The Used Market is the spin off from our Shooting History series for guns that are not yet historic but are commonly found out there on the, well, Used Market. We take the guns for these reviews and run them through our normal review process.
As the world of polymer pistols continues to expand, the old-school steel framed pistols are slowly fading away. While some guns, like the Walther PPK, continue to enjoy a dedicated fan base. But others–perfectly good pistols–seem to fall out of favor. Does this mean they disappear? Of course not. The ones that aren’t forgotten in the back of the safe typically get carried, still, or they end up getting traded in at the local shop, or wind up in the listings on GunsAmerica. Here’s one of those: the Taurus PT-58.
Archived info on the PT-58 at Taurus: http://www.taurususa.com/product-details.cfm?id=458&category=Pistol
Taurus Pistols on GunsAmerica: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.aspx?T=taurus
The Taurus Beretta Connection
Some of the Taurus Pistols look like Beretta knock-offs, but there’s more to the story. Taurus has been making their versions of the classic Beretta designs since the mid 1970s. The story began when Beretta won a contract to supply the Brazilian Army with firearms. Part of that contract stipulated that Beretta had to build the pistols in Brazil with local labor. Once Beretta had fulfilled the contract they sold the factory, tooling, plans and equipment to Taurus. This gave the company a solid factory and an experienced work force to man it, and a reputable set of designs to begin tweaking.
The story is slightly reminiscent of the Argentinan Colt story. The Argentinian government contracted with Colt to help them build, train and set up a manufacturing plant to make 1911s for their military. But this is not a story about Colt or Argentina.
Like a 92 But Smaller
The Taurus PT-58 is closely modeled on the Beretta Cheetah. They are both scaled down versions of the 92 and are chambered in .380. If you saw a Pt-58 from a distance or in a picture that didn’t have something for scale, you could very easily think it was a 92. They all share the same open slide design, grip angle and control placement. Now they may be smaller than the full sized 92, but they are not mouse gun small. The lighter weight and smaller size make them easier to carry, but this is a gun from the era before polymer and minimalist designs.
If you are in the market for one of these or the Beretta version, the used market is where you will find them. Neither company is currently making these pistols. The Taurus tends to run about $100 less than the Beretta, depending on model and condition of course.
Specs and Variants
Here are some numbers on the Taurus PT-58.
- Capacity: 12+1
- Weight: 18.7 oz
- Rate of Twist: 1:9.84″
- Barrel Length: 3.25″
- Construction: Steel
- Action: SA/DA
- Front and Rear Sights: Fixed
- Length: 6.125″
Taurus made a handful of different versions during the production run of the PT-58. The review gun is one of the first models and does not have a decocking lever. Here is a little breakdown on the different ones with some of the bigger differences listed.
- PT58S – 12 round magazines, no decocking lever.
- PT58SD – 12 round magazines, with decocking lever.
- PT58HC – high capacity 15 round magazines, with a decocker. The grip is longer than the above models, almost the same length as a PT92.
- PT58HC Plus – It is the same PT58HC, but it comes with two extended 19 round magazines. The PT58HC Plus also takes the 15 round mags.
I wish I could say that the range time with the PT-58 went smoothly. We had some malfunctions. At first we thought it might have been from shooting lighter loads–target ammo–but the same issues cropped up with some hotter carry rounds. This pistol is a picky eater.
Almost all of the issues had to do with getting the cases clear of the slide. Stovepipes. What do you do when something like this happens? We’ll talk about Taurus’s Unlimited Lifetime (of the gun–not the owner) Repair Policy below, but you can click on it now if you just can’t wait.
Once we found the stuff that it would eat, there were no problems. This gun likes PMC, which is good for range time, and I am sure there are a number of others out there that would also work. Finding the ammo that will work can be an expensive endeavor, but it is well worth the effort–no matter what you’re carrying.
Once the “right” ammo was found, the PT-58 was a pleasure to shoot. The recoil from the .380 is very soft in a steel framed gun like this. Accuracy was well within my expectations for a 3″ barreled pistol. The trigger is long but smooth and breaks around 6 pounds. One other thing to note is that his pistol throws spent brass everywhere. Sometimes they go to the left, sometimes the right. Forward or behind the shooter? Yes. Both. I have seen some guns be pretty random with where they throw brass, but this is the first one I have seen that will do it close to 360 degrees. Possible problems? Could be the extractor, could be the ejector. Could even be the mag. All three of those are relatively easy fixes.
When this pistol worked, it worked very well and was easy to shoot. A recoil sensitive shooter would have a very easy time with this pistol. But there is the ammo selection issue.
Now is this the case with all Taurus pistols? Far from it. I have heard a lot of people say, and have said it myself, that if you get a good Taurus you have a great firearm. But if you get one with issues… well, you can read folk’s trials and tribulations all over the internet with Taurus.
But they stand behind their repair policy. If you have an issue, it will get resolved. This isn’t just for the original owner of the gun. If you have a Taurus that needs work (even one you bought used) Taurus will fix it. There is no better policy in place, anywhere.
The positive experiences people have had with Taurus never seem to get the same amount of discussion or acknowledgement, especially with people hiding behind the anonymity of the internet. We work closely with Taurus, and the guns we’ve seen coming in lately have been exceptionally well priced and genuinely innovative.
So what about the PT-58? While I’m not going to carry a .380 this big or heavy, there are those who do. The size makes it easy to shoot, and even easier to manipulate. The weight and size combine for a easily manageable shooting experience. This is a durable gun that would be right at home in a toolbox, or a bed-side safe. When you can find one for sale, the price is always low–typically $300 or so. And that could be a bargain for the right gun.