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Over at, forum member Aahzz wonders if he should recommend the .410 shotshell-firing Taurus Judge for his sister’s self-defense needs. “From my research, it seems that my primary worry of recoil isn’t going to be too much of an issue, but I’m finding a variety of opinions on effectivesness – what is your feeling on this? So far I’m still leaning towards another .38 +P, but don’t want to discourage them from getting what they want without good reason.” No less an authority than Massad Ayoob puts the kibosh on the idea . . .

Personally, I’m not sold on the .410 revolver as anything but a fun gun. For defensive purposes, the .38 Special +P on your list gets my vote! Your mom and sister will probably also find a steel .38 more comfortable to shoot.

Now why would that be? Mas’ response leaves us wanting mas. Your thoughts? [Note: the shooter above initially fires the Judge single action. And “forgets” to wear ear protection.]

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  1. I think that Mas is saying that a steel-framed .38 would recoil less than the .410 Judge, and would thus be shot more in practice, which is very important.

    I've shot many types of steel-framed .38 snubbies and a .410 Judge, and the Judge does kick a bit with .410 shotshells, and definitely has more recoil than a steel .38, even one stoked with +P loads.

    I carry a .38 snubby quite a bit, to be honest.

    But in defense of the Judge, I will say this.

    The attorney who helps me teach CCW classes brought his never-fired Judge down to my backyard range.

    At 10 yards, using the new Federal .410 buckshot loads designed for the Judge, all the buckshot pellets were going into a circle about two inches across.

    I was able to keep all the buckshot pellets on a silhouette target's head at 10 yards with no problems, for several shots.

    It also absolutely splattered several gallon milk jugs full of water.

    It wasn't quite .44 magnum type damage (out of a Marlin lever rifle, .44 mag basically cuts gallon jugs of water in half at 10 yards ) but it was more damage than produced by 9mm or .45 ACP rounds.

    Both of us were impressed with the performance of the Judge on paper and on gallon jugs of water.

    But that is with the Federal Buckshot loads designed for the pistol, not bird shot loads.

    I've seen Judges fired many, many times with bird shot at 7 and 10 yards, and was always very underwhelmed with it.

    But with the Federal buckshot loads, it's a whole different critter.

  2. Roy I'm with you. I would rather get hit with the Buckshot from a Judge at 7 yards and be dead than survive the mess the birdshot would make of me…

  3. Tested both Federal OOO Buck and PDX1 (in 2 1/2in.) at 3,7, and 15 yards as well as .45 Colt as a control. Federal OOO Buck was definately better in keeping a tight pattern and I imagine the penetration is better for obvious reasons. The PDX1 had a nice pattern and the 3 plates held a decient pattern and the BBs just went all over the place. With both rounds 15yards seemed to be the max. My 12in. Reactive bullseye target (indicative of center mass) was barely hit.
    In my tests I noticed that my sites were a bit high and this could have effected my shot placement which at distance and screwed te results AND I shot only 2 rounds per target per distance and not the full 5 rounds that the pistol can hold. I did this to save some $ and to compare a real grouping instead of destroying the target completely and then trying to divine how the shot place ment was for each shot.

    In Conslusion, it depends on its intended use and ALSO by whom it will be shot. For a seasoned marksman who is profieciant in pistol and is comfortible with semi-autos or revolvers this gun holds no real use to you other than it is a blast to shoot, unique, and a good snake gun. BUT if you are like my mother (who I bought the gun for) who I can never drag to the range, is good with firearm basics but VERY rusty and keeps it on her nightstand to shoot at someone coming through the bedroom door, exactly 13 ft. away it is PERFECT. A semiauto pistol had too stiff a spring for her to pull back the slide, she is not confident in using a semiauto but a revolver SHE LIKES cause it is simple. The spread pattern is about 6in with Federal OOO Buck at 13′ and about 12in with Win. PDX1. Our Loadout for her is first 3 Win PDX1 last two are Hornady .45 Colt Critical Defense. The Federal is good but for us getting maximum spread to cover as much of the doorway as possible will surely hurt like hell, mangle the crap out of someone and if they stick around after the first 3 rounds they won’t be around much longer when they get hit by the .45 Colt. Your mileage may vary but this is what works for us and above all I was able to give my mother a gun when she had none and it gives her the confidence and capibility to defend herself.

  4. I have a philosophical question about applying depth of penetration to .410 results. I don’t own a Judge, but I’ve considered it. And as I read the BOT review and re-review, one thing kept sticking in my mind …

    The 12″ minimum standard accounts for things like if the bullet needs to go through the bad guy’s hand/arm, or for whatever reason hits in an unfavorable way.

    In the case of .410 buckshot, you are looking at 3-5 projectiles, not one. Does the same penetration standard make sense when trying to fairly evaluate one-shot incapacitation?

    Hypothetically, let’s say I have a short-barrel .32 loaded with low recoil ammo. But let’s say while the rest of the world gets one shot, I can stop time for a moment, just long enough to fire three rounds into the bad guy.

    Am I better off hitting him with three low-power .32 rounds, or with a single .38 Special round? Intuitively, I think the three low-power rounds are more likely to stop him.

    If that’s a poor analogy, apologies, but it just seems to me that # of projectiles isn’t being fully taken into account.


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