You Be The Judge

There are a few handguns which are marketed as being perfect for self defense, but which don’t catch on in that role.  One of these is the Taurus Judge.

taurus judge revolver

This strange looking handgun is actually a tiny shotgun, one chambered for the .410 bore.  Besides being the smallest and weakest shotgun ammo you are likely to find in your friendly neighborhood gun store, the .410 is also the only popular shotgun which is known by its diameter instead of the gauge.  That is probably for the best.

The .410 shells most widely available for sale are loaded with bird shot, which are teensy tiny pellets designed to kill very small animals without tearing up the carcass too much.  Limited numbers of people have purchased this type of handgun for concealed carry in recent years, and it is now possible to occasionally find ammunition which is loaded with more potent buckshot.  Even so, such defensive ammunition is far from common.

That was extremely fortunate for a college student named Christopher Moeller.  He was shot four times by an assailant wielding a Taurus Judge, at a range of about 25 feet.  All four rounds seem to have been solid hits, but the young man survived due to the fact that the criminal had loaded his gun with bird shot.  Even so, he almost didn’t make it due to blood loss.

What is my take on the Judge?  There are certainly smaller and lighter revolvers that fill the role of an emergency defensive arm, and some of those smaller and lighter guns are chambered for extremely potent calibers.  Add in the fact that all of those other calibers are easier to find in the gun store, and usually have a lower price tag, and I would have to say that the Taurus Judge is a solution in search of a problem.

13 thoughts on “You Be The Judge

  1. There’s a fairly nasty self defense shell that’s 3 (or 4 for 3″) lead discs (think ‘watch battery’) plus a handful of buckshot. At across the room distance you’re supposed to get a palm sized spread on the discs with the buckshot surrounding it.

    If I were using a Judge for home defense one of those would be my warning shot, aimed at your head. I figure a miss would be fairly safe after passing through an internal wall and a hit should be effective. I’d fill the rest of the chambers with .45LC aimed COM in case they didn’t get the message with the first shot.

    But I don’t have a Judge so an intruder is looking at high quality hollow points in available in several calibers.

    • “There’s a fairly nasty self defense shell that’s 3 (or 4 for 3″) lead discs (think ‘watch battery’) plus a handful of buckshot.”

      I believe you are referring to a stacked wadcutter load, which some considered to be perfect for revolver defensive ammo. Although the .410 version also seems to have some buckshot included.

      I discussed the revolver load in the following post.

    • Warning shot? Since every shot fired is perceived as an application of deadly force what is the purpose of a warning shot? Answer: to warn someone to stop doing some activity not quite deadly enough to require a lethal or deadly force , which of course is an application of deadly force.
      Oh–what a tangled weave warning shots make. And where did that warning shot go, the courts ask, that you didn’t endanger someone you didn’t mean to endanger with your application of deadly force?

      Tactical side; you’re down one round. That if there are two of them?

      Mixed rounds? The courts are going to have a lot of fun with you. Do they let you blog from prison?

      • I agree with everything you state above, Frank, bit I think KCSteve was making a bit of a joke about the warning shot. He did say it would be aimed at the criminal’s head, after all.

        • Is this what KCSteve was referring to:

          Warning shots: if you are firing a shot in order to dissuade someone from a course of action which if continued would likely lead to death etc for yourself or some other person, then yes it is justified. Effectively you are “shooting to stop.” Caveat: you have to be sure of your backstop, and that firing a warning shot is a viable option. e.g. an unarmed mob advancing on you with the expressed intent of ripping you to shreds is, possibly, going to start heading in the opposite direction if you put a couple of rounds into the soft round in front of them, but if someone is already shooting at you – there aint no point in firing a warning shot.

          As to the Judge, sinking back into my armchair, well if you really, really want to fire .410 shotgun cartridges from a handgun then it’s the perfect choice. Otherwise a conventional handgun would be a better choice, loading frangible rounds if over-penetration is a concern. JIMHO from a, these days, completely armchair gunslinger.

  2. I’ve always liked the PDX in my .410/45LC Band Defender. It kicks hard, but can knock down small trees with the disks. Should work fine on intruders (I haven’t tried it on one yet).

  3. I’m pretty sure the problem was defined as, “How do we sell a bunch of guns to dupes?” In that sense, it is a pretty good solution.

  4. Y’know, I can never figure out why Judges aren’t thickly layered in the used gun cases… I’m just sayin’…

  5. Glock’s G26 is 10+1 of 9 mm. Rugers LC9 is 7+1 rounds of 9 mm.

    If the goal of using shotgun loads is the cover as much area as possible with projectile, then a pistol with more rounds seems like a better choice.

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