by Duane A. Daiker - Monday, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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