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Let’s try it this way: I’ll re-publish the press release verbatim, with my comments below.

For 2010 Taurus took the Judge Public Defender and made it even lighter with an incredible Ultra-Lite® aluminum frame. This new Public Defender weighs a mere 20.7 ounces, yet still delivers the same devastating firepower that makes its brothers famous. Nothing could be better for a nightstand gun or as a lightweight pack gun on trips through the backcountry.

Your bog standard $592 MODEL 4510 Judge weighs 29 ounces. In stainless steel. Using aluminum to trim eight ounces is a good idea, isn’t it?

If you’re packing, lighter is generally better—if only because you’re more likely to carry a lighter weapon than a heavier one. And you can’t use a gun you don’t have. Hence the enormous popularity of relatively small, relatively light plastic guns chambered in 9mm. And even smaller lighter guns chambered in .380. And small revolvers made out of relatively exotic, lightweight materials.

But the press release doesn’t talk about the Judge Ultra-Lite in terms of concealed carry. It touts the Ultra-Lite Judge as the ultimate “nightstand gun.”

To my mind, the ultimate nightstand gun has plenty of on-board ammo, lots of firepower and maximum accuracy. Choosing the best weapon for the job mandates compromise; you can’t have it all. Which is why I consider a tactical shotgun the ultimate nightstand gun. OK, bedside gun. For those of you intimidated by a big-ass big-bore cannon, the Mossberg 500 .410 is a wonderful choice.

After that, it’s a 9mm. A Glock with an extended magazine (check your state’s law for legality) carries 18 bullets. Two clips, 36 bullets. If you like big bullets and cannot lie, something chambered in .40 or .45 and the bad guy’s gonna die. If it has to be a revolver, my money’s on a big ass .357. I mean, why not? You know, other than over-penetration problems (good backstops make good neighbors).

Capable of chambering both .410 shotgun shells and .45 Colt ammunition, this amazing 5-shot combo gun is ideal for short distances – where most altercations occur – or longer distances with the .45 LC ammunition. The rifling has been finely tuned on this small frame revolver to spread the shot pattern at close quarters or to guide the bullet to the target. The Public Defender also features a reduced profile hammer that will not catch or snag for a quick and reliable draw.

There’s your why yes: while the vast majority of gunfights occur at close quarters, what about the ones that don’t? Would you really trust yourself to hit something accurately enough to stop it using a Taurus Judge if the target was say, twenty yards out? Subject to a little range time with a testing and evaluation model, I’m not feeling it.

Especially if the gun is no fun at the range. Less range time equals less accuracy. The Smith & Wesson Airweights are snappy enough to discourage regular practice. The Taurus Ultra-Lite Judge will be no better, and, perhaps, a lot worse.

By the company’s own admission, by design, the Judge is a bit of a spray and pray self-defense weapon. As long range accuracy isn’t on the cards (apparently), single action is relatively pointless. So why not just shroud the hammer and be done with it?

Something to do with the .45 LC capabilities. If that’s your goal, buy a comfortable, accurate .45 with eight rounds on tap and an easy-loading magazine or three. I’m thinking the Judge is all about bragging rights. Let’s face it: the Judge series looks seriously cool. The Ultra-Lite is an ultra-cool looking carry gun. Unless you’re one of those form must follow function guys. If so, stop making sense already, will ya?

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  1. The Judge and it’s variants are not 20-yard guns and neither are any other snubbies. They’re not 20-foot guns. They are CQC revolvers.

    I am also from the bigger is badder and more is better school and would carry multiple RPGs if I could. Still, I have to admit that a blast of .410 in the chops would ruin a bad guy’s mug shot for good. But why ultralight? Dunno. Why climb Mt. Everest? Dunno about that, either, but people do it.

  2. Your article made total sense to me! The gun is too small, too light, and a handgun in the caliber of .45 ACP (a Colt or some other brand) is a far better round for self defense. Thanks for saving me the money I might have spent on one of these interesting contraptions!

  3. PS: An interesting ballistics report on the Judge “Defender” I just found. Not too impressive, probably due to the very short barrel; “The Federal .410 Handgun four 000 buckshot load, which registered on the chronograph at an average of 745 fps. And then only 620 fps using Speer Gold Dot 250-grain JHP.” Velocity does a lot. In this case, it obviously doesn’t.

  4. Robert,
    I have to agree to agree to disagree with you. In most states if you are in self defense mode, you aren’t shooting at bad guy over 15 feet. If you are, and especially shooting at one, in your words at 20 yards, YOU are the one who will go to jail sir. You will here in Connecticut. As far as carrying a fully loaded .45 and it being the best for self defense, I am torn by your article. I do indeed carry a .45, ParaOrdnance P-13, and it is heavy and awkward and tough to conceal. The best gun is that which you can conceal, and still bring usable firepower to bear on the bad guy. But there are NO self defense scenarios that involve you and a shootout at 20 yards, that won’t involve charges for you! That is a fact. I also have recently purchased an Ultra Light Judge and it is far easier to conceal on my person and much lighter to carry daily. I still carry my .45 and also the Judge with 000 Buck. And I have to tell you, getting shot at 12 feet or so with 2-3 barrels of 000 Buck would be a life changing experience for any bad guy.

  5. The Taurus Public Defender UL…would make a great SD gun..Federal 2.5 in 000 Buck is a great load for this handgun….its like getting shot with four 380’s a once…it would really stop a BG in his tracks…but the real beauty of this pistol that you can stagger loads.. 000 buck first chamber ..a 225 gr. Winchester HP 45 Colt in the next….
    Another thing, a carry gun should be one that will be carried….a gun that is light small and powerful…,thats a PD UL

  6. Here’s my comments on the Judge Public Defender as someone who owns one:

    (a) This is a big one — nobody makes a good holster for this beast. You have to go custom or settle for some generic IWB. what’s worse is I’m left handed. If FOBUS would make a leftie paddle for the Judge PD, I’d be great. Otherwise, this is relegated to a nightstand pistol.

    (b) This is the perfect self defense pistol for close in. There are a wide variety of defensive rounds. My favorite was the 000 buck, but recently I have found Winchester PDX1 ammo containing 3 plates and buckshot which takes out a good chunk of anything in its path. Georgia Arms also makes a great .45 Long Colt round specifically for the Judge, a 260 grain JHP +P that is fairly easy to control even with the Public Defender

  7. Reviewed all comments about legal shooting distances, and I shall inform all and sundry that here in the Republic of Trinidad & Tobago we are trained to engage the bad guys at 25 yards. At 15 feet one has failed in training and probably have to “pelt” the gun and run for one’s life!!

  8. I make wood grips for the Public Defender, they where prototyped using a stainless model. I know the stainless and blued versions are identical. Does anyone know if the grip frame is the same on the ultra lite as the original PD. I’d like to know so I can be able to tell customers that inquire on my website, WOODENGRIPS.COM. Also trying to figure out if the raging bull grips fit the raging judge. If you have an answer swing by the site and contact me via the contact page. Thanks in advance!

  9. I am now going to be on my 3rd piece. My first PD was sweet. It loved to eat up the 410 000 and the 410 slugs. The 45LC however was a diff issue. Their is an inherent issue with the cylinder length if you think about it. In any other standard wheel gun, the chambered round is relativley close to the forcing cone. Therefore asside from a little flash out of the cylinder, most of the compression happens in the barrel where it is supposed to. The PD has a couple of issues reletive to this. 1, the short barrel is too short and the velocity is fairly slow. basically a flying brick with the 250g load. But, think back to the cylinder that can handle the 410. Thier is a considerable amount of “dead air” using the 45 before you get the round to the forcing cone. you have lost a lot of power here and your flash will be greater than that of a std round in std cylinder. Plus, this gap between the round and the forcing cone will obviously not provide any compression so a fair amount of powder will be unburnt. This unburnt powder can get everywhere, and it does. That is the second issue. Unburnt powder and gun oils make a pretty good mess and gets everywhere. The first PD i had, Siezed up the cylinder by (as near as we can figure) forced the front of the cylinder into the forcing cone. Not due to unburnt powder but by the stress on the frame. It did get torqued just enough to seize it up. Taurus scrapped it and replaced it. The second piece had similar issues with powder only this time, the barrel came loose, not off but loose. Perhaps a timing issue with shaving? not sure but they scrapped that one too and are now replacing with the SS version. NOTE they do not have the ultalight on their site anymore?? hmmm hope this helps.

  10. This is precisely why one must evaluate an author and their ability to provide good and correct information. Don’t give up your day job.

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