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.410 Revolvers: Not the Best Choice for Carry

July 25, 2017


The Taurus Judge series of .410-firing pistols proves that aggressive marketing can sell ice to Eskimos. The self-defense pistols aren't ideal for handgun buyers seeking stopping power or concealability. Why are so many otherwise intelligent people purchasing — and presumably carrying — these enormous hand cannons? Let's go to the tape . . .

There I am, minding my own business, when someone familiar with my firearms fascination will come up and elbow me gently. "Hey, man. I got somethin' I wanna show you. Check it out. I'm carrying a Taurus Judge. These things are great for self-defense!"

Without exception, I smile. When they offer to show it to me, and I politely decline. I've seen them and I've shot them. When they detect my lack of enthusiasm, the petulant pistoleros are not pleased. "You don't like the Judge?"


No. No I don't. For one thing, it's too damn big, Only a Taurus Judge (or the Smith & Wesson Governor) could make Dirty Harry's famous Smith & Wesson Model 29 .44 Magnum ("blow your head clean off") look sort of compact.


While nobody I know carries a Model 29, I know plenty of folks who regularly carry a Judge on their belts. I wonder if the American Chiropractic Association hasn't sponsored a round of advertising for The Judge. Anyway . . .

Depending on the time, place and whether or not I like the person, I gently suggest other options better suited for daily carry against two-legged critters. If they tell me they've loaded their .410 with birdshot — to minimize over-penetration concerns — I may try to educate them.

Just because a Judge is big doesn't make it the be-all end-all self-defense tool.

Yes, the Judge fires a shotgun shell. I suppose that makes it a shotgun, of sorts. With precious few exceptions, .410 projectiles fired out of handguns simply don't penetrate tissue deeply enough to quickly and efficiently stop a perp's progress.

[Salespeople sometimes suggest multiple strikes from buckshot, discs or other projectiles are a viable alternative to adequate projectile penetration. Not so.]


Yes, a.410 slug does penetrate deeply. But it also weighs 90 grains and comes out of the Judge's muzzle at roughly the same velocity as a .380 Auto round. Imagine a gun store trying to sell someone a .380 that holds five rounds, weighs nearly two pounds loaded and looks bigger than a four-inch version of Dirty Harry Callahan's heater.


Then there's the rifling. In some loads, that rifling spreads those buckshot loads all over the place. A portable "street sweeper" might appeal to those who think aiming is over-rated. However, ambulance chasing lawyers will love you if an errant pellet (or ten) injures or kills an innocent.

Yes, if a person does their research, they can find a couple of loads where these .410 pistols perform marginally well, but the weight, size and limited round capacity problems remain.

Yes, you can us The Judge to fire .45 Colt. But if you really like that caliber in a self-defense gun, you can get a six-shooter .45 Long Colt that's smaller, more accurate, easier to conceal and did I mention holds six rounds instead of five?

Folks can do a lot better than a Taurus Judge series (or the S&W Governor) as their everyday carry piece. More ammo, better ballistics, better penetration and stopping power all in a package that's smaller, lighter and easier to conceal.

Thankfully, most of us will never need to use our defensive pistol for defensive purposes. Hopefully for those of us who do, we will have something besides a Taurus Judge in our hand.

9 Responses to .410 Revolvers: Not the Best Choice for Carry

  1. Jim Brown on July 26, 2017 at 6:02 am

       Don't know anyone who actually "carries" one but have some friends that keep them at home for defence.  I have always considered them more of a novelty than a serious firearm.  Besides that with the super long cylinder they look just funky and out of porportion. So ugly they make a Glock seem pretty.  Don't get me wrong if I happen to win one it will go home with me.   Jim.

  2. Doc L on July 26, 2017 at 6:07 am

    I see a LOT of used ones for sale. Unhappy purchesers?

  3. Wiley Pinkerton on July 27, 2017 at 8:32 pm

    I've got a Judge Public Defender and have had it for 5 years and love it.  Thankfully I've never had to use it real world and pray that I never do…HOWEVER…If I do the I carry the Winchester PDX! Defender alternated with 000 Buckshot.  It WILL stop any attacker and won't penetrate like a 9mm will.  It really is a pure self defence weapon and beyond 18 feet all you're going to do is probably make a lot of noise, but if I can froce my attacker 18 feet from me, that's a good thing.


  4. M Adams on July 27, 2017 at 10:24 pm

    I live in an area where there are quite a few rattle snakes.  I have thought this might make a good snake gun.  

  5. Denny Swick on July 28, 2017 at 6:35 am

    This article makes a lot of sense, thanks for writing it.  I never considered this gun to be a serious carry weapon, but it is fun to shoot.  I know many people who have their carry firearm, maybe 1 or 2 other firearms for practical purposes, then something that is just fun to have and shoot in the woods or a range.  That is what this is for me.  Thanks again.

  6. Chuck Leggett on July 28, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    I know a couple fishermen and hunters that carry the Judge for snakes. Other than that, a 9mm sub-compact is far better self-defense. 

  7. Rce on August 2, 2017 at 12:14 am

    I shot a coyote with 410 in a judge, wounded it . Next round was 45colt in the judge, killed it. I guess I will just carry a .45

  8. Mitch Norris on August 6, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Well to each his own I guess, but after reading the article it's clearer to me why The Judge isn't a good carry weapon. The article pointed out a few things I wasn't aware of, especially concerning the birdshot used in the .410 shell.

    Me personally I carry a Rock Island .45 1911, I don't think it's too heavy or to big and it fits my hand like a glove. Just my 2 cents

  9. Nolan J Fleharty on August 7, 2017 at 5:08 am

    I've had a Judge for a number of years but only for home defence. If someone is breaking in to my house I want to say "Howdy" so they'll hear it. Use both .410 shells that split when entering and 45's. Way too big to conceal carry for sure. Strictly home deefense at close quarters.