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.

86 comments

  • I agree with this all the way. I still can’t seem to convince my relatives otherwise (and one even has nothing short of an arsenal of way more effective arms). I can confirm as you said, it attracts those who think it will make up for their own shortcomings.

    And yes, the, “would you want to be shot with one,” argument is comical. I see it all the time with people defending birdshot as an effective combat load. If it was all we ever needed, the military would use it.

  • I have a friend who has the 6.5 inch barrel version of the Judge. He claims to be able to hit a soda can at about 30 yards with it about 50% of the time, and I have seen him do it, but only once. This would lead me to believe that accuracy with the .45 LC is acceptable. He also demonstrated the Winchester PDX .410 ammo for me. At a distance of about 10 yards, the BBs disappeared(very bad), but the 3 disks all hit within about 4-6 inches of each other and were centered on the target(tolerable). Remove the BBs, and you have an acceptable load for very close range defense.

    Luckily, he understands that his Judge is basically an expensive toy and keeps a small revolver in .38 for actual defense.

    • As an P.S. – I went shooting with my friend last weekend. He could not penetrate the shell of a 50′s production French helmet with his Judge, using any kind of ammo. The regular power .45 LC that he shot from it bounced off every time and left a nice dent, but due to the angles and type of bullet, no penetration occurred. .410 ammo was totally useless. Distance was about 20 yards.

  • Concur wholeheartedly, Andrew.

  • I dunno. A few blasts in the face (sitting in your car, attacker/car-jacker in window) would work. But that is proably the only good use for it. Once I got out of my seat and were oitside the car I would have something more conventional in my hand.

    Jeff Quinn put it nicely. “They can learn to read Braille in prison”. But in the end, .410 in a revolver has very limited applications. Anti-carjacking is one. Snakes on a trail, another a-a-a-a-a-a-nd that’s about it.

    • I’m of the opinion that shooting your way out of a car jacking is significantly less efficient than using the car itself as a weapon. Plus, if you’ve allowed someone to get that close, you’ve already made a huge error.

  • I also understand that some people cannot help themselves. They bash Taurus when they are able. An article like this is a perfect opportunity. I still think it was unnecessary and it takes away from the main point ehen people realize you don’t like the company and their gun.

    And then there’s the inevitable comment about being a previous Taurus owner. Which Taurus bashers use to support their statements. And that’s fine. It’s just been beaten to death. I read/hear the same exact stuff about Kel Tec haters.

    And I’m not a Taurus fanboi at all (my justification statement). I’ve just been lucky with my past purchases (4). I currently own only one though. A .22 revolver that I use for my safety courses. Apart from an obnoxiously heavy trigger, and yes I believe I will be sending it in (“Oh, sweet irony!”) it still works. No issues with the past three pistols. Just needed to sell them in a low point in my life where I didn’t want to ask for a bailout.

    • AndyM,

      You are welcome to challenge my articles, but you are not welcome to question my integrity without having facts to back up those statements. Do you have proof that I have not owned a Taurus and have not dealt with Taurus CS?

      • Andrew: Mayhap I misread AndyM’s statement, but it did not sound as though he doubted your account of owning/having difficulty with Taurus.

        • Hmm. That’s the impression I got. In either case, his comment was most useless.

          • Daniel Morseth

            Nope, nothing in his comment that can be construed as implying anything at all about anyone’s experience with customer service. Nada.
            FWIW, I don’t argue with folks anyway as it is a waste of breath and time, and to each his own. But have owned ( and still do ) several Taurus revolvers in .357, fired a few hundred rounds out of each, never had a problem. Maybe you got some out of a bad batch. Happens.

          • Until this last purchase (941) I’ve never had any issues either. But I’ll concede that perhaps Taurus gets more returns or repair tags than they should. though internet whispers say that current CS isn’t as wretched as it once was. And I believe it was horrible. Hey, “not as bad” still isn’t good. Who knows if they ever will get there. I like to be positive about such things.

            I’ve just heard less negative things about it than I used to. Might be a sign. And I don’t see the much parroted, “Friends don’t let friends buy Taurus guns” as much as I used to. Maybe it just got old.

          • Your talking about taurus handguns? Those guns that go bang when accidentally dropped…? Real safe!!

          • Oliver is right, I didn’t put your ownership in doubt. But I was impressed with your article until you went with the Taurus bashing. I was like, “Oh, wow he’s doing this without bashi-ooooh, here it is.”

            And of course you garnered the adoroation of fellow Taurus basher, Caleb. Because Taurus bashing could almost be an olympic sport on the interwebz.

            But if you feel you are doing your civic duty that maybe you can get people to lockstep behind you and save them fro the woeful products that Taurus sells then of course, that’s your right. I just think you could better spend your time on more worthwhile pursuits.

            Seriously, Andrew. I know I sound like a total prick there but your product reviews are really great. I’m sure most would agree with that. And most would agree that your photography kicks ass and you are nothing but honest in your truly in-depth articles and opinions. I learn something or am made aware of something everytime I read one of your postings/articles/blog entries. I tip my hat off to you for that.

            I was just hoping that company bashing was beneath you.

          • So, you like my reviews (which are based on extensive personal use of a product and/or knowledge of a company), but you are upset when I include my personal history with a company and its products in a negative fashion?

          • Upset? No. Disappointed perhaps but not upset. And I wouldn’t really label this as a “review”.

            But honeslty, compared to others? You were extremely polite and left it in one paragraph. I just don’t feel that paragraph needed to be there. When you disparage a company you take the chance of slighting those that have had zero issues with their products.

            Do you see a lot of people upset with their PT-92′s? Admittedly not their design but why wouldn’t their QC affect that line?

            I know it isn’t your job to be PC. This is your site and I should learn to be less, well “me” sometimes. In the end all I was really doing was offering my opinion and some constructive criticism. Apparently you took offense and for that I apologize.

          • It wasn’t a review.

            You mentioned Kel-Tec earlier. I have stated in my Kel-Tec reviews that they do not inspire confidence. In fact they feel and look pretty much like garbage sometimes. But they work pretty well. And I’ve never seen a Kel-Tec barrel fall off of a handgun. I have with a Taurus revolver – with my own eyes.

            As a matter of fact, my first Taurus was a PT92, and I did indeed have problems with it. So…let’s not go there.

            I take offense to what I perceive as being called a liar. It seems that wasn’t your intention, but I’m having trouble understanding the rest of your intentions. You’re really upset – er, disappointed – that I shared my experiences with Taurus and drew conclusions from them?

          • Brian Lepkowski

            My family had to send in my mom’s Taurus 85 (38 Special) due to excessive play in the cylinder. Twice. And the cylinder came out once due to broken parts.

            Pointing out the failures of a product is good feedback.

            Pointing out the uselessness of a product is good feedback. I thank you for spelling out what the tool is and is not good in application.

            I appreciate you stepping up to the plate.

  • It’s a brilliant marketing move, naming it the “judge” and all.

    • For the record, the name “The Judge” came from the fact that the first version (model 4410) was being used by a number of Judges in the higher crime areas of Miami as their personal defense weapon in the courtroom. Taurus liked this association so they rebranded it to model 4510 and named it “The Judge”.

      • That’s what the executives of Taurus said “they had heard”, but that strikes me as a bit of fiction. The bailiff is responsible for courtroom security, not the judge, and in almost all US jurisdictions, the bailiff open-carries a full-sized duty gun. I’ve never heard of a judge being armed in the courtroom.

  • The only Judge owner I know is an army officer that won out as the best marksman in his state a couple years ago.

  • I have no opinion about the judge..haven’t fired it. It seems like a novelty item to me, though.

    I agree about quality control. I’ve sent two MilPro .45s to CS recently. One with a broken magazine release and one with a broken firing pin safety. I have no idea how a firing pin safety breaks, BTW.

    However, I have no problems with their CS. Both times I got the gun by in 9 days, door to door…which is amazing, IMO. Both times the guns came back and functioned as expected.

    As they say, your mileage may vary.

  • I’ve never fired the weapon or even owned a Taurus at all, so I can’t comment to that, but after reading this article it seems you expect the weapon to operate in ways it quite clearly wasn’t designed for.

    You mentioned people “willing an encounter”; for a gun designed as a handheld shotgun for your nightstand I don’t think it needs to have a good spread at 15 yards (unless your bedroom sits in a mansion). Nor does it need many rounds.

    Also the idea that a gun like this be light (especially when loaded) is goofy. The higher your load the stronger your weapon’s construction must be. This means weight. You don’t need to draw a pistol from your bedside table-holster so barrel length isn’t a problem, either.

    This is NOT a target gun but it seems like you reviewed it as one. At the very least you DEFINITELY compared it to “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.” You’re asking this weapon to be a carry pistol, and it’s not. It isn’t even marketed that way.

    • It’s called “the Judge” because supposedly, a number of judges carry it in courtrooms. It was initially marketed as being useful for defense against carjacking. Furthermore, they have models specifically dedicated to concealed carry, and claim that some are suitable for pocket carry. All of these are, without a doubt, related to the carry of a firearm outside a nightstand.

      Please stop wasting my time.

    • I concur with Andrew here, their marketing suggests this is a concealed carry weapon.

    • It seems to me that a gun designed specifically for one situation (having on the nightstand) would be a heck of a liability. Furthermore, I don’t see where the Judge offers any real advantage over my SIG P226, which often resides on the nightstand.
      As to the carjacking scenario; I once again fail to see how my P226 would be inferior. If you want to blind the carjacker, use a SIG. A 147 grain JHP disrupting the visual cortex on its way out the back of the skull will do just fine.
      The Judge is fun to shoot at the range… when someone else owns it and lets you take a few rounds. Unless I was blessed with an overabundance of cash, I wouldn’t buy one myself.

    • I’ve shot one. I wasn’t impressed with the quality (the thing was shaving jackets like mad) or the balance. The shotshell pattern isn’t effective past about 10 feet. And then there’s still the lack of penetration. You simply can’t count on a .410 shell in one of these to incapacitate someone.

      “Oh, but it’ll hurt real bad!” Yeah, and? There are oddballs out there (I’m apparently one) who turn pain into anger. That’s leaving out the drug user angle.

      The FBI requires 12-16″ penetration in calibrated ballistic gelatin to consider a load “effective”. There was a group of doctors who were experts in gunshot wounds who recommended 12-14″ in the same medium. The best performance I’ve seen from a .410 load in a Judge is 10″.

      But you can use .45 Colt, which is going to do the exact same damage a .45 ACP (and you won’t be able to tell the difference between the damage of a .45 and a 9mm). Big deal. Pistols poke holes. You want to take your chances on five ice pick wounds, you be my guest. If I’m choosing a handgun as big and heavy as the Judge, I’m going with something in 9mm that can carry a lot more ammo and deliver it a lot more reliably and accurately.

  • Unfortunately they’re very popular. Even NAA has threatened to jump on this “bandwagon” with a .22Magnum minirevolver optimized for shotshell use. It will have a 1″ partially-rifled barrel – enough to be legal as a handgun, not enough to really spin a cluster of shot (aka “paradox” barrel).

    The planned name for this critter?

    “Second Year Law Student Clerking For A Traffic Court Commissioner”
    :)

  • Agree with you observations of the Taurus Judge. There is no real reason for this pistol to exist in the marketplace. Plus marketing the Judge at first time gun owners on the basis you don’t really have to aim or practice to use the firearm well is totally irresponsible.

  • You can’t expect a business to behave like anything other than a business. One thing that most businesses know is: The customers that really know and use your product are not the masses and not what makes money, the $$ is selling to everyone else, the masses.

    Some companies do this by taking care of the trend setters, because if they buy off on it (mil, LEO, etc), the masses want it. Others use novelty marketing to establish this buzz. The relationship Andrew brought in between “12 gauge is powerful, so all guns shooting shotgun shells are thus powerful” combined with the “judge” link is far from grounded in the acceptance of the firearm by industry leaders who understand how and why a firearm works and does damage.

    This can be seen in the big push to run mini-556 caliber SBR’s that take away the only thing that round has going for it, speed. People a quick to talk about their groups at 100yards out of the 7″ SBR, when the muzzle velocity is not even close to the yawing effect or frag threshold……and that is at the muzzle! And no, I don’t want to be shot by your SBR anymore than I want to be shot by your .22 LR that makes the same size wound cavity.

    • It would be interesting if Andrew were to do a study on the 5.45 fired out of a short barrel (maybe a 10.5 inch). I’ve read that the commie cartridge does well out of a short barrel, as it yaws even at low velocities. It’d be great to see some empirical evidence on that.

  • Pingback: SayUncle » Yet, the sold a ton of them

  • Not really sure what is up with all the contempt for the Judge. Is it that some folks here think it is a lousy self defense gun and Taurus has tricked people into thinking it is the best defensive gun ever? I can respect being upset about that. I suppose I never saw it as a “go to” defense gun. Personally, I wanted another way to lob 45LC down range and picked one up. I paid $400 and feel like I got my money out of it. Is it the perfect gun ? Absolutely not. It’s novel and I like that Taurus decided to gamble on something new (well, new-ish) and it was a success. I would liken it to a 1911 in 9mm (Knowing that the blogger and myself own them). I find it to awesome to shoot and super fun, but why would I even carry that when a glock 17 has basically double the capacity, is lighter, cheaper and basically runs perfectly out of the box? How about good old fashioned fun? Isn’t that reason enough?

    • I’m unaware of any heavy marketing campaigns for full size, steel frame, single stack 9mm 1911s as carry guns. The Taurus Judge is, on the other hand, marketed almost entirely as a self defense weapon. This is why I take issue with it – practicality. As I said in the closing sentence, I’m sure you like your Judge, and I don’t want to insult you personally. The Judge just sucks at actually getting stuff done when compared to other handguns on the market.

      • I guess then we must ask the question…are people really buying the Judge for their primary means of self defense? Clearly, Taurus is marketing it for that, and I have seen many tv shows/articles written to further that claim. Frankly, I think the Judges success is not so much about Taurus marketers, but the overwhelming positive reviews from the industry (who are, of course, motivated by advertising dollars). When an established writer like Dick Metcalf pimps a gun for self defense, people are going to be swayed. But out of curiosity, does anyone here know anyone that relies on the Judge as a primary tool for self defense? I never really thought about it, and it may be a tad macabre, but I wonder if there are any actual incidents of Judges in used in self defense and the results there of.

        • If anyone cares, the review from Dick Metcalf, and a Judge commercial. If it turns out that the Judge cannot produce enough energy/penetration from a 410 for viable self defense (lets say equal to a 9mm pistol), then there is a real problem.

        • I can say that the only two people I know who’ve ever owned a Judge both bought it for self-defense purposes (one admitting later that it was a total mistake), and a third I know has been looking to purchase a Judge, again for self defense.

    • The fact that you read this blog puts you ahead of even your average firearms owner regarding knowledge and training on firearms. While you recognized the novelty of “The Judge”, the average firearms owner, and more so the newcomer to firearms, may be easily swayed by the Taurus’ marketing suggestion that this is the perfect concealed carry handgun. The issue is when someone who carries The Judge is faced with a life and death situation, of themselves or a loved one, and this handgun can not deliver on its marketing promise.

      As for a 1911 in 9mm, perhaps your body type, place of work, along with your everyday attire allows easy concealment of a double stack full sized handgun. Unfortunately, there are many of us who can not. From my research, the width of a handgun is a major contributor to its concealability and the 1911 design is one of the thinnest you’ll get. Hence, a 1911 in 9mm sacrifices round count for easier concealability and certainly would better The Judge in many other categories for concealed carry and self defense effectiveness.

      Finally, for the price, you can get a far more concealable and effective concealed handgun for self-defense use than The Judge. Further, not everyone can afford to throw down money for a recreational handgun.

      • J.K.

        I really appreciated your thoughts on the matter. As far as a 9mm 1911, I think I just made a bad analogy. I bought one for novelty and fun, much like the judge. Sure, it could easily be pressed into a self defense role, but I have other choices that I think are better (in theory).

        However, to the point of this article, I think some really good points have been made, the most pressing being that the Judge is essentially to weak and limited in range for self defense compared to the myriad of choices out there. Contrasting that assertion against the fact that it is touted/reviewed/marketed as a fantastic self defense tool is a problem that never occurred to me, as I bought it for novelty.

        A friend of mine is a employee of a church, and does not make a ton of money. He owns two guns for home defense, and one of them is a Judge. Knowing now that it stands a higher chance of letting him down than I ever would have thought is certainly upsetting!

  • Andrew Tuohy: “As I said in the closing sentence, I’m sure you like your Judge, and I don’t want to insult you personally. The Judge just sucks at actually getting stuff done when compared to other handguns on the market.”

    Sounds like a liberal Judge, then? Obammy ‘pointee, y’think?

    I’m waiting for Taurus’ “Eric Holder” Judge. For shooting one’s self in the foot.

    Or, the “Jesse Jackson” Judge. For shooting off at the mouth.

    Maybe the “Joe Biden” Judge, for self-inflicted wounds?

    Could be endless marketing opportunities here!

    Jim
    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  • I believe that Tam summed it up brilliantly.

    “What is the Taurus Judge for? Why, to sell; of course!” And Taurus has, indeed, sold many.

    To add to the humor of this post, I have a friend who bought one. It’s been back to Taurus already.

    I would like to barb at you a bit. Why does every firearm have to be USEFUL? Why can’t it just be for fun?

    Some gun reviews read like Trucker Magazine reviewing a motorcycle. No spit, you can’t haul sheetrock on your bike. But that’s not what it’s for, is it?

    • As I have stated previously – my favorite firearm is the Marlin Papoose – because it is both extremely fun and fairly practical.

    • Perhaps if Taurus markets The Judge as a recreational firearm, this article would have a different tone.

      As the one example linked above shows, Taurus suggests The Judge to be an exceptional concealed carry self defense weapon. When compared to those firearms that truly are, The Judge seems to fall short in all categories.

  • To me, the Judge is the epitome of one of my friend’s odd firearm beliefs:
    1) He wanted a .22LR or a 9mm as a self defense pistol because he wanted to “bring the thug to his knees” rather than kill them.
    2) Got completely turned off automatic handguns after he was told they CAN jam/do so more frequently than revolvers. Which as never happened, as I took him, and 2 other people shooting 3-4 times, and we all fired around 100 rounds through glocks, 1911s, makarovs, smith and wesson 5906s, etc. Apparently seeing that its pretty reliable 1600 times just isn’t good enough.
    3) Got interested in the judge when he was told about the .410 birdshot, asked me if it was a good SD pistol, and I told him “maybe if you load .45 hollow points. Again, wanted to “bring the guy to his knees” so he was going to buy it to shoot birdshot

    At best, the Judge, in my opinion is a novelty, and I’ll leave it at that

  • Your clear and educated statement of facts regarding this genre of weapon will have no affect on sales. Just before purchasing, all Judge owners are thinking one thing:

    “Bro, it shoots a shotgun shell!”

    Just replace “bro” with the appropriate vernacular.

  • Carlos Gassol Racaza

    Its intended purpose was “very close range”…like car jacking or muggers in heavy traffic…very common in Brazil and other places in S.A. I think it is a good thing to have on your lap when driving.

    • Why? My P226 fits just fine in my lap, and will actually kill an attacker instead of wounding and (hopefully) stunning them when I stick it in their face and pull the trigger.

  • THANK YOU! Glad someone else thinks the idea of a “snake gun” is ludicrous. I’ve encountered snakes and we both got clear of each other ASAP. What I can’t sympathize with is this mentality that thinks all creatures great and small are there to be killed by us if we so wish it. Not that I think a Judge is a good choice for killing ANYTHING, of course. It’s not even very heavy, so it’s kinda useless for pistol whipping.

    I’ve yet to meet someone who thought the Judge was a good gun for self-defense. Thankfully both people I met who own one realize it’s just an oddity.

  • On the British Challenger II MBT the APFSDS rounds have special slip-rings that keep the sabot from spinning when it engages the rifled bore. I wonder if you could miniaturize this design and use it in these shotgun/revolver thingies.

    The loads would still be woefully inadequate, but at least they wouldn’t print doughnut-shaped patterns.

  • Fantastic review, dude.

  • “Some of these people are otherwise intelligent and capable, which puzzles me.”

    It makes sense they would think this. Look at the rest of the world we live in – from spell check to traction control our modern life is inundated with technology and equipment which directly makes up for a lack of skill and experience. Some of it is pure marketing, but it’s marketing accepted by nearly all of us.

    It even applies in firearms, though obviously not with the Judge. Whenever I take a new shooter to the range they do immediately better with a magnified scope than with iron sights when shooting at 100 yards.

    • Good point…although I do embrace technology in almost all cases, I don’t use it to replace basic skills.

  • Dan from THE INTERNET

    So… how do you feel about the Circuit Judge, the carbine/rifle/shotgun version of the gun?
    I’ll admit, I’m kind of a cowboy fan and I’ve got 2 or 3 lever rifles, 2 lever pisols, and I couldn’t pass up a deal on a pump 22 that stopped being produced in the 1930s or so. So yeah, the revolving rifle concept is something that absolutely catches my attention.
    btw, one of my lever pistols is the 38/357 taurus/rossi ranch hand, and it has some feed issues and shoots absurdly high on short indoor ranges. I haven’t had much break-in with it yet or checked it out at anything longer than maybe 30 yards though.

  • Good post Andrew. I’ve never understood what the purpose of those things were. Novelty maybe? Toy? I would however like to borrow/rent a Charter Arms Bulldog .44 Spl. someday. Any personal experience with that one? I’m thinking that might be a good one for my wife to keep around the home.

    • I have a CA 44spl Bulldog. Before I purchased it I read that it was not a comfortable weapon to shoot and I laughed it off – couldn’t be worse than .357 I thought. Well I found that it is not very fun to shoot. It is a light gun, can be easily concealed, and shoots straight though. Quality may be a bit sketchy/rough. I prefer either my sp101 .357 or even my j-frame .38+p though. The CA 44 is ok, just harder to get back on target, and it hurts.

  • I agree with the majority of your points. I own a Taurus Judge and enjoy it but agree that it’s drastically overhyped. I see it as a recreation or woods gun rather than a self defense option.

    One thing you seemed to abandon very early in your points is that it can shoot both 45lc and .410 using the same cylinder.

    I disagree on your points against animals. I like the idea of loading 2 .45LC’s and 3 .410 shells. That way you can defend against most small game, and for bigger predators such as bears; you can just keep running the trigger until you hit the 45lc’s which are more than capable in that predicament.

    Is it perfect? Hell no. Accurate? Enough. But overall $300 for a very robust revolver that gives me options is worth it in my opinion. Plus if it gets lost in the woods or dropped in a lake you can take the loss.

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    • I own a judge and bought it for night stand home defense. It’s loaded with three pdx1 slugs or disks with two 45lr. Is it practical? Is a shotgun practical? In a dark house, approached by several bad guys–perhaps I could grab my bedroom 12 gauge or 20 gauge . I’ve seen what the judge can do at 10-15 feet. I wouldn’t use birdshot–but Pdx1 loads. One thing I haven’t seen in this how accurate would a 38, 9mm be in a home defense scenario? Would you be able to hit a target under stress? I think that is one appeal of the judge is you don’t have to be a perfect aim. Again, 10-15 feet, pdx1 loads. My two bits. I too would like to know if anyone has ever shot someone with a judge or a 410

      • ditto to that. of course it’s not the only firearm we own but wife & i love our judge’s. during the summer months my judge has really dwindled down the snake population in our woods. love that gun!

  • hey guy just bought my judge even after reading all the crap about it now that i shot it am impresed no not all that power but i dont want the slug leaving the house if used a home defence guy or the buck shot like a 12 gauge will do . love the triger pull the best on any stock gun i own . i shot at a body cut out mabe of 1/2 inch osb with a 2nd one 2 ft behind it the 45 went tro both the buck shot went trought both the bird shot mabe half went trough shot first shot at 12ft at what i read is the most comon distance and walked in as i shot as a attacker would gusse what every step the holes got biger every shot and after a few times of doing this 3 i had a hole cut into both sheets of osb that i could shove the judge trough dam if your going to hurt me after that well then in screwed but i dont think thats going to happen .

  • I bought a judge. I have not had a chance to shoot it yet.

    So would the guy that says it isn’t practical go out to hunt deer with a
    single shot muzzle loader? It isn’t practical yet I have shot and killed
    more deer with a muzzle loader/round lead bullet than with a rifle.

    Five shots of 45 LC in my hands and in my Judge would be very deadly
    and great for SD. If I had a 9 mm with lots of rounds I’d tend to not be as
    accurate and not be as confident.

    Yes, the judge is bulkier and harder to conceal in the largest version. As far
    as draw speed, this is not the wild west. Criminals are not going to be quick
    draw artists nor accurate at firing a gun in most cases.

    The Federal copper plated 000 buck designed for handguns will stay on target
    at 25 yards. Farther than you would need to shoot it. At that distance I’d be going
    for cover rather than shooting.

    • I own a Raging Judge Magnum and have no problems carrying it when I feel like it. Yes, it’s pretty heavy but I don’t care. It was what I wanted. I’m not overly concerned about it being accurate past 25 yard. Like a previous post mentioned, if someone is shooting that far out, I’ll be more inclined to take cover. I have total confidence in my ability to end a conflict, if need be. And maybe I have been lucky but I’ve had, and still have several Taurus revolvers and haven’t had any issues with any of them. If some people have had issues with their Judges and swore them off, I respect that. I don’t get bent out of shape when these bashers talk about their experiences. All of the manufacturers have put out duds before. You just hear about some more than others. For my wife and I, this works for us. She has her 12ga. and I have an assortment of choices. Would I grab my Raging Judge Magnum if things went bump in the night? For sure…add 454 Casull to the rounds previously mentioned and tell me it’s a novelty. And no, I’m not concerned about over penetration. I think if someone did break into my house, I’d be more worried about his intentions than if I were to shoot him and wonder ‘if the bullet went through him and through a wall to another room’. We don’t have kids so that’s not a concern. So for ME…I’ll continue to own and carry my Raging Judge Magnum as I know and understand the real and often imagined limitations of this weapon.

  • Very interesting comments on the Taurus Judge, first of all many people believe that the Judge is a super gun, no it is not, it is practical for very close range self-defence using proper ammo, avoid using .410 #8 or #9 shot as the shot is too small, use #4 shot or larger, buck shot or slug, the small shot such as #8 or #9 produce lots of noise and recoil but very little penetration, #4 is much better but then remember your effective range is very limited, 10 yards or less . Alittle trick I learned thru a gun website on how to make the .410 more of a self-defence round,cut just above the brass, deeply but not deep enough to cut off the plastic, all around the shell, when the shell is discharged the complete shell is fired off making the .410 more deadly, even the #8 shell can be used for self-defence, something to try out, it worked for me .

  • Just a word of advice, the Taurus Judge as well the .410 American derringer, the Bond .410 derringer are illegal to own in the State of California(as well as other shotgun type pistols and revolvers) and maybe in other states as well, so beware while traveling to or thru those states) ! I love the Judge, really a fun gun to own, but as I said in my post, the smallest shot is rather a joke ! Lots of noise, recoil but hardly any penetration ! In bear country I would forget the shot shells and use .45 Colt with a heavy bullet ! Shot the Winchester PDX loads out of my Judge, a very good man stopper to about 10-15 yards ! Someone mentioned about the poor quality of Taurus weapons, that was the case back in the 1960′s-70′s but not today , for me I find their quality excellent, one of the best pocket revolvers for the money is the Taurus model 85 in .38 special a great backup revolver and very accurate, I once shot a snake with my model 85 from about 10 paces, shot the snake right in half ! My Taurus guns are keeper guns I will not sell !

  • The one thing that I wish Taurus had done was to develop the Judge to shoot not only .410, and .45 long Colt but also be able to fire the .45ACP, .45ACP is much easier to obtain and much less expensive the .45 long Colt, I heard that a couple of years ago that Taurus was going to offer an even larger Judge, one in 28 gauge but the government said no way,a 28 gauge revolver was classified as a sawed off shotgun and totally illegal , too bad that would have been a remarkable weapon to shoot, unfortunately there are very few decent 28 guage loads available at this time !The Taurus Judge is a fun gun to shoot, when I only have the #8 shells I have cut them open and replaced the small shot with several bb’s, gives the weapon far more punch !

    • Under federal law it’s not a shotgun unless it has a smooth bore (which the Judge doesn’t), and not a rifle unless it has design features enabling it to be fired with two hands and/or braced against the shoulder. Some states (for example CA) have different rules but the .410/45 Judge is already illegal in those places.

  • Today I decided to go out and shoot my American Arms derringer .45/.410 which is similar to the Judge as they both shoot the .410 shotgun shells, my American derringer has the advantage as it will shoot not only 2 and a half inch shells but also 3 inch too, unlike my Judge which just shoots 2 and a half inch shells ! I shot my derringer with 3 inch .410 #6 shells, at about 10 to 12 paces, penetration into a hard wooden board was about one 16th of an inch, fatal to a snake or a rodent but not to a criminal attacker, painful and could blind someone, but definately not to be used for self-defence especially in the winter time as a heavy coat could stop the small pellets !#4 shot is better but again range and penetration is limited, Winchester PDX seems about the best in the .410 ammo for self-defence, while the .45 long Colt is the best, but remember DO NOT use .45 plus P ammo in your Taurus Judge as the Judge is not strong enough for plus P ammo, this is what I have read !

  • Maybe this is off the subject of the Taurus Judge, but for a person who is looking for a good and reliable handgun for survival, hunting, self-defence a weapon that almost anyone could shoot, I would tell them buy a Ruger singe six stainless steel revolver one that has the extra .22 magnum cylinder, this is a very rugged weapon, .22 ammo is much easier to obtain than .45 Colt ammo ! And for a real shotgun, buy a Mossberg model 500 in either 12 or 20 gauge, real knock down power for either man or beast, ammo is cheaper than .410 !

  • I own a Judge magnum as well as many other handguns and pistols.
    The Judge is a fun gun at the range. It is most flexible when it comes to the types of ammo it can shoot. It will blow a whole through a 3/4 ” pressed board cabinet at 30 feet with buckshot. It is not designed or intended to be the most accurate gun. It does do what the manufacturer intended it to do quite well. It’s a hybrid more or less. I can assure you it can be quite the deadly weapon, so be safe and keep away from the business end!

  • I for one own a circuit judge 45/410. I am not very impressed with it as of yet. I am a retired Army man. I love to shoot accurate weapons. That will group shots is tight patterns. To assure a accurate shot beyond 100 yards. That will penetrate and kill large game. From what I have already seen. the Judge will not live up to the challenge. Then the ammo is to expensive to go plinking targets with. I will probably sell my judge and purchase something else for hunting.

    • I own a Judge Magnum, and very simply put, it is a weapon designed for close distance. I would not use a handgun of any type and expect accuracy at 100 yards. I find it’s alot of fun as well as extremely versatile with its ability to utilize various types of ammo. Good gun for snake control or home defense, with the right ammo!

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    • Use the Defender .410 shells and if an intruder gets in my house or bedroom, it will change his whole outlook on life. Stick your face in my car and I’ll be picking up brain matter from the ceiling. It’s a great gun for those purposes only, except for a snake. Or anything else- doubtful. For my wife to be able to point with a laser and shoot an intruder, I am confident the intruder will leave. The Defender shells shoot a little of everything. I defer the Mr. Tuohy’s expertise. But there is still a practical use for it, although limited. Just my opinion. And we all know what opinions are like….. Everybody has one.

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