By Kurt Shipman
Shopping for ammo isn’t like anything else, as in you don’t get to try it on or try it out to see if you like it. So testing and evaluation is critical before committing to spending lots of coin on your shell-stash. To help address some unanswered questions that we had regarding the .410 shot-shell choices for the Taurus Judge, today we conducted a comparison of the four most readily available .410 shotgun shells . . .
It’s important to note that all of these were specifically designed for handguns, primarily the Taurus Judge. The purpose of this testing was to determine the projectile spread pattern at a close realistic self defense shooting range of 25 feet.
During our testing, we used the Taurus Judge Poly-Protector, with a 2 ½” chamber, and a 2” barrel, equipped with a larger sized Hogue Grip for comfort. We tested 5 shells of each of the following (in this order): Winchester PDX1 Personal Defense shells, Winchester SXZ Personal Protection shells, Federal Premium Personal Defense 410 Handgun shells, and Hornady’s Critical Defense (410 Triple Defense) shells. All of these shells average between $9 and $15 per box and can be found at most ammunition outfitters.
The following results of our testing where conducted while aiming at center mass:
Winchester PDX1 rounds shot well with no malfunctions of any sort. These rounds consist of four copper plated discs (slugs) followed by 16 copper plated BB’s at roughly 750fps. At 25 feet the discs/slugs consistently grouped relatively close together with a 3-4inch spread. The copper plated BB’s that followed those discs/slugs however, flew all over the 23” x 35” silhouette target. As you can see from the photos, this round would be best used at a VERY close range (7-15 feet).
[Rating: 1 through 5 Stars] = Overall Rating: ★★
Winchester SXZ Personal Protection Rounds also shot well with no malfunctions. These rounds consist of 3 000 Buck pellets at roughly 1300fps. At 25 feet these 000 Buck pellets consistently grouped together within the silhouette of the target. They spread out anywhere between 1-12inches. I would feel comfortable using these rounds for self defense within 25 feet or less as I could guarantee a devastating hit on target with a minimal chance of any stray projectiles.
[Rating: 1 through 5 Stars] = Overall Rating: ★★★
Federal Premium Personal Defense 410 Handgun Rounds shot well with no malfunctions. These rounds consist of 7/16oz #4 shot at roughly 950fps. I’m really not sure why Federal is calling this round a personal defense round. Federal has a .410 personal defense round, Federal Premium Personal Defense Buckshot, this round is not in the same class in any way shape or form. At 25 feet the 7/16oz shot peppered the entire target with a wide pattern over 17 inches wide. I doubt it would incapacitate any motivated assailant. Personally, I would not use this round unless you were directly on top of your target (less than 10 feet). At extremely close range (say in your vehicle) this could do major damage other than that use it on quail or snakes. At range, you might shoot someone’s eye out.
[Rating: 1 through 5 Stars] = Overall Rating: ★
Hornady’s Critical Defense (410 Triple Defense) rounds shot very well with no malfunctions of any sort. They also fit into and ejected from the 2 ½” chamber of the Judge the best out of all the ammunition tested. These rounds consist of a single 41 cal FTX slug, followed by two 35 cal round balls. This round fires out at roughly 750fps and 394ft lbs of force. By far the most consistent personal defense round we tested. At 25 feet the slug and two “followers” maintained relatively tight groupings (most inside the “8” ring). It is interesting to note that on every single shot the 41 cal slug appeared to hit high on the target with the two “followers” hitting approximately 6 to 7 inches lower and VERY tight together. At close to mid-range this would be my personal defense round of choice hands down. Everything seems to stay tightly grouped on target with minimal chance of a flyer hitting an innocent bystander. I also like having the slug/follower combination. I doubt anyone getting hit by one of these rounds would continue doing whatever caused you to shoot them in the first place.
[Rating: 1 through 5 Stars] = Overall Rating: ★★★★
In summary, out of the four brands we tested, we felt Hornady was the best. Be careful when buying ammo, especially for the Judge or any other handgun that uses the .410 shell. As we have shown you here, just because the package is marked “defense” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good choice. At 25 feet, we were a little surprised by the spread of some of these defensive branded shells.
Everyone seems to have their own favored type of shells to use for home defense. This write-up is of course just our opinion and not an end-all to the best ammo to use, etc. There really is no “perfect” ammo as each type has its benefits and drawbacks. So it’s very important to train with the ammo you are going to be using as your defensive load.