The Taurus 738 TCP is a small semi-automatic .380 pocket pistol that’s just over 3/4 of an inch wide and weighs in at 10.2 ounces. And only 12 ounces when loaded with 7 rounds! That’s pretty light, making it an excellent choice as a pocket pistol when truly ‘concealed’ is your priority.
I noticed (and read about) a few issues, such as a slight clicking noise when you first start the trigger pull, and a “false reset” issue after firing a round by making a reset clicking sound as you let the trigger out. There’s a second, almost identical click (not quite as loud) when the trigger is fully extended. That’s the ‘real‘ trigger reset click and correct position in order to fire the next round. This doesn’t sound like a big problem, so we’re thinking just let the trigger all the way out for each shot, right? Sort of. If you happen to pull back on the trigger after the first ‘click’, you can drop the “staged” hammer forward and it won’t fire the cartridge (in theory, because there’s not enough spring tension). The hammer is “staged” (similar to half cocked) by the slide after each shot to ready itself for the next trigger pull. However, once the hammer drops forward from the “staged” position, the 738 TCP becomes inoperable! You must now manually rack the slide to be able to fire the pistol again. This could be a real problem if you’re in a defensive situation!
The first issue (“second problem area” pictured below), the slight “clicking” noise heard when you first pull back on the trigger is the hammer’s spring retainer pin that rests on the “hammer catch” while at the staged position (half-cock). You can pull the slide off and push the hammer back to the half-cocked position, start working the trigger slightly and you’ll see where the front edge of the hammer catch is machined a bit too tall. As the hammer pin lifts and pivots back off the front of the catch, the spring loaded catch travels forward and hits the hammer spring pin. This is what you’re hearing, and after the hammer pin continues to lift up and out of the way the remaining trigger pull is smooth and free of any other noises until the hammer drops. I stoned down the front of the hammer catch until that slight clicking noise was gone. I did not remove any material from the rearward part of the hammer catch, as this is a critical area (more so than I first thought, as I discovered later when studying the next problem, the ‘false reset’). This worked very well, and now the trigger is perfectly smooth and free of the clicking noise through the entire pull.
Just a note to say this hammer is ‘off-center’ as well since I’ve seen questions regarding that. It’s part of the design and not a machining flaw.
My next step was to figure out the false reset issue, that first ‘click’, where the hammer ‘could’ drop forward off the hammer catch if you try to fire without letting the trigger fully extend forward to the true reset position (the 2nd click).
Ok, disclaimer time. If you’re thinking of trying any ‘fixes’ on your 738 TCP, don’t do this if you’re not qualified. Also, as of this writing, you can’t purchase replacement parts from Taurus, and I don’t believe they will even sell them to qualified gunsmiths. And lastly, if you’re concerned that this will void your warranty, it probably will. You’re on your own, just like me. I have read where Taurus is, as of Aug, 2013, re-evaluating its “restricted” parts program, so they may eventually start to sell parts. At the present time you can buy parts, but you have to send your gun to them for installation. Even a simple internal spring! Yeah, I know….
Now for the fix for the 1st click ‘false reset’ failure! To be clear, the problem is that if you don’t let the trigger extend fully out to the second click (the real reset) and yank on the trigger after the first click (the false reset), you will (or could) drop the hammer off its catch and you’ll need to rack the slide to fire again. I’ve fixed the problem on this 738 TCP and will describe the process.
In reality, this ‘should’ be a Taurus recall issue for the 738 TCP models as it’s not completely safe as is. It ‘is’ safe if you follow their operating instruction to extend the trigger fully forward, however, this is a pocket pistol intended to be used as a defensive weapon. And, given the stresses of combat, I have no doubt that someone, will someday, accidentally pull the trigger on the first (false reset) click while trying to rapidly fire the pistol while protecting the lives of themselves or others. You could be in serious trouble if you had no time or means to have two hands available to rack the slide.
For the benefit of Taurus engineers, here are some pics, descriptions, and repair for the hammer dropping on the first click or ‘false reset.’
This is the hammer catch on my bench ready for brazing. The goal is to add additional material to the top (the “1st problem area” diagrammed above) to hopefully keep the hammer pin from slipping rearward over the top of the catch. If it does, the hammer catch is now in front of the hammer roll pin and the slide must be racked to reset the hammer onto the ‘catch.’
I heated this to 1700 degrees and added bronze with a 60k PSI tensile rating. It’s great to test mods, but not really a permanent solution if the part needs to be hardened steel. When the trigger is pulled back, the hammer’s spring pin is lifted up and away from the ‘hammer catch.’ The hammer rotates rearward, then released once the hammer rotates itself off the trigger bar.
Here’s the start of the shaping process. This is when you really have to pay attention
to what you’re doing. Remember, there’s that ‘issue’ about being able to get spare parts. You screw this part up and your job is history. In this pic, I’m on the bench grinder to knock off the blob I created. I ran out of shaping putty. That’s the stuff you can use to form the shape you want and keep the flow of material contained.
Now I’m starting to fine tune the shaping process. It’ll eventually get there, so be patient, I tell myself. Not always my best virtue. Here’s what’s left to shape after the grinder. I’ll be using Arkansas miniature stones… and a prayer.
A little more stoning and I’m going to settle for this to test it out. It would be a shame to make it studio pretty and this didn’t work! Hopefully Taurus will pick up on this modification (or update). Here’s the hammer catch installed back into the frame. There’s quite a bit of height added to the hammer catch as you can see or compare. It’s much more distinguishable as a “catch” as opposed to perhaps a ‘hammer pin rest.’
This worked very well! You can no longer drop the hammer forward and off the hammer catch. This is one of those critical areas that even a slight problem with the casting process or lack of quality control could make a gun unsafe in a defensive situation, especially if the operator is stressed.
UPDATE: During the course of this “fix” I learned that the Keltec PF9 Hammer Catch works in the TCP and resolves the problem. So, no need to go through all this. Your TCP may require a little bit of fitting if there are catch to hammer clearance issues, but certainly much less complicated than what I went through to resolve the TCP reset problem with the Taurus part. Why in the world Taurus doesn’t use the same part is beyond me. Patents? Indifference?