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The Taurus Judge has certainly been controversial, but it’s also been extremely popular — so popular, in fact, that ammo manufacturers have been making customized loads specifically for it (well, it and the Smith & Wesson Governor). In this video, ShootingTheBull410 tests one of these custom-tailored Judge loads, the Lehigh Defense Maximum Expansion in .45 Colt. It’s a weird-looking bullet that expands to massive dimensions, looking more like a ninja throwing star than a hollowpoint. If you like the idea of a bullet that expands to nearly two inches in diameter, check out the video.

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  1. Bear ammo for sure. And it is a copper bullet so Kalifornia will embrace it.
    I bet watermelon shots are messy.

      • I suspect penetration would improve if they used a polymer fill/point, like the Hornady NTX, among others.

    • to bad you cant use that non lead round in kali. it has to be shot out of the evil 5 shot revolver that is not on the kali approved handgun roster.

  2. Here’s my beef with specialized self defense loads:

    They’re expensive as sin. $42 for 12 shots? Are you kidding TTAG or what? You’re supposed to regularly train with a self defense gun and the self defense load. Who’s going to spend $336 for 96 shots of this to shoot every weekend when two boxes of 9×19 is about $30 or $40?

    This load and the Judge pistol only work if you don’t intend to train with the combination. And to me that’s bad advice and even worse when implemented.

    • Sure you’re supposed to train, and check (particularly with a semi-auto) to make sure your self defense load functions with the pistol you have. But as far as actually training with the LeHigh rounds? Bah – just pick a practice round with similar recoil and point of aim (and there are tons of Cowboy Action loads available that would work in the Judge) – for a fraction of the cost.

      Do you practice only with Gold Dots or Cor-Bon? Or do you do like everyone else and just run White Box FMJ. If not, your ammo budget is sure a lot higher than mine – and most police departments.

  3. I’m wondering if

    a) there are any .45 rifles that will take this round?

    b) if this can be done with .410 gauge-capable Taurus, how long
    before a similar load is offered for a 12-gauge? For home
    defense, this seems to be superior to 00 buck. Even against

    Then consider putting Talon-type sharp edges on it.

  4. BTW, I just checked out his video of a .45 ACP v .454 Casull into a gel block. Too much penetration, threw the gel around even more, and I have to ask, when is Lehigh going to produce this style bullet in .454? For Godzilla hunting…

    • 45LC is interchangeable with 454C (in a 454C gun) so they kind of already have. They just need to make it shorter, hehe.

        • Yeah, I was just being silly. It would be great to see the velocities of the 454 without the over penetration you would get from it normally in a defensive situation.

      • Y’know, it just might… at least, as far as overall bullet length goes. I measured a Maximum Expansion .45 Colt at 1.92″ total overall length. According to the SAAMI specs, a .460 S&W should measure at least 1.9″ long, so — maybe. I’d expect you’d have to ask Lehigh if they’ve tried it and if they warrant it to work from a .460.

  5. I’m both highly entertained and horrified by this. . . and reexamining the judge (I typically make fun of them). I’m wondering if you could make a .444 cal version of this for loading on shortened .444 marlin brass for firing from lever guns designed from .444 marlin. This bullet is simply a game changer. I kept thinking that it’s like firing a super massive broad head arrow from a handgun . . . just absolutely devastating!

  6. Buuuut…. the 9mm fanbois are telling us constantly that bullet diameter (initial or expanded) doesn’t matter. You need to have umpty-ump rounds in your magazine and carry at least two or three backup magazines, because you never know when you’re going to have to hose down a mob…

    That snark aside, here’s my pondering for the day:

    With modern smokeless powders, there is a huge volume in a .45 Colt case that is left empty. The .45 Colt is one of the classic revolver cases where it is possible, with some modern powders, to nearly triple-charge the case.

    So choose one of these powders, Put a regular, ie 850 fps, load of modern pistol powder in a .45 Colt case.

    Now grab up one of these very long bullets and set it deep into the case – deep enough you can chamber this beast in a regular .45 Colt cylinder.

    Just a thought for future experimentation.

    • Would seating a round that deeply in the case effect the pressure curve? It’s been so long sinc I reloaded that I wouldn’t even want to hazard a guess. I like .45 colt revolvers. Ruger single actions are about as close to being murphy proof as a handgun gets. And here in CA single actions are exempt from that stupid DOJ list.

      • Single-action revolvers are exempt from the DOJ roster.

        (I’m sure that’s what you meant; I just wanted to clarify.)

      • It might. Part of the issue is whether you crimp them. I’d go without crimping first and see if the mere friction of a non-crimped case is enough to hold the pill in place in the case.

        But the more I’ve been sitting here, thinking about it, the more I think I’m going to try to get some of these pills and experiment, rather than just talk about it, because I’m reasonably sure that I could load the .45 Colt hot enough to achieve the magical 12″ of penetration. The wound channel on these things would be on par with a broadhead arrow, which would be highly efficient at causing rapid blood loss.

        I like the .45 Colt as well. Smith made the 625 in .45LC, and while it’s a hefty little piece to lug around (being an N-frame and all), they’re accurate as anything you’d want and very controllable at up to 50 yards.

        • I was surprised to learn on pistol-forum recently that LE had been carrying 45LC revolvers as late as the 1980s. I’d previously thought of 45LC as a long obsolescent “heritage” round. Seems likely that the 625 N-frame was one of the guns of choice.

        • The .45LC has been the victim of lots of idiotic blather from gun-rag writers for the last couple of decades.

          The truth is this:

          1. Contrary to the gun-shop innuendo and gun-rag “expertise,” .45LC brass isn’t “weak.” The reason why some .45LC brass lets go in some guns is that their chambers were cut with very generous sizes according to the history of the round, not the specification. When they were filled with BP, the chambers were sized rather, uh, “generously” to facilitate re-loading in the face of lots of BP residue.

          With chambers cut to minimum SAAMI specs, you can load a .45LC round to be as hot as a .44 RemMag, no problem. There’s that much room in the case. For S&W double-action guns, I’d strongly recommend not going that hot, but you could probably push a 250gr pill at 1,000 fps out of most double-action revolvers without a problem. A modern Ruger single-action in .45 Colt? Start experimenting, and prepare to be impressed. Just don’t allow those loads to find their way into any other .45 Colt gun.

          2. There are some very hefty bullets available for the .45LC, even up to 300 grains. Hollow point designs with huge cavities, and so on. Elmer Keith (among others) put a lot of experimentation on .45’s because they used to be ubiquitous in the pre/post WWII era.

          I really like the .45 Colt. The only downside of the .45 Colt is also a downside of the .45 ACP and some other old-and-true cartridges: In the face of modern smokeless propellants, it is entirely possible to double (or more) over-load a cartridge with modern powders. You can double charge either the .45 ACP or .45 Colt, nooooo problem. Chuck one of those into any quality handgun made for only the nominal pressure spec of the cartridge, and you’re going to have problems. Same deal for the .45-70. You can load up the old venerable .45-70 to pressures that approach the results of a .458 WinMag – but only in something like a Ruger #1.

    • I was going to ask if the larger bullet (thinking mass) would increase pressures to dangerous levels, but then I realized we’re only talking 220gr for these all-copper bullets.

      It would be “interesting” to try such a thing from my Blackhawk. (Just saw jwm’s reply.)

    • I wonder if a 45Colt case could be trimmed down to allow this to fit in a SA. There will still be plenty of space for powder. I am not sure how to account for the shortened case pressure-wise. Maybe start with a big(volumewise) powder like Trail Boss?

      Hmmm. I have a Judge, a Blackhawk, and a press. This might be a redneck accident weekend.

      • Have you seen the Aguila SSS sniper sub-sonic rounds in .22LR? They’re sort of like what you suggest — they use a 22 Short case, and make up all the extra distance with lead, so you end up with a weird mega-bullet sitting in a super-short case, but — the overall length is the same as a .22LR, they’re made for and work in .22LR guns… check out the picture on Midway’s site and you can see what I’m talking about. I think that’s along the lines of what you’re thinking of doing?

        • That strange looking .22 was exactly what I was thinking. Seeing the concept made commercially leads me to think this would work. I now think that using a dense powder like 231 may be the best since it will still leave empty space in the shortened 45Colt case. Thus less chance of over pressure. Maybe a minimum charge of 231 and use a super strong Blackhawk or Redhawk instead of a SAA clone.

          I would have a better chance of making ot through life with both my hands if I could just resist the temptation to tinker.

        • Those 60 grain subsonic loads are great shooters. But they are a tad “fragile” in my experience. All that bullet sticking out of the case means care has to be taken in handling them. It’s a lead bullet and softer than these all copper bullets you’re wanting to work with.

          I”d say go for it. Use caution and let us know how it works.

        • This might be a good reason to bring back the .45 auto rim. Given what DG says, load these piggies into that and call it a day, this also eliminates the deep seating pressure worries, and the brass is easily made just trim .45 Colt or Schofield to .45acp lengths. This could be big.

      • I like lower pressure rounds. They’re easier on what is left of my hearing.

        Therefore, I’m a .38 Special, .44 Special, .44 Russian, .45 ACP and .45 Colt fanboy.

  7. Freddy Krueger bullets. Best I’ve heard today. Looks like someone took the blades out of a blender and shot them into that gel.

    My wife loves the concept of the judge. I would have had to buy her one already exceptwe live in CA.

    • …yeah, after watching the video I went to the CA DOJ approved handgun site and the Judge is not listed…*8(

      • Get a gunsmith to modify it. As jwm pointed out above, single-action revolvers are exempt from the DOJ roster… if the gun is modified to work in SA only, the roster doesn’t apply.

        • It’s treated as a short-barreled shotgun, and for whatever reason, that whole family of guns has been targeted with prejudice by certain CA legislators.

        • That’s weird, given that PC 17190 (old numbering) included in the definition of “shotgun” the phrase “to fire through a smooth bore” – and the Judge is rifled.

        • Oh… I guess it’s PC 12020…
          (c)(1)As used in this section, a “short-barreled shotgun” means any of the following:
          (A)A firearm which is designed or redesigned to fire a fixed shotgun shell and having a barrel or barrels of less than 18 inches in length

  8. Now I want to see what they do against soft body armor. I don’t think they will penetrate but I bet they leave one heck of a bruise.

    • The beautiful thing is you can alternate with heavy solids….

      But for real AP you need velocity + mass. You aren’t punching through a level 3A plate with this, regardless.

  9. WoW!

    I will be buying 2 boxes of these. 1 to shoot and 1 to guard like gold in case I ever find the Judge I lost in that horrible boating accident…..

  10. I thoroughly enjoyed this video, especially the giddy “holy cow” reaction to the round’s performance in gelatin.

    I’d like to point out, though, that the test did not include any layers of heavy cloth over the entry surface. Many tests use 4 layers of heavy denim per the FBI test protocols. This may change the expansion and penetration characteristics considerably, or even prevent expansion altogether if the denim plugs the bullet cavity.

    • If that long, copper bullet doesn’t expand I’ll bet it’ll penetrate til next week. I loved watching that gelatin jump.

    • When was the last time you heard of a bad guy with 3 pairs of Steve Urcal pants and a denim jacket covering center mass? LOL

    • Alphageek: “Many tests use 4 layers of heavy denim per the FBI test protocols. This may change the expansion and penetration characteristics considerably, or even prevent expansion altogether if the denim plugs the bullet cavity”

      FYI, I got to the range yesterday testing a bunch of stuff, and I had some leftover gel so I put on 4 layers of IWBA-spec 16oz heavy denim and shot a Lehigh Maximum Expansion through it. Bullet expanded perfectly.

  11. Wow, love the comments. Thanks to Shootthebull410 for the video. The long bullet was designed to take advantage of the Judge’s tight 1:12 twist which we assume was used to get a shot pattern out of the short barrel. This long of a bullet will not stabilize in the 45 Colt or other cartridges as they lack the tight barrel twist, but have no fear, the .45 Colt, .44 Special, and .44 Mag Maximum Expansion are coming soon.
    Thought you might all get a kick out of the New Product Meeting minutes when this round was discussed. Please note, the New Product Meetings are conducted every time Mike opens his mouth when he is not eating a ham sandwich.
    Mike – We should design a great bullet for the Judge.
    Dave – That gun is silly.
    Mike – I have two of them and Taurus sold like five million of them.
    Dave – That means there are 295 million in the US like me that have not bought one and think they are silly.
    Mike – Yeah, but think if we can sell every Judge owner just one round.
    Dave – We should design a great bullet for the Taurus Judge.


    • Well I’m sold, I plan to buy a box. If it’s as accurate out of my 2 inch barrel as Pdx1 .45 I will use this as carry.

      • I had concerns about accuracy, because it seemed to me that the long, long, long bullet, with that deep hollowpoint cavity, and the balance of center-of-pressure vs. center-of-gravity might lead to some aerodynamic instability. So I shot a bunch of them for patterning and was very pleasantly surprised — they’re plenty accurate enough at self defense distances. My fears were totally allayed.

    • Heh. That’s pretty amusing, but that’s a great example of the way a business should be run.

  12. I would love to see the concept applied to the 38 special on a 357 frame. You have an additional quarter inch of available space in the cylinder to lengthen the cartridge!

    • Again, this could warrant a return of some old cartridges. I seem to remember a .38 short that might just fill that bill.

  13. My Judge may just have to go from “novelty” status to go-to bedside gun status… with a laser. 🙂

  14. The one thing that makes the judge not as accurate is the long cylinder space before the forcing cone. I bought some brass cases from Magtech in .410 shotgun. I plan to work up a propritory round that will fill the chamber. this should stabilize the bullet with less wobble.

  15. $42 dollars for 9 rounds and $5 bucks for shipping…hell that’s not even two cylinder loads worth and it gives only a few extra to practice. I would mostly be worried about civilian courts in the follow up law suit as they would jump on the round.

  16. Does anyone else look at that long deep cavity in the tip and wonder what you could do with steel bbs,ball bearings,a nail,superglue and silicon

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