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Here at The Truth About Guns, we like to get into the, you know, actual TRUTH about guns. And when a gun is the object of as much conflicting information, wild opinions, disagreement, arguing, insults, flame-fests and fanboyism as the Taurus Judge has been, that presents a prime opportunity for our man ShootingTheBull410 to dig in and figure out what the real story is. Sure, it takes a Ransom Rest, ballistic gel, a cantaloupe, a 12-gauge, a few dozen different types of ammunition, and a whole lot of Dirty Bird targets, but it’s worth it to cut through all the bull, no? . . .



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  1. I might have missed it, but did he ransom rest an XDs? Seems like it’d be the “control” of a conventionally rifled tiny barrel.

    • I think he got a reasonable enough result with the judge at 20 yards that he didn’t think a control was needed… that he considered the judge sufficiently accurate.

      • I wish I could have, but Ransom doesn’t make grips for the XD-S. I ordered grips for the XD on the way-outside chance they might work, but of course they didn’t.

        I have little to no doubt that the XD-S would shoot tighter groups than the Public Defender. But to go along with what Hannibal said, I found the accuracy at 25 yards to be more than adequate for the purpose the gun was designed for. It will hit within 2.75″ of point of aim at 25 yards, and 25 yards is legally difficult to justify as a self defense shot. As such, it seemed like the question was answered.

  2. With the name “ShootingTheBull410” I would have thought the Taurus Judge was the first review. Anyone else?

  3. I think this gun gets a lot more bad internet opinion than it deserves. It’s not a SP101 or S&W 686 but when it’s strapped to my hip on the ranch it works damn well for snakes and the occasional vamint or hog I come across. Cheap enough to get dirty, scratched and banged up when it’s at work on the ranch. I always had good groupings with Federal buckshot, I’m talking 4-6″ at 15 yards, I’m not sure why everyone shit all over the accuracy/groupings of the buckshot, seemed pretty effective to me. Trigger and action wasn’t too good but I don’t use this gun for 20-50 yard accuracy. Sorry it doesn’t look like your favorite S&W, this gun does what it needs to do and mine went bang every time.

    …in full disclosure I traded my Judge Public Defender for for a Ruger GP100. I couldn’t pass that deal up and you know you couldn’t either. Wish I still had the Judge, I don’t like getting my GP100 banged up and full of dirt and wood chips every time I’m working on the ranch.

    • FWIW – I’ve held in discussions with other gun owners that the Judge is a fine “snake gun”. Cheap is relative as it costs enough that I’d rather just have a shotgun than a niche handgun but everyone has different priorties.

      I think a lot of the debate is the assertion that the Judge is an end-all be-all for self defense. If I was going to go that route I’d rather just have something shoots .45 LC and be done with it. Though that’s not my favorite caliber it’s been argued many times “Well, you can shoot .45 LC out of the Judge”. Yeah, so can a regular revolver without losing that extra round and probably do it for less.

      As a self defense weapon, I can find a whole list of guns I’d rather have. As a snake gun, yeesh, I can’t think of anything better.

      As a novelty, it’s kind of neat and that’s worth something. I’d be a huge liar if I denied ever owning a firearm for just the novelty of having and shooting it.

      • Sounds like we agree on all points except….when I’m working on the ranch (dragging brush into pile, cutting trees down, digging holes, etc.) it’s very difficult to do with a shotgun slung on my back. The Judge strapped on my thigh or waist does much better since it’s arms length at all times. When I need/want a firearm it’s immediate, I don’t have time to stop what I’m doing and go grab the shotgun.

      • Did you see those .45LC-but-not-really lengthened self defense rounds that some guys made specifically for the Judge? Their expansion looked wicked impressive in ballistic gel in the video.

  4. Personally, I’d love a Judge, with either #6 or #7 birdshot for grouse.

    Defense? I think I’ll stick to 9mm.

  5. I used to have regular “discussions” re The Judge with a good friend of mine. He thought the whole concept was ridiculous, but conceded that it was a brilliant marketing decision. He argued “Why shoot someone with 140 or so pellets when you can hit them with a 250-gr. slug?” My response: “For the entertainment value.” All arguments aside, The (original, full-size) Judge is my wife’s go-to gun, and she shoots it very well, indeed!

  6. I’m not really sure where the debate is here. The Judge obviously works as advertised. If you decide to carry a revolver for self-defense it appears to be an adequate choice.

  7. Saw both parts. Interesting and I’ll probably check out his other videos. I would have been interested in a regular non-support accuracy test as well, particularly firing a bit quickly… can follow-up shots be made as easily? Also in his size comparison he neglected to talk much about the cylinder width.

    • My goal was to remove human error from the equation, in terms of accuracy testing.

      There is substantial recoil from the Judge Public Defender with the more powerful .45 Colt or suitable (like PDX1), so it may indeed be a little slower for follow-up shots.

      Cylinder width… well, I mean, it is what it is; it’s a .45 revolver so yes the cylcylinder is big (in width) but no more so than any other .45 revolver.

  8. Excellent and very informative two-part video.

    I had an early model of the Public Defender. When it worked, it was a lot of fun and reasonably accurate. But it suffered from QC problems. Maybe Taurus has since resolved those.

    • That’s too bad. I had one of the very early model of this gun as well and never had a problem.

  9. Just finished watching Part 1 and 2 of video…great detailed test and conclusions, eat crow Judge haters! I love this guy: makes statements and conclusions based on empirical data and not internet hyperbole.

  10. I bought the Public Defender Polymer for $299, because I could! And after watching both video’s, I’m more convinced that its the good choice I thought I was for home defense/bedside & “walking the property” snake/varmint use. My wife even manages to hit pretty good groupings w/it in backyard practice & its much easier for her to do so since its a revolver. My EDC is still my Glock 30S or 26, but for the $$ I spent & the scenario I want it for, this will do just fine. The wife can grab the Judge & I can grab the Mossberg & my Glock – we should be pretty formidable.

  11. I wanted to see his “review”but I got so tired of hearing his goob goblin lips flop I just gave up on the piece ever being an actual gun review

    • I wanted to see his “review”but I got so tired of hearing his goob goblin lips flop I just gave up on the piece ever being an actual gun review

      Then your lack of attention span cost you an extraordinarily detailed and informative review.

  12. I love these tests.

    I hadn’t done any serious looking at the Judge, but I’ve heard some things — mostly negative — and I have to admit that apart from that, I thought the whole concept was just gimmicky. No longer. After these two videos, it’s on the (loong) list of things I’d like to have. And it’ll fire those scary Lehigh Defense maximum expansion .45 Colt rounds, if I’m not mistaken. I’m definitely on board with that kind of brutality.

    Practical, versatile, and it seems like it’d be tons of fun to shoot. If I had the perfect opportunity to get one, I wouldn’t pass it up.

  13. Sure you can fire a gun from a ransom rest and say it’s accurate. The point is when someone actually picks it up and fires it in that self defense situation. That 5.5 in he got is a natural variation. I’d like to see someone do that in person. However, I know that I can do that at 25 yds with an XDS. Comparatively, the accuracy is not there, and that is the problem.

    • I can shoot tighter groups with the XD-s. And I have shot three-shot cloverleafs with the Public Defender, handheld (7 yards), but not every time of course. As I said in the review, the PD is not quite as accurate as other pistols, and you won’t win targetshooting contests with it, but I believe it delivers plenty adequate accuracy for the job it was designed for. That is, of course, a subjective opinion. What I hope I answered definitively is the question about its mechanical accuracy. Each person is of course free to choose whether they are comfortable with that level of accuracy.

  14. I bought one years ago as a novelty. I’ll admit the novelty wore off awfully quickly with the price of 410 ammo. That being said, I never found it to be a “bad” gun. Just nothing I take out of the safe too often except when people want to try it out.

  15. I had a Judge Public Defender, but I sold it to a co-worker to help finance the purchase of a Super Redhawk. To be honest, I sort of regret it, since I got a raise a few weeks later that would have enabled both. The Camaro had a perfect spot that it fit that nothing else has to date, and I still think it’s a great close quarters option. Not the most fun to shoot with that tiny grip, but handy nonetheless.

  16. Saw the video. Thanks for the work. My wife wants a judge, but we live in CA so it ain’t going to legally happen.

    My question is why can’t Taurus make a standard length cylinder for a snubbie in .45 colt, or ACP or .44 special. A smallish big bore revolver without the shot shells would get my attention.

    • I have considered the possibility of cut down reloaded .410 shells in a traditional .45 colt for similar purposes. As a snake/ close range varmint gun you don’t need all the kick of a full length .410 but I don’t know if that’s even possible without permanently modifying the gun and around here 45s are not exactly common or cheap.

    • They did make a .45 Colt 2″ snubbie, I think its called the 450Ti. They’re discontinued now, they show up on armslist and GunBroker occasionally. I think they used to make a Tracker in .45 CAP in 2″ barrel a few years ago but not anymore last I knew. And they did make a 44 Special 2″ snubbie, the model 445. Looks like those have all been discontinued though, and the only big-bores in their lineup now are Judges.

  17. Nice review, ShootingTheBull410. Watched both parts of it. Thanks for the detailed info and simple but helpful explanations … much appreciated. Excellent work.

    I don’t have any plans to get one right now but I can see how it’d be very nice for at-home defense or in-vehicle defense.

  18. I’m a little baffled as to why ya’ll feel the need to carry a snake gun. I’ve done plenty of ranch and back country work on horseback and have yet to need to resort to a firearm to dissuade a serpent. Backing up a few feet and giving them a chance to scurry has always worked just fine for me.

    • This.

      Rattlesnakes out west here tend to just sit there and rattle if you rile ’em.

      Never have had one chase me either, but I’ve found a sharp hoe works fine if you need to help them along, say…to their next lifetime, after serving their karma in this one, for being a liberal politician in the one before.

    • I’m a little baffled as to why ya’ll feel the need to carry a snake gun.

      Because I can’t carry a flamethrower.

    • Because when you have a rattlesnake nesting in your hayloft, you want it gone ASAP.

      That said, if you can’t kill a rattlesnake with a good old fashioned shovel, you’re probably just a city boy who’s never even seen a snake.

    • In my farm youth we had copper heads and rattlers. A hoe was what we relied on. Black snakes were allowed to go unmolested because they kept rodents down in the barns and corn cribs.

    • Because I don’t have a horse below me when I walk up on a snake, it’s just me and me feet/legs and the rattler.

      Because two people died within 3 miles of my ranch in the last two years from timber rattler bites (one was trying to kill one with a hoe or shovel or something when he was struck in the hand).

      Because I have a 3 year old that I still need to teach how to properly cross logs and thick grass with caution and likely wouldn’t survive a rattler strike. I won’t be the asshole that lost their kid because they chose to let a snake live.

      Because I don’t have cel (or any other) phone service at my ranch. I take a rattler strike and I’m driving myself to the hospital (not close) if I can make it.

      Pick any combination of the above. King snakes and other beneficial (to me) snakes get a pass.

    • Also, Drew, I’m surprised that your horses even let you get that close to a snake. Mine refuse to go anywhere close to them.

      By the way, do you have any advice for concealed carry on horseback? I’m thinking a shoulder rig is the way to go, but I’m curious if you have other ideas.

  19. The Lehigh Defense .45LC ME cartridges for this pistol produce spectacularly horrific results–I want one.

  20. Am I right in assuming that this gun is for 2 1/2″ .410 shells only (shot gun aspect) Too bad it wont handle three inch, then again, if it could, I’m not so sure my arthritic hands could handle it.

    • You are correct that this particular Judge only chambers up to 2.5″ .410 shells. They make other Judges with a longer chamber that can handle the 3″ shells, but they are, of course, bigger. The Public Defender was their attempt at miniaturizing a Judge to make it small enough to concealed-carry.

  21. Thanks for the vid review, STB410. Really like to see the ballistic tests.

    I guess I have to weigh in… I try not to comment on the Judge a lot, because it’s one of those hot button issues (as you’ve noted). Kinda like mentioning Kel Tec or 9mm vs.45 vs.40, or Glock, or the Socom16. It gets everyone all riled up. I’m somewhere in the middle.

    Anyway, I own a Judge (full size) 3” magnum stainless (and the XDs) and I agree with most of what you say… but kind of draw a different conclusion I guess.

    As you’ve noted, we certainly wouldn’t use the Judge for CCW (and definitely not my full sized Judge) – so I probably wouldn’t have used XDs as a comparison.

    IMO, it’s not better than many other options of ‘standard’ firearms at the specific roles of self-defense or concealed carry or even home defense or as a hunting sidearm. As you noted, not a good option for bear defense, it’s not super concealable or ideal shot-pattern for CCW, it doesn’t have high capacity like 15 rounds of .45 JHP for home defense, etc.

    It sure is a fun trail gun though! That’s what I use mine for now. Keep it loaded with birdshot usually, maybe some buck or a slug – and pair it up with a Savage over/under .410/.22 for banging around the trail – in case I get attacked by a rabid raccoon or pitbull, or run across a snake or want to pop off some birdshot for fun, etc. I’m not worried about bear though and capacity is meaningless in that role.

    I never thought of it a dedicated car-jacking gun, as that role and CCW is one in the same for me generally – but I could see how that would work well in that close and quick I guess.

    I personally don’t find 45LC to be very accurate with the shallow rifling honestly. The lead of the old cowboy rounds wears down the rifling a bit over time, as does shooting buck and bird through it! – and the rifling wasn’t awesome to begin with, IMO. I was surprised to see your Ransom rest groups, because I don’t get great groups with my 3”, but like you say – I’ve only really used ammo made for a long gun (and I’m not a Ransom rest either of course!)

    There are other preferred weapons that are, as you would probably agree, better specifically for the roles of CCW, HD, Hunting/Bear Protection (think XDs/Glock, FNX 45, Ruger .44/.454 respectively) – so IMO that really leaves night-stand gun (which for me is really my go-to HD gun), dedicated car-jacking gun (which for me is really my CCW gun) and trail gun as the best uses for the Judge — of which mine fills the latter.

    As someone else mentioned, I think it was all of the hype that it was somehow a ‘devastating’ weapon that caused much of the negative reaction. Is the right .410 ammo adequate at very close range? Sure. It’s adequate. Not bad, but certainly not what one could call devastating I wouldn’t think. Although those Lehigh Defense rounds look pretty good (even with limited penetration)

    Bottom line for me: It does a little bit of everything, but not any one thing great. Kinda reminds me of my ex. Hmmmm… Maybe it does belong in the car? …that’s where she performed the best.

  22. I won’t try to defend the judge or the reason I own own one other than I love to shoot it. The recoil and effect of target is so much fun. For defense not my cup of tea for shooting just to get a laugh when a watermelon explodes hell to the yeah. Even non gun ppl love shooting it. Its a big revolver that satisfies the dirty harry fantasies without the cost.
    Plus squirrel hunting with it is incredibly fun.

  23. Complaint #6 – It’s a Taurus.

    For your “Home Defense” argument, I would rather have my AR with 30 rounds or Glock with 17 along with the faster reloads they bring if needed than 4 .35″ holes with zero expansion per shot and only 5 shots with a bunch of fumbling around when it comes time to reload.

    • “Complaint #6 – It’s a Taurus”

      I kid you not — that’s exactly what the original video had. I had a segment talking about how many people complain that “it’s a Taurus.” I eventually cut that segment because I figured the video was too long as-is, it was already 23+ minutes, and there’s nothing I or anyone can do about it being a Taurus. For some people, the fact that it’s made by Taurus is an immediate dealbreaker for them.

      So, yes, it is a Taurus. All I can say about that is — it has worked every time I’ve pulled the trigger, and nothing has fallen off of it yet. I can’t predict what anyone’s experience will be with the product, but it has been reliable in my usage. And, of course, if someone likes the concept but doesn’t like Taurus, they could always get the Governor, but it’s a bit bigger than the Public Defender. As for me, I haven’t had any problems with my Tauruses; oddly enough the only gun I’ve had subject to a recall was the Springfield featured in that review. My Tauruses have performed well, but as they say in investing, past performance is not an indication of future performance, and any buyer should evaluate the product, the company, the reputation, the warranty, etc. before making a purchase.

      As for home defense, I wasn’t advising people to run out and get a Public Defender for home defense; I was trying to contextualize out of the many various uses people may consider putting it to, which ones make most sense, and in the context of a nightstand gun for bump-in-the-night usage, I think it serves reasonably well. Now, if you are talking about “home defense” as in, “there’s a mob of rioting looters headed this way”, then yeah, forget the Judge, grab the AR15 and bunker in. For scenarios inbetween those, well, there are as many choices and opinions as there are people making them, and I have no problem with that. Use whatever works for you, that you can use well.

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