The micro-compact 9mm concealed carry pistol market is really starting to give US customers an option for practically every style of concealed carry. Similarly, Taurus has been doing its best to meet the demands of the market while slowly but surely shoring up its quality control which has made them quite competitive despite its past reputation. Today Taurus is bringing a new pistol to market that gives concealed carriers access to yet another option for their daily carry pistol – the GX4 XL T.O.R.O. Similar to the release of the groundbreaking Glock 43X and subsequent release of the Glock 48, the Taurus GX4 XL increases the barrel length to give customers access to a longer sight radius and this time, it’s optics ready from the start. So today we’ll see what the extra inch of length that the GX4 XL has will offer to the customer looking for an affordable carry piece.
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TFB Review: The New GX4 XL – GX4’s Bigger Brother
Specifications – GX4 XL T.O.R.O
- Caliber: 9mm
- Capacity: 10/11/13 rounds – dependent on magazine
- Included Magazines: 1×11 + 1×13 Standard
- Firing System: Striker
- Action Type: SA
- Front Sight: Fixed
- Rear Right: Serrated Drift Adjustable
- Optics Cut: Shield RMSc. Holosun HS507K X2, Sightmark Mini Shot A-Spec M3, Trijicon RMR cc Red Dot (requires adapter plate P/N 10028170)
- Safety: Striker Block; Trigger Blade Safety
- Frame: Stainless Steel Frame insert with Polymer Grip
- Slide Material: Carbon Steel
- Slide Finish: Gas Nitride Coating
- Barrel Finish: Black DLC Coating
- Barrel Length: 3.7 Inches
- Overall Length: 6.43 Inches
- Overall Width: 1.08 Inches
- Overall Height: 4.40 Inches
- Weight: 20 Ounces
- MSRP: $459.00 / $429 for Non-T.O.R.O version
The Taurus GX4 XL maintains nearly all the same specifications as the GX4 T.O.R.O but in stark contrast to previous Taurus release, it seems that they’ve listed to the constant berating of myself and TFBTV’s Hop – they made the T.O.R.O available from the start rather than releasing it several weeks or months later. This is something I hope Taurus continues to do in the future as it gives people more options from the get-go.
Something curious about the release of the GX4 XL is that it’s actually less expensive than the current offerings of the GX4 T.O.R.O. The price of the GX4 XL is about $10 less which is kind of odd considering the guns are literally the same but the XL version has more material and also already includes one of the Taurus 13-round magazines. However, it is worth noting that 13-round magazines are already available for standalone purchase, and the base model Taurus GX4 is still much more affordable at just $392.42 MSRP – if you don’t like optics for your carry pistol then you’ve got a much cheaper option via the standard length GX4 and would have to pay an additional $40 for the opportunity to mount an optic.
I’m not privy to the inner workings of how Taurus decides on its pricing but it is indeed curious to me how a new product with more material and more features is winding up less expensive than its older counterparts. Either way, Taurus now has a lot of options on the table for you to choose from that can meet just about every preference for concealed carriers.
If you’ve got a Glock 48, Glock 43x, or Taurus GX4 already and have a holster for one of them, you’ll likely not have to buy another holster as I tested out the GX4 XL with a couple of my Glock 48 and Taurus GX4 holster options and the GX4 XL fit in each of them safely and retained well with some minor adjustments to the tension – might be worth looking into if you hate buying new holsters. The two holsters I tested out with the GX4 XL were my C&G Holsters GX4 holster and my Blackhawk Holsters Custom Kydex Holster fitted for a Glock 48. Both holsters feature great retention, and claw mount options and are suitable for either strong side carry or appendix carry.
Range Performance – Is there a Difference?
Both me and Hop have previously reviewed the Taurus GX4 and GX4 T.O.R.O. While both pistols were pretty well equipped right out of the box, we had both preferred that they come already equipped with the +2 magazine extensions, as well as the optics capability from the outset of the releases. I don’t know if Taurus actually watches any of our videos or reads any of our articles but our prayers have been answered and the standard package for the GX4 XL comes with both optics capability, and one 11-round magazine equipped with a +2 extension. The +2 extension does add a significant amount of extra bulk to the gun but the cost of the extra bulk is far outweighed by the extra two rounds you’re getting, plus somewhere for your pinky to rest during shooting. I noticed that my draw to first shot time and my accuracy were better on average with the magazine extension than without it – shouldn’t be too much of a surprise as a dangling pinky is a sacrifice that is made in the name of performance over concealability.
However, in my testing, I found that the +2 magazine extension really didn’t print all that much more – especially with loose-fitting clothing. Meanwhile, the additional inch of length has virtually no bearing on concealability as the length of your pistol is the easiest dimension to conceal. Since I liked it so much last time I think it’s worth noting here that the Trigger on the GX4 series of pistols is phenomenal and quite honestly one of my favorite striker-fired triggers on the current market – this transfers over to the GX4 XL and my personal copy of the pistol has a nice clean crisp break at about the 7 o’clock position and a short tactile and audible reset from the 6 o’clock position – the trigger pull is still right around 5lbs and my scale read my average trigger pull at 4 pounds and 14.9 ounces – maybe a little on the heavy side for my personal preferences but all in all, a very safe trigger pull weight for a pistol without a manual safety.
One small issue that I had with my copy of the GX4 XL right out of the box was that my slide stop was extremely sensitive. So sensitive in fact that when the slide locked to the rear after the last round, the slide would close itself upon release of the magazine. This problem eventually worked itself out after about 200 rounds or so but once again Taurus QC has struck in the least expected place.
Carry Ammo – Does it Get Anything from the Extra Length?
Extra barrel and slide usually have two distinct advantages. First is an increased sight radius. Increased sight radius usually comes along with better accuracy by virtue of minimized sight deflection and more accurate alignment of the front and rear sights. This does in fact ring true for the base configuration of the gun without an optic equipped. However, since we live in the current year and carry optics are all the rage, I quickly removed the optics cover plate on my GX4 XL and mounted a Riton Optics 3 TACTIX MPRD 2. The TACTIX MPRD 2 is a roughly $350 micro compact ready optic that has a Shield RMSc footprint which allows for a direct mount to the GX4 XL’s slide and also allows for your iron sights to still (barely) be seen through the optic window – a great combo just in case the optic ever dies or becomes otherwise inoperable. This is also quite useful for the initial sighting of the pistol as it gives you a point of reference to start with.
The second benefit of longer barrels is increased bullet velocity. Ballistics By The Inch has some great data on how much of an increase you can expect to see for every extra inch of barrel length ranging from 2″ all the way up to 18″. However, I wanted to test this out for myself as I had access to some newer trims of 9mm defensive ammunition and I wanted to see if the results were the same across the board – long story short, I’m kind of shocked.
After a trip to the range with the GX4 XL and my trusty Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital, I was surprised to find out that the extra 0.64 inches of barrel length does absolutely nothing – at least with any of the ammo I used. I used a fairly wide variety of ammunition including Tula 115 grain steel case, Sterling 115-grain, Federal 124-grain HST, and Hornady 115-grain Handgun Hunter ammunition, and got virtually no difference in muzzle velocity. Curious about my results, I consulted with Hop as I often do when we tag-team reviews, and he had the exact same results with his pistol. The one exception to this result was Federal 147-grain Syntech ammunition which netted an increase of 25-fps – about in line with the math from Ballistics by the inch.
This is kind of curious as there are no ports or any other sort of characteristics that the GX4 XL has that I think would make ammunition not increase in velocity even with a slightly longer barrel. Perhaps the ammunition we were both using burns all of its powder in just 3 inches? I’d like to hear down in the comments if you guys have had similar results when it comes to longer and shorter barrels of the same type of handgun with both defensive and ball ammunition. The problem here is that the extra velocity should be one of the biggest reasons to carry a pistol with a longer barrel and slide – without that extra velocity you’re potentially losing critical performance metrics when it comes to concealed carry ammunition and that could prove to be a huge weakness for the GX4 XL T.O.R.O as the red dot optic virtually negates the benefit of a longer slide. However, at the same time you’re really not losing much as the length of your pistol still remains the easiest dimension to conceal – maybe Taurus should have started with the GX4 XL first?
I have mixed feelings about the GX4 XL. While the pistol performs just as well as the standard length GX4, I don’t really have a reason to carry the GX4 XL as I like my standard GX4 for how tiny it is. I am more than willing to consider the extra barrel length for increased velocity, however, with modern 9mm options optimized to work out of 3″ micro-compact barrels, it just doesn’t make sense to me to carry the extra weight and length around when I’m using a carry optic. At best, according to my math, you’re getting a total net gain of maybe 30 fps in ideal conditions, maybe nothing if you’re using the ammo I’m using.
If you like to future-proof your carry setup and want to take every single advantage you can get in terms of accuracy and muzzle velocity, the GX4 XL makes sense and it’s a solid, accurate, durable, and reliable pistol with a phenomenal trigger that comes in at a very competitive price for the 9mm carry optics scene. It’s my opinion that you’ll inevitably give into the many advantages that carrying a micro compact optic offers and when that time comes, I can happily recommend the GX4 T.O.R.O or the GX4 XL to you. However, these are just one man’s opinions and experiences and as always I’d like to hear your thoughts on the new GX4 XL T.O.R.O pistol. Let us know what you think down in the comments below!