Taurus 856 Executive is a Budget-Friendly Showstopper By:

  • Caliber: .38 spl +P
  • Capacity: 6 rounds
  • Action: Double Action Only (DAO)
  • Barrel Length: 3 inches
  • Overall Length: 7.5 inches
  • Height: 4.8 inches
  • Width: 1.41 inches
  • Weight (unloaded): 25 ounces

Range Time

As I alluded to earlier in the review, I haven’t shot a ton of revolvers, but after messing with this wheelgun at NRAAM and dry-firing it at home, I was eager to get it to the range. My one big hesitation with this gun was the rear fixed sight, since that would be a skill I wasn’t used to working out. It’s nothing like shooting a semi-auto and even with dry-fire practice I was worried I would be way off during live fire.

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The 856 Executive Grade is more than just looks. (Photo: Seth Rodgers/Guns.com)

Once I got it on the range, that fear quickly dissipated with the slower and more paced firing. I found the gun pointed naturally and the sights were quick and easy to pick up. It also held on target much easier than I was expecting as well. The trigger felt as great on the range as it did during live fire, very smooth which made for fun shooting. I was able to keep defensive use groups at my indoor range at 25 feet on paper, but I was also able to hit an IPSC-style steel target at 20 yards regularly at the outdoor range.

Most people who shoot more than me might scoff at that statement, but for shooting my first revolver in over two years, I felt happy and confident with those results. I started out shooting PMC Bronze , but after 30-40 rounds switched over to Federal Punch for 100 rounds, then finished up with Fiocchi for another 20 rounds.

Punch is a +P hollow point self-defense ammunition and delivers an additional 75 fps when compared to the slightly heavier bullet in the PMC. Let me tell you, it’s a noticeable difference! The Punch is aptly named, and after shooting just a single run-through, I could tell this is a round that I could count on in a self-defense situation. The recoil does kick up a notch, which should be expected with a +P round. I think the tradeoff is worth it, given the increase in lethality but also the increase in accuracy that I saw with the Punch.

Plus, guns with zero recoil impulse can get a little boring after a while. Give me something that bites a little! Shooting this revolver became quite enjoyable over time, even with that extra twang of +P, but shooting a revolver is still a slow and cumbersome process for someone like me. Through all ammo types, I would estimate that I’m only 150-ish rounds into this gun, which isn’t much compared to most semi-autos that I review. Part of that is just the different process at the range and the differences in training on the two platforms. Either way, there were no problems to report – not that I would expect any from a revolver with such a low count.

There are certainly better shooters than me out there, but these are my best targets after a day on the range. Shot at 25 feet, the target on the left is a mixture of ammo and the one on the right is Federal Punch only. (Photo: Seth Rodgers/Guns.com)

My one knock on the gun is that it’s tough to maintain a solid purchase on the grip. I felt like after every couple shots I needed to readjust the gun in my hands. I could either opt for some different grips, like a nice pair of Hogue grips would surely solve the issue, or I could practice more with a different style of revolver grip that would secure the gun better. I tried a couple different methods but none of them totally solved the issue.

While I was still discovering the intricacies of shooting a revolver and trying to get faster on the range, I found myself enjoying the experience. Could it be that I was falling for this 856 Exec with its sleek lines and satin finish? Could I actually carry and rely on it?

Carrying the Executive

I was so smitten with this revolver that I decided to reach out to the fine folks at Galco, who were nice enough to send over a Combat Master in black leather for the 856. Galco is known for making some of the best leather holsters in the business, and this one was no exception. The quality is immediately felt when it’s picked up. Now, it is an OWB holster and if I’m telling you I have little experience with revolvers, I have even less experience with OWB holsters in this style.

The Galco Combat Master paired nicely with the 856 Executive Grade. (Photo: Seth Rodgers/Guns.com)

I have plenty of gripes against OWB carry and this specific style of holster – that’s a different article for a different day – so I couldn’t help feeling like I was setting myself up for disappointment. Regardless, I still wore it around the house and even ventured out of the house a handful of times with it on my hip as a backup gun. I still don’t trust myself or my training enough to call this an EDC-type of gun for me, but I certainly didn’t mind calling it a backup.

The real question becomes what kind of Executive do you want to be? Jacket off and laid back or jacket on tough guy? (Photo: Seth Rodgers/Guns.com)

Dry-fire training with this specific setup proved to me that the draw and target acquisition process was still going to be a challenge. My target acquisition speed did get faster with time and practice, but I’m still nowhere near the speed of my P365 in an AIWB holster from Vedder Holsters. Perhaps that’s an apples-and-oranges comparison, and perhaps I could become as fast with a revolver one day, but the time and practice needed right now doesn’t justify making the switch to this as an everyday carry gun.

I will say the whole rig is very comfortable and really nice for sitting in a chair and typing on a computer. In fact, it’s much nicer than an AIWB holster in that regard, so I will give it some points there. I pointed out that the walnut grips felt a little slick in the hand, but that adds to the comfort in carry as well.

The total package concealed much easier than I had anticipated. (Photo: Seth Rodgers/Guns.com)

During the winter months here in the great north, I had no problem concealing this. Whether it was under a coat or under a hoodie, I felt like it blended in at the 3 o’clock position. I suspect that could change in the summer when tank tops and flip flops become my regular attire. Finally, I will say that the weight surprised me in how light it was. I think the holster certainly plays a part in the weight distribution, but going into this I expected this gun to be much heavier and cumbersome to carry.

Pros and Cons