Taurus Judge and .410 Self Defense Ammunition

By Marshall Williams


Today I finally got to shoot a borrowed Taurus Judge with 2 ½ inch cylinder and three inch barrel. Frankly, I was impressed with the results.

A cursory examination of the five shot cylinder showed the what appeared to be conventional .45 Colt chambers with a shoulder where it ought to be. The throat, front of the chamber, was extra long to make up the difference in length between the 2 ½ inch cylinder of the Judge and a shorter conventional .45 Colt revolver cylinder. [For comparison, I once had a Thompson Center .45/.410 contender and the chamber was the same diameter for its entire length. ]

First effort was five (5) W-W .45 Colt cartridges at 20 yards. Group was five inches, but would have been tighter if I could have seen the sights better. Still, it is obvious that the extra long-throated cylinder is capable of producing satisfactory accuracy. Average velocity of five 255 grain bullets was 730 fps at five feet and average energy was 300 ft. lbs.

I then moved closer, to just seven (7) yards and tried a Federal .410 SD shell loaded with #4 shot. This is basically a 2 ½ inch shell with 7/16 ounce of shot. Velocity was 951 fps. The pattern was centered on the point of aim and spread 27 inches side to side and top to bottom. Very even, but a HUGE pattern at just 21 feet.

Next I tried an older W-W 2 ½ inch buckshot load containing three (3) 000/triple ought buck. Velocity at 5 feet was 784 fps and each buck shot had 96 ft. lbs. of energy for a total energy of 288 ft. lbs. Pattern was centered on the point of aim and spread at 21 feet was 6 ½ inches.

I also shot the new Federal .410 SD shell with four (4) 000/triple ought buck shot. Velocity was 800 fps. Each pellet had 99 ft. lbs of energy times four pellets for a total of 396 ft. lbs. Pattern was centered on the point of aim and measured five inches across.

Target on left was shot at 7 yards with the Taurus Judge and older Winchester 2 1/2 inch .410 load containing three 000 (triple ought) buckshot. Target on right was shot at 7 yards with Taurus Judge and Federal 2 1/2 inch .410 containing four (4) 000 buck.

I then tried was one of the new Winchester 2 ½ inch .410 Supreme Elite shells with three defense disks and 12 copper plated BBs. Velocity was just 665 fps. The three defensive disks spread 2 ½ inchs at point of aim while the 12 BBs spread 27 inches. Each disk developed 66 ft. lbs and each BB developed 8.42 ft. lbs. Total energy was 299 ft. lbs.

Target on left was made with Remington 870 with 25 inch modified barrel at 20 yards using the new Winchester Supreme Elite SD 2 1/2 inch shell loaded with three defensive discs and 12 BBs.  Pattern on rights was the same cartridge shot through the Taurus Judge at seven yards.

Last load was one (1) R-P 2 1/2 inch .410 slug just to see whether it showed anything unusual. It hit dead center at 21 feet and the chronograph said it had a five foot velocity of 1250 fps. Allowing for a 1/5 oz. slug weighing 87.5 grain, energy would have been 304 ft. lbs. The hole in the paper looks oversized compared to the .45 Colt holes. Possibly the hollow skirt had blown forward, but that is only speculation.

The five shots in the upper left quadrant are the .45s at 20 yards.  Sights and lighting were no conducive to best accuracy.  Single hole in lower right is a single R-P rifled slug at 7 yards.  Yes, they will work.

In summary, I found the Taurus Judge to be adequately accurate with the .45 Colt cartridges. The buckshot and defensive disks stayed close together at 7 yards, but the shot charge of #4s and the BBs both spread 27 inches at just 21 feet.

I also have fired all of these same loads in an ordinary .410 shotgun at 20 yards and got similar patterns at the longer range and significantly higher five foot velocities and energies.

I opine that the Taurus Judge and the .410 self defense loads are well suited to their intended purposes. As expected, the rifled barrel made the small shot spread rapidly, but the heavy buckshot and defensive disks spread much less.

I would observe that the wide spread of the shot permits less precise aim to be effective. With small shot, the danger of over penetration is minimized. However, because of its huge spread, it does not allow precise shooting of small targets which may be close to targets you don’t want to hit, i.e., when the cat is trying to make friends with a skunk or rattle snake.



© Marshall Williams , 2011