Gun Review: Taurus M640 Compact .40

On Black Friday, Academy Sports and Outdoors advertised a “Taurus M640 Compact .40 Semiautomatic Pistol,” regularly $459.99 for $289.99. Being in the market for a .40, I looked up the M640 on the Taurus USA website and it wasn’t listed. I did a search and found very few domestic reports about it, but did find that it was heavily discussed in Portuguese in the Brazilian blogs and websites, and it was also listed as a law enforcement restricted handgun on Taurus’ Brazilian website. There were civilian versions listed as the PT 640, and the PT 640 Pro. Using Google Translate (don’t ya love technology?), I found out the M640 is widely used by Brazilian law enforcement agencies and has been exported from Brazil for LEO use around the world, primarily in eastern Asia. Always looking for a bargain…

I pulled the trigger – so to speak – and bought one. The model sold by Academy was actually the blued PT 640 Pro with a polymer frame and stainless barrel – the latest iteration of the Brazilian police model M640. It came packaged in a standard plastic clamshell box with two 11 round magazines, a generic instruction manual for all the  Taurus polymer framed pistols, a cleaning brush, and two keys for the slide-mounted locking device. Taurus USA adds a “lifetime service policy” and a free NRA membership.

In size and appearance, the gun’s virtually identical to the PT 140 and other handguns in the Millennium Pro series. The PT 640 Pro is striker fired, SA/DA, with a second strike capability. It comes from the factory with Heine 8 sights; a two dot system (one dot center front, one dot center rear), where the shooter aligns the dots until they appear as an “8”, with the top edge of the 8 being the point of impact.

In front of the trigger guard is a short rail for mounting flashlights, lasers, and other do-dads. The locking device is installed on the right side of the pistol in the rear slide serrations. There’s also a loaded chamber indicator on the right side of the slide, below the extractor, that protrudes slightly and exposes a red dot when a round is in the chamber.

The left side of the pistol has a traditional take down latch above the trigger, slide stop, and a manual safety. An internal safety blocks the firing pin until the trigger is pulled and, thankfully, there’s no magazine safety.

In single action, the trigger pull is smooth and crisp with a light let off; in double action, it’s inevitably longer and heavier, but still quite reasonable.

One concern I had before purchasing the PT 640 Pro was that the Taurus website doesn’t list any replacement magazines.  Neither do any of the large pistol magazine dealers, a fact confirmed by several email responses to my inquiries. In their discussions of the M640 and PT 640, though, the Brazilian gun blogs indicated that the readily available .40 cal 11 round mags for the popular Taurus 24/7 Compact would fit the 640 series. So I ordered several factory original .40 cal 24/7C magazines from Cabela’s while they were on sale for 1/2 price ($19.88).

As usual for Cabela’s, they arrived quickly and they fit and functioned fine. Except they didn’t quite have the audible “snap” from the magazine latch the factory PT 640 mags did  when inserted. A closer look showed that while the body of the mags appeared to be identical except for the label (original magazines were stamped “PT 640″, the replacements were marked “24/7 Compact”), the plastic magazine base was about 1/8″ taller, identical to the plastic base on my PT 145 .45ACP Millennium Pro.

As an experiment, I removed the plastic base of one of the 24/7C magazines, filed off about 1/16″ of plastic from the top, reassembled the magazine and it fit and functioned flawlessly, including the satisfying “snap” of the magazine latch when inserted. Within a few minutes I’d filed down the tops of the magazine bases of the other 24/7C magazines, and now they all securely fit, feed, and function.

One other magazine tip that was mentioned in the blogs was to clean them thoroughly inside and out to remove the factory preservative from them, load 11 rounds in them and let them sit for a day to break them in. I did, and now they load 11 rounds of .40 S&W without much effort. While I haven’t tried them yet, several bloggers mentioned that the .40 cal 15-round full size 24/7 mags also fit and function without modification, but they are longer than the grip, and protrude from the frame.

Another issue that was easily resolved was finding a proper holster, since none of the major holster makers list the PT 640. Again, Brazilian gun dealers and holster makers show the 640 series fitting the same holsters as the Millennium Pro series. I have a Fobus SB11 paddle holster for my Taurus PT 145 Millennium Pro, and it fits the PT 640 Pro like a glove.

While I originally used the Heine 8 sights on my PT 145, and after some experience could shoot well with them, I still prefer a more traditional 3 dot sight. I’d seen some other shooters at the range using Williams Firesights and I liked the highly visible, bright red and green fiber optic dots. During the day, they’re much brighter and more visible than tritium night sights. If there is any ambient light at all, they’re very visible. In the dark, they don’t light up like tritium sights, but they appear as normal 3-dot sights.

Since Williams now offers the Firesights for the Taurus Millennium Pro series with a dovetail mount, and I previously used a model 70969 adjustable Firesight on my PT 145, I ordered another set from Brownell’s. Fortunately, I was able to install them on the PT 640, even though the 640 isn’t listed as a compatible handgun in the Williams website. For those who prefer a fixed Firesight, the model 70897 fits the Millennium Pro (and 640 Pro).

I removed the Heine 8 sights from my 640 Pro using a 2mm Allen wrench for the rear sight, and a 1.5mm Allen for the front. Both sights drifted to the right and popped out with a light tap from a plastic hammer. When you mount the front model 70969 Firesight with the green insert slid in from the right , be sure to remove the set screw first with a .05″ Allen wrench before installing the sight.

After removing both set screws from the rear sight using an .05″ Allen wrench, I tried to gently tap the rear sight in from the right. It was pretty snug (too snug) and would only go in part way. I removed the sight, and after a few swipes with a flat file on the bottom of the sight, it fit perfectly with only a few light taps from the hammer. Using the .05″ Allen wrench, I tightened the one front and two rear set screws, and the PT 640 Pro was ready to roll.

I now have a compact .40 S&W, loaded with  11+1 rounds of Remington Golden Sabre, as another concealed carry handgun. With the adjustable Firesights and the extra 24/7C mags, the 640 Pro functioned well after a short break-in period. I found it accurate at normal handgun ranges and the fully serrated (front and backstrap) polymer grip made the compact pistol easy to control with only moderate recoil.

This week (as I type this) the guns are again on sale at Academy (ad says “not available in all stores”) for $299.99; for those who want a compact 11+1 .40 cal, this PT 640 Pro would be a good choice.

SPECIFICATIONS

Caliber: .40 S&W
Barrel length: 3.25″ (Stainless)
Capacity: 11+1 staggered box  (with 24/7 full sized magazines, 15+1)
Weight empty: 24 ounces
Length: 6.14″
Height: 5″
Thickness:  1 1/8″
Finish:  Teniferizado (Taurus blue/black)
Price: $459.99 (on sale $289.99 – $299.99)

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Style * * * *
It is an attractive, modern looking pistol with “memory” pads (indentations) on the frame indicating where to place the thumb and forefinger. Just in case you forget.

Ergonomics (Carry) * * * *
Carried in an OWB or belt holster it’s a breeze to carry.  Since it’s a double stacked magazine, some might think it’s a little on the thick side (1 1/8″) for IWB, but I carried it well in the High Noon Split Decision tuckable IWB that fit my PT 145.

Ergonomics (Shooting) * * * * *
The wide, heavily serrated grip makes it easy to hold for a compact .40 cal. The weight and wide polymer grip help to absorb felt recoil. According to Taurus, this is one of the most popular pistols for female police officers in Brazil. With the factory Heine 8s, the sight picture was fast and good; with the after-market Williams Firesights, sight picture is superb.

Reliability * * * *
After about a 100 round break-in period with some FTFs and FTEs, the PT 640 Pro has functioned flawlessly with a variety of ball and HP ammo (Hornady JHP, Speer Lawman FMJ, Remington Golden Sabre JHP, Herter’s USA Select Brass FMJ, TulaAmmo Polymer Steel case FMJ).

Customizable * * * *
Anything that will fit on a standard pistol rail will fit the rail on the PT 640 Pro. Taurus .40 cal 24/7C 11 round, and full size 24/7 15 round magazines will fit with little or no modifications. Any aftermarket sights that fit the Taurus Millennium Pro series with a dovetail base will fit the PT 640 Pro; these include the Williams Firesights, and a variety of tritium night sights.

Overall  * * * *
With a lifetime factory service policy (Miami), and an excellent price when on sale, the PT 640 Pro is reliable, well-made, pleasant to shoot (for a .40), concealable, and a lot of fun for a compact handgun.