Saturday, February 21, 2009

REVIEW: Taurus "The Judge"




I got the chance to shoot a Taurus Judge and jumped on it “like a rat on a Cheeto” (I stole that quote from a friend of mine) or like my wife says, “like a hobo on a ham sandwich.” No matter how you say it, I grabbed the opportunity. For you that may not know, the Judge is a revolver that can shoot both .410 shot shells and .45 Long Colt ammo.

My friend Trey called to tell me that his brother Canon (his real birth name) just bought a brand new Taurus Judge. It’s ironic that a gun-loving guy who owns a huge handgun is named Canon, or maybe his love of firearms is due to his name. Either way, it’s a cool name and he does love guns.

Due to Canon’s work schedule, I was “forced” to duck out of work early on Friday so we could get some range time with His Honor, “The Judge”. Canon’s gun is the bobbed hammer, ultra-lite model. Over the years I’ve realized that Taurus has a real problem keeping their web site up to date.

The biggest hurdle for us was finding ammo. It was easy to find .410 #8, #6 and slugs but due to the crazy ammo shortage we couldn’t find any 00 Buck or .45 Long Colt locally. We will get our hands on some and will retest the gun soon.



Once at the range, we started off taking some pictures then loaded it with some #8 birdshot and ran through a few cylinders to get the feel for it. The first thing you notice is how light the gun is compared to it’s relative size. It dwarfs my Taurus Model 85 Ultra Lite .38 Special but is only a few ounces heavier.


The first time the gun was shot (a few days before), the fiber optic peg in the front sight fell out and was lost. That’s not good but I believe it’s a fluke rather than a quality issue. Canon has a replacement on the way and since the plastic FO housing was still in place, sighting was still fine. I would like to see Taurus include a few replacements like Ruger does (as came with my Mark III). How much cost would this add? $.50?
How does is shoot? It kicks. Recoil from the shot shells is heavy, but the soft rubber grips eases the sting. Taurus uses the same, familiar “Ribber” grip on the Judge that is uses on it’s Tracker Series revolvers. It’s a great design for comfort but due to it’s terrific tackiness and bulk, it’s not all that practical for concealed carry.
Next, the bobbed hammer design (there is a model with a hammer spur) removes the option of cocking the gun before shooting. Since this isn’t a deep concealed carry revolver, getting the spur hung on a pant leg or shirt tail isn’t a issue so I’d personally have gone with the spur for fun long distance shots at the range. With a conceal carry gun, like I use my model 85 for, I’d go with hammerless or spurless. Ironically, my model 85 has a hammer spur and Canon’s Judge doesn’t. Go figure.

Speaking of hammers, just like the model 85, the Judge has a key lock built into the hammer to lock it down, preventing it from being shot by an unauthorized user.

As a new gun, the trigger was stiff and heavy. I suggested that Canon sit at home and dry fire it hundreds of times to smooth out the action. I know it works with Taurus revolver triggers because I did it with my Model 85 with terrific results.

After a few warm-up shots, we switched to rifled slugs and shot down range at one of four steel torso targets 75 yards out. These are great targets because when hit with .22 they “ding”, with 9mm they “clang” and with rifled slugs they “GONG”. I like the instant feedback.

Canon told me that the ribbed .410 shells fit in the cylinder chambers a bit tight and he was right. Not a big deal at all but the smooth-sided .410 shells slipped right in and were easily ejected. When you pull the trigger though there was no difference.

The Judge is designed as a close quarters defense or a snake gun that when loaded with light buck or scatter shot, has an effective range of about 10-12 feet. The rifled barrel scatters the pellets very fast. Loaded with heavy buck or slugs that range in significantly extended.

After shooting it, I’d only load it with #6 if I was living in an apartment and was worried about defending myself against an intruder and just as worried about an errant shot going through the thin apartment wall and killing or injuring my neighbor. In an apartment setting, it seems that most confrontations would take place in the 10’-12’ range anyway. Canon said this was his primary reason for choosing the gun.

I’d never think of loading it with anything less than small buck if using it as a hiking or camping gun. If you shot even a small black bear in full attack with #6 pellets at 10 feet, all you’d do is piss him off and make him madder. The #6 scatters to quickly and the pellets are too small to incapacitate any threat but maybe a rattle snake.

Notice in the shot pattern of the #6 shot in the video below. We were shooting at a distance of only 10 feet.

Loaded with a slug the gun would easily, quickly and certainly incapacitate just about any threat you were faced with (save for a Grizzly which aren’t an issue in Tennessee). If the first shot did knock someone off their feet, the second would.

Is the gun fun to shoot? Heck yes! It’s always a blast to shoot a heavy recoiling handgun. In this case, there was also the novelty of shooting a handgun that takes shot shells. The flexibility of the load options (when you can find them) makes the gun a very versatile defense weapon. I really can’t think of a reason to buy the hard-to-find and over-priced .45 Long Colts for defense since the .410 slugs pack such a wallop at normal defense distances. But to each their own.

See how the variety of shot shell loads tore up the target (note: there are three shotgun holes on the target). But is it good for self defense? For an in depth look check this review out - http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot41.htm.
My overall impression: When I first learned of the Judge’s existence, I thought to myself, “Cool but...”. Now after learning more about it and shooting it. There are a lot of reasons to own one. Most of those reasons are in the load flexibility. If you load it right, when it comes to self-defense, the Judge’s sentence for attackers intent on causing you lethal harm is definitely the death penalty.

59 comments:

  1. you would think that shooting shot out of a rifled barrel would srew it up?

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  2. I like the idea behind this gun, but has any owner ever used it against an intruder? There is so much hype about the need to carry, but how often has that need materialized?

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    1. You are part of the problem. I bet you support Libs and their agenda. When will they begin to open their ears to what the 2nd ammendment says. Protect against Opressive govt. you know, like the one we are headed for as we speak.

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    2. How about answering the question? Anyone use it in defense? Was it effective?

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    3. Here is the answer... you are a douchebag. Why not go to the nancy Pelosi site for transgenders??? you will enjoy it more...

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    4. The answer is obvious. A .410 slug or even a 3" .410 .000 buck shot shell with it's 5 .375 inch pellets (Which are both shells this gun can use) is going to take out any intruder at the 10-12 foot range. If you have any doubt of this simply get one or borrow one you can shoot and fire it at a target made of metal and see how it shreds that metal. Unless your intruder comes from the Marvel universe you're definitely gonna be handing down a death sentence from "The Judge" as seeing what it does to a metal target you take into consideration that skin is FAR more penetrable than metal.

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    5. as a person who has carried a handgun for defense,sport and just plain fun plinking. I have had to present my handgun a dozen times to ward off attack without firing and used it 2x against armed attackers. All justifed by the law and investigation that followed.
      It is always better to have a gun and not need than to need a gun and not have it.

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  3. I've read a lot of poohawing from experts about this gun for self defense. However, In my mind it sounds like the perfect car or home pistol.

    I hunted sheep in grizzly country a few years back. I mean real grizzly country. Our party saw nine grizzlies within a couple miles of camp in 4 days.

    The friend guiding us had a Beretta Semi-Auto 12 guage defense gun loaded with alternating buckshot and slugs. The idea of course being that the buckshot was to take out the eyes exc of a charging bear and the slugs to stop it.

    While a 3 inch barrel shooting a .410 is a much different concept you're not talking 800 pound grizzlies either.

    Considering that 90% of defensive situations occur at a few feet of distance its hard to see why the Judge wouldn't be the perfect defense gun for home or car defense. Even a .410 bird load is going to do serious damage at 8-12 feet and to the face would even immobilize the most determined attacker and likely blinding him.

    Alternate your .410s with .45 Long Colt, a load with more punch that the proven .45 ACP and you have a pretty lethal combo at close range.

    The selling point with me is the research that shows that accuracy goes to pot with most people during the adreneline of a life threatening defensive situation. Its a lot harder to miss with a shotgun with that kind of group spread.

    Finally, no matter what's said I love my Taurus revolvers and find them equal in quality to my Smith and Wesson.

    With Utah's new no permit car carry law I'm thinking the Judge is as good as medicine as any to go in the glove box.

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  4. Florida MountaintopApril 18, 2009 at 12:44 AM

    I own a Judge and I carry it in the car, and I have to say it is the best for this. I keep Slugs and 000 Buck in the gun, and I would not want to be on the recieving end. I have a friend who has one as well, and shot a .45 long colt and it split the cylinder. He told me he read somewhere "Do not shoot any Long Colt above 250 grain in it". I will stay with the Slugs since they are rated at 1850 fps and that is double a .45 ACP and almost the same size so it will get the JOB DONE! Follow that with the buckshot and all will fall!

    Just my opinion!

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    1. I shot 255g (about 50 of 'em) this weekend and could not tell the difference between my 200 g shells and the 255 g. The 255g. shells got the cylinder dirtier, faster and made the elector "sticky" when changing shells. I also lost the fiber optic stick out of my gun the first time out and did not even notice until it was too late! Ron

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  5. I have the 6 1/2 inch barrel and it produces much more power and holds a tighter pattern.

    I have a creek on my land , and with #6 shot , I tear them up at 25 feet

    2 of my friends are telling everyone I am the best shot ever , because I hit and flipped a fast moving large water moccasin 4 feet in the air with a single fast draw at about 20 feet away with a .45 cal handgun !

    I must be a hell of a man ! LOL
    Semper Fi
    ex USMC SSgt 0311 / 6617

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    1. You must be. Semper Fi, bro.

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    2. you are a ground pounding grunt??? salt of the earth. s/f

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  6. Just wanted to say that I enjoyed your review as much or better than the many I have read so far. Your approach appears to be from that of a typical run-of-the-mil guy that is looking for a versitile piece. Thanks again for taking the time to review.

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  7. With regard to shooting shot through a rifled barrel: there is no issue. The rifling in The Judge is shallow compared to other Taurus revolvers, and was made that way simply for the fact that shot would be used frequently in this gun. - Pj

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  8. Would this be a good selection for a woman for self defense who has not ever shot before???

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    1. This gun can "Kick" and if you aren't ready for it, it could be hard to handle. You will need some grip strength in your shooting hand to keep ahold of this gun since the grip is pretty short. It would be bad to be at a range shooting and your weapon lands behind you. Ron

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  9. After shooting it, I'd say "yes" only if the woman shooting it can handle the kick. For person that's never shot before, the recoil would be too heavy. The 410 shells pack a huge punch and the .45 Long Colts aren't much lighter but do seem to impose less recoil. A little. Personally, I'd look at something else. Women like small guns (Kel-Tec P-3AT) but too small and they are hard to control. A nice compact 9mm is beg enough to control, enough stopping power to save your bacon and small enough to conceal. Just my opinion. Good luck and thanks for reading.

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  10. Thanks for the non biased review. It was refreshing. I just picked up a judge today and love it. Shot both ammo through it and the kick or lack of one was amazing for such a short barrel.

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  11. Also got the Judge this week. I'm delighted with the gun. It's fun to shoot. It is very accurate especially with the 45 colt load. The 000 3" buck shot 410 is a serious punch too.
    20 - 25 yards with the buck shot, and about 50 with the 45 colt. Would buy it again. Can't believe any of the negative reviews I've read. Glad I saw them after I bought the gun. Otherwise I would have missed out on a great self protection gun.

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  12. I travel a lot for work and my girlfriend who has never fired a weapon before tried mine and really likes it. She had no preconceived notions about recoil. She tried my 1911 and had no problem with recoil.I bought her the Judge in 3" and she had a hell of a good time firing that thing ! For home defence in a panic situation those 3" oo mag shells will be pretty devastating at 15 feet! just point and shoot. And if on the off chance you miss 5 times a smack on the head with that big chunk should finish him off !!

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  13. I like my Judge a lot. My only complaint is the industry tripling the price of 45 LC in the past year and a half. Also where can a shooter find this "NEW" federal 2&1/2 inch "HOT" .410 buckshot shell everyone is talking about??
    Thanks,
    Diamond Bar Bob

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  14. I have not found any yet.... Last summer it was hard to find even every day buck.

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  15. You won't stop the bad guy with a shotgun shell fired from this pistol. Here's a pretty good test: http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot41.htm

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  16. So I guess you would not mind standing 10 yards down range from the 00 buck ??

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  17. I bought mine this weekend after wanting one for a good two years now - I was trading out of a Saiga 12 shotgun figuring as an apartment dweller, I didn't need to be busting down walls to stop someone in my place. Could not be happier with my decision - a very portable scattergun who will change an intruder's attitude with a first round of #4 bird, two rounds of 000 buck (the federal .410 loads are _very_ nice) and finally two .45LC rounds in case the job isn't done yet. The recoil is very blunt and nice and it makes a really nice, exciting blast. Basically a hoot to shoot. Reliable, impressive on the wrong end of the barrel and effective with the right ammo. Ignore the BS on various website and buy one - it's fun and confidence building to have as your primary home/car defense weapon.

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  18. Oh, and one last thing - I bought mine new (4510 model) for $430 - a great deal... it's like anything else, price is supply and demand motivated - there were at least 30 of these at the gun show I attended this weekend, and negotiating one seller against the other saved me over $125. YMMV.

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  19. I initially set out to buy a 44 magnum but saw the Judge and had to have one. Plan on shooting it today. As far as self defense goes if I shoot 5 times with the judge and the attacker is still coming I will enlist the help of my 9mm S&W semi auto with 15 round clip

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  20. If you shoot someone with the Judge 5 times and they are still attacking, either your aim is way off or they are wearing body armor. When using .410 shells, it might take more than one shot, but NO ONE that doubts the gun's stopping power would volunteer to stand in front of one...now would they?

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  21. For some of the folks that have problems finding the hotter .410 shells, here is an idea. The Marlin .444 case works great to make your own. Load them the way you want them, use the shot you want, add the filler, and top off with either alittle paper plug or hot glue.

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  22. Would this gun be a good gun for self defense on a back packing trip?

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  23. I was a marksmanship instructor in the US Marine Corps (PMI) and graduated from USMC Sniper School. That being said...

    I bought the Judge Ultra-light in matte finish. It's got a 2.5" chamber and 3" barrel. I purchased the Federal Premium .410 000 buck shot made specifically for handguns. (from Mace Sports in Mebane, NC) (macesports.com) and proceeded to practice with it on my personal range. I have fired just about every handgun available to man. I have a permit to conceal carry. So, OK, my Judge looks like a starter pistol, but for home defense, it is the only weapon I will use. If I were in country, I would want my 357Mag, for target shooting, my 22 long barrel. But the Judge is PERFECT for sitting in the house watching TV and suckin suds, and for keeping in the glove box. See, I don't want to waste some poor fool just because he's stupid, so I load him up with birdshot, then 000 buckshot his ass and if that doesn't stop him, the last three are 45Colt. So, go ahead punk, make my day! I'll keep my Judge.

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  24. this has been the best gun that i have ever gotten my wife loves it aside from the fact the 45lc is hard to find but i am looking forward to killing some hogs with it.I wish that i would have got th magnum of this gun but great all around

    sgt B, us.army

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  25. Great reviews, great comments. Now, just which model to choose from? :D

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  26. Just fired my judge for the first and lost the fiber optic in the front sight as well,where can you find replacements?

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  27. I'm trying to find a polymer public defender to buy. Being a lighter version, i imagine the recoil will be a bit harsher, but it should be easier to carry concealed should I ever want to do so.

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  28. Great review, I'm buying one of these for home defense and hiking purposes. I agree... no need for .45LC, between the slug and 00 Buck there's not much you aren't stopping. Very versatile gun that can be loaded scenario specific!

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  29. Has anyone tried the cicuit judge yet?? If so how accurate is it with the 45 l colt and the rifled slugs?? It comes with a rail system for scope mount but havent seen any videos on it. Thinking bout getting one. I now have a judge 3 inch and love shooting it. Have enjoyed rip up targets and seeing peoples face at the range. Have shot all kinds of ammo through it at all kinds of targets. It now very rarely leaves my side. Before it was a 1911 that I thought could never be replaced.

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    1. the judge rifle is great lite recoil good for deer targets up to 100yds with the 45 rounds I us the holograpfic sight quick on target a blast 2 shoot has a blast grard in front cause your face is close 2 cylinder works ok

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  30. I had 2 Judges in early 2010. With some 410 loads, the fired case would "set back" against the breech face and completely lock up the cylinder. There were other issues as well.After repeated unanswered messages, and even an email sent to Taurus' CEO, I've yet to hear ANYTHING from Taurus. So, it's a great concept, but with poor execution by Taurus, IMHO.Buyer beware!

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  31. Been looking at the Judge for 6 months. Am female shooter with quite a bit of experience. These are by far the most helpful reviews I have seen and made my decision for me. Gonna get one for home protection in the next month.

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  32. Anyone get one with 2 inch barrel? I'd get the stainless, there's only about an ounce of difference between that an the poly model. don't like the sound of the front sight coming off.

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  33. Just bought a judge today. Great gun. I have heard only positive from those who have shot one.

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  34. Dont buy a tarous 809 s. I had three in a row defect very badly out of box. Not only did all three break after only three to five rounds being fired through, they all looked like crap.

    I have had to turn tarous into the bbb, to get my $ back. I bought original gun dec of 2010. and are still in a battle with them for my $ back. and its june 17 2011 now.

    Thinking about buying a tarous semi auto. Go buy five hi points handguns. and a sling shot. youll be better off

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  35. Tarous manfacturing co. has a F in over all rating/ from finish on guns to delivety. Simply put they spent much more money in advertising and looks. Look them up on the BBB website. type in tarous international south east miami on the bar and look at there over all review.

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  36. I bought a Taurus Poly Public defender. I am 80 years old and I do not think the recoil is half bad. I use winchester dual pack ammo shot shells have 3 discs and 13 pellets and the 45's are hollow point. I think this is an excellent gun for home or auto defense since the new ammo has come out.

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  37. I have shot the taurus judge 3 inch hangun.
    Me and a guy from work took it out and ran everthing it could take 45 pdx slugs and of course 6 shot and I have to say we really only could agree on one use for this hangun. We both agreed it was only acurate up to about 20-25 feet with slugs or 45 loads. Deff a belly gun. packs a good punch also. But for home defense I would stick with the birdshot.

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  38. Before I bought my Judge, I looked at the Tarus website and clearly understood it was designed for in-home defense (close ranges). The 410 "000" ammo and the 45LC ammo, when shot within the confines of a home (10-20 feet), will definitely dissuade any intruder's ugly intentions. Any closer than ten feet and he would most likely be dissuaded beyond recognition. Any 410 pellets that missed him probably would not penetrate the walls (a good safety aspect). The Judge was not designed for chasing the bad guy down the sidewalk or engaging in a shoot-out with your neighbor across the street. I have no intentions of taking my Judge bear hunting. For that I will use my bazooka. I do not recommend using a bazooka inside your home. The Judge will do just fine.

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  39. I have the Rossi Circuit Judge, same as the judge magnum with a 3" chamber. I took it out shooting yesterday for the first time and I was impressed. The 45 colt shells where accurate and very little kick. The 410 shells were a different story. Russian Silver Bear 3” magnum shells. They are a very powerful round, about twice that the kick of a 45 colt 255gr cowboy load but, they expand in the 45 colt portion of the cylinder when fired and have a tendency to stick in the chambers or split. I fired 10 rounds and all of them stuck and one split from the neck of the 45 colt to about an inch down the case towards the rim. I suggest to only firing plastics, not any full case 410 shells.

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  40. I am a 64 yr old woman, with no recent shooting experience. I want a pistol strictly for home/car protection, as I live alone. From the onset of Judge' release, it has held my interest. Knowing there are several styles available, I want to know which model best suits my needs for protection and which shot I need to use. I have small hands, so ease of handling is of some issue in an emergency situation. Is recoil going to knock me off balance? Thank you for helpful info!

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    1. Well, I've shot several Judge's and they do indeed pack a whollup. But, I kind of think your biggest issue would be pulling the trigger. Those things have stiff triggers. Try this, go t your local gun store and give one a try. Pull he trigger and see how it feels. Also, try the RUGER LCP just for comparison. It's a great little revolver that my wife uses as defense. Once you do that, repost there. All post show up in my email. Let me know what you think after a visit to the store. That info will help me guide you to the next step. Good luck.

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  41. I bought a Judge PD from my cousin a few weeks ago. I had been eyeballing them for a while and just couldn't pass it up. I also have a .45 auto that I keep in my house. The Judge is a joy to shoot. Definitely packs a punch but not uncomfortable at all. The birdshot loads scatter quite a bit but the 000 buck, PDX-1, and 45lc all shoot just fine. Now I just find myself wondering just how hot a load I can safely fire out of it.....

    Inside of 20 feet it makes rather terrifying holes in just about anything you point it at. Easy to shoot, easy to clean, simple operation. Great close quarters or bedside gun. I bought an Old Faithful IWB hoster and it is now my CCW gun. Buy one, you won't regret it.

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  42. I am rather concerned, I saw a Judge at a pawn shop the other day and upon inspection of the weapon I noticed the shielding behind the cylinder on the left side was bend about 15 deg, Opening the cylinder i also notice a 1/2" gouge on the inside of the bent shield. Was this a possible problem?, it seemed as though a round had misfired into the cylinder. Has anyone else ever seen this?


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    1. there built that way.i just bought mine brand new and its that way.

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  43. I would say concealed carry Guns are more accurate to shoot as compare to rifle.

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  44. Just bought on for myself and took it shooting this morning. Accuracy is terrible with the 45, slugs are worse. Shot patterns are so wide, it's useless over 10 yards. But...It's going to THE home defense gun for me. Why? I have kids sleeping in bedrooms down the hall. If I have to shoot an intruder, I don't have to worry about a missed shot traveling through walls to kill someone I love.

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  45. These kinds of reviews are more helpful. Normal guy that has the same set of questions. Bottom line for me is home/car defense, and I think it will be more than capable. Thanks!

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  46. I purchased a used Judge Public Defender. It takes 2 1/2 inch shot shells instead of the 3 inch. I have had good results with Remington and Federal ammo. Purpose for this handgun is home defense. In a stressful situation, a person's aim might be off, but with this, being off a bit won't matter. I keep it loaded with 2 bird shot rounds, 2 000 buck rounds and the last one, the 45 long colt. And for all the detractors out there, imagine getting a snoot full of bird shot, then buck shot at close range. As for the kick, yes it kicks, but again in a adrenaline situation, you won't even notice. Practice like it counts, and that won't be an issue. Best of luck and hoping that no one has to pull the trigger.

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