To the American firearms snob, Taurus has always been a bottom-barrel manufacturer trading in lifted designs and generally less expensive materials. If you’re shopping for a specific pistol platform, you can bet your bottom dollar that Taurus makes a cheap (albeit usually decent and reliable) imitation. So when the company comes to market with something a little more original, it’s bound to get the industry’s attention.
And Taurus’ brand new CTG29 9mm carbine is nothing if not attention-getting.
Personally, I’m not a fan of the look. However, it’s not necessarily so simple to fault Taurus here, because the PCC (pistol caliber carbine) is a heavily-modified “sporter” version of the company’s much sleeker MT G2 submachine gun. With that version’s 7.87-inch barrel, for example, the platform’s combination magazine shroud/forward grip makes sense. The CT’s barrel, on the other hand, is a legal minimum 16 inches in length, throwing off every balance benefit of the original innovative design.
But that’s not the only reason Taurus’ latest looks the way it does. In fact, most of the PCC’s design language is a direct consequence of our country’s ill-conceived 922(r) import law. That’s why, for example, the CT’s stock is physically connected to the bottom of its AR-style grip. In this way, what would otherwise be designated a banned “pistol grip” technically becomes a “thumb-hole grip,” allowing Taurus to legally bring the carbine into the United States. (If that seems like arbitrary nonsense, trust me, you’re not alone. This post from Tapco and this one from GunWiki should help clear things up, as will this primer.)
Unfortunately, 922(r) compliance affects more than just the CT’s physical appearance. Apparently, even after two years of tooling and logistics planning to get this thing to the American market, Taurus couldn’t meet the law’s 10-count foreign-made parts cutoff (hence the “sporter” design). Why does this matter? Because it effectively prevents any law-abiding American buyer from modifying their CT in any meaningful, useful way.
Say you bought one of these firearms only to realize you’re not satisfied with its pitiful 10-shot magazine (which, unbelievably, Taurus forgot to make interchangeable with any of its popular pistol lines). Say you want something more PCC-appropriate, like a 20- or 30-round magazine. The solution seems simple enough: just pop in a bigger one! But you can’t — that’s a federal crime. And the same goes for adding a flash or sound suppressor, folding buttstock, bayonet lug, or proper pistol grip. Because the CT9 is constructed of more than 10 foreign-made parts, adding any one of these desirable features takes the firearm out of its BATFE-approved sporting configuration and renders it illegal to own or operate. Seriously. Such a violation is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.
For American consumers, the only way around this arbitrary inconvenience is to turn the CT into a “domestic” firearm by replacing enough parts to get its foreign-made component count down to 10 or fewer. Without aftermarket support, though, that’s going to be all but impossible.
And that brings me to the biggest problem with the CT: its price. The MSRP on this firearm is an outlandish $898, with a street price hovering around $700. Coupled with the CT’s love-it-or-hate-it looks and knee-capped magazine (What is the point of a 10-round PCC, anyway?), I just don’t foresee a meaningful-enough public draw for the gun to get consumers and the aftermarket all that interested, particularly when there are several other available arms that fit the bill better and cheaper. You can pick up a more-portable Kel-Tec Sub-2000 in 9mm — that accepts standard 33-round Glock magazines — for around that same $700. The Beretta Cx4 Storm, which takes high-capacity 92F/S magazines, can be had for less than $100 more. And several boutique manufacturers offer thinner, lighter AR-style PCCs that take readily-available magazines, too.
To stand out, Taurus needed, at the very least, to make the CTG29 substantially more affordable than its direct competition. They didn’t. And asking savvy American firearms enthusiasts to pay a premium for a gimped, bargain-brand sporter is a very tough sell.
At the time of this writing, my favorite online retailer still hasn’t sold their newly-stocked CT, and they’re asking only $650. That’s about as cheap as you could hope to find this thing, and nobody’s biting.
Except for Taurus and its ill-conceived carbine, that is.