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Taurus 856 Executive Grade Review: Elite .38 SPL CCW?

The Taurus Executive Grade revolver distinguishes itself by being a bit more upgraded and sophisticated wheel gun -- but is it worth your time? Come find out.

Taurus just released a new offering that builds upon its long-standing history of quality revolvers.

The Executive Grade 856 distinguishes itself by being a bit more upgraded and sophisticated wheel gun — something worthy of the vaunted executive.

Trimmed down for a snag-free draw

Any gun is better than no gun in a self-defense scenario, but does the Executive’s refinements qualify it to serve in this role? 

We headed to the range in order to find out and we’ll share our thoughts with you below. So saddle up!

Table of Contents


Taurus 856 Pros & Cons


  • Reliable
  • Accurate
  • Pelican Vault case


  • Limited capacity
  • Not speed loader compatible

The Bottom Line

The Executive Grade 856 is a well-functioning, beautiful, example of what can be accomplished with a revolver. That said, the technology is somewhat limited by modern comparisons.

Doing work

Taurus 856 Specs & Features


  • Caliber: .38 Special +P
  • Capacity: 6
  • Width: 1.41”
  • Length: 7.5”
  • Barrel Length: 3”
  • Height: 4.8”
  • Weight: 25 oz.


  • Chamfered cylinder chambers
  • Altamont walnut grip
  • Hand-tuned trigger
  • Concealed hammer
at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons


The 856 model has been a workhorse for Taurus for some time. There are currently around 30 models of the gun on the company’s website.

Taurus’ base 856 is a small framed, 6-shot, 38+P, with a 2-inch, or 3-inch barrel. The bulk of the other options are variations of this theme with differing colors, finishes, and grips.

Who Is It For?

Although this is marketed as “Executive Grade” this gun is really for anyone who appreciates a more polished approach to a revolver. In addition, the gun is designed with concealed carry in mind.

Fit & Feel

The Altamont walnut grip is very nice with smooth contours on the front strap and back strap. Comfortable curves are also prevalent in the areas at the top of the grip where your thumbs rest.

Smooth and curvy

Along both sides of the grip, there is a section of checkering (diamond pattern) that provides extra friction for the palms. The grip, overall, is smooth for a concealed draw, but still provides adequate traction to control recoil.

The sights are revolver classic, a black, blade adorns the front while the rear is a simple square-shaped notch in the top of the frame. Compared to modern semi-autos, it’s less to work with but you can get used to it.

Plenty of grip to hold onto

While the sights took some reacquainting, the trigger was a blast from the past. I’m so used to semis now that a double-action trigger took some work to refamiliarize myself.

After some dedicated work, I found the much longer pull to be pretty smooth and I was able to net some good accuracy as a result. The Lyman Digital Gauge rated the pull at an average of 8 pounds.

How Does It Shoot?

Once I adjusted my grip to accommodate the revolver angle, I worked on the trigger, getting used to the longer pull. Shooting from 7 yards I put some 3-shot groups together to test accuracy.

Seven yards, 3-shot groups

My first group was just over an inch but my second was around a half-inch. I was impressed with the accuracy.

Muzzle flip was very manageable with the grip design and when I transitioned to other drills, I was able to speed things up with repeated shots. While my groups did spread a bit, I was able to get follow-up shots off pretty quickly.

I’m happy with these results

For reloads, the cylinder swung out on its arm nicely and locked back in securely once done.

Unfortunately, the curvature on the upper portion of the grip prevents the use of speed loaders, but the chamfered edges on the cylinder made dumping and loading go smoothly.

When operating the extractor, I sometimes needed a couple of stabs on the plunger to get the empty shell casings to fall clear.

What Sets it Apart?

Just being a revolver in a world inundated with semi-autos makes the Executive Grade 856 different. Besides that, the quality materials and attention to detail set this pistol a bit above its peers.

Classy leather from Galco fits the Executive nicely

The satin finish on the stainless steel frame and cylinder combine well with the Altamont walnut to create a classic look.

By The Numbers

Reliability: 5/5

In the classic trade-off that is the revolver, you only get six rounds but malfunctions are limited to slim and nil. I tested around 250 rounds of Federal practice ammo and a handful of Remington defense rounds without failure.

Ergonomics: 5/5

I was able to reach all the controls easily and the grip was very comfortable in my hands.

Accuracy: 4/5

The accuracy I was able to achieve with this gun impressed me. I struggled to get reacquainted with the long trigger pull at first, but once that was done the accuracy was really good.

Customization: 3/5

I’m not sure exactly what might be available for the Executive Grade 856 because this review was conducted before it was released. However, there is pretty decent aftermarket support for the 856 in general, with different grips, holsters, E-Z loaders, and the like.

Love the Vault cases from Pelican

One really cool feature about this 856 is the Pelican Vault pistol case it comes in. Anyone wanting to fly the friendly skies will already have a TSA-approved case to bring their Executive along.

Value: 4/5

At an MSRP of $689, the Executive Grade 856 is around $200 cheaper than comparable models from Smith & Wesson and Ruger.

Overall: 4/5

Final Verdict

Though some may argue, the validity of the revolver as a defensive tool is not really up for debate. The old west taught us that much.

What remains for each individual to determine is whether that’s the best option for them to carry — a debate that may rage long after we’re dust.

Ready to go

All that aside, the Taurus Executive Grade 856 is a solid performer that delivers reliable fire very accurately. And it does so with an elegant flare.

Would you carry the Executive Grade 856? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to check out our 8 Best Concealed Carry Revolvers!

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10 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    james P

    Most if not 99% of all defensive gunfights are over after 2-3 rounds, proven fact!! A 6 shot revolver is more then enough for defensive carry, especially a revolver being rugged and mechanically easy to operate. This 856 being fairly slim and easy to conceal will be a good choice as EDC I think!!

    March 19, 2023 10:06 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I purchased one last week and took it to the indoor range. Like the review I had to get used to the long pull and trigger but after ~ 30 rounds or so I was putting 3" groups together at 15 yards.

    Look and feel is excellent! This one is a keeper. Would I carry it? No, I leave that duty to my 9mm S&W CSX.

    July 15, 2022 3:40 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    I have a Taurus 617T that I bought 23 years ago. I think I paid around $425, which at the time seemed outrageous for a Taurus. But it has held its own, and I still carry it almost everywhere. Not a target revolver, but that's not its job. 7 rounds of 357 mag is a big enough stick.

    May 28, 2022 9:34 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis


      It's been a while since I looked at the numbers but I seem to recall .357 having the most single shot stoppages of a fight out of all the calibers. I agree, 7 is a persuasive argument.

      Regarding Taurus, I've also had good luck over the years and I see them focusing more and more on offering a quality product at a reasonable price.

      June 2, 2022 8:05 am
      • Commenter Avatar

        I agree, they have done a good job of improving. I did have a Taurus 415 revolver for a few years, because I have a 6 " Blackhawk in 41 and thought having a carry gun in the same caliber was efficient for ammo purchasing. But that 415 was just plain too heavy for comfortable concealed carry and if I was in the sticks where it could be carried in a better holster, I preferred the Blackhawk for the extra round capacity.

        June 12, 2022 1:11 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Sir Lawrence Pastor

    Nice review, thanks. I just wish they'd enlarged the cylinder enough to hold 7 rounds. That would've given it a definite edge over the competition.

    May 27, 2022 4:40 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Sir Lawrence!

      Thank you, I appreciate that. I hear you on the 7 rounds. It's hard to know what they'll do after they see how this new model is received. I think their edge on the competition has always been about their comparatively low prices but I like the emphasis on quality with this Executive.

      June 2, 2022 8:07 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Is the revolver hand fitted like the Colt Python? the smoothest double action ever produced. I hunted with the Raging bull/ten inch barrel. A very well engineered piece! I now hunt with the 460. cal Performance Center. Flat at 200 yards via a gain twist barrel. A Russian boar at 60 yards dropped before the muzzle came back to parallel. The blast from cylinder girdle the tree bark. I hope Taurus will keep progressing also. This is a good start. Thanks Kevin.

    May 27, 2022 4:02 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis


      Each Executive is hand assembled by specialists from what I understand. Taurus pulled out the stops to make sure this gun is top quality. I'm excited to see where they go as a brand.

      Thanks for the read!

      June 2, 2022 8:12 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Terry Evkert

        It's not like the std models are machine assembled. That whole hand assembled is thrown around like it's special. It's not

        July 13, 2022 6:08 am
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