Tag Archives: defensive handgun

REVIEW: Taurus Judge

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Bob Campbell takes a look at this unique revolver that has in a short time become an iconic phenom. READ MORE

taurus judge

by Bob Campbell

Handguns are reactive instruments. They are carried on the person to answer a threat. They may be kept at home ready to address a threat in the home. If we have warning, then we are most often better advised to deploy a rifle or shotgun.

The handgun then is the weapon of opportunity. While handguns are not the most powerful firearms, they are the ones we are most likely to have on hand when a firearm is needed to save our life. I have spent several months evaluating the Taurus Judge and have formed a favorable opinion of the revolver for specialized use.

The Judge is a 5-shot revolver that chambers both the .410 bore shotgun shell or a .45 Colt cartridge. This means real versatility. By the same token, the design limits the accuracy and range of the revolver. As a pure, short-range home defender, the Taurus Judge has merit.

taurus judge

There is a considerable argument that getting on target fast and getting a hit — any hit — very fast is critical. This is true. I have taught that it is better to slow down and get a center hit than a fast miss. This doesn’t mean a fast hit isn’t possible; it simply demands practice.

The Judge addresses this need by offering a shot payload. The .410 bore isn’t a powerhouse, but with the right load — and that is the key — it offers a viable defense option. Surprisingly, my evaluation indicates the Taurus Judge may be viable for protection against predators at close range as well. My test piece is perhaps the most common Judge (there are several options), a steel frame revolver with a 3.0-inch barrel.

The revolver is light enough, handles better than its ungainly appearance suggests, and offers good hit probability for those that practice. Fit, finish, and smoothness of action are good. The revolver features a red fiber optic front sight. This sight offers a good aiming point and aids in rapid target acquisition.

A short barrel handgun with a smooth bore firing a shotgun shell is illegal, the .410 and the .45 Colt are close enough that Taurus was able to design and manufacture a revolver chambered for both the .410 shotgun shell and .45 Colt cartridge. There is rifling but it is fairly shallow.

Like all double action revolvers, the Judge is simple to operate. Open the cylinder, load the chambers, and press the trigger to fire. No slide to rack, and no safety to operate. The concept is to allow the shooter to get a fast hit with a load of shot. While each individual buckshot pellet doesn’t carry much energy the effect of the loads hitting instantly with several projectiles offers excellent wound potential.

Load Selection
You may have seen ill-conceived videos and hype in which the Taurus Judge is fired at a target and the target is peppered with hits. Birdshot is a tiny shot grade intended to humanely kill a bird with a few hits. It is by no means useful for personal defense. Like firing a full-size shotgun, birdshot is fine for practice but not personal defense. A charge of birdshot from 7- to 9 shot carries hundreds of small pellets that form a pattern.

taurus judge
Federal’s buckshot load is a simple and effective solution to .410 buckshot.

At the typical personal defense range, this pattern runs 18 to 32 inches. This is 7 yards, past that birdshot is useless. Worse, the small shot penetrates only a few inches. A felon wearing a heavy winter jacket may not be hurt at all. At about 15 feet, the Federal 4 buckshot load, carrying #3 buckshot, holds a cohesive pattern of less than three inches. This is a preferred load for those using the .410 load for personal defense.

taurus judge
This is a pattern from the Federal buckshot load at about 15 feet.
taurus judge
As range progress misses are inevitable.

The Federal load is advertised at about 750 fps but actually clocked over 800 fps in the Judge. The total payload is 292 grains. Winchester offers a PDX load with a total payload of over 300 grains, with three flat disks and a load of BB Shot. With this load, the pattern is often quite large (as much as 16 inches at 15 feet) with the disks striking the center of the target.

taurus judge
The Hornady Triple Defense load offers good wound potential.

The Hornady .410 defense load features a .41 caliber slug followed by two round balls. The slug generally tracks straight with the point of aim with the balls radiating around the center. It is essential you pattern the shot on a paper target to determine how the shot spreads at 5 to 10 yards.

In my opinion, 7 yards is the outside range for these loads, although the Hornady slug with its FTX design might be useful a bit beyond. The bottom line, buckshot and specialty loads are useful for home defense and for short-range defense against predators. Penetration tests in water jugs and wet newsprint indicate these loads will produce a serious wound.

According to A Prepper’s Guide To Shotguns, birdshot may penetrate a six-inch gallon jug and some shot will make it to the second jug, but very few. Federal’s 2 ½-inch shell with 4 OOO balls penetrates over 24 inches, which might correlate to 18 inches in gelatin. That is excellent.

The Winchester PDX load exhibits a much larger pattern. However, the three disks in the PDX offer a 3×4 pattern at 15 feet. The much larger pattern is made up of 12 BBs. The Hornady FTX slug penetrates 15 inches from this revolver, with the two round balls making a total 3 to 5 inch group at 15 feet.

These heavy loads should produce devastating results at 15 feet to perhaps 21 feet, the magic 7 yard average range. In truth across a room or bedroom is more likely. The Judge must be aimed, but the pattern has spread enough to aid in hitting at 10 to 15 feet. This handgun isn’t useful past 21 feet with shot loads.

Another option is to load the Judge with .45 Colt ammunition. In order to meet Federal law pertaining to handguns and shotshells the Judge is a .45 Colt revolver with the option of firing .410 shells. The barrel is rifled. The long jump of the .45 Colt bullet from the chamber to the barrel throat would seem to limit both velocity and accuracy. In some cases this is true. However, my most recent testing indicates that this loss isn’t always what we think it may be.

The Judge is plenty strong for the heaviest loads, including hard cast SWC bullet handloads. It depends on how much recoil tolerance you have. A good choice for personal defense is the Hornady Critical Defense. This 185-grain bullet has a good reputation for expansion and penetration. Velocity is 891 fps form the three-inch barrel Taurus Judge. Recoil is modest. This load strikes to the point of aim. At 15 yards, five shots fired from a solid benchrest firing position yielded a 3-inch group. This is plenty accurate for personal defense.

Another choice worth considering is the Winchester PDX 225-grain JHP. This load offers a heavy hitter at 780 fps. This bullet weight offers plenty of momentum. The .45 Colt is among a very few handguns that performs well without bullet expansion. This was proven in the Old West and in many engagements since.

A solid choice is the Winchester 255-grain lead bullet. This bullet exits at 770 fps from the Judge. (And 778 fps from a 4 ¾-inch revolver on hand for comparison.) Penetration is about 18 inches, ideal for personal defense, yet recoil is mild. This is also a relatively accurate load with a 3-inch, 15-yard group. If the Judge owner anticipates a long shot, the .45 Colt offers proven wound potential without high recoil.

The Judge is a specialized handgun. It isn’t a go-anywhere do-anything handgun by any means. But what it does, it does well. It is worth your time to explore the Judge.

SEE MORE HERE

SKILLS: Quick And Compact Drills For Your Carry Gun

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Here are some great tips and training tactics to help improve your skill with a sub-compact carry gun. READ MORE

Springfield Armory XD-S
Springfield Armory XD-S

SOURCE: Springfield-Armory Armory Life, by Ivan Gelo

One of the old mantras many of us continue to see and hear is that the sub-compact firearm is “Carried often, but shot little.” Let me go on the record stating that I TOTALLY DISAGREE with this old adage. Like many of you, my every-day carry companion is a sub-compact handgun (the dark-earth 9mm Springfield Armory XD-S), and I shoot it on a regular basis.

It seems this adage is often repeated by instructors because, in their experience, many of the subcompacts of the past were difficult to manage and the recoil was harsh. These “cons” resulted in little practice time with the firearm.

With the smaller versions of the Springfield XD series though, I do not find this to be the case at all. I actually enjoy practice sessions with these small pistols.

Special Concealment Assignment
Quite often I get requests from friends in the security business requiring assistance with multi-day protection details. A few days prior to receiving the Springfield XD-S Mod.2 for evaluation, I answered one of these calls. After obtaining some of the specifics related to this executive detail, it was clear that a suit and tie were the “uniform” of the day. Knowing that 1) dress belts are not the best rig when carrying full-sized firearms and 2) blending in and concealment were the high priority, I opted to carry my sub-compact 9mm Springfield Armory XD-S as my primary firearm. My Springfield Armory SAINT was relegated to the trunk of my transport vehicle as the “back-up” weapon. Good choice, I know…

Range Time Required
With the protection detail a short week out, I focused my range training specifically to the XD-S 9mm and the .45 caliber XD-S Mod.2 that I had not yet shot.

drawing from concealment

I decided to drill / practice three techniques:
Movement while drawing, with a concealment garment

Multiple round engagements, more than the traditional 2 shots per target

“Failure drills” – multiple rounds to the body, followed up by rounds fired to the head

1 – Drawing from Concealment with Movement
Practicing the draw, and specifically drawing from concealment if this is your EDC mode, is a MUST. Incorporating movement during a draw is an additional skill set that should be practiced and perfected. Movement makes you a more difficult-to-track target and is therefore worth the investment.

As with all new shooting skills, If you haven’t previously practiced concealment draws or concealment draws with movement, dry draws are HIGHLY recommended first.

When dry drawing / dry firing, the gun is UNLOADED and condition VERIFIED. NO ammo should be allowed in the practice area. And, find a SAFE backstop (that’s able to stop a potential negligent discharge). Dry practice can also be done at the range if your facility permits.

Back to my drill…

There are several methods of drawing from concealment. Some of the more popular are:

Sweeping the cover garment with your strong hand

Pulling back on the garment with your support hand

Pulling up on the garment with your support hand

I personally prefer the “sweep” method. This approach allows my support hand greater freedom to perform any of the numerous defensive empty hand responses, such as a palm heel strike, shielding technique or deflection.

The Sweep Draw
Sweeping the concealment or cover garment involves only your holster-side (strong) hand:

The hand starts with an open palm, similar to your normal draw, however, the fingers are spread apart more than normal and the pinky and ring fingers curve in slightly.

Use these two fingers to hook the front of the garment and sweep it to the rear and behind / past the holster and firearm. Some instructors teach that during this process the cover garment is also “flung” back (which might clear the gun and draw better). Try both approaches and see which is best you, your carry rig, and the concealment garment you most often use.

With the holster area clear of the garment, draw the firearm as you have trained.

Appendix note: If you prefer appendix carry, it is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT to first practice just the draw portion of this with an unloaded gun! Get that down before you live fire and/or add concealment and movement.

shooting drill

2 – Multiple Round Engagement
This drill does not have to be complex. One target is all that’s needed. I most often use cardboard USPSA or IDPA targets, as I like the zone markings.

Start close — 3 yards — just beyond contact distance. Move the targets out, three yards at a time as your training progresses, and master each distance.

The goal is to draw and fire four rounds in quick succession. Keeping all hits in the “0” zone or top half of the A-zone is what I expect.

At this close range, even a shooter with a moderate skill level should be able to accomplish this with some practice.

Use a shot timer and start with 1 second splits (time between shots). Decrease your split times by .25 seconds when you can repeatedly put all shots in the “center zone” on demand.

Remember, at this close distance a perfect sight alignment is not required. The sight index, “flash sight picture” or whatever term you use, should deliver good hits on target as long as you do your job keeping the gun aligned with minimal grip pressure increase or hand/wrist movement.

When you make it to the .25 second split time speed, you will have to move the trigger FAST. To do this, you will most likely be “banging the trigger,” but that’s okay. Learn to work the gun at this speed in training, especially when the threat is CLOSE.

3 – “Failure Drill”
If you are justified in using deadly force on another human being and body shots are not stopping the lethal threat, then face or head shots could be one of the best ways to put an end to the problem.

Using the previous drills as a base, after firing 4 rounds in the body at 3 yards, move the shot placement to the face or head area and fire 2 more rounds.

Given the limited rounds in the magazines in your carry sub-compact gun, shot placement is even more critical. Work at speed, but have the discipline to hit the center of the head zone area. The A zone on a USPSA target and the “0” zone on the new IDPA target are a good go / no-go standard.

Again, once you have made improvements at three yards, move the target distance out three more yards.

Detail Drills Completed
In my several training sessions through the noted week, I fired over 300 rounds of .230 grain ball and 50 rounds of duty / self defense .230 grain jacketed hollow point .45 ACP ammunition. As I expected, the Springfield XD-S Mod.2 was enjoyable to shoot and had zero malfunctions!

So, “don’t be that guy” who carries regularly but practices irregularly, especially if your EDC is a sub-compact firearm. Practicing with a sub-compact firearm might even assist with your focus on the fundamentals of shooting.

Once practiced up and proficient with your sub-compact pistol, check your local ranges and their match schedules for International Defense Pistol Association (IDPA) matches. The events are set up with defense-minded scenarios and drawing from concealment is required on most stages. Additionally, there has been an increase in the popularity of back-up gun (BUG) matches, directly designed for your carry gun. Either event, IDPA or BUG, is great for confirming your ability to shoot your sub-compact carry gun under a little pressure.

And what could be more perfect? Take advantage of someone else setting up a match, so you can practice your pistol skills, all while enjoying a variety of challenges and courses of fire.

As a matter of fact, I’m one of those “someone elses” (match directors). If you ever visit the Phoenix area, I’d be honored to have you attend one of my events — 2nd Wednesday night of every month at Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club.

See you and your sub-compact carry gun there.

IVAN GELO
Ivan served as a full time police officer with an Arizona agency for 26 years. He spent the majority of his career as a SWAT officer fulfilling 20 years as an operator. He is a Law Enforcement state certified Firearms, Rifle, Defensive Tactics, Active Shooter, and High Risk Stops Instructor. Additional duties with his agency included his work as a detective, Field Training Officer, police academy Recruit Training Officer and Lead Firearms Instructor, Rifle Instructor and Ballistic Shield Instructor.

Fired for Your Firearm: Do You Have any Options?

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A recent incident in which a Waffle House waitress was fired after defending herself against an attempted robbery shows that even when people exercise their legal right to self-defense, they can still be terminated by their employers.

According to WSBTV in Georgia, “Deputies said robbers gave a note to a waitress that threatened to shoot everyone unless she gave them money.” Heather Stanley, another waitress at the Newnan, Georgia eatery, went out to her car, retrieved her handgun, and “fired one shot into the air” as the would-be robbers ran to their cars.

Stanley was fired by Waffle House after the incident.

Stanley told WSBTV, “I didn’t know if they had guns. I didn’t know if they were going to their vehicle to get another one and could come back and try to get to the safe, so my instinct was to go to my car and get the gun.” Stanley added, “For trying to protect their Waffle House and trying to protect their money and to get their money back, they let me go.”

In Texas, employers can fire employees for similar policy violations. Independent Program Attorney Emily Taylor of Walker & Byington discusses the limited options fired employees in the Lone Star State have if they violate an employer’s firearms policy:

What happens if you do get fired for violating a firearms policy? Well, unfortunately, Texas is an “employment at will” state so your employer can fire you for virtually any reason, or no reason at all at any time.

So if you’re fired for violating a firearms policy, you don’t really have recourse. Firearms owners in Texas are not a protected class of persons, so you can’t come back then and sue your employer and say you were discriminated against for being a firearms owner. We reserve this protected-class status for things like race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and things of this nature.

There’s one more quirk in Texas firearms law that pertains to employers and employees, and this is having your firearm in your vehicle at work. We have a bill here in Texas that says that the general rule is employers must allow you to do this.

However, that bill doesn’t have a punishment for employers who violate this law, so at the end of the day, if you have your firearm in the car, your employer tells you that you cannot do this, and then they fire you for having your firearm in the car, unfortunately, even though, they are in violation of the statute, you have again no legal recourse because Texas is employment at will.

Check out these other great articles from U.S. Law Shield and click here to become a member:

The just-released video above is from the Florida State Attorney’s Office, supporting a judge’s ruling that a citizen who opened fire on a man attacking a Lee County deputy last year was justified in using deadly force.
Taking the family to a state or national park this summer? Then you need to know the rules about firearms carry at your destinations, in-state or out of state. Click to watch Independent Program Attorney Michele Byington explain various park rules controlling where you can — and definitely cannot — take your gun. And please take the poll at the bottom to tell us if you take firearms with you on vacation. All poll responses are completely confidential.

Walther Creed 9mm Pistol Review

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The new face of Walther has become far more that just a legacy of James Bond’s Walther PPK: Walther is a company offering real innovation. The new Creed is an inexpensive great-shooting handgun, and a great choice for a first-time buyer. Read why!


by  Major Pandemic


Walther Creed

Walther has created cutting-edge designs which some gun buyers get right away like the fabulous little PPS M1 and M2. Other designs are a bit tougher to understand for the seasoned shooter…that is, until they handle them. The PPX was one of those guns which could not be fully appreciated until it was handled, gripped, shoot and then really drive the living crap out of it. The PPX was probably the best values on the market, but most shooters felt the blocky looking PPX was not a particularly pretty gun and visually it looked huge. The PPX worked awesome and felt great and was street priced under $400 but it needed a facelift to keep pace with shooter expectations. Walther heard the feedback and retooled the PPX into the Creed, which is essentially a resurfaced and even less expensive PPX with the pleasing look and feel of a PPQ. With a very well done remodel of the PPX into the new Creed, this is likely to be a very hot-selling gun for 2017. PPX magazines are 100% compatible with the new Creed.

ABOUT THE WALTHER CREED
When I interviewed the Walther team at the 2013 SHOT show about why a sub-$400 Walther was created and now competing amidst their line of premium $600-$800 Walther firearms. The response was the same as this year regarding the Creed, Kevin Wilkerson (Walther Marketing): “The PPX and Creed models were developed so we could provide a full-length, full-sized, and fully-featured Walther at a value price. We really didn’t have a feature-rich gun at a value price. The PPX did well in the market as will the Creed. We didn’t sacrifice quality in making the PPX or Creed, just some of the features that add a lot of cost. With so many new shooters coming into the sport, we wanted those folks who were just learning to shoot to be able to have a quality firearm with a lot of features at a price they could live with.” After testing, it is now my perspective that this might be the best value in a home defense/full-sized handgun a first-time buyer could reach for if price is a primary consideration.

Creed
The old PPX was blocky but the new Creed overhauls the PPX design into a sleeker sexier design.

The Creed has a few features which well-seasoned shooters will appreciate but are useful for the newer or less practiced shooter. New shooters have a hard time developing proper trigger control and pull. The Walther pre-cocked double-action trigger helps easily develop and train good habits with a clearly-defined but soft initial trigger pull take-up followed by a crisp second-stage break. This trains new shooters to start thinking about proper trigger staging instead of trigger slapping. Many firearms have dubious-feeling stacking trigger stages which can be tough for even great shooters to control. The trigger delivers confidence to a new shooter.

The overall design feels extremely comfortable in the hand, and the updated Creed design makes me think that I actually have a high-end PPQ in my hands. I am a firm believer that a defensive firearm should not have any external safeties as I have seen shooters forget to disengage them or accidentally engage them during high stress drills. The Creed design did it right and integrated the three safeties into the trigger-actuated firing control.

Creed
The Creed carries PPQ-style ergonomics and looks, but in a sleeker package.

The Creed is super easy and smooth to charge due to the ergonomics and smooth action. The simple but effective 3-dot sight system has become industry-standard and provides the beginner the perfect sight system to learn by. The gun is very accurate as well.

The maintenance routine is targeted perfectly to the novice. To disassemble the Creed for routine cleaning, simply lock back the slide with an empty magazine in the gun and turn the take-down lever and then press the slide release and the slide will slip right off. Pull off the captured slide spring, lift out the barrel, and the parts are ready for cleaning. To reinstall the slide, simply reassemble the barrel, spring, and hold down the slide release then slip on the slide, lock it back, and flip the takedown lever back. Everything about this gun screams “make it easy on the newbie” and give the pros an inexpensive gun to fall in love with for not a lot of money.

Creed
The Creed disassembles easily with just an empty magazine and flipping the take-down switch. Very simple and perfect for the newbie.

FIT, FINISH, FEEL, & FEATURES
Side-by-side testing of a Creed and PPQ confirms there is only a slight difference in feel and fit between the notably differently priced guns. It still has all the super-precise molding, highly detailed grip texturing, and the metal parts are all still finished with a durable Tenifer finish just like other Walthers in the higher end lineup.

So why is the gun less expensive if it looks and feels like the higher and models? Walther noted the pre-cocked double-action trigger is less expensive to produce and assemble than the striker-fired models. The absence of the interchangeable/adjustable grips and no ambidextrous controls reduce manufacturing costs as well. Add in a stamped vs milled slide release and a few other polymer-based internal parts and you have a $400 street-priced gun that’s not really sacrificing any essential quality.

More about the action mechanism: Where most manufactures have focused exclusively on standard striker-fired designs, Walther has developed a “pre-cocked double action” firing control system that blends the best of striker- and hammer-fired mechanisms. Like nearly every striker-fired system, the striker/hammer is partially pre-cocked by either manually cycling the pistol or automatically pre-cocking after a round is fired. In this case, the Creed has a small snag-free hammer which is partially pre-cocked just like a striker would be. As the trigger is depressed, the three internal safeties are disengaged, the hammer is pushed to a fully cocked state (extending only 1/4-inch from the rear of the gun) and the hammer hits the firing pin to detonate the round. The end result is a handgun with an awesome trigger pull, probably the best of any striker-fired or pre-cocked firearm I have handled. It has a positive 1/2-inch of take-up and then a sharp crisp 6.1-lb. break.

Creed features are impressive: 3-dot sights, 16+1 round capacity, a 360-degree beveled chamber for reliability, two magazines are included with a hard TSA-approved case, Picatinny accessory rail, front and rear slide serrations, excellent grip texturing, and even a reversible magazine release for the lefties out there.

FUNCTIONS & ACCURACY
The Creed shot and spit out over 400 rounds of my worst reloads. The Creed slipped into my Glock 19 Crossbreed Supertuck holster for testing just fine.

Federal and Hornady were nice enough to spare me a few rounds of really nice defensive ammo for accuracy testing. The PPX is very accurate for a defensive semi-auto 9mm. With the Federal Guard Dog, and Standard Hollowpoints, and Hornady defensive rounds, I was able to consistently deliver 1.25-inch 25-yard groups firing rested off sand bags. At defensive 7-yard distances, I was able to essentially deliver single ragged-hole groups during slow controlled offhand shots. A big part of what enables the accuracy is that incredible trigger…

Creed
The Walther Creed represents what the author feels is an incredible value at the sub-400-dollar range. All the essential Walther features are preserved, and also the lengendary performance.

FINAL THOUGHTS
For under $400 the Creed is arguably one of the best gun values on the market. It delivers superb quality and features well above many standard firearms lines with proven Walther reliability and accuracy. The Creed is a significant make-over from the legacy PPX improving looks and ergonomics while preserving all the great aspects of the original design. Exactly what you would expect from Walther.

Check it out, click HERE


Major Pandemic

Major Pandemic is an editor-at-large who loves everything about shooting, hunting, the outdoors, and all those lifesaving little survival-related products. His goal is simple, tell a good story in the form of a truthful review all while having fun. He contributes content to a wide variety of print and digital magazines and newsletters for companies and manufacturers throughout the industry with content exposure to over 2M readers monthly.  www.MajorPandemic.com