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Taurus PT145 Millennium Pistol Review - 45 ACP Pocket Pistol
A Pocket Pistol With Punch: Taurus' .45 ACP PT145 - By Dick Metcalf, Technical Editor, Shooting Times.

aurus International Firearms made a strong entry into the growing field of ultracompact .45 ACP personal-defense and duty-backup pistols with the Taurus PT145 Millennium pistol. Announced at the 2000 SHOT Show, the Model PT145 .45 ACP is only slightly larger in size than earlier Taurus Millennium pistol models in .380, 9mm, .40 S&W, and .357 SIG chamberings and offers a complete array of operational features plus 10+1 firepower in an extremely compact yet easy to handle package. It is offered in three versions—the blued chrome-moly steel slide PT145B (reviewed here), the matte stainless-slide PT145SS, and the radical titanium-slide PT145T—all with injection-molded polymer frames.

SPECS
Taurus PT145 Millennium
.45 ACP Semiautomatic Pistol
Distributor ..Taurus International Mfg. Inc.
16175 NW. 49th Ave.
Miami, FL 33255
Model ...................................................PT145
Operation ......Recoil-operated autoloader
Caliber ................................................45 ACP
Barrel length .............................3.27 inches
Overall length ...........................6.00 inches
Weight, empty ........................22.6 ounces
Safety .........................Manual striker block;
self-engaging firing pin block;
Taurus Safety Lock
Sights...........................................Low-profile
three-white-dot system
Sight radius ...............................5.00 inches
Rifling ............................6 grooves; RH twist
Stocks .................Integral molded polymer
Magazine capacity .....................10 rounds
Finish ................................Satin black/blued
chrome-moly slide;
matte black polymer frame
Price .......................................................$414

The overall Millennium series design is impressive and offers a longer list of features and more full-size operating characteristics than any other pocket-size auto on today’s market regardless of caliber. I view it as the current state-of-the-art in compact pistol design. The pistol was initially engineered to provide a platform for the world-popular 9mm cartridge with design parameters that allowed Taurus engineers to easily adapt its basic geometry to the firing requirements of the smaller .380 Auto as well as the slightly larger diameter but same length .40 S&W and .357 SIG without dimensional changes. The decision to add the .45 ACP to the Millennium family did require some reengineering, given Taurus President Carlos Murgel’s no-compromise requirement that all pistols carrying the Millennium label have 10-round magazine capacities. The result was an alteration in the molded frame dimensions to accommodate a completely new steel-sleeve 10-round .45 ACP magazine and a slightly thicker slide.


From the outside, the most readily seen difference between the PT145 and the other Millennium chamberings is the interface between the magazine and the molded grip frame whereby the molded magazine baseplate provides a conforming surface with rest of the grip when loaded. This, coupled with the PT145’s deep-in-the-hand, striker-fired trigger mechanism, allows full grasp by all fingers of the firing hand in spite of an overall gun height of only 4.75 inches.

The baseplate is not designed for removal from the magazine tube and contains the compressed magazine spring and follower when the magazine is fully loaded with 10 rounds. Admittedly, the 10th round takes a bit of extra pressure to load in, but there is still enough slack to allow a full 10-round magazine to be inserted and locked without bottoming out when compressed against the underside of the slide.

Like nearly all full-size .45 ACP pistols, the PT145 Millennium uses a rugged recoil-operated semiauto action (as do all Millennium pistols, even the .380) instead of the simple blowback mechan-isms found on many other pocket-size auto pistols. The linkless barrel operates via a Browning-derived camlock ramp. There is a full-length guide rod but no separate barrel/slide bushing. The muzzle end of the barrel is slightly enlarged with a smaller diameter area immediately behind to allow the breech to drop slightly during the unlock cycle without binding. Barrel-to-slide fit is very solid when in battery, as evidenced by the PT145’s remarkable accuracy and nonstringing group-distribution pattern, which is consistent with all
other-caliber Millennium pistols I’ve reviewed.

Overall, the PT145 Millennium is a true subcompact, or ultracompact, whatever current term you choose to adopt. Its six-inch overall length will fit within the length of an average-size hand and makes it one of the smallest handguns ever available in .45 ACP chambering. Empty weight of the steel-slide PT145B and PT145SS versions is only 22.6 ounces while the titanium-slide PT145T weighs a startling 17.3 ounces. Barrel length is 3.27 inches, which offers a functional five-inch sight radius.

The standard-issue PT145 sights are also notably more well thought out than the typical pocket pistol. The top of the slide has a slightly recessed, wide, flat sighting plane, which holds a staked-in, semi-Patridge, white-dot front blade and a screwed-on, wedge-profile, square-notch, two-white-dot rear sight (similar in basic shape to the popular concealment/duty sight designs of Wayne Novak and Richard Heinie). The sight designers were also smart enough to make the white dot in the front blade a slightly larger diameter than the two dots by the rear notch, so when you actually use them all three dots look exactly the same size to your eye. These are real sights, not just pointing guides.

The striker-fired PT145 Millennium action operates in double-action-only (DAO) mode (same as all other Millennium chamberings) and fires only by a consistent and repeatable long pull on the trigger, instead of the first-long, afterward-short trigger pull that is typical of conventional DA autoloader designs. The trigger pull on the review PT145 pistol was smooth and light, taking up at initially zero weight and stacking smoothly through .499 inches of travel to a 8.364-pound letoff, according to my Dvorak Instruments computerized TriggerScan instrument.

Also noteworthy is that the Millennium action design is completely trigger-activated and requires no preloading of the firing mechanism. In other words, the Millennium pistol does not require any rearward movement of the slide to preset the striker springs or sear (unlike many other striker-fired DAO designs like those from Glock, S&W, Kahr, and others). Thus, all Millennium versions have repeat-strike capability, allowing a second trigger pull against any misfire without having to manually cycle the slide to reset the trigger action. I view this as a critically important feature for any civilian-use personal-defense autoloader design, as it takes extensive training to instill a professional’s tap-rack-bang response to a misfired cartridge, and at least 80 percent of all factory ammo misfires do ignite on a second strike.

Additional PT145 features seldom found on ultracompact DAO pistol designs include a manual sear-block safety, located where safeties are customarily found—on the left rear of the frame—and operate conventionally: up for “Safe,” down for “Fire.” Manual safeties on hammerless DAO pocket pistols are rare, but in the absence of a “safety trigger” mechanism such as found on Glocks and S&W Sigmas, it’s not a bad hedge against accidental discharge from a dropped gun. Of course, the gun also has a self-engaging firing pin block that requires the trigger to be moved all the way to the rear for release. The PT145 DAO also has a manual safety, and Taurus has also put a slide-mounted version of its key-operated Safety Lock to the PT145 (and the entire Millennium series), with a quarter-turn rotation that completely freezes the firing pin and deactivates the gun until unlocked. Any integrated locking system is markedly superior to any type of removable “trigger lock” and fully answers all concerns presently at issue in the legislative and product-regulation world regarding safe firearms storage. With three separate and completely independent layers of safety, the Millenniums are unique among ultracompact personal-defense pistols with the instant-safe-ready mechanism of DAO trigger, a manual safety lever, and an integrated key lock.

Taurus .45 ACP PT145 Performance Results
Factory Load
Muzzle Velocity
(fps)
Standard Deviation
(fps)
50-Foot
Accuracy
(Inches)
Federal 165-gr. Personal Defense
999
12
1.88
Hornady 185-gr. HP/XTP
815
9
2.25
Remington 185-gr. +P Golden Saber
1021
13
2.13
CCI Blazer 200-gr. TMJ Combat Match
880
11
2.63
PMC 230-gr. Starfire
771
8
2.50
Winchester 230-gr. SXT
825
22
2.00
Overall average accuracy
2.23

NOTES: Accuracy is the average of five 10-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest at 50 feet. Velocity is the average of 10 rounds measured 10 feet from the gun’s muzzle.

The PT145 also has a conventionally located, easily thumb-reachable slide release lever on the left side of the frame, and it holds the slide to the rear after the last round in a magazine is fired. The magazine release button is positioned directly behind the trigger guard on the left side, Model 1911-style, and a push on the button drops the magazine free of the frame. The PT145 magazines are steel, which eliminates full-load “bulge” and cuts down on grip size. The molded polymer, hump-backed grip frame is textured and grooved for secure grasp and tucks very comfortably into the cup of the palm. The trigger guard is mildly hooked and textured for two-hand shooting.

To disassembe the PT145 you merely remove the magazine, clear and visually inspect the chamber, lock back the slide, rotate and pluck free the simple takedown lever on the left side of the frame, then withdraw the slide/barrel and dual spring/ recoil-guide assembly forward off the frame.

With all my talk about the PT145’s feature-laden design, I should also mention that there’s one feature I’m very glad it does not have—a magazine disconnect (a device which renders the gun unable to fire with magazine removed). Magazine disconnect safeties are becoming more common on more makes and models of auto pistols of all sizes and chamberings these days as manufacturers continue to try to evade avaricious liability lawyers by manufacturing guns that are more and more difficult to actually get to fire. Well, sorry. If I ever lose or damage a magazine in a crisis situation, I still want to be able to fire my gun as long as I can get a round into the chamber—even by manually single-loading if I have to. The PT145 will let me.

For my performance evaluation of the steel-slide review sample PT145B, I selected six different brands and bullet configurations of commercial .45 ACP ammunition and fired all for accuracy at 50 feet (50 feet is the street-width target distance I view as most appropriate for the shorter sight radius of ultracompact carry pistols). Full results are listed in the chart, but I must tell you that the PT145 is a shooter! The all-fingers grip design makes it as comfortable and controllable in the hand as any full-size .45, and it ate everything I fed it without a single hiccup. Accurate, reliable, lightweight, comfortable to shoot, fully featured, and economical in price. Any member of the .45 ACP cartridges legion of believers who is looking for a topnotch personal-defense pistol for concealed carry is going to find the new Taurus PT145 very hard to pass up.

This article was originally published in Shooting Times magazine in December, 2000.

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