June 2005

Three Tiny .45 ACPs: We Pick The Taurus Millennium Pro

Glock’s 36 is barely okay, in our estimation, and we had doubts about the Para Warthog’s ability to shoot comfortably.

Taurus Millennium Pro PT745C .45 ACP

While the .45 ACP cartridge has proven its worth as one of the very best self-defense cartridges, the guns that handle it are often too big to be easily carried, much less concealed, at least for some shooters. The solution is to make the guns smaller and lighter. We recently tested some lightweight Commander-size .45s (May 2005 issue), and though we found them to have varying degrees of acceptance, they all kicked noticeably harder than full-size 1911s. Yet these guns can be made smaller yet, as we find out this month with the three tested here. We acquired a Taurus Millennium Pro PT 745C ($484 MSRP), a Glock Model 36 (about $500 street price), and the much-sought-after Para-Ordnance Warthog WHX1045R, ($749 MSRP) and put them to our tests. We must tell you right now these small .45s are not, in our opinion, suitable for novice shooters. We feel you ought to be thoroughly used to the recoil of the .45 ACP, preferably with hot ammo in a light-frame gun, before considering one of these smaller .45s. Even then, you’re in for a surprise the first time you touch one of them off.

Two, the Taurus and the Glock, were DAO. The Warthog was similar to a 1911 with its single-action trigger, but its grip was another story altogether. All came with two magazines, and all the mags were easy to load. All had fixed, highly visible sights, but none had tritium inserts. Here’s a look at each in turn.

Taurus Millennium Pro PT 745C .45 ACP, $484


This all-matte-black pistol was, for most of us, the most pleasant of the three in its look and operation. The slim, comfortable grip concealed a single-stack magazine of 6+1 shots, and had molded-in serrations on the gripping surface that went a long way toward helping us control this little powerhouse. The pistol was striker fired, and the long trigger pull broke just before it touched the frame at the very back of the trigger guard. Like its bigger brother the 24/7, this trigger required some learning time. The three-white-dot sights were highly visible and could easily accommodate tritium inserts if desired. Both front and rear sights were screwed to the slide and had no easy adjustment, short of replacement. However, the gun shot close enough to point of aim that no adjustments were needed.

It was easy for dirt to enter this gun. There was a big hole beneath the chamber area, at least an eighth of an inch wide for the full length of the ejection port. The opposite side of the gun had other large openings in the slide that would permit lots of dirt to slip in easily. Another dirt-entry opening was just above the serial number at the rear of the slide. One would have to check this pistol frequently for dirt inside, to ensure reliability. The gun was well set up for clearance drills, there being no sharp edges anywhere on it.

Each pull of the trigger dropped the striker. There was a safety lever, easily operated by the right thumb, that blocked the trigger. The gun would fire with the magazine removed. Because of the gun’s short grip, the Taurus’s magazine didn’t always drop free. The mag release, in the same position on all three guns, was a button on the left-rear corner of the trigger guard. The magazine extension provided a comfortable rest for the little finger of the shooting hand. Loading the magazine was easy, best of the three guns. Also, the Taurus’s slide was the easiest to grasp, and chamber a round. With a round in the chamber, a tiny red area on top of the extractor was visible. Overall fit and finish of the Millennium Pro was excellent.

Field stripping was identical to that of the 24/7 discussed recently. Unload the gun, lock the slide back, remove the magazine, and turn the disassembly lever 90 degrees until it points down. Then with a suitable tool, pry out the takedown lever. Press the trigger and ease the slide off the front. Inside was an aluminum frame, like that of the 24/7, which formed the rails and mounting points for the guts of the gun. Some parts looked small, but everything worked. Reassembly was easy, with two tricks. First, be sure the barrel is fully forward before reinserting the takedown pin. Second, once that pin is back into the gun you’ll find it won’t go all the way in. Rotate the lever to its normal position and then bump it with the base of the magazine, and it’ll snap fully into the gun.

On

the range

we found no problems with this Taurus. As with the 24/7, there’s not a lot to learn. The trigger takes practice, but the gun delivers all the accuracy anyone would want from such a gun. We tested with Hungarian MFS ball, a handload with 200-grain cast SWCs, and Cor-Bon’s 185-grain JHP. Everything fed, fired, and ejected perfectly. The short barrel was rather high above our hand, so the flip of the gun was pronounced. With the Cor-Bon loads it was huge. This is not the realm of the novice shooter, not if he/she needs to shoot multiple shots quickly and accurately. Double taps with Cor-Bon’s great defense load were slow, even for experienced shooters.

Glock Model 36 .45 ACP, $500


Our test Glock had a green grip frame and matte-black slide. Workmanship was excellent, with one exception, which we’ll get to shortly. Our first impression was that the grip was huge. Where the Taurus measured a quarter-inch smaller in circumference than a 1911, the Glock was a quarter-inch larger. Despite its staggered magazine, this pistol held only six shots. The grip felt too long for most of us. We suspect if Glock had redesigned this grip, there would have been no need for the .45 Glock cartridge. The next thing we noticed was the Glock sat low in the hand. The sights were white-highlighted, easily visible. The plastic rear blade was drift adjustable but not locked. The ejection port was too sharp.

Takedown was a snap. With the gun cleared and mag out, press the trigger to uncock the gun. Then put a little pressure rearward on the slide and pull downward on the spring-loaded clips on each side of the frame just above the trigger. Ease the slide off. As expected, the Glock’s innards were well refined, and all the parts looked adequate for the task done by each. Here and there the plastic had sharp edges, but these could be easily trimmed with a sharp knife, a file, or sandpaper. The Glock would fire with the magazine out.

We found one nasty bit that nearly made us reject this pistol. Glocks have no safety other than the little tab within the trigger. This tab has to be depressed before the trigger can move rearward to fire the gun. The spring-loaded tab bears against the frame and prevents motion of the trigger unless the finger is placed onto the tab firmly and squarely. With this gun, we noticed a reluctance for the tab to go down as we began our test firing. We felt a click, and then the trigger would start to move. On inspection, we found the fitting of the tab was incorrect, and was in fact dangerous. The tab was binding on the frame. It was easy to press the safety tab and have it stick in the firing position, which meant that the trigger could be pulled, and the gun would fire, without the finger being on that tab. This could happen during reholstering, for instance. We looked closely and found the trouble was failure by Glock to inspect this gun. There was a plastic burr on the edge of the frame that was causing the tab to bind, and allowing it to stick in the firing position. We trimmed the burr with a knife and had no further problems. However, we also found the safety tab could protrude far enough forward that it was possible to position the trigger finger against it in such a manner that the tab was locked forward, and the gun would not fire. The finger must be placed onto the tab squarely.

Glock owners must be aware of potential problems with its trigger. The safety tab must work freely. The tab spring took about a pound to depress, but this was easily overcome by friction from some untrimmed plastic.

The trigger broke at about 6.5 pounds. This felt terrible when shooting at targets, but the Glock came into its own as a combat weapon. The low placement of the barrel in relation to the shooting hand paid off for follow-up shots. These felt about twice as fast as with either of the other two guns, but we didn’t time them. Also, the grip angle and longer sight radius made for easy and fast repeat hits with the Glock. All shots hit 3 inches high at 15 yards, which was probably acceptable. From the bench, the Cor-Bon loads recoiled badly, and the magazine pinched our finger severely. We had one failure to feed with Cor-Bon when the gun was new and tight. Another problem was that the slide was difficult to pull rearward to chamber a round. The serrations were not deep or sharp enough to give us the control we got with the Taurus. The Glock’s slide springs stacked badly, which made it hard to get the slide back far enough. We all noted this, but thought it was worse with the Warthog.

Para-Ordnance Warthog WHX1045R .45 ACP, $749


This ugly little gat was well named, we thought. This one operated exactly like a full-size 1911 in most respects, but was short and squat and yet still held 10 rounds. Our first impression was that it was tough to get a grip on the gun. The little finger hung in the breeze. Some of us could crowd all fingers onto the gun, but it was tight. Next, when we tried to open the gun to clear it, we found the slide serrations were not sharp enough. They were in fact round-bottom cuts with smooth edges, which gave poor traction, in our opinion. The slide springs stacked badly, so the common problem was not being able to get the slide all the way back to lock it open or to chamber a round. We were starting to not like this gun.

The plastic-paneled grip was fat. Girth was a full half-inch larger than a 1911. The front strap had tiny vertical serrations that did little to help hold the gun in place, but the rear strap had sharp checkering that abraded the palm of the hand badly during our shooting tests. The frame was matte-black aluminum, the slide dull-blued steel. The sights were dovetailed to the slide, the rear being locked by a screw. They had three white dots, and gave an excellent sight picture. The rear sight was well sloped to avoid hand damage in clearance drills, but the rear edge of the ejection port was sharp. The rest of the gun was adequately deburred, and the Warthog could be carried in our Bachman Slide holster like any 1911. The front of the slide had no bushing. The barrel was tapered much like the Kimber design. Workmanship was very good throughout, we thought. We had no trouble at all with the tiny beavertail. It worked, and was unnoticeable. Internal workmanship was also excellent, and the gun had a firing-pin lock. Takedown — basically you pull the cross pin — and reassembly were easy, and are detailed in the small book that comes with the gun.

There was a small slot at the back of the chamber which is supposed to tell you of the presence of a chambered round. We could not see the chambered round through the slot, and relied on tugging on the slide to see what was in there. Trigger pull was about 5.4 pounds clean. At the range we found the gun shot way low, about 5 to 6 inches at 15 yards, for all of us with all types of ammo. The solution would be to file the front sight, or replace it with a shorter one. Accuracy was on a par with the other two test guns, all of which shot around 2-inch groups, sometimes a little better, on average.

The Warthog had problems, though. With the hot Cor-Bon 185-grain JHP, the Warthog was mighty nasty to our hands. Also, we got many failures to feed with the Cor-Bon, which actually were caused by the slide locking fully back, not by failure of the round to enter the chamber, in most cases. We had one of the latter failures too, which may have been an extension of the main problem.

The main problem, we thought, was the slide-stop pin, which had an inadequate detent hole and insufficient spring pressure on its catch to keep it in place during the severe recoil from the Cor-Bon ammo. It jumped up into its locking notch in the slide and kept the gun open. One of our staff who used to shoot IPSC competition told us he used to file a deep notch into the slide stop to help it stay down under recoil. This gun needed something drastic like that done to it if the owner proposes to use stout-recoiling self-defense ammunition in the Warthog. Of course the main purpose of this gun is self-defense. We can’t imagine anyone buying such an uncomfortable little pistol for fun. So this problem is a major one, we thought. There were no malfunctions with the other two test loads, nor with some light target loads of both round-nose and SWC configuration.

Gun Tests Recommends
• Taurus Millennium Pro PT 745C .45 ACP, $484. Our Pick. We were favorably impressed with this pistol. The 8-pound trigger was controllable and consistent. At its largest, the grip was a quarter-inch smaller than a 1911 grip. Those with small hands will find the Taurus’s handle mighty friendly. Its shape distributed the kick over a large portion of our hand. With a 3.25-inch barrel, muzzle flash can be a problem, so choose your ammo — and test it — carefully, and we think you’ll find the PT 745C to be a trusty friend, especially in light of its street price of $375 to 400.

• Glock Model 36 .45 ACP, $500. Buy It. We thought the Glock was an excellent combat handgun, but had a grip that would put some people off because of its excess girth and, for some of us, the misplaced bump on its rear strap. We worried about the trigger but, as noted, it was a simple fix. We particularly liked the fast follow-up shots and the longer sight radius, an inch more than that of the other two guns. We liked the look of the green frame, too. This pistol will not be for everyone, but might be just right for you.

• Para-Ordnance Warthog WHX1045R .45 ACP, $749. Conditional Buy. We could not in any way come to like the Warthog, despite its higher capacity and better trigger than the other two test guns. We didn’t like how the abrasive grip gouged the center of our hand. This would not be a problem for one or two shots, but surely would get your attention, which isn’t quite right for a self-defense pistol, we thought.

While we liked the single-action trigger, we think the overall configuration of this pistol left a lot to be desired. In the course of our testing, we examined another small .45 pistol, an older Star PD, which was much like a small 1911 without grip safety, but with six or seven shot capacity, adjustable sights, slim wood grips, and great comfort to the shooter’s hand. We all felt it was a much better solution to the small .45 problem than any of the three test guns. We hope to report on it soon, if it’s still available.

But for now we suggest you avoid the Warthog unless you absolutely must have one, and then be sure to test it thoroughly with your chosen ammo. We couldn’t condemn it, but it’d be our distant last choice of these three.