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.

41-1

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.

41-5

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

41-6

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.

41-8

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

41-10

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.

41-11

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.

41-12

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.

41-13

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.

41-14

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.

41-15

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.

41-17

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

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

41-18

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.

22 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:
    http://www.hornady.com/store/410-Critical-Defense-Ammo/

    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 .

    • I’m certainly not a ballistics expert but I did drop a deer at 70 yards with my 4″ judge using the 45 long colt. Probably a lucky shot but I’m still eating venison steaks!

  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?

    • I can’t believe the negative remarks about this piece. I sure wouldn’t want to get shot in the chest with a gun that penetrates only two inches. As I look at my chest I wonder, is there that much skin and flesh to my heart and lungs.
      I sure wouldn’t want to get hit by #7 or triple o buck. My bet is most of the negative post are from glock Owens and are 9mm fans.

  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.

  8. Well I agree with jerry and rich I own a 3″ magnum and absolutely love this fire arm fired literally hundreds of rounds through it with no problems what so ever. Bird shot at pitched clays, colts at everything from water bottles to steel plinkers, pdx, buckshot hornady slugs it gobbles them up and beggs for more most of the nay sayers I have come across are all just misinformed or just perpetuate the cycle of tauras being bad firearms I own several and also own more expensive guns but the fact for me is in my experience my tauri all shoot well and function well. I even shot some leehi defence max expansion rounds in my judge got 1.75″ expansion yeiks like getting shot with a broadhead expensive but impressive. Every time I go to range if someone is negative towards my judge I just load it up and put it in their hands and get same result every time “I gotta get one of these”

  9. Allen Greenspan // September 15, 2016 at 2:25 am // Reply

    I took my judge that can shoot 3″ shells to the range and had a bit of fun on the rifle range with .45LC I could get “OK” groups (6 or 8″) of 5 shots at 100 yards. Even the old timers were impressed with the accuracy and power of this revolver.

    I keep it loaded with 3 3″ winchester PDX rounds which at 12 feet completely obliterate 1/2″ plywood in a 6″ circle with 16+ holes, and 2 rounds of .45LC hydrashock style rounds. It’s mostly a raccoon gun.

    BTW great site!

  10. I tend to think that many reviewers and shooters in general are looking at “The Judge” with the wrong perspective. Anyone buying one of these to replace their Glock, Colt or whatever state of the art defense gun will be disappointed. IMHO the beauty of the Judge as a short range/domestic defense weapon is the very thing so many seem to dislike about it, the lack of 1 shot lethal power with some or all .410 shells. I see this as the BIG plus for the Judge. Not all situations call for or warrant LETHAL/DEALY force. I am not too sure I really want to kill someone for taking my TV or laptop…. The Judge can be an excellent DETERRENT. For all the comments about penetrating ONLY 2.5-4 inches (or anything less than 12″) I feel confident in saying that I cannot envision anyone taking a load of #5, #6 or #7 BIRD shot on their bodies much less exposed body parts/face without some serious consequence (aka PAIN) or immediate urge to run away. The Judge gives us that option with the secondary option of having a full bore .45 Long Colt round just 1 or 2 trigger pulls away… Remove the threat with a measured & justifiable response. Some older folks may remember that shotgun loads of rock salt were sometimes used in the past. OUCH! Maybe 1st shot #4 or #5 birdshot, 2nd shot #4 buckshot and remaining chambers defense load .45LC.
    Defense when possible. Kill ONLY if necessary. Just my .02 cents. T.

  11. I have a Judge and love the gun, but I had an issue crop up this past weekend and have a friend that owns one and has sent it back to the factory for the second time because of it. Has anyone had an issue with the cylinder locking up after firing? My friend has had this happen to him on both occasions firing it with both the .45 long colt and the .410 rounds. Saturday I was shooting a snake and after shooting two 2 1/2 inch 6 shots the cylinder would not rotate. This is the second time it has happened to me as well, but I did not think much of it until Saturday. The problem I saw was the next round had backed out from the recoil and locked the cylinder. After I pushed it back in the gun worked fine. With that said, I am apprehensive about carrying back into the field, because I need to know if I need all 5 rounds the gun will not fail me. I would appreciate any comments or help on this issue.

    • Mike you must polish the cylinder chambers with 400/600/800 grit snad paper. Mine locked as crazy after the polishing it got smooth. I suspect the shells expand to the breech face and being in a rough chamber won’t let it seat back into the cylinder face. Hth

  12. I used to swear by this site and considered it very informative, but after reading this article, I am more than let down and as a result, it’s now created doubt about all the other previous articles I have read and tests you have performed.

    You did and said so many things wrong that I don’t even know where to start!

    You did absolutely none, I mean NO research whatsoever on this weapon and you had already made up your mind it was a joke as you went into testing and did not test this product with an open mind. A big negative to any reviewer!

    First of all, you don’t just go up and buy any ordinary 410
    ammunition for this weapon and even a small dabble worth of research would’ve made that explicitly clear to you. Yes you can shoot any 410 ammunition but when you have a plethora of ammo made specifically for a gun that’s what you stick with.

    Which leads me to the next statement, when I say plethora I mean plethora. I have never had ONE single issue securing ammunition for this gun, so you must evidently live under a rock in a hole somewhere in the middle of nowhere where you can’t come across a bag of Twinkies either!

    Not to mention online, which is where most people buy their vast majority of ammo now a days. Any good size gun shop, I mean absolutely any, will have a surplus stock of 410 ammo. Specifically for the reason that these guns have taken off and sell like hotcakes and there’s a reason for that!

    But seeing as you did NO research you would be unaware of of things like how Federal premium, specifically made for this weapon, carries four, not three as you say, buckshot pellets in 2 1/2. Penetration is in the 12 to 15 inch range for that load in gelatin and has been considered hands-down the absolute best defense load that you can use for the Governor, I will go on to say any handgun made.

    Pulling the trigger one time and having FOUR, I repeat FOUR 32 caliber bullets entering your chest area at once is as devastating as ANY HANDGUN can produce on earth.

    You show me one other gun for personal defense that can put out FOUR 32 caliber bullets at once, with 12 to 15 inches of penetration, and I will buy that gun, like I did this one.

    I just turned red as I read this article because I realize how absolutely inaccurate it is! You’re going to review a product than take your time and do it properly!

    I picture you walking into some hardware store that has a couple shelves of dusty ammo in the back and immediately saying that you can’t find the stuff anywhere!

    The box of truth??? Anything other but.

    LESSONS LEARNED. No longer pay so much heed to information read on this website.

    1) You said the 2 1/2 ONLY has 3 pellets when in fact it can and does have 4.
    2) You said the ammunition is hard to come by because “you searched YOUR county” so you know, that’s obviously absolutely fantastic research and so surely, your statistics are undebatable and irrefutable, so why not go ahead and state to a NATIONWIDE AUDIENCE this ammunition has a shortage and is hard to come by.

    I guess I was drug crazed and it was all an hallucination when for 2 solid years since I have purchased my Governor, I have not one time walked in to any gun store and not been able to walk out with as much is I wanted.
    3) The penetration test is 12 to 15 inches so I don’t know where you got your results from, but once again any kind of a Google search would show this.
    4) Even if the penetration was as weak as you say, there is absolutely nothing wrong when you have four bullets heading your way to only penetrate a few inches…

    I am so let down in reading your article because it appears that you did this with little effort, no research, no heart, no open mind and convinced yourself like many others have ahead of time that these guns are simply little toys to be played with by little boys.

    You stated these guns are a joke for self-defense??? You couldn’t possibly be more wrong.

    Yes sir, Smith and Wesson are in the habit of producing a gun that another company has already produced and it had such dismal results as a self-defense weapon they decided to waste money in duplicating it… OR maybe they realized what a formidable handgun this is for self-defense.

    Ammunition manufacturers are very use to producing specific bullets for one specific type of gun because of those same dismal results.

    You would think that just intuitively you would have to wonder to yourself and then done some research as to why are all these ammo manufacturers went out of their way to produce bullets for this gun and why Smith & Wesson decided to come out with their own version if it’s simply a plinking toy to shoot plastic bottles with for fun?

    I know I did and that’s what led me to buy it and I wasn’t even doing a review on it..

    You think maybe you have missed the boat on this one? I think so..

    You say it’s not good for self-defense? I am sorry and I’m not trying to be mean but I find that to be one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever read in print and I have come to trust your word on such things!!!

    The governor in my opinion, as well as the thousands upon thousands of others who have an open mind on such matters, is not one of, but absolutely THE best handgun that you could buy for self-defense.

    No one and I mean no one ( I thought until I read your article) can possibly argue that having FOUR 32 caliber bullets hit your body simultaneously with good penetration can be beat by any other handgun on the market!

    You owe it to yourself and your readers to purchase some Federal premium 2 1/2 inch triple wide buckshot, in addition to the junk you came across in your county, do some online research on penetration tests, do some research on ammo availability, and retest this weapon with an open mind and then do an updated review on this weapon.

    I end in saying at just how amazed I am that you came up with the results that you did, but its not one of your proudest moments I can say..

  13. Jude Cartier r // November 20, 2016 at 9:06 pm // Reply

    This same thing happened to me. It locked up on the third round.

    • victor fox // March 24, 2017 at 9:16 pm // Reply

      Have the chambers polished and the ejector rod tightened. This happened to mine, I polished and tightened the cylinder, works like a dream now. Also it still expand some shells base, and they get stuck, this is because 45 is a tad larger than 410 at base and steel heads (they’re brass plated) of the shells don’t contract back to allow removal. Hth

  14. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=256aNCB4AVo

    I refer you to the above link which shows 13 to 18 inch penetration, but not only that, was the reviewers absolute shock that it blew the gel block absolutely in HALF, yes it literally blew the gel block apart!!!!

    He actually put a disclaimer saying that he did not touch Or alter the gel in anyway!

    Not granted this was the 3 inch version but I promise you there is little difference between that and the 2 1/2.

  15. I own a 2-1/2″ SST Public Defender, I loaded up w/ Federal 000 shells made for this Judge/Public Defender & it is true each round holds 4 of the buckshot, not 3, & they’re especially made for these revolvers. I am perfectly comfortable w/ this revolver for self defense. My 1st was a Blued Judge & we shot a few rounds of old .410 birdshot til it jammed. I returned it to Taurus, they fixed it & told me to use a rubber mallet to tap the cylinder loose & remove the shells. I added a mallet to my range bag. They also told me not to use the old birdshot shells from my O/U because they were not made for this revolver & do have a history of jams like this one did. I got rid of it.
    I now use this SST revolver for home defense & have a Sig Sauer .45 as back-up.
    As stated by instructors & professionals, “the pistol or revolver is used to get to a rifle”!
    I have that covered as well.
    I rate this revolver top notch for home or car defense, I do have a Carry Permit! I have a shoulder rig that fits either the Judge or a Glock .357Sig.
    Upon return of the Judge, I decided to replace the Blued Judge w/ Public Defender in SST for carry purposes.
    We have fired dozens of Federal “Judge/Public Defender” 000-buck rounds w/o a problem. We shot skeet w/ new fresh # 9’s & no jams! Use the correct ammo..

  16. Human nature is to make mistakes. It’s a tool box, there is no 1 anything that replaces everything else, choose the right tool for the job at hand. Any gun loaded with ammunition that will penetrate and keep on going might not be the best choice, especially if there are other people around that have the same right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Don’t sell the Judge short, it’s a formatable defense wepon. Like any tool, it’s only as good as the person using it. I like the discussion, Make Good Choices

  17. Maybe the reviewer lives in California where this gun is considered a short barrel shotgun thus being illegal and no reason for stores to carry correct ammo.

  18. I HAVE WATCHED SEVERAL BALLISTICS TEST VIDEOS OF THE TAURUS RAGING JUDGE MAGNUM WITH 6.5 INCH BARREL. THEY USED BARE GELATIN AND SHOT 000 BUCK FROM 7 YARDS DISTANCE. THE PENETRATION RANGED FROM 13 INCHES MINIMUM TO 17 INCHES MAXIMUM. COULD YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN WHY THEIR RESULTS ARE SO DIFFERENT THAN YOURS. IS IT POSSIBLE THAT WHEN YOU CUT DOWN THE SIZE OF YOUR 3 INCH SHELLS YOU COMPROMISED THE SHELLS YOU USED? DO YOU THINK THEIR PENETRATION WOULD HAVE BEEN SUBSTANTIALLY LESS IF THEY HAD COVERED THE GELATIN WITH DENIM? DOES THE EXTRA LENGTH OF THE 6.5 INCH BARREL MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE? THANK YOU.

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