Always bring a gun to a gunfight. That's just one reason why someone would want to pack this newly-designed Taurus PT .25 PLY auto.
When proponents of concealed carry wax eloquent about self defense philosophy, they will spend virtually no time on the age-old notion that you should “always bring a gun to a gunfight.” That’s a foregone conclusion. They will, however, voice all manner of opinion with all kinds of emotion on which make, model, and caliber of firearm you should bring to a gunfight: “I would never carry anything other than a [insert manufacturer or model] in [insert caliber]!”
Somewhere in these discussions about single-action vs. double-action or 9mm vs. .45 ACP, a wise old soul will offer up the idea that you should always bring two guns to a gunfight — a main gun and a backup, just in case. A hush might fall over those engaged in the discussion as they contemplate a scenario where guns have been drawn, shots have possibly been fired, and the main gun has either been lost or dropped or has no more ammunition or has failed. Now what?
Backup guns, the smallest of which are sometimes called mouse guns due to their diminutive size, have saved lives and long played important roles in police and detective work. Moreover, with 49 of the 50 U.S. states offering some manner of concealed carry for citizens, small handguns are more popular than ever. Often chambered in smaller calibers (.380, .25, .22, etc.) and smaller dimensions, these weapons are truly pocket pistols. Some people carry them as a primary carry gun—always bring a gun to a gunfight, right?—and some carry them to back up their primary weapon, just in case.
Beyond the matter of reduced caliber, guns with smallish dimensions offer additional challenges for shooters. For example, because they are smaller they may be more difficult to hold properly. Indeed, some might struggle to keep hands or skin out of the way of the moving parts or find it awkward to place a finger properly on the trigger or manipulate the magazine release. Bottom line: It is possible for a gun simply to be too small to hold comfortably or handle safely.
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In an effort to mitigate some of these concerns, Miami, Fla.-based Taurus Manufacturing in 2009 produced a small .25 Automatic pistol based on a Beretta pistol design they purchased many years ago. Compared to the old Beretta, Taurus president Bob Morrison says the new Taurus .25 a “modernized and technically superior version.”
Called the PT 25PLY, Morrison says it is the result of significant input from customers and is designed to meet the expectations for a present-day concealed carry weapon. New features of the 25PLY include enhanced ergonomics and polymer construction. Yet it retains the tip-up barrel from the old design. Morrison says Taurus produces the entire gun, as well as a .22 caliber model, in its Miami manufacturing facility. The PT 25PLY retails for $273 (blued) and $289 (stainless) and despite being produced in 2009, the gun has not been available until now.
The most notable features of the PT 25PLY are its size and weight, or lack thereof. At 5.33 inches in length the PT 25PLY certainly qualifies as backup gun (“BUG”) or mouse gun or hide-out gun. In fact, when holding it in my medium-sized hand and placing my trigger finger along the slide, my fingertip extended just beyond the muzzle. Grasping the PT 25PLY resulted in most of the gun disappearing under my grip; the exposed slide and barrel sat low but a small beavertail kept the web of my hand out of the path of the slide. The PT 25PLY weighs in at 10.8 ounces, unloaded. With eight rounds of .25 Automatic on board, the weight increased to 12.9 ounces. By comparison, most subcompact handguns weigh twice that amount.
Having firmly established that the PT 25PLY is indeed small and light, favorable descriptors for something you want to carry, I wondered whether its physical makeup would work against it as a firearm. After all, this is supposed to be a weapon. It is meant to shoot a bullet and may be someone’s just-in-case last-hope in neutralizing an attack of some kind. Was it up to the task?
I contemplated whether the Taurus PT 25PLY would be a case of less is more. Or less. Shooting the 25PLY would provide some answers so I turned from matters of size and weight to preparing to fire. Unfortunately, removing the magazine was not as easy as expected — I had to physically pull it out while pushing the magazine release — and I also found it a little difficult to load the magazine, which only added to my angst. Pressing in the rounds by hand proved an exercise in endurance for my thumb and, despite Taurus’ claim that the PT 25PLY holds 9+1, I could only fit eight rounds in the magazine.
As I loaded the magazine, the rounds seemed to click in place instead of just sliding in. I was actually concerned that the magazine was holding the rounds so tight that they would not chamber when firing. Before I shot, I tried removing the rounds by hand. This too, was difficult.
Thankfully, all the fuss about the magazine evaporated during the shooting session. Every round chambered, fired, and ejected properly, even if a couple of the spent casings landed on my head.
Since small handguns are, well, small, often it is difficult to get a solid grasp on the slide in order to chamber a round. The PT 25PLY’s tip-up barrel, however, eliminates this concern. Just press the barrel release forward with a thumb to get the barrel to tip up, drop a round in the chamber, and close the barrel. Want to check the chamber and see if the PT 25PLY is loaded? Same procedure. No slide manipulation needed. This feature is really helpful on a small handgun.
Firing the PT 25PLY proved a couple of key points: First, Taurus did its homework in redesigning the ergonomics of the pistol. The polymer stocks worked in conjunction with the base of the magazine to offer a very comfortable grip that was a pleasure to hold and shoot.
I didn’t expect much recoil from the .25 Automatic round but had wondered how the quality of shooting would be in such a small pistol. Each round fired offered recoil in the form of a mild push back—very tame and manageable. I excused the PT 25PLY’s miniscule notch and ramp sights because the gun’s excellent ergonomics enhanced my ability to simply point and shoot and because the gun is meant more to be a last line of defense as opposed to a target pistol. Second, the PT 25PLY’s trigger offered a long and very smooth stroke which aided in shooting accurately and should provide some peace of mind against accidental discharges.
Additional safety features include a frame-mounted thumb safety—this felt robust and engaged and disengaged positively—as well as a magazine disconnect. The gun also includes the Taurus Security System, allowing a user to secure the gun with the turn of a key.
I carried the PT 25PLY around in the front right pocket of my pants or shorts with no holster. Surprisingly, it “stood up” well, allowing me to simply put my hand in my pocket in order to grasp it. It would of course fit in the bigger pockets of cargo pants or shorts but locating the pistol there would require some kind of pocket holster.
The Taurus PT 25PLY might not be a powerhouse caliber nor the first firearm chosen for a gunfight, but with 9+1 rounds of .25 Automatic in an updated design that includes ergonomic polymer stocks and multiple safeties, it is light, comfortable, safe, and reliable. Just in case.
This article appeared in the October 10, 2011 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.