Tag Archives: Taurus Judge

REVIEW: Taurus Judge

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

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

REVIEW: Why I bought A S&W Governor

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestyoutube

With the huge popularity of the Taurus Judge, Smith & Wesson has its own take on the “multi-cartridge” revolver. Find out how well it works HERE

S&W Governor

Major Pandemic

The S&W Governor was a gun a publicly said I would never buy. I thought it was a pointless gun that can shoot a mixed 6-round cylinder of 2-3/4 .410 shotgun shells, .45 ACP, and .45 Colt rounds with dubious utility. In essence a Swiss Army knife, not particularly good at anything but marginally handy at everything when otherwise empty-handed. I thought why would anyone want a gun that shoots .410, 45 ACP, and 45 Colt and none of them extremely well as a dedicated gun? Owners report typical 3-inch 10-yard groups — not great. My accuracy results were about the same, but notably the Governor does deliver acceptable combat accuracy with .45 Colt rounds and some slug shells. With shotshells of shot a pattern or hole of some sort is delivered downrange with the accuracy limits of a 5-inch sawed-off shotgun. Of course the droves of Governor owners did not agree with my initial assessment.

S&W Governor
An effective and versatile personal arsenal, or a tourist trap? You decide, but I came to see its merit!

Indeed the Governor is not a 25-yard gun and instead is a highly effective 7-yard gun. You would not want to be downrange when it goes off, but do not be fooled that you are going to drill 25-yard A-Zone groups like with a Glock or shoot clays with any regularity beyond 15 yards like with any typical shotgun.

WHY WOULD I WANT THIS?
Maybe I needed something to shoot down misguided drones, use up the surplus ammo from a retired cowboy, or prove to my 1911 friends that the .45 ACP cartridge is not an inherently accurate round.

Maybe I just wanted the thumb-breaking and nail-ripping experience of removing spent .45 ACP rounds from full moon clips when I forgot the moon clip loader.

Maybe I wanted to wreak destruction. If you are on the wrong end of the S&W Governor, the gun can be a nightmare. All of the projectiles exiting theGovernor are devastating. The gun may not be accurate, but it makes a big hole in anything in front of it.

S&W Governor ammo supply
The .45 ACP can be shot with full 6-round or partial 2-round moon clips.

DUMB TV SHOWS & MY ADDICTION TO THEM
Actually it was the character Daryl Dixon in the AMC Walking Dead television show that made me buy it… That and my dealer had a screaming deal on this used night-sight’ed S&W Governor. On the AMC Walking Dead show, Daryl pulls the gun off a dead bad guy and realizes it is apparently loaded with explosive incendiary rounds and blows stuff up with it. Though my FFL did not have any of the explosive rounds used on the show, we did pop off a few buckshot rounds on his range and the raw insanity of the gun sold me. Like many people, I saw a potential survival appeal of having a gun that can shoot three different rounds including shotshells and with caliber conversion inserts can even shoot everything from .22LR to .38 Special. Anyway I have named this gun “Daryl.”

DARYL — JACK OF ALL TRADES, MASTER OF NONE
The Governor is not a “master of all” as many would hope. Despite all that, shooting the Governor is a blast.

Shotshells are the best to have fun with if you can manage the sharp recoil of this lightweight 29-oz. revolver. To me the .410 shotshell recoil seems similar to a 44 Mag round. Watching fruit, coke cans, water bottles and clay pigeons explode with the shotshell rounds is a laughter producer. The Governor can realistically teach how to point shoot when loaded with bird shot. Place a few clays on a backstop and hammer through point shooting them and you will become a better point shooter with a pistol.

Governor ammo
A mixed cylinder of .45 Colt, .45 ACP, Buckshot, #4, and slugs.

AMMO & WHERE IT WORKS
The original marketing from S&W noted: “Highly accurate with .45 Colt and .45 ACP,” but the MajorPandemic.com marketing would have read “Shoots most ammo pretty well.”

The .45 ACPs were some of the least accurate, good plinking rounds, offer really fast reloads with full moon clips, and deliver minimal recoil. If you want to shoot the Governor a lot, you will likely be shooting .45 ACP. Through all my testing, the .45 Colt rounds were by far the most accurate through the S&W Governor, producing 3-4-inch 7-yard groups, reliable center of mass hits at 15-yards, and accurate enough to hit a full sized silhouette out to 50 yards. .45 ACP groups were roughly double that size. Surprisingly some .410 slugs were also pretty accurate. If I ever chose the Governor for defense use, my choice would be the devastating Hornady Critical Defense Triple Threat slug/buckshot or those in a mixed cylinder with .45 Colt.

For an outdoor trail gun there really is nothing better for quickly handling everything from snakes to wolves to general personal defense. There is also utility in being able to easily swap ammo based on the need out on the trail or load a mixed cylinder of shotshell, bucksho,t and .45 Colt round. This is where the Governor is like the proverbial Swiss Army knife. Where I really see the lightweight Scandium alloy Governor as a relevant firearm is in the hiking, trail, packing, or trunk gun category that can be slipped into the pack.

Despite being considered “old fashioned” the new breed of defensive .45 Colt rounds are similar is power to the .40 S&W. Notably the Governor is not suitable for the insane 1200 ft/lb Buffalo Bore .45 Colt +P rounds or any other .45 Colt +P rounds, but there are plenty of standard .45 Colt defensive, bonded hunting, and hollow-point rounds with energy in the 550 ft/lb+ range.

The Governor can be a small game getter with #4 shot if you are decent at close-range stalking. The flexibility of shooting .410 shotshells opens up the Governor to a enormous range of ammo types including birdshot, BBs, slugs, combo defense rounds, survival flares, rubber/plastic less-lethal ball shot, mace/pepper rounds, rock salt, and yes even Dragon’s Breath incendiary rounds. In reality, though, being not the ideal tool, the Governor can be extremely useful in a lot of potential situations when you have nothing else.

allen rifle ammo pouch
The Allen Rifle Ammo Pouch perfectly holds a ton of ammo.

To carry a variety of ammo simply, an Allen 14-round ammo pouch for rifles makes for a convenience belt or MOLLE-compatible ammo carrier in a backpack. I found that each pouch could carry a variety of 14-shotshells, 2 full speedy-loading 6-round .45ACP moon clips, and 2 2-round partial moon clips straddling the bottom flap to hold in the .45 moon clips. This overstuffed pouch setup didn’t add any more bulk and provides a mixed variety.

FINAL THOUGHTS
This is a blast to shoot and I can see it can deliver good enough utility that it is a worthwhile gun. Would this be my “one and only gun”? Emphatically NO! I would rather have a high-capacity striker-fired pistol, AR15, or shotgun first if I could, but the S&W Governor fits into the category of a Swiss Army Tinker knife. A real set of screw drivers, a full sized knife, an actual working can opener, and hole punch would be superior in every way to the Swiss Army Tinker except one — the Tinker allows you to carry the base utility of all those tools in your pocket without a tool belt. The S&W Governor is a lot like that. Toss the Governor into a pack as a survival option with a variety of shotshell, and .45 ammo backing up a hunting firearm or bow or as a camp or trunk defense tool and it is plenty good enough when you have nothing else.

SEE COMPLETE SPECS HERE

CHECK OUT AMMO HERE

OTHER SOURCES
Allen Cases –www.byallen.com
Hornady –www.hornady.com

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. Click HERE to learn more.]