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Taurus 917C Pistol Review: An Old Favorite Upgraded

There’s no mistaking that we’re living in the era of polymer-framed, striker-fired pistols for self-defense. They, by far, own the lion’s share of the market for guns used for self-protection. But some folks prefer the traditional double-action/single-action trigger mechanism, an exposed hammer, and an aluminum frame. Nothing wrong with that! The Beretta 92 and military equivalent, M9, served our country’s military and law enforcement very well for decades. Similar to the Model 92, Taurus brings back its 917C DA/SA pistol with upgrades.

The Taurus 917C DA/SA 9mm Pistol

For many years, Taurus offered its Model 92—an aluminum-framed, high capacity 9mm. It possesses the traditional double-action first shot followed by a shorter, lighter single-action for each subsequent shot.

The fact that Taurus’ Model 92 resembles the Beretta 92 pistol was not accidental. In 1980 Taurus acquired the Beretta factory in Sao Paulo, Brazil and started making its own Model 92s. Over time, Taurus tweaked the design to the point that, despite the similar resemblance, parts were no longer interchangeable.

Taurus still offers the Model 92 with blued and stainless-steel finishes. However, the guns now have a Picatinny rail on the dust cover for the addition of a tactical light. One variant that Taurus offered several years ago was the 917C. The model possesses the full-size grip frame of the Model 92 but has a barrel and slide 7/10ths of an inch shorter. 

(Photo by Taurus USA)

Think of it as a Commander version of the 1911 pistol. The only difference between the 92 and 917C is the length of the barrel and slide. For reasons no one at Taurus can seem to remember, the 917C was quietly dropped from the line-up a few years back.

Hello, Old Friend: Return of the 917C

Last November, Taurus reintroduced the 917C with some upgrades. It features an aluminum alloy frame with subtle finger grooves along with texturing on the front strap. The frame is hard-coat anodized matte black, which matches the black oxide finish on the steel frame.

Taurus uses a stainless steel 4.3-inch-long barrel on the 917C and blackens it to match the rest of the gun. The new gun also boasts a Picatinny rail on its dust cover and comes with two Mec-Gar 18-round magazines.

Mechanically it retains its original DA/SA trigger system and its magazine release can be reversed for southpaws. It’s a handsome gun with a no-nonsense, all-business finish with its parts expertly fitted. As a result, it should provide the user with a lifetime of service.

Frame Mounted Safety

One of the advantages of the Taurus 917C over the Beretta, at least in my opinion, is the frame-mounted safety, which works very much like a 1911 thumb safety. This is a departure from the Beretta’s slide-mounted safety/decocker. Push down on the Taurus’ safety to fire and up to reengage the safety.

In addition, the thumb safeties are ambidextrous and extended. After firing the gun, the thumb safety can be used as a decocker. Pressing down on it will harmlessly drop the hammer to half-cock.

The Taurus 917C DA/SA 9mm Pistol.
(Photo by Taurus USA)

Thus, the gun can be carried with the hammer down and safety engaged. This will make sense if you’re worried about someone grabbing your gun and trying to shoot you with it. The amount of time it would take them to figure out how to disengage the safety would give you time for Plan B.

Or, you can carry it cocked and locked, with the hammer cocked and the thumb safety engaged—like a 1911.

Simply disengaging the safety will allow you to fire the gun single-action instead of pulling through the long double action. However, most people will carry the gun with the hammer down, and the safety disengaged, relying on the heavy and long first-shot double-action trigger pull for safety.

Operating the 917C Pistol

Using my Lyman electronic trigger pull gauge I found the 917C’s single action pull to break at 3.6 pounds with some overtravel. Double Action pull was heavier, but it registered 6.8 pounds. It’s a long pull and requires a deliberate pull of the trigger for the gun to fire.

For a defense gun, this may be ideal as no one can make an argument that the trigger was too light and the pull was accidental. Like I said, it requires a deliberate long pull of the trigger.

The author shooting from standing position.

One feature that makes the Beretta and Taurus 92 style of guns so reliable is the very shallow feed angle from the magazine. Combined with the open top slide these guns have impeccable reputations for reliability.

Taurus outfits the 917C with traditional fixed sights with the common 3-dot pattern. The front sight is actually machined into the slide, while the rear sight is dovetailed into the slide. As a result, it can be drift-adjusted for windage. However, there is no provision on this model to add an optic.

Range Time

I found my sights to be perfectly regulated for windage and elevation at 15 yards. On a brisk southern Arizona winter morning, I set up my DOA tactical portable shooting bench. I then proceeded to fire the 917C with six different 9mm loads in an attempt to determine its accuracy potential.

The author shooting from the bench.

I fired three 5-shot groups with each ammunition and listed the most accurate group in the accompanying chart (below). Likewise, I fired all shots from the single-action mode for the sake of consistency. Loads were equally split between range-type loads and hotter defense ammunition. The results surprised even me!

DoubleTap’s 124-grain Round Nose Match ammunition produced the single best group, measuring just a hair over one inch. Hornady’s American Gunner 115-grain XTP hollowpoint rounds were just behind it in group size. My aggregate group size was just 1.10 inches, and I found that to be amazing!

Field shooting exercises on steel targets proved to be a joy with the 917C. Despite the aluminum frame, it is not a lightweight gun, and this made recoil management very easy. Weighing in at 33-ounces the gun’s weight is an effective variable in dampening the recoil.

I was able to fire some very quick controlled pairs, and reacquiring the front sight was quick and easy.

Choking the 917C Pistol

I also brought along an assortment of steel and aluminum-cased ammo of dubious manufacture from the far corners of the world. I almost felt guilty loading the mags with this crusty stuff but wanted to see if the 917C would run with it.

With the exception of one steel-cased round, whose primer was hit three times, all of the rounds fed and cycled without issue. This is a testament to the 917C’s robust design and engineering!

If you’re familiar with the disassembly of a Beretta 92 or M9 pistol, the 917C will not be terribly different. Start by removing the gun’s magazine and clearing the chamber. Now, lock the slide to the rear.

On the right side of the receiver, depress the take-down lever button while rotating the take-down lever 90ᵒ on the left side of the frame. While controlling the slide, depress the slide lock and ease the slide off the frame. The recoil spring guide assembly can now be removed, and the barrel can be removed from the slide.

This is as far as you should disassemble the gun for routine cleaning.

The Taurus 917C DA/SA 9mm Pistol.
(Photo by Taurus USA)

Final Thoughts

I was very impressed with Taurus’ new 917C and enjoyed every minute of range time with it. It was accurate beyond belief and unerringly reliable. For those with an aversion to polymer-framed striker guns, the 917C might be the solution to your needs.

Taurus lists the suggested retail price of the gun at $606.99. Like most guns these days, a quick internet search will reveal real-world pricing to be substantially lower.

For more information, please visit TaurusUSA.com.

Taurus 917C Pistol Specs

Operation Semi-Automatic, Locked Breech, Double-Action/Single-Action
Caliber/Capacity 9mm, 18 + 1 (2 Magazines Included)
Overall Length 7.9”
Width 1.30”
Overall Height 5.5”
Weight 33.5 Ounces (with Unloaded Magazine)
Barrel 4.30”, Stainless-Steel, Blackened, 1:10” RH Twist, 6-Groove
Frame Full-Size, Aluminum Alloy, Anodized Black, with Accessory Rail
Slide Alloy Steel, Matte Black Finish
Sights 3-Dot Sights, Rear Sight Drift Adjustable
Safety Ambidextrous, Extended Thumb Safeties that also act as Decockers, Firing Pin Block
Grips Black Synthetic
Accessories Two 18-Round Magazines, Cable Lock
Warranty Limited Lifetime Warranty
MSRP $606.99

Performance

Ammo Velocity Group
Black Hills 115-grain JHP 1213 1.08”
Doubletap 124-grain Round Nose Match 1050 1.03”
Federal American Eagle 147-grain FMJ 1036 1.12”
Fiocchi 115-grain FMJ 1165 1.17”
Hornady American Gunner 115-grain XTP 1119 1.05”
Speer Gold Dot G2 135-grain Carry Gun 1066 1.15”
Average   1.10”

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