July 07, 2020
By Eric R. Poole
“C” could stand for “change,” a word that Taurus is especially familiar with. In the last year, Taurus moved its U.S. manufacturing facility from Miami, Florida, to Bainbridge, Georgia. Last year, it launched the lauded TX22 rimfire that won this magazine’s “2019 Handgun of the Year” award. It also introduced the G3, a full-size 9mm striker-fired pistol the same month that it celebrated 80 years of manufacturing in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
I was there for the anniversary party last November and toured the factory complex, interviewed a pair of 40-year-service employees, and soaked up the culture. Surrounding the main event, I was allowed to survey the company’s future wares and learned of a few cancellations. I returned home with a sense that the brand is morphing.
The five-shot Taurus 85 has been discontinued and replaced by the six-round 856. The controversial Curve was quietly killed off, and the 709 Slim discontinued. The new .22-caliber 942 revolver replaced the 941, and I was told that the Raging Bull series will fade as the Raging Hunter continues in that category for its aluminum-sleeved, two-piece barrel that is easily machine for an optic rail.
With 30 years of service as Taurus’ financial officer, David Blenker recently retired as Taurus Holdings’ president and CEO after just two years in that role. He was replaced on January 17, 2020, by Bret Vorhees, formerly the vice president of sales and marketing at Walther Arms.
At the time I was testing the full-size striker-fired G3, I didn’t realize how far along Taurus was in developing the new G3c, so I was a bit surprised when it arrived a few months after G&A’s review of the G3 that appeared in the December issue. The “c” suffix in the name indicates that this is a compact, so it’s reasonable to speculate that the G3 could see other configurations. However, the G3c ($306) will likely be the most popular choice given the demand for its competitors — SIG Sauer P365 ($599) and Springfield Armory Hellcat ($569) — and predecessors.
It seems like yesterday when Taurus unveiled the G2c, but it was two years ago. Even further, the G2c can trace its lineage from the Millennium series that dates back to 1997. In 2013, the $301-MSRP Millennium G2 introduced the stippled texturing you see on the G3c grip; the Glock-style pulldown tabs that replaced a slide-retaining pin to make disassembly easier; and sights. Taurus also settled a lawsuit in 2015 and reinvented the basis for what became the G2c in 2018.
The G2c remains one of the top-selling compact handguns in the U.S., which Taurus credits to its ergonomics, performance and affordability. With a retail price of $271 for an all-black model, I’ve seen these guns under the glass counter tagged “$179.99.” I think its sales success could have as much to do with its performance-to-price ratio than anything, but one could argue that you can search the interwebs and find the G2c benefited from mostly positive consumer reviews, too.
So, what’s different? The G3c is a further refined G2c costing about $35 more. In short, the G3c offers an improved trigger with wider trigger safety lever; better sights; forward slide serrations; and scallops on the magazine extension and at the bottom of the grip frame. Worth the added price is that it now comes standard with three magazines.
The slide of the G3c sets this compact apart from the discontinued Millennium series and G2c. It’s still machined from carbon steel, but it is now protected by a black Tenifer finish that resists scuffing and improves corrosion resistance over bluing. (A two-tone G3c with a stainless-steel slide is also an option.) The controls, including the slide stop, magazine release and manual safety, are given a semi-gloss black Teflon finish. Teflon is supposed to offer smoother operation through a reduced friction coefficient, and I can’t disagree.
Gone are the long scallops that first appeared on the Millennium G2, but continue to appear on the G2c. The G3c slide has been given a squared brick-shape that’s beveled and slightly angled forward of the ejection port. At the front of the slide, three forward-rake serrations have been added for those who like to chamber check by pulling at the front of the slide. The style of the front serrations complement the ones at the rear. Chamber checks can also be accomplished by simply peering through the small U-notch hole at the back of the barrel. (This notch replaces the mechanical loaded chamber indicator on the G2c.)
The top of the slide on the G3c is flat and unmarked landscape, but at the front and rear are metal sights. A white dot sits affordably up front and a serrated black notch rear sight is at the back. Gone is the three-dot system, as the G3c reflects modern thinking on dot sights. This “modern thinking” opposes a pair of distracting dots at the rear that take away from a shooter’s focus on the front.
Also new to the G3c is the Glock-pattern sight cut. Imagine the possibilities! Given the availability of sights for Glock’s dovetail, this is a smart change that greatly expands this model’s appeal among veteran shooters. Taurus did indicate that both night sights and fiber-optic sights will eventually make their way to the G3c, but many shooters will be happy to know they can install their preferred sights locally.
Inside the slide, the G3c retains a polymer-sleeved striker assembly guarded by a plunging striker block that prevents the pistol from firing until the transfer bar lifts it out of the way of the striker’s path as the trigger is pulled.
If you’re already a fan of the new G3 trigger, be sure to try out the improved trigger on the G3c. The serrated trigger is more comfortable to press and contains a wide trigger safety lever than that on previous G models. This wider safety lever makes a helluva difference in the tactile feel experienced when drawing it to the rear as compared to the thin bladed safety lever that exist on the G2c. The G3c trigger also has an overtravel stop that wasn’t there before. This overtravel stop prevents the trigger from feeling squishy beyond the break point.
The G3c’s trigger operation is unique among other striker-fired compacts, as it’s more like a double-action revolver. This is due to its restrike capability. Olivier Coulombier, director of engineering at Taurus described the process for me: “The striker catches on a primary sear when the slide is racked. This preloads energy into the spring. After the round fires, the striker resets. If you have a misfire, the striker is forward and the double-strike mechanism allows you to reset the trigger with the trigger bar, reloading the striker.”
First appearing in the full-size G3, Taurus is proud of their new trigger system and touts it as “exceeding the feel observed in other premium-priced striker-fired pistols.” (You can read between the lines to figure out which premium-priced pistols they’re referring to.) With the trigger safety lever drawn flush to the trigger shoe, the trigger takes on a flat shape that gives it a direct feel. Using a Lyman digital trigger gauge, I measured the initial takeup of the safety lever to be 13.2 ounces followed by two additional pounds of pull before it hit a wall where it can be staged for precise shooting. In total, the first-strike trigger pull averaged just 5 pounds, 15 ounces with zero overtravel. Follow-up shots, double-strikes and reset trigger pulls averaged a consistent 6 pounds, 9 ounces. Interestingly, the best trigger pull was always the first full stroke.
Still the Same
Taurus’ marketing suggests that the polymer frame’s ergonomics is why the G3c shares the same platform as its predecessor. Both frames are the same except for the duplication of the serial number that not only appears under the dustcover as it did on the G2c, but can also be seen through a slot above the trigger on the left side of the G3c frame. (Apparently, Taurus can thank the ATF for this absurd redundancy.)
The kidney and lung-shaped textured areas on the G3c frame date the aesthetics, in my opinion, as they’ve appeared on this platform’s frame since the PT111 G2. However, I love the feel of its rough, gritty texture. Truthfully, I wish the majority of the G3c frame was covered in this texture rather than with shapes that make me think of a lava lamp. (Hey, just an opinion!) I think gun owners of the future are going to look back at the G2c and G3c and think, yep, that pistol is a product of the 2010s. Of course, for its $300 price, no one’s feelings are going to get hurt if you decide to stipple the grip the way you want.
The G3c magazine harkens back to the PT111 Pro 9mm (it’s even marked so) and is made by Taurus in Brazil. It’s super slick, polished and Teflon coated. Inside, a bright yellow follower is easy to see through the ejection port when the slide is locked to the rear. It’s great for quickly spotting when a mag goes dry.
Emptying a G3c mag take a little longer than most compacts, as its magazine holds a sum of 12 rounds. Taurus also offers 10-round options for those living in areas with capacity restrictions, and spare 10- and 12-round G3c magazines are affordable at $36 each. If you’re among those who already own a G3, the G3c will accepts those 15- and 17-round Mec-Gar magazines. (Why reload if you don’t have to?)
At The Range
The G3c performed without a malfunction while shooting across multiple days among seven evaluators, including four active law enforcement officers. The G3c met most of our expectations in terms of accuracy with groups generally ranging between 2 and 3 inches from a bench at 25 yards using five loads. These results were on par with Guns & Ammo’s experience with the G2c and previous G series models.
There was a slight improvement in accuracy, which I’ll credit to the trigger. However, I noticed a small bounce in my sight alignment when dry firing that I determined was caused by the overtravel stop hitting the back of the frame as the gun was clicked. This could be remedied by gluing a small rubber piece to absorb shock, and then I suspect groups would shrink.
The most accurate target load of the mix was Browning’s BPT 147-grain FMJ, while the best defense ammo results came from using Federal’s new Punch 124-grain jacketed hollowpoint (JHP), which traveled at 1,104 feet per second (fps). I have no reservation in recommending either of these loads with the G3c.
Due to its manual safety lever, the G3c is a worthy candidate for shooters wanting to appendix carry. I find the placement of the manual safety lever perfectly placed and sized right for intuitive activation or deactivation. There is no need to break your firing grip to use the safety lever.
Taurus seems to be reinventing itself, and I’m excited to see what the 300 employees at the new Georgia plant do next in offering guns that they know Americans wants. The G3c is just one example I expect will live up to our expectations. The price point certainly does, and I hope that is a feature that will never change.
Taurus G3c Specs
- Type: Striker fired, recoil operated, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: 9mm
- Capacity: 10 rds. or 12 rds.
- Barrel: 3.2 in., stainless steel
- Overall Length: 6.3 in.
- Height: 5.1 in.
- Width: 1.2 in.
- Weight: 1 lb., 6 oz.
- Finish: Tenifer (slide), Teflon (controls)
- Slide: Carbon steel (tested) or stainless steel
- Frame: Polymer, textured
- Sights: Fixed, white dot, steel (front); U-notch, serrated, drift adj. (rear)
- Trigger: 5 lbs., 15 oz. (single action, tested); 6 lbs., 9 oz. (double action, tested)
- Safeties: Striker block plunger; manual safety lever; trigger safety lever
- MSRP: $306
- Manufacturer: Taurus International, 800-327-3776, taurususa.com
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