Taurus 709 Slim Photo Review

22 Sep

I posted last week about finally purchasing a Taurus 709 Slim in 9 mm after spending a lot of time considering and looking at the various .380 pocket pistols. I found the LCP/TCP/P3AT all too small for me to easily handle, grip and shoot with confidence. Although the 709 is really too big to pocket carry in most situations, it is small enough (and SLIM enough!) to tuck easily into a waistband or a jacket pocket.

I have the model 709SS with a matte stainless slide. Here are the full specs on the 709:

  • Model : 709SS
  • Finish: Matte Stainless Steel
  • Status: Available
  • Caliber: 9 mm
  • Grips: Checkered Polymer
  • Capacity : 7 +1
  • Weight: 19 oz
  • Barrel Length: 3″
  • Frame: Compact
  • Action: DA/SA
  • Front Sight: Fixed
  • Length: 6″
  • MSRP: $498.00

I’ve had the pistol for about a week and have carried it a few times and spent some range time with it. Instead of doing a conventional written review, I thought I’d try a ‘photo review’ to bring out my impressions on the Taurus 709.

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Taurus 709 Slim in 9mm Parabellum. The 709 is an attractively designed pistol with a number of nice features for CCW.

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Left side of the Taurus 709 Slim showing the slide release, magazine release and safety. Unfortunately for us lefties, none of these controls are ambidextrous.

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Racking the slide on the 709 is not difficult and the slide release locks the slide open upon firing the last round.

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Field stripping the 709 is done via Glock style levers on the frame just above the trigger. You must pull the trigger to fully release the slide for removal so be absolutely sure there are no rounds in the chamber before disassembly..

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The underside of the slide is machined well with no rough spots. When the slide is attached to the frame, there is very little movement/wobble.

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The frame of the 709 is polymer with steel inserts for the slide rails and a steel barrel locking block. Interior components are on par (thickness and appearance) with other polymer pistols that I own.

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The Taurus 709 (bottom) compared to the S&W M&P9. This photo doesn't really show the actual size difference between these two pistols. The 709 weighs approximately 10 oz less and is much more compact in carry mode.

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The 709 placed on top of the M&P9 to show the dimensional differences between the two pistols. Again the photo doesn't do justice to the real size difference the you feel when handling them.

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Taurus 709 (top) and S&W M&P9 (bottom). This photo does a nice job of showing how small and slim the 709 is in comparison to a full size service pistol.

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The 709 fills the hand fairly well for a compact pistol. I fired 120 rounds during my first range session with the 709 and didn't experience any FTF or FTE issues. Recoil is snappy but I didn't find it difficult to manage.

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I found the 709 to point naturally in my hand. 'Memory pads' on the frame work well to keep your finger off the trigger until ready to fire. I was able to shoot 3" to 3 1/2" groups at 15 yards with several brands of ammo including my own reloads.

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While not really a pocket pistol, the 709 is quite compact and is easily concealable. I'm currently looking for an inside the waist band (IWB) holster for concealed carry.

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One nice feature of the 709 is the manual thumb safety. Here it is pictured in the 'safe on' position. Also take note of the Glock-style safety incorporated into the trigger. The 709 has a two stage trigger with a rather long but light first stage followed by a short but heavy second stage. The second stage is heavier than I prefer but it's manageable. It also offers you 'second strike' capability where you can pull the trigger again double action style of for some reason you get a light primer strike the first time.

P1150236.jpg picture by dtm101

Thumb safety in the "safe off" position. As mentioned previously the safety is not ambidextrous and can be tricky to engage with a left handed grip. The magazine release can be seen in the bottom of the photo. It's not ambidextrous either but I was able to engage the release easily with my trigger finger. Magazines drop freely when the release is pushed.

P1150242.jpg picture by dtm101

The rear polymer sight is adjustable for both windage and elevation. My pistol shot quite low at 15 yards even with the rear sight fully extended. This is apparently a common problem with the 709. Taurus has offered to pay for shipping it to Miami for repair, but I'm not ready to part with the pistol for an extended repair period (I'd be interested in knowing whether anyone has found a commercial replacement front sight that would correct the problem). Just below the rear sight is the 'Taurus Security System' that can be engaged with a key to make the firearm in-operable.

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There is a relatively large area around the feed ramp where the cartridge case is unsupported. I didn't have any issues with several brands of factory loads but I did experience case bulging with my reloads. The Taurus manual specifies the use of factory loads only and I would agree!

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Several of my fired reloads exhibiting case bulging in the area of the unsupported feed ramp. These were 124 grain bullets over 5.3 grains of Unique which is a rather mild loading according to the Speer manual. I will be sticking to factory loads in the 709 in the future. I've not had any case bulging with these same reloads in my other 9 mm pistols.

Buck Knives 113 Fixed Blade

21 Sep

For those of us who love Buck’s folding lockback knives, comes the “Boone and Crockett Small Elk Skinner” aka the model 113. The 113 fixed blade is of a similar style and dimensions as their legendary 112 folder. It features shed elk antler scales, a brass bolster and a  3″ drop point blade of 420 HC. A Boone & Crockett medallion is embedded in the handle. It measures 7-1/8′ overall and weighs 5.0 oz.

Buck Elk Small Skinner Knife - Boone and Crockett Collection

Buck 113 Fixed Blade

I think the 113 is a great looking knife and would make a great user or collectible. The only change I would like to see would be the option for an upgraded blade steel. 420HC is a great steel but I would like the option of 154CM or S30V.

The 113 is made in the USA and comes with Buck’s ‘Forever Warranty’. Suggested retail $190 although it’s listed for around $130 on a number of online retailer sites – which is an absolute bargain for a limited edition knife with shed elk antler scales!

New Colt Battle Rifle in 7.62 NATO?

21 Sep

Soldier Systems and Defense Review are both reporting on a Colt battle rifle in 7.62 NATO designated the CM901. It will be a modular rifle/carbine/SBR (short barreled rifle) design and will be backwards compatible with existing 5.56 AR uppers.

To quote David Crane of Defense Review:  “If the CM901 was able to excite a Tier 1 operator, we thought it must be pretty cool. And, as it turns out, it is. It’s very cool. The CM901 is pretty badass, actually.”

Stay tuned for updates and photo’s on the CM901 as they become available…..

Remington Awarded Contract to Reconfigure M24 Sniper Rifle

21 Sep

The US Army awarded Remington Arms the contract to upgrade up to 3,600 M24 Sniper Weapon Systems (SWS) to the “M24E1”. Here are a list of upgrades to be completed:

– caliber conversion from 7.62mm NATO to .300 Winchester Magnum.

– new chassis (stock) assembly with a folding buttstock, a number of shooter-adjustable features, and accessories mounting points by removable Mil Std 1913 Picatinny Rails.

– An improved 6.5-20×50 variable power Leupold® riflescope with an enhanced reticle within the first focal plane and a .300 Winchester Magnum bullet-drop compensator (BDC)

– A quick-attach/detach Advanced Armament Corp.® suppressor with muzzle brake

– A 5-round detachable box magazine

– Advanced corrosion resistant coatings throughout the system

This contract is a result of a 2009 Army solicitation for reconfiguring the M24 to the following specs:

– Rebarreling/rechambering the SWS’s barrel optimized to accommodate Mk 248 (DODIC A191) .300 Winchester Magnum ammunition.

– Replacement of existing weaver rails with a MIL-STD-1913 rail capable of accommodating both a day optic and in-line forward mounted, AN/PVS-26 (NSN 5855-01-538-8121) image intensified (I2) night vision device.

– Reconfiguring the stock with a stock that incorporates a detachable box magazine, adjustable comb and length of pull.

– Addition of a detachable sound suppressor as well as any necessary barrel modifications required for a sound suppressor interface.

– Replacement of the existing day optic sight (DOS) and rings with an Army specified variable power day optic and compatible rings.

The contract is worth $28.2 million or about $7800 per rifle. At a time when the world’s armies are moving to the .338 Lapua, I see the M24E1 in .300 Win Mag as a bridge between the existing M24 and the SOCOM Precision Sniper Rifle solicitation (which is still open) for a .338 sniper rifle platform.

A full announcement on the awarded contract from Remington is below.


US Army Awards Contract to Reconfigure M24 Sniper Weapon Systems to Remington® Arms
Madison, NC – Remington Arms Company, Inc. (“Remington”), a member of the Freedom Group of Companies, is pleased to announce that the United States Army’s Joint Munitions and Lethality Contracting Center has awarded Remington a Firm Fixed Price (FFP) Indefinite Delivery/ Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ)

contract (W15QKN-10-R-0403) for the upgrade of up to 3,600 M24 Sniper Weapon Systems (SWS) currently fielded to the Army pending type classification as the “M24E1”. The major configuration change for this system is the caliber conversion from 7.62mm NATO (.308 Winchester) to .300 Winchester Magnum to provide soldier’s with additional precision engagement capability and range. The contract is for a five (5) year period and has guaranteed minimum value of $192K with a potential value of up to $28.2 million. This award follows a full and open competitive evaluation lasting 9 months, which began with the release of the Army’s Request for Proposal (RFP) on 13 January 2010. The program will be executed under the authority of Project Manager Soldier Weapons, Picatinny Arsenal, NJ, and managed by its subordinate unit, Product Manager Individual Weapons.

Remington has a 22-year tradition of manufacturing long-range precision sniper rifles for the U.S. military and this award demonstrates Remington’s continued leadership in the art of producing sniper rifles for military applications. The M24 SWS was competitively selected by the Army as its first purpose-built sniper rifle on 27 July 1988, and the first 100 production systems were fielded on 25 October 1988. Thus far, Remington has produced nearly 15,000 M24 Sniper Weapon Systems, and the M24 is still produced today. Each rifle is tested to meet (and typically exceeds) the requirement to fire 1 minute-of-angle (less than 2-inch group at 200 yards) before being released for fielding. Remington is the military depot-level maintenance facility for the M24 and repairs and overhauls hundreds of fielded systems each year for the Army, other military services, agencies, and nations.

“We are honored to be providing US soldiers with the M24E1 solution – an evolutionary leap in precision engagement capability and survivability,” noted Jason Schauble, Vice President of Remington’s Defense Division, “Remington has made significant investments in manufacturing modernization, end-user driven research and development, and complementary technologies to provide a wide range of reliable, durable, and maintainable small arms solutions, and the M24E1 award is a significant achievement for our company and its proud U.S. workforce. ”

This long tradition of production and repair makes Remington the natural choice to upgrade this venerable system for the Government. Current operations in Southwest Asia exposed the need for a more powerful and longer-range sniper round. The baseline M24 was designed from inception to chamber a longer and more powerful round than the 7.62mm NATO, so an obvious solution to the capability gap was to finally exploit the M24’s long bolt action and chamber it for .300 Winchester Magnum.

The M24E1’s capabilities meet the initial requirement spelled out in the Operational Needs Statement (ONS) submitted by the 10th Mountain Division on 14 March 2006 while conducting operations in Afghanistan. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Representative Michael Arcuri (D-NY) supported this operational need and led the effort in the Congress to ensure funding of the Army’s M24 upgrade program in both FY09 and FY10. Senator Schumer and Representative Arcuri were also instrumental in supporting a revision of the New

York State law on suppressors to allow the Remington facility in Ilion N.Y. to possess and test military weapons.

Remington’s winning sniper rifle features the following enhancements above and beyond caliber conversion from 7.62mm NATO to .300 Winchester Magnum:

– A completely new chassis (stock) assembly, which maximizes the amount of physical adjustments for the sniper to provide a true customized fit. The chassis has a folding buttstock that radically shortens the system for easier transport and greater concealment during movement and accommodates the mounting of

accessories via removable Mil Std 1913 Picatinny Rails.

– An improved 6.5-20×50 variable power Leupold® riflescope with an enhanced reticle within the first focal plane and a .300 Winchester Magnum bullet-drop compensator (BDC)

– A quick-attach/detach Advanced Armament Corp.® suppressor with muzzle brake

– A 5-round detachable box magazine

– Advanced corrosion resistant coatings throughout the system

While virtually every aspect of the M24E1 has been updated and improved, the U.S. Army specifically required that the M24E1 continue to be built around the same 700™ series long action and that the fire control requirement continue to be met by the combat proven M24 SWS fire control. The M24E1’s fire control is set to a pull weight requirement of 3 to 5 lbs pull +/- 8oz, and has been found to survive near constant use, in and out of theater, for well over 10 years of service without adjustment or replacement.

Remington Defense looks forward to working with PM Soldier Weapons to rapidly field this system to the Army and other American military services, agencies, and allies to improve the capability of our nation’s highly trained and capable snipers.

The Remington point of contact for the M24E1 program is Trevor Shaw, Director of Defense Programs, (336) 548 8577, trevor.shaw@remington.com.

Remington’s complete military product line can be viewed at www.remingtondefense.com.

About Remington Arms Company, Inc.

Remington Arms Company, Inc., founded in 1816 and headquartered in Madison, N.C., designs, produces and sells sporting goods products for the hunting and shooting sports markets, as well as solutions to the military government and law enforcement markets. With plants and facilities in Ilion, NY, Lonoke, AR, Elizabethtown and Mayfield, KY, Remington is the only United States manufacturer of both firearms and ammunition products and one of the largest domestic producers of shotguns and rifles. The Company distributes its products throughout the U.S., and in more than 55 foreign countries. More information about the Company can be found at www.remington.com.

Media Contact:
Linda Powell or Todd Seigmund
(800) 243-9700 ext. 8578 (Press only)

Stevens 350 Pump Shotgun

16 Sep

At the 2010 SHOT Show, Savage introduced a new pump shotgun under the Stevens brand called the model 350. It’s essentially a Chinese made copy of the Ithaca 37 complete with steel receiver and bottom eject. It’s available in both a field and security version. The security version is then available with a bead front sight or a ghost ring rear and post front sight arrangement. You can also get a field/security combo complete with two interchangeable barrels.

The 350 is gaining attention these days through some of the big box stores which are advertising the security version for $219. This price range has previously only been occupied by the H&R Pardner Pump (an 870 clone, also from China).

Stevens 350 Field

Stevens 350 Security with ghost ring rear and post front sight.

I’ve been looking for user reviews on the 350 without any luck. However I did have an opportunity to handle the base model Security version and it’s fit and finish seemed ok. Perhaps more importantly, the pump worked rather smoothly without excess rattle. The drop in the stock is rather dramatic, and while it shouldered well for me, I can’t help but think shooting full house 3″ self defense loads would be brutal.

Zero Tolerance / Rick Hinderer ZT 0550

15 Sep

Thomas W. of Kershaw and ZT knives recently shared pictures of the new ZT 0550 knife on BladeForum. This is the ELMAX steel version of the 0550 (with a pre-production or unfinished blade). The same thread indicates production will not begin until December 2010 with availability in early 2011.

For more on this new design,  my previous post on the Zero Tolerance / Rick Hinderer ZT 0550 collaboration.

Ruger Mini Thirty Tactical in 7.62 x 39

15 Sep

Ruger has announced they will be offering their Mini Thirty in the popular and affordable 7.62 x 39. If you’re looking for a rifle in this caliber but are looking for an alternative to the AK, I can’t think of a better package than the Mini Thirty.

Impact Guns has the Mini Thirty Tactical listed for $684 which is in line with their other Mini Thirty rifles. The full Ruger press release on the Mini Thirty Tactical is below:


Ruger Introduces Mini Thirty Tactical Rifle
September 08, 2010
Sturm, Ruger & Company, Inc. (NYSE: RGR), announces a new model of the simple, rugged and reliable Mini Thirty® Rifle, the Mini Thirty Tactical Rifle. Like all Ruger® Mini Thirty rifles, which have been extremely popular since first introduced in 1991, the Mini Thirty Tactical allows shooters to fire the 7.62 X 39 round in an affordable, quality, American-made auto-loading rifle.

The Mini Thirty Tactical has a blued 16-1/8″ barrel with flash suppressor and comes with a black synthetic stock. The rifle weighs approximately 6.75 pounds, has an overall length of 37.5 inches, and is shipped with one 20-round magazine.

The sighting system on the Mini Thirty Tactical includes an adjustable “ghost ring” aperture rear sight and a protected, non-glare post front sight. Patented Ruger scope bases are machined directly into the receiver and can never shoot loose. A set of Ruger scope rings is included at no charge with each rifle. Side ejection of cartridge cases easily clears the lowest-mounted optics, and a patented recoil buffer helps protect optics from damage from repeated firing.

My Pocket Carry Dilemma

14 Sep

I’ve been debating, ever since Ruger introduced the LCP, on what it was that I wanted in a pocket carry pistol. I handled all the offerings including the LCP, P3AT, TCP as well as the 380’s from Sig, Walther and Bersa. And I had the opportunity to shoot an LCP and a PPK.

To be honest, the LCP, P3AT and TCP all felt too small to me to hold comfortably. I’m left handed so I had difficulty in activating the slide release on the LCP and TCP (the Kel-Tec doesn’t have a slide release).

I’ve also been going through a ‘caliber reduction’ phase – or at least trying to limit the number of new calibers I add to my collection. Reason being I reload most of my own ammo so adding a .380 ACP to my arsenal would also require new dies, brass, powders and bullets.

I really like the overall fit and finish on the 709 (as an aside I also really liked the TCP, perhaps even better then the LCP).

So I ended up purchasing a Taurus 709 Slim (a .9mm). It’s only slightly bigger than the pocket pistols yet it fits much more comfortably in my hand. And I have a .9mm caliber pistol which I feel more confident with compared to a .380 if needed for self defense.

I’ve read some conflicting reviews on the 709 in the various web forums. Some work well and some apparently have had issues. I’m not clear on the percentages… whether it’s the same people with issues posting on every forum and blog or whether there are that many 709’s with problems. There also seemed to be a trend toward issues with early production runs vs. more recent production, at least in what I was reading.

Over the coming weeks I’ll be shooting and carrying the 709 and will post my impressions.

The Vltor Fortis Bren 10 Pistol – more delays

8 Sep

When Vltor announced in 2008 they would be producing a pistol (based on the Bren 10), members of the Bren 10 cult were excited. Now that two years have passed with no shipments of the pistol in sight, fans are still hopeful although perhaps growing skeptical.

Defense Review Photo

At the 2009 SHOT Show, Vltor displayed 4 pre-production prototypes:  (1) Standard Model, (2) Vice Model, (3) Special Forces Dark and, (4) Special Forces Light. Then in April 2009 claimed that the demand for their existing product lines had skyrocketed, causing delays with the Fortis pistol. I’m sure that was true, but it was also a disappointing chain of events for fans of the pistol.

Vltor brought functioning prototypes to the 2010 SHOT Show, claiming that the pistol was in production and that the first years worth of production had already been sold. Now more recently Vltor has announced another delay and mentioned they have in fact not taken orders for any of their production. This time a new estimated shipping date has not been given.

Sporting Products, LLC out of West Palm Beach, FL will be the sole distributor for the pistol. If you sign up through their web site, they will keep you updated on their availability (although the  site still claims the Fortis will be available in late May 2010).

Bren Ten

You can follow the development and availability of the Vltor Fortis on their blog. It’s not updated very frequently, but it does a nice job of chronicling their delays over the past two years🙂  But more seriously, I’m still excited about the project and look forward to the day when I can handle a production copy of the new Bren 10.  Whether it takes 6 months or 6 years it is still an event to look forward to.

Army wants soldiers to have improved carbine

7 Sep

The Army Times published an article recently about the Army’s “dual strategy [for]…… a more accurate, durable and lethal weapon that will be the mainstay for the next 40 years.”

The article describes a two part strategy: 1. overhaul the current M4 platform and 2. Simultaneously begin looking for a new carbine that can outperform the M4.

M4 Overhaul: An overhaul of the M4 platform is planned to occur in 3 phases outlined below:

  • Phase 1: To begin immediately, distribute what is essentially an improved M4A1 carbine (heavier barrel and full auto capability) to all troops. Would include ambidextrous controls and an improved magazine design for better reliability.
  • Phase 2: Beginning Fall 2010, host an open competition for a new bolt assembly and/or different materials or coatings to enhance the bolt life. Also calls for a strengthening of the forward rail assembly on top of the receiver, possibly with a free floating rail.
  • Phase 3: To begin in about 18 months (which would be March 2012), improve the gas system by allowing less gas and dirt in or replacing it with a a piston! (yes folks, a piston M4!).

The next carbine: The Army’s open, industrywide Individual Carbine Competition was approved Aug. 4 by the Joint Requirements Oversight Council. Here are a few highlights of the Army’s carbine request:

  • No caliber restriction has been placed on a new design.
  • It will be at least a 500-meter weapon.
  • This weapon will be modular and able to carry all the existing attachments soldiers use.
  • It can have a gas or piston system.
  • Interchangeable barrel sizes, such as those seen in the SCAR, are not required but certainly won’t be a negative thing.

A draft request for proposals (RFP) will go out late this year (2010) with the official RFP to go out early in 2011. Manufacturers will then have a few months to respond with their proposed weapons. After that a period of function and durability testing will begin and last for 12-18 months.

So it could be 2013 or later until we see a new carbine, if the project doesn’t get delayed or cancelled…..

For more information, be sure to check out the full article in the Army Times.