Taurus PT 738 TCP

Taurus PT 738 TCP

The handgun lives up to the functional, pocket-pistol moniker, but don’t let this fully loaded handgun’s size fool you.

By Duane A. Daiker (RSS)
April 11, 2011

Few manufacturers can boast the breadth of handgun models now produced by Taurus. Many of these guns are very innovative and offer consumers a product that is not available elsewhere—or certainly not available at the affordable prices for which Taurus is known. Once such example is the new Taurus PT 738 TCP chambered in .380 ACP. (More photos can be seen here.)

In Taurus lingo, TCP stands for “Total Concealment Pistol,” an accurate description for this diminutive handgun. The PT 738 TCP is similar in size to its most obvious competitors, the Kel-Tec P-3AT and Ruger LCP. Weighing slightly more than 10 ounces empty, the TCP is the lightest pistol currently made by Taurus. Clearly, this gun is the company’s attempt to break into the very competitive .380 ACP pocket-pistol market.


The TCP’s trigger is double-action only, with a light and manageable pull. It is quite nice for a gun of this size. A shrouded hammer is partially tensioned by operation of the slide under recoil, which contributes to the relatively light pull weight. The downside is the TCP has no “repeat strike” capability. In the event of a failure to fire, the slide must be cycled to reset the trigger.

Taurus PT 738 TCP

The Taurus PT 738 TCP delivers strong .380 ACP performance in a pocket-sized pistol.

Sights on the TCP are quite usable, although not the gun’s best feature. The low-profile fixed sights are milled into the slide and are essentially unbreakable. I would prefer a bit more of a sight picture created by a deeper rear groove and larger front blade, but the sights are adequate for a gun of this type. Additional sighting capability could be obtained by adding the Crimson Trace LG-407 Laserguard laser sight, which was not yet available when I tested the TCP.

The TCP has one nice feature not always seen in pocket guns of this size—a slide stop. The handgun will lock back on an empty magazine and can be manually locked open. While pocket pistols are generally not designed for quick reloads, a slide stop is very beneficial for those who seek fast-reload capability. The slide and magazine releases are both positioned in the traditional manner, further aiding the reloading process.

The black-polymer frame and matte-stainless slide are well designed for concealed carry, with no sharp edges to snag on holsters or clothing on the draw. Aggressively cut serrations on the slide make the small part easy to grasp and manipulate.

Taurus PT 738 TCP, barrel, recoil spring

Despite requiring a flat-blade screwdriver for field stripping, disassembling the pistol is easy for routine cleaning of the 2.84-inch barrel and the dual recoil springs.

The grip frame is sufficiently textured for a proper grip, without being too abrasive. As a result of this careful attention to the TCP’s external design features, the gun fits nicely in its concealed-carry role.

It also comes with two, six-round magazines. All pistols should come with at least two magazines, and I appreciate Taurus including two as standard equipment. My sole complaint with the magazines is their large base plates are much wider than the magazine body. Obviously, the base plate is designed to match flush with the grip, but this makes the magazine wider than necessary—rendering a spare magazine more awkward to carry.

Taurus also includes a unique accessory with every gun: a PDA-style belt case for concealed carry. This black-nylon case holds the TCP upside down and horizontal. The fold-over top is secured by magnetic snaps and the whole case attaches to the belt with a nylon loop or standard metal belt clip. To draw the pistol, open the top and push the gun up from finger holes in the bottom of the pouch. The gun essentially rotates up into position so you can obtain a firing grip and complete the draw. With just a little bit of practice, the draw becomes relatively quick and easy.

This holster is made by Bulldog Cases, and is quite handy. I love holsters that hide a gun in plain sight, and this one accomplishes the feat well. Kudos to Taurus for including such an innovative accessory. If you are not inclined to carry in the Bulldog case, the TCP is perfectly suited to pocket carry, ankle carry or any other deep-concealment method. A gun this size can be hidden just about anywhere.

Taurus PT 738 TCP, sight, rear sight

The front and rear sights are milled into the slide for the ultimate in durability, yet provide an adequate sight picture for defensive purposes.

It’s easy to disassemble, but a flat-blade screwdriver or similar tool is required. After locking back the slide, the locking pin must be removed by prying it away from the pistol frame. This is not hard to do, but you must be careful not to inadvertently scratch the frame or slide. Once the locking pin is out, the slide can be removed for access to the barrel and recoil-spring assembly.

Unlike some inexpensive mouse guns, the Taurus has a very polished look and feel. The slide-to-frame fit is tight and all the moving parts operate smoothly. The obvious quality of this handgun inspires confidence in its long-term durability.

If inspiration is not enough, Taurus stands firmly behind its firearms with the industry’s only Unlimited Lifetime Repair Policy. This policy extends not only to the original owner, but also to any subsequent purchasers. You can’t ask for a stronger warranty. And, my experience with Taurus customer service has been very positive.

Testing revealed some interesting results. Put simply, the PT 738 TCP shoots very well. I fired a number of different TCPs in the past few months, including a model purchased from my local dealer’s stock. I put several hundred rounds through these various pistols—all without a single malfunction of any kind. While pocket pistols can sometimes be finicky, the TCP did not have any problems digesting ammunition.

Taurus PT 738 TCP grip

The PT 738 TCP’s grip contains subtle texturing, creating a non-slip surface to provide adequate purchase for this ultra-small, lightweight carry pistol without being too abrasive.

I tested the TCP with variety of high-quality defensive ammo from Hornady, Cor-Bon and Speer. All the loads performed well, and any would be good choices for carry in this pistol. Accuracy was very good and I was able to shoot close to 1-inch groups offhand at 15 feet. The limitation on this pistol is clearly in the rudimentary sights, which limits practical accuracy at longer distances. However, the TCP is still more accurate than one should reasonably expect from a pocket pistol.

The DAO trigger pull is light for a gun of this type. At about 5 pounds, the trigger is long and heavy enough for safety, but very manageable for accurate shooting. All the other controls are well placed for easy operation. For its size, the TCP is remarkably easy to handle and manipulate through shooting drills.

In my experience, pocket-sized pistols can be unpleasant to fire, but even the hot loads tested in the TCP were not particularly objectionable. The ergonomics of the grip frame help tame these loads and the TCP performs as well as much larger and more expensive guns.

Despite its small size, the TCP has all the features I look for in a defensive handgun. This is not a stripped-down pocket pistol by any means. And yet, it is extremely affordable, with an MSRP of $352 and street prices just more than $300. With two magazines and a belt holster included, the price is hard to beat. When you consider the additional peace of mind provided by the Taurus Unlimited Lifetime Repair Policy, the PT 738 TCP is clearly one of the best values in a market crowded with .380 ACP pocket pistols.

Manufacturer: Forjas Taurus
Importer: Taurus International Manufacturing; (305) 624-1115
Action: Recoil operated, semi-automatic
Caliber: .380 ACP
Capacity: 6+1
Frame: Polymer
Slide: Stainless steel
Finish: Black polymer frame, matte-stainless slide
Barrel: 2.84 inches, stainless steel
Rifling: 6 grooves; 1:9.84-inch RH twist
Sights: Fixed, low-profile
Trigger Pull Weight: 5 pounds
Length: 5.25 inches
Width: .87 inches
Height: 3.60 inches
Weight: 10.2 ounces
Accessories: Two magazines; PDA-style belt holster, two keys for the Taurus Security System
MSRP: $352

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38 Responses to Taurus PT 738 TCP

  1. Pingback: Taurus PT 738 TCP | Shooting Illustrated

  2. David Madden says:

    I own the Taurus PT 738 TCP without the laser. I compared it to many similar handguns. This gun is a perfect solution for ultimate concealment. I have piano hands, meaning long fingers on medium-large hands. The handgun is easy to hold and my small finger fits under the clip.

    The hold and grip are very good. Recoil is small; the bullet effective for ultra-concealment and backup, and the accuracy is good. I train from 21 feet at a target 6 inches tall and wide as the width of an average person’s chest. Shots are spot on and easy to use once I adjusted to aiming two inches higher than my attended target. This is not as hard to do, as it seems.

    I have many good things to say about this handgun. The grip is comfortable. It is easy to breakdown despite needing fingernails or knife blade to remove the assembly pin. With a little practice, it has proven to be no trouble at all.

    This is a great concealment gun. I have shot the 9mm and 380 against each other. I prefer the 9mm for my large handguns but I love the 380 for concealed carry when concealment is the focus.

    I will be adding the laser and it just makes things so much easier in those precious seconds of defensive action. I highly recommend this handgun. I also recommend joining the NRA.

  3. Gary A. Chelette says:

    I bought my wife a TCP when she was complaining that her Bersa was too heavy and too large for her small purse. She can shoot it well and it’s small enough to fit into any purse.
    Great little gun!

  4. rene plascencia says:

    Deadly accurate at 40 feet! or 18 steps!

  5. STEVE says:


    • Vern Glaser says:

      I haven’t seen the two round extension mags just yet, either! However, I did find pinky grips extensions specifically made for the Taurus PT 738 at gunzngripz.com. Though not perfect, these will have to do until I can find the two round extension mags.

    • Vern Glaser says:

      Hit the wrong reply button. Comment belongs to Weyth below!!!

  6. Weyth says:

    The owners manual shows a two round mag. extension any body ever see one? I can’t find one listed in their catalog.

  7. Kenya Cole says:

    I need to get new keys for the Taurus 380. Do anyone know where I can just buy the key at?

  8. Mike says:

    Where are you buying your guns? I just bought a new TCP and I got one mag and no bulldog holster!

    • Doug says:

      They also sell a base model with only one clip and no holster it is much less expensive

      • brandon says:

        I just picked up the base 738 with one mag at gander mountain yesterday for $229. Cant beat that price. A lot of people talk their crap about Taraus but I have never had an issue with any of mine and will continue to purchase Taraus. Great guns.

    • Your NameE.Bush says:

      SomE come with only 1 mag and no holster, I bought one like this also but it was only $212 tax and all! I can get another mag when Taurus gets there stock built back up of them for around $21 not bad. And these gun though there may be some lemons in the bunch as with any guns run very reliable, and with a warranty like they have the lemons even get fixed or replaced so you can’t go wrong with this package.

      • Random Taurus Owner says:

        Just picked one up for $180 out the door, really impressed with it. An extra mag would have been nice, but still. Can’t beat that.

  9. Erica says:

    The extra mag and case comes with the gun, Mike. Or it should have anyways. It all came in the box with mine. Has anybody come across a rubber grip for it? I don’t need the pinky extension, just want a grip.

  10. Richard says:

    The Model “C” comes at a lower price. No Bulldog case, or 2nd mag.

  11. Michael says:

    I just bought this gun for my fiance and it pretty much sucks. Every time I try to chamber a bullet the slide sticks open like the clip is empty. I’m taking it back and getting my money back!

    • jim says:

      I have that gun also. Had trouble with most hollow points.but FMj rounds work well. If you look at the bulletin the mag it lays flat. So when it hits the slide that carrys it into the chamber it is almost straight up . So hollow point catch in slide. After shooting hundreds of rounds in gun it now likes most hollow points. It is a nice gun for the money just shoot it .

  12. Jerry says:

    I too bought the Taurus PT738 last year. I went to the range several times with it since, had problems. Live ammo got stuck, cocked in chamber. Bout half way through a full clip this happened, twice. Then when I tried to get the live bullet out of the chamber, by pulling back more on the rear slide, it cut my thumb pretty bad! The bottom edges on the slide are Razor Sharp! I bought this gun at Cabelas in 2011. I took it back there yesterday, for them to send back to Taurus for repair or replace! If you buy a Gun at Cabelas, they will ship it for you for FREE, back to the manufacture. Before I found that out about Cabelas, I went to Fedex. When guns are going through the mail to a manufacturer, they have to ship Overnite! That’s the US law on handguns. Anyway, Fedex wanted $68.00 to ship it to Taurus!! The Fedex person actually told me to call Cabelas before I shipped it with them. Thank God I did!! By the way, Taurus Guarantee’s their Guns for Life! So, 2 cool things here about Cabelas and Taurus!!

  13. Kosterguide services says:

    Bought this gun awhile back and it’s awesome. I am going to buy a second one just so I have one in each glove box all the time. Good little gun

  14. Jeff Harden says:

    Just bought mine – never owned a handgun before but thought the time was right…got from Academy Sports at a great price of $199.00 but did not come with an extra clip nor a holster…but at that price I’m not concerned. Question – does weapon need taken apart and cleaned prior to putting some ammo through for the first time..?

    • jeb says:

      Some may disagree, but I ALWAYS clean the factory grease off, clean thoroughly, then use the oil that you prefer, i.e. clp, rem oil, etc. I have found that guns that shoot poorely out of the box shoot fine after this is done, but if it malfunctions after that then there is most likely something wrong with the pistol/weapon itself mechanically.

  15. Wilbur says:

    I’ve seen a lot of people complain about rounds not feeding right and sticking.

    It seems fairly common, especially on “A” series guns, for whatever reason. Anyway, all you should need to do is break the gun down and take a dremel to that feed ramp. Polish it up a bit. That solved the problem immediately on one A-series TP 738 TCP I’ve seen with the issue.

    Mine is a C series, and I have noticed that that first round doesn’t always like to slide in there real smoothly, especially if it’s a hollow point. As long as you’re pulling that slide back fully and letting it slam forward, it works fine.

  16. Roger says:

    For the price what more can you ask fore still yet to shoot mine . Hard to find mags for this little bad ass 380 . Got mine at gander for 240 after tax .

    • Hondo Lane says:

      Try eBay for the extra magazines. I just purchased a 10 round along with and grid extension for $55 after shipping.

      • nick says:

        where did you buy the 10 round and grid extension. i just bought the 10 round clip but cannot find ANYWHERE to get the grid extension, magwell, grip extension or mag extender.

  17. Tom says:

    The best gun in the world is the one you have on you when you need it!!! The TCP makes this easy to have on you all the time. Mine has been 100% reliable, and extremely accurate. I just wish I bought the extra mags when I picked up the gun!

  18. Don says:

    What about remington and Winchester .380 FMJ.

    Which bullet loads well yours and these 2.
    Picking up one for my wife on Tuesday. Dealer wants to sell me 25 rounds for $15

  19. Gary says:

    The TCP would be a nice gun, but there is one minor catch. The slide will not lock into battery. After about 45 minutes I get the slide to close but it take enormous pressure on the slide catch and several tools. Comes in real handy if you ever actually want to shoot it.

  20. Scott says:

    I love my TCP. Just bought it this weekend at Gander Mountain for $199. I shot 100 rounds of Hornadys thru it with no problems. Very accurate patterns at 15 yards.

  21. Bob - Keller TX says:

    My everyday carry is the S&W Bodyguard 380. This pistol has never had a single failure in over 800 rounds – but it does have a very long very heavy trigger pull. The Taurus TCPhas been a perfect option for her. Trigger pull is smooth and light (for DAO). We had two FTF in the first 175 rounds (first trip to the range before cleaning) – and had difficulty every mag change getting the first round in the chamber. Since cleaning this pistol has been 100% reliable both JHP & FMJ rounds. Thinking of trading my Bodyguard off for a TCP with a Crimson Trace. It is something you can carry every day.

    • Your NameE.Bush says:

      I was told they recommend a 200 round break in period before you should worry about any malfunctions, and for me that is 1 or 2 trips to the range, as this gun is a blast to shoot.

  22. larry acla says:

    I have a 380 in the taurus a clean weapon is a must a qualitiy bullets is a must have never had a problem with this weapon

  23. ian says:

    My friend bought a PT 738 TCP but has trouble pulling the slide back. Can you change the spring without to make it easier to slide without changing how the gun operates?

  24. Jimmy machado says:

    I bought this gun used and it didn’t have either of the factory clips just one extended clips that doesn’t stay in correctly despite having to hold the clip in for it to reload I love this gun.Oh but the big downer I can’t find any factory clips for it anywhere which makes it hard to conceal because of the long clip

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