The Taurus Judge is a revolver unlike any other available on the market. Nominally chambered in .45 Colt, the Judge features a massive cylinder capable of accepting .410 shotgun shells.
According to Taurus International, the Judge is one of their most popular and best-selling products. Learn what makes the Taurus Judge unique, why it became so popular, and how best to employ the gun should you choose to carry one.
Overview and History
The Taurus Model 45-410, previously known as the Model 44-10 Tracker and better known as the Judge, was first introduced to the US civilian market in 2006. Although it is nominally a five-shot double-action/single-action (DA/SA) revolver chambered in .45 Colt, the cylinder accepts 2.5” .410 shotgun shells.
The Judge isn’t the only revolving firearm capable of accepting shotgun shells. Firearms like the Colt Model 1855 and MTs-255 are long guns, equivalent in size and length to traditional shotguns.
The Judge is a handgun available in multiple barrel lengths, one of which is a snub-nosed version intended for concealed carrying and self-defense.
Suppose you’re familiar with the National Firearms Act. In that case, you may know that Short-Barreled Shotguns (SBS) are heavily regulated, and you may be wondering why the Judge doesn’t fit into this category.
Even though the Judge revolver accepts .410 shotgun shells, the barrel is rifled (necessary to shoot .45 Colt cartridges accurately) instead of a smooth bore. Only smoothbore weapons match the legal definition of a shotgun (US Code 921(a)(5)).
The Judge is no different from any other handgun of any caliber.
Why is it called “The Judge?”
Shortly after the original Model 44-10 revolver was released in 2006, Bob Morrison, then-Vice President of Taurus International, noticed Miami judges working in dangerous neighborhoods carrying it for personal protection.
Morrison decided to rename it “The Judge” in their honor, changing the model number to 45-410 to reflect the gun’s chamberings.
Specifications (standard Taurus Judge)
Chambering: .45 Colt and .410 bore (accepts 2.5” shells only)
Long barrel: 12.5”
Long barrel: 6.5”
Weight: 29 oz. empty
Standard capacity: 5-shot cylinder
Taurus Judge Variants
The Judge has been in production for over 16 years. As one of their most popular revolvers, Taurus has produced numerous versions and special editions.
Some of the most popular variants include:
Standard Model 45-410 Taurus Judge (current model offered by the manufacturer)
Model 44-10 Tracker revolver “The Judge” (2006-2007): Older version with blued frame and 2.5” snub-nose barrel available
Judge Ultra-Lite: Lightweight titanium alloy frame instead of steel
Judge Public Defender: Shorter grip and smaller hammer, intended for concealed carrying
Judge Public Defender Ultra-Lite: Titanium alloy frame version of the Public Defender
Judge Public Defender Polymer: Ultra-lightweight polymer-frame version of the Public Defender
Judge Magnum: Extra-long cylinder designed to accept 3” .410 shells
Raging Judge Magnum: Magnum version of the Judge Magnum; accepts .454 Casull, .45 Colt, and .410 shotgun shells
Raging Judge Magnum Ultra-Lite: Titanium alloy frame version of the Raging Judge Magnum
Purposes of the Taurus Judge
As a .45/.410 revolver, the Judge is a surprisingly versatile firearm that can fulfill multiple roles:
Although it isn’t a recommended choice for hunting, many Judge owners take it on the trail, primarily used as a lightweight, easy-to-carry firearm for defense against dangerous animals. Not only can you load it with .45 Colt and .410 shotshells interchangeably, but it is also smaller and lighter than equivalent long guns in these calibers.
A typical .410 shell loaded with #7, #8, or #9 birdshot also carries more pellets than the average .357 or .44 snake-shot cartridge, making it more effective on venomous snakes.
You can also load it with .410 slugs or heavy .45 Colt hard-cast bullets for self-defense against larger trail animals, such as mountain lions or bears.
Although most consider it unsuitable for beginners or inexperienced shooters due to the low capacity and snappy recoil, many choose the Judge for close-range personal protection due to the versatility afforded by the dual chambering.
If you’re considering a Judge for concealed carrying, opt for the snub-nosed version, as you can more easily find a suitable concealment holster.
If you want the Judge for home defense, the longer-barreled version is heavier and has a longer sight radius, offering you less felt recoil and slightly more potential accuracy.
Although there are many excellent self-defense loads like .45 Colt JHP and .410 slugs that perform adequately out of the Judge, you may be wondering whether it is worth using for personal protection with .410 birdshot or buckshot shells.
Most .410 ammunition on the market is birdshot. However, using birdshot for self-defense is not recommended due to the low penetration and stopping power. The short, rifled barrel will also cause the pellets to spin and spread out more quickly, increasing spread and reducing your Judge’s stopping power.
If you want to use .410 buckshot instead, remember that a typical 2.5” shell is loaded with 3 or 4 #000 buck pellets. While effective, the limited number of projectiles and the spread effect of a rifled barrel means you may have trouble hitting a target even at typical self-defense distances (7-15 yards).
Although many use the Judge as their concealed carry weapon of choice, it is also a fun option for plinking and informal shooting at the range or in your backyard. The Judge accepts a wide variety of .45 Colt and .410 ammunition, making it suitable for various range shooting applications.
A popular range shooting challenge you can try with the Judge is informal clay shooting. The short barrel and large spread make it challenging to hit a flying, moving target with the Judge. However, successfully bringing a clay down with the Judge is sure to be very satisfying.
Carry The Judge Every Day With We The People Holsters
Whether you follow in the footsteps of the Miami judges who concealed carried the Judge, need a compact trail carry gun, or simply want a unique handgun to add to your collection, you should carry it in a suitable carry holster.
We The People Holsters offers American shooters a wide range of 100% handcrafted everyday carry holsters, available in IWB or OWB configuration and made of leather or Kydex. Browse our wide selection of products and carry your Judge revolver safely and confidently.