Welcome to another edition of TFB’s Wheelgun Wednesday! This week, we’ll take a detailed look at the Taurus 856 TORO revolver, which is an optics-ready model straight from the factory. The Taurus 856 was already a capable six-shot, small-frame revolver, but the optics-ready T.O.R.O. treatment adds more versatility for those that prefer red dots on their concealed carry weapon. As cool and trendy as red dot sights are on handguns, they can add a bit more complexity to set up, and we’ll take a look at the hiccup I had mating these two systems. Let’s dig in!
Wheelgun Wednesday @ TFB
TAURUS 856 TORO REVIEW
Aside from the unique feature of being the first factory-made optics-ready revolver (see my previous post on that point), I was glad for the opportunity to check out the Taurus 856, since I had previously reviewed its slightly smaller brother, the Taurus 605. The Model 856 adds an extra round in the cylinder, bringing the capacity to six rounds. However, despite the bigger capacity, the 856 is only chambered for .38 Special +P, whereas the 605 is chambered for .357 Magnum.
The Taurus 856 TORO comes with the ability to remove the optics plate, under which is the typical fixed rear gutter sight machined into the top strap. The front sight is a black serrated ramp secured by a roll pin, and can thus be replaced if desired. I was pleased to see Taurus’ new small frame rubber grip, which I praised highly on the Model 605. Not only does it look proportional and aggressive, but it feels great in the hand, absorbs recoil, and conceals neatly when worn inside the waistband.
On its own, the Taurus 856 has a predictable profile shared with many other small-frame revolvers, the carrying of which has been perfected over the last 100 plus years. Fortunately, adding an eighth-inch plate and a 7/8 inch tall optic doesn’t actually cause many issues when it comes to carrying the new Taurus 856 TORO, but more on that in a minute.
TAURUS 856 T.O.R.O. SPECS
- ITEM NUMBER: 2-856P39 (stainless), 2-856P31 (matte black)
- UPC: 7-25327-63446-1
- CALIBER: 38 SPECIAL +P
- CAPACITY: 6 Rounds
- FRONT SIGHT: Removable Front Sight
- REAR SIGHT: Fixed
- MAGAZINES INCLUDED: 1
- ACTION TYPE: DA/SA
- FRAME SIZE: Small
- BARREL LENGTH: 3.00 In.
- OVERALL LENGTH: 7.50 In.
- OVERALL HEIGHT: 4.80 In.
- OVERALL WIDTH: 1.40 In.
- OVERALL WEIGHT: 23.50 Oz. (Unloaded), 25.3 Oz with Holosun 407K
- TWIST RATE: 1:16.5 in RH Twist
- GROOVES: 6
TO OPTICS OR NOT TO OPTICS
Taurus priced the 856 TORO models perfectly, in that there’s little reason to not go with the optics-ready version, even if you’re not interested in putting a red dot on it right away, or even never, but the option will always be there. The standard 2-inch barrel 856 is $399, while the 3-inch Defenders and TOROs are neck and neck around $450 (give or take depending on finish). Thus, if you later decide your eyes aren’t what they used to be, you can fix a red dot on it, or you decide to sell it down the road someday, there’s more likelihood that you’ll have more interest.
Despite the added height to the 856 TORO’s profile with the red dot sight mounted, it’s still quite intuitive with a little practice. Getting the feel for acquiring the dot took a little getting used to since revolvers fill the hand differently compared to semi-autos, but I feel that it went quicker already having experience with red dots on pistols. Since the Taurus 856 was built for defensive use, having the ability to keep your focus on your assailant is an excellent feature compared to iron sights. However, speaking from a statistical standpoint, that assailant may be close enough for point shooting, but there are never any guarantees and each violent encounter is different.
I’m not going to lie, as much as I’m a firm believer that everyone should learn to use iron sights, I love optics. While red dots and scopes allow us to see and aim more efficiently, they bring a whole new complexity of mechanics and mounting. Generally, it’s mostly straightforward if you’ve mounted red dots or rifle scopes before, which I have experience in. However, when it came to mounting my Holosun 407K to the Taurus 865 TORO plate, I ran out of elevation and wasn’t able to zero my point of aim with my point of impact. At seven yards, my bullets were still impacting about two inches above my point of aim.
I had read about some people using a shim to re-angle the optic in order to get more elevation adjustment, so I found the ADE Advanced Optics shim and ordered it for $13. In the meantime, I did some tests to determine why I needed one. The Holosun specifications are said to have 50 +/- clicks of adjustment for elevation, however, I was only getting about 31 clicks before. It’s possible that I over-torqued the optic on my first install, but I hadn’t cranked on it either. Since I really wanted to move forward with the Taurus TORO review, I was fine sticking to the shim for now. I double checked the fore and aft heights on the Taurus TORO optics plate, which were uniform.
HARRY’S HOLSTERS MONOCLE IWB HOLSTER & CONCEALED CARRY
After using the shim to finalize the zeroing, I began carrying the Taurus 856 TORO regularly, along with a Tuff Products QuickStrip for a reload. The prototyped “Monocle” holster from Harry’s Holsters was perfect and completely disappeared under an untucked shirt, whether I wore it at my 4 o’clock position, or appendix carry up front. The overall design looks slightly unconventional with a smooth cylinder cover, as opposed to having molding around the revolver’s cylinder flutes. This style does allow the cylinder to rotate and the hammer to be cocked while in the holster, but it didn’t concern me at all since it takes intentional force to cock the hammer, which I wasn’t planning on doing when the 856 TORO was loaded.
The Monocle holster has a bit of room for height adjustment with the single belt clip, as well as adjustment for cant, but I found that it didn’t need any adjustment to conceal it, and it was completely comfortable to wear all day; walking, sitting, driving, and doing chores. The belt clip is extremely sturdy and is secured to the holster by two screws, which are located under the 856’s barrel and allow for a shirt to be tucked between the inside of the clip and the holster, making the clip the only visible part of the whole rig.
Aft of the revolver’s barrel, the holster’s top is open to accommodate the red dot sight mounted to the top strap of the Taurus 856. There isn’t any extra holster material to cover the sides of the optic, which I kind of expected, but this didn’t hinder any function of carrying or drawing the gun. It does expose the optic to a bit more external wear from friction against the waistband, but I’ve always expected a certain “lived-in” look to carry guns and optics. While this wasn’t a problem drawing the 856, the added height of the optic makes re-holstering a two-handed affair.
RANGE TIME WITH THE TAURUS 856 TORO
For those of you that recall my review of the Taurus 605, which I was quite impressed with, I was not surprised to find the Taurus 856 TORO to be a solid model as well. Even during my zeroing troubleshooting, I was getting great accuracy from resting on the hood of my SUV, measuring groups of about 3 inches at 25 yards.
The trigger on the Taurus 856 TORO is smooth and consistent, which is ideal for something one depends on for self-defense. The majority of the double action trigger pull is smooth and easy, while the last quarter hangs on the sear and can be that reminder of when to expect it to break during slow fire. When pressing through the trigger during fast shooting, the sear point is harder to discern, which isn’t really a problem at that point if you’re shooting quickly in defense, or training for such an event. The double action trigger was about 12 pounds, while the single action was about 4 pounds, so pretty standard territory.
I always like to challenge myself and see if I can reach out beyond what most people consider pistol distances, and I was able to ping my MK Machining Covid steel target at 75 yards.
Aside from my initial optics issues, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Taurus 856 TORO revolver. If you’re in the market for a concealable small framed revolver, this six-shot 856 TORO should be on your short list, since you have the factory option of adding a red dot (as opposed to sourcing aftermarket hardware), or going au naturel, for an easy MSRP $460.99 (or $445.99 for the matte black). You can check out TaurusUSA.com to see all of their products, or view their T.O.R.O. revolver line.
As of this writing, the Monocle holster from HarrysHolsters.com is still in the prototype phase, but stay tuned for the final version. You can also check out Holosun.com for all of their red dot sights. Even though I had an issue with my 407K, there was a cheap, expedient fix, and the number of pistol red dot users that encounter this problem (across all manufacturers) seems rare, and I may have induced the problem myself.
What do you think about the Taurus 856 TORO? If you’ve already grabbed an 856 or 605 TORO revolver, tell us how your experience has been and what optic you mounted on it. If you’ve been using a red dot on a revolver, what do you think of the concept?
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