Gun Review: Smith & Wesson Governor (Take Four)

[I found this review by LC Judas in the comments' section.]

Okay, originally I was in the impulsive gun market after a grip failure on a SIG Equinox. My resale would cover a Governor new. I wanted to see if the cylinder would handle hot .45 LC rounds without making me understand shrapnel from experience. I found nothing but indications that hot loads are a bad idea in this gun. After reading [TTAG's initial take on the Smith & Wesson Governor] and all the comments included I have a couple things to add. The first problem is we have four crowds yelling here, not two . . .

There’s the “Smith & Season gimmick powered garbage” group who think this revolver is a set up for failure quality-wise from Smith because they have copied Taurus (for once), and Taurus is simply mediocre weaponry.

Then there are the folks who see the cartridges here as an incorrect assortment and believe this gun and its like are too niche and that since its questionably lethal—as there is lackluster shooting data on .410; handguns with cartridges are proven better self-defense guns. But exactly which handgun is NOT agreed upon here as we’ve all got different budgets and tastes and vastly different experiences.

Then there’s the crowd that the Governor/Judge was marketed to. Folks who think the cartridge selection justified the creation of this scatter-shot revolver platform. People who think that a revolver will never fail.

Then the .45 cult. People who believe that a bullet—any bullet at least 9/20″ wide—is God’s gift to ammunition. The people who are quoting history books instead of ballistic charts and scoff at modern numbers because they can.

I formed this idea of getting a Governor because I was in groups one and three. My issue: I can’t equate all the hype into facts, and I’ve already got an original Springfield Series 70 1911 that does most of my .45 business and has never failed once. The revolver round is not as common and not what sells this gun, I won’t pretend it is. My only consideration of this was the moon clips in tandem with the .410 but look at a .410 cartridge. If you cut it open you get a lot of lead as projectile at the target. Weigh it. THAT is what turned my head after hearing it took .45ACP as well.

It’s a lot of lead if you pick either the Winchester Supreme or the Federal 000 Buck. You get four .380ACP weight and diameter projectiles at the same speed as .380 at the same time. That or the disc powered death cloud from Winchester. Both promise a lot but neither is going to be safe outside of 21 feet as you can’t assure it will group tight enough to not hurt others nearby.

Nothing but practice with a reliable and accurate gun you’re familiar with is going to give you that confidence. A super short barrel shotshell sold as a spraying cannon of home defense bad guy oblivion isn’t a stable shooting platform—especially not for the idea of others in the line of fire. Does that mean blowing an ounce of any kind of shot into a small “from me to you” area is bad? Far from it. Weight speaks for itself but the following kills the gun:

The shotgun caliber is largely untested because Law Enforcement and professionals have no use for it. Then both Taurus and S&W have questionable reputations(as of now). There are better platforms that are more hand friendly, attractive and concealable in the .45 calibers. So not useless, simply an untested niche weapon that may suit you. But odds are it doesn’t. The Governor shines at a few things, but other guns are as good or better at doing them.

Don’t make it what it’s not and it will do as designed. Like it or not.

Related posts:

Click here for Chris Dumm’s review of the Smith & Wesson Governor
Click here for Roy Hill’s review of the Smith & Wesson Governor
Click here for Robert Farago’s review of the Smith & Wesson Governor

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

6 Responses to Gun Review: Smith & Wesson Governor (Take Four)

  1. avatarI_Like_Pie says:

    These sell due to novelty and hype.

    They are not practical at all and offer nothing other than the ability to shoot a snake from atop a tractor without using a rifle.

  2. avatarRalph says:

    That was a seriously good analysis of a seriously mediocre revolver.

  3. avatarJJ Swiontek says:

    I own a Taurus Judge Magnum. 3″ cylinder, 3″ barrel. Heavier than any other pistol I own. Good grip. Next to no recoil. Loudest pistol I have ever fired. (I figure most 410 loads are slightly slower burn than most pistol ammo.) Doesn’t work well with standard dove loads with shot size 6 or smaller. (The rifling causes the shot to spin out in a wide ‘halo’ pattern around the target at even close range.) I have found success in using size 6 shot and hot wax keeping the pellets together to the target.

  4. avatarbigsam says:

    i now have both a taurus public defender & a governor i like them both

  5. avatarDiode says:

    I own the governor, I like shooting it. The range I go to has many different guns that I’ve shot Glocks, Springfields, Sigs, ect… The governor shoots as accurately for me as any of them and it feels good, a Cadillac. I only say that about my Governor and the hard mount .50 cal I fired in the service. The Federal PD 000 buck is incredible ammo for the Governor. It’s deadly and holds a pattern extremely well. The sabot stays with the 4 brass pellets for about 7 yards making a really tight pattern out past 10 yards. PDX1 is a good camping ammo. It’s effective against aggressive snakes and both 2 and 4 legged threats. The .45acp ammo loaded into those 6 round clips can be fired accurately and reloaded into the cylinder just as fast as any magazine in any pistol. As far as the 45 colt, well it’s just plain fun to shoot. I like the sound and feel. Hard for me to put that into words, forget ballistics, it’s one of those things you need to experience. The Governor’s uses for me are nightstand gun, truck gun, camping, hunting, fishing and target shooting. Here are a couple of youtube links I found helpful: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlYXNhJXmXo
    I am unable to locate the other video showing the Federal PD buckshot completely piercing a 16 inch block of 10% ballistic gelatin then exiting the far end. The damage from that one shot was extensive. A 12 Ga. it’s not… but you won’t find any critics volunteering to take a hit from the Governor in order to further their opinions about the weapons short comings.

    • avatarThe Kudu King says:

      Right on! Ive owned and shot a couple of Judge’s and now the Governor. The Governor is more versatile and much more accurate. It is my favorite camping/hiking and hunting backup guns. That Federal 000 Buck load is excellent within 15 yards (all the buckshot stays within a silo target); it can handle .410 #7.5 shot in snake areas; the .45 ACP JHP is accurate at 25 yards+ and good for all-around shooting; and the .45 Colt in a reasonable load (255 SWC @ 1050 fps) will do fine for close-range hunting or survival against large animals. This was a great choice.

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