Where do I start in this Taurus 709 SLIM review? This whole gun evaluation turned into a headache. It didn’t start that way, mind you. In fact, I was excited to get this little pistol to test. But once on the range, things went downhill and never got better. But before I give you the details on what went wrong, let me describe the pistol first.
All About the 709
The SLIM is a thin, single stack 9mm handgun that was developed for the concealed carry market. The Taurus 709 magazine holds seven rounds (plus one in the chamber) of 9mm and is rated for +P ammunition. The gun comes with a second magazine, which allows you to have 15 rounds available (eight plus a reload) when carrying this gun. Considering the small size and weight of this pistol, that is pretty good.
The barrel is 3″ long, and the overall length of the gun is double that at 6″. Unloaded, the 709 weighs in at 19 ounces. Part of the reason the gun is so light is that it has a polymer frame.
There are two version of the Taurus 709 SLIM being sold. One has a matte black slide and carries a suggested retail price of $349. The second Taurus pistol has a matte stainless steel finish on the slide and sports an MSRP of $513. I had the stainless steel slide version for this review.
Unlike some of the other CCW guns currently being sold, the 709 SLIM is large enough to be easily used. Although thin, the grip is still large enough to get most of your hand on it (the pinky tends to hang off of the bottom) and the controls are easily reached and manipulated.
The sights are also large enough to be easily seen, though they are somewhat smaller than what you would find on a larger pistol. The rear sight is fully adjustable using an included screwdriver. I do not like adjustable sights on defensive handguns, as they tend to be more susceptible to damage in my experience. Unfortunately, this wound up being the case during this Taurus 709 review. But more on the broken sight in a few paragraphs…
The gun uses a single-action/double-action trigger pull. This means that once a round is chambered, the gun will be in single-action mode. Only if a round fails to fire will the 709 revert to a double-action mode. This gives the shooter the “second strike” capability. In other words, if the round fails to go “bang,” just pull the trigger again and it might shoot that time. The system works, but I don’t know what value it has in a combat situation. This is the same trigger system that Taurus uses in the PT24/7 line of handguns.
Although it is not really needed to carry the gun safely in SA mode, the pistol does have a frame mounted safety on the left side of the 709. Down is fire, and up is safe. A bright red dot is one the frame, which gives the shooter a visual indication that the gun is ready to shoot.
The Taurus 709 SLIM is pretty slick on the outside and doesn’t have a lot of sharp edges or angles to catch on clothing or flesh when carried and drawn from concealment. The inside of the slide has a number of sharp edges, but none that are going to cut you when cleaning it.
As far as cleaning goes, this pistol field strips just like a Glock pistol. Push down on the bar running through the frame and under the ejection port to remove the slide, barrel and recoil spring assembly.
As I mentioned above, the Taurus 709 magazine hold seven rounds. The mag is flush fitting, and it drops free without any problems. Since the frame is relatively short, many people will probably experience the dominant hand’s pinky curling under the gun rather than providing any real grip on the gun. It would be nice to have an extended Taurus 709 SLIM magazine that added a round or two, and gave that pinky a little purchase on the gun. Unfortunately, no one makes such a thing right now.
The 709 has two safety mechanisms to satisfy the nanny stat folks. The first is a loaded chamber indicator on top of the gun. When a round is chambered, a small piece of metel levers up from the slide. While I never had any issues with it, I am always worried about something protruding from my pistol that doesn’t need to be there.
The other safety device is an internal lock that renders the entire gun inoperable The locking mechanism is inside the slide assembly and is activated from the right side of the frame. The gun ships with two keys for the lock. I did not experience any problems with the locking mechanism, but I strongly dislike having unnecessary parts in a gun. It just adds more points of potential failure.
Overall, I really liked this pistol before I headed out to the range. But once there…
Range Time (round one)
I took the 709 SLIM to a nearby shooting club that lets me run a chronograph on their outdoor range. Unfortunately, once I got there a Florida rainstorm rolled in. The rain was not enough to keep me from shooting, but it did preclude me from setting up the chronograph. So, I do not have any ammo velocities to share with you.
The SLIM shot fairly well, and was pretty accurate. It had a couple of failures to feed in the first 100 rounds, which is not terrible for a brand new gun. The next 100 rounds were flawless.
Recoil was sharp, but the Taurus 709 SLIM was still very controllable. After 200 rounds I was ready to take a break.
Picking up my brass, I observed some significant case bulges from the ammo. I checked, and the bulges appeared on all of the ammo I shot: +P and standard pressure and all brands. Concerned, I discontinued shooting the pistol.
I took the 709 home and field stripped it for cleaning. I did not see any obvious problems when cleaning the gun, so I figured I better contact Taurus and ask about the bulges. That is when the next problem happened.
When attempting to re-assemble the pistol, the slide -somehow- got hung up on the barrel and frame: the whole system was jammed up. It was the damnedest thing I have ever seen. Somehow the recoil spring was working to exert pressure to keep the slide and barrel jammed against the frame. The system was stuck in a half-on/half-off position and nothing I could do (within reason) seemed to help.
Taurus Repairs and Broken Sights
I contacted Taurus customer service to make use of the company’s lifetime repair policy. I was instructed to print off a repair form and send the pistol in, which I did. About a month later, I got the pistol back. The slide was unstuck, but now there was a new problem: the rear sight was broken. I kid you not: Taurus broke the rear sight fixing the gun and sent it back to me in that manner. Ugh.
I looked at the included paperwork from the service department hoping for some sort of explanation: either for the original case bulge problem or for the broken sight.
For “Problem Found,” the explanation given was “PART BROKEN.” For “Resolution,” the response was “REPLACED.” Seriously – that was the sum total of the explanation. A call to the service department for information on the repair and the now broken sight got me a phone tree and a voice mail. I never received any return call from Taurus, nor any kind of explanation.
Range Time (round two)
Well, even with a broken rear sight, I took the Taurus 709 SLIM back out to the range to see if the case bulges were still showing up. Fortunately, that problem seemed to have been fixed. I put another 100 rounds through the gun, and got no additional case bulges.
Taurus 709 SLIM Review Wrap Up
Every manufacturer occasionally makes a defective product. I don’t care who you are or what you make, sometimes one slips past the quality control folks and makes it into the wild. This Taurus 709 SLIM may have been just that – the oddball gun that is the exception, not the rule. When something like this happens, it gives me the chance to evaluate the customer service department and how well a company stands behind its products.
Unfortunately, Taurus did not live up to my expectations when it came to warranty work. Yes, they seemed to have fixed the case bulge problem, but they failed to provide ANY kind of explanation regarding what the problem was. In fact, I never was able to talk to anyone about the repair.
They also got the slide un-stuck (I am still clueless on what happened,) but they sent back a gun with a broken sight. This is completely unacceptable. The fix one problem, but cause another. Then they failed to call me back when I call them about it.
The bottom line is this: After the case bulge fix, the gun seemed reliable. But it wasn’t terribly accurate since the company broke the rear sight. Since the company never fixed the broken sight, I cannot recommend the Taurus products at this time based on their warranty. The guns might work, but you better hope you never have to send one back for service.
Surviving the Street: Guide to Concealed Carry of a Firearm
Essential information on concealed carry. This book has just the basics - not a lot of fluff to get bogged down in. Easy to read, Surviving the Street introduces the reader to the important information you need as an armed citizen.
The author presents frank information about self defense in a way that is easy to understand and use.