In decades past, Taurus revolvers and pistols weren’t built to the same high standards as domestic firearms, and the Brazilian brand has taken a beating ever since. To Taurus’ credit, though, much has changed since those days. This is our review of the Taurus 856 Executive Grade Revolver.
Most of the offending gun models that sullied Taurus’ reputation—along with the company’s executive teams which decided to build those guns as cheaply as possible—are gone. Taurus has revamped its manufacturing processes, its quality control and materials selection, and has introduced some outstanding new pistols like the G3 and GX4 to compete with and even outperform more expensive models. The company also opened a new U.S. facility in Bainbridge, Georgia.
The newest Taurus handgun is the 856 Executive Grade, designed for the more-premium firearm market, and it delivers premium features and performance.
Named in honor of Taurus’ classic Model 85 revolver, the 856 Executive Grade is a six-shot .38 Special +P revolver with a three-inch barrel and stainless-steel construction. The barrel and underlug are machined as one piece, and so the lines of the metal flow gracefully along the barrel. The hammer spur has been removed, making this a true double-action revolver. The sights are a rear notch that is machined into the frame and a black blade front sight. All the metalwork receives a polished satin finish; checkered hardwood grips are standard.
Like other Taurus revolvers, the 856 Executive is built in Brazil. However, the 856 Executive is built strictly by dedicated employees in the factory working exclusively on these handguns, in much the same way that custom gunsmiths build guns one-at-a-time. Each of these revolvers then ships to the Bainbridge facility for final inspection.
All that hand-fitting and attention to detail results in a revolver that operates with the precision of a fine timepiece. The chambers are chamfered for easy loading, and the coil spring design results in a smooth, even, predictable trigger pull. 856 Executive Grade guns don’t show any machine marks, lockup is smooth and precise and there is just enough forward weight to properly balance the gun for slow, sustained, aimed shots. The grip fills the hand, the checkering keeps the gun planted, and even with relatively hot defensive rounds this gun remains manageable in hand.
With an overall length of 7.5-inches, a width of 1.4-inches and an unloaded weight of 25-ounces, the 856 Executive Grade is a bit outsized for carry, but it will certainly do the job—especially if it’s concealed under medium-weight clothing. It also makes a great home defense revolver.
Despite the revolver’s relatively short barrel and rudimentary sights, the 856 is accurate enough for defensive shooting. At a range of seven yards, I could keep all six shots in the vital zone of a torso target. With standard .38 Special loads, the 856 Executive Grade was fun to shoot and had mild recoil. The trigger break weight averaged 10 pounds, 13 ounces for ten shots, and the hand-tuned trigger pull was predictable and composed.
That level of performance isn’t shocking considering that the 856 Executive Grade edges very close to being a custom gun. Each of these revolvers certainly receives more personal manufacturing attention than the average production revolver, but with an MSRP of just $689 the 856 is certainly priced alongside mass-manufactured revolvers from other gun makers.
It’s also worth noting that these guns ship in a Pelican hard case that’s custom cut to accommodate the 856 Executive Grade. A very nice bonus for a handgun that’s already a great value.
The 856 is the first Executive Grade model from Taurus, but it won’t be the last. With the arrival of the Executive Grade line Taurus is celebrating the improvements they’ve made to their firearms line during recent years, and this handgun announces to shooters and other manufacturers alike that Taurus means business. If the 856 Executive Grade is representative of things to come, we may be witnessing the beginning of a Taurus “bull market.”
SPECS: Taurus 856 Executive Grade Revolver
ACTION: Double Action
CHAMBERING: .38 Special +P
FRAME: Stainless Steel, Hand-Polished Satin Finish
CYLINDER: Stainless Steel, Hand-Polished Satin Finish
BARREL: Stainless Steel, Full Underlug, Cold Hammer Forged, w/1:16.5 Twist
BARREL LENGTH: 3”
CAPACITY: 6 Rounds
SIGHTS: Machined Rear Notch, Serrated Front Blade
TRIGGER: Custom Tuned, 10 lbs., 13 oz., Double Action Pull Average
WEIGHT: 25.0 oz.
ACCESORRIES: Pelican Vault Case