When it comes to the Taurus Judge, there are two ways to look at the gun. One is trying to pretend its a serious defensive firearm. The other and proper way is to look at it as a dumb fun gun with some very little niche use. If you look at it as a defensive firearm, you are making a very poor choice. If you want to have fun, then you are looking at the Taurus Judge with the proper mindset.
If you are unaware of what the Taurus Judge is then you are new to this or have been living under a rock. The Judge is a revolver that is chambered for both the 410 shotshells and the legendary 45 Colt round. It is a five shot cannon that is massive in size and weight. The gun was a massive success and one of the best selling guns for Taurus ever. The gun was originally called the 4510, but according to Taurus, they learned Judges in Miami were carrying it for self-defense in their courtroom and renamed it the Judge. Is this true? Who knows, but that little bit of marketing made the gun a prevalent one.
There are several offshoot models of the Judge, including the Public Defender, the Raging Judge, and even polymer frame variants. The standard models come in with either a 3 or 6-inch barrel with a 2.5-inch chamber. The model we have today is a three-inch barrel model and is likely the most produced model of the Taurus Judge.
What is the goal of a gun firing 410 shotshells from a 3 inch, rifled barrel? Not a whole lot. If I were pressed to find one practical use for this gun, it would be as a trail gun. The weapon can be loaded with 410 for snakes and 45 Colt for more significant, meaner animals. It could be pressed into that role, but there are better options out there for sure.
The real purpose behind this gun is simple, have fun with it. Try to shoot clay pigeons out of the air, pop balloons, drop Mentos in Diet Coke and shoot the bottle. If you are dead set on buying a Judge, do it to have fun. I purchased a Judge on a whim for 200 bucks, and it’s undoubtedly delivered at least that much fun to me.
Barrel Length – 3 inches
Overall Length – 9.5 inches
Width – 1.5 inches
Height – 5.1 inches
Weight – 29 ounces
At a glance and in hand the Taurus Judge is an awkward looking and feeling gun. The chambers are nearly as long as the barrel. This creates a clumsy-looking weapon. It’s heavy of course, which is a good thing when it comes to absorbing shotshell and 45 Colt recoil. It does hold a mere five rounds, so make sure you choose them well. The Judge uses what Taurus calls a compact frame interestingly enough. The three-inch barrel has a 1:12 twist which creates an interesting pattern with shot.
The Taurus Judge isn’t very feature-filled. Its a revolver so they are light on the features department. The gun has a fiber optic front sight that’s bright red and very simple. It’s quick and easy to see and perfectly suitable for close-range shooting. The rear sight is the simple U shaped notch in front of the hammer. That’s a bit lame. It’s acceptable for a J Frame, but a big gun like this could benefit from full-sized rear sights.
The gun comes with Taurus Ribber grips designed to aid with recoil, and they seem to do so. The gun features the same kind of internal locks all modern S&W guns come with. Beyond this its a simple revolver. Not a whole list of features for me to go over in detail.
Fit and Finish
The stainless matte steel certainly looks nice, and I have significant issues with the finish of the gun. It honestly appears to be very well done. The finish is reliable and dependable and has had no problems with the overall finish. What I do take issue with is the Judge logo.
Naming a gun the Judge is already a little cringy, but it’s to be expected that the company would brand the weapon. Which is okay, but why would they choose to stamp it in comic sans. It looks horrid and if I could scrub it off my gun, I would. The Taurus logo is very small and located just above the grip. It’s much more subtle and smaller than the giant JUDGE logo written across the top.
The controls work and everything clicks and moves with ease. There is nothing crazy here, but the hammer cocks rearward with ease, the cylinder release is functional, and the general fit of the gun is excellent.
Compact frame means a small grip, and why this gun has a small grip, I’ll never know. The ribber grip is very comfortable, and great for recoil reduction but its too small for my hand. My hand feels like it’s going to slip off the grip when I’m firing it. The ATI Scorpion grip is an aftermarket option that is 100 times better than the little ribber grip.
Again as a revolver, the gun has very simple ergonomics. The hammer is textured heavily and very easy to pull rearward into the single-action mode. The cylinder release is easy to reach for the thumb and textured for an easy press and release. The trigger has a very far reach in double-action mode, and people with small hands are likely to have trouble reaching for the trigger.
The Judge is a very heavy weapon, at 29 ounces the gun is a bit much for most people. It’s hard to carry at nearly 9.5 inches and weighing nearly 40 ounces loaded this little revolver is no concealed carry J frame. The Taurus Judge is a very simple weapon, and it shares most of the same ergonomics a normal revolver would.
On the Range
The Taurus Judge is a fun gun to shoot. It has a bit of recoil with most 410 loads and 45 Colt loads which means it’s not a great pick for a beginner. This makes it jump and kick just a bit, but not so much to be uncomfortable. It jumps enough to be fun and distinguishes itself from a 38 Special. I enjoy the recoil from this gun, and usually, like the challenge recoil presents. The gun can be a lot of fun with the right loads. Smashing clay pigeons sitting on the berm is a ton of fun, as is popping balloons and shooting those aforementioned Mentos and Diet Soda combos.
If you want to start stocking rounds on paper, you might find yourself disappointed. If we were going for accuracy, I’d be using the 45 Colt loads, and they don’t give the best results when it comes to accuracy. For a full-sized handgun, this creates some disappoint groups. For example, at 10 yards a 4-inch group is pretty average.
Backing off to 15 or 20 yards and you are getting minute of bad guy accuracy. The 2.5-inch cylinder creates a big gap between the cylinder and barrel. This affects accuracy quite a bit. On top of that, the sights are poor for precision shooting and even worse for distance. With buckshot and birdshot, the spread is immense. The buckshot pattern is wide and covers the chest of a silhouette target completely. The Winchester PDX rounds with the three disks are interesting and seem to work way better than standard buckshot. They tend to pattern much better than buckshot.
The big problem lies with the unpredictable nature of power the pattern is thrown. It’s genuinely the same width, but you don’t know if buckshot will pattern to the left or the right or whatever. This is likely due to the rifling in the barrel reacting with the shot. Birdshot being birdshot is pretty much a consistent cloud of shot. This makes it a great little snake gun, and one of the only practical uses I see for the gun. With 45 Colt it could be a good medium to large game defense gun, but there are admittedly more compact and capable options out there.
I do run into one big issue with some shotshells. The primer likes to pop out of the shells. This occasionally causes the entire cylinder to lock up. This happens a lot with Remington loads, and it should be noted this never occurs in my standard 410 shotgun.
The best rounds I’ve found for the judge are the 410 handgun rounds by Federal. This seems to be the most reliable of loads. I never had a primer pop out with these loads.
The double-action trigger pull is not very good. It’s gritty, long and heavier than it needs to be. The single-action isn’t terrible and is quite nice. My preference in launching lead with this gun is in single-action, and if I have to kill a snake, it’ll be in single-action.
When it comes to ejecting rounds, the gun runs into a few snags. The rims of two of the 410 rounds will often hit the grips and get stuck. To fully unload the gun you have to rotate the cylinder to allow those extra rounds to fall out. Additionally, some shotshells expand quite a bit after they are fired and require you to remove the rounds by hand.
Again for a fun gun, this isn’t an issue. Who is aiming to speed reload their Taurus Judge?
Rating Each Category
Looks: 3 out of 5
The gun is kind of odd-looking in general. The cylinder and barrel ration throws me off. The Judge’s odd appearance is kind of neat. I will say the finish is very solid and the stainless steel is quite attractive. I’m deducting at least one full point for the comic sans Judge text on the barrel.
Ergonomics: 4 out of 5
Overall I have no significant complaints outside of the very small grip. The hammer and cylinder release are both easy to reach, but some shooters may have trouble reaching the trigger in double-action mode.
Accuracy: 2 out of 5
Okay, so it’s a shotgun pistol, and it gets two points for just the birdshot spread that is perfect for killing snakes. Outside of that, the gun is about as accurate as a derringer. Maybe I ’m, but a weapon with a single action trigger should be better than this. Cylinder jump is a real pain in the you know what.
Reliability: 3 out of 5
Hmm, is it the ammo’s fault the primers are popping out or is it the pistols? Hard to say, but the ammo is made for a shoulder-fired shotgun and not a gun, so it’s hard to tell who is really at fault. It also gets a 3 for failure to properly eject rounds when called to do so.
Customization: 2 out of 5
There is not much here for customizing your Judge. A few sets of grips including the ATI scorpion grips as well as the Crimson Trace grips with laser. On top of that, there are sights available for the system which are quick and easy to replace.
Price: 3 out of 5
The Taurus Judge has an MSRP of $589.00 but commonly retails for right around 400 bucks. For 400 bucks you can get a quality Smith and WessoJ frame. However, its the cheapest 410 revolver on the market if that says anything.
If you asked me if I’d recommend the Taurus Judge, I’d have to ask recommend for what? FOr self-defense? Nope, never. For concealed carry? Nope. For fun? Yeppers, all day. For snake defense? Sure thing. In a few roles, the Judge excels but its not a refined revolver by any means.
The Taurus Judge is a little rough around the edges but if a fun gun overall. If you want something different, then this gun is for you.