Another Take on the Taurus Judge

This is a guest post by Andrew Bettstaurus judge

The Taurus Judge seems to benefit from a far more aggressive advertising campaign than its predecessor, the Thunder Five. As much as it deserves to fade into obscurity, it just won’t die. The ammo makers have done a pretty good job selling people what they want to hear and sadly, that means there are a lot of folks out there that believe the Taurus Judge to be something other than absolute garbage. There are a lot of problems with the Judge so it’s difficult to state all the problems concisely, especially to the interwebz YouTube commenter crowd.

See, the problem is that many people desperately want the Judge and similar handguns to be effective and they think it ought to be because, because, well, “because it’s a shotgun.” In reality, no projectile fired from a .410 bore shotgun meets minimum penetration standards except for the 1/5 oz slug. To put it in perspective, though, a .410 bore slug weighs about 90 grains, depending on design. That’s about what an average .380 bullet weighs, but with a larger diameter and consequently lower sectional density. It will penetrate deeply enough for defense, but the wound channel it creates is similar to .40 S&W FMJ.

Yeah, but the Judge can fire buckshot and that’s devastating “because it’s a shotgun.” The buckshot fired from a Judge or other .410 bore handgun does not have the velocity to penetrate deeply enough for defensive use. Worse, the rifling in the barrel causes the shot to spread dramatically, further reducing its effectiveness and substantially increasing your civil and criminal liability if you ever have to use it beyond bad breath distance.

So wait a minute, the slug does penetrate adequately, right? And holy sh*t, it’s a SHOTGUN, right? Not so fast. The 90 gr, 0.41″ slug is not very impressive compared to almost any other centerfire defensive handgun bullet. A 9mm 124 gr Gold Dot expands to 0.72″ (coincidentally, 12 ga is .72 caliber). A .45 ACP 230 gr HST starts off at 2.5 times the weight and at a larger diameter. It then expands to nearly a full inch (0.980″).

Okay, fine, but the Judge can shoot .45 Colt, which is an undeniably effective personal defense cartridge. Sure, that’s true; the .45 Colt is a fine cartridge and well suited for defense. Unfortunately, the Judge doesn’t shoot the .45 Colt very well. Sure, it fires it, but remember that rifling that opened up the shot patterns? Well, the Taurus engineers attempted to compromise by keeping that rifling slow enough as to just *barely* stabilize a 250 gr projectile. Like many compromises, it results in the worst of both worlds. Shot patterns still open too fast to be useful while .45 Colt bullets exhibit absolutely Gawdawful accuracy.

Fine, but it can shoot birdshot, which is useful for varmints, snakes, and fun, and it can shoot .45 Colt, which does a pretty good job of putting a man down, if he gets close enough for me to hit him. That’s all correct, so far as it goes, but .357 mag, .45 Colt, .41 mag, .44 mag, etc. revolvers are already widely available and they can fire shotshells, which are also useful for varmints, snakes, and fun. More importantly, those revolvers weigh far less and are much easier to carry than the Judge. After all, a handgun is for carrying. That’s really the only thing a handgun is good at: being small and light enough to conveniently carry. Well, MOST handguns, anyway.

Andrew Betts served with the Arizona National Guard for over 12 years, including a tour to Afghanistan.  Visit his YouTube Channel for more great shooting information.


Photo Credit: Dennis Chin

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