First look: Taurus CT9 carbine
If Taurus takes their gun building as seriously as they take their gun packaging, they’re going to have a winner in their CT9 carbine.
The guys at my local gun store didn’t dispose of the packaging that saw this rifle come from Brazil, so when I got the carbine home, I ran into this.
There was a case inside a box inside a box, and the carbine was inside a bag inside the case inside a box inside a box.
Quite obviously, they meant for it to travel securely.
Once I got the packaging out of the way and the contents of the case un-bagged, I found an assortment of accessories, including a nylon sling designed for three-point carry (immediately tossed aside), a pull-through cleaning brush, an allen wrench to adjust the sights, a manual, two 10-round magazines, and of course, the CT9 carbine itself.
Starting at the front, the first thing you notice about the CT9’s barrel is that it is not threaded for a flash hider, suppressor, or any other muzzle device that might be useful in a carbine reportedly designed for close quarters battle (CQB) inside buildings. You can thank anti-gun, anti-fun Democrats for the nation’s absurd importation laws (did I mention that the CT9 is made in Brazil?) for that, and several other minor annoyances we’ll mention later.
Picatinny rail is molded into the bottom of the polymer handguard, while the front sight assembly sits on arail that runs the full length of the aluminum upper receiver. There are two holes for mounting short sections of picatinny rail on the left and right sides of the carbine at the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock positions (if you so desire). These short sections of rail did not ship with the carbine, which seems like mistake to me. I would have used them immediately to mount a light. I’ve not a big fan of vertical foregrips (simply personal preference), so the bottom rail simply won’t get used.
Moving back, we get a good look at the rest of the polymer handguard. Behind the front sight are two oval cutouts for heat dissipation, and a longer oval cutout for the charging handle. Lefties can swap the charging handle to this side. Right now it’s on the other side of the carbine where a right-handed shooter would use his or her supporting (left) hand to charge the rifle. You’ll see that when I break out my real camera for the shooting review.
The picatinny rail runs continuously along the top of the carbine’s one-piece upper receiver, allowing you to mount optics and lights wherever you desire. This view also affords us our first glance at the ergonomically-designed front of the mag-well, which was designed from the ground up to be held. the built-in swell and gripping nubs to reduce the likelihood of a shooter’s hand slipping. I’ll go ahead and tell you right now that I really like this feature.
Moving back further, we see that the picatinny rail continues through to the end of the top of the receiver, and that the rear sight assembly rests upon this rail. The ejection port seemed small to me at first, but once I reminded myself that this was a 9mm carbine it no longer seemed odd. The ambidextrous bolt catch is designed to mimic the function of the AR-15’s bolt catch. I’m not sure that is the wisest idea. While it is certainly going to be familiar to millions of shooters who might be picking up this carbine for the first time, the design of the bolt catch is one of the AR-15’s deficiencies.
What you won’t see in this photo is the paddle-style mag release hidden in a void just aft of the magazine well itself, ahead of the triggerguard. It is easy to release the magazine from the carbine (the magazine drops free) with your thumb while it is still on the front of the magwell, and then use the magwell to guide the next magazine into the carbine without moving the carbine off-target. I like the idea of the mag release being protected like this, at least in theory.
One thing I hate already is the ambidextrous safety, which is extremely stiff out of the box, and which sits at the correct high, but at the wrong orientation for me in the “safe” position.
Maybe I just have short thumbs for a guy that is 6″3″, but if I have to shift my grip to switch the carbine from “safe” to “fire,” I consider that a problem, and I do have to make that adjustment with the CT9 carbine. Again, the location of the switch is fine, but I’d prefer the actual “safe” position (which sits for me at about 1:30 high, as a right-handed shooter) to be lower on the carbine, perhaps 3 o’clock, with a corresponding “fire” position to be closer to 5 or 6 o’clock. Your mileage may very on this one, as every person is designed a little bit differently.
The less that is said about the Taurus CT9’s thumbhole stock and grip assembly, the better. While they were indeed limited by idiotic importation rules that forced them to execute a thumbhole stock, it simply looks and feels cheap. The AR-15-ish grip is serviceable, the swell on the top of the stock for your cheekweld is nice, and the length of pull is adequate, but that’s pretty much the best that can be said for this unappealing part of the carbine.
Remember that the Taurus CT9 was designed as close-quarters battle (CQB) carbine, and you’ll get why the sights were designed the way they were. The front sight post is a squat, thick post with a big white dot that almost leaps to your eye as your bring the carbine to your shoulder. It is completely protected against bumps by a full hood, but the hood isn’t too deep, and seems to allow plenty of light.
If you think that close range rear sight notch looks “Glockish,” I’m right there with you. When you put the carbine to your shoulder, it gives you an excellent field of view and what I suspect will be adequate accuracy for the sort of short-range shooting that is it’s mission. The aperture rear, also seen in this photo, extends out from the rear of the sight assembly just enough to enable the shooter to easily flick it up if a longer shot is required.
So, how does the entire package feel?
I won’t know for certain until I get it out to the range, but despite having a grip-stock assembly that looks like the south end of a north-bound mule, it’s points nicely and feels good. I especially like it with my support hand using a magwell grip with my elbows tucked in tight against my body to provide as steady of a platform (and as small of a hypothetical target) as possible.
Now we simply have to get it to the range with some 9mm FMJ ball and hollowpoints to see how it performs.