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The Taurus Judge Fires Shotgun Shells: Is This a Gun or a Mini Cannon?

Taurus Judge
Taurus Judge. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Aahh, the Taurus Judge .45 Long Colt/.410 bore shotshell combo double-action revolver. What’s the verdict on this handgun?

Some members of the (proverbial) jury of gun writers like S.A. Bailey have judged it to be dreadful (yes, I’m purposely alluding to a Sylvester Stallone movie that was made before this gun was even invented).

But other jurors, er, gun writers have been far more lenient in their judgement of the Judge, and seeing how it not only remains in production 16 years after its debut, it’s indeed the single bestselling product in the Taurus catalog, this revolver has clearly been granted a stay of execution.

All those bad puns aside, let’s take a deeper look at the Taurus Judge.

Taurus Judge History & Specifications

Interestingly, when the gun first debuted in 2006, it didn’t come with the “Judge” sobriquet.

Instead, it carried the dual designations of the Model 4410 and 4510, intended as a sport revolver and for “snake defense.”

However, as noted in an article by Dick Metcalf, “Then, in 2005, Taurus chief Bob Morrison heard that a number of judges in high-crime jurisdictions of the Miami area were buying the gun for personal defense in their courtrooms. Intrigued, he initiated a test protocol to evaluate the effectiveness of the revolver for close-range personal defense when loaded with then-available .410 shotshell varieties. The results exceeded his expectations.”

A quick aside about the .410 shotgun round for the benefit of any of our readers not familiar with shotguns; it is measured in caliber, i.e. hundredths of an inch, rather than gauge, which is applied to the .410’s larger cousins, the 20-gauge – which is equivalent to .615 caliber – and the 12-gauge, which is equivalent to .729 caliber. For an additional frame of reference, the .410 is essentially the same bore size as the .41 Magnum handgun cartridge.

How effective is the .410?

Phil Bourjaily of Free Range American says that “The .410 does make a good small game gun, especially for squirrels. It’s also a fun gun for shooting, um, things (milk jugs, broken toasters, bags of flour) and for general pest control. The 410 shotgun remains tremendously popular, and nothing bad I say about its ballistics will change that. It is undeniably a fun gun to shoot, and that’s precisely the reason I own one.”

Meanwhile, as far as its self-defense potential when discharged from a handgun, here’s what’s Mr. Metcalf has to say:

“Due to the .410 revolver’s rifled bore, even #4 game loads from the small-gauge .410 spread an even pattern that reaches about a 15- to 18-inch diameter only 10 to 12 feet from the muzzle. This makes the gun extremely effective as a point-and-shoot firearm in close quarters, and it is also much easier to maneuver and handle than a full-size shotgun in confined situations. Plus, the revolver’s capability for follow-up shots with conventional .45 Colt defense-bullet cartridges gave it a dual-ammunition capability unlike any other handgun made. The implications were obvious…When loaded with shotshells, The Judge is designed specifically for the purpose of extreme-close-range defense against sudden personal attack. This means within the confines of a vehicle, bedroom, living room, or an in-your-face assault on the street.”

Meanwhile, as for the .45 Colt AKA .45 Long Colt caliber (not to be confused with the .45 ACP [Automatic Colt Pistol]), there’s never been any real controversy about its effectiveness as a self-defense round, dating back to 1873 and its introduction via the Colt Single Action Army (SAA) revolver AKA the “Peacemaker” AKA “The Gun That Won The West.”

The Taurus Judge is a medium-frame revolver with a five-round cylinder. Whilst the variants come in barrel lengths of 2, 2.5, 3, and 6.5 inches, the standard model is the 3-incher with a stainless steel finish and a weight of 29 ounces.  

Shooting Performance

As for the accuracy of the gun, I haven’t yet had the opportunity to fire the Judge yet, so instead I’ll turn back to Mr. Metcalf one more time:

“I must confess, this is where The Judge exceeded my expectations. As shown in the chart, a representative selection of .45 Colt commercial ammunition from a 3-inch-barreled, magnum-cylinder Judge averaged 3.12 inches overall for five-shot, full-cylinder groups at 25 yards. The average group size for the same series of .45 Colt loads from a 6.5-inch version of The Judge averaged a quarter-inch smaller. I attributed the difference to my eyes’ appreciation for the more precise sight-alignment enabled by the longer sight radius of the 6.5-inch gun…These results are on a par with any ‘pure’ .45 Colt revolver on the market, and they’re better than many. Whatever Taurus did to tweak the rifling specs obviously worked.”

Want Your Own? YOU Be the Judge!

For the aforementioned standard version of the Judge, the manufacturer lists an MSRP of $619.99 USD. Meanwhile, True Gun Value provides this pricing perspective:

“A TAURUS JUDGE pistol is currently worth an average price of $491.59 new and $407.15 used. The 12-month average price is $483.19 new and $416.66 used…The new value of a TAURUS JUDGE pistol has fallen ($6.64) dollars over the past 12 months to a price of $491.59. The used value of a TAURUS JUDGE pistol has fallen ($20.04) dollars over the past 12 months to a price of $407.15.”

Deadliest and Portable Guns

Taurus Judge. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Taurus Judge

Taurus Judge Revolver. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Taurus Judge

Image: Creative Commons.

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Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.  

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).