Taurus PT 1911 Range Report

A dark gray and silver LW frame .45 with a wood-grained grip lying on a gray blue background with a box of ammunition.

Well into 100 years of service, the 1911 handgun is going strong and more popular than ever. When the 1911 was designed, intensive skilled labor and machine work was less expensive. Today high-end 1911 handguns are often prohibitively priced for many of us. Affordable 1911 handguns, with a forged frame and slide, are few and far between.

The Taurus PT 1911 in black with a medium brown engraved grip, pointed to the left.
Reliable, accurate and fairly priced—the PT 1911 is a winner.

When looking over mid-priced handguns, I am impressed by the quality, machine work, fit and finish of the Taurus PT 1911 pistols. There is considerable hand fitting involved in the 1911, and the PT 1911 shows signs of someone who knows what they were doing having had their hands on the pistol. A nice touch is that the pistol’s barrel, frame and slide are marked with the serial number in military serialization standard. The PT 1911 features a well-fitted barrel and barrel bushing, full-length guide rod, lowered and flared ejection port, and forward cocking serrations. My example sports first-class Novak low-mount sights. The Novak is the standard by which all other handgun sights are measured. They are low snag and low profile by design, but also give an excellent sight picture. The sights, fitted into a dovetail, are the superior option as opposed to the old style. staked on front and simple rear sight.

A man in a dark brown sweater with red ear protection shooting at a target range in front of a wooded area.
Opening up on the plates—and we have a hit!

A custom grade feature of the pistol is a checkered front strap. No, it isn’t custom grade, but this checkering gives the shooter good adhesion when firing heavy loads. While some of the Taurus pistols are supplied with plastic grips, some have wood grips and other custom features. The example illustrated features cocobolo grips. I do not need an ambidextrous safety but the PT 1911 features a safety that works with left-handed people. (I am a natural lefty—if I had had the choice many years ago, I might be shooting with the left hand today!) Few handguns in the price range have this feature. The pistol features a beavertail grip safety. The beavertail grip safety funnels the hand into a proper firing grip. The grip safety properly releases the trigger at about half the grip safety’s travel, the proper setting. For those that use the competitor’s grip, with both thumbs forward, the grip sometimes lifts the palm off the grip safety. The Taurus grip safety is a great aid in this regard. Overall, the pistol seems well appointed.

A man in a dark brown sweater with red ear protection getting ready to shoot a 5 in 1911, with a wooded area in the background.
The long sight radius of the 5-inch gun is an aid in off hand fire.

There are a number of variations on the theme including 9mm and .38 Super versions of the PT 1911. There are bright nickel versions, blue and other finishes to suit your druthers, and also a version with a rail for mounting a combat light. My personal PT 1911 is a lightweight frame version. This is simply a five-inch barrel 1911 with an aluminum frame. I like the option of deploying a pistol with the full-length five-inch barrel and with a total weight of about nine ounces less than the usual Government Model pistol.

Performance of the PT 1911

To evaluate the performance of the PT 1911, I began on the firing line with a box of Wilson Combat magazines and a good supply of practice ammunition. This included some handloads, a number of FMJ loadings, a couple of modern JHP loads and one JHP +P. When firing the LW frame Taurus, muzzle flip is subdued—much like the standard steel frame gun. Recoil will sneak up on you after 100 rounds or so. In other words, you will run a combat course much in the manner you would with a heavy frame .45. However, after 100 rounds or so, you will realize this gun kicks more than a steel frame. That is simply respect of the laws of physics. The steel frame PT 1911 isn’t difficult to handle with standard loads and neither is the LW .45; they are simply different. The initial range testing was conducted with a mix of remanufactured loads, including the 200-grain lead SWC and the 230-grain FMJ. There is nothing wrong with lead loads; they are ideal for the .45 ACP.

A dark gray and silver LW frame .45 with a wood-grained grip lying on a gray blue background with a box of ammunition.
This is the author’s personal LW frame .45.

The big .45… simply set on the targets and laid the lead in. Trigger compression on the PT 1911 is a pleasant five pounds even, which is a very useful trigger action. Drawing from a Blocker X 16 holster, the draws were smooth and hits came easily. Running the Taurus over the steel gongs, I was rewarded with a resounding clamor with almost every shot—the misses were my fault.

In personal defense drills, the piece is undeniably 1911 with the straight to the rear trigger and good sights driving good hits. At 7 yards, the PT 1911 cuts one ragged hole time after time. During the next range session, I bench rested the pistol for absolute accuracy. The trigger and sights are good for practical accuracy. The barrel fitting shines during proper bench rest testing. The PT 1911 proved capable, and like all quality handguns, prefers one load to the other.

A man in a brown sweater and khaki pants shooting the pT 1911 against a wooded background.
The PT 1911 is fast handling and accurate!

25-yard Benchrest Group

Manufacturer Bullet Weight Type Average of two 5-shot groups
Black Hills 200-grain SWC 2.8 inches
Black Hills 230-grain FMJ 3.0 inches
Winchester 230-grain Bonded Core 2.9 inches
Winchester 185-grain Silvertip 3.25 inches

The PT 1911 is a good all around handgun at a fair price. That is all we may ask. Some years ago, I tested the first PT 1911 I could get my hands on and found it good. Within a few months, a correspondent wrote the magazine. He had purchased his own PT 1911 and went out and taken a nice boar hog with it. This type of interaction with the readers makes things worthwhile.

Do you have a 1911? What is your favorite? Start your interaction below.



About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (6)

  1. I have 2 PT 1911. Both in stainless; one in 38 super and one in 45.
    Both were tack drivers out of the box; never had to move the sights.
    Beautiful finish; great trigger pull. They shoot any ammo with no problems;
    even my reloads.
    Have magazines from 3 different manufactuers; no problems.
    Have added inexpensive 9mm, 40 S&W, and 400 corbon barrels; with no problems. Added the Taurus wood grib to the 38 super; beautiful grips.
    For what I paided, they are 5 star.

  2. I have a Taurus PT 1911 in 9mm also. Had constant FTF issues until I replaced the craptastic Taurus magazines it came with. Also had mismatched sights on it like Steve mentioned. I tried to get Taurus to stand behind their product, stayed on hold one day for an hour only for them to tell me that they wouldn’t correct their mfr defect (sights) and wanted me to ship my faulty magazines to them on my nickle. I’ll never buy another Taurus product.

  3. I purchased 2 PT1911 pistols when they first came out. The one with the light weight frame shot where aimed. The heavy weight frame shoots a very tight group, but 8″ low at 7 yards. It went back to Taurus and came back with the same problem exactly. The lifetime warranty is nice, but not if they don’t fix the problem.

  4. i own a colt 45 1911, it was used by a county police officer for years and what ever type of ammo i use in it, the shot pattern is still the same each time i pull the trigger,

  5. I have had a Taurus PT 1911 in 9mm for a few years. Probably one of the first PT in 9mm they made. It came with fixed Novak sights. The gun has always performed well, no malfunctions, but shot 6″ low at 50′. When I contacted Novak for advice on correcting the point of aim they said the sights on my gun were not made by them. They had licensed Taurus to make the sights and they were not made to the same dimensions as true Novak produced sights. Since I was not the first to have this issue, Novak had a solution. They had developed a similar scale adjustable Novak sight that they said would solve my problem and it did. It was a shame Taurus had not put their sight on the gun in the first place. I do not know who makes the sight they currently use.

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