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Taurus’ New CTG29 Carbine Is A Long Shot

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.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Chris Wooldridge December 4, 2013, 9:39 pm

    Wow! So you don’t like the CTG29 huh? Well, sir, I do appreciate the points you made but I would like to counter with some good points about this carbine. First, the CTG29 is just a pleasure to shoot. It is very accurate right out of the box. The sights are just outstanding. I really like the integrated forward grip at the magazine well a lot, as well as the 12 and 6 o’clock rails. As of yet I haven’t mounted 3 and 9 o’clock rails. I personally like the balance of the weapon. With the “thumb-hole” stock a person with short thumbs like me does have to reach for the safety lever a little but it is doable. It would not be an issue if the carbine was equipped with a standard stock. I do understand the short comings you mentioned but I have got to say that I still like the CTG29 better than the kel-tech OR the Beretta. Just feels better to me. Yes, I know I took a chance that I am stuck with what I got as after-market parts may never come available but I did get a fun gun to shoot. Hopefully Taurus will eventually provide replacement parts to allow early purchasers to meet the ATF’s BS requirements!
    I appreciate you thoughts! Take care.
    Chris Wooldridge

    • A.T. Faust December 28, 2013, 11:23 am

      I agree with many of your points. In the time since I’ve written the post, the gun’s grown on me aesthetically. Ultimately, though, I feel like Taurus let American import restrictions gimp an otherwise promising carbine. You could say that my general distaste for this weapon is more due to the legal necessity of “sporterization” than to any real detriment on Taurus’ end.

      The biggest issue for me remains the fact that the magazines are proprietary. If they were Taurus’ 24/7 G2 mags, you could share them between the pair of firearms and have a complete PDW system. That’s the main thing ANY pistol-caliber carbine should have: common magazines to a companion handgun. That, and proper high-capacity magazine support.

      I have no doubt it’s a fine firearm with quality components, and I am glad that it fits your needs. I don’t see it catching fire among the target audience, but I do think Taurus will make enough money to continue producing the gun. In the future, I really hope Taurus moves manufacturing to the US, thereby bypassing 922(r) and enabling the firearm to sport a traditional stock, pistol grip, and extended magazine.

  • Rod January 6, 2014, 5:26 pm

    Here’s what I’ll say about this rifle. I bought this as a PDW at home for my wife. Rather had the .40 but that had this for $689 at academy sports at christmas time. Positives is extremely easy 1 pin cleaning. Pull rear stock pin all comes right apart for cleaning bolt and carriage etc all one unit. very accurate once a proper sight was placed. While the iron sights aren’t bad at all I prefer a tactical unlimited view sight for home defense. lightweight, while its not a mac or uzi i think its spot on. Downsides. I agree the 10 round mag I don’t like, as well as removing the mag is a 2 handed effort as the release will catch the mag in 1 hand operation. Poor design there IMHO. This is a head turner rifle for design but I have to agree, if I did it again and not on impulse buy I prolly would go with something else. Outside of that it’s not great but its not horrible. But has more negatives then positives in the long scope of things. what this thing needs is a barrel magazine it would help alot 10 round is so anemic when you wanna play or defend.

    • A.T. Faust January 15, 2014, 1:13 am

      No drop-free mag? That sounds strange, but it’s possible. I wonder if the gun has a magazine disconnect safety (meaning you can’t pull the trigger unless the mag is in place — another remnant of bygone, shortsighted anti-Second Amendment legislation). If so, the bar that operates this disconnect could be rubbing against and causing the magazine to hang up during ejection. I fixed this exact issue on a Hi-Point firearm by removing the transfer bar altogether. Now the magazine is properly drop-free, fit for one handed mag-changes. Just a thought.

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