If you’ve been to a gun store in the last thirty years or so, you may have noticed a gun that looks awfully like a Beretta 92, a 1911, or a Smith and Wesson revolver but with a lower price tag than its American or European counterparts. That gun is likely a Taurus. In this article, we share the history of Taurus, along with some of the company’s best-known products. We’ll break the history into three periods: an early history, a rise to prominence, and present-day.
Early Period - Where the Taurus Name was Made
Taurus was founded in 1941 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. This out of the way port town, which was south of Rio de Janeiro, was perfect to set up for the industry. The early Taurus guns were a combination and refinement of American and Spanish designs, making them a hit with Brazilian civilians at the time. In this period, Taurus was a local firearms manufacturer, though it did have larger aspirations.
They began exporting their revolvers on a limited basis in 1968 to the United States. Their products caught the attention of Bangor Punta, the then owners of Smith and Wesson, who bought a controlling interest in Taurus in 1970. This began a period of major technological development for Taurus, who could now share ideas and technology with their American counterparts. While the technology sharing was doubtlessly a benefit, playing the role of the subsidiary was not what the founders of Taurus had in mind.
Thus, Taurus became independent once again in 1977, having had a decade to develop its manufacturing and development infrastructure to become a manufacturer on a much larger scale.
Rise to Prominence
As luck would have it, Taurus would once again come to benefit from outside influence. Leading up to 1980, Beretta had plans to develop and manufacture their 92 series of pistols in Brazil for government contracts. However, Taurus managed to buy the plant as well as the technical specs. This allowed Taurus to make their own version of the design, and the PT92 was introduced. People preferred its ambidextrous safety and other enhanced features. These were a smash hit, and their export market began to boom.
In 1982, recognizing the need for a better way to keep up a distributor network in the United States, Taurus opened an office in Miami to support dealers. That marked the beginning of its commitment to expand the existing American customer base.
Just two years later, in 1984, they unveiled a Lifetime Warranty on all of their export handguns, which made them massively competitive in the US market, especially given their low price and high quality. To solidify their foothold in the American market, Taurus made pistols in the US in 1991, marking their entry as a prominent, international arms manufacturer.
Presently, there are many Taurus models, but covering all in details is beyond the scope of this article. Instead, we'll discuss three models that are representative of the contemporary models.
First, the PT 1911 is exactly what the name suggests, a 1911 made by Taurus. They’re chambered for the original .45 ACP and come in three standard 1911 lengths: government, commander, and officer. They offer several color combinations within each length.
Of course, we have to mention the Judge. Aside from the awesome name, this series of revolvers has grown from being a hype compact self-defense revolver in 45 long Colt / .410 into a series of revolvers that come in a range of barrel lengths to accomplish anything you’d need to with a revolver.
Taurus also has their eye on the future, especially in the concealed carry space with the Curve, which is a tiny .380 that comes with a clip right on the gun instead of needing a holster. Whether or not it’s your cup of tea, it shows that Taurus wants, and fully intends, to push the boundaries of firearms design going into the future.
Taurus has come a long way since 1941 when the first models were made. What started as a small, domestic manufacturer has been bought by American companies, brought itself back, and has since risen to global prominence as a manufacturer of quality and affordable pistols of all kinds. The next time you see one at a gun store, you might want to check it out and get your hands on a fascinating piece of modern history, as well as a quality firearm. Manufacturers like Taurus make gun ownership accessible for many American people, so we think they deserve some recognition in the quality budget gun space.