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Taurus 856: Return of a Classic Revolver

Taurus 856 revolver

[Editor’s note: Taurus announced the new Defender 856 at the 2020 SHOT Show. The new guns are +P rated with a 3″ barrel and a front night sight.]

Taurus USA announced the return of the Model 856 revolver.

While the gun is interesting on its own, I find that it is an even more compelling introduction when it is put head-to-head with the Colt Cobra. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s first take a look at what the gun is.

Just the Facts

At its most basic, the Taurus 856 is a 6-shot, compact revolver with a steel frame. It comes in at less than 1.5 pounds unloaded and is chambered for the venerable .38 Special cartridge.

The gun has sights typical to concealed carry revolvers of this size: a fixed front ramp with a trench-style rear that is integral to the frame and top strap.

Taurus uses a set of its own rubber stocks on the gun. I’ve not had a chance to shoot a gun with these grips yet, but they look to be an improvement over some of the grips the company used in the past. The profile looks similar to Pachmayr Compac grips I’ve used occasionally on my Smith & Wesson J-frames.

(Update: Taurus will introduce new frame colors for the 856 at the 2019 SHOT Show.)

Six Shots or Only Five?

When Dirty Harry asked that question, he was talking about the rounds in his 6-shot .44 Magnum. But a lot of cops were asking themselves the same question when that movie was released. Should their backup gun hold six shots, or only five?

While many compact wheel guns use a 5-shot cylinder to decrease the gun’s width, there are a lot of people who are hesitant to give up that extra round of ammunition in their defensive handgun.

Guns like the Colt Cobra battled the 5-shot J-frames from Smith & Wesson for position in the ankle holsters of cops in the 60s and 70s. That single extra round of ammo made the decision easy for a lot of lawmen. A little extra width and weight were a cheap price for 20% more firepower.

With the renewed interest in the compact revolver, companies have expanded their wheelgun offerings in recent years. This includes Colt, that rolled out its updated Cobra in 2017.

Bull vs. Snake

The new Taurus 856 is a direct competitor to the new Cobra. Both are compact, steel-frame revolvers with 6-shot cylinders.

There are differences, of course. Here’s a look at some of their specs:

Taurus 856Colt Cobra
caliber.38 Special.38 Special
capacity6 rounds6 rounds
actiondouble action/single actiondouble action/single action
barrel length2"2"
overall length6.55"7.2"
unloaded weight22.1 oz25.0 oz
frame materialcarbon steel or stainless steelstainless steel
height4.8"4.9"
width1.41"1.40"
sightsserrated front ramp, fixed trench style rearfiber optic front, fixed trench style rear
gripTaurus branded rubberHogue Overmolded
finishmatte blue or matte stainlessmatte finish
MSRP$329$699

While I would prefer the Colt’s fiber optic sight to the Taurus’s serrated ramp, the specs seem to heavily favor the Model 856 when you factor in the final comparison: the price.

The Colt Cobra is more than twice the price of the Taurus 856.

I would never buy a self-defense handgun on price alone. However, the huge price difference is likely to sway many people standing at a gun counter.

For me, the key differences are the ones not listed in the spec chart above. What kind of reliability can I expect out of each gun? How smooth is the trigger? Does the gun feel good in my hand?

Those are things that I can only determine through testing of the guns.

Final Thoughts

Taurus USA and its parent company have been through some rough years. I don’t know if the bad times are truly behind them, but I do like the guns I’ve seen announced at the SHOT Show this year. The guns expand on the company’s best lines and are interesting enough to bring in new buyers.

The Model 856 seems to be introduced with the same reasoning. It is a known winner and is competing in a popular niche with relatively little direct competition: compact, 6-shot revolvers. With such an inexpensive MSRP, I suspect these guns will be good sellers.

If Taurus quality control can keep these guns in the hands of its customers and out of the repair center, I think this gun can go a long way in restoring trust to the Taurus brand.

Categories
Ammunition

Remington Compact Handgun Defense Ammo

Remington logoEd. note: It appears the name of the new ammo may be Ultimate Defense – Compact Handgun.

Remington appears to be ready to launch a new line of ammunition for the concealed carry handgun market according to information obtained by GunsHolstersAndGear.com.  The new Remington Compact Handgun Defense ammo is designed to deliver optimal performance out of small, defensive handguns.  Although the information is deemed to be reliable, there has not been any official announcement from Remington about the ammo.

The new ammunition will use a brass jacketed hollow point similar to those already found in the very successful Golden Saber line of ammo.  Hollowpoint bullets for the Compact Handgun Defense line are likely designed to open more slowly than those loaded in the other lines to give the bullets greater ability to penetrate more deeply.  However, the bullets are still expected to deliver good expansion.

Categories
Shooting Gear

MagHolder: Awesome Horizontal Carry Magazine Pouch

MagHolder magazine pouch

Innovation is alive and well in the United States small business world.  Case in point:  the MagHolder magazine pouch.

Made of injection-molded plastic, the one piece MagHolder carries a single spare magazine horizontally on a belt.  This presents a less noticeable bulge under a concealing garment as the magazine follows a natural visual line along the waist instead of breaking the natural line with a perpendicular angle.  Think of it as camouflage:  the eye is less likely to catch something when the angles flow with expectations.

Categories
news

There’s Never a CCW Holder When You Need One…

It is really a shame that none of the defenseless victims in this crime was a CCW holder with the ability to respond appropriately to an armed felon.

In this video, a man is shown walking up to a restaurant, which appears to be a take-out place.  In other words, the area for the customers is very small with no seating for eating on the premises.  When the armed criminal gets to the business, he begins firing at the occupants of the small, confined area and tries to make entry.

The only defense the occupants are able to muster is to try to take cover behind about 6″ of wall directly next to the glass door and try to keep the door closed.  The suspect fires through the door multiple times and three people are ultimately injured.  Through luck or divine intervention, the victims are not killed.  Somehow, the victims were able to keep the criminal outside until he ran the gun dry and fled.

Can anyone tell me what proposed law would have prevented this felonious assault?

Categories
Handguns Holsters

On Quality Holsters and Guns

kramer_holster_iwb
These Kramer IWB holsters have an excellent reputation for quaility, comfort, and security.

One of the Internet arguments that never seems to die is whether you should carry a pistol with a cartridge in the chamber.  The argument against carrying with “one in the pipe” is based on the idea that it is unsafe to do so.  People are concerned about “accidental” discharges while it is carried, or if the pistol is dropped.

I’ll be completely up front and tell you that with a quality firearm, quality holster and competent owner, the handgun should be carried with a cartridge in the chamber if you are carrying for self defense.  In most instances, a self-defense situation involving the use of deadly force develops far to quickly for you to draw your weapon and then work the slide before being able to employ the handgun.

But is it safe to carry a cartridge in the chamber?

In my mind, there are three components to safely carrying a handgun: the firearm, the owner, and the holster.  When all three parts are of sufficient quality, and in place, a handgun can be carried safely with a cartridge in the chamber.

The Firearm

A quality firearm will not discharge when dropped.  Modern handguns of quality construction are designed to be carried with a cartridge in the chamber.  These firearms incorporate some type of “drop safety” into the contruction of the firearm.  Some guns use a physical block that moves out of the way when the trigger is pressed.  Others use light firing pins with heavy springs to prevent the pin from ever generating enough energy in a fall to sufficiently strike the primer.