Hornady’s new .410 revolver ammo is called Triple Defense. We found that it redeems the poor ballistics of these handguns and makes them a viable alternative to standard single projectile handguns.
The Triple Defense round consists of a hollow base 115 grain conical bullet, followed by two 65 grain balls. Together they add up to just about the same as a traditional .45 Long Colt round, on which The Judge and guns like it were based.
Shotgun rounds are extremely hard to chornograph, but after three boxes we got five rounds to give us a viable average of almost exactly the 750 fps. that it says on the box.
At ten yards Triple Defense puts the main projectile at point of aim 100% of the time. The two balls are generally within about 6” of the slug, but sometimes one may disappear off target.
Hornady .410 Triple Defense Ammo
If you remember back to our original story on the Taurus Judge Polymer, one of the biggest problems with the gun was an almost complete lack of ballistic integrity. The most “cutting edge” round, from Winchester, wasted nearly a third of the total payload on steel BBs that travel at roughly the same speed as a Crossman BB gun. With all the popularity of .410 gauge personal defense pistols, they looked to be something of a dud when it came to actual self defense. Seeing this, Hornady had engineered a new addition to their Critical Defense handgun ammo specifically for short barreled .410 pistols, called Triple Defense, and through powder blending and some interesting projectile choices, the .410 revolver can now at least be used as an effective self defense weapon. We tested this new round on the chronograph and with targets at normal close combat distances and this new Triple Defense round proved itself a formidable foe with enough flexibility to take advantage of the strengths of the .410 round at both short and moderate distances. The .410 revolver is still more of a novelty weapon than a serious contender or your best self defense gun, but for the millions of guns out there already, at least we now have a smartly made accurate round with enough punch to matter.
At the heart of the new round is the front bullet. Instead of using disks or balls for the main payload, Hornady has designed a proprietary hollow base slug that weighs about 115 grains. Flying at our our measured velocity (which is also the box velocity) of about 750 feet per second, this one round is roughly the equivalent of a .380ACP, but not quite. Behind that main bullet are two balls, each weighing 65 grains. This gives you a total payload of about 245 grains, roughly the same as your average .45 Long Colt, which is the cartridge that The Judge is actually made to fire. What? You didn’t know that The Judge isn’t actually a shotgun pistol? It’s true. That is why there is rifling in the barrel, because officially The Judge is made to fire .45LC, which conveniently is the same case and rim diameter as the .410 shotgun shell. Ballistically, a .45LC historically pushes a 255 grain lead bullet at just under 750 feet per second. So this Hornady round is roughly packing the same energy if all the projectiles hit the target at once.
That brings us to hitting the target, which has been my biggest bone of contention with .410 revolvers since they were introduced. Handgun combat distances are generally between 10 feet and 10 yards. That is roughly the difference between across the bedroom to across the living room. The original thinking with The Judge was that it would make hitting your target easier, because the shots spread out. That would be great if the shots were at all predictable, or ever landed in the same places. Standard 3 pellet buck shot in a .410 tends to string itself out, and sometimes the balls hit each other and bounce clear off the target. The disks are just as hinky. Sometimes they make one hole, and sometimes they make no holes because they got sideways and nicked each other. And those BBs, forget it. They are a complete waste of foot pounds.
These Hornady rounds for The Judge and similar revolvers seem to be well researched to be effective at both short and longer distances. That hollow base front bullet is bumped by the ball behind it, expanding it to bore diameter. This catches the actual rifling of The Judge and allows the bullet to hold point of aim out to 10 yards and beyond. The two balls are sub-caliber, so they seem to somewhat “float” forward with the main bullet. This allowed us to reliably hit a 6” circle at 10 yards. In maybe 4 out of 10 shots, one of the balls would be off the target, like we have seen with standard buckshot, but overall it wasn’t a bad average considering that most shots seemed to do exactly what you would expect them to do at this distance.
The big surprise was in our 10 feet tests. This is far from “point blank” distance, and we were able to reliably, every shot, pick out the bad guy in the Birchwood Casey hostage targets. The way this new Triple Defense .410 round is constructed, it seems like it will be consistent, regardless of where it shoots in your gun. The round itself is ballistically viable for self defense, and when you couple that with repeatability, it means that you can train reliably with your firearm for an actual gunfight situation. Knowing that the round is going to behave the same way shot after shot after shot makes all the difference.
If you are still not a believer in the .410 revolver, don’t worry. Ballistically there are quite a few of us who will never be fans. This is however a genuinely viable round. In a 2 ½ “ barrel a .32ACP is probably clocking around 750 feet per second with a 60 grain bullet (though the box will say 1,000 fps). Likewise the .380 with a 90 grain bullet. If someone asked you to stand 10 yards away and simultaneously shoot a .380 and two .32s at you, before you get a chance to shoot back, what would you say? I doubt your answer would be “I’d rather that than a .45!” What matters is that you are comfortable with your self defense gun, and if a .410 revolver is what your are comfortable with, this new Hornady round makes respectable, and even formidable. The recoil is very manageable in this two finger grip, and follow up shots are easy. Hornady has redeemed the .410 revolver with the performance of this round, and it should be making its way into your favorite neighborhood gunshop soon.