Taurus 856 Executive Grade

What People Look For In A Defensive Revolver, In One Package
; .

After Nic Lenze failed to find .38 SPL ammunition, special assignment editor Roy Huntington stepped in to finish the job. Here’s his review of the Taurus 856 Executive Grade.

For more information: www.taurususa.com



Today we’re gonna take a look at the new Taurus 856 — a +P .38 Special revolver.

My compadre Nick did a kind of preliminary review of the gun just a short time ago and he was a little bit ammunition challenged as it were because it was tough for him to find some .38 Special. I, fortunately, am older and wiser so I dug into my stash. Today we’re going to put this gun through the paces a little bit.

Right off the bat, I’ll be honest with you, I’m really impressed by it. This is not really like anything we’ve seen from Taurus before — 3-inches, fixed sight, snubbed hammer, 25 ounces, all stainless steel and a beautifully finished smooth action. This is really something from a custom shop, and actually, that’s the case. They build these guns in a dedicated assembly area by people who are specifically trained and talented to build what are essentially custom revolvers.

I really like the they call it a hand finish. I think what it is is a kind of a soft bead blast finish on the stainless steel. It’s smooth, it feels really good and it should slip in and out of a holster really easily. It’s got a nice smooth trigger face, Altamont walnut grips, and comes with a pelican case which is kind of unusual.

I love the fact it’s got a replaceable front sight so you can zero it basically for the load that you have. They’ve lightly chamfered the chambers which is really important on a defensive double action revolver. They’ve done what appears to be an action job because it’s very smooth, it’s not stagey — I was very impressed and surprised by it. It’s got a bobbed hammer so it’s double action only. MSRP is $689 for what is essentially a custom revolver.

You know, Taurus revolvers, in my experience, have always been sort of workman revolvers — good solid dedicated platforms, affordably priced, they function, they had a great guarantee, they were available in a lot of different configurations, a lot of different price points, and so you basically were getting what you were paying for. I think they always chased a certain other gun company that makes revolvers kind of that looked like this one, and I’ll tell you what, in this situation, they’re kind of neck and neck.


You know, 4 or 5 years ago, I was at the SHOT Show — the shooting and hunting outdoor tradeshow — and I was meeting with Taurus representatives. The then president of the company came in and he showed me a gun. I think it was a 6-inch double-action revolver, but it had a really high polish blue, had a smooth action, that had a lot going on that was sort of atypical from the average production Taurus revolver. And he looked at me with a bit of a grin he said, “what do you think if we offered something like this?”

Of course, being a revolver guy, I said “Absolutely! Please do it. If you build it, they will come.”

So, it looks like not because I’m a particularly smart guy, but because I’m sure they were well entrenched in their marketing surveys and they talked to other people who knew as much or more about this than me, and they decided it was indeed a good idea. I am really glad they brought this out because it really just raises the bar for Taurus aficionados and for the shooting industry. I’m always happy to see a company push the envelope on their products and the technology that they can do.

This is almost like the baseline, the revolver that most people who carry concealed look for. A 3-inch round butt K Frame gun is what the FBI issued for quite a while, and so this gun, I think, sort of distills all of what people look for in a defensive revolver down into one package that you could simply buy over the counter.

Okay, I’ve loaded up with six Black Hills 148 grain wadcutter target loads, which I always enjoy shooting. They’re mild, they shoot really well and you can usually shoot up to the ability of whatever gun you’re putting them through.

We’re at about 13 or 14 yards away I think, so I’ll just put six on the center and see what happens.


So,  this gun is a shooter!

We don’t have much we need to say I don’t think. I think had I been doing my job it would have been an even tighter group. I haven’t bench-rested this gun yet, but I have a feeling we’re looking at 2-inches at 25 yards really easily. I just love it when a plan works out.

I’ve moved into about five yards. I’ve got six Black Hills Honey Badger, so it’s 100 grain .38 Special with a special fluted bullet. It’s my personal favorite and what I carry in my defensive guns, so let’s see what happens. I’ll just do a cylinder dump and see what happens here. So all right, here we go!

Does the job!

A lot of people want to know what happens to velocity from a shorter barrel, so we’ve got a 3-inch barrel and we’ll be shooting that 148-grain hollow base target wadcutter from Black Hill, so should be really mild like in the 650 fps range probably. There are .38 Special Honey Badger 100 grain +P — that’s that special solid copper fluted round that’s probably going to be around 1,000 fps maybe a little bit more than that. So, let’s see what happens.

First up, 148-grain wadcutters. Here we go! Looks like 696 fps. That’s a little better than I thought it was going to do.

Let’s see what happens with the 100-grain Honey Badger.  1,097 fps so that’s really stepping out from a 3-inch gun.

That was a good example of a target mild load and something that would be more defensive ammunition.

Okay, only because it’s becoming kind of a tradition here, I’ve got a Honey Badger load in here. Let’s shoot this water jug and see what happens. Remember, we’re not proving anything. All right, here we go!

Well, that was pretty effective. I wouldn’t have been standing there.

All right, let’s wrap this up.

Taurus Executive Grade Model 856 — 3-inch, fixed sight, all stainless, smooth trigger, snubbed hammer, .38 Special +P. I mean, it’s basically the ultimate fighting revolver in my opinion, and you can buy one over the counter from what is essentially Taurus’s new custom shop. I really recommend you take a peek at it if you’re interested in this kind of stuff because here’s one.

Thanks for tuning in. Remember the four firearm safety rules and please take a new shooter shooting. Teach them things and make them become an ambassador for what we like to do. Take care!

Want More From GUNS Magazine?

To subscribe to FMG Publications Newsletters, here.

To subscribe to GUNS Magazine and/or American Handgunner Magazine, visit https://fmgpubs.com/checkout/subscribe/