Snubnose revolvers are viable options when deciding what type of self-defense firearm to purchase. Easy to use, easy to conceal, and no empties lying on the floor afterward. The Taurus Model 856 is a newer snubby with a capacity of six rounds, versus the typical 5 rounds of the Model 85.
In my opinion, this snubnose revolver is a good choice for conceal carry and home defense. Attributes that make it well suited for conceal carry include its light weight, small grips, and smooth snag-free outside edges. Sights are a big consideration and I like them large and easy to use. The trigger also needs to be smooth, since a revolver will mostly likely be fire in DA mode.
Since the 856 snubnose revolvers are made for conceal carry and short range, I tested it at 15 yards using a rest and firing in SA mode. With a short sight radius, compact grip, and heavy DA trigger on the Model 856, I did not expect tack driving accuracy, but I was surprised at how well I could group shots using the trigger in SA mode. The SA trigger mode allows you to more accurately squeeze off a shot.
Practically speaking, the Model 856 revolver will most likely be used at very close distance and the trigger fired in DA mode. I ran a variety of ammunition with through the 856 with FMJ, LRN, and JHP bullets of different weights. For my speed test, I fired two rounds in DA mode as fast as I could into an eight-inch paper plate at 15 yards. I found this .38 Special snubnose revolver had game. Here’s why.
Taurus Model 856
The 856 was introduced in 2019 and offers a 6-shot alternative to the Taurus Model 85 series of 5-shot concealable revolvers. The added round of capacity only increased the width of the revolver by a fraction of an inch and slightly more added weight. I suspect if Taurus chambered the 856 in .38 Special +P, the revolver would have been beefier and less conceal carry friendly.
The 856 comes in a cardboard box and my first impression was how nicely the revolver settled in my hand. The textured grip is hand filling, yet it adds minimal bulk to the revolver. The grip feels comfortable in hand with most shooters comfortably wrapping their small finger at the edge of the butt. The plain matte black finish was well executed and the crane to frame fit was tight. A detent in the top of the crane locks the front of the cylinder into the frame. The cylinder is locked into the rear via a round pin in the extractor. The pin fits into a hole in the rear of the frame. There is no wiggle in the 856.
The sights are fixed. The rear sight is a large groove milled out of the top of the top strap, and the front sight is milled out of the barrel. The wide front ramp is serrated to reduce glare. The wide rear groove has a cut out to also reduce glare. I liked these sights a lot since they were large and put me in charge of target acquisition. The barrel incorporates a shroud that protects the ejector rod.
The cylinder latch is pushed forward to swing out the cylinder. It is small and checkered, so a speed loader can be used. The design of the grip also allows use of a speed loader. The hammer has a wide thumb pad that is coarsely checkered, allowing you to cock the revolver with confidence. The trigger is smooth and wide.
I noticed the grip did an excellent job of helping to manage recoil. The extra weight of the 856 also helped to manage recoil. It is a pleasant snubnose to shoot. Shooting for accuracy, the 856 tore up the black 2-inch square target at 15 yards with Armscor 158-grain FMJs. This revolver shot to point of aim. With defensive Speer Gold Dot loaded with 125-grain GDHP, I shot a 0.6 inch 5-shot group. Impressive accuracy out of such an inexpensive revolver. In rapid fire, the groups opened up since the trigger pull was a heavy 12 pounds though the grip and smoothness made the pull seem less. An Uncle Mike’s nylon Sidekick holster was used to carry the 856 for a few weeks.
15-Yard Accuracy, Five-Shot Groups
|Armscor .38 Special 158-gr. FMJ||1.2 in.||817 fps||234 ft-lbs|
|Federal Champion 38 Special 158-grain LRN||1.0 in.||652 fps||149 ft-lbs|
|Speer Gold Dot .38 Special 125-grain GDHP||0.6 in.||815 fps||185 ft-lbs|
I like this new Taurus. The 6-shot capacity did not make the revolver overly bulky, and the grips were hand filling, yet compact, so felt recoil was less noticeable. The sights were large and easy to use. The street price for this revolver is very reasonable.
|Action Type:||DA/SA revolver|
|Barrel Length:||2.0 inches|
|Sights:||fixed front post, groove rear|
|Trigger Pull DA:||12 pounds|
|Trigger Pull SA:||5.0 pounds|
|Overall Length:||6.5 inches|
|Suggested Retail Price:||$278 (K-Var.com $239.99)|
Do you carry a revolver for self-defense or as a back-up gun? Have you considered the Taurus Model 856? Share your answers in the comment section.
Robert Sadowski is author of Book of Glock and 9MM: Guide to America’s Most Popular Caliber. Sadowski is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Glock Collectors Association, a life long hunter and shooter, and Second Amendment advocate.
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I bought one of the 856 Ultra-Lite with the magnesium frames about 8 years ago. Its my EDC and its a great gun. Loaded with Hornady Critical Defense and a speedloader I don’t leave home without it. Spring kit and a trigger job got it to a 5lb DA pull and a 3lb SA pull. Thought about getting one of the new ones in color because this is ‘Merica and I can own as many guns as I want.
I bought an Ultra lite model 85 for my wife… I like it and she does too which is even better…Yeah, I know it is a 5 round but… still lethal. My son bought an 856 and he is more than satisfied. I love the CC style snubbies.. I have a Colt Cobra (1970’s era) and it served me well. Taurus makes some great firearms..you just have to study which ones. All manufacturers have some issues with their firearms… You have to shop smart. So far the 85 and 856 in 38 spl have shown they are good choices.
The more Taurus revolvers I shoot, the more I am impressed with the performance for the cost.
I have a 856 and have used + p with no problem . In fact it is +p rated according to Taurus
Cecil Davis says
A few weeks back I had an injury to my “left hand” and couldn’t rack the slid back on my normal CC semi- auto, so I went shopping for something I could use with one hand; conceal easily; gave me a good ballistics punch and had decent ammo capability.
Turns out the Taurus 856 Snub Nose,.38 Revolver checked all the blocks for what I was looking for. I liked it so much I bought two; an all steel frame model and an Ultra-Lite (both in “Flat Black” finish).
I did swap out the stock grips for a set of “Hogue Grips”. The “Hogue Grips” give me a better purchase on the gun.
I’ve been use both models as a primary and/or a “backup” concealed carry option.