The Box O’ Truth #53 – The Taurus Judge, Revisited

A recent thread about the Judge created a lot of debate on AR15.com, as it often does.

A friend of the Box O’ Truth had asked me if the Judge would be good to use when hiking “in case of a bear attack”. I advised him that there were much better choices for bear. And that is the danger of over-hyping a firearm system. Those that are not trained in terminal ballistics might make a poor decision about a weapon system because of misleading information.

The first Judge I tested was a 2 ½ inch model and some folks criticized me and said it would have performed better if I had a 3 inch model. They also said that since I had cut down a 3 inch buckshot load to 2 ½ inches, it spoiled the test. They also said that some of the new ammo designed for the Judge would work “a lot better”.

My friend ArmedSuspect contacted me and said, “I am an FFL and have a gun shop. I am willing to acquire a 3 inch Judge to test some of the new “Personal Defense” ammunition that is being marketed, if you are willing to do some tests.”

How could I refuse?

ArmedSuspect is a very knowledgeable regarding firearms and owns a gun shop called Ashby Arms in Harrisonburg, VA. His website is http://www.ashbyarms.com/.

He sent a 3 inch Judge to my FFL and included various samples of “better” ammunition.

Here’s what he sent.

Here’s what he sent.

First the 3” Judge.

As someone said, “It looks like a fat girl all dressed up for the prom.”

I have it next to a Glock 19, 9mm pistol.

Notice the size comparison. The Judge is a big pistol.

Now make no mistake… I like Taurus firearms.

I have owned several (never a Judge) and they all worked well and were well-buil

This Judge is not “pretty” to me, but it is well-built and looks like a quality product. I am not “against” the Judge.

I just want to find out if it will meet self-defense standards with .410 shotgun ammunition.

The ribbed grips on the Judge were very comfortable and really tamed the recoil on this pistol. It also had a nice high-visibility front sight that worked well.

Here’s the ammo that ArmedSuspect sent.

Here’s the ammo that ArmedSuspect sent.

First is some Winchester 3 inch 000 Buckshot (5 pellets).

Next, some Winchester Supreme Elite, PDX1, 2 ½ inch Ammunition for Personal Defense, 12 plated BBs, and 3 plated Cylinder Projectiles.

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Then some Federal Premium, .410 Handgun, 3 inch Buckshot, 9 pellets of #4 Buck, with a listed velocity of 1100 fps.

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Then some Remington HD Ultimate Home Defense, 2 ½ inch 00 Buckshot, 4 pellets, 1,300 fps.

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And lastly, some Winchester 3 inch ¼ oz. Hollow Point Rifled Slug, 1,800 fps velocity.

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Now, before we start shooting, let me be clear. All of this ammo looks like high quality ammunition.

All of these manufacturers make high quality ammunition. It is well made and would probably do fairly well out of a longer shotgun barrel. (We may try that and see.)

But the Judge has a 3 inch barrel, and that’s not very long to build velocity. Will it develop enough velocity to be effective in this short barrel? Let’s see how well it performs.

We will be shooting it into the Waterbox O’ Truth and into water jugs, with 4 layers of denim in front.

To make the FBI 12 inch penetration standard, it will need to fully penetrate through 4 water jugs, for 24 inches of water.

That’s a long way.

People often ask, “Why is the penetration standard 12 inches? Most people are not 12 inches “thick”.”

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The answer is that the FBI did a study of what was needed for ammunition to be effective, based upon the ammunition failure in the famous Miami Shootout, to reach the vital organs of the bad guy and Stop him from doing what he was doing. They determined that to be sure to reach the vital organs or central nervous system, a round should penetrate from 12 to 15 inches into ballistics gelatin. This included penetration through 4 layers of denim material to account for thick clothing, and also to account for the possibility of the round needing to penetrate through arms or limbs before hitting the torso.

If you think about it, if a bad guy is pointing a gun at you, your round might need to fully penetrate his hands or arms before even starting to penetrate his torso. The 12 inch minimum standard allows for effectiveness from any angle and through any extremities. Therefore, we require any self-defense round to meet or exceed the FBI 12 inch minimum penetration standard. And since water works at a 2 to 1 ratio to ballistic gelatin, a round must penetrate 24 inches of water (4 jugs) to meet the standard of 12 inches of BG.

First, a round of the Winchester 000 Buck.

I got wet.

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The 5 000 buck penetrated into the 4th jug, for 9 to 12 inches penetration.

Notice how they were flattened as they went down the barrel.

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Next, the Winchester Supreme Elite PDX1 ammo.

There were bbs in the 1st and 2nd jugs, and the discs were in the 2nd and 3rd jug, for a maximum penetration of 6 to 9 inches.

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We then tried the Federal 3 inch #4 buck.

It left the wad in the denim.

These pellets made it into the 3rd jug, for a maximum penetration of 6 to 9 inches.

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However, some of the pellets left the water jugs and were found in the bottom of the Waterbox.

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Then the Remington Home Defense 2 ½ inch 00 buck.

There was one pellet in the 2nd jug, 3 pellets in the 3rd jug, and 1 pellet even entered the 5th jug, for a maximum penetration of 12 to 15 inches.

Notice how they were flattened.

Notice how they were flattened.

Lastly, we tried two rounds of the 3 inch slug.

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One made 3 jugs and one made 4 jugs, for a maximum penetration of 12 inches.

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Then we tried the 000 buck out of a 28 inch .410 shotgun, just to see what the longer barrel would do.

I got wet some more.

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The 000 pellets made it into the 5th jug, for 12 to 15 inches maximum penetration.

Made some difference after all.

We also tried the PDX1 rounds in the shotgun and the BBs were in the 3rd and 4th jugs, with the discs making it into the 5th jug.

Pretty impressive difference.

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We then set up a target at 7 yards and shot it with some #6 birdshot.

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Notice that the shot pattern was all the way from the bottom to the top, meaning that a lot of pellets missed the target.

A short barrel, that is rifled, will really shoot a wide pattern, which, contrary to what some might think, is really bad.

You are responsible for all those pellets that missed the target.

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We then tried the #4 buck load.

Notice the recoil.

Notice the recoil.

The load had 9 pellets, but we only found 7 holes.

That means 2 pellets missed the target all together.

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Lastly, we shot the PDX1 load at the target.

It looked like two of the discs went into the same hole, but we only counted 9 of the BBs, which means that 3 of them missed the target.

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Lessons learned:
  1. The 3 inch .410 shells did slightly better than the 2 ½ inch shells did. But most of them still failed to make the 12 inch minimum penetration standard. However, a few loads made the minimum penetration standard.
  2. Some of the pellets deviated sharply from their path and left the water jugs.
  3. The longer barrel of the 28 inch shotgun made quite a difference in penetration. It seems that the short 3 inch barrel of the Judge is its main limitation.
  4. Even at 7 yards, the pattern of the Judge is too wide, and will cause some of the load to miss a bad guy. Not only are you responsible for every pellet you send down range, but if they miss him, they do not Stop him.
  5. The sun was shining, it was a blue bird day, and it was better than any day I ever spent at work.
  6. It’s fun to shoot stuff.

Many thanks to ArmedSuspect and Ashby Arms in Harrisonburg, VA, for supplying the Judge and ammo for this test. And thanks to Vern and Bill for the help hauling all that water.