The Taurus 856 is a modern 6-shot, lightweight 38 revolver. It’s lightweight, holds six rounds, and is affordable. But is it the right gun for you? It’s purpose-built for self-defense. Find you in our Taurus 856 review.
Taurus has been making revolvers for years. Initially, they made copies of Smith & Wesson series firearms.
Recently, Taurus has started making guns entirely of their design.
Throughout the years, to say Taurus has had quality control issues would be an understatement.
However, those issues do seem to be getting better.
You can pick up a Taurus revolver cheaper than other competing options, such as Ruger and Smith & Wesson. This is a significant plus for value-minded consumers.
Our Taurus 856 review is to help you decide if this budget-minded handgun is a good choice for you.
Table of contents
As stated earlier, this gun is definitely in the self-defense category.
It would make a good carry gun as well as a good glovebox, work truck gun.
The Taurus 856 is sized similar to the Smith & Wesson J-Frame. The most notable difference is going to be the wider cylinder.
The Taurus 856 holds six rounds in a 38, as opposed to five rounds in a J-Frame.
The cylinder does seem a lot wider when you have the gun.
That said, it’s not that big of an issue for concealment when it comes to carrying.
You could easily tuck this gun in a purse designed for on-body carry or into a small IWB holster.
Weighing in at a pound unloaded, the Taurus 856 isn’t what you would call heavy.
It’s light enough that you can carry this gun jogging or doing other physical activities. That said, this will be just a little bit heavier than I would like for those activities.
I want my gun to weigh under one pound loaded when doing those types of activities.
While this light weight is a plus for carring a gun, it is a downside to shooting a gun.
We’ll cover that later.
The frame on the Taurus 856 is your standard revolver frame. Overall, the quality and fit, and finish seem good.
I’m impressed with how far Taurus has come over the last couple of years.
There are no sharp edges on the frame of the Taurus 856.
Instead, everything seems well-rounded, and I really can’t see any immediate design flaws when looking at this firearm.
Caliber & Barrel Length
Right now, the Taurus 856 is only available in 38 Special. The upside is they do offer this gun in both a two-inch barrel and a three-inch variant.
Three-inch variants are very awesome and a gun I’m thinking about picking up.
I currently own the two-inch Taurus 856.
The two-inch guns seem to have a lot more recoil than the three-inch variants, even though the three-inch variants only add a little bit of weight.
There aren’t a lot of three-inch revolvers out there, and I’m thrilled to see Taurus offering this with the Taurus 856.
Versions of Gun
As stated earlier, the gun is available with both two and three-inch variants, but Taurus also offers a couple of different finishes.
For example, you can get the gun in two-tone finishes as well as black or stainless.
Taurus has never been known for having great finishes on their guns.
That said, I’m impressed with the finish on this Ultra-Lite. It’s not the prettiest finish in the world, but it does seem to be durable.
I didn’t expect to be saying that in this Taurus 856 review.
I’ve scratched this gun up quite a bit, and it’s not showing.
However, I don’t baby my guns by any means, and this finish seems to be holding up quite well.
I have friends who have stainless Taurus revolvers of new production, and their finishes also seem to be durable.
The capacity of the Taurus 856 being six rounds is a major plus in the small revolver world.
Most small revolvers, such as the J-Frame and Ruger LCR, tend to have five-round capacities when chambered in 38 Special. However, there are guns such as the Kimber K6s that have six-round capacities.
That said, that gun comes in at a much heavier weight since it’s an all-steel gun.
The Taurus 856 is the only revolver I’m aware of to be this small and light while still offering a six-round capacity.
Going from five to six rounds may not seem like a lot, but it’s significant if you look at it from a percentage increase.
The cylinder latch on the Taurus 856 is very nicely rounded and very well designed.
It’s a standard Smith & Wesson style latch that you have to press forward to disengage.
However, it’s ergonomically placed when pushing it I don’t have to break my grip to drop the cylinder out.
The cylinder itself seems well built, and the ejector is relatively thick.
So I don’t have any durability concerns with this gun over the long term.
The sights on the Taurus 856 leave a lot to be desired. If anything is going to get a negative on this Taurus 856 review, it’s going to be the sights.
Look, they’re standard revolver sights, so I can’t complain that much as they’re on par with just about everything else out there.
But they’re not as good as the sights on the Ruger LCR.
The Ruger LCR has the same crappy rear trough style sight, but it can replace the front with a high contrast front.
It would be nice to see Taurus do this.
Instead, they have the front sight milled into the gun. You have no ability to adjust your point of impact.
You’ll have to use multiple ammo types and find one that works well with this gun, not only the Taurus 856 but also your specific Taurus 856 in general, to account for manufacturing intolerances.
The rear sight on this gun is also way too narrow for my taste.
I’ll likely end up taking some high-contrast nail polish or paint and painting the front sight just to provide a little more contrast when shooting this firearm.
The trigger on the Taurus 856 is available in a double-action-only variant or double-action, single-action. My variant has a hammer, so it is a double-action, single-action gun.
The trigger itself is pretty heavy and, really, your standard revolver trigger. That said, it feels like it’s on par with most Smith & Wesson J-Frame triggers I’ve felt.
It’s relatively smooth and easy to operate.
The trigger has just a slight bit of creep in the single-action before a nice soft rolling break. It’s a concise and easy use single-action trigger.
No complaints there in the Taurus 856 review.
The hammer on the Taurus 856 is nicely rounded and doesn’t have any sharp edges. It also has nice aggressive texturing on the top of the hammer, making it easier to cock it back.
The hammer is also wide, further making the gun easier to cock.
I think Taurus is paying attention to all the little details on this gun, and I’m pretty pleased with it.
The factory grip on the Taurus 856 is good. It’s small enough that it’ll conceal well, and it’s big enough that it fills your hand.
This grip does help with recoil a little bit, but not as much as I would like. So I’ll probably replace this with something a little softer, like a Hogue grip which should give me more control over recoil.
The aftermarket for the Taurus 856 is almost non-existent.
Currently, there aren’t many holster options, and that’s something we’re working on rectifying. There just aren’t a lot of accessories for this gun besides grip.
The sights are milled into the gun, so you can’t replace those. And the only natural area for improvement is the grip and the trigger.
You can have a gunsmith work on this gun to smooth it up slightly. Not many people will do that. So I doubt the company will come out with aftermarket springs kits and trigger parts to smooth out the trigger on the Taurus 856.
Aesthetically the Taurus 856 is going to differ depending on the finish and variant again.
But, in my opinion, the three-inch guns are beautiful. They’re just very proportional, and they look great.
The black finish isn’t the best-looking out there. And if I had the option, I probably would have gone with the stainless finish.
The stainless finish on the Tauruses just looks better, in my opinion.
Shooting the Taurus 856 is a handful. Recoil is reasonable, and it’s something I can deal with.
That said, this is not a fun gun to shoot.
This is a gun you’re going to shoot just enough to remain proficient.
This is not a gun you’re going to want to sit there and put a couple of hundred rounds through in a day’s range session.
I really would like to get my hands on one of the three-inch variants as I have a feeling those might be a little bit easier to shoot.
One of my favorite guns out there is the Ruger LCR in 38 with a three-inch barrel.
The reason for this is that a three-inch barrel helps tame the recoil on such a lightweight gun. I’m hoping that the three-inch barrel on the Taurus 856 will do the same.
MSRP on the Taurus 856 varies from $341 up to $440. You can usually find these guns for 50 to $75 below MSRP.
At that price, these guns are an exceptional value. When Taurus’s quality control wasn’t quite there, I don’t think these guns had a lot to offer over something like the Smith & Wesson J-Frame or other lower-priced Smith & Wesson offerings.
That said, when the Taurus 856 comes in much lower than Smith & Wesson and Ruger models with a similar setup, it’s hard to ignore the Taurus.
If you’re on a budget and you were looking for absolutely the most value for your dollar, then I would check out the Taurus 856.
The Taurus 856 is a good option if you’re looking for a lightweight revolver with a six-round capacity. Understand it still has the downsides of a lightweight revolver.
This gun is going to have a fair amount of recoil for its size. The quality of Taurus products seems to be improving.
That’s giving me a lot to like about this gun.
My biggest complaint is going to be the sights. There’s nothing you can do to improve them, except to paint the front sight.
So you’re still going to be stuck having to test a variety of ammo and find which one shoots to the point of aim, point of impact with your gun.
But considering all its competitors have the same issue, I guess I can’t complain too much.
I hope our Taurus 856 review has been helpful, and please comment with your thoughts and opinions on this gun below.
- Finishes and Options