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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After getting some time with a mid 1990s vintage Taurus 85 it piqued my curiosity to see how the current snubby .38 offering from them compares. The Taurus 85 also generally rekindled an interest in snubby revolvers in general.

Here are a few things I think Taurus may be doing well with in regard to the snub nosed revolvers:
-They added a 6th round. That “boost in capacity” can be viewed as “only one more round” but when you started with 5 in the previous generation, it makes a difference.
-They added an ability to change the front sight. This may seem superfluous in what is often viewed as a “Get off me”, or a “belly” gun, but if one wants to add just a bit more versatility to the snubby platform, it was kind of hard to do on traditional fixed sight revolvers with the sights completely machined as a part of the barrel.
-Fit and finish. The cylinder lock-up is as tight as my new S&W 442. There are no visible flaws in the bead blasted finish of the Little revolver, out of the box. The cylinder now has turn marks from me doing a lot of dry fire to help break in the trigger. This leads to…
-The trigger was not as smooth or light, out of the box, as my 442, however, it wasn’t far off from the 442 when I first brought it home either. I attribute this to one of the things that caught me off guard with the 856. When I bought it, it was DRY. No oil could be found on the exterior anywhere. The cylinder was also a bit sluggish in turning. I found that a few drops of oil applied to the cylinder hub and ejection rod, as well as to the hammer, combined with dry firing with snap caps has brought the Taurus much closer to the S&W. The trigger is also very predictable with regard to staging the hammer and cylinder, just before tripping the sear. This was something that I noted, the old Taurus 85 was not as crisp on.
-Longer ejector rod. The old model 85 had a truly stubby ejector rod which took very deliberate effort to use to fully extract and eject empty shells.

These are initial Impressions without firing the 856 yet.

I’m hoping in the near future to do more detailed side by side comparison with the older 85 and the 856. Just waiting to have an 85 and 856 in the same place at the same time. My stainless 85 is on loan to my father-in-law, and I’ve purchased a 85CH (concealed hammer version), which is in like new condition, but it is in it’s waiting period Before I can pick it up. Also waiting for my trigger pull gauge to arrive.
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Taurus is doing a pretty good job lately, on a number of their products. The 856 is a great revolver...I have one in black. I have about 250 rounds through it so far, it does get carried at times, and I have ran about 36 rounds of +P through it, without any problems.

Taurus does need to be given a little bit of a break, because gun companies can "turn things around" for the better, and some that have always been considered "top tier", can start to get crappy too.

I feel the 856 is a solid option in a revolver.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Taurus is doing a pretty good job lately, on a number of their products. The 856 is a great revolver...I have one in black. I have about 250 rounds through it so far, it does get carried at times, and I have ran about 36 rounds of +P through it, without any problems.

Taurus does need to be given a little bit of a break, because gun companies can "turn things around" for the better, and some that have always been considered "top tier", can start to get crappy too.

I feel the 856 is a solid option in a revolver.
Shortly after I bought my S&W 442, I read two posts on other sites regarding S&W that I found concerning. One was regarding an M&P and S&W basically made a few maneuvers to avoid covering warranty work.
The next was regarding a model 642 (Stainless version of my 442). This particula4 specimen had been owned and shot for 4 years. Owner started experiencing light strikes. Sent it to S&W. 3 months later he gets word back that the frame is damaged and the gun is not repairable. (Frame stretch, no cracks). S&W would not cover it. Said it was normal wear, but the gun had met it’s life expectancy, but could not be repaired. They wouldn’t replace it either. They offered a $100 discount on a new 642.

Was a time when you could tell folks, that S&W stood behind their products for life. Doesn’t seem to be the case any longer, and more reports of poor QC seem to be emerging. S&W reputation is on a downward trend. Taurus really only had room to improve their reputation, but it does seem they are building revolvers, better than they did for several years. Early to mid 1990’s revolvers seemed pretty high quality.

We witnessed other once great manufacturers loose their way. Some come back from their decline, while others get bought out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Got my rather “minty” early 1990s Taurus 85CH today. (Funny thing is I was outbid on a heavily worn kind of rust one o& these on Gunbroker. After that, this specimen showed up and I put a $250 bid on it. Nobody outbid me, and this ended up being cheaper than the beater would have been.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
SSGN_Doc. That older hammerless looks great!
After really closely inspecting it and even taking the side plate off to lube the internals, I think it may either be unfired, or was shot VERY little. No wear marks on the hammer or trigger sides, no wear marks on the the spring rods. Only a light turn mark On th3 cylinder and no powder or lead residue to be found anywhere.

both the 85 and 856 have DA trigger pulls that average 10.25 lbs out of the box.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Finally got inside the 856. Internals definitely show some differences compared to the old 85. Did a little smoothing and added some oil. Feels better. But this is how it looks freshly opened.
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Flat hammer spring strut. More cast parts. All seem to be pretty decent quality. Didn’t take much to smooth things up a bit.

And it looks like you can even find your exact date of manufacture.
 

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I got a used matte stainless 856 with black cylinder. 3" barrel and VZ grips. Works great & good accuracy. Grips were sold ASAP. It hurt my palm to shoot it. Unreal sharp grooves! Bought a Pachmayr wood grip & it's much better. Including quality of grip as well.

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I have an 85 and an 856 defender both in matte stainless and they have treated me very well. Very accurate and never a problem with either one. Taurus has made great strides in producing much better products as of late and it is very much appreciated, hopefully they continue.
 
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