Micro pistols often get a bad rap in the ergonomics and accuracy departments. The ground-breaking Taurus Spectrum, though, proves that easy handling, reliability, and accuracy is possible in a diminutive, price-conscious platform.

by Larry Case

We all know first impressions are important. How we first see the new guy at work, a restaurant a friend likes, your buddy’s bird dog, or a new truck will likely influence your thinking about them for a long time. Speaking for myself, my first impressions of people, places, or things are almost always wrong, and I did it again the other day—this time on a gun, the Taurus Spectrum semi-auto pistol.

The Spectrum is not new, as most of you know, having been introduced about a year and a half ago. Before I even opened the box, I gave in to the preconceived notion that I was not going to like this pistol and that you probably couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with it, if you were standing inside the barn. Well folks, I was wrong.

The Spectrum’s Purpose in Life


Before we start what will hopefully not be another boring gun review, let’s agree on the landscape for this little pistol and what it is intended to be. The past several years, there has been a profusion of small pistols on the market for concealed and everyday carry (EDC). We are not in the target pistol realm here, although this pistol can be fun to take to the range for recreational shooting.

This pistol is meant for convenient and efficient concealed carry and, if need be, close-quarter fighting to protect yourself and those around you. After over 35 years in law enforcement, I sometimes tell people that most of the time I would rather not carry a gun because packing the handgun that I would prefer is often heavy, uncomfortable, and usually not easy to conceal. The subcompact, micro, pocket pistols, (the old timers called them “belly” guns), or whatever you choose to call them offer some relief from this. The Spectrum can slip into a jeans pocket or a lady’s purse and is easily retrieved if someone makes the mistake of thinking you are not armed and wants to make you a victim.

Taurus Designs a New Concept in Subcompact Pistols

When Taurus had the opportunity to develop a new .380 pocket pistol, its design team decided to address the entire segment. One of the main issues with traditional .380s is that they are not pleasant guns to shoot or handle. History of the market segment has based concealability on size; however, as firearms become smaller, they become less manageable. Taurus attacked ergonomics, focusing on recoil management, trigger control, and usability. The Taurus Spectrum is the first semi-automatic pistol equipped with soft-touch panels integrated into the grip and slide.  Its breakthrough design completely revolutionizes the concealed carry experience—delivering better comfort, better responsiveness, and better control with many color combinations to choose from.

So, there is that word ergonomics, which has come in the gun industry to mean the weapon fits the shooter, is comfortable in your hands, and is easy to hold onto. The Spectrum achieves this partly with the thermoploymer inserts on the slide and the grip. This material gives the gun a “grippy” feel and makes it easy to hold onto, helps with recoil, and this translates to the all-important topic of weapon retention. Simply stated, the pistol feels good in your hand and you are less likely to drop it.

Nuts and Bolts on the Spectrum

The Spectrum is a striker-fired sub-compact semi-auto pistol chambered in .380 ACP. The handgun weighs 10 oz., is 5.40 inches in length, and comes with a 2.8-inch barrel. The grip frame is a polymer compound molded over an internal metal chassis; the slide and barrel are stainless steel. The sights are integral to the slide and are not adjustable. Some may see this as a bad thing, but I do not as, again, this is a short-range weapon meant for close fighting.

The Spectrum has a true DAO (double action only) trigger. If you are not used to revolvers or any double-action trigger, you may not like it when you first pick up the gun. This long pull on the trigger is safer for concealed carry, and there is a firing pin block that will only move by way of engaging the trigger. The system allows for re-strike ability, meaning if a round fails to fire, you can restrike that round as many times as you feel necessary. The system is not “pre-loaded” on the spring, so there is no tension on the spring prior to the firing sequence. This further ensures against accidental discharge. The magazine release can be changed for the right- or left-hander.

The takedown lever, actually a screw head, is on the right side of the frame and allows for a simple turn with a screwdriver or a .380 case head rim to disassemble the gun. No trigger pull is required for this operation. To reassemble, mount the slide back onto the frame, work the action, and the takedown lever will lock back into position.

The small lever on the left side of the frame should be noted, as it is the slide lock. Notice that I did not say slide release because this feature is meant to lock the slide back (which it does after the last round fired) yet it is not meant or recommended to release the slide. That is done manually by pulling back on or “sling-shotting” the slide.

The overall shape, design, and sleekness of the weapon is worth noting, as it did not happen by accident. From front to back, the Spectrum was meant to be an easily obtainable pistol that would smoothly go in and out of pants pockets, holsters, and purses. There are no sharp edges or squared angles. Everything is rounded and smooth, as it should be. The sights are low profile and as smooth as the rest of the pistol.

The color options available on this pistol are legion. Pink, blue, and all manner of other combinations are there to choose from and too numerous to name here. Check them out on the Taurus website and shop to your heart’s content.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road—On the Range

As I have said many times before, the first thing any firearm must do is go bang every time I pull the trigger. It doesn’t matter if it is shotgun, .22 rifle, or micro pistol. The Taurus Spectrum did this in spades, as I did not have one malfunction with three brands of ammo: Federal, Aguila, and Magtech. The ejection port seems plenty large enough and no spent cases or unfired rounds had trouble exiting the chamber. The fired cases are hurled a healthy distance from the shooter.

As to firing the Spectrum, I engaged the help of some colleagues for the testing—retired game wardens and police officers—all of whom had lengthy experience in firearms and firearm instruction. One thing about this crowd is that you are going to hear exactly what they think. You may not like what they think, but you are going to hear it.

From the beginning I heard the misgivings (like I had originally) on the length of the trigger pull. This became less of an issue as more rounds were put downrange. The overall feel and fit of the weapon in hand was liked by all, and the earlier noted “grippy” feel of the gun was appreciated.

By far, the issue that caused the most discussion was the accuracy of the Spectrum. Like me, I don’t think my shooters expected hole-cutting accuracy from this little pistol and would have been forgiving if it did not demonstrate that. To a man, they shot tight groups from twenty yards in, with most of the shooting going on around the seven-yard line.

If you are looking for a good option on a comfortable concealed carry pistol and can find one for less than the $224.00 MSRP on the Taurus Spectrum .380, I think you should go and buy it…like today.

Taurus Spectrum Specifications

  • Caliber: .380 Auto
  • Capacity: 6rds/7rds
  • Finish: various colors
  • Grip: Soft-Touch overmold
  • Firing System: Striker
  • Action Type: DAO
  • Trigger Pull: 7-9 lbs.
  • Safety: Internal
  • Sights (front): Integrated low-profile
  • Sights (rear): Integrated low-profile
  • Slide Material: Stainless steel
  • Slide Finish: Black Melonite or matte stainless
  • Overall Length: 5.4 in.
  • Overall Width: 0.89 in.
  • Overall Height: 3.82 in.
  • Barrel Length: 2.8 in.
  • Mag Release: reversible
  • Weight (unloaded): 10 oz.

Larry Case hails from the mountain state of West Virginia, and has been a shooter, hunter, and outdoorsman his entire life. Larry served 36 years as a DNR Law Enforcement Officer, retiring with the rank of Captain. Although he leans toward shotguns, he enjoys all firearms and any kind of hunting. He owns too many dogs, not enough shotguns, and is forever looking for a new place to hunt. Larry loves to mentor new shooters and hunters. You can catch more Larry's entertaining perspectives at GunsandCornbread.com.

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