February 07, 2022
Even before the current run on all things gun-related, double-stack, striker-fired, micro-compact 9mms were in great demand. With 10 million new gun owners in 2020 alone, this category is most popular. In a nation where handgun owners more often make purchases motivated by self-protection, such compact firearms make sense. Today, examples are available from nearly every major firearm manufacturer, so it can be tough to stand out. Against the odds, Taurus’ new GX4 is doing exactly that.
The GX4 is significant for several reasons. For one, it represents a change in Taurus’ identity. Companies evolve over time. Under the leadership of CEO Bret Vorhees, the pace of change at Taurus USA has increased dramatically. Vorhees came on board from Walther in January 2020, and made changes throughout the organization. Among the more tangible examples is a revamping of the customer service department. There’s a priority in honoring the company’s lifetime warranty. When Vorhees took the helm, the average turnaround time for a warranty repair was 22 weeks; it’s now just four days. That’s leadership.
There were other more fundamental changes. Taurus has always been a brand that was considered a great value among its peers. Under Vorhees, the company no longer seeks to build the best gun at a given price point, but the best gun that it can. Out of that mindset came the GX4, a subcompact double-stack 9mm that rivals the P365, Hellcat and Max-9.
Most “new” guns are natural evolutions of existing designs; new caliber, new barrel length, new look, for example. It would have been easy for Taurus to make a few tweaks to its subcompact G3C 9mm and release it in 2021, but that’s not the route the company took. The GX4 was engineered from the ground up to be different. With 30 fewer parts than a G3C, it is an entirely new handgun altogether, one built for a specific purpose. As Vorhees put it, “This is not a competition gun or a duty gun, it is a concealed carry gun and was designed as such.”
My first look at the GX4 took place at Taurus USA’s impressive new facility in Bainbridge, Georgia — several months before its public release. On most days, I carry a subcompact in the same product category as the new Taurus, so the basics of the design were already familiar to me. It was compact, the controls made sense and the grip felt comfortable. I could find no fault with it but it didn’t blow me away. It wasn’t until I shot the GX4 that I really came to appreciate its virtues. Vorhees and I put hundreds of rounds through a pair of GX4s on a chilly south-Georgia morning, and I quickly became impressed. After the first mag ting’d an array of steel targets at the company’s outdoor range, I turned to Vorhees with a smile and said, “You are going to sell as many of these as you can make.”
So what stood out? If polymer-framed striker-fired handguns have a weakness, it is the spongy trigger pulls. I’m an unabashed trigger snob, and these type of guns never seem to satisfy me. The first thing I noticed was the uniquely clean trigger stroke. After a short take-up, the GX4’s trigger hits a wall and then breaks with zero perceptible creep at 6 pounds — even. The reset is short, positive and repeatable, too. Part of the magic is the simplicity of the singe-action mechanism (and there’s no re-strike capability). The trigger shoe has a modern, nearly flat shape that suits the gun well. Overall, it looks and feels more like an aftermarket trigger than a factory one. Thanks in part to the trigger, the GX4 is very shootable.
The second thing that I noticed about the GX4 was my ability to manage its recoil. Subcompact guns can be snappy, but not this one. The GX4 was very controllable during rapid fire drills. There are two factors at play here: The overall geometry and the design of the polymer frame. The GX4’s bore axis sits low in the gun’s design, which provides natural leverage against muzzle rise. The frame allows for a high grip on the gun thanks to an undercut triggerguard, which provides another layer of control. While most 9mm micros don’t allow the ability to easily make changes in the grip size, two different-sized backstraps are included with the GX4. The backstraps are interchangeable with a single pin to accommodate the shooter’s preference, too.
Another important part of being able to control a handgun in recoil is the ability to keep a firm grip, regardless of the conditions. The GX4’s frame texture is molded into the frontstrap, side panels and backstrap. Additionally, a small patch of texture is applied on each the side of the frame. This provides purchase where the shooter’s weak-hand thumb is likely to make contact, as well as a position on which to index the trigger finger when not ready to fire. The GX4’s grip texture is aggressive enough to be effective, but not so harsh that it would be uncomfortable against the skin. This is especially important for appendix carry, which has become increasingly popular in recent years. The grip texture is also recessed to a slightly lower surface on the frame, once again protecting skin and clothing. These little details do matter and are evidence of Taurus’ commitment to elevating the brand.
Though the grip frame is polymer, the rest of the major components are made from steel. A rigid stainless-steel chassis rides inside the polymer exterior for stability. The steel insert is the serial numbered part, which means that the grip frame could be legally replaced. The slide is made from gas nitride-coated carbon steel, and the barrel is DLC-coated stainless. Some internal parts are finished in Teflon for lubricity’s sake.
Unlike the throwaway sights found on some modern handguns, the GX4’s sights are steel and good quality. The front sight has a small white-dot inset in its face, and the simple, black, drift-adjustable rear is serrated to cut glare. For compatibility’s sake, Taurus has moved away from its proprietary sight cut on the GX4, instead opting for one that will make it compatible with aftermarket sights designed for Glock pistols and other handguns. The front sight is secured with a Torx head from beneath, making it easy for the enduser to change.
Part of the GX4’s appeal is its capacity relative to its size. It is concealable, of course, but thanks to its magazine it gives up nothing in terms of firepower. The double-stack magazine bodies are steel and taper upward to a single feed mouth for reliability. Base pads are polymer, as is the highly-visible yellow follower. Standard capacity is 11-plus-one rounds, available in most states, and 10-plus-one rounds for residents of restrictive jurisdictions. Two magazines ship with the GX4, and a 13-round extended magazine will soon be available.
The controls are minimalistic, with a simple and unobtrusive slide stop and a reversible magazine release. A takedown pin is actuated by turning a slot on the right side of the firearm, allowing for easy disassembly. It’s designed for a flat screwdriver, but a car key works in a pinch. There is no manual safety, but there are three passive safety features built into the design. The first is a trigger safety, which ensures that the gun will not fire without the center of the trigger blade pressed. A firing-pin block ensures that the GX4 won’t fire if dropped, and a loaded-chamber-indicator gives the shooter visual and tactile confirmation of the chamber’s condition.
The traditional mindset of self-defense taught us that felonious attacks would come at close range, and often at arms-reach. While this is still the case in many circumstances, the emergence of the active shooter has changed the public threat a bit, in my opinion. A glance down the aisle of a big-box store lays out the reality that some level of precision is a necessity on a defensive handgun. The typical accuracy associated with highly concealable subcompacts might not get it done. To evaluate this capability, Vorhees and I backed up to the 100-yard line to test the GX4s accuracy potential. On targets that estimated the size of an adult torso, we hit with 23 out of 24 rounds — offhand.
After my visit to Taurus USA, I received a second GX4 to test in more detail at my home range. Further accuracy testing from the bench helped quantify the GX4’s potential for mechanical accuracy. From a sturdy bench, my first test group using Federal’s 147-grain Syntech load sent four rounds into a single hole with a flier taking the group out to just under 11/2 inches at 25 yards. Though I wasn’t able to repeat this feat, it nonetheless demonstrated to me that the gun will shoot better than you if you let it. The sights were well-regulated to the gun’s point of impact regardless of the bullet weight or type that we chose, also.
Between the two examples that I’ve shot, I am pushing 500 rounds of six different ammo types through the GX4 with zero malfunctions. This handgun has earned my confidence. With the typical human mindset of “expensive must be better,” I don’t know that I would have previously considered carrying a handgun available at this price for self-defense. After my time with the GX4, my attitude has changed. This isn’t a bargain handgun, it just happens to be a bargain.
How did the company build such a great handgun for less than $400 retail? Part of the equation is the cost of labor in Brazil versus the U.S. or Europe. This reality gives Taurus an advantage and allows it to price its products attractively. Though the parts are manufactured overseas, assembly takes place in Georgia, as will any necessary warranty repairs.
Taurus is a brand on the rise. With strong leadership and increased collaboration between the U.S. and Brazilian engineering teams, the company is producing firearms designed especially for the needs of American shooters. The market has spoken and Taurus is paying attention. The GX4 is an accurate, concealable and controllable firearm ideal for everyday carry. It’s a strong first step towards building Taurus’ reputation as a premium firearm manufacturer, and it certainly won’t be their last.
Taurus Micro GX4 9mm Semiauto Pistol: Full Review
- Type: Recoil operated, striker-fired, semiautomatic
- Cartridge: 9mm
- Capacity: 11+1 rds.
- Overall Length: 6 in.
- Height: 4.3 in.
- Weight: 1 lb., 2.1 oz.
- Material: Stainless steel, polymer
- Grip: Polymer with interchangeable backstraps
- Trigger: 6 lbs. (tested)
- Safety: Trigger mounted; internal
- Finish: Gas nitride, DLC, Teflon
- Sights: Steel, white dot (front), serrated black (rear)
- MSRP: $393
- Manufacturer: Taurus USA, 800-327- 3776, taurususa.com
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