Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Taurus Judge Is Just Not Very Good

…and the Smith & Wesson Governor isn’t much better. But I strongly dislike the Taurus Judge. Here’s why.

It is, relative to other firearms of its size, inaccurate with big, useful bullets. To be sure, it is most accurate with .410 slugs and .45 Colt bullets, and may even provide “acceptable” accuracy – but other handguns that weigh less and are smaller will be more accurate, and easier to be accurate with, than the Judge in any of its variations. If one primarily wants to shoot big bullets, there are better choices than the Judge.

It is too weak with small and much less useful birdshot pellets – with which it is, by the way, exceptionally inaccurate at distances beyond spitting range. Birdshot is aptly named, and is unlikely to penetrate the muscle tissue of a human attacker. From the Judge, it spreads much too quickly to be reliably used for self defense, especially when the liability of stray pellets is considered.

It does not offer the required accuracy and/or velocity for buckshot to be effective. The only buckshot loads that will stay on target at reasonable distances are hamstrung by low velocities that result from the short barrel of the Judge (even the 6.5″ version). A single hit that penetrates deep enough to reach the vital organs of an attacker is better than multiple hits that only cause flesh wounds. Even the best buckshot loads for the Judge – the ones that keep all pellets on target out past 15 yards – are not moving fast enough to penetrate deep into the human body, or are at best marginal in this regard. I do not really like “marginal” for self defense purposes, unless that “marginal” gun is something I can conceal in a bathing suit.

It has a capacity too low for its size and weight, and neither .410 nor .45 Colt from a short barrel makes up for this low capacity. Five shots is okay for a tiny gun that I can shove in my pocket, but less acceptable for (yes, I’m harping on the size/weight thing) how big the Judge is. Even the “public defender poly” version, which is smaller and lighter, is big.

It seems to attract the sort of person who believes that shot spread will make up for a lack of skill, and that they can will a self defense encounter to occur within the ranges they specify ahead of time. I don’t know how many times I’ve encountered people who say that they don’t want to/can’t practice with firearms, so they bought a Judge and loaded it with with birdshot. Some of these people are otherwise intelligent and capable, which puzzles me. Depending on equipment to make up for a lack of skill or experience is a road fraught with failure.

Its lengthy cylinder makes drawing from concealment slower than other revolvers, even when extremely short barrels are used, which also have a negative effect on external and terminal ballistics. If the goal is to have a firearm that’s used for concealed carry, a long barrel is somewhat of a disadvantage. If the other attributes of the firearm make up for that long barrel, such as accuracy, “shootability,” or terminal effectiveness, then it may be a good choice – but the Judge is, as stated, less powerful and/or less accurate than other firearms of similar size and weight.

It is manufactured by a company which has spotty quality control and lengthy warranty service wait times (the two are, no doubt, linked). I have owned Taurus firearms, and I have dealt with Taurus customer service. Both were frustrating experiences and have caused me to swear off their firearms for life. The company has a poor reputation for good reason, and their “lifetime warranty” is most useless. I don’t care about whether or not it’ll be fixed four months from now when it shouldn’t have broken in the first place.

It is no more a “shotgun” than I am a National Geographic photographer. The mass and velocity of the shot emanating from the barrel of a Judge do not compare to that of a 12 or 20 gauge shotgun with an 18″ or longer barrel. You are not going to blow sturdy hinges or locks, kill a deer at 200 yards, or win a trap or skeet match with a Judge – but all of those things are possible with a real shotgun. Of course, Judge owners aren’t really looking to do those things – but some are hoodwinked into believing that they have a “powerful” shotgun in their hands, because all shotguns are “powerful.”

It is no more useful as a “snake gun” than any other revolver – and after years of living in the snake-infested desert, I’ve found the concept of a dedicated “snake gun” to be unnecessary. If a snake threatens me, I can move away from the snake faster than I can draw and fire a handgun. If the snake threatens a human or animal companion of mine, I do not want a firearm loaded with shot that is as likely to hit my companion as it is to hit the snake, unless I get close enough to shove the handgun inside the snake’s mouth. I would much rather have a .22 pistol loaded with solid lead bullets than a Judge loaded with “snakeshot” if I had to kill a snake – which I would rather avoid, because they’re very useful creatures.

It is not useful at all against large, heavily constructed animals such as bears, as I have seen some of its proponents suggest. The mere thought horrifies me. A .410 slug from any barrel length is not going to penetrate the muscle or bone of a bear. Nor will a .452″, 200-250gr bullet traveling at 650-850fps. As with the snakes, the only way the Judge would be useful in this situation is if you shoved it inside the attacking bear’s mouth and angled the muzzle upward toward its brain. I would rather not have that as any part of my anti-bear plan.

I do not want to be shot with a pellet rifle, let alone a centerfire handgun. An alarmingly popular response to criticism of the Judge is an offer from the Judge owner to shoot the “criticiser” of the Judge. The points against the Judge are that its size and performance angles do not intersect at an appropriate point – not that it cannot cause damage or might not be ultimately fatal.

The Judge is a big gun that, when compared to other self-defense handguns, is outclassed in almost every practical regard. If the “versatility” of a revolver that can fire shot or big bullets is desired, a .44 Special revolver offers greater terminal effectiveness and the ability to fire .44 Special shotshells, and has been offering this capability for decades. If a concealed carry handgun is desired, practically any centerfire handgun on a gun store wall or shelf will offer greater accuracy, effectiveness, etc.

The only truly useful variation of the Judge is the Raging Judge Magnum, which can also chamber .454 Casull, but it still suffers from the fact that it’s made by Taurus, and it’s far too large and heavy to be practical for normal concealed carry. If I wanted a .454 Casull for defense against predators in the wild – and I really don’t, because a 12 gauge with slugs is much more effective – I would buy a Ruger.

I am sure that a lot of Judge owners have fun with and enjoy their Judges. I do not wish to disparage them, but I do wish to point out that the Judge does not compare well with other options on the market.

Firearms, Gear, Parts, and Accessories That Don't Exist, but Should

Below are a number of things that I think should exist, but do not, or not in acceptable quantities.

  • A single stack Glock in 9mm with frame and slide length and height approximately the size of a Glock 19. Larger would be cool too. A Smith & Wesson M&P would also be acceptable, if the trigger stopped being so incredibly, painfully horrible.
  • Spike’s Tactical hard chrome M16 bolt carrier groups. They exist, but are discontinued.
  • A single cell Elzetta ZFL-M60 flashlight. With a pocket clip integral to the body of the light.
  • Lothar-Walther AR15 barrels in 1/8 or 1/7 twist, 18″ or shorter, .750″ or less OD under the handguards. Oh, they definitely exist, they just aren’t as easy to find as barrels only. This would be a good opportunity for some dealer or distributor…
  • A Multitasker with a few tools that are more suitable for day-to-day use. I use the can opener on my SOG multi tool a lot more than I use some of the tools on my Multitasker Series 2.
  • More micro length bolt action rifles in smaller centerfire cartridges, preferably with twist rate suitable for heavier bullets, although I know the market will not support the costs of the tooling and effort necessary to produce them in the numbers I would like to see.
  • A newly manufactured centerfire rifle based on the Lee-Enfield action.

That is all I can think of for now, although I’m sure there will be some worthy suggestions in the comments.

Air Force Gets Huffy Over Turf War With Army; Soldiers On The Ground Lose

As a pilot and fan of DeHavilland aircraft, as well as private industry, this story makes me feel warm inside.

As an outside observer and non-fan of the United States Air Force and its institutional insecurity, it angers me; at least, the background does.

Basically, the Army and Air Force were going to buy a bunch of C-27Js, twin engine turboprop transport aircraft that can go places and do things that C-130s can’t, albeit with a smaller payload. Still, something that was very interesting to the Army and Special Operations types, who have a need to support small units in weird places.

The Air Force got worried that the other services would think they were weak for allowing the Army to have decently sized fixed wing aircraft, so they fought hard to take the Army’s airplanes away – and won. There is absolutely no practical reason for this. It goes back decades to when the Air Force was struggling to exist and managed to twist some arms, forbidding the Army from performing certain tasks. If the Air Force can perform these tasks, fine – it’s silly, but fine. But they can’t.

Fast forward to today’s budget cuts, and the Air Force has cut the C-27Js out of its budget in order to save money. Has this magically eliminated the Army’s need to supply small units? No. So the Army had to go to a private contractor to perform a mission that the Air Force promised but couldn’t deliver. The contractor is probably doing it better and cheaper than the Air Force could have, so it’s a win, but the situation still bothers me.

I personally think that the Air Force should just be given plenty of money to go play with missiles, satellites, and lasers – things that we may have a dire need for in the future, or might not – and let the other services handle the vital functions that the Air Force as an institution just has no enthusiasm for, like supplying small units in the field.

The Magnum Amazon Boot: A Foot's Best Friend

On this blog, I have done plenty of gear reviews. These reviews are most often based on extensive use of the item, in various climates or locations. Today I came to the realization that I haven’t reviewed some of the gear that I’ve been using for the longest period of time, and this review is one step towards changing that. Unfortunately, in this case, the Magnum boots I’m reviewing have been discontinued. I therefore won’t be spending too much time on individual features, but rather how they were manufactured and how they’ve held up.

After completion of Field Medical Service School, which included several short “marches” up and down the hills of Camp Pendleton, I reported to 5th Marines and did even more marches up and down hills – different hills, at least. I quickly realized that my issued boots were pretty much terrible and set out to find a new pair.

Issued boots suck.

I spoke to a few experienced Marines and Corpsmen, and they recommended Magnum boots. So, a few months before I deployed, I purchased two pairs of Magnum Amazon boots and proceeded to break them in with some walking and running around San Mateo.

Seven years later, I still have one pair of those boots, and I still wear them in the field. Here they are.

The other pair was stolen while I was in Iraq – why someone stole the bloodstained boots instead of the clean ones, I’ll never know. I used this pair for the remainder of the deployment, as well as for hiking in South America – yes, along the Amazon river – and trips across the western United States, Mexico, Hawaii, and Alaska. I absolutely love these boots. They have always been comfortable to wear, whether I was stuck behind a desk or moving with 100lbs of gear on my back.

The only issue I have with them is that they do not provide as much ankle support as I might like – one incident in particular, a dismounted patrol at night during which I rolled my ankle and fell down a flight of stairs – sticks in my mind. However, I was able to cinch up the laces on that boot and hobble along at the back of the platoon, despite a less-than-100%-ankle.

This hurt.

I got a lot of comments from guys in my unit about how they looked more like shoes than boots, and the best way I can describe them is to say that they provided a great balance between the comfort of a shoe and the support of a boot. I raved about them so much that it shouldn’t have been a surprise when a pair disappeared. Lesson learned.

One thing that is very important to me is having boots that breathe, and these do a great job of not marinating my feet as the day wears on. In fact, they do a better job than other boots I have with vent holes in the sides. They also keep my feet dry when I splash through puddles or dance in the rain.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about them is how well they’ve held up. Seven years later, the stitching still looks great – a testament to the methods & materials Magnum used to make these boots. I haven’t done a thing for them other than hose them off occasionally, and there are no signs that they’re about to rot away or fall apart. In fact, the only true sign that these boots need to be hung up for good is that the soles have worn down in a few spots. This hasn’t stopped me from wearing them in the field, though.

The soles are billed as “slip/oil resistant,” and they most certainly are. Whether I was scrambling up a lava flow, down a muddy hill, or working on my car in my garage, I have never had a problem with slick or oily surfaces in these boots. There’s not much to say other than they work very well in this regard.

The purchase price for these boots was around $90, which works out to something like 3 cents per day since I’ve owned them. Thinking back over all the gear purchases I’ve made, these Magnum boots are easily in the top three items in terms of how much I like them and how well they’ve held up. I was severely disappointed to find out that they had been discontinued by Magnum.

A Clarification of My Earlier Rant About Non-Review Reviews

Earlier this week, I wrote an article about what constitutes a firearm review. It was interpreted correctly by most, but seems to have been taken the wrong way by some. I want to clarify a few things so that I am not seen as any more evil than I deserve to be – which, actually, is quite a lot.

I thought the first line was fairly clear -

I am getting really tired of searching for a quality firearm review to link to, only to come across regurgitated manufacturer specifications and photos under the title “Review.”

- but I did not link to the particular “review” that set me off. Here it is. It’s the #1 non-video Google result for “Sig P938 Review.” The page title is “SIG SAUER P938 Review.” It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a review.

Some people seem to have taken my article as an attack on the way they do actual firearm reviews – I don’t really understand why. I mean, if your idea of a “review” is to do what that site did, and take the manufacturer’s photo (even going so far as to put your logo on it), drop in the manufacturer specs, and then say “This looks cool, I am looking forward to touching it” – then yes, I was attacking your idea of a “review.”

To the majority of the firearm blogosphere – and almost every link (to my earlier article) I’ve seen seems to fall into this category – I was not saying that my reviews were better than yours, I was not saying that you suck, I was not saying that your reviews are not reviews, and I was not saying that I am the final arbiter of what is or is not a review. If you use something, think about your experience with it, and then share your thoughts – that is, in my opinion, a review. It may be a thoughtful review, it may be a terrible review – but it is a review. What really matters is what you think of it. If you think it’s a review, then call it a review.

To the insulted minority – I will say that if my comments about taking manufacturer information and calling it a review made you feel small inside, then you already know that you suck. My article was only the catalyst that made you realize how much you suck.

Remington 870 vs. Mossberg 500

In this video, I cover my experiences with the Mossberg 500 and the Remington 870.

I also describe how I came to carry and use the Remington 870 from the age of 10. My experiences with the Mossberg are more recent.

I’ve been working on this video in my spare time for over a month – I’m not in love with it, but I’m fairly happy with it.

Hello Mentally Slow Gun Bloggers, Please Stop Calling Things That Aren't Reviews Reviews

I am getting really tired of searching for a quality firearm review to link to, only to come across regurgitated manufacturer specifications and photos under the title “Review.”

Maybe you’re incapable of doing a quality review, maybe you’re lazy, maybe you actually think that you can review something from a single manufacturer photo.

If you’re the type of blogger that chooses what you think is SEO over quality content, you’re already behind the curve. You may rank well now, but SEs have you figured out. Your days are numbered. Quality content is rapidly becoming synonymous with SEO. I know that, and I’m not even an SEO Padawan.

You do a disservice to your readers/viewers (if any) and you take up space in rankings that should be occupied by people like Caleb at RomeoTangoBravo. When he comes across something new, he calls it “(Product) Hits the Shelves” or “(Product) First Impressions.” See? Honesty. Same with Aaron at Weapon Blog. Holy crap, a review that’s actually a review. Speaking of review reviews, I haven’t quite figured out (FateOf)Destinee yet, but her videos are well done and unique, and she actually uses the firearm.

I may be a bit cranky, and this is another post where I have the potential to come across as an arrogant jerk, but I find this incredibly annoying. I don’t link to other sites very often, and I kinda feel bad about it, because I know people link to my blog. Most of the time I just don’t have time to check out what other people are doing, and other times, when I do browse around, I am just disheartened by what I see. I think every gun blogger has a different reason for getting started as a blogger, and I really like some of the people I come across. They’re earnest and want to deliver the best content they can. I think they’re sick of the BS too, even if they never mention it online.

Others apparently want to be the equivalent of the hooker trying to get Joker’s money in Full Metal Jacket, saying “Me love you long time” when she really meant “Me make you feel burning sensation long time.” Stop wasting everyone’s time.

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