Concealed carry handguns are still all the rage at the range. Guns like the GLOCK 43 and S&W Shield are flying off the store shelves as the number of people legally able to carry a concealed handgun skyrockets nationwide. The standard approach gun companies have been taking to satisfy this market is to shrink their existing handgun designs and call it good. Taurus, however, wanted to do something different. They created a gun that was designed from the ground up as a concealed carry handgun, and the result is the Taurus Curve . . .
The first time I saw the Taurus Curve was SHOT Show…2014. Six months before the patent leaked, and eleven months before the official announcement. Mark Kresser was still the CEO then and he brought a bunch of other bloggers and me into a room and handed us the prototype. He talked a little bit about the design goals for the handgun, and my first impression was that this was a brilliant idea. The problem they saw with most concealed carry guns was that they are straight and blocky, so when you try to conceal them under a shirt they tend to stick out and “print” against your naturally curvy body. With the Curve they wanted to create a handgun that more closely matched the contours of your body to better disguise the gun.
That’s not where they stopped, though. The overall curvy design is only one of the changes they decided to make in order to have the gun more carry friendly. They also removed the sights, with the logic that iron sights are rarely used in a confrontation and can get in the way on the draw. As a replacement they added an integrated red laser into the handgun, a much faster and easier-to-use sighting system that also has been known to induce “behavior modification” on bad guys at whom it’s pointed.
Surrounding that laser sight, they also added two white LED diodes to illuminate things and give the shooter a better look at their target.
I thought the concept was brilliant. I loved the idea in theory, and the prototype they had showed a lot of promise. The rounded pistol still had some rough edges and issues to be worked out, but I had faith that they could do it. The challenge would be seeing how well they could execute those ideas and the kind of quality firearm they could bring to market. A little over a year and a half later Taurus sent me a production version of the Taurus Curve to test out.
The packaging for this gun is slick, there’s no doubt about it. Instead of a typical black square box, Taurus decided to make the boxes for the Curve handgun curved, too. The radius of the bend in the box actually match the radius of the curve on the handgun, by the way. Visually that’s a pretty nifty design, and definitely sets their handguns apart from everyone else.
Inside the box, what you see is what you get. There’s the usual assortment of manuals and pamphlets, the handgun, a triggerguard holster with lanyard, one spare magazine (two total), and a set of wrenches to adjust the laser sight. They also added another feature: an integrated lock on the handgun just like the ones that Smith & Wesson introduced that many claim ruined their handguns. I never had a problem with it, so I’m not complaining.
The gun ships with a belt loop clip attached to the gun, but that can be easily removed. The idea is that you can pseudo-Mexican Carry with the gun clipped to your belt and no one will be the wiser. It also lets you carry in pants without belts, such as the Yoga pants and tight jeans that seem to be prevalent in the marketing materials for the firearm. I still can’t fit into skinny jeans so I was unable to test that particular feature of the firearm.
The Kel-Tec P3AT has a similar option which is widely used and appreciated, so it seems like a winning strategy. It should be noted that the clip (not magazine) is not really well placed to allow for pocket carry, as most of the gun sticks out of the pockets I tried. It’s designed to be tucked into a waistband.
When the Curve was first released, there was a manufacturing SNAFU that forced Taurus to recall the initial run of Curves. It seems that they forgot to stamp the caliber markings anywhere on the firearm, which is kind of an important thing to do. They made the announcement about the missing caliber markings in April of this year, and said that everything had been fixed and all subsequent handguns would be properly marked. The Curve I received, which arrived at my FFL directly from Taurus in the middle of July (three months after the recall announcement), clearly has the caliber markings printed on the…
Wait a second. No. I can’t find the caliber marking anywhere on this gun either. It’s supposed to be right on the ejection side of the chamber, but there’s nothing there. No one I asked to look at the pistol could find the markings anywhere on the gun. It’s definitely not where Taurus said they would be.
Their PR rep specifically delayed shipping a Curve to me until the marking issue was fixed, but apparently I still got an unmarked model. That doesn’t seem to bode well for the quality control and inventory control systems at Taurus.
The handgun itself is rather small. Then again, I have massive hands. The grip is roughly the same size as the one on my GLOCK 43, but there’s no included extended baseplate for this gun and it doesn’t really appear that one would work here either. The barrel is definitely shorter than the G43 (or the G42) by about an inch making the overall package more compact.
Holding the Curve in my right hand doesn’t really feel all that different from any other handgun. The same curve that is designed to fit my supple waist conforms nicely into the palm of my hand. That’s just peachy for right handed shooters, but lefties need not apply. The curve in the gun is designed to fit the right hand side of your body and still enable you to properly draw your gun. You can place the gun on your left side, but the gun will need to be backwards to take advantage of the bend and it isn’t easy to draw the gun from that position.
Even if you carry on the left, holding the gun in my left hand feels much more awkward than holding a normal handgun in my left hand. And yes, I do practice left-hand only shooting for those times when stage designers in shooting competitions like to get cheeky and require you to swap sides.
As expected, there are no sights. At least not the regular kind of sights we’d expect to see. The gun ships with that dedicated laser and light combination, and the rear of the gun has white markings that should enable the shooter to get somewhere close to on target. I tried using the painted-on lines for a few rounds, and while it definitely isn’t ideal it’s good enough for a ~20 foot shot on a human-sized target when aiming for center of mass. But you’re not going to be hitting any small targets anytime soon.
The one thing that might double as a set of iron sights is the loaded chamber indicator on top. It pops up when loaded, and there are two little prongs on either side that kind of look like traditional rear sights. That could be useful, but there’s no corresponding front sight for alignment.
Something else is missing from the gun: a slide release. The handgun will lock open after the last round in a magazine is fired, but there’s no slick way to drop the slide when a new magazine inserted. You need to physically rack the slide in order to get it closed, which takes a little longer than just using a release. I get it — less stuff sticking out that could cause a failure. And most trainers teach manual racking rather than using the lever. Fortunately, Taurus made the scalloping on the side of the slide quite nice and grippy. Still, I prefer my guns to have a slide release button.
Like I said, the sighting system for this firearm is a laser that’s housed in the front of the gun. There’s a problem though: the laser is too weak, and the surrounding lights are too bright to properly use the laser. That’s not to say that the lights need to be dimmed — in fact, they could probably use some beefing up. But overall it’s very hard to pick up that weak red laser dot either at home in the dark or out on the range. I would have much preferred if they’d gone with an easier-to-see alternative like green.
Despite being very cool, the laser isn’t standard equipment. The base model of the Curve, in its purest and cheapest form, comes with only the hash marks on the back of the gun for sighting — the lights and lasers will run you a little more.
A for run time, the light and laser will last a while. I say “a while” because I ran it for a few hours, and while I’d love to test it until the battery wears out I really don’t have that kind of patience. There’s a timer on the electronics that turns it off automatically after a few minutes, and I have better things to do with my day than to sit here flicking a switch for hours on end. Fallout 4 is coming, I need to finish running through the rest of the series again before release day. The battery is easily replaced if it ever wears out.
Flipping that laser and light combo off and on isn’t nearly as easy as it should be, though. Crimson Trace sets the industry standard for how a laser should work on a gun with their “instinctive activation” method — just grip the gun normally and the laser comes right on.
With the Taurus Curve, you need to specifically activate the light and laser by pushing a button. You would expect that the button in question would be conveniently placed in the depressed area at the top right portion of the above picture, right next to where your indexed trigger finger would sit. You would be wrong. The real activation switch is the ridged button just below, forward of the trigger. It needs to be flicked forwards to be activated. Simply pressing down isn’t sufficient.
Did I mention that the actuation button is only on the right hand side of the gun? Yep, another blow to lefties.
It looks to me like that upper depressed area was originally intended to be the laser button, but something went wrong and they had to engineer a quick fix. The reason I say that is because the owner’s manual diagram labels this as the “front button” but it doesn’t actually do anything. Stripping the gun doesn’t require the button to be pressed, and as far as I can tell it isn’t attached to anything.
That’s disappointing since the laser and lights would have operated much more smoothly using that “front button” than the fiddly little side switch. I found it difficult to use in a hurry, and I couldn’t reliably get it to light up the laser on the first flick.
For the magazines, Taurus decided to go with a more European style mag release system. The normal release on most pistols works by pushing a button on the frame of the handgun to drop the magazine. That allows the shooter to change mags without significantly changing their grip on the gun.
The Curve has the release integrated into the mag itself, with the release button on the left side of the gun at the bottom of the magazine. The main benefit is that this can be easier to manufacture when trying to make the gun as slim and sleek as possible since there’s no protruding button to hide (or catch on clothing during a draw). The downside is that this is also somewhat difficult to use under pressure, and only really works for right handed shooters. And removing magazines from the gun as a leftie is downright impossible.
Which brings us to the trigger. Taurus claims that this is a double action trigger, and while that is accurate, it isn’t the whole story. A good double action trigger will allow you to “re-strike” a bad round, pulling the internal hammer back again and striking the primer multiple times until the round fires without needing to cycle the action. With the Taurus Curve, the double action trigger requires the slide to cycle before the trigger can be pulled again. I think this is a huge oversight, and something that should be fixed.
But wait — the trigger gets worse.
You feel two clicks as you reset the trigger in the Curve. The first click is rather short, while the second click is out at the full reset length of the trigger. In order to fire a second round, you need to release the trigger all the way out to that second click. If you only release the trigger as far as that first shorter click and pull again, the gun won’t fire. At this point even if you fully release the trigger and try again, the gun will still refuse to fire until you…cycle the action.
People are going to short stroke their trigger, especially when they are in a high pressure environment like a gunfight. A good gun will let them quickly fix their mistake by resetting the trigger all the way and pulling again to fire. But in a short stroke situation, the Taurus Curve requires the shooter in such a situation to cycle the action before they can continue firing. That’s a lot to do when seconds matter. Having a true double action trigger would have solved the problem.
Out on the range, the Curve does okay for a while. There were a few instances where the larger, aggressive hollow point on some Liberty Ammunition .380 Auto rounds got caught on the feed ramp and jammed the slide from going forwards, but these were usually quickly resolved. I fired hundreds of rounds of various hollow point and round-nose ammo through the gun, and encountered the same failure (above) with both.
The magazine release button is perfectly placed for my hands such that my fingertips rest very close to it. Every so often, however, about halfway through a magazine I accidentally hit the magazine release button during recoil. When I fired the next round, the magazine popped free and the top round will fail to feed into the gun.
This isn’t a mechanical issue — this is a human/machine interface issue.
The end result of my time on the range was a feeling of unease as far as trusting the gun. Some ammo ran really well (like the Winchester white box .380 round nose ammo), and some ammo ran rather poorly (like the Liberty Ammunition rounds due to their large hollow point projectile). Mechanically the gun seemed to work just fine as long as the rounds made it into the chamber, and I had zero failures to eject or lock back. But the frequent accidental magazine releases make me a little nervous about trusting it with my life.
Accuracy is acceptable. For a mouse gun like this, a palm sized group at 10 yards is good. We’re not going to be winning any shooting competitions with this thing, but that’s not what the gun is designed to do.
That group above was shot using the laser. When you turn it off and shoot with nothing but the hash marks on the back of the slide (as on the base model) things get pretty terrible. “Minute of paper” is about the best as I could do, which is in fact unacceptable. Sights — even the rudimentary ones on most pocket guns — really do make a difference with accuracy. In a defensive situation, when you’re potentially going to be shooting at a moving target with innocent bystanders around, you want to be sure that you won’t miss. Unless you work for the New York City police department.
Back at home, field stripping the gun is simple, but definitely not something I would call “tool free.” There’s a small pin that holds the whole gun together, and you will need a small tool or casing to pry that pin free. Once released, the gun comes apart rather neatly. It isn’t terribly complicated, but none of my other carry guns require any tools to maintain them other than my fingers and a rag.
Note in the above picture that the barrel has a definite curved muzzle on it. That curved area has no rifling, so it won’t impact the path of the bullet. The purpose of that curved area is to ride in the slide and guide the barrel, and also to provide a little downward pressure on the muzzle like a Soviet AK-47 slant brake. It works pretty well.
Overall I’m not impressed. I absolutely loved the concept behind the Taurus Curve, but in practice I’ve found the execution to be rather poor. The gun really only works for right-handed shooters, which is good news for about 90% of the population but leaves the rest out in the cold. The magazine release system is strange and can interfere with the safe and reliable operation of the gun. The trigger is a wonky bastardized version of a double action trigger and short-stroking it can temporarily disable the gun. The laser isn’t bright enough to use in the daytime and gets washed out by the lights at night. And the activation system for that laser is neither fast nor intuitive.
If this were a prototype I would be extremely excited about this gun — with a little more polish this could be a real contender for a good self defense pistol. The problem is that there are simply too many quirks and issues in this full production version to gloss over. Why is the light switch so awkward? Why is the trigger so terrible? Where’s the caliber marking? Can we do something about the magazine release system? Fix these things and we might have a really cool gun. Until then, I’m going to stick with my GLOCK 43.
Specifications: Taurus Curve
Caliber: .380 Auto (I think)
Size: 3.7″ tall, 1.18″ wide, 5.2″ long
Weight: 10.2 ounces
Magazine: Two proprietary 6 round magazines included
Ratings (out of five stars):
Accuracy: * *
Acceptable. Minute of bad guy at normal self defense ranges. But without sights, there’s nothing to help you take a longer shot when you need to.
Ergonomics: * *
The trigger is a little painful to pull. The grip is very small, and the curve of the gun doesn’t help the ergonomics in that department.
When the round makes it into the chamber, the gun goes bang. But there were more than a few times when that didn’t happen.
There aren’t even replacement magazines available yet.
Somehow I get the distinct feeling that more time was spent on the marketing for this gun than the actual R&D. It’s a really cool design that is nearly killed by some really terrible quirks. All of these problems can be fixed though, and I truly hope that Taurus listens.