Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Update on the PT1911s....

Or more appropriately why I don't like Taurus Products.

Both guns have been gutted, cleaned, reassembled and have passed the basic operational checks.

Some things of note on the guns, is that as I expected, the overall fit and finish were pretty rough, overall the aluminum framed .45ACP model wasn't too bad in that department. I guess my biggest grip on that is the fitment of the thumb safety, it's not done to well and appears to be scraping the frame, I can't guarantee that as I don't know the history of the gun. The grip panels on the gun as I received it were trapping the thumb safety stop lever on the right side when the grip screws were properly tightened down and made engaging / disengaging the safety harder/mushy from the drag on the panel. I had an extra pair of Mi-Tac grip panels laying around and replaced them for the user until he can replace them with something else.

Both guns have full length guide rods of the two piece variety, but thread together near the rear end of the rod and offer no ability to unscrew from outside the the gun like most typical two-piece guide rods. Why manufacturers insist on including these in builds is beyond me. They are a pain to deal with in some applications, come apart while firing in other applications, or add more tools for field stripping.

Mag catches / release in both guns were of the extended type, and a common issue I see in a lot of guns with extended mag releases is that the internal surface of the mag catch is not blended to the contours of the mag well with the magazine release pressed in which can result in the mag release trapping the magazine in place when pressed down hard.

While I had the guns apart I used some Flitz on the trigger bows and the Series 80 firing pin components and that cleaned up the trigger a pretty good amount, it's definitely more crisp than it was originally.

Colt Series 80 Firing Pin Mechanism

The only other issue I really saw with the .45 was that the extractor showed signs of "clocking" but after poking and prodding on it a little it may not be an issue.

The checkering on both guns, which is machine cut was not very nice with the lower edge of the checkering extending down to the very bottom of the gun and made for some sharp edges.

That pretty much sums it up for the .45, the 9mm variant which was stainless over stainless is a different story.

After the full break down and cleaning was done I started looking over the parts on this one a little more in depth than I did the .45.

The first sign of trouble I found was that the firing pin block plunger lever had signs of uneven wear. Now it's been a while since I've owned a pistol with the Series 80 firing pin block, but this just doesn't look right and at a quick glance, I can't see this thing lasting long. For those that are not familiar with the Series 80 Firing pin mechanism, this is the firing pin safety or "drop safety" that prevents the gun from being fired unless the trigger is pulled. When the trigger is pulled, it actuates a series of levers which lift the plunger out of the way of the firing pin so that it may travel when struck by the hammer. Busted plunger lever, NO BANG.

Uneven bevel is evident

Grain of metal visible, lapping appears to be uneven

After looking at that and going forward with installation. Just as an FYI, I did not polish any internals with a Dremmel, all was done with cloth and the Flitz compound and while I can be vigorous with hand polishing, I don't think I can shave metal...

After looking at that and going forward with installation of parts, I took a look at the hammer strut.

Wavey material appears to be excess "slurry" from the metal injection molding or "MIM" manufacturing process, possibly as a result of leakage from a seam in the mold

The other side of the strut was about equally bad, some issues with this are that with MIM, it's really hard to tell if you've got a good or bad part. This could just be some leakage or the mold may have been compromised and this could be a bad part. Also, some of that excess could break off and possibly clog the gun. I'm talking with the owner about best course of action with this particular issue, but as the gun needs to go back to Taurus for some other issues up next, I would either ask for a replacement or just replace the part with an Ed Brown part when the gun comes back. A new hammer strut from Brown is only about $9.00 so it's not asking too much for a quality part...

The next head scratching item(s) was the barrel and barrel link.

Gouge in barrel's integral feed ramp matches with lines of frame

The pictures of the link didn't come out too well, but it looked like the link was being battered into the dust cover...not a good recipe if you ask me. Why they started taking chunks out of the barrel for fitting instead of relieving the frame is beyond me, but then again I'm no gun smith but I'll be taking a look at some of my other guns, one of which has the integral ramp and see if I find similar. I did go back and take a look at the .45 which has a traditional barrel profiled and there was a similar, but very slight groove in the same place.

I made my way through the rest of the process and got the gun all back together and started dry firing to see if the quality of the trigger had improved, it's still a little mushy to me despite being polished up, as I all ready had the gun back together I wasn't going to break out the trigger and stone the trigger channel. I got done dry firing, this was all static, no holster work mind you and started looking over the gun and saw this.

What is that?

Oh! It's my skin! Lots of little micro slices, I don't want to know what this gun would do to my hand in live fire, or even worse LOTS of live fire.

A closer look at the bottom edges of the frame and mainspring housing revealed some pretty sharp edges that were not blended properly.

9mm Model, frame extends past the main spring housing on the right corner.

.45 Model, decent blending of the main spring housing and frame
All in all, the 9mm needs to go back for warranty work. The .45 model was OK, but I still don't think Taurus is playing with full deck when it comes to promoting the features of this gun compared to the likes of Springfield, Kimber, S&W etc. I remember when they first came out they were $450-$550 dollar guns, I now see them going in the $700 range.

The first ads boasted $2100 worth of features, well what I've got in front of me is maybe $500 worth of features and about $2.00 worth of fitting and labor to add those features to the gun.

The machine checkering is not all that great, given a choice I'd rather have a $150 less in cost and a plain front strap.

Checkering cuts extending to the very bottom with tool marks in the mag well.

This is not the "beveled' mag well you thought you were paying for

That amount of bevel is about 1/4 of the bevel done on my Nighthwak, about 1/2 the bevel on my pre-2001 Springfield, I still need to compare it to a Kimber and just for giggles, my '44 USGI Ithaca. Now I fully understand that comparing the PT1911 to my Nighthawk and Baers is not a fair comparison based on price alone, but if you're going to list "beveled mag well" in that group of features that would cost "$2100", it better be a bevel worthy of the claim.

Some other issues with the gun were fitting of the thumb safeties on both guns as there was some pretty bad scratch marks, don't get me wrong, where you have metal moving on metal you're going to get some where, also, the whole in the frame where the lug of the thumb safety goes in was a little battered.

There were also some hefty scratches on the grip safety, don't mind the rust, that's what brought the guns to me in the first place. Both guns needed a DEEP cleaning due to an unfortunate incident.

Those are of the 9mm, this is a bad picture from the .45.

 But you can see the scratches in the frame from the safety and a some marring of the safety lug hole.

All in all I'm not very impressed with the Taurus offerings, but that's more of an issue with their marketing department, hype and current trends in cost...which is probably the fault of the market for buying the hell out of these things...If they were still $450 and $500 1911s, I wouldn't be as miffed about some of this findings but for "$2100 worth of features" I think I'd rather have a Rock Island Armory Tactical Model for around $450. I've often thought about getting one of their matte nickel models and just trying to run the thing into the ground...maybe one of these days...Or just pony up a couple extra bucks and get a Ruger SR1911.

Will post some comparison pics later of of specific areas / features of some of the other guns.

One thing I will say for the PT1911, the stainless 1911 cleaned up real nice with a little Flitz, a scouring pad, and some gun oil. The trigger on the .45 is pretty nice after my work, better than the current state of my older Springfield, the 9mm could use a little more work, but I'd not put the effort into it until it came back from warranty service.

Some things I would probably do with the PT1911 if I were to buy one.

First thing's first, I would buy a stainless steel model. There have been many accounts of the finish on the blued guns not holding up well and what I saw on these two guns reinforces that. The slide of the blued model needs to be refinished. I would ditch the full length guide rod (FLGR) for a GI plug and guide, probably ditch the slide stop of a Wilson Bullet Proof part, and inspect all the internals, if nothing else appeared suspect, at minimum replace the ignition parts, and add a Cylinder and Slide Series 80 Trigger Pull Reduction kit, and maybe switch to a single side safety.

The slides and frames themselves seemed to be made OK and might be good for a build, the only thing that would give me pause is that checkering, it would have be sanded down for either some proper texture to be applied or left smooth etc.


  1. We haven't had very good luck with them at TDI. One unit we trained showed up with about 20 brand new Taurus 1911s (that were donated by Taurus) and about half of them had stopped running by the end of the third day's training. Over the last couple years, most of the rest have dropped as well.


  2. Despite the marketing hype and overall cost, I don't know why anyone would buy one of these...

    Like any Taurus product you can look at the Taurus and whatever model they are replicating and SEE the difference.

    I comment a lot on Taurus and their "$2100 worth of features" as related to the PT1911 ads...

    Guys, if they're giving your $2100 worth of features for $450-$650, they have to be making margin somewhere in the gun.

    For what my friend paid for these two guns, he probably could have had himself a pretty decent 1911 or a couple of Glocks or M&Ps.

  3. Wow, that was a crazy thorough piece on those guns. Very interesting.