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Taurus Judge Fires Shotgun Shells: Gun or a Mini Cannon? (I Test Fired It)

Revolver Shotgun Taurus Judge. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The Taurus Judge .45 Colt (AKA .45 Long Colt)/.410 bore shot shell combo double-action (DA) revolver is arguably a controversial firearm in that it offers a strong blast from shotgun ammunition from the form factor of a revolver.

The 19FortyFive was able to conduct a live-fire assessment to report on the overpowered sidearm.

Quick Review: Taurus Judge History & Specifications

Previous reporting of the Taurus Judge stated that the gun might actually be confused with a cannon due to its firepower.

The Taurus Judge first emerged in 2006, but it didn’t come with that legalese-sounding Judge sobriquet. Instead, Taurus bestowed the dual designations of the Model 4410 and 4510 upon the gun, advertising it as a sport revolver and for “snake defense.” But, as noted by gun writer 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.” And the name stuck.

Personal Shooting Impressions AKA “Don’t ‘Judge’ Me, Dammit!”

To finally indulge my curiosity to actually fire the Judge, I headed Silver Eagle Group (SEG) indoor pistol shooting range in Ashburn, Virginia. Joining me in the fun this time was fellow shooting enthusiast Dr. Murray Bessette, vice president of education programs at Common Sense Society (he previously held a similar position at Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation) of Washington, DC. The specimen we ended up renting had a blued finish and a 2-inch barrel.

In 34 years of shooting, this was actually only my second time firing a gun in the .45 Colt/Long Colt caliber, and my first time firing “shotty” rounds through a handgun. Two semantic asides are in order here:

First of all, for the benefit of those of you who didn’t know, the .410 shotgun round is indeed a measure in caliber as opposed to gauge for other shotgun chambering (12-gauge, 20-gauge, 16-gauge, and 4-gauge). 

Second of all for the whole “.45 Long Colt” label, many purists will correctly point out that the proper name for the round is simply the .45 Colt. But then again the proper name for the Walther P38 is the Heeres Pistole, the proper name for the Luger pistol is the Pistole Parabellum, and the proper name for the Colt Peacemaker is the Single Action Army (SAA). But I use “.45 Long Colt” as opposed to “.45 Colt” so as to avoid confusion with another famous Colt .45, that being the Colt M1911 pistol/.45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) tandem

Okay, as for shooting performance. Ammo used was a 50-round box of Blazer 200-grain aluminum case jacketed hollowpoint (JHP) for the Long Colt and a 20-round box of 2 1/2″ Hornady Triple Defense for the .410, which Doc Bessette and I split up evenly. I did 15 rounds of head shots at 7 yards and 10 rounds of torso shots with the .45 ammo and 10 rounds of torso shots at 7 yards with the .410.

Starting with the Blazer ammo – which was a nightmare. The cylinder kept binding, and even when the cylinder turned, thumb-cocking for single-action (SA) and trigger-cocking for DA fire were both VERY rough!! Murray noticed some kind of burr on one of the chambers, by the extractor star.

Strangely enough, when we switched to the .410 rounds (x20) — Hornady Triple Defense 2.5” FTX — the cylinder and trigger worked a helluva lot more smoothly, with no issues. 

In any event, while recoil with the .410 loads was certainly stout, it was nowhere near as punishing as, say a Smith J-frame snubby w/.38 Spl. loads, a 2.25” Ruger SP-101 w/158-grain .357 Magnum loads, or the pinky-killing Glock 27 with 180-grain .40 S&W loads.

The gun was accurate enough at 7 yards with both calibers: 11 out of 15 .45 rounds took the A-zone box of the head, with four in the B-zone; nine out of ten .410 rounds stayed in the torso’s Z-zone. Shooting at the 25-yard, accuracy flat-out stunk even after making “Kentucky windage” adjustments for my right-hand/left-eye cross-dominance.

Shooting Impressions from my Buddies

Murray’s assessment of the Judge was blunt and straightforward: “The Judge needs to be impeached and disbarred.” 

Meanwhile, my buddy Cope Reynolds of Southwest Shooting Authority is even more unflattering in his, er, judgment: “Contrary to popular belief, there’s nothing “bad-ass” about the Judge. From a self-defense point of view, it is just one step above pathetic and Taurus should be ashamed for marketing it as such … It’s one gun that I never had the slightest desire to own. It’s nothing more than a novelty. It was a great marketing gimmick.”

Taurus Judge: Still Want Your Own?!?!

If you really truly have nothing better to do (you know, better-quality guns, worthy charities, that sort of thing) with that extra money burning a hole in your pocket … True Gun Value reports that “A TAURUS JUDGE pistol is currently worth an average price of $439.81 new and $401.17 used . The 12 month average price is $484.21 new and $401.22 used. The new value of a TAURUS JUDGE pistol has fallen ($7.59) dollars over the past 12 months to a price of $439.81 . The used value of a TAURUS JUDGE pistol has fallen ($6.43) dollars over the past 12 months to a price of $401.17.”

Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 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).