Taurus 856 Executive Grade 38 Special First Look and Rounds Downrange

The story of the Taurus 856 Executive Grade actually begins a couple of years ago, when the leadership at Taurus gathered a group of serious revolver shooters together. The ideas from that meeting would eventually see the light of day, collected in Taurus’ first revolver for revolver aficionados.

Taurus 856 Executive Grade Features

What are those features? Let’s take a look. Right off the bat, the new Taurus 856 starts with their proven small frame six shot. This puts it on par with competing six shot revolvers like the Kimber K6s, and a step ahead of the Ruger SP101. Secondly, the Executive Grade is chambered in 38 Special +P. Mucking around with 357 Magnum usually only results in excessive recoil, so sticking with 38 Special makes sense. Third, the new 856 is double action only. Defensive revolvers have no use for a single action mode. Bobbing the hammer on the 856 Executive from the factory means it will have a snag free draw. 

This group from the Taurus 856 Executive Grade was shot using Federal 130 FMJ
Fired with Federal 130 grain FMJ

Lastly, and most importantly, the sights are regulated for modern JHP ammo. Most people who buy revolvers for personal defense will practice with 130 grain FMJ and carry 125 grain or 135 grain JHP. Quite a few factory revolvers with fixed sights won’t print those grain weights at point of aim. My sample Taurus does, and that alone is reason enough to recommend it.

Accessories for the Taurus 856 Executive Grade

One of the issues when new guns launch is sometimes there aren’t accessories available for the gun. Luckily, the Taurus 856 Executive Grade in 38 Special +P isn’t new. It’s an upgrade to an existing gun, which means there’s already a solid volume of gear out there.

T​he new Taurus Executive fits some/most holsters that fit the Kimber K6s, and some that fit the Ruger SP101. Of course, if you have a holster for a Taurus 856 it will fit that as well. Just remember that the new gun has a 3-inch barrel. Also, it’s important to remember that when you’re trying a gun in a holster it “should” fit to make sure it actually fits safely and securely when the gun is unloaded. I can say with absolute confidence that the new 856 Executive fits the Galco Combat Master for the Kimber K6s.

The new 856 is good for concealed carry

T​he other important item to know is speed loaders. What speed loaders fit the Taurus 856 Executive Grade? I’m so glad you asked. It accepts most speedloaders that are designed for S&W K-frame revolvers, such as the Model 66. I personally tested the Speed Beez K-frame loader, and it worked great. So did the Safariland Comp II, which means that the HKS loader will likely work just fine. One sad note, the Safariland Comp III loader doesn’t work quite right with the new Taurus. The issue is that the body of the loader is slidely too wide, and contacts the cylinder latch release. That interferes with how the loader punches the rounds into the gun.

Shooting the New Taurus 856

T​he new Taurus 856 Executive Grade arrived just before I had to leave for a trip, so I had minimal range time with. Just106 rounds, but those 106 rounds are enough to form a solid first impression. As mentioned above the 856 EG hits to the sights with both 130 grain FMJ, as well as my carry ammo, Speer 135 grain +P Gold Dots. It wasn’t far off from the sights with Federal Gold Medal Match 148 grain full wadcutters, which also produced a really nice 25 yard group. Under 2.5 inches from a double action only revolver with fixed sights is extremely impressive.

The Taurus 856 Executive grade shot this group with federal gold medal match

T​he gun’s wood grips fill the hand, which makes it easy to shoot in rapid fire as well. They do make concealment a bit tougher, but that’s to be expected. Revolver grips that make the gun easy to conceal make it harder to shoot, so of course that’s true in reverse. However, don’t let that concern you too much. Overall, the compact size of the 856 Executive Grade will make it a solid choice for concealed carry.

Final Thoughts

I ​have a checkered past with Taurus revolvers. I’ve actually owned (and sold) several. In fact, my criticisms of Taurus’ products (at the time) were used as training for overcoming common complaints by Taurus’ customer service department. 

However, that Taurus seems to be dead and gone, and under the leadership of Brett Vorhees they are turning out products that are genuinely exciting. Their competition ready 22 is awesome, and the just launched G3 Tactical represents a significant step forward. I like where Taurus is heading as a brand, which is why I like the new Taurus 856 Executive Grade. 

I​t’s not a perfect revolver by any means, and of course there are things I’d change. But none of those things are significant enough to keep me from recommending the new gun. With an MSRP under $700, the first revolver in the Executive Grade line comes right out of the box as a range and concealed carry ready revolver. I really like it, and I hope to see the Executive Grade extend to some of Taurus’ other revolvers…like maybe an 8 shot 9mm Raging Bull?

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