Since the advent of the modern-day concealed carry movement, four or five handgun models have come to dominate the subcompact category. The Smith & Wesson Shield and the Springfield XDS (now Hellcat) got the ball rolling, and it wasn’t long before Glock (Glock 43X), Sig Sauer (P365), and Ruger (Max-9) joined the Mount Rushmore of CCWs.
Those five handguns enjoy the lion’s share of attention among gun owners and gun writers, but don’t let the glossy shine of Gun Digest cover stories blind you to other options. Chief among those dark-horse candidates is the Taurus GX4 T.O.R.O. (“Taurus Optic-Ready Option”).
This isn’t Taurus’s first foray into the subcompact market. And, unlike many gun companies, they only make handguns. They don’t mess around spending R&D budgets on rifles or shotguns—for Taurus, it’s all handguns, all the time.
That dedication is part of what allows Taurus to produce high-quality handguns at a high-value price. Especially in the last few years, the company has offered reliable firearms that, dollar-for-dollar, can compete with anything else on the market. The optics-ready GX4 T.O.R.O. features a great trigger, ergonomic grip, and an 11-round flush-fit magazine. It also ate everything I fed it, and I’d have no qualms recommending it to anyone looking for their next—or first—concealed carry weapon.
CALIBER: 9mm Luger
13 Rounds Extended Magazine
1 × 11 + 1 × 13 Rounds or
2 × 10 Rounds
FIRING SYSTEM: Striker
SLIDE: Alloy Steel
BARREL FINISH: Satin Black DLC Coating
SLIDE FINISH: Gas Nitride Coating
BARREL LENGTH: 3.06 in.
OVERALL LENGTH: 5.8 in. with Backstrap Small
6.05 in. with Backstrap Large
OVERALL WIDTH: 1.08 in.
OVERALL HEIGHT: 4.4 in.
WEIGHT: 18.7 Oz.
FRONT SIGHTS: Fixed Steel White Dot
REAR SIGHTS: Serrated Drift Adjustable
SAFETY: Striker Block
Visual Loaded Chamber Indicator
MAGAZINE RELEASE: Reversible
STREET PRICE: $340-$399
T.O.R.O. = “Taurus Optics-Ready Option”
“Toro” is Spanish for “bull,” which was obviously the intent behind this tortured acronym. But lots of great products have goofy names (“Cheerios,” for example), and Taurus has given the world yet another.
The GX4 T.O.R.O.’s slide can accept a wide variety of popular micro-red dots without an adapter plate. This allows the optic to sit low on the slide and, in many cases, co-witness with the three-dot iron sights already on the gun. The T.O.R.O. uses the Shield RMSc pattern, which allows it to accept these optics:
- Shield RMSc
- Holosun HS507K and HS407K
- Sightmark Mini Shot A-Spec M3
- Hex Wasp GE5077-MIC-RET
- Sig RomeoZero
- Riton 3 Tactix MPRD2
Taurus also offers a sold-separately plate that can accommodate the Trijicon RMRcc red dot. Some users will no doubt complain that Taurus does not offer additional plates for other popular micro-red dots. That’s a fair criticism, but it’s only applicable to those who already own an optic they want to use for this gun. If you’re purchasing a micro-red dot for the first time, the options above fall into a range of price points and quality levels.
I used the Holosun 507K for this review. It’s a great optic, it’s loaded with features, and you can find it online for a hair under $300.
VS. Other CCWs
The new GX4 can accommodate a range of optics, but so can other popular subcompact handguns. Here’s how it stacks up against the Mount Rushmore of CCW’s.
- Taurus T.O.R.O. – 13+1
- Smith & Wesson Shield Plus – 13+1
- Springfield Hellcat – 13+1
- Sig Sauer P365 – 12 +1
- Ruger Max-9 – 12 +1
- Glock 43X – 10+1
The T.O.R.O., Shield Plus, and Hellcat achieve that one extra round with an “extended magazine,” but the overall heights are still comparable to the P365 and the Max-9. The T.O.R.O., for example, measures 4.6 inches tall with the extended mag while the overall height of the P365 is 4.8 inches with a flush-fit mag.
There are aftermarket mag options for the Glock that increase mag capacity, but from the factory, the magazines are single-stacked and 10-round.
- Taurus T.O.R.O. – 3.06”
- Smith & Wesson Shield Plus – 3.1”
- Springfield Hellcat – 3”
- Sig Sauer P365 – 3.1”
- Ruger Max-9 – 3.2”
- Glock 43X – 3.41”
- Taurus T.O.R.O. – 5.8”
- Smith & Wesson Shield Plus – 6.1”
- Springfield Hellcat – 6”
- Sig Sauer P365 – 6”
- Ruger Max-9 – 6”
- Glock 43X – 6.5”
- Taurus T.O.R.O. – 1.08”
- Smith & Wesson Shield Plus – 1.1”
- Springfield Hellcat – 1”
- Sig Sauer P365 – 1.1”
- Ruger Max-9 – 1”
- Glock 43X – 1.1”
- Taurus T.O.R.O. – 18.7 oz
- Smith & Wesson Shield Plus – 20.2 oz
- Springfield Hellcat – 18.3 oz
- Sig Sauer P365 – 18 oz
- Ruger Max-9 – 18.4 oz
- Glock 43X – 16.4 oz
As you can see, the T.O.R.O. competes in every category that makes a subcompact handgun a good choice for concealed carry. It boasts the same sight options and mag capacity as the other famous CCW’s, and it doesn’t sacrifice weight or concealability.
The best part? It does all that for a lower price point than any other option. A quick search on GunsAmerica brings up T.O.R.O.’s for as little as $340, well under what you can expect to pay for most of the options listed above.
At the Range
The T.O.R.O. looks good on paper, but a spec sheet only tells half the story. If a gun won’t shoot, all the features in the world are nothing but extra frills on an expensive paper weight. Fortunately for us, the T.O.R.O. shoots just fine.
The first thing I noticed about the gun was the aggressively textured grip. It features a skateboard tape-type grip on all four sides, including on the backstrap, which can be replaced with a larger insert. The texturing helped me to maintain a firm purchase on the firearm during long shot strings, and I’m sure it would also help if (for some reason) you had to shoot in the rain.
Aggressive texturing is a benefit with the gun in hand, but it can be a problem in the holster. If your IWB holster doesn’t have protective backing or you don’t have a shirt tucked behind the gun, it will chafe whichever parts of your body it touches. I’ve run into this issue with the Smith & Wesson Shield Plus, but it’s easily solved with a good IWB holster.
After I took the T.O.R.O. out of the hard-sided carrying case, some dry-fire practice called my attention to the trigger. It features a polymer, flat-faced blade with a Glock-style trigger safety. It breaks cleanly around six pounds with a short, tactile reset.
Factory trigger systems have been getting progressively better over the last decade, and Taurus (hopefully) just wrote the obituary for the mushy, striker-fired handgun trigger. If Taurus can offer a great trigger in a sub-$350 subcompact handgun, other companies don’t have any more excuse.
Aggressive texturing and a crisp trigger make for a great shooting experience, and the T.O.R.O. didn’t disappoint. The gun was a pleasure to shoot. It was easy to control despite its compact size, and the extended magazine gave my pinky plenty of purchase.
The Holosun 507K is a great choice for this handgun. It can be set to use a 2-MOA dot, a 65-MOA circle, or a 2-MOA dot within a 65-MOA circle, so you can pick the reticle that suits your purposes. The cut in the back of the optic body also allows the front iron sight to be aligned with the rear. This means that even if the optic breaks or you forget to change batteries, you can still use the gun effectively.
Oh, and did I mention it ran flawlessly? I used 115-grain, 124-grain, and 147-grain 9mm loads from Hornady without any trouble whatsoever. Gone are the days when a handgun needed a breaking-in period to run without a hiccup. I didn’t clean or oil the T.O.R.O. after taking it out of the case, and it still didn’t jam, double-feed, or fail to return to battery.
Reliability is more important than match-grade accuracy in a CCW, but the T.O.R.O. delivered in the accuracy category as well. The gun seemed to prefer the 124-grain Hornady American Gunner and 115-grain Hornady Critical Defense loads. It posted 1.5-inch groups from 15 yards with both cartridge types, and all groups averaged a hair under two inches at that distance.
The number of CCW options can be intimidating, especially for those new to the market. When even companies like Mossberg offer a subcompact striker-fired handgun, you know the concealed carry world is saturated to the point of bursting.
But don’t be paralyzed by indecision. The truth is, almost any subcompact handgun from a major manufacturer will serve you well. You might prefer this company’s grip or that company’s trigger, but you don’t have to worry about purchasing a lemon.
The Taurus GX4 T.O.R.O. ain’t no lemon. It offers all the features we’ve come to expect from a self-defense weapon in 2022 but without the associated costs. Is it the dark horse in the competition to be the world’s best CCW? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s definitely worth a look.