Taurus Judge isn't the best concealed carry gun
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The Taurus Judge series of .410-firing pistols proves that aggressive marketing can sell ice to Eskimos. The self-defense pistols aren’t ideal for handgun buyers seeking stopping power or concealability. Why are so many otherwise intelligent people purchasing — and presumably carrying — these enormous hand cannons? Let’s go to the tape . . .

There I am, minding my own business, when someone familiar with my firearms fascination will come up and elbow me gently. “Hey, man. I got somethin’ I wanna show you. Check it out. I’m carrying a Taurus Judge revolver. These things are great for self-defense!”

Without exception, I smile. When they offer to show it to me, and I politely decline. I’ve seen them and I’ve shot them. When they detect my distinct lack of enthusiasm, the petulant pistoleros are not pleased. “You don’t like the Judge?”

No. No I don’t. For one thing, it’s too damn big, Only a Taurus Judge could make Dirty Harry’s famous large frame revolver, a Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum (“blow your head clean off”) look sort of compact.

While nobody I know carries a Model 29, I know plenty of folks who regularly carry a Judge on their belts. I wonder if the American Chiropractic Association hasn’t sponsored a round of advertising for The Judge. Anyway . . .

Depending on the time, place and whether or not I like the person, I gently suggest other options better suited for daily concealed carry against short range two-legged critters, let alone for home defense. If they tell me they’ve loaded their .410 shot shells with birdshot — to minimize over-penetration concerns — I may try to educate them.

Just because a Judge is big doesn’t make it the be-all end-all self-defense tool.

Yes, the Judge fires a shotgun shell. I suppose that makes it a shotgun, of sorts. But with precious few exceptions, .410 projectiles fired out of handguns — even at close range — simply don’t penetrate tissue deeply enough to quickly and efficiently stop a perp’s progress.

[Gun store salespeople sometimes suggest multiple strikes from buckshot, discs or other projectiles as a viable alternative to adequate projectile penetration. Not so.]

Yes, slugs launched from a .410 bore shotshells don’t penetrate deeply. Probably because it weighs 90 grains and comes out of the Judge’s muzzle at roughly the same velocity as a .380 Auto round. Imagine a gun store trying to sell someone a .380 that holds five rounds, weighs nearly two pounds loaded and looks bigger than a four-inch version of Dirty Harry Callahan’s heater.

Then there’s the rifling. In some loads, that rifling spreads those buckshot loads all over the place. A portable “street sweeper” might appeal to those who think aiming is over-rated. However, ambulance-chasing lawyers will love you if an errant pellet (or ten) injures or kills an innocent.

Yes, you can use The Judge to fire .45 Long Colt. But if you really like that caliber in a self-defense gun, you can get a .45 Long Colt six shooter with a shorter barrel length that’s smaller, more accurate, easier to conceal and did I mention holds six rounds instead of five?

Folks can do a lot better than a Taurus Judge as their everyday carry piece. More ammo, better ballistics, better penetration and stopping power all in a package that’s smaller, lighter and easier to conceal.

Thankfully, most of us will never need to use our defensive pistol for defensive purposes at close quarters. Hopefully for those of us who do, we will have something besides a Taurus Judge in our hand.

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    • The name alone is grounds to dismiss the judge for just about everything. And that’s if the name Taurus wasn’t enough already.

      Judge owners will be judged more harshly by judges just because if the name judge. Well I guess n—-killer might be a worse name for a carry gun. Maybe

        • I believe that’s the name Activision gave their COD version. There’s a plethora of gamers out there who would believe this thing has amazing stopping power at close range, based solely on its performance in the games.

    • I don’t know if 9 out of 10 scientists WOULD say water is wet, look at climate “science”.

        • Why make all of us pro gun folks look like fucking idiots. I love guns AND believe climate science experts actually know more about climate change than you do you fucking morons

  1. My wife wanted one of those. CA has banned them. Virtually the only time I’ve ever been happy for a CA gun control law.

    • Same for mine. Except no ban in TX.

      I just told her, “babe, the gun is the answer to a question no one asked.”

      Can I shoot a shotgun shell out of a revolver made by a sub-par firearms company, all whilst looking like a tool… yes, yes you can.

      • Couldn’t it be a handy sidearm loaded with birdshot if you’re out in snake country?

        • Sort of, but, you can just get .45 colt snake shot and put them in a .45 colt gun, which is going to be a far more effective gun. I personally use a peacemaker clone with .45 shot as a snake gun on my farm.

        • Yes, I like it for that purpose. I was using a 38/357 with shot for this but the price of 38 shot is expensive. I purchased a used Judge and after some testing I found Federal #6 gave me a decent pattern for snakes and other small pest at reasonable range without breaking the bank. I wouldn’t consider this for EDC but I like it as a tractor gun. As far as reliability I’ve put about 500 rounds through it and it has never failed to go bang.

      • That’s an interesting classification. The law must’ve been filled with tons of weasel words to get that classification.

  2. Eh, it’s a tool. It’s better for some things than others, and for the same thing there may be better tools. I will agree there are better choices for urban carry, and for defense against 2-legged predators.

    Still, I think the long-barrel versions are a hoot to shoot; if a .460 Smith is the Roger Rabbit gun, this one is Yosemite Sam’s. And if you’re going to be walking in snake country, it’s not a bad choice; you can load regular good old .45 Colt as well as whatever .410 shells you want.

    There’s one in my safe that I got slightly used for a song. After opening it up and cleaning some of the machining debris out, shockingly, it’s a lot smoother and more reliable. (And I learned a few things about working on revolvers without risking one of my good ones.)

    • “if a .460 Smith is the Roger Rabbit gun”

      That’s funny, that is the EXACT same thing I said to my dad when he bought his .460 XVR snubby.

    • This was my thought exactly. I don’t have a Judge nor do I pretend that I do in movies, but it’s a tool and it does what it says it does… which is to say that it may fire 410 shells as well as 45LC. The inexpensive pistol that can protect you from snakes and from 2 and 4 legged predators is a good one for some people. Here in Colorado, we have all three predators and this is a good budget firearm that covers the gambit of the lot.

      For John Boch to sit in his ivory tower and say that ANY weapon is not THE BEST choice for carry is more than a bit silly, and makes him look like an a_s in my book. There is no firearm that is the end-all-be-all. A man has got to know his limitations, John has got to know his own, and the Judge owners have got to know the pros and cons of this weapon’s capability. I am not going to say that it is proper for many to carry daily this firearm, but those holier-than-thou individuals who want to disparage Judge carriers should GF themselves. In my humble opinion.

      • Yeah, where does that John Boch get off implying that only a clueless dumb@$$ would try to rationalize owning or carrying the Taurus Judge?

        Every angler should want a gun that can be used for dispatching snakes or as a boat anchor.

        • Dear Ted Unlis, are you an “angler” in Colorado? If so, you’re the first one I’ve met. Are you implying that those that all those that live around me care about is fishing or losing stuff? I’m lost on the point you’re trying to make. I sense that the sarcasm is strong with your comment but I detect you’re trying to make a point; I just don’t care either way. Have a great day!

        • No Dan here in East Texas we simply refer to those who indulge in the practice of catching fish using a hook & line on a rod & reel as fisherman, sorry for choosing such a complicated word. At least you were sharp enough to pick up on the sarcasm. Let me help you with the rest; fisherman sometimes have to shoot snakes and also need an anchor for their boat; snake gun – boat anchor – Taurus Judge. Get it? One thing I neglected to mention, “anglers” strapped with a S&W Governor/Taurus Judge/boat anchor should take great care not to fall out of their boat in deep water if they’re not wearing a life jacket.

        • Thank you for explaining the snarkiness further, I still couldn’t care less either way. Have a wonderful evening and the rest of the weekend.

      • It is, by any sane measure, not the BEST choice for carry. If he had deemed to decide it was the worst or had decided on a particular gun that was the best, we could quibble.

        But you’re sounding a bit butthurt over a purchase to be honest.

        • Dear Hannibal, as I stated in my very first comment here (the one you replied to): “I don’t have a Judge nor do I pretend that I do in movies.” This means that I have not purchased this firearm, so I do not have a horse in this race.

          The title of the article included the words “not the best choice for carry”, to which I say: water is wet. Of course this is not the best choice for carry, but this article berates the owners/buyers of this weapon as well as berating the weapon itself for something it was not intended to do. I made the point that the pistol does what it was marketed to do, namely delivering 410 shells and 45LC to the business end.

          “But you’re sounding a bit butthurt over a purchase to be honest.”
          As to my butthurt status, since I have no financial weight in this at all, I do not give a flying f_ what you have to say. I did not ask to quibble with anyone including you, I was merely stating that the author was personalizing this argument and making assumptions to his own end.

          Personally, I switch between a 45 single stack with two extra mags, a 380 single stack with two extra mags, or a 9mm double stack with two extra mags. I never carry a revolver for everyday self defense because I do not trust myself with the reload under stress, I put stock in the quote “the definition of an optimist is a revolver owner with a speedloader”.

          Reference: http://www.thetruthaboutguns.com/2017/02/robert-farago/top-three-reasons-not-to-carry-a-revolver/

      • FLAME DELETED..if you got shot in the face wit a judge..im a proud owner of one and has done nothing but serve justice..but checc out my new FN 5.7 . sweeter…..

  3. I bought one about 10 years ago, thinking 410 would be super cool in a compact (HA) snubby revolver. Then, you learn that bird shot peppers everything, it’s ridiculously uncomfortable, and above all else, it’s a Taurus. The ballistics argument alone is enough not to bother. Same thing with 300blk subs. 220gr @1000 is about a .45. No point in boutique over priced when a .45 will do the same thing.

    Most of the time, if people look hard enough, there’s already something to fix what they think needs fixing.

    Oh, and by the way, Smith did it better.

  4. Those are some mighty intelligent .410 loads — a complete load of pellets won’t do anything at all to a perp, but a single pellet will injure or kill an innocent bystander.

    • Won’t stop quickly. The key is speed of incapacitation. It doesn’t do me any good if the perp dies 2 days later after he stabs me.

    • I realize that you’re being a tad sarcastic, but the concept of the ‘Golden BB’ is well known–the .22 Short that kills the elephant, the .25ACP that won’t punch through a pack of cigarettes but goes through a human skull and brain to lodge in the spinal cord, the “real’ BB that passes through a human eye and the thin bone behind deep enough to penetrate the brain.
      Anything fired from the barrel of a firearm can maim or kill–sometimes, it just takes a little time.

    • A million rounds placed into a BG’s vitals is fine, but a single stray BB that grazes a bystander is not OK. That’s the point.

  5. I don’t have a judge but I wanted one… in the meantime I’ll carry my .454 casull around! 😉

      • The raging judge was the first variant of this type of firearm to interest me. It seems pretty versitle and I like versatility. (I would NEVER make it my carry gun. : )

        My opinion is the judge does exactly what it was designed to do. It makes Taurus money…..

    • I’ve got a Judge and carrying 410 defender rounds in it, which have 3 plates in front of the pellets. FYI, the plates @ 10′ have around a 2″ grouping and well the pellets spread out in around a 12″ to 14″ group. The Judge was made for the purpose of vehicle self defense @ around a 5′ to 10′ distance. I do carry a Judge every day as I ride every day, for the purpose of not being able to properly aim if in a situation, the Judge is perfect as I also carry a 40cal w/2 clips for more accurate and ability to aim. I will say that it is proper to say that the Judge is a bit much on the uncomfortable side for carrying, but like I said, it’s perfect for not being able to properly aim if someone is trying to run me off the road or something while being on my bike. I’m glad to give some of y’all actual facts on this debate, and be safe out there.

  6. I can tell you, if I’m carrying something that’s essentially the size of an N-frame I’m going with a 327 or 329. It may not have the “cool” appeal of a gun like the Judge but it certainly has more firepower. We all know if Dirty Harry handn’t upgraded to a 500 or 460 he’d probably have a 329.

  7. the raging version will chamber .454 kazool.

    the barrel being rifled (although shallowly) i would expect it to be more accurate with sabots than rifled slugs.

    taurus claims this to be their top seller. i bought a heddon lure that looked like a bud can.
    dumbasses. shoulda bought glocks.

  8. Now might be the appropriate time and venue for a Judge review? Didn’t see one among the current Taurus list…

    • I did a two-parter, specifically to address articles like this one. (I mean, I generally like Boch’s writing, but this article has all the same poor assumptions made by folks who don’t understand the Judge).

      My review was on the Public Defender version.
      Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNVXuspaJtE

      Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDMDd4eAQO0

      With a Judge, ammunition choice is everything. With the wrong loads, the Judge is every bit as bad as Boch says. With the right loads, it’s every bit the handheld pocket shotgun that the buyer wishes for, and with the Lehigh Maximum Expansion it’s in a class all its own, with a bullet that expands to nearly 1.75″ across. But to do that it’s a big, heavy, five-shot revolver, so — you gotta decide whether that suits your needs or not.

      • ShootingTheBull410:

        I love your videos, which I consider the gold standard for ballistics testing. You make a very good argument on ammo selection. Unfortunately, the average person has never heard of you or your work.

        Yes, with the ideal ammo selection, the Judge and those like it can serve as moderately effective for personal defense. But for that size, weight and heft, a person can do *so* much butter. That’s my point. Not that the Judge in and of itself is an awful choice for defense of self- and home-.

        By the way, everyone should read your work on the .380 Auto!


  9. The .410 pistol was developed for bicyclists that were being chased by dogs. It works as a snake gun and has been an up close assassination weapon, which is why Ca outlawed them back when.
    I can’t think of another good use for them.

    • “…has been an up close assassination weapon, which is why Ca outlawed them back when.”

      Say what? 1) assassinations with a .410 revolver? Come on. Source? 2) CA didn’t specifically outlaw them. CA doesn’t allow short barreled shotguns and the Judge falls under the state’s definition of a “shotgun.” The law was the same before the Judge existed and they changed nothing about the law because of the Judge or the S&W version, etc. Interestingly enough, when configured as a [federally-registered] Any Other Weapon, the Judge becomes totally legal in CA.

      • It was probably from a Lee Child book – you know the guy that early in writing the Jack Reacher series thought a 14″bbl Desert Eagle was a practical carry gun and that a shotgun has a 45 degree dense spread of hundred of ultra deadly pellets.

        • And that GLOCKs and HK P7s have manual thumb safeties, etc etc. Yeah. Hey, he’s British after all. But the .410 revolver wasn’t featured. I read and enjoyed all the Reacher books, firearm mistakes or not.

          …I also enjoy James Rollins’ Sigma Force series even if he’s never heard of a gun other than a SIG and a GLOCK and good guys only ever have SIGs and bad guys only ever have GLOCKs.

          Brad Taylor, on the other hand, gets it right. Then again, he was 1st SFOD Delta.

      • Not correct. Ca has a law that specifically outlaws the firing of shotgun shells from pistols/handguns. Under no circumstances is a Judge legal in CA, even .410 Derringers are verboten. Now you want to know the idiotic part? You can easily find .410 shotshells loaded and labeled for pistol use at Walmart here in CA.

    • “I can’t think of another good use for them.”

      A “gift” for the drunk sister-in-law, perhaps?

    • If it really was designed for bicyclists (do you have a source for that info?), it must have been designed by someone who wasn’t familiar with the concept of the bicycle, and might have been a bit iffy on the topic of guns, too. I can’t think of many handguns that would be less convenient to be carried and deployed on a bicycle. Maybe one of those lever-action Mare’s leg “pistols” would be more awkward to use from a bicycle seat. Maybe.

      • Stinkeye. A bike craze swept the nation in the late 19th century. Bike guns followed shortly after. In some ways the guns made perfect sense. In those days rabies was a real and incurable threat.

        Most of the ones I have seen or read about were single shots with a wire stock. They clipped to the bike frame or handlebars for fairly quick access. Some where rifled and fired rounds from .22 all the way to .44. Some of the .44 models were smooth bored and used shot cartridges.

        They were available thru mail order and at local shops. Just like all the other guns.

        I really don’t think they were meant to be used from the bike while it was in motion.

  10. Usually, when I see someone OC’ing I give them “the nod.”

    If I saw someone OC’ing a Judge, I’d give them two thumbs down.

    • I’d wager that OCing a Judge is better than carrying no weapon at all. Maybe you should also be giving the thumbs down to people who clearly aren’t carrying any weapon;-)

  11. I think the most understated version of the Judge is the .454 “raging” judge. While I don’t approve of carrying wheel guns, it’s hard to argue that a .454 that can also load bird shot (for snakes and such) is not a useful gun for being put in the woods.

  12. I think Taurus really missed the boat. They had a 28 Gauge prototype Judge out a few years ago. When I saw it, I was thinking “28 Gauge? Why not 20?”.

    Just looking at the picture of the guy carrying with the .410 shells outside the holster tells you all you need to know about most people who carry a Judge.

    Each to thier own.

    • Blame the ATF. They ruled it illegal (or, well, they ruled it an SBS, which makes it illegal without jumping through hoops that would have hindered sales to the point of not making it worth it).

      28 gauge was chosen because it was actually a practical enough size to build, but 20 gauge was too big. In the end, the 28 gauge was ruled illegal because it was a short-barreled shotgun, not a handgun (no 28-gauge equivalent pistol round to go with it, like the .45 colt for the .410).

    • IIRC, the 28 ga. just barely got under the .500 cal. limit for non NFA firearms.

  13. I’ve always assumed (hoped) most people got these just for fun. And they *are* fun.

    BTW there are plenty of ballistic tests w/ the Judge on the ol’ YouTubes, including by our friend ShootingTheBull410, showing that the 000 Buckshot loads out of it are good for around 16″ of FBI spec gel penetration *and* usable group sizes (~2.5″ at 7 yards). So that’s five projectiles approximately the same diameter as a 9mm bullet in a decent little spread that all penetrate ~16″ in ballistics gel. With every shot. …while I agree the gun is rather silly and a generally weird choice for carry, I wouldn’t personally argue with the potential effectiveness of the 000 buck loads and I don’t think the shot spread (specifically the 000, as #4 and birdshot spread like a sprinkler) at typical self-defense distances poses an issue…

    • Agreed. When using the right ammo, the Judge certainly makes a case for itself in that it does what other pistols can’t. But ammo choice is crucial; the wrong ammo (like choosing birdshot) renders it a poor, if not stupid choice, for self defense. I think PDX-1 is a bad choice too, as the BBs make for way to wide a spread, thus increasing liability. But with the Federal 000 buckshot, especially from a 3″ chamber, you’re getting five bullets per trigger pull, each which will penetrate about 14″ on average. That’s about 320 grains of lead at 850 fps — that ain’t no joke.

      And the Maximum Expansion bullets give you a bullet that expands to 1.75″ in diameter — that’s twice as big as a fully-expanded HST. Nothing else does that, nothing else even comes close.

      On the other hand, it’s a big heavy revolver with a gigantic cylinder, and only five-shot capacity, so it’s certainly not for everyone.

      • Love your YouTube ballistic gel test reviews STB410, especially the 9mm quest, but trying to rationalize the Judge for defensive use or carry along with suggesting John Boch’s scathing write up on the Judge is because he doesn’t “understand” the Judge sounds suspiciously like bull$#it we’d expect to hear from a Taurus sales rep or someone else with a motive to carry water for Taurus.

    • Yep, playing with a heavy bulky impractical ballistically inferior shotgun that shoots expensive ammo sure sounds like a $hitload of “fun” to me.

    • Five #000 buckshot pellets, penetrating 16 inches, in a pretty tight pattern (say 1 inch pattern at 10 feet) has to be an incredibly devastating wound to an attacker.

      I had NO IDEA that such a .410 load existed … nor that it would penetrate that far. This has me seriously rethinking my home defense shotgun configuration.

  14. Sold to a pawn shop a few years ago!
    Reason:, ugly, heavy, and not practical!
    Fortunately when sold got close to what paid for it.
    Just don’t like this particular model of Taurus revolver. Well, actually don’t like Taurus revolvers period!

    Took money from sale of Taurus and with my own contributions, was able to purchase Ruger GP100, 357 black 4.25″ barrel revolver. Never brought another handgun based on price. Save up and buy quality. Sometimes just need to have handguns that are worth handing down to next generation.

  15. never saw much purpose for them, I can get snake loads for several of my other pistols, and can load them for my .45 autos if I so choose. plus I always thought the judge was ugly, kinda like a glock, but worse.

  16. Meh…buy one if you want one. Brenneke makes a 410slug that comes screaming out and won’t blow up. And 45Colt can be quite effective. The wife expressed interest in one but I ain’t buying it. MY shotgun has a 20″ barrel. BTW Taurus make a little “Public Defender” that can easily be carried. Article fail…

  17. Whatever. Its a great home defense gun, especially for beginners and the wife. I’m not advocating carrying it around the world, but at across the room distance those Federal 000 buckshots leave good groups for me (baseball size pattern) and provide ample penetration according to ShootingTheBull410’s tests. The 45 Colt versatlity is a bonus; mine runs 3-45C then 2-410 000, in that order.

    And don’t be a snob. Its fun to shoot and more accurate than I am. Try taking your Glock skeet shooting.

    The basis of your article is akin to “I don’t like pizza and neither should you.” I still read and enjoyed it.

    • That’s the same load out that I use with my Judge as well. I agree that it’s not a concealed carry gun and I use mine exclusively for home defense. As you said, it’s also a blast (literally) to shoot. Using Hornady .410 Defense shells, I don’t think anyone is going to get back up when shot at home defense distances. I picked mine up at a local Pawn Shop for a very good price. Don’t regret the purchase at all.

  18. I chose the Smith Governor because of it’s higher quality, and because it has an inoffensive name for any involvement a jury later on down the line.

    The only viable and intelligent choice of defensive rounds would be the Federal 000 buck. Four 36 caliber in the 2.5″, and five in the 3″. One shot in the chest is equal to a burst from a 380 MAC-11. And if one 380 ball is let’s say, a 50% fight stopper, does four 380 ball have a 200% chance?…sorta joking..sorta not.

    Also, I believe birdshot in a Governor or a Judge is a superior fight stopper in one scenario. And that is an armed carjacking. It’ll always be within 5 feet or so. Point at face, pull trigger, and you will be facing a bare skull.

    Another possible scenario is this…The situation is terrible, and you want to provide a gun for a completely untrained person. You give them a revolver it is simpler to operate than any semi auto.

    • I also bought the Smith Governor instead of the Judge. I was tempted several times on the Judge but always lost interest when it was actually in my hands. I got a great deal on a used Governor, gain an extra round and it also shoots .45 acp. I primarily bought it because it would be fun to shoot, woods hiking gun for snakes and carpenter bee skeet. I have been fighting carpenter bees for awhile and though if I was carful with my shots it would be fun to try skeet shooting them. I’m only hitting about a third of them so far but it is a lot of fun.

      I would never use it as a defensive carry.

    • I agree, the best gun to give a completely inexperienced person in a dire situation is a revolver. But a huge-ass revolver that shoots shotgun shells is probably not ideal in that scenario. That’s what S&W Model 10s are for.

    • Poor Bob obviously bought into the nonsensical line of bull$#it “ice to eskimos” sales pitch that convinced so many embarrassingly gullible folks to buy a Judge or Governor.

  19. That Lehigh Maximum Expansion round especially for it looks like it makes it adequate damage dealer.

  20. In addition to all of the practical issues in the article and comments above, from a legal standpoint, if you ever did have to use a gun called “The Judge” in self-defense, the prosecutor and the (hopefully deterred) aggressor’s civil attorney will absolutely crucify you for it. They will repeat the name over and over to paint you as a vigilante who believes they get to be The Judge and decide who lives and who dies. It’s a terrible name for a self-defense gun and why most manufacturers use a model number rather than a name that can be taken wildly out of context.

        • It was common sense that the world was flat and still is common sense that soft armor piercing bullets are only for killing cops. A case where someone was actually convicted of a crime or given a harsher sentence because of the model name of their gun would be a more compelling piece of evidence.

        • I get your point, APM, but I still think it’s a valid concern.

          Just because it hasn’t happened, doesn’t mean it won’t.

    • Guess what: that procsecutor is going to harp on anything, including a flag, sports team, social club, vehicle, movie choice, ancestry, etc. A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and if the gun was renamed “the Nun” it would still be a fire-breathing, lead-spitting monster in front of the wrong jury. But thats assuming you survived the initial encounter ling-enough to go through the legal system.
      Honestly, is “Governor” any more jury-friendly?

  21. I considered getting a Judge for a boat gun because alligators, but these days I’m thinking more along the lines of a compact .410 pump.


  22. If I had the choice between one of these and a can of green beans, I’ll take the green beans. I know that can kill a man.

  23. I’ve heard the judge referred to as “the trucker’s special”. For close range (someone opening the door to your truck while you’re snoozing at a truck stop for example) I would think it would be very effective with birdshot. And you don’t have to have it on you, just kept within easy reach when you’re parked. But other than auto carry, I can’t really think of a time where there isn’t a better or at least equal to option. And I had never thought about the name before. That really is just a bad idea.

  24. It is all about being able to shoot multiple projectiles. There is merit in the concept but if you sit down and think about it the execution will not work well.

    A .410 handgun is simple too small to hit anything with force at a distance (when not using a single bullet/slug). Up close I am sure it could do real damage with buckshot but a .38 special would do about as well and be much smaller. There might be a really small distance window where the judge makes it easier to hit a BG but still has enough velocity to be lethal. For that (potential) window you would be giving up everything. Better to go with a smaller piece or stay the same size and get more rounds and better distance.

    • “Up close I am sure it could do real damage with buckshot but a .38 special would do about as well and be much smaller”

      A .38 Special, especially one smaller than a Judge, means likely something like an LCR or Airweight, right? Certainly not suitable for long distances, they’re usually used within 7 yards or so.

      The .38 Special carries generally five rounds. The Judge shoots four .36-caliber bullets per trigger pull, so it’s carrying five shots with about 20 total bullets (in the small Public Defender version). 20 bullets is going to beat five, at close distances. And 250+ grains of lead beats 158 grains of lead.

      If you’re happy with a single bullet like a .38, why wouldn’t you be happier with a gigantic .45 Long Colt that expands to nearly 1.75″ in diameter? Or a 250-grain hollowpoint or hardcast lead bullet?

      Sorry, I just don’t see it. The Judge is much more devastating than the .38 Special no matter how you slice it. It’s bigger and heavier, yes, but if you go with the bigger heavier gun, you do get better terminal performance from it.

      • A .38 Special, especially one smaller than a Judge, means likely something like an LCR or Airweight, right? Certainly not suitable for long distances, they’re usually used within 7 yards or so.

        I killed a wounded possum at about 15 yards with an LCR-X 3″ last year, no problem. It’s way smaller and lighter than a Judge. And I have .38 snake shot rounds.

        I’ve also got a couple .357 magnum revolvers that are less bulky than a Judge, and .357 magnum beats .45 Colt in everything but the Buffalo Bore Blackhawk loads that you can’t fire through a Judge.

        If you want .45, there are less-bulky .45 revolvers than a Judge.

      • Of course a .45 LC is a much more potent round. My point was not so much about caliber and kinetic energy but about hit probability. At under 10 feet the spread on a pocket shotgun does not really help you land a hit where you would not with a single projectile. And a judge with buckshot does not match up well against similar sized handguns when it comes to distance.

        If you want raw power in a gun that is the same size as, or smaller than, a Judge then there are plenty of choices. The only real merit the Judge has is the shotgun effect. You pay alot for that capability wise and get little in return.

  25. It’s a niche gun IMHO. Not as niche as a .50AE Deagle but still niche.

    When I was in college I had a guy who knew I was a “gun nut” pull something similar with me. He says he’s got something to show me. Turns out he’s Mexican carrying a .50AE Eagle. One of those gold colored Titanium coated jobs. SMH.

    I just laughed and told him that in the time it took him to draw that 5lb cannon and aim it he’d probably have been shot repeatedly. A few weeks later he sold that thing and got a 92FS.

  26. I’d like to see the .380 that ejects a 90 gr. bullet at “near” 1800 fps. Hogwash. That’s “near” twice as fast.

    Which is just sloppy writing.

    But yes, the Judge sucks on many levels, and any .410 shell is less effective than many alternatives. That is certainly true, and I have to bite my tongue when I hear the ignorant praising them.

  27. Haters gotta hate. Especially ones that are going for the low-hanging fruit of the Judge/Governor variety.

    I love my Governor and conceal carry it whenever possible. Why? ‘Cause I can.

  28. The Judge is silly for most self defense roles, but if works extremely well on snakes. If you live in the southeast and spend a lot of time in the woods during the summer it is not a bad choice. #6 works great for cottonmouths and rattlesnakes.

  29. I like my Circuit Judge, OK. 16″ barrel changes everything, ballistically. However, it’s not as accurate with .45 Colt as I’d like. Judges and Governors are ridiculous carry guns, though. If I am going to carry a relatively large heavy revolver, it’s going to be my S&W 681.

  30. Ammo selection is everything with these. The problem is that a lot of Judge buyers don’t realize that, and ammo manufacturers have labeled certain. 410 loads as “personal protection” or “handgun defense” that aren’t suitable for anything besides squirrels and snakes. I’ve shot them, and they’re okay guns for what they are. I know full-fledged gun nuts who own them, but only for snakes while going on trails, through the woods, or maintaining their properties. I’ve considered one for the same reason, but just take the XDs 9mm with me. It’s lighter and easier to carry, but harder to hit a slithering snake with.

    • “Ammo selection is everything with these.”

      Agreed wholeheartedly. Generic .410 shotgun ammo sucks in a Judge. After testing pretty much all the ammo on the market, I only recommend the Federal 000 “.410 Handgun” buckshot, or the NobelSport 0000 .40-cal buckshot.

      “but just take the XDs 9mm with me. It’s lighter and easier to carry, but harder to hit a slithering snake with.”
      No doubt the XDs is infinitely lighter and easier to carry. You can get ratshot 9mm cartridges for that, CCI makes a 9mm birdshot load, would probably make it easier to hit a snake with but I doubt it will cycle the action reliably. At any distance though, the energy in such a small shot load would dissipate pretty quickly, so it may not be that good of an idea.

  31. So firing twenty five 000 pellets, at a bad guy 10-15 feet away, won’t stop the BG? That’d be a pretty damn BAD guy.

  32. To throw gas on the argument, there is a .410 load with 3, 000 buckshot at 1300 fps out of a pistol length barrel. The 2 3/4 12 gauge 000 load is 1380 fps with 8 buckshot from a shotgun length barrel. I don’t think I would feel under armed with either.

    That said, I don’t think of a Judge or the Governor as an everyday carry gun. As others have noted, it’s better as a trail gun loaded with a birdshot load for snakes and .45 LC if you expect something more dangerous. That isn’t to say there aren’t alternatives for trail guns that might work better. Bond derringer in .45/410 for snakes (you’re probably not going to shoot a lot of snakes and it’s small.) and you pick it for something more dangerous.

  33. B.S. its a bad ass gun. Don’t carry. Used for in home defense with the good ammo..
    You guys are something else when it comes to weapons..everybody is a know it all
    Come through my front door, i bet I blow you out the way you came in..
    In the dark, point in the direction..
    The gun has a purpose.. I’m a big man with big hands fits me well.
    If you never been in a real gun fight, the chance of you hitting anything is a slim chance anyway..Most of you would be pissing yourself.
    Real gun fight, YOU shoot paper targets boys!

    • You sir seem like the only one on here that knows what he is talking about and makes any sense. The people saying th Judge isn’t a good gun is the same ones that say you can’t kill a person with a .22. LOL. Saying a .410 pellet or slug or a .45 won’t hurt someone. These guys make me piss myself LMFAO …

  34. I love my Judge as a night stand gun. Experts agree. A shotgun is best for home defense. Experts also agree. A hand gun is easier to maneuver while in a building. A 00 buck shot .410 shell to the chest of any invader will solve the problem.
    As a carry gun its just too heavy, at least for me.

    But as a utilitarian gun it’s outstanding. You can get shotgun adapters that will let you shoot up to 6 additional bullet calibers.

  35. The Taurus Judge and other .45/.410 firearms have inspired many uniformed .410 “gauge” shotgun owners to load .45 Colt cartridges in .410 shotguns. Yes, a .45 bullet through a .41 caliber barrel!

    Truth be known, a better combination for this arcane sidearm would have been a .38-40 / .410 “gauge” combination – with very slow shallow rifling. That way those who wanted a shotgun-like revolver could have proper .410 barrel bore size for better velocity and patterning. The .40 caliber bullet of the .38-40 would then be funneled into a slightly large bore. Best of all, when someone decided to fire a .38-40 round in their .410 shotgun – the undersized .40 caliber bullet would give little cause for concern in the chambering mismatch.

  36. My Public Defender feels good, points good and resides on my night stand. Yes yes I know it is only 5 rounds but it is perfect for a threat at the close bedroom door (Mossberg 500 alongside bed too).

    I don’t carry it but I am pretty sure if/when presented, it would change the conversation…

  37. Man shut up, I’d carry a snub nose judge with colt ammo before I carry a auto n leave shells laying around for finger prints why help the cops out also have less probability of jamming revolver is gonna hit

    • …leave shells laying around for finger prints why help the cops out…

      So you say you’re planning a crime.

  38. I agree with most of this article, I have a Judge 3″ Stainless Steel and conceal it whenever I want to. I have fired many different loads through the gun. I feel that the 3″ Winchester Super X Buckshot is more of a hunting round where the 3″ Winchester Super X Slugs is better for self defense in close courters. My prefer carrry round is the Underwood Ammo 45 Colt+p 250 grain its got a lot of power and that Judge handles it just fine. What it comes down to like always is shot placement and good ammo. If you are worried about only 5 rounds get two speed loaders with a pouch.

  39. Let me preface my comments by saying I do own a Judge, the 4.25″ tracker model. Mine was a gift from my wife, if it was my money I would have probably bought the Governor. I do carry mine open and concealed regularly.

    1. About the ammo. Shooting the bull 410 did a thorough testing of 410 handgun ammo, there are plenty of viable choices for home defense although I would never carry buckshot in a public place, that’s what 45 colt is for. I challenge you to google Lehigh maximum expansion for Judge and Gov and tell me it’s not an effective choice for carry. Also have Underwood Xtreme Defender with 600 ft lbs of muzzle energy now, BTW.

    2 “Yes, you can use The Judge to fire .45 Colt. But if you really like that caliber in a self-defense gun, you can get a six-shooter .45 Long Colt that’s smaller, more accurate, easier to conceal and did I mention holds six rounds instead of five?”
    – Show me a 6 shot 45 colt double action revolver that is smaller and easier to conceal than a Judge Public defender. I’m not aware of any 6 shot 45 colt handguns that aren’t built on N frames or Redhawks. The standard 2.5″ chamber Judge is the size of an L frame revolver with a longer cylinder. The width is 1.5″ which is narrower than a 686 or GP100. N frames measure 1.78″ thick, RedHawks even wider. Exactly which 6 shot smaller, more accurate and easier to conceal 45 colt revolvers are you referencing in your statement?

    Seems like a clickbaity article.

    • Regarding other .45 carry guns — you’re comparing five-round cylinders against six-round cylinders, so apples-to-oranges. The extra round is a pretty big deal — worth a few tenths of an inch. Also, .45 ACP has pretty similar ballistics, and there are a number of .45 ACP revolvers available with similar dimensions. Plus, those cylinders on the Judge are so much longer, which makes a big difference in comfort, accuracy and concealability.

      Second, I think a better alternative to the judge is .357 magnum. It’s better than .45 Colt and .45 ACP in most loads (certainly anything safe to fire out of a Judge), and there are definitely a lot of .357 magnum revolvers a lot more comfortable and concealable than the Judge. Ruger SP101, for starters (1.349″ cylinder). LCR and S&W snubbies if you can handle the recoil.

      • Cloudbuster; while I agree with Bob H and his comments, you do bring up some great points about the metrics involving this conversation. Regarding the cylinder and capacity, I have heard rumors that there are fewer rounds in the cylinder of these Taurus revolvers so there is less of a risk of exploding if over-pressured ammunition is utilized. I have a 454 Raging Bull, and I do love it; I wouldn’t trade it for another brand in the same caliber. The extra mass, the back-strap on the grip, and the ported barrel all combine together to make it comfortable to shoot with full power 454 loads. I shot my revolver back-to-back with a Ruger 44 Mag, mine was more comfortable by a mile.

        I really do appreciate your use of facts instead of feelings regarding this conversation, this is something John Boch and some other commenters should take heed of and follow.

      • I also agree in many cases a 6 shot 357 Magnum beats 5 rounds of 45 colt, however I was quoting the article which states -“Yes, you can us The Judge to fire .45 Colt. But if you really like that caliber in a self-defense gun, you can get a six-shooter .45 Long Colt that’s smaller, more accurate, easier to conceal and did I mention holds six rounds instead of five?” I’m pointing out his inaccurate statement that you can get a 6 ROUND 45 colt handgun that is smaller than a Judge.
        Plus currently there is only ONE 45ACP double action revolver not built on an N frame, Redhawk or Governor. That ONE choice is the 5 shot Charter Arms Pit Bull, which makes the Taurus public defender look like an even better choice by comparison.

  40. It’s pretty simple. A lot of people that shoot occasionally, like guns, and perhaps have a carry permit don’t know crap about guns. And this is America (still pretty much), bigger is better so when you tell them “shotgun in a pistol” it’s like a Big Mac and Supersize soda all together!!!! . . . but in a gun.

    Personally, after watching gun writer Dick Metcalf shill for that silly gun I will never listen to anything that guy says in the gun press. Ever.

    But it would be kind of fun to shoot clay pigeons with. . .

  41. To me Mr. Boch’s article sounds like “If all you can afford if a Hi-Point you better off with no gun,” type of personal opinions masquerading as arguments.

  42. I have a ton of guns but for my daily carry, I tote the Taurus Public Defender. I have no problem with its weight, the grip is small so it fits real good in my hand. I’ve shot it quite a few times and I like it. Not as much muscle as my 5.7 but none the less, it does exactly what I want it to do.

  43. I swear, non shotgun pistol owners should all get Tumblr accounts so they can all whine together. I hardly ever hear about these guns until someone goes off on a rant about how they don’t like them.

    I don’t own one and always forget they even exist until I see stuff like this.

  44. Say what you will about the practical utility of the Judge, it was a brilliant marketing move.

  45. Over a decade later and folks still haven’t learned that specialty ammo for the Judge exists for a reason? Ordinary .410 ammo designed for smooth 18″+ barrels perfoms poorly out of a rifled 3″ barrel, who have thunk it?!
    Seriously, I sincerely hope that folks are intentionally feigning ignorance at this point because otherwise it’s embarrassing how far folks will go in attempt to push their personal biased against the Judge over a decade after its release.

    Also, who carries a standard Judge? Seriously, Taurus has long since introduced the Public Defender Poly model which is significantly smaller and lighter than the standard Judge, so arguing that the standard Judge is excessively large/heavy for carry is a moot point as well. Once again, I’m beginning to wonder if the folks who write these articles are deliberately ignoring any/all relevant situations in which the Judge shines and purposely places them in situations in which they obviously perform poorly just to keep pushing their insane biased against a revolver which has been on the market for 11 years, otherwise these editors are incompetent and thus write biased opinion pieces without doing the necessary research into the product they’re reviewing before they start furiously clacking away at their keyboard about how the countless individuals who own Judges are all fools and how he, the writer is so much more intelligent/knows better.

    I own a Taurus Judge Magnum which sits at my bedside loaded with the proper Federal Premium .410 Handgun 000 Buck ammo, which anyone who bothers to watch ammo tests on YouTube (honorable mention to ShootingtheBull410) can see performances fantastically out of the Judge and makes for a formidable Home Defense weapon.

  46. I am so glad I read this article and the comments. Although I knew it was not logical, I was considering buying a Judge today. I just liked it because it was “different” – a pistol shotgun/45 long Colt. It is too big and not comfortable in my big arthritic hands (The public Defender is smaller, but grip is shorter and even more uncomfortable). I I had the money for an extra “toy” I would still get it, but this article changed my mind for sure. The ballistics was a factor, although I think the .45, 000 or 0000 buckshot would be fine. I really need something more suited for concealed carry. I am probably going with a Glock .40, but I need to research the different models as I am not familiar with differences. I was carrying a 9mm Ruger LC9 S Pro and loved it – should not have let it go. Might be best to buy the same, but just want something different this time. If I have money to waste later, still might buy a judge as a toy – take it out to play with then keep in the nightstand with buckshot. They do make another special .410 pistol load that has 3 projectiles, forget particulars – I think 2 round and something else – maybe a disc?

  47. WOW!!!! I always love the folks that see concealed carry as some sort of high capacity standoff with 50 or so well armed druggies and your only chance of survival is high capacity and lots of extra magazines to stay in the fight.
    Read the American Rifleman’s monthly article “The Armed Citizen”. They have chronicled armed encounters with the bad guys in the USA for 60+ years. The bottom line is that the bad guys want soft targets and all run for cover, hit or miss, when the first shot is fired.
    Most of us would be better off with a revolver because it is safe, more reliable and very easy to use compared to semi-autos. If you think you will shoot more than 5 times, you need to change brands dope!!!!
    I keep a Judge the night stand for my wife who is not opposed to guns, but does not
    want to practice, so is a bad shot. The first two cylinders are loaded with .410, and the last three with .45 LC. There is no safety on a revolver, if confronted, she will point and pull the trigger 5 times. I can promise you, there will be no further confrontation. No intruder is going to stand still through the encounter.

  48. Do any of the Judge haters live on a farm? I do, and a Public Defender Polymer is my daily carry gun when I’m working outside. Here in the hills of Kentucky the biggest threat to me is rattlesnakes, followed by pitbulls that were dumped by their owners when they got too mean. Meth wackos are a distant third.
    The Judge is the only handgun I know that will handle all those threats without breaking a sweat. I load it with a mix of No. 6 birdshot, Federal 000 Buck and Hornady Critical Defense .45 Colt, adjusted for the season. When I retire for the evening I often load five 000 Buck, as the distance from my bed to the bedroom door is only about 10 feet.
    For those who advise getting a .45 Colt revolver instead, I will say that your bank account must be bigger than mine. I paid less than $350 for my Judge, while other .45 revolvers in my area cost anywhere from $600 to $1000. I can buy a lot of ammo with the savings.

  49. Love the PD Poly. To all the haters, let’s price it at 1,200.00 and stick the SIG name on it. Then it will be all the rage and everyone will be ranting about how cool and groundbreaking it is. Don’t like it, GOOD. I and prob 100,000 other Amercians love it. It’s a real world practical firearm/tool unlike the mall ninja toys. For people who really use firearms it’s fantastic. I also have the Governor and they are both keepers.

  50. I doubt you could show me three people within ten miles of each other who carry a judge on their hip daily. I own the Public Defender… (So the Judge would be nicer to me) Ha! I like the gun because in the middle of the night I don’t have to worry much about being nice and easy on the trigger, finding my target, lining up my sights, controlling my breath, and squeezing. If I am in doubt I let off the first shot in their general direction. It is all shot and is going to to make them slow down and fast.

    If they haven’t peed their pants because of the thunder then I know they are intent on harming me. Now I can get down to business and control my adrenaline. Only the first shot is a shotgun shell. The other four rounds are my business. I can hand off the nine to my wife and secure her phone and room.

    To carry this gun in public is asking for a challenge. There are about 9 billion with a B people on this planet. At least one will make the mistake of challenging back. Why go to that trouble? Leave it in the house or take it for hunting bear. do not try and use it for daily carry. That’s crazy.

  51. Ok, I know he makes the claim that he’s not a math guy, but a 12 bullet clip is bigger than a 5 shooter Judge. Buuuut, lets go to the math with a made for a Judge (therefore more accurate than random shotgun shell) ammo. Now I have 5 shotty shells that put out 4 9mm bullets each roughly. So that is 20 bullets with 5 trigger pulls – yes it’s harder trigger pulls, but still it’s just 5 pulls. 20 bullets in 5 trigger pulls, a whole hell of a lot of shock and a awesome hailstorm of bullets to wet the pants of those on the business end at least.

    That being said, I’m more a diplomacy is the sharpest sword of war type and would rather not have to use any gun, until push comes to shove. But if I do, just the psychological warfare that the Judge packs might stop things from going to the first trigger pull. Then if it comes to last ditch time then the math is 20 bullets in 5 trigger pulls – which beats a gun with a clip. If it goes farther than a compressed flurry of carnage then I may well be screwed, but in my mind I would be screwed with any and all gun choices by that point.

  52. I believe this is one of the best pistols for a woman. The snub nose is small enough to put in their purse.If a man or woman meen harm to the gun owner and is at close range, intruder you are dead. 5 trigger pulls should take care of the problem. This is a no jamb pistol which takes no prisoners. This pistol does what it is suppose to do, save your life.

  53. Except that underwood has been making a bullet for the Judge that may make it a far better self defense weapon than a standard 45 Colt. Also, keep in mind, so many people are pushing semi auto pistols to first time gun buyers for defense, and in my experience, many of these people think they are ready for that defense without learning the basics of the firearms operation. As far as self defense goes, that is likely a bigger problem, than whether the Judge can stop someone with bird shot.

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