Taurus recently released the G3XL 9mm pistol along with the G3X at SHOT this year. Both guns are variations on Taurus’s successful G3 full-size pistol. The G3X combines a slide length of the G3c (with its 3.2-inch barrel) with the larger frame of the G3. The G3XL reverses that. Sort of.
The G3XL puts the longer slide of the G3 (4.0-inch barrel) on the smaller G3c compact frame. The idea is to give you a longer sight radius and better ballistic performance of a longer barrel with smaller, more concealable frame.
Despite some earlier mixed experiences with Taurus I decided to give the new gun a try. Retailing under $300 and offering a versatile size combination I figured, why not.
We’ll get this part out of the way since I know the comment section is likely already lighting up with folks who are here to hate on Taurus without actually reading. Years ago while I was instructing a student who brought in a then-new Taurus G2C, I was impressed with the overall design and inclusion of details such as “memory points” on the frame that other makers didn’t have on their similar guns.
I bought one and it lasted less than 200 rounds before the recoil spring skipped a coil and seized the slide half way in its travel. Taurus’s customer service at the time wanted me to pay for overnight shipping — to and from — for them to look at it. From Oregon that would have cost me about half of what I had paid for the gun.
The New Taurus
In 2020 Taurus hired a new CEO, Bret Vorhees, who came over from Walther Arms. One of the first things he did was to send a letter to everyone who had ever registered with Taurus publicly apologizing for the Taurus of the past and promising to improve things like…customer service. When the GX4 came out I figured I’ve give it a try.
My early-production model had an issue with chamber fitment. I contacted Taurus and they promptly replaced the barrel, free of charge. That little GX4 remains my favorite of the micro-compacts. Thanks to the power of YouTube I’ve heard from others who had similar issues with their early guns, as well as many who have not. It seems like there really is a new Taurus.
Again, the new G3XL appears to be a G3 slide on a G3C frame. That’s the way to think of the G3XL and it’s mostly correct, but there are some minor tweaks (see video).
What makes this size combination attractive? You get that longer 4″ barrel that most defensive loads are formulated to perform best from (yes, there are now some specialty loads for barrels under 4″) and puts it on a sub-compact grip that makes the pistol easier to conceal.
In fact, despite the sub-compact grip I can still get my size XXL glove hands completely on the gun. That makes the pistol is large enough for serious range use and small enough to carry and conceal easily.
Considering the Taurus price tag tends to appeal to first-time buyers and those on a budget, the G3XL’s feature set seems ideal for a general-purpose pistol.
As you saw in the video, it first appeared as if I was going to experience another chamber fitment issue with the G3XL. Wary of that, I hit the range for my standard battery of “get to know the gun” tests.
I brought the camera along to film my cold-shot impressions, a full magazine+1 test, trademarked What’s For Dinner test consisting of ten different loads, some trigger control testing, and practical accuracy before coming to an initial conclusion.
Performance-wise the G3XL out-classes the price I paid for it. The finish and general feel of the G3XL still say “affordable” but the performance is on par with guns costing nearly twice as much. The striker-fired G3XL gives you second strike capability. If you’re unlucky enough to pull the trigger without a bang, you can pull it again for another try. That’s faster than a tap/rack.
The G3XL has an excellent trigger that breaks cleanly and has a short, audible and tactile reset. The pistol has decent basic (dovetailed rear) iron sights, a one-slot 1913 rail for accessories and it’s easy to rack.
From my experience with the G3XL, I’d have no qualms about recommending this pistol to someone looking for an affordable, do-all pistol.
I can’t speak to the longevity of the gun yet, of course, but I bet those looking to save on a 9mm pistol are also those who don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on ammunition. The same logic goes for my theory as to why there’s no optic cut. Optics are a big expense that not everyone feels the need for.
Those who grow with the gun and decide they want an optic can pick up Taurus’s T.O.R.O. kit and easily convert. The same goes for G3C owners looking for smoother shooting and increased muzzle energy of a longer slide. Taurus isn’t offering factory optic-ready T.O.R.O. versions of the G3XL or G3X yet, but given the popularity of pistol red dots, you have to think they’re in Taurus’s future.
Specifications: Taurus G3XL 9MM Pistol
Capacity: 12 Rounds
Action Type: Single Action with Restrike
Firing System: Striker
Front Sight: Fixed Front (white dot)
Rear Sight: Drift Adjustable Serrated
Barrel Length: 4 in.
Overall Length: 7.28 in.
Overall Height: 5.1 in.
Overall Width: 1.2 in.
Weight: 24.4 oz.
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Safety: Visual Loaded Chamber Indicator, Striker Block, Trigger Safety
Slide Finish: Tenifer Matte Black
Frame Finish: Black
Barrel Finish: Matte Stainless
Features: Accessory Rail, Re-Strike Capability, NO Manual Safety
Magazines Included: 2
MSRP: $342.98 (retail about $280)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Reliability * * * * *
With 11 loads tested including brass, steel, aluminum, plated brass and steel cases, and various projectile shapes not one malfunction. I fed it rounds with bullets from 70 to 150 grains including personal defense and frangible rounds. Everything chambered and went bang.
Ergonomics * * * * ½
Near Goldilocks size. My XXL-size hands can hold on just fine so I imagine the gun would fit any hand. Controls are well sized and located. The slide serrations could definitely be a bit more aggressive, but the pistol is easy to rack.
Accuracy * * * * *
The trigger helped greatly, appropriate for carry, but with a discernible wall and clean break.
Concealability * * * *
We all have our own personal preferences. I typically conceal a 15-round gun, but the G3XL’s combination of a 4″ barrel slide on a sub-compact gun is what a lot of gun buyers have been asking for. The shorter contoured grip should make the G3XL easy to conceal.
Overall: * * * * ½
The only thing that holds me back from loving this gun is my personal history with Taurus products. I can’t find much wrong with G3XL, especially considering its price point. That said, I want to see if it’s something that will last thousands of rounds. That may or may not be fair, but it’s how I feel. I’ll hang on to the G3XL and likely spend some more range time with it, possibly take it to a training course; that seems to be a great fault-finder on guns and gear that are flawless on the range. A few days of course work is where faults tend to appear.