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 Post subject: Taurus Judge .410 Revolver and Ammunition Review
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:10 am 
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Introduction to the Taurus Judge

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The Taurus website describes the judge as:
Quote:
The "Taurus Judge® " is so named because of the number of judges who carry it into the courtroom for their protection. Capable of chambering both .410 2-1/2" shotshell and .45 Colt Ammunition, this amazing combo gun is ideal for short distances - where most altercations occur, or longer distances with the .45 Colt ammo. We have finely tuned the rifling to spread the shot pattern at close quarters or to guide the .45 cal. bullet to the target. Fully customized with fixed rear sights, fiber optic front sights and Taurus Ribber Grips®, the "Taurus Judge" is one decision-maker that lays down the law.

Now I don't know if a "number" of judges really carry these in the courtroom or not, but the pistol is very unique and interesting. Other pistols have been chambered in .410/.45 Colt before, such as the Austrian Super Comanche single shot that was produced quite a few years back, the Magnum Research BFR (Big Frikken Revolver), Thompson Center single shot, and the Bond Arms derringers. Taurus has refined the idea and put it into a concealable five-shot package.

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Taurus makes quite a few different versions of the Judge. They make it in just about any combination of finish, material, chamber length, and barrel length. You can get them in Ultra-Lite (aluminum, not titanium), blued steel, or stainless steel. You can get the Ultra-Lite in a stainless finish or blued. You can get a Judge that will chamber 2-1/2" shells or the "Magnum" that will handle 3" shells. You can get barrel lengths of 3 inch, 4 inch, or 6-1/2 inch. They also make a "Limited Edition" with a polished stainless steel finish and gold accents on the trigger, hammer, and cylinder release. I have also seen models with bobbed hammers and/or unfluted cylinders. Recently I saw a new model at a local gunshop called the "Public Defender" which had a smaller grip, bobbed hammer and a shorter 2 inch barrel.

For this review, I used the model 4510 in stainless steel, with a 2-1/2" chamber and 3" barrel. I have previously owned an Ultra-Lite model with the same dimensions and the stainless steel finish. It was considerably lighter than the all stainless piece I have now. It still had a stainless steel cylinder and barrel insert, but had an aluminum frame. The reason I traded it for the all stainless model was because the aluminum frame was so soft that I had issues with it. The cylinder "star" would scrape material off the frame when you would close the cylinder, and the cylinder "stop" that the cylinder stops against when fully open actually split open away from the frame. So if you are considering which material, I would steer you toward the all stainless models.


Last edited by Vortec MAX on Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:13 pm, edited 12 times in total.

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 Post subject: Problem with Cylinder Alignment on Lockup
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:11 am 
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Problem with Cylinder Alignment on Lockup

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When test firing my Judge, I found a quality control issue with mine. The cylinder does not always lockup properly before the hammer falls. If you will notice in the picture above, I used my finger to create a slight drag on the cylinder as I cocked the hammer back. Notice how the cylinder holes are not symmetrical from one side of the gun to the other. You can easily see that there is a serious misalignment between the cylinder and barrel. The gun WILL FIRE in this position. I don't know how widespread this is, but I intend to have Taurus fix it as soon as possible. I also plan to visit the local gunshop and inspect a few that are in stock.

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You can see from the shells above, that this misalignment between the cylinder and barrel also leaves its mark on the primers. Notice how the firing pin mark is not centered on these primers. This gives you an idea of the degree of misalignment that is occuring. Just having shells in the cylinder creates enough drag to cause this. The gun seems to function fine when the cylinder is empty, unless I create a slight drag on its rotation with my finger.

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Above is a closeup of some of the more serious off center primer strikes. Notice that two of these are from .45 Colt shells. This is a dangerous situation. Also notice that the .410 shell in the lower right has two primer strikes. This is because the first strike was off center enough that the shell did not fire. I had to open the cylinder, re-align the round, and fire again. I had approximately 6 or 7 misfires due to this during my range time.

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I want you to see the perforation in the target where the pink circle is (up high). When this first happened, I thought that maybe there was a gas check on the back of the Silvertips I was shooting that had come loose and struck the target. Later, I realized that the misalignment of the cylinder to barrel had sheared the edge of the bullet off and sent it downrange during one of my shots. Scary stuff! I wonder what would have happened if I had been shooting a bullet with a thick copper jacket instead of the soft Silvertips?


Last edited by Vortec MAX on Wed Jun 05, 2013 8:54 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Winchester Silvertip 45 Colt Ammo
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:11 am 
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Winchester Silvertip 45 Colt Ammo

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These Winchester 225 grain Super-X Silvertip Hollow Point bullets are the most suitable self defense load I could find for the Judge. I am a big Hydra-Shok fan, but Federal does not make a defense load in .45 Colt. There are some +P offerings from COR BON and others, but the Judge is not rated to handle +P ammunition and the owner's manual advises against it. The manual also states, "The use of reloaded, "remanufactured", hand-loaded, or other non-standard ammunition voids all warranties." That does not leave you with many options, possibly leaving this round as your best choice for defense.

I chronographed 5 shots of Winchester 225 grain Silvertip at a distance of 12’-8” using a CED M2 Chronograph with infrared screen set. The results were as follows:

764.2 FPS
750.0 FPS
771.4 FPS
761.9 FPS
762.9 FPS

Average velocity was 762.1 FPS for 292 ft-lbs of energy. Not too bad, but a .45 auto can easily match that with a much smaller cartridge. Winchester rates this round to have a muzzle velocity of 920 FPS, but they obviously obtained those results with a much longer barrel.

If Taurus's lifetime warranty is not all that important to you, you might try handloading some .45 Colts up to the design limits of the Judge. The owner's manual states that the Judge was designed to use cartridges loaded with a 255 grain bullet reaching a muzzle velocity of 900 FPS. This would give you 461 ft-lbs of energy. That is quite a difference. I have some 250 grain Hornady XTPs and some 250 grain Speer Gold Dots, both in .452 diameter sitting here. I think we'll talk about that a different day :)

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Accuracy of these rounds was quite good. This was my best 5-shot group, measuring less than an inch center to center at 21 feet. As you can see, the group was slightly high and to the left. Unfortunately, the sights on the Judge are fixed. The impacts were certainly "close enough" when you consider what this pistol's intended use is.

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Last edited by Vortec MAX on Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:01 pm, edited 9 times in total.

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 Post subject: Federal .410 Handgun 000 Buckshot Ammo
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:11 am 
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Federal .410 Handgun 000 Buckshot Ammo

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Of all the ammunition tested for this review, this Federal .410 Handgun round in 000 buckshot was the hardest to find. It is out of stock at all my usual internet shopping places and backordered until who knows when. I stumbled across my little stash of six boxes at Wal-Mart of all places. I guess I just got lucky.

Federal has been advertising this round heavily in the gun magazines lately. The ads say something about "YOU and an army of FOUR," alluding to the fact that this shotshell has four 000 buckshot pellets instead of the usual three in the 2-1/2" shells.

Federal's website describes their new round as follows:
Quote:
The Judge from Taurus® has emerged as a very popular handgun for Personal Defense®. This specialized gun has been without a specialized load-until now. Federal introduces two 2-1/2" loads designed especially for The Judge. A special hull design and optimal payloads make these loads perfect for this gun. Choose between a 1/2-oz #4 or 4 pellet 000 buck option-either way the performance will be there.

The writing on the box says "1200 FPS," which gave me a little uneasy feeling as I dropped the hammer on my first round of this stuff. I half expected to pistol whip myself if the forehead from the recoil, but... it was not all that bad. After shooting a pattern target, I pulled the chrono in tighter, to approximately two feet from the muzzle. I didn't want to shoot my chrono. The tight groups I printed gave me confidence that I wouldn't hit it. Five shots went as follows:

851.2 FPS
860.1 FPS
819.2 FPS
827.4 FPS
872.4 FPS

Average velocity was 846.1 FPS giving 390 ft-lbs of energy. A long way off the 1200 FPS and 900 ft-lbs I had seen in one magazine (which added to my anxiety on the first trigger pull). The 1200 FPS is written right on the box however. I wonder from what barrel Federal was able to get 1200 FPS. It was certainly not the 3 inch. Maybe from the 6-1/2" barrel Judge?

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I wanted to see what the guts of this much anticipated and sought after round looked like, so I did a little dissecting. I found four copper plated 000 buckshot pellets as advertised and a wad that cradles them until they exit the barrel. (How on earth will CSI match the rifling to the marks on the pellets?) Note the .177 caliber BB at the right, which was placed there to give a sense of scale. Those 000 pellets are pretty big.

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According to my RCBS scale, the total payload of four pellets weighs in at 244.0 grains. That is exactly 61 grains per pellet. My Seecamp .32 auto shoots 60 grain Silvertips at roughly the same speed (maybe a little slower), but one at a time. Getting hit with this round is about like getting shot 4 times (in a nice tight group) with a .32 auto.

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As you can see, this stuff prints TIGHT patterns. I have heard some say TOO tight. I am not sure I agree. I don't think spraying lead in a cone shaped pattern takes the place of a steady aim. I'd rather plant all four pellets square in a bad guy's chest than spray and pray with a big pattern containing a few pellets. I do wish that the velocity was really 1200 FPS. I would think that the penetration would be outstanding at that velocity, but not as good at 850 FPS.

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Last edited by Vortec MAX on Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:19 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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 Post subject: Winchester Super-X 000 Buckshot Ammo
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:12 am 
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Winchester Super-X 000 Buckshot Ammo

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This Winchester Super-X 000 buckshot is rated at 1300 FPS by the manufacturer (from a much longer barrel). It contains only three pellets of 000 buck instead of the four that the Federal 000 buckshot load has. This stuff is actually more expensive than the Federal stuff. This Winchester Super-X 000 ran about a dollar per round, but the Federal was about 60 cents per round.

I tried to chonograph these shells, but I could not get a reading. I think it may be because these do not stay together as well after they leave the barrel. The Federal 000 buck stayed together well enough that the chronograph saw only one object. With the Winchester 000 buck, the chrono flashed "error" and did not supply a reading. I had this problem with the #4 shot loads too. The chrono would not provide a reading when it saw multiple objects fly past the screens.

I will tell you that these had a very healthy "kick" to them, stronger than the Federal 000 loads. Logic tells me that these must have more velocity than the Federal shells, but with fewer pellets. A faster pellet with the same weight will obviously have better penetration.

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The spread on the Winchester Super-X 000 buckshot was about 12" diameter at 21 feet, nicely centered on the point of aim. If you prefer a larger spread than the Federal 000 load delivers, then this may be just the ticket. I would not try to engage a target much past the 20 foot mark with these however, as you would not have reliable hits at greater distances.


Last edited by Vortec MAX on Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:17 pm, edited 7 times in total.

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 Post subject: Federal .410 Handgun #4 Shot Ammo
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:12 am 
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Federal .410 Handgun #4 Shot Ammo

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This Federal .410 Handgun #4 Shot is Federal's other offering designed specifically for the Taurus Judge. This Federal offering is much easier to find than the 000 variety. It is usually in stock at Sportman's Warehouse, Cabela's, Midway, Ammunitiontogo, and Grafs.

This #4 shotshell also boasts a velocity of 1200 FPS, but you won't get that from the 3" barrel. I could not chrono this load either because of the "multiple objects" problem, but I suspect it would be a little faster than the 850 FPS we saw from the 000 round, simply because this round sends less mass (weight) downrange. Like the Federal 000 rounds, these #4 shells did not kick as sharply as I had expected them to. I have also seen this round advertised in gun magazines, but not as heavily as the 000 buck.

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As you can see, there were 60 pellets in this shell. It also has a slightly higher powder charge than the 000 round. The .177 caliber BB is placed to the right for scale. These pellets are smaller than a BB, but are made of copper plated lead, which is denser than steel.

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The round specifications suggest that there is 7/16 of an ounce of shot, which would be 191.4 grains. As you can see by the reading on my RCBS scale, there are only 182.3 grains of shot, slightly less than advertised. I counted 60 pellets, so each weighs slightly over 3 grains. If you look at the larger powder charge and lighter payload of this round, I think it makes sense that these pellets will be traveling faster than the 850 FPS we saw in the Federal 000 round. I still don't think that 1200 is realistic for a 3 inch barrel.

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I use 11" x 17" targets when I practice shooting because they are the approximate size of a human torso. When I fired one round of Federal #4 shot at this 11" x 17" target at a distance of 21 feet, it was struck with 19 pellets. Not bad, but where did the other 41 go? You would have to really know your backstop if you used this in a defensive situation. Unfortunately, combat is a highly stressful activity and can easily make one forget to check. Even if there are people in the background, will you decide not defend yourself for the sake of safety? It's a tough situation, but something you need to think about if you are planning on carrying a Judge full of shotshells for defense.

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For this group, I taped two 11" x 17" pieces of paper together behind my 11" x 17" target. I shot this group at ten feet, which is a pretty average distance for a defense situation. The 11" x 17" target was struck by 38 pellets. The entire 17" x 22" area was struck by 57 pellets, which is nearly all of them. Based on the strikes I see, I suspect than the pattern at 10 feet is approximately 22" in diameter.


Last edited by Vortec MAX on Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:23 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Remington Long Range Express #4 Shot Ammo
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:13 am 
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Remington Long Range Express #4 Shot Ammo

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This Remington Long Range Express #4 Shot Ammo was the surprise of the group. It really shouldn't have surprised me because the same load in 12 GA has always been my top choice for hunting. I guess I did not expect it to outperform the Federal offering because Federal is my favorite ammunition manufacturer (next to EA of course), and they developed their load specifically for the Judge.

This load boasts a velocity of 1250 FPS from a long gun. It also contains 1/2 ounce of shot which is 218.8 grains, where the Federal load only has 7/16 ounce. I did not dissect one of these, but I know it contains more pellets than the Federal offering because I counted 72 hits on my 10 foot target with this round.

I could not find any of this locally, so I bought some from MidwayUSA. A box of this stuff ran about the same price as a box of the Federal stuff, but you get 5 extra rounds. These come in boxes of 25 rounds instead of 20 like Federal, so they end up being cheaper at about 50 cents per round.

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I fired one round at an 11" x 17" target at a distance of 21 feet to obtain the grouping shown above. This load impressed me with 24 hits, the most recorded at that distance. The patterning is excellent. These have a sharper recoil than the Federal rounds, so I suspect they have more velocity behind them as well.

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I duplicated the target scenario used with the Federal #4 shotshell and fired one round of the Remington Long Range Express at a distance of ten feet. I counted 52 hits on the 11" x 17" target and 72 hits on the entire 17" x 22" area. I suspect that nearly all if not all the pellets struck the larger area. The pattern diameter at 10 feet for this load is 17 to 18 inches diameter. This is excellent.

I would not want to get blasted with a round of this stuff. A hit to the face, neck, and chest with this stuff would probably blind an attacker and certainly ruin his day. I think this load would also work well to carry in your Judge as a sidearm while hunting big game to take the occasional grouse or blast a rattlesnake if needed. This is my top pick for the Judge in the #4 shot category.


Last edited by Vortec MAX on Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:39 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Winchester Super X #4 Shot Ammo
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:13 am 
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Winchester Super X #4 Shot Ammo

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This Winchester Super-X load was the worst of the bunch when fired from my 3" barrelled Judge. At 21 feet, I only registered 4 hits on an 11" x 17" target. I happened to have another target, in another target stand next to this one when I fired this shot. I had three pellet hits in that target as well. I measured 36" from the center of aim to the outermost pellet hole. That is a six-foot diameter pattern at a mere 21 feet! This load would probably only make an assailant angry and certainly hit bystanders if any were present. I think this load should only be used in longer barrelled weapons, not a pistol.

Winchester rates this cartridge at 1245 FPS, but that of course is from a much longer barrel. As a side note, I also noticed that this cartridge had a tendency to really foul up the barrel of my Judge. I don't think all the powder has a chance to fully burn in the short barrel of the Judge and some of it stays behind, coating the cylinders and barrel with a sooty black mess.

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I initially shot this target with the Winchester Super X #4 load and only recorded the four hits indicated. I circled them with a pen, then used the target for more target practice. For this review, I photoshopped out the other holes so only the four original holes left by one round of this load at 21 feet are visible.


Last edited by Vortec MAX on Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:43 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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 Post subject: Conclusion
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:14 am 
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Conclusion

I will tell you that until Smith and Wesson makes one of their .460 handguns with a chamber long enough for .410 shells that a Judge will reside in my stable of guns. From my own experiences with Taurus, including sending two Judges in for repair now, I don't feel like they build the best quality firearms available. Taurus firearms have a lifetime warranty, but their customer service is not the best. They took 4 months to replace my Ultra-Lite. But... no one else makes anything quite like the Judge.

Despite the quality issues I have had, the Judge is really fun to shoot. When using the Remington Long Range Express shotshells, it really tears up tin cans. The versatility of the Judge is also very attractive. I picture myself carrying it while hiking and fishing in wilderness settings. I would load it with one #4 shotshell, two 000 buck shells, and two .45 Colt shells. You would be ready for anything you might encounter with that mix. You could shoot a snake or grouse with the first shot, or unload all five into a grizzly as you run away, screaming like a girl :D

My recommendations for choosing a Judge are as follows:

  • If you can, inspect the lockup before you purchase one.

  • The 3" chambered Judge may shoot the 2-1/2" shells at a slightly higher velocity due to the longer cylinder, but the 3" shells are usually slower, which means less penetration.

  • Choose an all stainless or blued steel model over the Ultra-Lite because of the problems with the soft aluminum frame I mentioned above.


My ratings on the different ammunition reviewed are as follows:

  • Winchester 225 Grain .45 Colt Silvertips: (A+) :Very accurate and the best non +P .45 Colt offering out there.

  • Federal .410 Handgun 000 Buckshot: (B) :Nice tight groups, but slower than advertised.

  • Winchester Super-X 000 Buckshot: (C) :Higher velocity (more penetration), but only three non-plated pellets, a larger pattern, and more expensive than the Federal.

  • Federal .410 Handgun #4 Shot: (B+) :Good patterns, good velocity, but more expensive than the Remington LR Express.

  • Remington Long Range Express #4 Shot: (A+) :Outstanding load with the tightest patterns tested, more pellets, more velocity, and cheaper than the Federal offering.

  • Winchester Super-X #4 Shot: (F) :Unnacceptably large patterns from the Judge, spreading the shot too thin, makes a mess as well.


Last edited by Vortec MAX on Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:51 pm, edited 14 times in total.

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 Post subject: Blackhawk Serpa CQC Holster
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 12:14 am 
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Blackhawk Serpa CQC Holster

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Before I decided which Judge to buy, I first looked at what holsters are available. Blackhawk makes a Serpa CQC Holster for the Judge with a 2-1/2" chamber only. This is the main reason I chose the 2-1/2" chamber. If I don't have a holster, it is difficult to carry the pistol.

UPDATE: Blackhawk is now making a Serpa CQC Holster for the 3" cylinder as well.

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The fit and finish of the Blackhawk holster is excellent. The Judge slides in and out of the holster with ease and there is a push-button retention feature that is nice. The tension is adjustable and the price is reasonable. The Judge is also well protected while in the holster. I highly reccommend the Blackhawk holster for the Judge if you need one.

I have several of these Blackhawk holsters, including one for the FiveseveN pistol. The only one I have had any issue at all with is the one for my wife's S&W Model 638 .38 Special snub-nose revolver. It is very tight going in and out and the tension screw is loosened all the way. Other than that, I have had no issues with these holsters.


Last edited by Vortec MAX on Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:47 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Taurus Judge .410 Revolver and Ammunition Review
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:04 am 
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looks sweet, cant wait for the text!

Thanks!

Judge is on my really really really really really short list now!


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 Post subject: Re: Taurus Judge .410 Revolver and Ammunition Review
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:38 am 
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Looks great so far. :thumb:



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 Post subject: Re: Taurus Judge .410 Revolver and Ammunition Review
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:01 am 
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Thanks, I have been looking at the 6.5 barrel length, 3in shell length.


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 Post subject: Re: Taurus Judge .410 Revolver and Ammunition Review
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:35 am 
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Good review, can't wait for the rest. I have not noticed the cylinder misalginment issue on the judge I have, I will definitely check that out tonight when I get home.


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 Post subject: Re: Taurus Judge .410 Revolver and Ammunition Review
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 4:15 pm 
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I just checked my Taurus Judge for the misalignment problem you found on yours. If I place my finger on the cylinder to create some drag when I cock the hammer (single action) I don't get near the misalignment you have (only a very slight amount). However, the hammer will not drop. If I release the drag slightly on the cylinder to allow the hammer to fall, it forces the cylinder into alignment before firing (actually dry firing - no ammo was fired for this experiment...thought I better mention that :laugh: ). If I place my finger on the cylinder and then try to fire the gun double action, it will not drop the hammer until the cylinder is in alignment. So apparently the problem you have with misalignment is not the case for all of their guns. BTW, my judge is the also the 2.5" chamber with 3" barrel.


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 Post subject: Re: Taurus Judge .410 Revolver and Ammunition Review
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:03 pm 
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Great reveiw, very professional job. Has any one tested .410 buckshot in gelatin? I think it was the Box O Truth website (or was it Brass fletchers) did a test (not with factory ammo) and determined there was not enough penetration to use it as a self defense round.


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 Post subject: Re: Taurus Judge .410 Revolver and Ammunition Review
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:41 pm 
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t1210 wrote:
Great reveiw, very professional job. Has any one tested .410 buckshot in gelatin? I think it was the Box O Truth website (or was it Brass fletchers) did a test (not with factory ammo) and determined there was not enough penetration to use it as a self defense round.


Yeah that was the box o truth, but to be fair they didn't use a factory load per se, they cut down the hull of a 3 inch load to fit their shorter chamber and it failed to penetrate to the 12" magical standandard.

Personally, you throw 400 grains of metal at me at those kind of velocities I'm thinking twice about what I'm doing, regardless.


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 Post subject: Re: Taurus Judge .410 Revolver and Ammunition Review
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 6:42 pm 
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Location: Detroit, MI
I have the 3 in version in blue. Love the gun, but it is a rustomatic in two weeks it began to rust..


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 Post subject: Re: Taurus Judge .410 Revolver and Ammunition Review
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:24 am 
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Nice job on pics/review. I am intrigued by this gun but in another review that did penetration tests with the 2.5 inch version the results were less than good. See here http://www.theboxotruth.com/docs/bot41.htm

The author did break 9 out of 10 clays with bird-shot. He thought it was a good snake gun.



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 Post subject: Re: Taurus Judge .410 Revolver and Ammunition Review
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 4:16 pm 
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Great review.
Thanks for all the information!


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