Snub nose or massive magnum? Those are basically your choices with revolvers these days. The modern revolver is either a tiny gun or a duty-sized service weapon. There are exceptions, of course, and that includes the new Taurus 856.
The Taurus 856 is based on the Model 85, but the added six is there to tell you the gun can hold six rounds instead of 5. The Taurus 856 first came out as a 2-inch snub nose with six rounds, but the newest model features a 3-inch barrel with the six-shot frame. The Defender 856 is still compact and small, perfect for concealed carry. I was excited to handle one at the Taurus Booth at SHOT Show 2020.
It falls into a revolver category that we rarely see. In many ways, it's the same category as the Glock 19, it's not full size, and it's not a subcompact. It's a happy middle ground. That extra inch of barrel gives you a helping hand of terminal performance. In some loads, it can add up to 200 feet per second. A little extra barrel gives you a bit more punch. It also gives you a surprisingly softer shooting gun. To help with that a bit more, the Defender 856 has grips from the fabulous VZ grips. These G10 grips grip the hand and don't allow much movement. The Defender 856 also has an extended ejection rod for quicker and easier reloads.
The Defender 856 is +P rated so you can get some powerful 38 Special rounds down the pipe if you so choose. The front sight is a mixture of both day and night sight. The day version of the sight is a bright orange insert, and inside that insert is a tritium vial for night time use. The Defender 856 is an exciting revolver, and it's doing something new, and it looks like it's going to be a real success.
It's occupying a space that most revolver companies are ignoring a bit. The only thing close to the Defender 856 is the Ruger SP101, and it's at a much higher price. The pictured model isn't the only option, and four models will be available very soon.
The revolver is far from dead with the concealed carry community, and the Taurus Defender 856 seems to be an excellent, affordable, and compact revolver for which we have several holster styles available to carry it now!
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Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. Travis has trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army.
He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and pursues a variety of firearms based hobbies.