April 11, 2016
There is one aspect of people that you may have noticed: They aren't flat. Oh, you'll hear admiration of someone's "flat abs" or the like, but really, we aren't flat, and thank goodness for that. So, why are pistols flat? This is a question that the designers at Taurus asked, and the answer they came up with was so good, the U.S. Patent Office issued them a patent for it. The answer is the Taurus Curve.
The Taurus Curve pistol is a compact .380 that, when I first saw it, provoked one of those forehead-smacking moments of "Why didn't I think of that?" All those years of sweating the details on pistol contours and holster shapes to tuck a pistol in tighter, and here it was, a pistol that was bent in a way even Beckham couldn't have managed.
The frame housing of the Taurus Curve is arched in a way that allows it to hug the contours of a right-handed person. (Sorry, southpaws; you'll have to wait.) That is, the left-side grip area is dished in so the right side bulges out a bit. The effect is subtle and might pass unnoticed until you pick it up. This arch not only allows the pistol to tuck into your body when it's carried; the grip also tucks into your hand when you hold it.
That isn't the only thing Taurus worked on. The entire pistol — frame and slide — is heavily melted. Every would-be corner is radiused. As far as potential hand-cutting edges are concerned, it is more like a black bar of soap than a pistol. The magazine catch is a paired button set on either side of the magazine, which extends up into the grip area. This means you have to pinch the magazine with your left hand to remove it. There is no mag button, but if you are expecting to be doing speedloads on a pocket .380, I really have to wonder about your expectations of armed encounters.
The frame has nonslip panels on the front and back of the grip area, but the sides and most of the frame are a matte-finish polymer. I can see owners of the Taurus Curve doing all sorts of experimentation and modifications such as adding panels of skateboard tape to make it just the right nonslip frame for them. The frame also has a couple of dished-in areas, one on the left side, obviously meant for your thumb, and one on the right side in front of the triggerguard, meant for your trigger finger to index in. My thumb refuses to admit the existence of the thumb recess and insists on clamping down onto my second finger. (Maybe it insists that pistols must be flat? Bad thumb!)
The trigger-finger recess is quite a ways forward, and if your finger won't reach, don't worry. There's plenty of room there for your finger to be away from the trigger.
Out in front of the triggerguard area are the built-in light and laser. Yep, right out of the box you've got the modern accessories that a defensive pistol needs. The activation button is in line with the trigger, but it shows an attention to detail that I have to praise. The activation button is flat, and you push it forward both to turn on the light or laser and to turn them off. To turn on or off the light/laser, you move your finger away from the trigger. This I like, as it means you not only have to get your trigger finger off the trigger and out of the triggerguard (a place where it should not be except when you need to be shooting), it is also a movement contrary to making loud and unexpected noises. Good going, Taurus.
On the front of the frame is the light and laser module, held in by a small bolt. There are two Allen-wrench access holes to align the laser and the battery cover, again held on by means of a small Allen-head bolt. It's nothing fancy, nothing that requires bulk and nothing that might be a source of hang-up on the draw.
On the left rear of the frame, there is an access slot where you can read the serial number of the actual receiver, not the polymer shell that encloses it.
The frame has a belt clip bolted to the back of the frame, extending around the right side, but we'll get back to that when we discuss wearing the Curve.
The trigger is linked to the DAO hammer in the receiver. You have a fairly long but not heavy trigger pull, then the hammer falls onto the firing pin. The Curve does not have a restrike capability, so if you have a dud primer (more likely the lack of a round in the chamber), you'll have to work the slide to recock it. Personally, I don't expect any pistol to have restrike, as my reaction to any click when I expected a loud noise is to work the slide and get a more likely candidate for ignition into the batter's box. The Taurus Curve does have a magazine safety, so if you lose track of both of the two magazines it comes with, you will have a small, polymer-clad club.
Speaking of magazines, you may be asking whether Taurus makes a curved magazine, how it's made and how it works. Answer: The magazine is not curved, and it holds six rounds of .380.. As an interesting detail, the magazine is marked "Made in Brazil," the frame is marked "Made in USA," and the slide is marked "Miami, FL," so if someone asks where your Curve was made, you'll have to ask them to be a bit more specific for now.
On the slide, we have a few more surprises. On the sides behind the breech, there are cocking panels that have a snakeskin pattern. The right side also has the Taurus logo and an extractor that appears unreasonably robust for a mere .380. On top of the slide, there is a loaded-chamber indicator, but there are no sights. The loaded-chamber indicator is on the top, right behind the breech face, and it is levered up when there is a round in the chamber. You can see and feel it when it is doing its job. The slide top is flat, the edges rounded as severely as the edges of the frame, and for a sighting system there is a trio of lines on the rear of the slide, pointing at 9, noon and 3.
The Taurus Curve will encourage users to develop an instinct for using the onboard LaserLyte red laser as the primary sighting system. However, to aim without the laser you have to take a different approach, one developed and advocated by the late Jim Cirillo: you look through the pistol. That is, you take advantage of your binocular vision, and you look at the threat and place the pistol between you and the would-be miscreant. Superimpose the cross formed by the lines on the threat, and press the trigger.
Obviously, this isn't a bullseye-level sighting system, but then a six-plus-one compact .380 is not something you're going to travel to Camp Perry and compete with. At expected distances (across an average-size room), you should have no problems getting good hits.
One more thing before we leave the slide: This is a locked-breech pistol, not a blowback. That means the recoil spring is not super strong, and the Taurus Curve can be manipulated by those who do not have rock-crushing grip strength. Not to be sexist, but I can see this aspect of it being attractive to the ladies.
The Taurus Curve came in a curved, orange plastic storage case with the aforementioned spare magazine, keys for locking the pistol and a holster. It makes for an excellent value.
When I saw the holster, I was in for another round of forehead-smacking. The holster is a Kydex cover that clips over the front of the frame, and the dimples in the holster lock into the openings that form the triggerguard. There is a section of what looks like 550 cord looped on the front of the holster. To gear up, you undo your trouser belt, then run your belt through the loop of 550 cord until it is located on your person where you want to be carrying the Taurus Curve. Let the holster dangle, and secure your belt. Load the Taurus Curve, then snap it into the holster. Stuff the holster behind your waistband, and catch the belt hook onto your belt. Squirm it around until it's comfy, and you're done.
When you practice drawing (and you should do that for a bit with the Curve unloaded until you are comfortable with the operation), you'll notice that the Kydex part won't stay in your waistband. That's the way it's supposed to work. On the draw, the Taurus Curve and the Kydex come out, and the Kydex bit gets snatched off the Taurus Curve when it reaches the limit of the cord. It may seem a bit odd at first, but it works brilliantly. To reholster, find the Kydex bit, snap the Taurus Curve back into it, then reinstall behind your waistband.
Test-firing the Taurus Curve is interesting also, in part because it is a design so outside the box that it simply refuses to conform to the usual methods. For instance, attempting to shoot groups is an exercise in futility. Not that the Taurus Curve isn't accurate. It is equally accurate with everything for its intended use and not at all useful in punching small groups at the distances we usually test at. I can, if I take my time, get all my hits on a USPSA target at 25 yards with the Taurus Curve, but that is more a testament to dogged persistence than a measure of accuracy. Yet, at 7 yards, I can hammer a full magazine at speed into the A-zone of that same target.
The slide locks open when the magazine is empty, but since there is no external slide lever, you have to pull back the slide after reloading to release it and let it drive the next round to the chamber.
Test-firing the Taurus Curve brings up an interesting experience. For a pistol that is as light as this one, you'd expect it to move more in recoil. I attribute its lack of movement to a handful of interesting design attributes. First, the bore axis is quite low, and the breech is locked, which soaks up more than a bit of energy. The frame shape lends itself to getting your firing hand up behind the pistol. The slide is light, so there isn't a lot of mass to hammer you. The extreme radiusing of the slide edges has been carried to, and through, the barrel. The result is a muzzle that looks suspiciously like the slant brake on an AK, and I suspect it works in much the same fashion.
The result is a compact, easy-to-carry .380, one that is comfortable to shoot. When you add in the built-in light and laser, the Taurus Curve is one attractive pistol. As a carry gun, I can see right-handed shooters snapping it up wholesale. It tucks nicely into the curve behind your hip. It isn't as good in the appendix position, but it certainly works just fine there (maybe my abs are too flat?). It is also very comfortable in a crossdraw location, again, where the curve of the Taurus Curve matches your body.
What really intrigues me is its potential as an ankle-carry pistol. There, the curve of the pistol matches my leg so well that I found myself wondering if Taurus had been following me, photographing my ankles. As soon as there is an ankle holster for the Taurus Curve, this may be the ultimate backup/hot-weather .380. Until then, it will simply have to be a very comfortable-to-shoot, compact .380 with built-in light and laser and a unique shape, and that isn't nothin'.
Will other pistol makers adopt a similar design for their compact pistols? If they do, they'll have to pay Taurus for the privilege, as Taurus thought so highly of the idea that the U.S. Patent Office approved it. Just one more clever step in the production of a very clever pistol.
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