Ballistics of the Taurus Judge 2″ Poly Public Defender

The standard loading on the Taurus Judge is two shells of .410 buckshot with 3 rounds of .45 Long Colt. You turn the cylinder so the .410 comes up first. This is a combo pack from Winchester with ten rounds of their PDX1 .410 ammo developed specifically for the Judge, and 10 rounds of .45 Long Colt.
I tested the Judge Public Defender Poly 2″ with both the Winchester loads and Hornady 225 grain LeverEvolution ammo.
The Public Defender Poly is 5 oz. lighter than the steel version of the same gun. It weighs 23 oz. Under the plastic is a steel subframe that makes the gun strong and completely corrosion resistant except for the cylinder.
The Winchester PDX1 .410 shotshell was developed specifically for the Taurus Judge line of revolvers. It consists of a shot cup with 12 BBs and 3 plated disks. The thinking is that the disks tend to stay together due to their profile, as opposed to buckshot that is round and forces the balls apart quicker in the pattern. The 12 BBs are meant as additional insurance that something hits your target.
This is a typical “as advertised” group with the PDX1. Two disks went into the same hole and the third hit slightly off that, about an inch. With the 2″ barrel the BBs spread mostly beyond the target area at 7 yards.
Here is another with a slightly wider spread. The PDX1 doesn’t group consistently. Mostly the 3 disks hit within a few inches at 7 yards, but not always. This is another “as advertised” target on a different day. These tests were spread over several weeks with at least six boxes of PDX1, including the combo pack.
The actual velocity of the PDX1 through the 2″ Judge is about 600-650 feet per second.
The total payload of the PDX1 is 310 grains, split over the 3 disks at 68 grains each and 12 BBs that total 100 grains.
There are claims that the disks actually catch the rifling of the Judge and spin, like a lead waddcutter bullet, but the measurements don’t suggest that they do.
The rifling of a .45 Long Colt revolver measures about .454 on the inside, but the smallest measurement I was able to get on the inside of the Judge was .405, one thousandth of an inch tighter than the disk. This is not an absolute measurement because it isn’t the proper tool for the job. I have not seen a recovered disk to check for scoring from the rifling.
The Hornady LeverEvolution .45 Long Colt I tried averaged 735 feet per second, two hunder under what the cartridge will do in a rifle.
The 225 grain load that comes in the combo pack measured slightly less, at 700 to 720 feet per second.
Keep in mind that when you buy shells for this Public Defender Poly, this is a 2.5″ cylinder. The 3″ .410 rounds stick out and do not fit this gun.
This was the standard spread on regular 3 pellet 000 buckshot from Winchester. This is their new branded load the SXZ. They are significantly wider than the average PDX1 shell.
The standard buckshot loads clocked at just over 800 feet per second. The .36 caliber 000 buck are about the same weight as the disks in the PDX1, but they don’t have the extra 100 grains of BBs slowing them down so they pack a little more punch.
The Public Defender Poly has excellent no snag adjustable sights with a fiber optic front insert.
All Taurus handguns carry a lifetime warrantee and integral trigger lock with provided keys.
At this point the public acceptance of the Taurus Judge is beyond popular. They have become icons in defensive handgunning. Hopefully this overview will help you understand the ballistic issues with the guns, and how practical they actually are.

Taurus International Manufacturing Inc.

Civilian gunfights almost always happen by surprise. You could argue that in home defense situations there is sometimes a warning that a threat is imminent. You may have dogs that bark, or an alarm system that wakes you in the night, or you may think to grab a gun if a stranger knocks at your door. But daytime threats, at the gas station, at the bank, in the parking garage, in the bad neighborhood you were forced to stop for a red light, can appear from anywhere at any moment.

In such cases, if you even have the ability to defend yourself, how fast you are able to get a projectile into your attacker may mean the difference between your life and death versus those of your attacker. For this reason, the Taurus Judge series of .410 shotshell double action revolvers has gained immense popularity. While researching for this article I googled around for holster options, and many holster makers now have the Taurus Judge at the top of their list to catch the eye of interested buyers. As a defensive handgun, the Taurus Judge has eluded all speculation. The Judge has arrived.

This polymer version of the 2″ Public Defender is the most practical of the Judge line for daily carry. Though the 23 ounce gun is only 5 ounces lighter than the steel Public Defender due to a steel under-frame, the 5 ounces is a welcome reduction in a carry gun, and the plastic coated frame is completely corrosion-proof. The cylinder is blued steel, which can rust, but the Taurus finish is extremely durable and in a holster will most likely last several years with no appreciable wear.

As you can immediately tell from the pictures here, I was really curious as to the actual ballistics of the 2″ Judge with the most popular load for the gun, the Winchester PDX1 .410 shotshell. This round was created specifically for the Judge line. It contains 3 plated disks and 12 standard BB gun sized BBs. I also wanted to look at some standard 000 buck shells in .410, as well as the .45 Long Colt, which is the cartridge that has the same external dimensions as the .410 shotshell (except of course shorter) and for which all Taurus Judge revolvers are made to shoot.

If you aren’t familiar with the Judge and you are wondering how on earth a pistol can be sold as what amounts to a “sawed off shotgun” in .410 gauge, the Judge utilizes a loophole in the gun laws that specifically applies to the .410 only. Because there is a genuine firearm caliber in the same head and body size as the .410, the .45 Long Colt, there have been for generations pistols and revolvers, and even derringers, made with rifled barrels and longer chambers that can specifically handle the .410 shell. The .410 in a handgun used to be a novelty, in the occasional small production revolver and most notably in derringers, but the Judge took the concept prime time, in a reliable gun with a built in gun lock and a lifetime guarantee to boot.

The concept of the Judge stems from the thinking and popularity of the small double action .38 Special revolver for concealed carry. Manual safeties, slides, magazines, and all of the moving parts in them can go wrong, hang up, and they rely too much on the operator to use correctly. A double action revolver can be fired in any position, in a pocket, backwards, upside down and sideways with your pinky. It doesn’t need a firm grip to fire and continue to fire reliably. It doesn’t need you to do anything right or correct to work perfectly. There is a lot to be said for this, if your gunfight happens to be by surprise and the only shot you can get off first might be a hail Mary from halfway out of your holster at your attacker’s lower torso.

Supersize this concept and you have the Taurus Judge. Even this 2″ version it is still easily twice the size of the .38 Special J-Frame. The firepower, theoretically at least, is also easily twice, but the actual ballistics are confusing. Generally we measure ballistic performance in the “foot/pounds” formula, which is the weight (in grains) times the velocity (in feet/second) squared divided by 450,400. In a 2″ version, the .38 caliber revolver often measures under 700 feet per second for a 110 grain bullet. This adds up to roughly 120 foot/pounds of energy. In a 6″ revolver the same load might get several hundred feet per second more than in the 2″ gun, because more powder is able to burn behind the bullet before it exits, and because that velocity is squared in the formula, the “muzzle energy” in the standard formula is always skewed toward velocity. This makes a 2″ snubbie .38 Special look very weak. Nonetheless it has been carried successfully and used for defense for generations.

The 2″ Taurus Judge suffers this same fate. Because a lot of the powder burns outside the barrel the velocity is reduced considerably from the ballistics you would expect out of the same shell in a longer gun. I was able to measure the Winchester PDX1 .410 shotshells at 610-650 feet per second, averaging about 625. The package says 750 feet per second, which must be what they clock in the longer version of the Judge. The total payload for the PDX1 shell is about 310 grains. That works out to about 268 foot pounds in total energy delivered if all of it reaches your target. Each of the 3 disks in the shell measure about 68 grains, which works out in the same formula as 58 foot pounds, not a lot of punch individually, but as a whole, including the 12 BBs, a serious defensive round.

Winchester has a number of slow motion videos of the PDX1 on their website and I suggest that you check them out before passing judgment on the actual effectiveness of the cartridge. They claim that the disks penetrate ten inches in 10% ballistic gelatin. This is supposed to equate to a full torso penetration on a human. They also claim that the 12 BB sized shot in the cartridge penetrate 4-6″ inches in the same gelatin, and that this is the likely penetration in human tissue as well. But if you look closely into the specifics of ballistic gelatin, the way the FBI measures whether the gel is made correctly is with a BB gun, at about 600 feet per second (think Crossman 760), and those BBs are supposed to go about 8 centimeters, or 3.5-4″ inches into the gel. I don’t know about you, but when I was in BB gun fights as a teenager with my Crossman 760, those BBs never broke the skin.

The spread on the PDX1 with the 2″ Public Defender was about as advertised, with some inconsistency. I don’t believe that, as Winchester says, the disks actually grab the shallow rifling of the Judge. The Judge has extremely shallow rifling, just enough to make the gun legal, and specifically to reduce resistance on the wad of the shotshell. The disks are about .40 caliber, and with calipers inside the bore of the Judge the smallest measure I was able to get was just over .40 caliber. If they grab, though they are positioned forward of the plastic wad in the shell, they don’t grab much. As advertised, at 7 yards, most shots with the PDX1 land all three projectiles in close proximity, sometimes with more than one in the same hole, but after putting several boxes of PDX1 through this Judge, I can say with certainty that this is not guaranteed. At 7 yards I had several shells scatter their contents all over and even off the target.

I measured the silver package Winchester 000 buck as well, which is 3 each of 36 caliber balls, also about 68 grains each for a total of a 210 grain payload. The speed reported by my Pact Pro Chronograph was 810 feet per second, which is significantly faster than the PDX1 due to the 30% lower weight of the payload. But the chance of all three balls hitting your target at even 7 yards away in the 2″ gun is substantially less than with the PDX1. I tried both the silver box Winchester 000 buck and their newer branded SZX. The spread was more consistent than the PDX1, but barely on the target at 7 yards. There is more energy in the 3 balls on a closer shot with the buckshot compared to the PDX1, but the target had better be very close.

With .45 Long Colt, the Hornady 225 grain FTX (a LeverEvolution round) measured a consistent 735 feet per second, and the Winchester 225 grain came in slightly less, at around 700, 266 and 245 foot pounds respectively. This is severely less than the potential for the cartridge. In a rifle the LeverEvolution round travels at over 900 feet per second for example. I was not able to find any .45 Long Colt Hornady Critical Defense, but they do make a 185 grain load and I suspect that due to the Hornady powder blending technology that goes into the Critical Defense, the performance will be at least marginally better. You can see in the pictures that Winchester makes a combo pack for the Judge with 10 rounds of PDX1 and ten rounds of .45 Long Colt. These 225 grain shells are from that pack.

The benefit of a short gun is concealability and comfort. The price of a short gun is velocity, and potentially effectiveness. You can’t escape the physics.

What you carry in the Taurus Judge Public Defender Poly for ammunition is a matter of preference and priorities. 7 yards is over 20 feet away, or longer than your average bedroom. The Judge has always been referred to as the “carjacker gun,” mostly because of an early advertising campaign from Taurus showing this particular benefit of the Judge. But the way the gun was named was not what you think. The original .410 revolver was released as the Taurus Tracker, or model 4410. When Bob Morrison, who was running Taurus at the time, heard that Miami court judges were carrying the gun for personal defense, he changed the model name to the Judge, and the legend was born.

In a quick and close situation, like a carjacking or an expected charge from a guilty criminal defendant, even the sting of a Crossman 760 might be enough to distract your attacker so that you have a chance for a second shot without return fire. This Public Defender Polymer is extremely manageable for recoil, flip, and the grip makes the gun 100% comfortable. You can shoot it all day with no pain. This is not a hand cannon situation where a second shot is not going to be an option. You waste 100 grains on those 12 BBs, shaving almost 200 feet per second off your main projectiles. But can they save your life?

If, at the end of the analysis on the gunfight you were forced to engage in, that little BB of the PDX1 turned out to be all you could get on target, it might have been enough to give you that second shot. For a second shot, I can confidently say that point blank, within close range, the entire 310 grain payload of the Judge will blow a half inch hole through anything human or animal. Individually the disks of the PDX1 are not going to get headlines for power. On paper they have the same muzzle energy as a 25 ACP, and much less than a .32. Together they add up to what a standard 3 ball 000 buck .410 shotshell has, albeit a little slower. If you opt for straight buckshot, the balls have more on them, but you lose the hail Mary aspect of the BBs, and they don’t group as tight generally as the disks in the PDX1. The choice is up to you. We are now several generations into the Judge line of revolvers and there is one thing you can be sure of with this Public Defender Poly. The gun itself won’t let you down.

{ 84 comments… add one }
  • Michael Z. Williamson November 29, 2016, 4:33 pm

    Or you could carry a real .45 and not waste time on .410

    .410: The pellets rattle down the bore, spin on the rifling, hit inconsistently, and can barely manage 4″ into gelatin, not the 14-16″ necessary.

    .45: The bullet rattles through the long chamber, down the smooth bore, losing gas pressure as it goes, engages the minimal rifling in some fashion, sort-of stabilizes, and then shoots less effectively than in a real, shorter, more reliable and more ergonomic revolver.

    But boy, do you look cool, telling 10 year olds your revolver shoots shotgun shells.

  • John Boyd January 8, 2014, 6:12 pm

    Actually my favorite shotgun is my Taurus Judge .45 L-Colt / .410 revolver; it is currently loaded with
    Winchester PDX1 ammo; and as is, loaded, it is a heavy, heavy piece.
    For comparison I have a loaded Charter Arms “Off Duty” .38 Spcl. which feels featherweight in comparison.
    The Charter is loaded with .38 Spcl. Ammo 4/5ths.
    I have other long-gun .410’s, a pump-action, a SXS double-barel. and a single shot.
    But the shotgun that I grab first is that Taurus-Judge Revolver. It is like, I trust it.
    I had a revolver with me in the restaurant a few days back; but I snapped right a way when
    I saw a member of the wait-staff go by with a tray of Margarita for another table.
    Man, you can say that I fairly got that shotgun outta that restaurant that fast.
    Geeze – It scared the hell outta me. I had it “open carry” but it was not particularly visible the way that
    I was sitting. So, when I saw that tray of Margarita go by, I got that effen shot-gun the heck out of there
    right fast – too.
    I felt like an idiot, draggin that shotgun in that restaurant in the first place, I mean I just gotta maintain more of a sense of awareness around me than that;
    Around here, Law Enforcement has absolutely NO sense of humor about violations like that, and I certainly do NOT blame them. I mean the restaurants and bars all over town have BIG SIGNS up about “NO GUNS;” so what my stooopid problem was, I do not know, just plain stooopid – I WILL – cop to that; but gentlemen, NEVER, EVER, Ever, Never, Again.
    You can only be excused for just so much stupidity, and I think that I been pushin the “stooopid” limit, perhaps a little too, too much.
    Mea Culpa
    Mea Maxima Culpa.
    It is a wonderful and good thing that there were no consequences for my stoooopiddity that day,
    except, of course, other than me feeling like an idiot. and I certainly do, and I AM AN IDIOT for acting and
    behaving like that.
    And, “accidentally” ain’t no excuse, it is just a feeble attempt at a cop-out.
    Sometimes I can be such an idiot.
    Y’all Take Care, and
    please try to behave a little more
    responsibly than me.
    I apologize to ALL for my stooopid indescretion.
    Toujours Pret, Brothers, All.

  • John August 19, 2013, 4:22 pm

    OK, my take on the 2.5 inch Taurus Public Defender Blue Poly. I Love it, for sure a home and car weapon. I have shot every type of ammo you could buy for the gun. Wanted to find the best ammo for what the gun is made for. My thought is this, Always shoot twice no matter what.

    Situation #1
    I am sitting at home and someone bust in, 1st shot – .410 Winchester 2.5 inch buck shot, loud and spreads, covers well, 2nd and 3rd shot – .410 Winchester PDX1 2.5 inch Defender. 4th and 5th shot. Winchester .45 LC. If I can not take them down with that, then I should not have a gun.

    Situation #2
    In the car, stand back, may make a mess inside the car, but would not want to be on the other end as the receiver

    Gun is not good for my wife, she is small and the gun was just to big for her, so I went with the Rugar .380 with LaserMax Site. She loves it and it handles well for her.

    Have shot over a 100 rounds with the Pubic Defender on different targets and it covers well at 5 to 7 yards. No Mis-fires.

    • Michael Z. Williamson November 29, 2016, 4:35 pm

      You won’t reliably take anyone down with .410 out of a revolver.

      Or you could carry a real .45 and not waste time on .410

      .410: The pellets rattle down the bore, spin on the rifling, hit inconsistently, and can barely manage 4″ into gelatin, not the 14-16″ necessary.

      .45: The bullet rattles through the long chamber, down the smooth bore, losing gas pressure as it goes, engages the minimal rifling in some fashion, sort-of stabilizes, and then shoots less effectively than in a real, shorter, more reliable and more ergonomic revolver.

      But boy, do you look cool, telling 10 year olds your revolver shoots shotgun shells.

  • Wooden Grips March 28, 2013, 11:30 am

    I have a stainless Public Defender and love it. I have only shot it recreationally with birdshot and 45lc. I’ve been looking into self defense loads, this looks pretty good. While the Public Defender is small compared to some revolvevers, it’s still a pretty good sized gun to use as a carry gun, especially if carried concealed. If open carried, it would’nt be bad though. I plan on having it in the truck as a back up.

  • Ron December 24, 2012, 4:42 pm

    having just bought one for my wife I would like to know if a .45 auto round will work in this gun as we have lots of this ammo on hand.

  • Linda August 21, 2012, 11:48 pm

    I am interested in purchasing a hand gun for protection. My husband travels frequently. I live in a very safe community, but I want the extra reassurance. I have been reading about the “Airlite” or “Scandium” models and the Taurus “Ultra-Light” and “Total Titanium” models. I live in Virginia which allows you to carry a concealed handgun. I would like a second opinion regarding the type of hand gun that would be appropriate for me to have. Any suggestions?

  • dfowensby June 20, 2012, 12:20 am

    very good article and informative commentary. i think i’ve been persuaded here, to stick with my .45ACP 6-shot pocket cannon, stagger-loaded mag: FMJ and HydroShocks. keep up the good work!

    “These Bill of Rights must include a provision whereby a citizen may keep and bear arms, such that he might protect himself from the government.” –Thomas Jefferson

  • ADMachado April 29, 2012, 3:44 pm

    I love my Taurus Judge. I live in Alaska and use it as a self defense gun and it is also my go to boat gun. As my boat/survival gun I carry a bandolero with a mix or .45 Colt ammo, #6 birdshot for small game, and both the Federal OOO buck and Winchester PDX1 410 loads. I also use the #6 shot to dispatch my large halibut with brain shots before taking them in the boat. Great gun for close quarters, not a target shooting gun but then that is not what is made for.

  • boomer February 4, 2012, 10:27 pm

    Federals 410 Handgun ammo 000 Buck pellets fired from a 2in. barreled Judge penetrated through 5 layers of clothing through 4 milk jugs of water …thats 5 layers of clothing 7 layers of plastic and 24 inches of water….

    This test was done by ” Shooting Times Magazine ”

    With Federals 410 Handgun ammo 000 Buck this is a serious self defense handgun…

    • Capt Ron February 21, 2012, 3:22 pm

      I was impressed with what I read about the Judge. But after owning one now and having 6 misfires out of the first 30 rounds shot, I am questioning my purchase 🙁

    • Michael Z. Williamson November 29, 2016, 4:36 pm

      Ridiculous. It can barely reach 4″ in gelatin. It’s on par with a .32.

      Even from a 18″ barrel it’s barely on par with a hot .38

  • Thomas December 20, 2011, 10:36 pm

    I feel the Taurus Judge is a great weapon to use while hiking or even for home defence, what I do wish is that Taurus could have made the Judge the same as Smith & Wesson the Govenor, .45 ACP as well as .410 shotgun and .45 Colt ! .45 ACP ammo is easy to find and alot cheaper too, compared to .45 Colt ! .410 buckshot is also difficult to find, while .410 #8(bird) shot can be found even at Walmart ! The Judge in my opinion is far superior to the .45/.410 derringers, which are accurate at about 10 feet or less ! Hope that one day Taurus will be able to convert their Judges to also shoot the .45 ACP !

    • ADMachado April 29, 2012, 3:48 pm

      Learn to reload. The 45 colt is more powerful the the 45 ACP and with reloading you can get the cost down to 20% of store cost.

  • Rex Berry December 13, 2011, 3:58 pm

    I bought “The Judge” with the 6.5″ barrel. I was never one for pocket guns.

    For years (since 1971) I used a Ruger .44 Mag for hunting and self defence. I have always “made my own” ammo. I am carrying on that tradition with this new pistol.

    I cast 3 bullet weights in .45:
    215 gr. SWC, 255 gr. SWC and 300 gr. SWC. (Elmer Keith design). I also cast a .255 connaclured RN. The .255 RN was designed for .45 auto. All are cast hard – as in tire weights, as I still have several hunderd pounds of them.
    Nothing beats a SWC for imparting a large impact area and an excellent bleeder hole.

    I got this pistol for family usage. I use the SWC’s. My wife and daughters use the new factory self defence loads and hand loaded #6 shot for emergency back-up “in home” use. The .215 SWC has less recoil, so it serves them well should necessity demand it. I also have bought them the “Circuit Judge”, as it is somewhat easier for them to handle, like a carbine. I was glad Taurus started producing these “combo” guns. It solved a lot of my concerns about over penetration in the home self defence area, without resorting to multiple firearms having to be bought.

    Now before any of the youngsters out there get nervous about MY family knowing about firearms safety or usage – can your opinions. All of us regularly shoot. We have 3 of the new 1200 fps pellet rifles (Crosman) and one of the new Ruger pellet pistols. We all shoot rabbits and squirrels in the back yard with them for making camp stew, and non-game birds for pest control. Practice keeps the skills up to par. Same goes with firearms.

    I was around when the NRA taught firearms safety in the schools (before idiot do gooders stopped it). Us country boys were raised with a rifle or shotgun in hand, a pistol on one side, a sheath knife on the other and a folder in the pocket.

    You guys carry on – and enjoy whatever you have. If you don’t like the expence and / or performance you are getting – make your own to get what you are looking for. Get involved in making performance better. Reloading is a blast that opens all sorts of possibilities.

    Don’t forget – the .45 also can be loaded with 40 gr. of black powder, and you can even learn how to make that too! Just remember to use pure lead when casting your bullets for use with black powder. You might even try the Cowboy events!

  • Arbra W, Pierce November 30, 2011, 10:14 am

    Judge Magnum is my answer.I like the “000” in hand loaded 3 ” 410 shells

  • ron yribarren November 25, 2011, 5:14 pm

    when wilkl this be legel in calif.

    • BrokenSailor November 30, 2011, 11:08 pm

      When the hippies all die from pot smoke!….so not in your life time.

      Movin’ to Montanna….

  • Ponch November 25, 2011, 3:41 pm

    I wonder if Taurus has improved on the timing issues of The Judge? My dad and I loved the Judge for its versatility, accuracy, and stopping power. We shoot The Judge at milk jugs all day long at 100 yds, having to aim a little low, straight on at 200yds.

    We had one of the Judges blew up when the round hit the side of the barrel. The top of the frame ached upwards and the cylinder exploded in to 3 pieces, we never found the 3rd part of the cylinder. Luckily I was standing behind my dad’s shoulder or I’d been hit by the exploding cylinder. Waiting of return answers from Taurus.

    For those whiners, we only used 11 grain of powder 544 Win! Not a hot load by far with 280 grain lead heads. Not an over pressure, just a timing issue mishap from reports I have read up online.

    • erik January 10, 2013, 2:21 pm

      hi there!
      my judge did the SAME thing last night at the range.
      my cylinder is actually in 4 peices.
      my WIFE was shooting it at the time.
      4 stitches and a broken finger.
      has Taurus done anything about yours?

  • Glen November 24, 2011, 5:11 pm

    Bought the 3″ Judge for squirrel hunting. Was a mistake. Found that at anything over 20 yards the pattern with a 410 # 6 shot was so big that a squirrel would go “what was that” and take off running. Shot it over the farm pond and found the pattern to be over 6 feet wide at about 20 yards.

  • Jersey Doug November 22, 2011, 7:47 pm

    I would put my 50ae over the judge anytime. One takes down rabbits, the other everything else.

  • Handyman2679 November 20, 2011, 6:41 pm

    Has anybody done any testing with .410 slugs? Just a quick look seems to show they pack more punch (i.e.: deliver more energy) than the .45 Colt. The .45 Colt data I see shows energy to be around 370 ft-lbs with 225 gr slug and 860 fps at the muzzle. The .410 delivers 765 ft-lbs with a .25 oz (109 gr) slug and 1775 fps at the muzzle. Now, the .45 data was with a 4″ barrel and the .410 with a 26″ barrel. So I jacked up the .45 muzzle velocity by 1080 fps assuming up to 10 fps increase for every inch over 4″. That still gave the .45 only 580 ft-lbs (compared to the .410 765 ft lbs). Then I did the reverse and backed down the muzzle velocity for the .410 by the same 10 fps for every inch over 4″”. That brought the muzzle velocity down to 695 fps and the energy down to 117 ft-lbs (compared to the .45 370 ft-lbs). So the math gives me conflicting results. I shoot the original Public Defender (with exposed hammer, 2″ bbl) but don’t have acces to ballistic gel, chrono, or other “proper” test equipment. Does anybody have good test data or the correct numbers for adjusting muzzle velocities?

    • Michael Z. Williamson November 29, 2016, 4:39 pm

      That’s based on an 18″ shotgun.

      .410 from a revolver is a waste of time, but boy, do people love deluding themselves otherwise.

  • robert smith November 16, 2011, 11:14 am

    I use mine for 45 Colt only. Never put a .410 shell in it an never will. The “pocket shotgun for self-defense” notion is pretty ridiculous, but for years I have been hoping for a 5-shot, small framed 45 LC snubbie and this is about a close as any gun maker has come to making one.

    I first tested it with 185 gr. SWC cast lead cowboy loads, but after about 10 shots I found leading in the bore. I guess the shallow rifling just doesn’t like lead. No problem, switched to some 200 gr. Rainier copper-plated and also tried some 230 gr. FMJ. These bullets will require a good taper-crimp but it’s plenty stong enough to prevent crimp-jumping with a standard load. Velocities around 750 fps. Recoil feels about like a full-power 45 ACP from a 1911. It’s there, but it’s managable. The Ribber grips help, and I think the plastic frame material itself has a recoil-dampening effect, like on a polymer-framed auto.

    Accuracy is on par with most short-barreled, fixed sight revolvers. Firing single action, carefully aimed shots can consistantly hit a pop-can sized target at 12 yards. Decent practical accuracy for a fun plinking session or defensive use. OK, it’s not an Olympic-grade target pistol, but don’t believe some of the hype you read about it being wildly inaccurate with 45 LC.

    Maintenance wise, the poly frame and stainless cylinder is about as good as it gets. Impervious to holster or carry wear, moisture, finger prints, etc. The long chambers need a bit of extra attention during cleaning, but they clean up easily enough.

    My only suggestion to Taurus would be to make a 45LC-only version, but until that comes along, I’ll be real happy with this one.

  • Irish-7 November 16, 2011, 1:02 am

    I bought the S&W Governor instead because of the capability to fire .45 ACP rounds. I own a Colt 1911 Gold Cup, so I already have lots of ammo. Also, the Governor holds 6 rounds. I have not fired it yet. I plan on loading the Winchester PDX 410 shells and .45 LC bullets, probably every other round. I will only use the .45 Auto bullets in a pinch. I think that versatility is a very important factor in the purchase of any handgun. The capability to fire multiple bullets makes both the Judge and Governor very valuable in these uncertain times. This was a really good review.

  • oilstain November 15, 2011, 8:23 pm

    So, ballisticly, does this do any better than a small round- 38 or 380? It just seems that this is a gimmick gun.

    Please review SIZE of weapon vs other weapons of similar size – payload, lethality, concealibility, usefulness, ect…

  • Chad November 15, 2011, 7:17 pm

    I have owned the 6″ version of the judge( in stainless) for 3 years now and shot it several hundreds of times. I would suggest getting the longer barrell if you were going to buy a judge, because after seeing how far the spread was on the disks and the 000 buck shot I would have to say that mine is by far better. I soot the 2.5″ federal premium .410 handgun ammo with great success. My 000 buck groups are within a 3″ circle time and time again @ up to 50 yards. No joke I was blown away!!! So to see @ 7 yard that the test had a 2′ variance in the pellet placement, I am glad I got the 6″. As for a conceal carry I could see getting the 2″, but if you need home defence or like shooting I would go with the 6″. Thanks for reading any ??? email me, and keep those barrells hot and the lead flying……………….

    • Dan November 16, 2011, 2:53 am

      I totally agree with the barrell length. I had a Judge with the 3″ barrell primarly for home defense but also used it on varmints (squirels,chipmunks etc.).The range was very poor with the .410. I have since sold it and purchased a Circuit Judge and am totally happy with change.I hear the frame is the same so I plan to put a pair of handgun grips on to make it more compact for home defense. I am wondering about the chokes that come with it. the thread protector sleeve is for .45 and .410 slugs. It states to use the straight rifled choke with .410 and my question is does this apply to .410 000buckshot also?

    • Tom November 20, 2011, 4:23 am

      I own the 6 inch Judge and have had absolutely no problem with any of the ammo that I have shot and the groups are all within the full disabling pattern no matter of the distances that are used in this article. The gun is concealable when the shoulder holster is used. The accuracy is such that I plan on using mine for deer hunting.

  • RORY November 15, 2011, 12:31 pm

    A lot to do about Nothing. Another re-invention of the wheel. It’s too big. A snub .38 loaded with Glaser’s, a 357 mag. snub, or a .45 auto is a far better and totally proven Felon-Stopper. Gimmicks in the Real World are for Amateurs.

    • mike flood December 9, 2011, 6:32 pm

      as a former bodyguard being stabbed and shot you are correct. a snubby and or a small .45 a.c.p are the ticket. when the hotter 9mm ammo came onto the american market my browning hi power with the south afican 17rd magazines worked well for suppresive fire in a gun fight. i also learned that a fixed blade for a knife dosen’t break off in rib cages like a folder. now a days i would presume that hi cap .40 cals would come in handy. don’t laugh but for deep concealment we used .32 see camp with fiocci ammo. mike

  • Rick McC. November 15, 2011, 10:36 am

    I’ve had a Taurus Judge PD for @ a year now (not the poly one).

    Mine handles the Federal Personal Protection .410 load very well; putting the four 000 buck load into a fist sized group at 10 yards. POA=POI.

  • John Beynon November 15, 2011, 8:38 am

    I put .410’s. in the first two chambers and .45’s in the others.

  • Jay davis November 14, 2011, 10:28 pm

    I shot two Pdx rounds at metal hollow core door on the range. The discs went through both metal sides do the door. The bb’s stopped on the back side I was impressed with the round. They hit point of aim. Mine is 3″ ss Judge

  • Lex Wilkinson November 14, 2011, 10:09 pm

    Great article on the ballistics of the Judge. I own the 2 3/4″ barrel stainless model (with rail) and have had a major issue with the quality of the gun. I love the load options but the gun has frozen after firing the .410 OOO buck and broken the ejector/cylinder rotation guides. Sent it back to Taurus, next shot same thing. Sent it back again and now it works but having owned S&W’s all my life I must say “it is no Smith & Wesson”. Thinner metal everywhere, especially the barrel at the cylinder. Makes me wonder is it will work with life on the line.

  • Ed Bashaw November 14, 2011, 9:33 pm

    A varry good read. Vary well put and easy to understand. Thanks. The only question I have is how wood a 410 load of mag 4’s pr 6’s work. I know it is ment up close and personel.

  • Mike C. November 14, 2011, 8:51 pm

    I’ve owned a Judge and recently traded in on a Governor. The reason for the trade was if I shot the Federal 3/0 buck the case moved back preventing the cylinder from rotating. I sent it back to Taurus along with the top cover of the of the ammo box.
    I received it back two weeks later with a note stating “no problem found” That day found me at the range experiencing the same problem. I had no choice but to get rid of it for I didn’t need a single shot revolver.

  • Menashe Menashe November 14, 2011, 7:56 pm

    45ACP is every Cops dream

    • Irish-7 November 17, 2011, 12:27 pm

      Can I ask what you mean by that? Do you feel that 45 auto is the preferred round for police officers? I am a 45 ACP supporter for over 30 years. I was mad when the Army replaced the M1911 with the Beretta 9mm. I must admit that I was surprised to see the difference in cartridge sizes, the .45 LC being much longer than the .45 auto.

  • MIKE November 14, 2011, 7:52 pm


  • Shabad Gyan Singh November 14, 2011, 7:30 pm

    I can vouch for the effectiveness of Thunderhead slugs in the .45 Colt, (made by Penn Bullets). I load them over Unique for a dandy general purpose round. The guys at the range LOVE to her them traveling down range with their warbling whistle off of that squared front end. Clean cuts, too!

  • Llama November 14, 2011, 7:27 pm

    I like the idea of a slug in the first chamber … be it a glass-breaker or a thug-stopper, it is a “hitter”. .45 would do the same, and maybe better despite the short barrel. Follow up with Hornady Critical Defense (HCD) or whatever, depending on the barrel – for my money, I’ll carry my sub-sonic .380 Beretta with HCD and keep a ”shot-pistol” on the bedside table. Just the flash from the short barrel will cause a lot of B&E/home invasion boys to reverse direction, assuming they can recover their night vision in time to avoid the subsequent shots!

  • mark November 14, 2011, 4:36 pm

    try paraklese 0000 thats right 4 0’s or thunderhead slugs. I was not impressed with their penetration on sheets of tin.
    However buffalo bore makes an elmer keith solid lead flatnose that weighs 255 grains and runs out at about 800 through a 2 and a half inch barrel. It will penetrate. Now while a 9mm may not expand a 255 grain lead 45 will not shrink.

  • tim lawson November 14, 2011, 2:50 pm

    Look again the Winchester site tests at 7 and 15 feet not the 7 yards in your story

  • Gary Martin November 14, 2011, 2:29 pm

    Excellent research and information. I own a Judge 4510, 3″ barrel, 2 3/4 chamber. I didn’t buy this gun with the idea of carrying it concealed, although I could do that with proper clothing. This gun was bought for my wife as a “night-stand” weapon, or my truck gun when traveling. I understand its limitations as well as its attributes. For her, the ease of target acquisition and reliability of firing (no racking as in a semi-auto; no concern about malfunction etc) is the peace of mind if she needs to defend herself against an intruder to the bedroom or living room. Loud report, multiple hits on target at 7 yds and closer and I’ll take my chances with her. I like both rounds mentioned in the article, and also like 000 buck. I line up the shot sequence for her with the 1st two rounds being the Winchester PDX1 shot followed by 2 long colt .45’s and PDX1 after that. The intruder / perputrator’s best hope is that he doesn’t encounter me first. I arm myself intirely differently, but then tactical and functional capability is a proficiency of mine, as well as very fun hobby.

    • Mark Wynn November 14, 2011, 2:54 pm

      Does your wife actually practice with this cannon? Does she share your opinions? No offense, but I know guys who bought weapons “for my wife.” I’d rather hear from the wife.

      • Mitch Caldwell November 18, 2011, 8:03 am

        My room is at the end of the hall, so you will encounter my 16 year old girl child just before you get to me and MY WIFE. I would recommend not coming to visit the girl child shoots like a Navy SEAL and moves like water!! If she doesn’t stop the treat with her 1911, the old lady has her back!!! Then you need to worry about the “3822” that’s the two 1911’s you will be dealing with.

        • Mark Wynn November 24, 2011, 9:18 pm

          I think you are dangerously irresponsible and just waiting for a tragic accident to happen.

          • BrokenSailor November 30, 2011, 11:05 pm

            Using anything that can cause death should require training. It sounds like Mitch’s household has had more training on weapons than Mark Wynn has in driving a car. Both can kill you, BTW.

            Mark Wynn….after you get shot or mugged, the Police will be glad to take your statement and run down the bad guys, but, then it is too late isn’t it?

            You have weapons in the house in order to evacuate the house. Leave the bugler inside. The police can come get him out, while your family is safe at a neighbors, handguns and shotguns at the ready. Household weapons are not for clearing bad guys out of your house, they are for making sure you can get out alive.

            You think I carry at the Mall Christmas shopping play Mr. Hero? No thanks. I carry, so “I” and my family can make it out safe. If a bad guy is in the way, he is dead, otherwise I am out the door. The rest of you sheep can wait for the wolf.

    • Ed Fleming November 14, 2011, 4:27 pm


      I too own the Judge 3in barrel 2/34 chamber. I have fired the 410 shell and I also have the same combination of 1st two rounds of 410 follow by 45 and lasting the 410. My question for protection in a vehicle will the 410 first round shatter the side window or should I change up and go 45/ 410/ 410/ 45/45. I found a gun hostler for the judge to be mount near the side of the driver which would slip out of the holster when needed with one hand. I haven’t used the Winchester PDX1 yet but I would like to to shoot it next time I go on the range.

      • Matt December 29, 2011, 2:24 pm

        What brand of holster? I am having trouble finding one for the POLY.


  • Noah November 14, 2011, 1:03 pm

    When it comes to zombies the judge would not be my first choice. You’re going to want accurate, easy to control, and quiet. Zombies don’t wear body armor, don’t employ stealth, and don’t use group tactics (yes they move in groups but don’t consciously work together). They are going to have to be awful close to use a judge. Not to mention the loud boom will attract every walker for a mile around. You aren’t trying to knock a man off his feet and don’t need to penetrate 16″ of tissue in the chest. Only headshots count, so all you need is anything than can penetrate the skull.

    Honestly, my zombie weapon of choice will be a .22lr or .17hmr. Easy to find ammo, high capacity, easy to hit accurately and relatively quiet. Big bullets are for fighting wars against armored opponents. Zombies amount to a pest, so use a varmint gun. Get you a suppressed buckmark pistol with a good red dot and a machete for a back up.

    Zombie First Responder, NW Region

    • Mark Wynn November 14, 2011, 2:49 pm

      Entertaining, in a tongue in cheek sort of way. Hope gun bloggers have a sense of humor. Would only suggest that .22 long rifle and .17hmr, which are supersonic, are not “quiet.” I wear hearing aids from a boyhood of plinking and squirrel hunting as proof. You’d be better off with a slower bullet and a silencer if you don’t want to alert your … er, ah … ok I’ll say it, Zombies.

      • Noah November 14, 2011, 5:04 pm

        That’s where “relatively quiet” comes in, as in relative to a shotgun blast. My choice of these small rounds has nothing to do will ballistics or power, but availability in a crisis and control for follow up shots. Since during the zombie apocalypse only head shots will count I see no reason to be lugging around heavy artillery and the rounds to go with them.

      • BrokenSailor November 30, 2011, 10:54 pm

        .22LR Sub sonic bullets do not break the sound barrier. They make no more sound than a bb gun. It is not always the gun, or the ammo, but 90% of it is between your ears. Something Zombies don’t have.

        As far as what caliber, I choose .40 S&W for pistol and a .308 for my rifles. .308s make big holes. They go through cars and buildings. I don’t play that kick the door in game. Anything less is useless. As you can see, most zombies need two or three 5.56 M16 rounds to take one down. Not true with an M14.

        • ar-magedon April 21, 2012, 8:25 pm

          why were you saying a 22 sub sonic round would be sufficiant, and then turn around and say a 5.56 “.223”, which is roughly the same diameter as the 22 lr take 2-3 rounds?

    • John McGivaren November 15, 2011, 7:21 am

      Your comments certainly have merit and are appropriate for most, but not all, situations. I’m reminded of one of Lazarus Long’s sayings (from the great classic sci-fi novel, “Time Enough For Love”, by Robert Heinlein): “Get a shot off fast. This upsets him long enough to make your second shot perfect.” At age 70, I’m certainly not as fast as I once was, but my zombie-radar is always up & running while I keep my powder dry……… John

  • J. Steel November 14, 2011, 12:29 pm

    I would be most interested if the 410 shotshell test were expanded to include #00 Buck, #0 Buck, #1 Buck, and #4 Buck. There may be better balistics and spread pattern (say) for having six or seven #1 Buck pelletes instead of three #000 Buck as used in the test. (A 12 gage shotshell holds about twenty seven #4 Buck as opposed to about eight 000 Buck.) I remember years ago when the San Francisco PD developed an “alley load” for the .44 and .40 cal revolver consisting of 1/2 the normal slug followed by three #0 buckshot. I’ll bet there is a better solution than loads of three #000 Buckshot.

  • PJ November 14, 2011, 12:13 pm

    Thanks, my Zombies are pretty standard issue.

    • HillRunner November 14, 2011, 12:49 pm

      I have found most zombies don’t have the same structural integrity as a live human body. So rounds penetrate deeper, and more rounds fly through with little structural damage orstopping power. So this is not the *ideal* weapon for you. But it is better than any single, solid round.

      For similar reasons, ballistic gel is not an adequate test metaphor in re zombies. When I’ve met unfriendly zombies–in Zombezi ,for instance, they could only be stopped by one or more rounds from a high-calibre shotgun. Often automatic fire would do the job if one round hit a femur. (Often a hit on the tibia was simply ignored and they “stubbed” onward.)

      I was particularly miffed that my .378 WM might shoot right through one or several and only a dumb-luck structural hit, say on a spine, cranium or femur would persuade the zombies–even the females–to stop and rest for a bit.

      Some in our party faulted my marksmanship, saying I might have hit more structurally damaging bones if I hadn’t been running away, shooting backwards, and trying to clean out my pants.

      But I think a really good gun should make up for all that.

      • Linda Truitt August 17, 2012, 9:45 pm

        Surfing the Internet and came across your post from 2011.
        From an old friend – Linda from Brunswick, Maine

  • PJ November 14, 2011, 10:58 am

    I own one. If anybody could help me out, it would be much appreciated. I need to know if this would be a realistic gun for Zombie stoppage, ie., would it blow a hole in a human (Zombified) skull at close range. Obviously, I’m not field testing this. It goes through tin cans really well (talking about the shotgun shell). I need to know if somebody who knew nothing about guns could defend themselves from Zombies with The Judge, which cannot miss at extremely close range. Researching for my book, will thank you in the credits.

    • Administrator November 14, 2011, 11:00 am

      It depends on the version of zombie. For most I think its fine.

    • Brock November 15, 2011, 1:00 pm

      See if your local high school has any old messed up football helmets that you can have, and then find a watermelon that will fit inside of the helmet with some room to spare and apply roughly a one quarter inch layer of fiberglass over the melon. After it cures, place the melon with a skull inside of the helmet and back off five or six feet. Wearing safety goggles and an old heavy coat for protection, shoot your Zombie head and see what happens. If it turns red, it’s dead.

  • Tim November 14, 2011, 10:41 am

    I think John McGivaren makes a good point.

    A. Can you, as a civilian fire through glass at a “potential” carjacker? When some attorney will argue, “he just wanted to tell you your left tire was flat”.
    B. What does happen to the .410 rounds projectiles when fired point blank at a car door window?

    • John McGivaren November 15, 2011, 7:28 am

      Tim, I’m considering a visit to one of the vehicle junk-yards out here in the country, to let them give me the OK to fire each type of my Judge rounds through some of their car windows, from 3 ft. away……..using another car-door for protection, of course. What do you think?

      • Mitch Caldwell November 18, 2011, 7:50 am

        I have fired this gun into glass, if you fire from the drivers seat out the drivers window plan on getting some minor blow back I got burnt powder and small glass shards in my face mask. I was wearing Kevlar from head to belt but in a deadly force situation I would have no problem ending the attack by firing into the side glass of a car with my eyes closed at detonation. The windshield is a different story you don’t have a chance with the shot shells. If he is out the windshield you don’t need a gun you have a car to run him over.

      • Linda :) February 2, 2012, 1:02 am

        Mick, I just spent two hours responding to your post. Unfortunately, I endng up deleting it due to human error and the lateness of the evening/morning. I am curious, did you ever find out what the “effects of a PDX round fired at the passenger-side closed window of a vehicle from the driver’s position”?

        • John McGivaren February 26, 2012, 9:34 am

          Not yet, Linda, but I’m working on it……just waiting for some warmer weather. Meanwhile, the comments posted herein by Mitch Caldwell & Jay davis (sic) are comforting me until I do some test-firing myself. Two hours?!? By all means, give it another go……:-) Mick

  • Kevin November 14, 2011, 10:05 am

    Interesting article and very informative. One thing you may have overlooked is the psychological effect on a human target. The bad guys are cowards and usually expect to overwhelm their victim without any real danger to themselves. Thus being able to get off a shot at the bad guy will likely be a real game changer in your favor. Even if your weapon doesn’t do well at 7 yards it should do some damage at 3. What I mean by some first shot damage is that “loud” may be as important as the distance you selected ammo will penetrate on gelitan at 7 yards. If you can get a first shot, likely much closer than 7 yds, your second shot might be at 7 yrds but will most likely be on the backside of you target. The real advantage of this type of gun is it’s versitility. The real disadvantage is it’s size. If this gun is to big (it is for me) for you to carry everywhere, everyday, then choose a smaller gun for personal carry. Your best self defense weapon will always be the one you carry fatefully and the one you can get to quickly. Kevin

  • Jim at 3D Defense November 14, 2011, 9:01 am

    Ever since I first saw the Judge at the SHOT Show, I have been impressed. I teach personal/home defense and a lot of
    new, especially older, shooters are very intimidated by full-size shotguns and don’t feel competent with semi-automatic
    handguns. This offers a decent alternative for those relatively short engagement ranges and they are exceptionally
    simple. I agree with the post about the trigger. Many of my new shooters are not able to comfortably pull a heavy DA trigger.

    I wish that the Poly had the option of a smallish rail on it to allow a shooter to attach a high-ouput LED light to it and I wish
    that it could shoot .45 ACP, like the Smith. I feel that the cost of LC is cost prohibitive for regular practice. Being able to
    load a white box for half the cost makes great sense. So without getting much larger, a polymer, railed gun that also shoots
    .45 ACP would be my ticket. CHEERS, and great review, per usual. Jim

  • Bruce Bamforth November 14, 2011, 7:39 am

    Been looking at one of these with the 4″ barrel, Any tests on those?

  • Steven L. Schimpf November 14, 2011, 7:24 am

    Its an awfully beautiful piece of weapony,..the JUDGE that is! I’d LOVE to own one!
    Steven L. Schimpf

    • Steven L. Schimpf November 14, 2011, 7:26 am

      I don’t understand what you mean by “Awaiting Moderation”,…I said I think the gun is a wonderful piece,
      and that I’d like to own one for protective use.

  • John McGivaren November 14, 2011, 7:23 am

    Very informative report! Having owned the basic Judge (3″ barrel) for some 6 years now, and attaining the age of 70, I’ve been more than a little curious about the performance of the Public Defender Poly. I routinely keep the Winchester PDX rounds as the first two, followed by one 000-Buck round, followed by two Winchester 225 gr. HP rounds. These last three rounds remain as such, no matter where I am or what I’m doing; but the first two rounds are changed to #8-shot .410 only if I’m wandering around in poisonous snake country here in the Deep South. I echo your overall opinion that the Judge is the most versatile handgun ever made, and am saving my pennies toward acquisition of a Public Defender Poly…..certainly the more easily concealable. Have you any idea about the effects of a PDX round fired at the passenger-side closed window of a vehicle from the driver’s position? I’ve wondered about the richochet problems encountered when a potential car-jacker attempts to open the front passenger door that was (unintentionally) unlocked. Thanks for the great homework you’ve done. John

    • Mitch Caldwell November 18, 2011, 7:41 am

      I enjoyed the article and appreciate all the information. I have been a police firearms instructor for over ten years and teach civilian self defensive shooting and the Colorado CCW course. I have done some of my own testing and I have found that John is correct in the most effective loads for this gun. The idea of buckshot and disks is great for close in but the amount of liability is not in proportion with the amount of holes in the target, to many unaccounted for chunks of lead. A single load of anything from a 4-8 bird shot followed with 45 slugs. The bird shot has a shorter range so the pellets that may miss the attacker loose velocity much faster and are less of a liability, everything that comes out of that gun you own until it is motionless on the ground. If you don’t think a few pellets of bird shot won’t slow an attacker down go quail hunting with Dick Chaney.

  • Rick Sudol November 14, 2011, 6:50 am

    I like the new hammer, as I was looking at the original version, and did not buy because it was hammerless. However, could you use moon clips and fire a 45 ACP.

    • Pete November 14, 2011, 11:43 pm

      No, The cylinder gap will not allow the moon clips

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