Striker-fired, polymer-framed 9mm pistols suck up most of the oxygen in the room whenever discussing pistols meant for personal defense, and there are good reasons for this. They’re inexpensive to manufacture, reliable, light and carry a significant amount of ammo on board. Also, for most people, semiautos are easier to shoot accurately than revolvers. The newest such pistol is the Taurus G3 — except, in a way, it is not a new pistol at all.
If the G3 looks familiar, that’s because it is a slightly upsized version of Taurus’ existing G2c. The original pistol in this line, the Millennium, was introduced in 2005. The Millennium G2 appeared in 2013 and featured tweaks to include different sights and improved texturing on the grips. There are currently two versions of the G2, including the single-stack G2s and a double-stack G2c; Both have 3.2-inch barrels. Add a little length and height to the G2c, and you’ve got the G3.
The Taurus G3 features a barrel that has been stretched to 4 inches. The grip frame has been extended as well, and before I dive into the details of that, let me say this: The only thing that surprises me about the G3 is that Taurus took so long to introduce it. The G2c was designed for concealed carry and has been a popular product for Taurus. It is reliable, concealable and inexpensive. As Taurus likes to say, its “performance-to-cost ratio is outstanding.” The only negative to the pistol is that, for its size, capacity (12 rounds of 9mm) is lacking when compared to other similarly sized pistols on the market. With the G3, Taurus has addressed the issue of capacity.
More ammo, please!
Currently only available in 9mm, there are six variations of the G3 and they differ only in the capacity of the magazines sold with the gun and the finish (color) of the slide. There are 10-round capacity options for those states with restricted freedoms. The standard capacity of the pistol with flush-fitting magazines is 15 rounds, making the G3 competitive with other offerings on the market. Taurus also offers extended 17-round magazines with grip extensions. You can order a G3 with two, flush-fitting 15-round magazines; two, extended 17-round magazines; or, like the one in Guns & Ammo’s test sample, one flush 15- and one extended 17-rounder.
With its 4-inch barrel, the G3 is 7.3 inches long, 5.2 inches high and weighs 25 ounces empty. The G2c was too big to be a pocket gun meaning that it required a waistband holster for most of us. There’s no question of that with the G3. The G3 is a full-frame pistol. If you’re carrying it, you will need a holster. However, that’s not the whole story.
The G2c was sold with 12-round magazines and extended finger-hook basepads so that users could get their whole hand on the gun. As a result, the pistol measures 5.1 inches tall with a magazine in place. The G3 has a longer frame, sure, but with a flush 15-round magazine inserted, it is only 1/10th of an inch longer than the G2c at 5.2 inches while holding three more rounds.
The longer slide of the G3 conceals just as easily, which means with the G3 Taurus has given us a pistol that conceals 95 percent, as well as the G2c while providing 25 percent more ammunition before needing to reload.
As mentioned above, the Taurus G3 is striker-fired, but not all striker-fired trigger systems are created equally — or even alike. Trying to describe the trigger system of the G2/G3 can be a little confusing to those who haven’t had a pistol in their hands.
Technically, the G3 is a single-action striker-fired pistol. However, if for some reason the round doesn’t go off, you have restrike capability. The trigger resets forward and allows the shooter to pull the trigger again in double-action (DA) mode without having to cycle the slide. This is an uncommon feature in most striker-fired pistols. Once a round is racked into the chamber, there is no decocker, so you’ll only go to backup DA mode if the round doesn’t fire for some reason.
The single-action trigger pull on the G3 was better than the average striker-fired gun. Trigger pull on G&A’s sample averaged 5½-pounds, and the break was as crisp as you’re going to get with a striker-fired trigger system. (There is a lot of take-up.) Factory specifications call for a 6-pound trigger pull, and that’s about as heavy a trigger pull as you’re likely to find in the G3, based on my experience shooting the G2c, which has the same trigger system. The double-action trigger pull isn’t much heavier, it’s just longer.
Sights on the G3 are of the standard three white-dot variety. The sights embodies themselves in polymer, which relates directly to Taurus’ attempt to keep the G3 as budget-priced as possible. (A competent gunsmith would be able to retrofit this slide to accept various TruGlo fiber-optic and night sights with minimal modification.)
The results of modern injection molding are amazing. If you look closely at the G3, you’ll see that the textured sections of the grip are raised above the smooth surfaces. Those textured areas have a very aggressive grip texture, nearly as rough as hand-stippled grips. This really helps keep the pistol locked into your hand while shooting, but that’s not the only reason.
It’s obvious to me that a lot of thought went into the ergonomic design of the frame. On either side of the frame, just above the front of the triggerguard, you will also find a small oval dished into the polymer. This supports your thumb to give you just that little extra amount of control while shooting.
There are several other little details in the design of the G3’s frame that indicate that Taurus engineers consulted with active handgunners to produce a well-thought-out pistol. Things like the small recessed area at the bottom of the frame, and the corresponding relief curve at the top of the magazine basepads, which encourages a firm grip on the magazine while it’s in the gun to strip it out should it gets stuck.
The flat-bottomed and aggressive serrations found on both the front and back of the slide are wider with having flat bottoms. It’s what’s popular these days for a very specific reason: They provide a more aggressive gripping surface than angled slide serrations. Those forward cocking serrations are an extra that didn’t appear on the G2c because that slide was too short.
A New Generation
The first opportunity I had to go hands-on with a Taurus G3 was during some downtime while filming segments for the Guns & Ammo TV show at a target-rich range in Georgia. Even in the dust and record heat (100 to 109 degrees Fahrenheit), it performed perfectly during informal testing. It was a lot of fun to shoot partly due to the range’s numerous self-resetting steel by Revolution Targets (revolutiontargets.com). We also used the G3 while filming one of the show’s new segments called, “Pros versus Joes.” This segment pits a professional shooter against a novice, handicapping the “pro” in hopes of making it an even contest.
Taurus-sponsored shooter Jessie Harrison and her Taurus single-stack 9mm 1911 went up against G&A TV cameraman Matt Young, equipped with a G3 and given one 17-round and one 15-round mag. The extra capacity in the G3 wasn’t enough to offset Harrison’s world-champion shooting skills, but the gun ran just fine in Georgia, as did G&A’s second test gun that I’ve been evaluating back home.
As mentioned, the G3 is just a slightly larger version of the G2c with increased capacity. Between magazine article reviews and shooting guns on three different TV shows, I have put a lot of rounds downrange through various G2c pistols. All of them, without exception, have been 100 percent reliable.
If you erroneously think pistols the size of the G3 are too big to carry, you’re wrong. With a light clamped on the front and a 17-round magazine in place, this set-up would make an excellent bedside table gun for the night. Also, the 17-round mags feature a little polymer collar, which also serve as a grip extender.
For most of a week, after long days of filming, I carried a G2c concealed as I wandered around Arizona and trained at Gunsite. Believe me when I tell you, I trust this pistol’s design. I now wish I’d had the G3 because, among other things, shorter-barreled guns in inside-the-waistband (IWB) holsters tend to poke at my hip more than longer guns. The G3 conceals just as well under my stylish Hawaiian shirts while holding more rounds. Plus, having the G3’s longer sight radius makes faster hits at distance easier. While I’m sure the holster options for the G3 will expand, most holsters with an open muzzle built for the G2c should fit the G3.
A few of the reasons for the popularity of Taurus pistols with the American consumer is their contemporary designs and availability a very affordable price point. The G3 is no different.
You have your choice of an all-black pistol or a two- tone variation. The black pistol sports a carbon-steel slide treated with an oxi-nitrocarburizing process that both case-hardens the metal and provides it the matte black finish. The two-tone pistol features a stainless-steel slide. All G3 models utilize stainless steel barrels. Black models have a suggested retail of $345.23 (I wonder what the 23 cents are about?), and the two-tone stainless versions add $15. I predict that you’ll see them on sale at your local gun store for right around $300.
- Type: Striker fired, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: 9mm
- Capacity: 10 rds., 15 rds. (standard); 17 rds. (extended)
- Barrel: 4 in.
- Length: 7.3 in.
- Height: 5.2 in.
- Width: 1.25 in.
- Weight: 1 lbs., 9.3 oz. (tested)
- Finish: Matte black; stainless
- Slide: Carbon steel; stainless steel
- Grip/Frame: Polymer
- Sights: Three, white dot, dovetailed
- Trigger pull: 5 lbs., 8 oz., single action; 6 lbs., 4 oz., double action (tested)
- Safeties: Striker block plunger; manual safety lever; trigger safety lever
- MSRP: $345.23 (tested)
- Manufacturer: Taurus International, 800-327-3776, taurususa.com
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