Taurus 856 size comparison.


So probably the most common question regarding the Taurus 856 is ”How big is it compared to ____?” I sat down with a caliper and scale to try to answer that question.

The measurements I looked at were:

Cylinder diameter.

Cylinder length.

Tallest point from bottom of trigger guard to top of frame or rear sight if it was sunk into the frame.


Trigger Reach from top, rearmost part of the grip or frame depending on grip style.

The cylinder of the 856 is certainly thicker than that of a standard J frame (1.305”). Six .38” charge holes with enough metal between them for durability and safety just make that impossible. Where that size (1.405”) puts it is half way between SP101 (1.350”) and K frame (1.450”) cylinder diameters. The GP100 and L frame S&W’s (1.550”) are another step larger. All of which are dwarfed by the Ruger SRH’s massive 1.780” diameter.

Cylinder length is where things got interesting. The 856 has a rather stubby cylinder at only 1.510” in length. That is actually closer to the tiny S&W 43C 22LR’s 1.508” length. The Ruger SP101 (1.580”) and S&W 640/642 (1.595”) are longer. When S&W and Ruger brought out their magnum versions of the J Frame and SP101 they quietly stretched the cylinder and frame to be compatible with the various bullet weights available. Interestingly enough the beefier Ruger GP100 cylinder (1.605”) is shorter than the much more svelte S&W 66’s (1.670”).

The stubby cylinder is too short for 357 magnum to fit.

Height from bottom of trigger guard to top of frame/rear sight places the 856 (3.205”) on par with the Novak Sight equipped SP101 (3.280”) rather than the K frame Model 66 (3.875”) and slightly larger than the varios J frames (3.035” – 3.100”).

The weight of these small frame revolvers, and to a lesser extent the medium frame revolvers, can be significantly affected by choice of grips. The wood, some of the plastic and some rubber options can be quite lightweight. Some of the older rubber, like the Craig Spegel designed Uncle Mikes, and the G10 options are rather weighty. The S&W J frames varied from a mere 12oz up to 1lb 6-5/8oz. The Ruger SP101 tipped the scales at 1lb 9oz with Crimson Trace laser grips. The Taurus 856 is 1lb 9-1/2oz with the factory G10 grips. Switching to a lighter weight grip option would easily have the 856 beat out the SP101 for weight and be into J Frame territory. In fact, Taurus lists the Hogue rubber grip equipped 856 Defender as being 2oz lighter. Now the shocker was that the S&W 66 (2lbs 4-5/8oz) weighed more than the beefier Ruger GP100 (2lbs 3-5/8oz) despite its larger frame.

Now on to trigger reach. This is one area absolutely affected by grips. Frame limitations will only allow the trigger reach to be so short. Although that short reach is likely in the too short/cramped category for most adult males. Grip selection will be driven by purpose/carry position. The actual length will be determined by more than a straight line as shape and width of the grip will influence this. My measurements are just one dimensional. The design of the VZ grips on the 856 leave the top part of the frame exposed. If you are crawling the back of the gun to get as high as possible the reach is 2.500” and nearly identical to that of the S&W J Frame. The reach of the larger S&W 66 (2.780”) and GP100 (2.770”) while longer are comparable to the trigger reach of Gen3 Glock 19 (2.81”). While discussing the trigger reach is it important to note that the S&W J/K/L/N/X Frames and Ruger LCR/SP101/GP100/RH/SRH all used a trigger best described like a backwards ”C” in shape. The Taurus 856 has a trigger best described and somewhere between a ”J” and a backwards ”L” shape. Others have noted it has a different feel than what they are used to.

So where does this leave the Taurus 856? I don’t think the answer is cut and dry.


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