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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I picked this up Taurus 856 Defender yesterday from its State-mandated detention period. Back in 2019, I bought a 2 inch 856 Ultralight, just to see for myself what all of the complaining is about with regards to Taurus, and to tinker with, guilt free if I broke something. That revolver has turned out to be a joy to own And shoot. But, I’ve always wanted a 3” barreled .38, and the prices on old S&Ws are getting steeper. So, I rolled the dice again, on this little guy:
Revolver Toy Auto part Plastic Gun barrel

This one is all stainless, with a black finish of some sort on the hammer, trigger, cylinder, ejector rod, and cylinder release. It came with VZ grips, an Ameriglo front night sight, a spare ramp front sight and pin, and a spare grip:

Air gun Trigger Gun barrel Gun accessory Revolver


The finish on this revolver is good. It is not “early S&W“ good, but it is serviceable, with no blemishes whatsoever. My 856UL had a rough muzzle crown. This one is well done. Cylinder gap is right at .006. Timing is good, Everything is as it should be with a new revolver.

This is a 6 shot, .38 +P rated revolver. It uses the same speedloaders as my S&W K Frames. It is based on the Taurus 85, which it replaced, and is a bit smaller than a K Frame:

Automotive tire Automotive wheel system Automotive exterior Gas Auto part


It weighs 25.7 ounces empty on my scale. This is 9.7 ounces heavier than the 2” 856UL.

The trigger is HEAVY. I don’t have a trigger scale, but this trigger is significantly heavier than the 856UL, which admittedly has had several hundred rounds downrange, and a few thousand trigger pulls. I have a Wolff spring kit on the way. We shall see how much difference it makes.

Pull weight aside, the trigger is certainly useable, and consistent. In double action, you don’t hit a wall, per se, but a slight hitch about 3/4 into the trigger, which makes it easy to stage if you desire, but doesn’t inhibit rolling through. In single action, there is about 2mm of creep, followed by a gritty break. Definitely not the crisp single action of God’s revolver, pictured above with a grip adapter. Again, new springs are inbound, and a judicious fluff and buff will be applied.

I put 50 rounds of 125 grain FMJ +P hand loads through it this morning. Sights are dead on at seven yards. That heavy trigger makes accuracy a bit more challenging, and I was shooting offhand, so I will spare myself the embarrassment of posting target photos. My best was 4”, on point of aim for six shots double action slow fire, at 7 yards. Good enough for “get off me” distances.

My first impression:

Fit/finish: Excellent for a 400 dollar revolver. Cosmetically, Taurus nailed it.
Function: Timing and lockup are excellent, better than some of the S&W J Frames I have seen lately. The trigger is too heavy. Plan to address this if you are interested in one of these.
Sights: LOVE the included Ameriglo front night sight. An excellent added value.
Grip: The all-important hand-to-gun interface is a VZ, made for Taurus. It even has the Taurus logo engraved on both sides. These grips are very attractive, extremely grippy, and are shaped to encourage a very high hold on the revolver, which is a good thing. However, that extreme grippyness has a consequence; these grips are a bit painful after 5 or 6 cylinders of +P. I would NOT use these on a lightweight in .38 or .357, unless I took time to sand them smoother. VZ makes a smoother grip than this, and it would be a better fit for this gun, in my opinion. But, I like them, and I’ll get used to the bite.

OVERALL, I think this little revolver is very good, and represents an excellent value. My sticker price in WA was $409, which is $110 more than I paid for my 856UL. However, if you figure in a 3” barrel, night sights and upgraded grips, that’s still not bad. The black finished models, and the plain stainless with Hogue grips are sub-$400.
 

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Amateur geezer
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
My Wolff spring kit arrived already. Installation took me about 30 minutes, mostly due to my poor eyesight. I had to clip 2 coils off the reduced power 9lb. trigger return spring to get it to function. Wolff’s literature states that may be necessary on newer guns.

Anyway, the trigger pull is much improved. I will get out to the range in a few days to ensure the gun functions properly with the lighter springs.
 

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I’ve been tempted to get one of these in their black variation. I’m not a fan of the two tone. I am quite interested in their smaller rubber grip with that 3” barrel, and I am a fan of Ameriglo’s sights.

I’ve just got so many smiths and a couple Colts. Not sure why I feel I want to gamble on one of these.
 

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Very interesting! I was thinking on one of these the other day. I will be interested to hear how the next shooting session goes after your spring upgrade. Have you tried the second set of grips?
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Very interesting! I was thinking on one of these the other day. I will be interested to hear how the next shooting session goes after your spring upgrade. Have you tried the second set of grips?
My other 856 came with those grips. They are actually very comfortable, and more concealable than the VZs.
 

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Thanis for the review, and especially the picture comparing the 856 3” with a 4” K-frame. I own a K-frame in the square butt heavy 4” barrel version shown, and am not at all sure I would want anything smaller (although I need to add a 3” to the collection, and S&W 3” guns are out of reach). I better find one like yours I can handle before buying.
 

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Davidson's had ShotShow specials and many moons ago they had a Taurus Stainless Mdl 85 2" with ported barrel. It was like $265 if I remember correctly. I have no complaints. The only other revolver I own is a Ruger SP101 with a 3" barrel.
 

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Very nice write up and pics. Appreciate you taking the time. I was looking at some of these a while back when I bought my wife her S&W 380EZ. The 3 inch version was really interesting and they had several eye catching colors which I liked. Thought it would make a good ‘around the camp’ gun.
 

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That's a nice looking revolver. Unlike my wife, I think 3" is a great length!

I have owned a couple of taurus revolvers, and a few from charter arms too. All went bang with no issues. Number one complaint about those were the trigger. Gritty is probably the best way to describe those. All the charters I had were low round count, maybe after a while of break in they would have been better. Certainly nothing like ruger, smith, or the trigger on my rhino.
 
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That's a nice CC revolver, OP. I had alot of experiences with taurus revolvers, mostly positive. As of general rule, ALL of taurus revolvers have kinda loose cylinder play. They tend to go off time a bit sooner than some rugers or smiths. That said, my raging bull now has 1500 rds through it without a single flaw.
So if you're not bothered by cylinder play and heavy DA trigger, then you have a reliable and good revolver for a decent price. And i would trust my life to it.
 

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I will be following this thread, my local sporting goods has that very model for $389 + tax. Have been thinking about pulling the trigger.
 

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Thanks for your posts. I’ve had an interest in this gun in 3” for awhile. I’ve got a 642 for jacket pocket carry but that only takes wadcutters. My .38 SP101 will eat any .38s but it’s only a 2” & 5 rounds. 3” & 6 rounds of +P should nicely round out my .38s, you know, for when they ban semi suits.
 
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Thanis for the review, and especially the picture comparing the 856 3” with a 4” K-frame. I own a K-frame in the square butt heavy 4” barrel version shown, and am not at all sure I would want anything smaller (although I need to add a 3” to the collection, and S&W 3” guns are out of reach). I better find one like yours I can handle before buying.
 
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