Taurus .410 3-inch/.45 LC Caliber Revolver: Judge or Joke?
Perhaps you have seen the ads touting the Taurus Judge as the “ultimate” automobile gun and self-defense weapon? Well, there have been more requests for a candid Judge review lately than for most revolvers, so here we go.
The tested article is the three inch stainless steel “magnum” version of the Taurus 5 shot .45 Colt revolver which offers the novelty of being able to chamber and shoot three inch unfolded length .410 bore shotshells as well. The revolver itself is far from a flyweight: it weighs in at approximately 2.7 pounds. The cylinder, as you might imagine, is garishly long. In this case, the cylinder of this wheelgun is actually a bit longer than its three inch barrel.
The inherent problem with this approach is two-fold. We have a horribly heavy cylinder to begin with, with grossly excessive freebore. We initially tested some Winchester 255 grain .45 Colt ammo (X45CP2) that is rated at 860 fps out of the muzzle by Olin with a 5.5 inch barrel. The combination of the long cylinder and the short barrel made for some drastic velocity loss exceeding 30% from the Winchester specification. Our Judge shot this ammo at below 600 fps, making an already low-powered handgun round even more so.
There are acceptable 45 Colt self-defense rounds available, to be sure. For example, the 225 grain Corbon DPX ammo produced 1100 fps and penetrated 15 inches into 10% ballistic gelatin after going through four layers of denim when fired from a conventional .45 Colt revolvers with a standard length cylinder and a 4 inch barrel. When you have a revolver as long, bulky, and heavy as the Judge it doesn’t make much sense to settle for underpowered, gimpy ballistics. It is a compromise no one needs if the issue is serious self-defense. As you might imagine, though, with such very anemic velocities the heavy Judge is a very soft shooter with the tested 255 Winchester loads.
There have been other .410 shotshell revolvers in times past, such as the “Thunder Five.” What allows the use of shotshells in a revolver today is typically the presence of a rifled barrel. Twist rifling in a barrel destroys shotshell patterns. I had no idea how badly until shooting the Judge at a patterning board at just 10 feet with 3 inch Winchester AA #7-1/2 shotshells, a 15/16 oz. payload. At this range, just over three yards, despite the comparatively tiny birdshot, the pattern was already unacceptably large and chaotic.
You might think that #7-1/2 shot would be good for something. After all, 15/16 oz. of #7-1/2 shot equates to roughly 325 pellets. I pasted an 8 inch circular Shoot N*C target to a piece of 22 in. x 28 in. posterboard and fired at a laser verified 25 yards. Only 8 out of those 325 pellets managed to make it to the paper. Only three pellets touched the eight inch Shoot N*C disc. Worse yet, the three pellets that actually hit the Shoot N*C target didn’t even penetrate through it. Two bounced off of it leaving just scuff marks and one was left sticking to it. To phrase this a bit more differently, you could empty your Judge with 3 inch magnum .410 shotshells at a patient dove sitting in a tree at 25 yards, if you were able to find a dove of that radically diminished capacity. Your chances of hitting that dove would be remote, and even if you did the likelihood of dropping it would be slim. It doesn’t take much to kill a dove, but the Judge produces far less than what is needed. Any number of air rifles would be far more effective than the Judge for dropping ground squirrels, rabbits, or small pests at 25 yards. In the future, I will chronograph shotshells and add the results to the end of this review. I was hesitant to do so with my best gear, as the pattern opens so fast and erratically I didn’t want to destroy my skyscreens by shooting though them with this little gem. Suffice to say that the Judge proved to be ineffectual against the “imminent threat” of paper.
Leave it to Chuck Hawks to give me the “opportunity” to review a product such as this. I don’t really know how to thank him. The Judge is a sad commentary on a triumph of marketing over common sense.
What the Judge really is more gimmick and conversation piece than a reasonable self-defense revolver. It is both nose-heavy, heavy in general, bulky, poor-handling and generally unsightly. The “feature” of being able to fire .410 shotshells with poor patterning and ridiculously low velocity is no feature worth having that I can see. Though some of the ads for the Judge portray its use as shooting out of the passenger side of a car window with shotshells, some might be more concerned about peppering themselves with the shot that didn’t make it through the car’s window.
The Taurus promo video shows that the Judge is an effective weapon against close-range fruit. If you are one of the rare individuals continually harassed by inanimate, close-range melons, perhaps the Judge might be of interest to you. For all other applications, you could do a lot better. As for the story that judges in courtrooms choose to arm themselves with .410 revolvers, that seems more than a bit fruity.
Copyright 2009, 2012 by Randy Wakeman. All rights reserved.