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Some people think of shotguns as “magic brooms.” You aim it in the general direction of a bad guy and “sweep” your house clear of two-legged varmints. Without getting too technical about it, no. At bad breath distances, generally speaking, a shotgun ejects a softball-sized lead spread. While it’s easier to hit a target that’s three to five yards away with a softball than a marble, you can miss. Especially if you’re in life-threatening danger. And your target is moving around, quickly, trying to kill you. Still, why not a handheld shotgun? Why not the Smith & Wesson Governor?

On an instinctive level, the Governor makes perfect sense. Like the Taurus Judge that inspired it, the Governor is a fearsome-looking beast. Sure, the jumbo proportions are a bit whacked out; the Governor’s stainless steel cylinder (2.5″) is almost as long as the barrel (2.75″). But it adds to the Governor’s appeal. To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee, “That’s not a revolver, THIS is a revolver.”

Style-wise, Smith & Wesson adhered to Henry Ford’s dictum: you can have the Governor in any color as long as it’s black. Right answer; a stainless steel Governor would look more like a kitchen appliance than a firearm. The handgun’s stainless steel barrel sleeve is a well-judged (so to speak) crowning touch—in a knowing, evil kinda way. Darth Vader, your revolver is ready.

Only not yet. Smith & Wesson has been working flat-out to meet demand for its core products. The Governor has been stuck in primary season for quite some time. But now that it’s out, the .410 shotshell shooter has all the virtues you would—or should—expect from a Smith & Wesson revolver. Our test and evaluation Governor was built like a proverbial brick you-know-what-house; pistol-whipping someone with the Governor would be the human equivalent of seal clubbing.

As the rabbi points out above, the Governor parades down quality street. The cylinder slots into the heat-treated scandium alloy frame like a Tower of Power horn line into a Little Feat song. The Governor’s trigger pull—more accessible than the rival Judge—is pure disco-era fun: Bang Bang Maxwell’s Silver Hammer. Unlike its less expensive Taurian counterpart, the $679 (msrp) Smith & Wesson Governor gives you the sense that the revolver will be in power for generations to come.

Hefty price, hefty piece: 30 ounces. That’s roughly three ounces less gravity suck than the all-steel Taurus Judge 3″, or some 10 ounces less than a snub-nosed Smith & Wesson 686. All of these XXL revolvers are only marginally more carry-friendly than a cranky pit bull. So let’s call the Governor a light heavyweight whose solidity (and rubber grips) offers maximum handgun firepower with minimal recoil. Actually, make that “minimized.”

Light the fuse on some .410 shotshell (2.5″ only) and you’ll discover recoil stout enough to give a pint of Guinness a run for its money. Although the big Smith’s trigger is brand faithful—crisp and clean with no stacking or sticking—a Governor in double-action shotshell mode is no one’s first choice for double taps (a.k.a., closely paired groupings). But then you don’t need them, do you? Or do you?

In general, the more lead you put into a bad guy, the sooner you put it there, the more likely it is that he’ll stop threatening your life. If you can hit the bad guy with the bits and pieces hiding inside one of the Governor’s self-defense shotshells at three to five yards, one shot [per attacker] ought to do it. If you need another go, the Governor gives you five more.

A professional shooter slow-firing Winchester Super X 000 Buck single action at a stationary target reveals that the Governor is still a useful firearm seven yards out. After that, not so much. For an adrenal amateur trying to shoot an honest-to-God bad guy with a shotshell-equipped Governor double action, say, at night, well, it’s strictly hit or miss. My money’s on miss.

Smith & Wesson have done everything in their power to make the Governor as accurate as possible, including a genuinely useful snout-mounted Tritium Night Sight. But shotshell ammo is shotshell ammo. It’ll blow lots of holes in people close by. The farther out you go, the more of an “issue” accuracy and penetration become. As you might expect from non-bullet-shaped, non-spinning objects flying out of a short-barreled handgun.

Past a certain point, a shotshell revolver becomes a case of lose lose. Lose. Ah, but there’s a twist (so to speak). Load-up the Governor with six .45 COLT or .45ACP cartridges (with moon clips) and it’s just as accurate as any of S&Ws Venti-sized revolvers. Shooting a Governor loaded with .45 COLTs, our man Wayne could put holes in the center of a target up to ten yards away all day long. So could you. [Click here for all our test fire vids on TTAG’s guntruth YouTube channel.]

But then, why would you buy a Governor to shoot .45s? If you’re looking for a large caliber self-defense handgun, a ballistic Swiss Army knife isn’t your best bet. Go bespoke. Or why not trade down in gun size and caliber and buy a [still-lethal] wheel gun that’s cheaper to run and likes to get out of the house from time to time? Lest we forget, lots of semi-automatic pistols hold ten or more .45s in a relatively tidy package and there’s no ten-pound trigger pull to throw off your aim.

Handguns are blessed with small size, light weight, your choice of caliber/recoil strengths, short and long-range accuracy, and plenty o’ penetration. Shotguns provide aiming ease, enormous firepower, shoulder-managed recoil and more and larger projectiles. Splitting the difference between a handgun and a shotgun with a Smith & Wesson Governor doesn’t make much sense. You get a little bit of this, a little bit of that. But not all of either.

What you do get: a large, well-made, multi-caliber revolver. I’m sure there are a few situations where only a Smith & Wesson Governor will do. Snakes on a plain? Otherwise, the Governor appeals to two types of buyers: homeowners who don’t know any better and enthusiasts who couldn’t care less. This being America, consumers are free to buy the wrong gun for their needs. As for gun nuts looking for something a little nutty, your watermelons await. Over to you Roy . . .


Caliber: .410 2 1/2″, .45 ACP, .45 Colt
Capacity: 6 Rounds
Action: Single/Double Action
Barrel Length: 2.75″ / 6.985 cm
Front Sight: Tritium Night Sight (Dovetailed)
Rear Sight: Fixed
Grip: Synthetic
Weight: 29.6 oz. / 839.145 g
Overall Length: 8.5″ / 21.59 cm
Height: 5.5″ / 13.97 cm
Width: 1.75″ / 4.445 cm
Frame Material: Scandium Alloy
Cylinder: Stainless PVD
Finish: Matte Black

RATINGS (Out of five stars)

Style  * * * *
The Governor’s like a nightclub bouncer with an over-sized neck: a bit goofy-looking but intimidating nonetheless.

Ergonomics (carry) * * *
Surprisingly light for a huge revolver, but it is a huge revolver.

Ergonomics (firing)  * * * *
If you’re shooting shotshell, the recoil is noticeably manageable. Or manageably noticeable. If you’re shooting .45s, the Governor’s as mild as a Montecristo.

Reliability  * * * * *
Our only problem: the Governor didn’t want to surrender the spent husks from Dupo 7’s crazy ass self-defense shells. At all. Otherwise, it fired perfectly.

Customize This  * *
You can buy it with a built-in laser sight. And . . . that’s it.

Kinda like the world’s most fire-retardant paper hat.

[Targets courtesy Birchwood Casey. Click here to see their full range of targets.]

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  1. I think it is hilarious that after all of these decades of Taurus ripping off Smith&Wesson (and Beretta) designs, that Smith does it to Taurus. Personally, the only use I could think besides a fun gun would be for close range battle with water moccasins from your fishing boat ( why do those venomous bastards want to get into your boat so badly anyway?). I do like the unusual, but I don’t like limited range so much, but some will have fun with this, so I say let them. After all, didn’t that preacher say the world is ending in October this time-for real?

  2. Actually, I’ve been wondering about the accuracy of .45 rounds with the Governor. My understanding of the Taurus Judges is that the accuracy sucks. This review has been helpful for me.

    • I’d love to see a little more about the accuracy with .45 ammo also. If it’s reasonably accurate (even 5″ at 25 yards) and can handle heavy .45 Long Colt handloads, it could be a very viable wilderness gun for snakes, bears, and National Forest marijuana growers.

      Did Smith & Wesson give any warnings about heavy .45 Long Colt loads?

      • Chris, you’re right on target with your review. I bought this Gov., exactly for the
        occasion you described. This is not a competition revolver… this is a defense
        handgun. Bad news for tugs!

    • The accuracy of the judge does not suck. The one i shot was a tac driver. heavy but very balanced made for a remarkable steady shot.

    • I’ve owned my S&W Gov. for several years now and it is still my favorite “go-to” gun. I use it mostly for a hiking, camping, and hunting self-defense weapon. I normally load it with .45 ACP and .45 Colt. I’ve found it accurate to within 30 yards. I haven’t practiced beyond that range because short barreled guns really don’t have much range for accuracy, and 20-30 feet is all that will stand up in court as a self-defense distance for shooting bad guys. I prefer revolvers over semi-autos because, in the field, I don’t have time to clear a jam when being rushed in an attack. However, in public I switch to carrying a .40 semi-auto for its concealment. In my opinion, the S&W Governor is a excellent multipurpose survival gun. Apparently made for this purpose, you won’t find any better choice in a handgun. However, if you are looking for a specialty purpose gun to mix in with the public, you may want to check into some other choices of handgun.

  3. The name only proves it’s a gimmick gun…

    Seriously, I WILL pistol whip the first person to say something retarded like “say ello to the govna!” when they draw it from their holster.

    • I knew a guy with one behind the counter. We chat things that go bang often. When he pulled it out he atnolized it with a “check out da Guvanatah!” And I smirked…..

  4. We cant waits to get our hands on the preciousssssssss…………

    We go shopping for things that go splat, squish or boom!

    • Yup, I don’t care if its a cannon that fires mercenaries that have been pre-paid to protect my @$$, if it has a lock, I’m not interested. Plain and simple.

      • Whatever, dude. I love my Governor… and my 686… lock and all. Don’t care that much; don’t use it. Lighten up, Francis.

  5. I have a Taurus Public Defender Polymer, and it is quite accurate with 45LC, easily holding 5 inches at 25 yards. The Winchester buckshot rounds are known for being poor performers from the revolvers. The Federal OOO buck designed for handgun use is much better. They will hold a good pattern out to 15 yards and penetrate well.

    here is some shooting results from my last time out

    • Dave (of the June 9th, 2011) has it right on the money. My Judge does the same accurate shooting …. with the Federal 000 buckshot ammo. I use *Winchester Super-X Ammunition 45 Colt (Long Colt) 225 Grain Silvertip Hollow Point Muzzle Velocity: 920 fps … Muzzle Energy: 423 ft. lbs. for 25 yards and in. I love my Judge and have put over 500 various brand rounds through it.

    • In terms of pattern, my experience using an American Derringer Model 4 and Federal 4x000Buckshot is nearly identical to the results from your Taurus.
      My results with Winchester 3×000 and 5″ 5×000 was equally poor, and near worthless.
      If you have a pistol that will fire .410’s, you will be delighted with Federal’s 000 Buckshot personal defense rounds.

  6. This may actually qualify to handle Buffalo Bore rounds in .45 Long Colt, as no Smith’s are rated by Buffalo Bore to handle their .45 LC nor their .44 Mag +P. This is a distinction Ruger does hold. The nagging question in my mind is, besides portability, what happens if the moment comes I need a shot past 15 yards or so? If this is all I have, and a bear is closing in on me, do I want to wait until he’s that close? I rather think I’d be wishing I had something like a Ruger Redhawk in .45 Colt with hot rounds, with the better accuracy than the Governor promises.

    • Try loading two of each of the ,45acp; the ,45 long colt; and the 2.5″-410 shells.
      Then you will be ready for anything this side of a dinocrocopotamus.

      • Your suggested loading is exactly what I use in my Governor: first two out are .410 PDX1, the next two are .45 ACP in a 1/3 moon clip, and the last two are .45 LC. It is my nightstand gun and despite the fact that I own many semi-autos, if I wake up in the middle of the night, and need a self-defense weapon I want a near 100% guarantee it will go “Boom” when I pull the trigger. Even so, as nothing is ever a sure thing there is a New York reload in the form of a Sig ready with 15 rounds of .45 ACP to go next. I like the versatility as well, if we ever go SHTF the Governor will handle three different types of ammo. That versatility appeals to me since nobody can predict what ammo will be available once the ammo makers cease production and the gun stores have been emptied out and burned.

  7. S&W copying Taurus/Rossi. For shame, for shame. The last new Smith I purchased was a 952-1 and I fear that will be the last one.

  8. Unless you primarily do a lot of walking in snake country, or the aforementioned water moccasin scenario, the .410 revolvers are pretty much useless as field guns. For home defense I would much, MUCH rather have a good 1911 or my A-5 Browning light 12. They have exactly ONE niche – they are probably the best combo ever devised for a car gun. Some bozo tries to crawl in your car window, stick it in his face and slap the trigger.

    And here the Taurus wins hands down – yes, they have a lock too, but it has not been known to self actuate in heavy-recoiling guns. I have exactly 1 Hillary-lock Smith. It is a .500 that is strictly a fun gun – I have other, more practical guns for defensive use.

  9. The wife and I both have a Judge Public Defender, hers polymer and all black, and mine polymer and stainless. They are both a much better looking pistol than the copycat. That said, she carries hers in her purse and mine is on a gun magnet in my truck. They aren’t for long distance shooting or home defense (that’s what my 12ga is for). But let someone try and carjack me, up close and personal. :o) But I also have a Glock .45 in the truck and I carry a Bodyguard .380. Kimber.45 in the living room, XD9 in the office, etc. It’s all about specific purposes so the gun fits scenario for me.

  10. you know who these types of guns are REALLY perfect for? That person in your life who you’ve finally begrudgingly convinced to buy a gun for their own good – they tend to buy guns that seem to do a lot for their money but are never “too flashy” at the same time, ya know?

    “Come on dad, it’s a handgun and shotgun in one, plus check the intimidation factor on this baby!”

  11. Well let me assure anyone out there considering this Governor the snooty educated gun nut reviews are all leaned the wrong way. My wife, all of 5 feet 110 pounds can spray some serious lead and destruction with this gun at all the greatest distances in my home and yard. On the range we both can slam anything within 25 yards with extreme prejudice and no particular marksmanship skills. It’s compact and easy to conceal at our bedside and a welcome and agile replacement for our shotgun. This gun can convert to carry with the 45 acp or long colt and make a fantastic, reliable simple amateur friendly powerhouse. And anyone that says these buckshot and PDX style 410 shells are not adequate are dead wrong. They are devastating!!! And my wife can lift and fire instantly and hit anyone coming through our doorways or kill zones. And the round wont kill the neighbors sleeping. Well made, dont mind the double action and even my tiny wife learned to hit bullseye within minutes. Too bad all the written reviews toss doubt on this weapon and make people like me, 95% of the public sound like a bunch of idiots. I love the versatility of this weapon, the quality and the price. Did I mention it’s one of the most FUN to shoot gun I’ve ever owned. If you are a home owner, trucker, hunter, security guard this is something to consider. And it’s surprisingly light and very ergo Country boy that grew up with guns and we LOVE it.

    • i agree with you doug, i am not a sniper shooter by any means, and ppl whom have ripped on this gun have probably never fired it.
      it is very accurate and a dangerous weapon.
      anyone who says that the 410 shell isnt bada@@ needs to walk into my house at midnight and see for themselves if they would still make that stupid comment. i’d be glad to prove them wrong. besides, after they “walk” thru the 410 shells, they need to remember the next 4 will be 45 hollow points…
      it’s a great gun smith / wesson! i would buy one again in a second.

      • My Governor shooting WInchester PDX-1 holds a 5 inch pattern at ten feet that about covers from my bed to
        the bedroom door. Three of those loads will surely cause the thug to depart the premises if he survives.

    • I agree with Doug. I have the Gov. for use when traveling in my 5th wheel trailer. It will not go through the next 2 or 3 travel units. It will reek havoc on someone who thinks a senior citizen is fair game. Oh I do not buy a gun to look pretty I want one that “works” when needed.

      • Yes, but I’ll stick with my Ruger GP 100. The 357 is effective enough. It also looks nicer than this beast.

        • Sal, I was hot to buy one of these, but when I found out that these new two and full moon clips are completely different from the myriads of half moon clips out there, it cooled my jets. You can’t use half moon clips, nor can you use 45 AR ammo. Unless you have a S&W 45 Long Colt, this revolver is an orphan.

          What I did buy, is the first Remmie R-51 to hit town, here. It also has some shortcomings, but I’m getting on top of them. I’ve switched out the 14 coil mag springs for Walther P-38, 11 coil springs, and will definitely order the laser from C-T, by next month. The little R-51 is so fast and with zero muzzle whip, that I can slam something with three 9mm’s before my wife could cock that revolver, or even pull the trigger Double Action. 115 gr. and 147 gr. go into the same place on paper targets at 10 yards.

          For myself, I’m sticking with my AMT 45DAO Backup. No laser, and all kinds of slop, but also very quick, with six P+’s. We have bird shot sfor both of these, to deal with snakes.

          If I do pick up a Governor, for myself, later this year, I am still looking at machining a different barrel, with a slow round ball twist, about 9 inches long, and using brass 410 cases, from Cabelas. I would then be doing one, out of three jobs, as good as possible. A 139 gr. RB fired at 1300 fps, with the correct twist to be accurate, won’t over penetrate, and will equal the 45 Black Powder Magnum, in a truly modern six shooter.

          B.T.W., S&W, in their owners brochure, IIRC, does say not to pack it with a round under the hammer. So in reality the six shots are advertising bull. Its not a real transfer bar safety like the Taurus’s have.

  12. I agree with Doug. I am also one of the 95% “bunch of idiots” and I don’t like killing people. Living in Germany and not in the US, probably I will never come in the situation where I will have to point and shot my revolver to a human being. A S&W Governor is a good choice for only stopping a thief instead of stopping and killing. But probably, you guys have no other options?

  13. Luc,

    Try the RUBBER BALL buckshot ammunition found online. I like the idea of having it for animal control but it is a less lethal option, however, there is nothing LESS lethal about the governor. You should not fire this gun in a direction of a human that you do not intend on becoming graveyard dead. Let me assure you my compassion vanishes when my family is in danger. If someone is willing to rob you with deadly force they are the kind of human that is beyond rehabilitation. On the other hand the defender can always seek counseling if they are still alive,

    On an added note I shot the PDX1 ammo on range again and I dont like it. The rifling makes the discs very accurate with a nice spread but the BBs just go too wild beyond 10-15 feet for me to feel comfortable. Likewise the Remington HD ultimate home defense 410 ( four 00 buckshot) is also surprisingly scattered, in great contrast the 2-1/2″ inch federal home defense (4 000 buckshot) 410 shell is devastating and tight groups out to much better distances. I also find Speer gold dot self defense hollowpoint rounds for 45 Long are awesome with a lot of expansion. The remington 45 acp hollowpoint home defense rounds my choice for the 45 auto round. Bought 4 packs of moonclips for 20$ and I load them all up with 45 acps before heading to the range for practice. No hint of misfires with a variety of practice ammo. Still loving my Gov.

  14. Why not this and why not that? I have a S&W 686 by my bedside and a 870 shotgun as well to protect me inside my home. But nothing to protect me in my driveway going out to my car! I was stabbed and my car stolen, purse, cell phone, etc, right in my driveway getting ready to go to work. Now I panic every morning since. And F***** Calif doesn’t allow the Taurus Public Defender or the S&W Governor. Small enough to be an equalizer…..I have lived here all my life but this Liberal crap is getting intolerable!!!!

  15. S&W has started the 2nd. Generation of these niche sidearms, with their Governor. However, it seems impossible to find a review with the info on ignition. Does this beast use a transfer bar like the Taurus/Rossi’s? If it doesn’t have a real transfer bar, then it’s really only a five shooter. I did handle a six shot Raging Judge two days ago, and it’s a good war club, like the Walker Colt. Smith is hanging onto their .460’s, so the Rossi is only chambered out to 454 Casull. But my G.S. could always deepen it for the 460, for my private use. But the 2nd gen. S&W has a neat possibility. It could be transformed into a smokeless version of the BPM conversion of the Uberti Walkers. I talked this over with my G.S. yesterday, and he thinks it’s a go. Put a 8 or 9 inch fluted barrel with a shoulder to catch the barrel shroud of the Governor, and add a slow twist barrel for a RB. Then load a smokeless version of the BPM, and have the proper forcing cone and riflings that both work with a ball and work much better with bird shot. This would look like those Dan Wesson Alaskans. At really close range, a tumbling 45 LC lead slug isn’t a bad outcome either. The BPM in the open top Walker conversions are getting up to 1300fps, with 777 replica powder. That ball will flatten out and is pretty well spent, going through the face of a two by six stud. But the real question is; should this revolver really be a 45, in the first place? The old 44XL was the daddy of all of this, and it used a 44WCF case. They were sometimes re-bored to 410. But mixing up 410’s with jacketed 45ACP ammo may not be the best combination. The full length brass 410 cases, used with a round ball, might let you get away with a slightly smaller diameter slow twist barrel, and have something that works better on the smaller, or two legged targets. But if you are thinking bear medicine, I would suggest leaving that barrel alone, and using the 165gr +P Cor-Bons. I get transonic velocities with them out of my 3 inch barreled AMT 45DAO Backup. Cor-Bon says they will destroy a bear’s skull. They penetrate full sized auto windshields and then blow up watermelons propped up in the driver’s seats. They are one nasty hollow pointed 45 cartridge.

  16. This is the FIRST review of the revolving hand shotgun which made any sense to me! I could never understand what it was supposed to be good for. The comment that it’s for those who don’t know and/or don’t care fits my initial impression that it took two excellent firearm styles and ruined all the useful aspect of both.

  17. Robert, if this gun shoots like Tower of Power’s horn section it should be reclassified as a WMD. Never EVER thought I’d see TOP’s name used to describe a revolver…maybe a Swiss watch…but not a revolver. Obviously you know good music. Right on bro!

  18. I enjoy reading about you clowns who say “it’s only good for snakes.” WTF do you want it for, sniping? Ridiculous argument; doesn’t hold water. It’s a PERSONAL DEFENSE gun; used for the home, car, and close range gunfights……..which most gunfights are. I’m a LEO……Too many of you out there are under some ridiculous impression that most gun-battles occur at 50 yards or more. WRONG!! Stop watching so many movies and try training instead. I don’t own the Gov., I own the Judge PDP, and have put 300 rounds through mine. And I’m here to tell you now that one shot of PDX1 OR Federal .410 at 12 yards or less from the Gov. or Judge: You’re gonna drop dead or be so badly wounded from copper poisoning that you’ll flee or surrender. Period. Then you’ll be singing “snake gun” in Hell, full of many small holes…..

  19. I just purchased my new Governor and for my application I don’t think there is a better weapon ever built. It is exceptionally well made small enough to conceal and light enough to pack all day hunting. It is a close range pistol that can be used to kill a rattler, put a stupid chicken in the pot for dinner when I am bow hunting, or if necessary put down a horse with a broken leg on one of my pack trips into Hell’s Canyon on the Snake river. It is the perfect weapon for stopping a car jacker at 12″, or a charging drug attic in a back ally. My wife can easily handle and shoot this gun, and since I am on the road allot this is important. While I would rather have a .500 S&W to face down a charging bear, the Governor with 300 gr. + P loads and .410 shells in 000 buck in alternate holes will do a pretty good job, and I don’t have to pack 10 lbs. of iron all day. I can plink with 45 ACP rounds that are very inexpensive, and have little recoil to stay proficient so when the time comes that I need to use it, I am ready. No this is not a hunting revolver and I did not buy it for that purpose.
    So I will compromise on the closest thing to a perfect pistol that I have seen yet!
    Those of you who scoff at this truly remarkable gun really should reconsider as I can assure you I could rip your choice of weapons apart as well. There are no BAD guns and there is no PERFECT gun but if I have to choose one side arm that can take care of most any situation the Governor is MY CHOICE!!

  20. Mr. Titus, You have it exactly backwards. I know, I ‘ve been there. I have an AMT 45DAO backup. After I failed in the heavy bullet dept., I got smart and phoned Cor Bon, in Sturgis, S.D.. They told me to use their lightest feasible bullets, in my 3 inch barrel. So I ordered a couple of boxes of their 45ACP +P 165 gr. ammo. They said they had tested it for the police, on full size sedans. It zips through a standard windshield, and then blows a watermelon all to pieces. They expect the same from a black bear’s skull. But not a grizzly’s.

    I haven’t talked to them about the new Governor, so maybe you should. They know their stuff. BTW, my AMT Backup is spitting these 165 gr. hollow points out at trans sonic velocities. 1125-1135, ect.. 1140 is the speed of sound at sea level, but up in the mountains, or in Hell’s Canyon, the thinner air slows down the speed of sound. I hope you can get this straightened out, before you really need to put something down, quick. And yes, I do know this is counter intuitive.

    • It is counter-experiential for many of us.War stories can only be told when wearing a steel pot, but anybody hit anywhere with a .45acp is going down to stay down I don’t know if that is also true for the smaller caliber slugs.

  21. Dave you make a very good point, and I really have no intention of using a 300 grain plus P in my Governor as it is not made for that heavy of load. When hunting in Grizzly country I believe you are better off with bear spray as it is very difficult to put down a charging bear with ANY hand gun, and I really don’t want to kill a grizzly doing what comes naturally especially a sow protecting her cubs.
    When I was young and really dumb I did some experimenting with a .300 win mag shooting a piece of railroad track. I found that a light fast bullet would easily punch a hole right through it, while big heavy bullets simply bounced off. Luckily I didn’t kill myself and I don’t recommend anyone try this. I have also found after many years of hunting that big heavy well constructed bullets are much better at breaking both shoulders on a bull elk! At any rate I think I will try some of these Cor Bon 185 grain plus P 45 ACP’s in my Governor as I believe it will safely handle that kind of pressure. Looks like they do not make the 185 in the 45 colt for some reason, and the Plus P 225 grain 45 Colt from what I understand is NOT recommended for the Governor. I may have to reload some 185 grains in the 45 colt and see how it works!

  22. I own a S&W Governor for home use. I live in an apartment complex and do not want to perforate my neighbors (some of whom I actually like) when I shoot at
    a bad guy kicking in my door for a home invasion. All of these experts leave me wondering what the definition of ‘Expert” is. A friend of mine, a LEO in Houston, Texas agrees with the comment on this blog from another LEO. It is a great self
    defense weapon. I do not try to confuse myself with so-called expert claims of
    inadequacy of the Taurus of Governor, I see what it does at 15′ or less and do not
    worry about stopping a bad guy. Further than 15’, I have a 1911 in Super .38.
    Which will probably open a whole new can of debate worms!

    • Joe, when you get a chance, will you chrono a 45ACP round or two? Plus P if the paper work says it’s O.K. I’ve posted above, that my AMT 45 DAO, will spit +P 165 gr. CorBons out at transonic velocities, ie, 1125+ fps.. My little back up only has a 3 inch barrel, but without the cylinder gap. Thanx in advance, Dave T.

      • Not sure what you are looking for here, Dave. Were you referring to my Super .38? I have several .45s in my collection but I prefer the Super .38. Not worried about what it does on a chrono, just what it does on a bad guy’s head!

        • Dear Joe,
          I’m thinking of the Governor. My 3 inch bbl’d. AMT 45DAO will spit 45ACP Cor Bons out at transonic velocities. (165gr.+P). I’d like to know what the Governor can do, with approx. the same ammo. I’m only losing about 130fps. over what’s printed on their boxes. Cor Bon told me on the phone, that I should be going light with bullets, for the shorter barrel.

          But I don’t know if the S&W Governor is even rated for +P ammo. My game plan is to put a longer, fluted barrel, into one of these threaded shrouds, and make a modern, smokeless, 45BPM., that I can carry in a hip holster.

          In the meantime, I’ve got a stash of lead 155 gr. ogee tipped semi wadcutters, to play with. I can load 45 Colt or the ACP, and see how they work in the stock twists.

  23. I did have a Taurus Judge, but I traded it for the S&W Governor. The reason being I have a S&W 625 in .45 acp. The 625 accepts full moon clips as the Governor does. For a quick reload IF needed it is faster than loadion the cylinder one at a time.
    As for S&W coping the Judge. What about Taurus coping S&W. You can call Tarus the S&W of South America. I Have no problem with a Taurus, they make a wounderful product. Oh by the way, the ribber grips on the Judge has the Governors grips beat hands down!

    • Mr. Haversaat,

      Do the same full moon clips from the Governor, fit the S&W 625? You left that detail out. And what about the old standby, half moon clips? Also, if you have the paper work, is the Governor rated for 45ACP +P ammo?

      I know I should call Cor-Bon, in Sturgis, S.D., but I dislike asking them questions, over the phone, about a firearm which I don’t already own. I do use their 165 gr. +P ammo in my AMT 45ACP, DAO Backup, and I get trans sonic velocities with it. (1125, or so). But I don’t have a cylinder gap, robbing velocities from my 3 inch long barrel.

  24. Almost all of the comments (thus far) about the Governor have merit in their own right. Some folks don’t like the idea, some do, and some are still thinking. The LAST thing I would want for my fellow armed citizen is to have a weapon that they don’t believe in. If you feel that way, don’t buy it. I will add my two cents worth, that I own many handguns in many calibers and have a CCL to legally tote. I also ride a HD (Harley Davidson motorcycle) and finding what I am comfortable with while out riding has been several years of experimentation. The requirements are clearly not the same as home defense, walking around, or driving a car. I am on a moving object requiring a bit of skill, have the use of only one hand, and my expectation is simply survival. Unlike shooting from a reasonably stable platform, I don’t necessarily have the time to sight aim. It is likely that any scenario requiring the use of deadly defense will unfold rapidly. Far faster that I can afford the time to stop before firing, and will also have adrenalin pumping madly. Hitting the attacker (and no one else) is the dilemma. The Governor with PDX ammo, and ⅓ moon clips of .45 ACP has come the closest to solving the problem for me. I load the PDX’s first with the knowledge that I can point at target and they will be hit. It may be by only a couple of the BB’s but I can be assured that the drama playing out now has got the attackers attention. The pair of .45 ACP’s at the end are just for that; putting an end to the attack. At that time I will have stopped and have a stable shooting situation. If necessary, they are 6-shot .45 ACP full moon clips at the ready to re-load. I happen to like these, vs the .45 Long, as they are quick loaders. Please, if you don’t ride, do not belittle my choice as you do not possess the knowledge to accurately make a point. If you do ride, I welcome input as I really do not know everything and some of you may have found a better solution for yourself that could aid all of us riders. Speaking for myself, the Governor fits the bill! By the way, I carry a S&W 638-3 in a pocket holster packed into the side bag so when stopping to eat or walk around I can drop that puppy in my pocket and be good to go. Although I really like the 638, I’ve been thinking about the Ruger LCP or LC9 for that role…

  25. I’ll stick to the model 25 in .45 LC which it’s the caliber it was made for. I get a little leery when using Moon Clips and alternate “It will fit” ammo type. The .45ACP is best in a semi auto which it was designed for. Sorry boys and girls if I need a shot gun I’ll rely on my Vietnam favorite Mod 870 riot. Great idea for some I will admit however not for this old vet.

  26. Every one wants to shoot someone else. If I buy a Governor do I have to shoot a human being? Can I shoot it for fun? Maybe I could shoot paper, beer cans, or maybe a opossum that is tearing my bird feeder apart. I have shot over a half a million clay birds on the trap field with my shotgun. I’ve had 40 years of fun doing that and no-one has been hurt. It’s no wonder the goverment wants to take our guns.

    • If the balloon really goes up, I hope you live in a real secure neighborhood, like in gated, and guarded. You’ll never bring a stupid pump trap gun into action quick enough to stop the current drugged up home invaders. Now if you had a 20 inch cylinder bored barrel on it for home defense, things might work out in your favor. The Cowboy Action coach guns are also way ahead of your trap masterpiece. But even those require quick reloads.

      Have you even learned how to take out the two round limiting rod, that comes in almost every sporting shotgun’s magazine. If you leave the chamber empty, you still only have two shots with a sporting pump or auto. With a real scatter gun I’d draw the limit at #4 Buckshot. Lots of holes, which will perforate the sheet metal on a hot water tank, but won’t go through multiple walls, and kill some innocent bystander, or neighbor. The Governor needs the most powerful defense loads because it only has a short 410 gauge barrel.

      I’ve pulled back on buying one because all of the WWI and later half moon clips won’t work, nor will the 45 Auto Rim ammo. I want something for the mountains and the 45AR’s always seemed the best cartridges for leather belt loops.

  27. Can the governor shoot 45 AR (auto rim) besides the 45 acp . I know there aren’t any factory 45 AR rounds out there now, but you can reload them. Starlight makes brass.

  28. To be honest, I’m really getting a little tired of all these “reviews”. If you’re going to do a review, than do a review. Review the actual products performance and leave out YOUR personal opinion as to whether or not YOU think there’s a purpose for this gun, that all people who buy it are simply “Bozo the clown types” that “don’t know any better”

    I mean your logic is undisputable. Who could POSSIBLY want a weapon that shoots multiple calibers… Who could POSSIBLY want a weapon that takes the place of three…
    Who could POSSIBLY want a multipurpose weapon… Well I can’t think of one single use for it, because I have 12,000 handguns that each have its own purpose in life, so therefore, the logic goes, anyone else who uses it is an idiot.

    There’s more than TWO categories of people that would buy this gun, there is a very distinct third and fourth, and I am in both those “other” ones. Course, I’m sure Smith & Wesson agrees, because I don’t think they are in the business of putting out “bozo guns”, especially seeing as how the “bozo guns” were already manufactured and sold by a different company PRIOR, a trial and run so to say, and evidently, come to find out after all, there are a HECK of a lot of bozos out there…

    Why do guns always have to be thought of for a specific purpose? To either kill and take down a charging African rhino or whack 50 zombies simultaneously trying to get in the front door at once?

    The categories you are overlooking the most are preppers ( those who prepare) those planning ahead to the possible bad times that could lay in front of them. Those with enough intelligence to actually understand that in time of need, ammo wont be had at the local Walmart.

    And will become undoubtedly, next to food, water, and possibly fuel, the most sought after commodity in the world. Those of us that understand that ammo will run out well and I mean well before the guns that use them will disappear. Those of us that believe it could actually become THE most sought after commodity, because with it, one could be able to acquire food, water and possibly feel…

    Now granted, 45 long may not be a common enough round to come across, but 45 ACP and 410 sure as heck is. And since I’m already loaded up with 9 mm weapons, as the vast majority of most people that I know are, having to drag around another 45 pistol and another shotgun, just so I could have weapons available for whatever ammo I may be able to scurry up, is not the brightest of all ideas.

    A.R.15’s, as well as 9 mm pistols and probably 12 gauge shotgun’s, are three of the most common weapons that everyone will have at their disposal, if they have them at all, should troubling times come for us. Knowing the laws of supply and demand, that ammunition, though more plentiful, will also be more needed.

    I wanted to expand my horizons, to have more available options should I come across ammunition that my weapons do not need. 45 ACP is going to be hands-down, the next most popular pistol cartridge that will be sought. I’m just a common man, an expert by no means, but I would bet anything, that would be the order of most popular ammunition in pistols. 9mm, 45, and then probably 380. (Possibly 40)

    380 is one of the most popular concealed carry weapons around, yet another gun everybody acts like is no better than a paperclip with a rubber band. Why? Because once again, “reviews” where the reviewer’s can’t keep their mouth shut, adding in how to THEM, it is another useless, Bozo the clown gun, cause they personally carry a civil war cannon on them everywhere they go.

    Being able to own a gun that can fire 3 different type of cartridges is an amazing feat and yes. I would never recommend it as my first and only weapon. But it sure goes down call me list as a possible second and/or third.

    The next category kind of fits together, but to drive the point home that there are more than two, I separated them 🙂 And also in actuality, they really are two separate things with separate needs.

    That would be a survivalist. Subcategory, those looking to live off the land. It goes without saying, having the availability to use multiple cartridges, means having the availability for multiple uses. And so here lies the next category. Loading that gun with two of each cartridge gives you THREE TIMES the availability to take down or overcome three times as many obstacles or accomplishing three times as many needs.

    And let’s not forget the mere mention of shotgun shells in and of themselves, open up a WIDE variety of uses. So I ask you mister reviewer. You tell me of one other handgun on planet earth that has the PERFECT ability to kill each and every one of the creatures listed below and I will humbly bow down before you.

    Name the hand gun that will EFECTIVELY kill snakes, rabbits, squirrel, turkey, cougar, wild boars, deer, HUMANS, bears, all BIRDS, foul… You get the point. Need I go on, the list is endless, because the list includes every single animal that one could think of, short of that African elephant and rhino I spoke of earlier.

    45 long has MORE than enough large game stopping power. 45 ACP is not only known, but legendary for its human stopping power. And 410 is known to be a universal cartridge, that depending on what it happened to be loaded with, can handle quite a vast array of critters.

    Just for kicks, let’s add on one more category before I go. Just so I can prove even further that your “Bozo” or “Bored Bozo” categories aren’t the only ones..

    Ya know, guns aren’t always necessarily purchased to KILL things. Just as cars aren’t always purchased to race just because YOU race yours. Many people buy them for FUN. You know, things like sporting clays and target shooting. Just so they could spend a Sunday popping tin cans off the top of a rail fence. And for that, this handgun once again, feels that need wonderfully 🙂

    • Louis,
      IMHO …you got one thing wrong and that was that the Governor can shoot “3 different calibers”. I own one and with the “inserts” I have for it the choice is a bit larger! Make that : 410 / 45 LC / 45 ACP / 10 MM / 357 / 38 / 9 MM / 380 / 32 / 22. All of those except 10 MM & 357 are off the shelf. (The latter made by a gunsmith / machinist friend for me.) My inserts are carried in belt clip pouches making them quite easy to keep at hand. One of the most fun guns to shoot that I own? Absolutely! My choice for “SHTF Bug Out gun”? Need you ask?

  29. I have come to believe that most guns were invented to shoot beer cans. Drinking the beer is fun, and shooting the cans is funner. For self defense in the house, my Governor will suffice at 12 feet. In my car, my LC9s
    striker fired 9MM. In a parking lot, again, my Governor, I do not want to kill all of the K-mart shoppers with a bad shot. (tongue in cheek). Where’s my beer? Honey……….

  30. All my ranch hands carry the Governor with a .410 skeet load, a 410 defense load and then 4, heavy 45LC. Dozens of water moccasins and rattlers have become snake goop to say nothing of a few small feral hogs ended up as lunch. Its a great gun, no issues, I own 9 of them and wouldnt give up even one. One guy got a mean bobcat and fired in the order I just listed. The cat was blinded and stunned by the skeet load, then the 45LC took it out. That damn cat has been terrorizing my goats and chickens for months. No more.

  31. Using federal triple 000 buck as a defense round, you are basically shooting 4 – 32 caliber bullets at ONCE to every ONE 9 mm. The more I use this gun, the more I am sold on its defense capabilities. I have 24 bullets coming your way, and I only holds six rounds. How many bullets are you shooting at me with your 9 mm? 16 maybe 17? I’ll take my Govenor all day long against any handgun on earth.

  32. I love my governor. At close in distance, I believe my chances are good. Anything over 4 yards, my second load
    ..45 LC will put a hurt on a hood rat.

  33. I am in no way “an expert” (like many here that don’t own, or have never shot, a Governor)…just a happy owner …so what do I know? I don’t claim to know “everything” about guns like some here.
    I do own more than several other firearms.
    I mostly have firearms for recreational shooting, and secondly for protection. (In the hope I am never forced to use them for the “second reason”.)
    IMHO: For the “second reason” it doesn’t take a lot of common sense to understand you never know “what situation” may arise. For that reason I am a fan of “mixed loads”. The majority of my guns are semi-automatic. Although I train with cheaper ammo I normally end a practice session by firing my “carry magazines” that are “mixed”. I have never had a malfunction; however, it is something that is always “on my mind”. The decision to purchase the Governor was pretty easy for me for the added peace of mind as this is the gun I sleep with and my first line of defense for home invasion as well as in the car sometimes.
    I sleep quite well at night knowing I am prepared for a variety of scenarios I may wake up to @ 3am and be faced with!
    For now my 1st round is a PDX1 followed by MPA (5 projectile) and MEA rounds. Again, IMHO: The multiple projectile rounds give very close to the same stopping power as 5 38 or 9mm with each shot. In a defense situation I feel I have a much better chance of stopping a threat with 2 shots than the time it would take to get off 10 with my other semi autos!
    I run a mix of the following in my Governor:
    3 plated Disc and 12 pellets of plated BB shot
    45 Colt 300gr Multiple Projectile Ammunition
    Velocity (fps): 700
    OAL (in): 1.525
    Penetration Max (in): 12
    Penetration Min (in): 6
    No. of projectiles: 5
    Pattern 15 ft: 5.5 x 5 in
    Pattern 25 ft: 5 x 6 in
    Pattern 35 ft: 5 x 15 in
    45 Colt 220gr Maximum Expansion Ammunition
    Velocity (fps): 850
    OAL (in): 1.915
    Penetration (in): 9
    Expansion (in): 1.70
    45 Colt 250gr 14,000 PSI Std Load Xtreme Penetrator Ammunition
    FTM – Fluid Transfer Monolithic
    Velocity (fps): 800
    OAL (in): 1.600
    Penetration (in): 28.0
    Wound cavity (in): 1.30
    45 ACP+P 200gr Xtreme Penetrator Ammunition
    FTM – Fluid Transfer Monolithic
    Velocity (fps): 950
    OAL (in): 1.230
    Penetration (in): 27.0
    Wound cavity (in): 2.00
    G2 45 ACP R. I. P. 162 gr. solid copper / lead free
    13′ – 16″ of Penetration
    6.6 – 8″ Diameter Spread
    2″ Groupings at 15 yrds
    960 FPS average (+10%)
    G2 45 ACP Civic Duty 100 gr. solid copper / lead free
    Extreme Expansion
    9-10″ Penetration
    1230 FPS average (+10%)

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  35. It’s simple math. Most self-defense shootings end after just 1 to 2 shots.
    1 shot of 000 buck .410 Governor = 4 shots of 9mm
    2 shots of 000 buck .410 Governor = 8 shots of 9mm
    Who “shoots” faster?
    Who wins?
    Do the math.

    • I totally agree. These so called experts are just gun snobs who like to go along with the hate mob. I guarantee you most of them have either not shot the Governor, or they are jealous and secretly want one. But since they have already blown their load and made fun of people who actually own one, they would look stupid(er) if they bought one now. It is one of the best handguns I have owned, not to mention the most fun to take out and shoot.

  36. What the hell is a Montecristo? Is it mild or not? I wanted to learn ONE thing from this article, which was the felt recoil when shooting .45 ACP, and you masked it with some obscure reference.

  37. If I had but one hand gun to take with me for survival, it would be my Governor. Within legally defensible self-defense range of 30′, its deadly accurate with .45 ACP, .45 Long Colt and 410 shotgun ammo. If I need a little more range, I use the .45 Long Colt. Its easy to shoot and scares the h*** out of bad guys. Its definitely a OWB sidearm. I’ve yet to experience any kind of jamming, . . . something I can’t say about my semi-auto’s. Its a man’s gun to be sure!

  38. My guess is that you could also fire .410 slugs so load alternately slug fine shot slug fine shot. Could also alternate shot shell and .45.

  39. Taurus was not the first to make a revolver of this type. American soldiers in the Phillipines during WW2 encountered handmade .410 revolvers that were popular with warlords for self defense.
    My first revolver of this type is a Thunder Five which also has an extra cylinder in 45-70 as well as the .410/ .45 Colt. There were cartridge adapters made that allow one to fire .38 special from the .410 cylinder. I have a .22 hornet / .410 adapter as well for times when I am traveling with a Springfield Scout M6-22Hornet/.410 along with the Governor.
    The S& W Governor is one of the most versatile handguns currently made .
    In addition to all of the incredible variety of ammunition that it will digest mentioned in previous posts it will also fire .410 signal flares and Dragons Breath , which makes the gun a flame thrower.
    My Governor is with me as this is being written in my motor home at night in a remote area. It is loaded with three PDX loads , one OOO buck and two Hornady .45 Colt cartridges with a full moon clip of . 45 acp Remington Golden Sabers as a reload.
    The Governor was in my cash bag today and escorted me back from work .
    This gun becomes my weak hand gun when accompanied by my Colt Defender, Commander , Govevnment model or Para-Ordnance P 14.
    I have written to S& W requesting them to produce a Revolver that is a cross between the .460 ES and Governor that would fire .454 Casull and .460 S&W as well . Leave off the idiotic lock and the junk mim parts -PLEASE!
    Technically, I do not see why this could not be done . Perhaps not as they never answered my request. I know the name has been used on previous guns, but if it can be made , call it the Dictator.

  40. CCW IWB my Governor every day. 7 decades and recoil is no problem. Carry 2 410 Federal 000 buck (I’ve seen what it can do at short ranges) followed by 4 Hornady critical defense 45lc. Simply rugged holster with 6 more 45 in a 5 Star speedloader in my pocket.

  41. One “Bozo’s” update: Not sure why this popped up in my email again recently but since it did… Still have the Gov and still loving shooting it. (have lost track on # of rounds put down range.) A few of the other “bozo’s” (a term of endearment you hung on those of us that purchased this gun) here mentioned the versatility of being able to shoot 3 calibers with 1 weapon when /if ammo become a problem. I have now acquired inserts for the Gov so have expanded those capabilities.
    410 / 45LC / 45ACP / 10MM / 357 / 9MM / 38S / 380 / 32 / 22 are the calibers I have now fired from this one weapon. (all but 10 / 357 were “off the shelf” and readily available…the 10 & 357 came from a machinist friend….don’t ask …he won’t make or sell them) I have 6 ea. of the inserts for ea caliber. So why would anyone have any desire to own such a “gimmick gun” that could shoot 10 different calibers of ammunition you ask? Did you really just ask that?

    • David S. Thank You for your last comments. It simply never occurred to me to acquire 9mm and 10 mm inserts . Excellent idea. .22 and .22 magnum will be added and at least one insert in .32 and .380 for good measure. I am now thinking that it would be nice to have an insert made in .357 maximum so the Governor could pal along with the Savage 24 vs in .357 maximum / 20 ga. Such an insert would be able to use.38 spcl./357 mag. / .357 max.
      Ace in Alaska might make custom inserts in 10 mm though I have not seen their ads lately . I hope they are still in business. We are all Bozo’s on this bus.

  42. I’m not sure about some of the negative reviews that I’ve read regarding my Governor.
    To each their own. I have never tried using low brass .410 shot shells in mine.
    I understand the possibility of brass bulge occurring. I imagine that someone who would carry one for snakes or even to be used as a close range field gun would. This is not my intended purpose for mine. I live in the upper Midwest so as a conceal carry I can get away with a large frame handgun for about 9 months out of the year. This being said my Governor is a part of my personal rotation. When I do carry it I prefer to load it with Hornady Critical Defense .410 shells that a .41 caliber FTX slug with two .35 caliber round balls behind it.
    I hope to never have to but I’ve seen with my own eyes what this ammunition does to Ballistic gell out to 10 yards. I’m pretty convinced that there’s not much chance of walking away from it
    As far as pattern I’m consistently seeing about a 10 inch spread at 10 yards.
    On a side note if you shoot a deer while bowhunting and are able to hit them within a 10 inch area of a heart shot they’re going to die.

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