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taurus pt740 slim – a mini-review

Back when I took Hapkido on a regular basis, we were taught very carefully to not only keep our fingers spread as much as possible (unlike Taekwondo, and despite being generally taught in the same schools, Hapkido is a very much open-handed style), but also to grip with only our middle, ring, and pinkie fingers, leaving our index finger available to "point" in the direction we wanted the grip to go.

On the one hand, metaphorically speaking, that is a very valuable training method, in that it really does provide you that convenient reminder of how you should be bending things in order to gain compliance. On the other hand (and I cannot say as though I put very much stock in this, not being a tremendous adherent to the necessary belief system), the "live hand" technique supposedly enhanced the flow of Ki into your arms and hands, allowing you to apply more power faster.

On the gripping hand, we were also taught that pointing your index finger while gripping someone’s wrist or whatnot actually resulted in a somewhat stronger grip, due to some peculiarity in the human brain that causes the other fingers in our hands to substantially relax whenever the index finger is involved in an actual grab. For the life of me, I cannot find a scientific explanation for that purported bug, or even an actual investigation of it, but here is a potential anatomical explanation for the phenomena, apparently the ulna side of your hand – the ring and pinkie fingers – is the driving force for a good grip, and your index and little fingers lose more grip strength when working with other fingers than your middle and ring fingers. All I can honestly state is that I believe I have a stronger grip pointing my index finger than not.

To momentarily change (but hopefully not strip) gears for a moment, Dennis of Dragon Leatherworks gave me a call over the weekend and invited me out to shoot some of his new handguns at Coal Creek Amory. I, of course, accepted, and thereupon got to meet the single biggest pile of suck and fail roughly shaped like a handgun I have ever had the misfortune of encountering: the Taurus PT740 Slim. Go ahead and follow that link – Dennis has some pertinent things to say.

All done? Shiny. I would like to specifically address points 2 and 3 – specifically, the stupid-long trigger take-up on the PT740 (and, reportedly, the PT709 too). I cannot seem to find an exact measurement of the trigger’s take-up before it actually bothers to engage something mechanical inside the firearm, but let me put it to you this way: when Dennis handed me the gun, I loaded it up, let the slide go home, took up my shooting posture, and pulled the trigger… And then set the gun down, ejected the mag, and racked the slide again to ensure that the trigger actually bothered resetting. It turns out that it had, and I just had not pulled the trigger far enough, but I had already pulled it so far that I was sure something had gone wrong.

This does not give me a warm fuzzy.

Giving it another shot, so to speak, I finally got the trigger to engage… at what must have been the very back of the trigger guard, right before the trigger ran out of space to go anywhere. Of course, at that point, given that this is a single-stack .40 caliber / 9mm, I damned near had to have the trigger planted in the second joint of my index finger, simply because I had to pull the lever that far back (due to middlingly-large hands (I used to be able to span an octave-and-a-half on a piano once upon a time), using the pad was simply not an option).

And this is all without even discussing that the trigger has now taught me what the whole "dragging a grand piano over a gravel driveway" meme actually means…

But then we get to "when the gun goes off", and, well, out of all the firearms I have ever shot, if someone were to hand me one of these and a box full of ammo with the instructions to "have fun", I would politely decline and hand it back. With my index finger pulled that far back, the circle of that finger and my thumb pretty much turned into a hinge for some crazy little handgun to go dancing around in, simply because I was focusing so much on trying to get my index finger comfortably that far back that I was not really paying attention to what the other fingers were doing. If my old Hapkido instructor is to be believed, my index finger was overriding the rest of my hand by squeezing that far, and the repercussions were a recoil that easily surpassed "mildly uncomfortable" – the gun was controllable enough for practice, spaced out fire, but damned if I could see myself doing rapid-fire or double-taps and actually keeping any but the first round on the paper.

Sure, a lot of this is probably due to my deficiencies as a handgun shooter. Sure, training could probably correct some of this. Sure, practicing with that particular handgun long enough would get me comfortable with its operations… maybe. Or you could spend a little more money (not much) and snag yourself a .40 caliber Walther PPS and have a handgun that posses a trigger with almost no takeup and only a little grit. I cannot speak to the recoil differences, since I only have a 9mm PPS myself, but it hardly could be worse.

Taurus may make good guns – I do not know, since I have not shot any of them – but this was not one of them. Based on nothing more than the trigger, I would avoid the PT740 like the proverbial plague, and that is without even mentioning the superfluous safety that is not easily disengaged, unnecessary integral locking mechanism, or any of its other "features". If you really want a "slim" .40 caliber pistol, there are unquestionably better options.

10 comments to taurus pt740 slim – a mini-review

  • I can’t help but wonder why Taurus would name a pistol “PT740 Slim” without including the width of said pistol on the pistol’s Web site.

  • AM

    What follows is my best guess, probably should consult a real doctor or someone familiar with anatomy to get the real scoop.

    I as I understand the grip comes from the nerves used to control fingers. Instead of one nerve branch your hands have three major nerve branches, median, ulnar, and radial. The median and ulnar are the two nerves that you would use for “gripping.”

    If you grip with all your fingers all the muscles in your forearm tense up, and I can’t prove that gripping with the index finger causes muscles in your forearm to pinch the ulnar nerve working with the rest of your fingers, but that is my best guess having studied human anatomy only at the cellular level.

  • .40 S&W is a handful in a full-size gun with the pressure and recoil impulse of the gun. I remember when I first took my PM45 to the range, I was ready for a snubbie-from Hell style beating. I mean I’d shot a Kahr P40 which is the same size, but in a smaller caliber, and that gun bucked like a mule. Of course the P40 uses a single recoil spring, and the PM45 uses a nested unit (Wally’s P9 kicks about the same as the PM45) I was amazed at how such a tiny .45 operated.

    Also Taurus is well known for their ability to fuck up a trigger without peers. The big question is how does it compare to my Radom P64. That gun has a HORRIBLE trigger.

    Taurus, like Kel-Tec makes some REALLY great gun designs (tho I don’t like that Taurus feels the need to put a thumb safety on damn near every gun they make) too bad their neat designs are spoiled by poor execution and bad quality control.

  • @ AuricTech: ‘Cause they’re dumb?

    @ AM: That is about as good an explanation as any :). I also understand that your thumb, your first two fingers, and your last two fingers all use different muscle groups to do their things, and that, when flexing, they can sometimes interfere with each other. No idea if that is actually the case – most gripping tests do not test combinations of individual fingers, at least not that I could Google up – but there has to be some kind of explanation ;).

    @ Weer’d Beard: Yeah, my PPS uses a nested spring system too, which definitely helps with perceived recoil.

    Dennis actually referred to this thing as being equivalent to the Snubby From Hell. I think I will pass on it just for that ;).

    And regarding the safety, remember that Taurus imports everything, and thus has to abide by the stupid-assed point requirements (*.pdf warning) – manual safeties seem to count for 10 points, if I am reading it right. Yet another law we need to jettison…

  • Looking at the pistol’s website, I bet that it uses the same trigger/striker setup as my PT145 – which is a DA/SA design in a striker fired gun with no decocking mechanism. In other words, most of that trigger pull distance is intended to cock the gun, which means that > 99.9% of the time it’s entirely useless, because the gun is already cocked. The remaining < 0.1% it actually has a use if you had a light strike (but if it's a dud round, it's still useless).

    Mine's not gritty, but it still has that same long take-up before engaging anything. I'm also starting to suspect that the accuracy issues are inherent to the gun, and not a result of my issues with it (I've had it for a couple of years, and I still shoot better with the P3AT and it's almost non-existent sights and shorter barrel).

  • The PT740 did, indeed, have the “double-strike” capacity that seems to be making its presence known in the striker-fired firearm world, and I have to admit to liking that general concept on paper.

    But if the execution of that concept requires a trigger pull like that, I will gladly pass on it. Take-up does not really bother me, but that take-up had all manner of resistance involved it, and if nothing was actually mechanically happening due to that resistance, that is a failure in design indeed.

  • But if the execution of that concept requires a trigger pull like that, I will gladly pass on it.

    I’m not sure if it requires it, but IIRC the Millenium series started off as DAO pistols, and they switched to the current SA/second-strike setup later, but all they did was modify the sear assembly to keep it cocked. The trigger group was, I’m pretty sure, left untouched. They probably would have been better off changing it to a strictly single-action pistol.

  • @ Linoge:
    I was on the firing line (with a handfull of my .357 Magnum handloads waiting my turn) when Dennis first shot Jay’s S&W360PD.

    It went EXACTLY like this:

    **BANG** Owww!!!!
    **Bang** Oh My GOD that hurts!
    **BANG** OWW!
    Lines up for a 4th shot…then turns to Jay and says: “I’m a grown man, you can’t make me shoot this gun anymore!”

    And so ended the saga FOREVER!

  • Heh…ayup Weer’d, thats how it went.

    I still HATE that little revolver, and refuse to ever touch another J-Frame *because* of it…

  • @ Jake: Yeah… either they should have bothered re-engineering the execution, or stuck with what worked. Trying to jury-rig a different functionality into existing hardware results in… well… crap like this.

    @ Weer’d Beard: Dennis directly compared this thing to the Snubby From Hell, so that should give you a context for the recoil.

    @ Dragon: Well, that particular one, with its Scandium frame and whatnot else, is possibly not the best item to hold as a primary example, but yeah, not so keen on the notion myself.