent of a double-action revolver. In the case of this gun, the double-action pull weight measured in at a relatively smooth 10 lbs., 9 ozs. With the hammer fully cocked, the trigger exhibits a short, light take-up with a firm resistance that then breaks with 4 lbs., 6 ozs. of pressure.

Taurus 917c pistol on black table with three boxes of ammunitionThis pistol proved to be utterly reliable with all loads tested.

Folks who "grew up" with striker-fired, polymer-frame pistols may scratch their heads at the relative complexities of operating DA/SA pistols. Yes, it is an old-school design but it still has its advantages for defensive applications. The person using the gun can configure the trigger pull and thumb safety to suit their preferences or needs. Carrying the gun with the safety engaged and the hammer forward requires two distinct, and deliberate actions to make the gun fire, which met certain law enforcement and military requirements in the past. But civilians will most likely prefer to engage the thumb safety with the hammer cocked, or, "cocked and locked" like an M1911.

Taurus 917c pistol in cradle on shooting rangeThis semi-automatic’s open top slide and action configuration makes for relatively tame levels of felt recoil and muzzle flip.

At the shooting range, the Model 917C was put through its paces using a mix of practice to premium-grade 9 mm ammunition, including some +P loads, with a total of six factory, 18-round magazines. The pistol fed, fired and ejected every round loaded into it from every magazine available without any malfunctions or mechanical issues throughout the course of testing.

As for bench-rest accuracy testing at 25 yards, using the iron sights and the single-action trigger, it was in line with the group sizes I tend to produce with factory guns like this one. Here are the performance results using a practice-grade CCI Blazer brass-case load along with defensive hollow points from Remington and Sig Sauer:

Taurus 917C accuracy testing graphic table specifications ballistics group size ammunition

The majority of my shooting experiences with Beretta pistols has consisted of trigger time with sub-caliber models including the .32 ACP Model 81 Cheetah and the .25 ACP Model 21A Bobcat. But my time at the range with the re-released Taurus 917C is a great reminder of why the Beretta 92-style PT92 maintains a loyal following. It operated reliably and proved to be enjoyable to practice with.

While some polymer-frame pistols provide a more rollicking ride, this aluminum-frame semi-automatic's levels of muzzle rise and felt recoil were on the tame and easily managed side of the scale. Well-made and reliable, this version of the 9 mm 917C can comfortably fill the roles of target practice, home defense and concealed-carry handgun with a suggested retail price of $607, which translates to 2024 real-world pricing closer to $500.

Taurus 917c pistol slide muzzle black gun closeup stamping company name

Taurus 917C Specifications
Manufacturer: Taurus Armas, made in Brazil
Importer: Taurus Int'l Mfg., Inc.
Action Type: short-recoil-operated, semi-automatic, centerfire pistol
Chambering: 9 mm Luger
Frame: anodized aluminum
Slide: carbon steel alloy
Barrel: 4.3" stainless steel
Rifling: six-groove, 1:10" RH-twist
Finish: matte black
Magazine: 18-round detachable box
Sights: three-white dot, dovetailed; square-notch rear, post front
Trigger: double-action, 10-lb., 9-oz. pull; single-action, 4-lb., 6-oz. pull
Overall Length: 7.90"
Height: 5.50''
Width: 1.30''
Weight: 32.8 ozs. (with empty 18-round magazine)
Accessories: owner's manual, two magazines, lock
MSRP: $607


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