The Box O’ Truth #41 – The Taurus Judge Vs. The Box O’ Truth

I have been surprised at how many folks have contacted me and asked if I could test the new Taurus Judge pistol. This pistol is chambered for both 2 1/2 inch .410 shotgun shells and also the .45 Long Colt cartridge.

For some reason that escapes me, some folks seem to be determined to want to use the .410 shotgun shell as a personal defense weapon. I did not own a Judge, but my good friend Jack bought one, mainly for snake control. He agreed to let me test his and see what we could see.

First, let’s talk about shotgun loads. Unless you have shopped for .410 shotgun shells, you may be unaware of just how hard it is to find exactly what you want. I wanted an example of a slug, some buckshot, and some birdshot. It took a lot of looking at several big stores to find what I needed. This may be a problem for those that want to use this gun for anything other than birdshot.

The Taurus Judge is a finely made and nicely built revolver.

I will have to admit that the “looks” do not appeal to me much, but as Forrest Gump says, “Pretty is as pretty does”.

Let’s go to the range.

First, let’s look at birdshot.

I have some Remington #6 shot and we will shoot for pattern at about 10 yards.

This is why Jack bought the pistol.


I will cut one shell open to answer another question I often get about shotshells in general.

The question is: Will shooting shotshells in a rifled barrel cause lead build-up on the rifling?

As you can see, the shot are enclosed in a shot-cup, made of plastic.

It prevents the pellets from contacting the rifling at all.

That is why it will not harm a rifled barrel to shoot shotshells in it.

41-2Let’s see how it will do against a snake.

The pistol is in full recoil.

The pistol is in full recoil.

I was surprised at how much recoil there was.

Here's the results.

Here’s the results.

Looks like it would ruin a snake’s day just fine.

Let’s look at penetration.

We will shoot it into a liter bottle of water.


It busted the bottle just fine.

But the pellets only penetrated one side of the bottle.

They did not exit.

That means less than 2 inches of penetration into flesh.

Not nearly enough for a defensive round.

The poor penetration is the reason that birdshot, in any gauge, is a poor defense load


Let’s look at the buckshot.

The 2 1/2 inch, .410 buckshot contains 3 – 000 buckshot pellets.

But here’s where the unavailability of this ammo came into play.

I looked all over the county, and the only .410 buckshot I could find was 3 inch.

The 2 1/2 inch buckshot has 3 – 000 pellets and the 3 inch shells have 5 – 000 pellets.

The Judge will only fire 2 1/2 inch shells, so I had to cut the 3 inch shells down to 2 1/2 inches.

It’s the best I could do, but should not make any big difference.

The individual buckshot measured .34 inches in diameter and weighed about 62 grains each.

41-7We will shoot it into the Waterbox O’ Truth.

Continued below...


Notice the spread of the three buckshot.

Notice the spread of the three buckshot.

The buckshot only penetrated one jug and went into the second one.

That is equal to about 4.5 inches of penetration into ballistic gelatin or bad guy.

Not nearly enough.

The shot were flattened completely, but not from hitting the water jugs.

I believe it is a result of the three pellets being forced down the barrel and smashing each other flat


The Rifles Slug was cut open and the slug was exactly .40 inches in diameter and weighed 96 grains.

It had a white powder as a filler behind the slug.

This was surprisingly light to me.

Some have mistakenly said, “Getting hit by a .410 slug is like getting shot with a .41 caliber pistol.”

But a .41 Magnum lead bullet weighs approximately 210 grains, over twice the weight of this slug.


The Remington data says it leaves the muzzle at 1,830 fps out of a shotgun barrel.

This shorter barrel will have less velocity.

Let’s see how it does.


It penetrated 2 1/2 jugs or equal to 7.5 inches of BG.

Again, well short of the 12 inches minimum required for a defense load.

The soft lead projectile was flattened out quite a bit.


Well, how about a .45 Long Colt cartridge?

I tried an old Winchester Silver Tip that I had.

The recoil was “brisk” compared to the .410 ammo.


It penetrated 5 jugs, or equal to 15 inches of BG.

Plenty of penetration, but the expansion was not very good, a problem with this particular bullet.


When I got home, I took this picture to show that buckshot and slug compared to unfired versions.

When I got home, I took this picture to show that buckshot and slug compared to unfired versions.

It is amazing how much they flattened out.

Well, before we left the range, I decided to have some fun.

I brought some clay pigeons and threw them up with my left hand and shot them with the birdshot.


It was fun and easier than I thought it would be.

I brought 10 clays and managed to bust 9 out of 10.


Lessons learned:
  1. Jack bought this pistol for snakes and it looks like a fine tool for that job.
  2. Birdshot, in any gauge, is for little birds.
  3. Buckshot out of a .410 does not penetrate enough to be an effective personal defense load.
  4. The rifled slug was also a disappointment and did not have enough weight or power or penetration to be effective as a defense load.
  5. The .45 Long Colt loads had plenty of penetration and would be the preferred defense load for this pistol.
  6. It’s fun to bust clays with this pistol.

And, as usual, it’s always fun to shoot stuff.

Thanks to Jack for the loan of the pistol and thanks to Tman for the photo and water hauling help.

7 Comments on The Box O’ Truth #41 – The Taurus Judge Vs. The Box O’ Truth

  1. You should have taken the time to order Hornady’s Defender rounds:

    They are specifically designed for pistols of this nature and are significantly better than straight up buck shot rounds.

    “Delivering effective shot patterns that place all projectiles on a man-sized target at seven yards, the Critical Defense® 410 features a unique Triple Defense™ projectile stack consisting of two 35 caliber round balls topped with one non-jacketed FTX® slug.

    Unique to the Critical Defense 410, the 41 caliber FTX® slug actually engages the gun’s rifling, and contacts the target nose-on, enabling the patented Hornady Flex Tip® technology to assist in expansion for greatly enhanced terminal performance. Each 35 caliber round ball is made of high antimony, cold swaged lead to resist deformation and provide excellent penetration. The 410 Critical Defense is loaded to 750 fps at the muzzle with 294 ft lbs of energy.

    Critical Defense® 410 Triple Defense™ – – –
    you be the JUDGE!
    Triple Defense™ projectile column
    Unique 41 caliber FTX® slug
    TWO 35 caliber high antimony lead round balls”

    I have a Judge and I keep Hornady’s it and keep 2 speed loaders of hollow point .45 Colt’s as back up. I think that since you would be firing at less than 15′ with a pistol any way, that’s the way to go. Your first few rounds are rarely well aimed and thus, having “3” shots in each case makes it worth while.

  2. I had a chat with Taurus about the use of slugs , I was informed by Taurus to not shoot rifled slugs from the firearm . The original reason I talked with them was because some federal slugs were mushrooming at the brass and jamming the cylinder from turning it was also very hard to open the cylinder to empty and reload it was jammed tight . Imagine trying to use the palm of your hand to open the cylinder and it not opening .

  3. Fernandez Ortega // March 27, 2016 at 3:14 pm // Reply

    white powder filler? mine had sawdust! :( now I know where my shipment went

  4. I really dont care about your test results! Would Yu wanna get shot with this pistol and round?

  5. I hear of folk enjoying these for Rabbit’s,and grouse in the thicken’s.I have one but have not ever tried the 410 out of it as of yet.I was amazed by the range loading the 45LC.These are not our grand-dad’s Snubby’s.The frame’s are very stable for accuracy.Many knock them until they own one.I like tight grouping’s and these are the cat’s meow.Lunch box/meat -n-tater’s.

  6. John Harvey // May 21, 2016 at 4:38 pm // Reply

    I had a Judge Chambered for 3 inch shells and made of Stainless Steel. After shooting 2 boxes of .410’s and a box of 45 LC’s I couldn’t wait to get rid of the gun. The new owner wanted it to kill snakes while he bow hunted. I hope it serves him well. Would I own another one? Not in this lifetime.

  7. Stuffdogg // May 28, 2016 at 9:50 am // Reply

    410 ammo designed for long rifles do not work well in this gun, use ammo designed for the judge and results are very good. The best I’ve seen tested is probably Federal 410 handgun , it uses 000 buck and patterns very tight and exeded the 12inch FBI penetration standards through calibrated gel tests. The PDX1 load is not good in my opinion as the disk and bb pattern is too wide even at 10 feet and the bb’s do not penetrate to the FBI 12″ minimum in calibrated gel tests. Check out shootingthebull YouTube channel , his testing shows what ammo is good in this gun , it’s usually the stuff that was designed for the gun.

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