Taurus has been building double-action
revolvers for several decades now, and just in the past few
years, has really expanded their line. The last time I counted,
and I am sure it has changed by now, Taurus had eighty-seven
different revolvers in the catalog. Their small-frame five-shot
revolvers look very similar to a Smith & Wesson J-frame on
the outside, and are pretty much the same size, but differ
internally a bit. I suppose that after the Taurus
Judge series of revolvers, the small-frame five-shot guns
are their most popular, and for good reason; they are reliable,
accurate, and affordable little guns that can be relied upon as
a weapon for concealed carry. Particularly well-suited for the
role of a concealed carry revolver is their new 850 CIA
Ultra-Lite 38 Special, which is the subject of this review.
The 850 CIA shown here is made primarily of
stainless steel and aluminum, with a few plated carbon-steel
small parts. The grip is a very comfortable textured black
synthetic rubber, which covers the backstrap of the grip to
cushion felt recoil. What makes the 850 so well-suited for
concealed carry is its snag-free concealed-hammer design. Many
people erroneously call this type of revolver “hammerless”,
but that is incorrect. The hammer is concealed within the frame,
to prevent the weapon from hanging up on the draw, and to keep
dirt, pocket lint, and other debris out of the internals of the
for the 850 CIA are listed in the chart below. Weight is listed
in ounces. Trigger pull is listed as pounds of resistance, as
measured using my Lyman digital scale. Linear measurements are
listed in inches. The cylinder length does not include the
ratchet star. DA is the double-action trigger pull.
|Trigger Pull DA
||9 pounds, 7 ounces
||Not yet listed
I commend Taurus on the tolerance of the
barrel/cylinder gap on this revolver. This, as well as the last
two Taurus revolvers that I have measured, had gaps of only two
one-thousandths (.002) of an inch. A small barrel/cylinder gap
such as this contributes to higher velocity, and less fire and
burnt powder spitting out the sides of the revolver. I did not
bench test this weapon for accuracy, but instead fired standing
on my two hind legs and using a two-hand hold and a modified
Weaver stance. Firing at paper and steel targets from seven out to one
hundred yards, the little snub performed admirably. I only hit
about fifty percent with it at one hundred yards, but was not
expecting to do any better. This little revolver and its like
perform very well at combat distances for a defensive weapon,
and hits out to twenty-five yards were very easy to make. The
Taurus was not painful at all to shoot, even with Plus P
ammunition. However, my favorite load for a snubnose 38 Special
is the Buffalo Bore 158 grain semi-wadcutter hollow-cavity
standard-pressure load. This load uses a low-flash powder to
reduce muzzle flash, and is purpose-built for short-barreled
revolvers like this Taurus. This load ran over the chronograph
at an average of 868.6 feet-per-second from the stubby barrel of
this Ultra-Lite, recorded ten feet from the muzzle. I fired this
ammunition at a distance of ten feet into ballistic gelatin, and
it performed perfectly. The bullets consistently penetrated
fifteen inches, and expanded reliably, as can be seen in the
picture. Recoil of this Buffalo Bore load is very easy to handle
in the little Taurus.
A gun such as this rides well in a jeans
pocket, or when carried in a good belt holster. Shown here is a
hybrid Kydex/leather holster from SHTF Gear. This holster comes
with spring clips for the belt, but leather belt loops are
optional. The holster fit the Taurus perfectly, and stayed open
for easy re-holstering, which is very important with an
inside-the-pants holster. The Kydex is thin for a slim profile,
and the leather protects both the wearer and the weapon.
The Taurus 850 Ultra-Lite CIA was one hundred
percent reliable with every load tested, and would make a very
good carry gun for those who prefer the simplicity of a
double-action revolver. The trigger pull was very smooth, but
slightly heavier than I like, but that is easily corrected, if
desired. Adding a Crimson
Trace Lasergrip to this revolver would greatly improve its
usefulness as a defensive weapon, as most
unpleasant social situations take place at night, and the CT
Lasergrip makes hitting much easier in the dark. At the time of this review, I do not have the suggested
retail price on this 850 Ultra-Lite, so check with your local
dealer on pricing.
Check out the Ultra-Lite CIA Taurus 38 and
other Taurus firearms and accessories online at www.taurususa.com.
For the location of a Taurus dealer near you,
click on the DEALER LOCATOR at www.lipseys.com.
To order Taurus firearms online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.
To order quality 38 Special ammunition, go to
order the SHTF Gear holster, go to www.shtfgear.com.
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