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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
During the summer of 2012, I participated in my first ever series of PPC matches. I used my trusty 1991-vintage Taurus PT-99 and actually did well enough to earn some money. I’ve been meaning to post some observations for several months about how well my Taurus handled and performed, but I'm only now getting to them.

You can find details on the course of fire are my club's web site:
PPC Summer League

Generally speaking, we fire six shots, reload, and fire six more at 3, 7, 15, and 25 yards; except that we shoot one extra six round stage at 15 yards, and the 25-yard stage requires two reloads. The 3 and 25-yard stages involve weak-hand shooting for six rounds each. A full relay requires 60 shots for a total possible score of 600-60X. Unlike more traditional PPC courses, there is no 50 yard stage.

I did well, overall. My highest match score was a 581 out of a possible 600. I had a two others that were very close to that high score, and I improved over the course of the ten relays that I shot this past summer. My score might have been higher except for a slight and pernicious equipment failure. More on that in the observations section below.

Equipment
The PT-99:
My PT-99 was born in 1991, or at least the frame was. I think at some point a previous owner swapped its slide with a blued PT-99 to get the cool two-tone effect that it has now. I _really_ like the look. The flats of the slide are polished blue and the markings are roll-marked. It's a very attractive gun. The double action trigger is smooth and the single-action trigger has some creep, but is also smooth and relatively light with a clean let-off.

Magazines:
I have three magazines for this pistol. The magazine that presumably came with it from the factory is a 15 round magazine with a silver-colored baseplate. A couple of years ago I bought a Taurus 17-round magazine for the princely sum of $45 at Gander Mountain. This magazine gives me a little trouble. It sometimes seems to hang when I insert it; a little wiggle is necessary to get it all the way in. It was initially difficult to get all 17 rounds loaded — although that has gotten easier over time and we only load six at a time for the PPC matches. Finally, I bought at Mec-gar 15-round magazine for $12 from Midway USA. The Mec-gar is a fantastic magazine. It is easy to load, has numbered holes showing each round (the Taurus only has holes showing 5, 10, and 15/17 rounds), and it is utterly reliable. Other than the minor quibble with the Taurus 17-rounded, I had no trouble with my magazines.

Holster and magazine pouches:
I used a Fobus kydex paddle holster and paddle double magazine pouch. The magazine pouches were very tight at first, but a little bit of gun oil on the inside of the pouches made it easy to get the magazines in and out during a match. Both items were comfortable and easy to use.

Ammunition: 115 gr. FMJ ammo primarily from Blazer Brass, but sometimes from American Eagle. As the title says, I shoot 600 rounds in competition with another 400 or so in practice sessions.

Observations
So how did the PT-99 perform? Were there any problems? What maintenance did it need? Do I still like the pistol? Do I trust the pistol? Read on and find out. :-D

The PT-99 was exceptionally reliable. I had one failure to eject during the entire 1,000 rounds. It was during a match when I completely limp-wristed a shot with my left (weak) hand. The case stove piped. In the process of clearing it, I ejected the next round in line. I was able to shoot it to empty and then drop a fresh round in the chamber, close the slide and get my last round off before time expired. The wide open slide made both clearing and reloading from the top exceptionally easy. Interestingly, I had another failure to eject this past Sunday. It was my first shot after four months of not shooting, and I limp-wristed again. Every shot after that was just fine. It’s hard to cause a malfunction in a PT-99, but it is possible. Ball ammo is designed to feed well, so I wasn’t surprised that I had only the one malfunction – which was caused by user error. Note, though, that I’ve never had a hollow-point fail to feed or fail to eject.

In addition to regular cleaning, I had to do three specific maintenance activities: two on the sights and one in the slide.

First the sights: the easiest problem was one of age. The white dot on the front sight was gone and the two dots on the rear sight were faded with age. I cleaned the hole in the front sight and applied some white nail polish into it with a syringe (I'm diabetic). I then did two more precisely controlled drops on the rear sight. The result was as good as new.

The second problem with the rear sight was pernicious, subtle, and insidious. I didn't notice it until after my last match. There is a pin that sits in a hole, crosswise, in front of the elevation screw. That pin kept working its way out under recoil to the point where it was sticking out nearly a quarter inch on the right side of the sight. I would gently push it back in with a magazine base plate between stages during a match. What I didn't notice was that the elevation screw was going down a bit too. I'd find that my final 18 shots during a match would be hitting low – giving me 8s instead of 10s a lot of the time. Each time, I would scratch my head, and turn the elevation back up prior to the next match, not realizing that I was setting it back to its previous position – I really need to start using witness marks on my sights.

Too late for my match scores, I went to the range to specifically test whether or not the point of aim was moving while I shot. It was. The pin that kept working loose seems to keep the elevation screw from moving on its own. I bought some “Uncle Mike's” branded Loc-Tite and applied it to both the screw and the pin. It worked. The screw still turns when I turn it, but the pin doesn't back out under recoil and the elevation screw doesn't move on its own.

Finally, I decided to replace the recoil spring with a new one. A couple of years ago, I bought a new Beretta locking block and spring. It turns out that the new Beretta locking block does not fit my barrel (however, if I ever get a new barrel, I'll have a locking block for it). I figured that replacing the current spring with a new one was a good idea. I'm glad I did. When I compared the new spring to the old one, the new one was at least an inch longer. I'm pretty sure the spring I replaced was the original one.


Final Notes – and a Plea
So that's it. A 22-year-old pistol did well enough for me during our summer PPC league competitions for me to place in the top ten of my class and win a little money. It was exceptionally reliable, easy to shoot well, accurate, and it required very little maintenance. The biggest problem I had was with the rear sight elevation screw-holding pin getting loose. I learned a lot about the need for witness marks on adjustable sights and how to trouble-shoot problems with sights.

If you've made it this far (and 1,300 words makes for a long forum post) I want to end with a plea. If you aren't already doing some sort of competition, please find a league of some sort that fits with the type of gun you'd like to shoot, and go compete. Going shooting for practice and fun is a great pastime. I do a lot of that kind of shooting. But competition focuses one's efforts and give great feedback on one's skills. It's one thing to set up a target and shoot at it. It's quite another to do the same thing, but under a time deadline with mandatory reloads while competing against the people to your right and left. If you compete, you'll increase your skills, gain confidence in your equipment, and perhaps most importantly, meet good people and have fun.

Regards,
-Drew
 

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Drew,

Great post. Was like reading a mini-novel. I enjoyed it! :) Perhaps you should start submitting essays to some of the gun magazines for publication.

I was able to shoot it to empty and then drop a fresh round in the chamber, close the slide and get my last round off before time expired. The wide open slide made both clearing and reloading from the top exceptionally easy.
I do have a question for you here. I am at a novice at the procedure you described. In fact, I've never been able to do it successfully. I'm guessing the extractor does not need to actually grip the cartridge when top-loading. Any tips or clues as to how this is done correctly? Very basic question, but hope you can help out.

Nice 1000 round summer!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for reading, Force. I'm glad you liked it.

When I loaded from the top, the slide was locked back on an empty magazine. I simply dropped the fresh bullet into the chamber and thumbed the slide closed. The extractor must have closed over the rim of the cartridge because it ejected cleanly after the shot. Loading in that manner won't work if there's anything in the magazine, and I don't recommend it as a normal practice.

Regards,

-Drew
 

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My PT-99 is my ALL TIME favorite auto....period. Would not trade it for anything......I like other pistols and brands but my 1989 PT-99 is MY fave.

 
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Great article, Lufbery! Interesting write ups like this are a great read. I agree about joining competitions to help focus and consolidate shooting skills. It is, indeed, a great way to establish new friendships and consolidate old ones.
 

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Wow! What an interesting essay on your Taurus PT99 pistol.

I've never shot competively, but your article has sparked an interest in the possibility of my doing so.

Thank you for taking the time and effort to share your unique insights on one of the finest handguns in the entire Taurus firearms lineup.
 

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Howdy Lufbery,

You would have done better if you had used a Glock.

Just kidding!

Great post, by the way.

Taurus handguns are WAY underrated by the Gun Community and are on par with any of the so called "Name Brand" guns. I have 4 Glocks and my Taurus PT 845 is just as well made as any of them.

Keep blastin' with your PT-99!

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Great write up, thanks! Makes me want to practice more at the longer distances.
The 25 yard stage of a relay in the PPC matches that we shoot consist of 18 rounds: 6 from kneeling, two handed with the strong hand, 6 from the left side of a "barricade" (actually a 6x6 post) two handed with the left hand, and then 6 from the right side of the barricade two handed with the right hand. So no matter which hand is dominant, you have to do six rounds with the non-dominant hand.

It's a challenge, but it can really improve one's shooting.

Regards,
-Drew
 

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Thanks Drew for the report! I finished it 5 minutes faster than Gone With the Wind! :D just kidding my friend! :)

Great job, by the way! I shot my old 99 during the 90s until the cows came home, I love these guns.

Glad you're out there making the boys take notice of your Taurus during competition!

Congrats!
 

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Great post Lufbery. Is your 99 a steel frame model? I have been thinking about replacing the recoil on spring on my PT99AFS with one from Snapdragon to soften the slide hit at the end of it's rear motion. I am a little concerned about longevity of the alloy frame with the impact of the slide on every shot. Any thoughts on this ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Great post Lufbery. Is your 99 a steel frame model? I have been thinking about replacing the recoil on spring on my PT99AFS with one from Snapdragon to soften the slide hit at the end of it's rear motion. I am a little concerned about longevity of the alloy frame with the impact of the slide on every shot. Any thoughts on this ?
My PT-99 has an aluminum frame. I think they all do. I have no concerns about the longevity of the frame.

The Beretta 92 is essentially the same gun, and the military has tested those to destruction in the hundreds of thousands of rounds range. The key, I think, is to replace the recoil spring every5,000 rounds or so.

Regards,
-Drew
 
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