Taurus Defender 856 T.O.R.O.

By Jeff Johnston, FE Hunting & Shooting Editor

Taurus revolvers have a cult following because they’re both solid and much less expensive than S&W. Their 856 3-inch carry revolver, for example, has every feature you want in a self-defense wheelgun—smooth double action pull, 6-shot steel cylinder, cushy grip for recoil mitigation, etc.—yet it’s now made better by the addition of an optics-ready frame, hence the T.O.R.O. (Taurus Optics Ready Option) moniker. The Defender’s top strap has been milled to accept any optic with a Holosun K footprint. To my knowledge and according to Taurus, this is the first time it’s been done in a factory offering. And why not?

For all the reasons dudes are putting red dot optics on their autos, mounting one on a revolver makes perfect sense, maybe even more so, because without a violently reciprocating slide, the optic has less chance of being pounded out of zero. 

If you haven’t fired a Taurus revolver in a while, you should. Over the last few years production has been moved from Brazil to Bainbridge, GA, and the resulting quality is obvious. Though the Defender is made from stainless steel—no aluminum frame here—it still only weighs 23 ounces, putting it in the same class as most sub-compact semiautos, but with one main difference: The Defender holds 6 rounds of .38 Spl. + P. And that’s exactly why I think it’s a great choice for bowhunters everywhere; use the iron sights through the optic if you must point and shoot double action in a hurry, or use the red dot via single action if you need to take a longer shot at … anything. 

The 856 Defender T.O.R.O. is available in all-stainless or a matte black finish. $445

Pros: Lightweight revolver; 6 rounds of .38 Spl. + P, now optics-ready for increased speed and accuracy potential 

Cons: We wish it was rated for .357 Mag.; We also wish it had plates for Trijicon’s RMR

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