Today, there are many different forms of concealment from trim line belt holsters and light weight shoulder holsters, to inside the waistband rigs and undergarment deep concealment clothing, but the term “pocket pistol” carries with it more than just a suggested location for concealed carry.
Taurus International has made concealed carry something of an art form in the past year with its new 709 Slim models—9mm 7+1 semi autos that slip into a pocket holster and all but vanish with nary a traceable outline. Most pistols in this class of concealment are chambered in .380 ACP, guns like the venerable Walther PPK and PPK/S that have been secreted in pockets and lightweight shoulder holsters since the 1930s. A 9mm, on the other hand, is a far more difficult pistol to drop into a pants or coat pocket unobtrusively, until now.
The 709’s low-profile rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation.
“The 709 Slim is not a traditional compact design,” says Robert Morrison, Taurus International’s Executive Vice President. “We went to great trouble to design a gun that was at once comfortable, had modern features, with a second strike capability, hold open feature after the last shot, and the same operating features found on larger SA/DA guns, but in a far more compact package,” explains Morrison. “The biggest concern was to design a pistol that would not occupy a lot of space or leave an imprint through material that would identify it as a firearm. We rounded all the edges so that nothing can snag, and made it extraordinarily comfortable in the hand for a relatively small gun. And then there was the first prerequisite that the 709 had to have full 7+1 capacity.”
In order to incorporate all of the features being considered, Taurus designers had to throw the drawing book away and start from a centerline. “The last real hurdle was that we also wanted the gun to have a rear sight that was adjustable for both windage and elevation, and at the same time be a drag free design,” says Morrison. The end result is a snag-free tapered rear sight that is fully adjustable, yet takes up no more space than a fixed rear sight integral with the slide.
The 709 Slim specs out more like a .380 auto than a 9mm. The overall length is just 6.24 inches (with a 3.20 in. barrel length), 4.52 inches in height and a scant 1.06 inches in maximum width, making for a very slim profile in any pocket.
The 709 sports an integral trigger safety located in the center face of the trigger.
The trigger design has an integral trigger safety that must be depressed in order for the gun to fire, thereby eliminating the chance of an accidental discharge if the gun is inadvertently dropped. The 709’s trigger system returns the gun to a “safe” condition as soon as pressure is taken off the trigger. The Taurus design also incorporates several convenient features such a textured grip surface for a secure hold, an elongated triggerguard, and tapered slide for easier re-holstering.
On the safety side there is Taurus’ proprietary security system, which when activated by inserting and turning a key, makes the gun completely inoperable. “It does, however, allow you take the magazine in and out of the gun even in the locked mode,” points out Morrison.
There are two production versions of the 709, blued (709B) and a two-tone model with a polished stainless steel slide (709SS). Suggested retail is $459 blued, $475 in stainless.
The 738 TCP: Not Just Another Scaled Down .380
The Taurus 738 TCP .380 features a reliable, short, crisp DAO trigger pull, flush ambidextrous magazine release, serrated slide and generously sized trigger-guard for quick access. The pistol measures a mere 5.19 inches long, 3.70 inches tall and .75 inches wide.
In the world of concealed carry the .380 ACP is king. There are more sub compacts chambered for the venerable old American .380 cartridge than almost any other small pistol in the world. Taurus wanted to jump into the fray too, but not before coming up with a few new bells and whistles to make their .380 more than just competitive.“The 738 TCP is the lightest gun Taurus has ever made, weighing just 10.2 ounces,” says Morrison. “It is also lighter than any other Taurus small frame revolver, but still provides 6+1 standard capacity and a total of nine shots with the extended magazine.”
Sub compact is the only way to describe the 738 TCP because this little 5.19 inch powerhouse is built for seriously concealed carry. Utilizing the same design parameters as the Model 709, the TCP has similarly rounded contours, and actually looks like a smaller scaled version of the 9mm model. Unfortunately this little DAO .380 doesn’t share all of the 709’s features, but it does offer some excellent characteristics—including a loaded chamber indictor, a hold open after the last shot is fired, and an ambidextrous magazine release (the latter two being features few of the TCP’s sub compact competitors offer). As pocket pistols go, this one’s a good fit. Suggested retail is $336 blued, $352 with stainless steel finish slide.
We’re Going to Need a Bigger Pocket
The compact Judge Public Defender is built on the smaller Taurus Model 85 frame, making this 2-inch snub nose one of the most potent close-quarters combat handguns in the world.
You can’t exactly call the new Taurus Judge Model 4510 “Public Defender” a slim pocket pistol, but the more compact dimensions of this powerful little .410 ga. revolver make it suitable for concealed carry. Unlike its medium-sized frame predecessors, the PD is based on the smaller .38 Special +P Taurus Model 85 frame. You still get a 5-shot revolver, but one that is lighter, shorter, a tad narrower and easier to carry concealed than the original 2-1/2 inch Judge or new 3-inch Magnum model.
As a defensive firearm, the Judge PD dispenses a unique kind of justice when loaded with 2-1/2 inch .410 ga. buckshot. “The thing you have to remember, says Morrison, “is that the [shot shell] pellet doesn’t know if it is spraying from a shotgun barrel or a pistol, it is coming at you at about 950 feet per second, and with new 2-1/2 inch .410 ga. 000 loads firing up to four pellets of approximately .36 caliber (.350) diameter, the results at close range are devastating.” It’s like being hit four times at once, or the equivalent of two double taps! Morrison adds that Federal Premium’s new .410 ga. four pellet 000 buckshot Personal Defense shells and Winchester’s new PDX-1 .410 loads for the Public Defender (and other Judge models) offer unprecedented stopping power. According to Winchester, the PDX-1 is “…effective in both shotguns and 410 compatible handguns. [The] PDX-1 in 410 ga. features a distinctive black hull and black oxide high-base head and combines three plated Defense Disc projectiles and 12 pellets of plated BB shot. The result is the ideal personal protection load for short-range engagement with the performance needed to stop threats. Designed for use in the Taurus Judge, this new personal defense round provides maximum protection at close range.”
The Judge Public Defender’s elongated cylinder adds a little bulk to the extended Model 85-size frame but with Taurus’ proprietary “ribber” energy-absorbing grips the hold on the front-heavy revolver is more than manageable, as is the hefty kick from the Federal Premium loads. The PD is not a small gun like a .38 snub nose, but with its short 2-inch barrel, the elongated cylinder and frame only adds 7/8 of an inch to the overall length—compared to a 2-inch Model 85 Ultra-Lite, which measures 6.5 inches. The PD measures just under 7.5 inches in overall length (2 9/16 inches of which is cylinder length) and can be easily carried in a slim belt holster. Suggested retail is $652 in matte stainless finish.
Considering all the attributes this 5-shot revolver brings to the table as a compact personal defense firearm, it may well be the best compromise between a handgun and a shotgun ever designed. Some will argue that a “compromise” is an agreement where neither side is completely satisfied. But when it comes to sub compact pistols for concealed carry, most of the compromises are things you can live with.