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.


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.