The verdict is in. A decade after its introduction, no handgun offers more versatility than the Taurus Judge.
by the ShootingDaily staff
Scan the handgun landscape and you see an almost mind-numbing array of pistols and revolvers. Most offer variations on well-established themes—either to satisfy specific shooting needs or to fill a niche that may or may not need to be filled. Yet in spite of the numbers, few handguns truly stand out in the crowd. Fewer still earn a place in modern mythos.
Count the Taurus Judge among the latter.
Released for the 2006 model year, the Taurus Judge immediately turned heads and furrowed brows amongst firearms enthusiasts and the gun-writing press alike. The concept was intriguing—a five-shot revolver capable of shooting both .45 Colt and .410 shotshell cartridges.
To achieve this dual-cartridge personality, Taurus engineers developed a beefy cylinder chambered for both the .45 Colt and the.410, and they “detuned” the standard barrel rifling with shallower grooves to accommodate a shot column.
That was the “how.” The question everyone asked once the Judge hit the shelves was “why?”
While the firearms press struggled to fit the Judge into a comfortable category and, in general, makes some sense of this brash upstart, the enthusiast crowd embraced the Judge as much for its “something new” factor as for its ability to send either solid lead or pellets downrange. Never mind its shortened cone of accuracy when compared to purpose-built conventional handguns or shotguns. The Judge was just plain cool.
But “cool” only takes you so far down the tracks. Once thoughtful and experienced shooters and defense professionals seriously examined the Judge for its real-world potential and the context for which it was developed, the revolver’s subtle genius became evident.
Taurus engineers conceived the Judge as a short-range, personal defense firearm that could provide the shooter with options based on need and circumstance. No other handgun on the market could boast such claims.
When we say short range, we mean “get out of my personal space” close. Early on, many people had a difficult time with the idea of carrying a pistol that, packing a load of 00 or 000 buckshot, would not drop an attacker at 20 yards. That, however, was never the point. Most personal attacks don’t follow the Hollywood script of good guys and bad guys whizzing lead at each other from across an empty warehouse. Car-jackings, store robberies, muggings…those are the arms-length conflicts that law-abiding citizens must contend with, and that’s exactly what the Taurus Judge was meant to settle. The shallow rifling spins the shot column just enough to provide man-sized dispersion up to around nine or ten yards. This helps mitigate the error factors such as stress, poor shooting position, and rapid action that can cause misses in extremely close-quarter engagements. It’s also one of the reasons why the Taurus Judge has become the go-to firearm for in-vehicle defense.
Of course, not every situation calls for bad-guy-stopping shot pellets, and this is where the Judge’s multi-chamber personality shines.
Judge’s Chamber – .410
That’s what most folks think of when they consider loading the Judge’s wheel with .410 loads. And they wouldn’t be mistaken. For anyone who works or recreates in poisonous snake country, a Judge, packing #6 or #7-1/2 shot, is the ultimate carry revolver. From dancing-out-of-the-way close to a comfortable nine or ten yards out, the Judge will render fanged reptiles a verdict of “dead.”
Of course, the .410 option also gives the Judge trail cred as a survival gun since birds and small animals can also be harvested within this range.
Yet while the Judge’s .410 chambering makes it a viable (and desirable) trail companion, its true benefit is in two-legged threat elimination.
Urban lore has it that the Judge got its name because several real-life judges wanted the Taurus Model 44 (the Judge’s original designation) for personal, in-court protection. These judges realized that a .410 round would deliver the kind of close-range impact needed in a courtroom attack without posing a serious threat to bystanders.
As we mentioned earlier, loaded with .410 buckshot, the Judge was designed to be a serious threat eliminator at real-world-close distances. A side benefit to this design is that the terminal ballistics of the .410 load, when fired from a short barrel, minimize the chance of dangerous pass-through in walls or other moderately near or distant objects. It’s another reason the Judge is well-suited for in-home or in-vehicle defense.
Judge’s Chamber – .45 Colt
Not every situation calls for a .410 load. When you have the need and the opportunity, the Judge can send a .45 Colt round downrange with the necessary defense accuracy you would expect in a conventional revolver. In other words, neutralizing a threat out to 25 yards is certainly part of the Judge’s skill set.
And this, really, is the heart of what has made the Judge a standout in the crowded handgun field less than a decade after its release. One cylinder can simultaneously hold a cartridge for any defensive pistol situation: super close or distant.
Judge’s Chamber – Magnum
Some say bigger is better, and in the case of the .410 cartridge, many say the 3-inch is more desirable than the 2.5-inch variety. In response to consumer demand, the Judge’s sophomore year saw the addition of the Judge Magnum to the lineup.
Taurus designed the Judge Magnum with a three-inch chambered cylinder and extended frame to accommodate the longer .410 bore cartridges. More shot equals more punch where you need it, so what’s not to like?
Judge’s Chamber – .454 Casull
Building on the bigger/better momentum, Taurus introduced the Raging Judge in 2011. Inspired by Taurus’ 454 Raging Bull revolver, the Raging Judge represented a blend of two concepts—the chambering versatility of the Judge line with the big-game knockdown potential of the .454 Casull cartridge. A beefier frame, enhanced 6-chamber cylinder (versus 5-round), and dual cylinder locks all contribute to the Raging Judge’s hard-hitting persona. Like most Judge iterations, the Raging Judge boasts 3- and 6-inch barrel length configurations, and can shoot not only the .454 Casull, but also the .45 Colt and .410 in 2.5- or 3-inch.
You want versatility? It doesn’t get more versatile than that.
A Decade On
Today, everyone from ranchers to work-a-day suburbanites rely on the Taurus Judge to maintain their zone of protection—whether that means dispatching rattlesnakes along the fence line, commuting along metropolitan streets, or ensuring safe hearths and homes everywhere in between.
That is not to say the Judge, in all of its many forms and finishes, is all work and no play. Aside from its more serious DNA, this is a revolver that also packs a holster full of fun on the range. Dust some short-range rabbit clays? You bet. Vaporize water bottles and watermelons? All-day entertainment, right there. And if you’re a true big-bore fan, consider the Raging Judge and a cylinder full of .454 Casull for your next deer or wild hog hunting adventure.
The Taurus Judge may not be the most storied handgun on the block, but it has certainly earned its reputation as the most versatile firearm on the market today.
It will be interesting to see what the next ten years will bring.
article © 2016 ShootingDaily.com; promoted by Taurus Holdings, Inc.