Apparently the Taurus Judge is the most popular selling gun in the Taurus lineup, I didn’t know that when I started researching this article, but I believe it because I hear more students, coworkers and friends tell me how much they want a Judge for personal protection/prepping/zombie killing because it has the ability to shoot both centerfire ammunition as well as .410 shotshells.
I also did not expect the level of disagreement when I posted my video on my opinions on using the Taurus Judge for self defense.
I will admit that does give it some cool points, and I think it is a great concept, but I try to distinguish between true and perceived benefits and make any purchases based upon a cost benefit analysis rather than getting wrapped up with and enamored by features.
The ability to fire 45LC ammunition in addition to .410 shotshells is a feature – it’s perceived benefit is increased flexibility – however when compared with the size and weight of the gun, (the snub nose 2.5 inch chambered Judge is larger than my Glock 19), the small amount of ammunition available (5 shots), and the inaccuracy (more on that later), I just don’t see it as a justified self-defense purchase.
Now, don’t think I am bashing the Judge, I think it is a cool gun, and was a blast to shoot. I also do not think there is a better gun for backwoods fishermen to use as a tackle box gun for snakes. – It would also be great in a shoulder holster for farmers on tractors out clearing brush. A .410 shotshell is much more effective against rattlesnakes that a .38 or .45 revolver shooting a shotshell cartridge.
You would think that a pistol firing shotshells would be regulated under the National Firearms Act as a Short Barreled Shotgun, but since the pistol has rifling in the barrel (shallow enough to allow it to be used as a shotgun) it is legally considered not to be a shotgun (except in Commiefornia where it is banned). While this great legally, what it does is make a barrel that does not live up to its potential as an accurate centerfire handgun, nor as an accurate shotgun. The rifling gives less stability to single projectiles, yet still causes a more rapid dispersion of the shot pellets when used as a .410.
I was able to shoot one of these pistols when a student at an NRA Pistol Instructor Course brought one in. The fit and finish was nice, and it felt good in my hand. Admittedly I was not able to fire a lot of rounds as I had to stick with what I had on hand, but as you can see in the video below I feel that when shooting buckshot (which is the round of choice for almost everyone that wants one ) the rifling causes the shot to “fling” out in a wide pattern – at almost contact distance I had about a 6 inch pattern – at 7 yards only one pellet hit anything nearing a vital shot on a human sized target.
If you have a 2.5 inch chambered Judge shooting OO buck you only get 4 .32 led balls – times that by the 4 chambers and you only have 20 potential projectiles – and the vast majority of them won’t hit a vital area of an attacker, and those that do are underpowered and designed to function best when paired with several other their brother’s hitting nearby at the same time. Speed loaders are rare and I only know one company that sells them (linked below). For a comparable cost and size I can get another Glock 19 that shoots 16 larger, more accurate and more effective bullets that are easier and cheaper to purchase.
It seems to me that if you are buying a gun that shoots multiple calibers to prepare for a time when ammunition is hard to get, it is counterproductive to get two of the more rare calibers – when is the last time you have seen .45LC or OO/OOO .410 buckshot at the Wal-Mart?
I love guns, and I have more in common with someone that chooses a gun for self defense that I would not recommend than I do with someone that chooses not to have a self defense gun at all, so please don’t take this article personal. I am not mad at people that love them some .410 Judge; I just want to share my opinion on the matter and try to influence someone that wants a self-defense gun to get a gun that is more effective.