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.