I’ve been after whitetails with hand-cannons since I shot my first “handgun buck” in Maine with a .454 Raging Bull. Since then, I’ve harvested more deer with one of these big revolvers than any other handgun.
Taurus has offered the Raging Bull in a number of variations including the .218 Bee (Raging Bee), .22 Hornet (Raging Hornet), .30 Carbine (Raging Thirty), .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .454 Casull (just to name a few). The .44 Magnum and .454 are all that remain in the catalog, which has given rise to a surprising demand in the collector market for discontinued models. Several few years ago, Taurus introduced the versatile Judge, which could handle .45 Colt and .410 shotshells.
Due to its rifled barrel, all Judge variants are not characterized as a short-barreled shotgun per the National Firearms Act of 1934 (however California has a broader definition of a short-barreled shotgun making them illegal to possess in that state). The development of the Judge’s unique rifling that works well with both the .45 and .410 was—and is—a real achievement.
The Judge was a derivative of the Tracker Series, but to harness the power of the .454 Casull, Taurus had to adapt the technology of the Judge to the Raging Series. In 2011, Taurus unveiled the Raging Judge Magnum. Choose between .410, .45 Colt, and .454 Casull—or all carry all three in the revolver’s six-shot cylinder.
The fact that the Raging Judge Magnum adds the .454 Casull to this mix is noteworthy. Even though rifling is more shallow than conventional .454s, accuracy hasn’t been compromised. I cut three-shot cloverleafs using the red fiber-optic front sight at 25 yards. With an Aimpoint Micro riding cowboy on the optional optic rail, I printed one-inch, three-shot groups while shooting offhand at the same distance.
The .454-caliber bullet travels at more than 1,800 fps, which carries 1,850 ft-lbs. of energy at the muzzle and nearly 1,200 ft-lbs. as it passes 100 yards. With this amount of power, Taurus keeps it all secure with the Raging Series’ signature dual-lockup cylinder.
Factory-tuned porting appears on many of these models, but weighing a bit more than five pounds, my Raging Judge Magnum has enough heft to help manage the effects of recoil.
The red-striped backstrap—exclusive to the Raging Series—highlights an ergonomic rubberized textured grip with finger grooves. When shooting, this grip provides additional protection against triggerguard impact with your middle finger while using a two-hand, high-grip technique.
These factory grips are truly a blessing. If you end up owning one of these revolvers, this is one item you’ll likely never seek out an aftermarket replacement for.
The Raging Judge Magnum is easy to operate in either double action or single action modes. Double action usually requires a trigger pull of about 10½ pounds that takes an easy seven of those pounds to take up all but the last half-inch of travel followed by about 3½ to drop the spurred hammer. The checkered hammer spur can easily be accessed with the thumb without having to break a firing grip and only requires to 3½ pounds of pressure applied to the trigger to send it forward in single action operation.
My best accuracy results were with Winchester’s potent .454 260-grain Platinum Tip Hollow Points, which averaged just over an inch at 25 yards. Hornady 240-grain XTPs grouped around two inches. I then tried some .45 Colt loads, specifically Hornady’s 255-grain Cowboy and Winchester Super-X 250-grain FN. Neither grouped as well as the hot .454s, but were plenty good enough for just having fun with what is—essentially—a seriously high-horsepower handgun. But the heft and rubberized grips of the Raging Judge tamed those .454s to a .44 Magnum level of recoil.
The .454 is certainly more than enough to bring down anything North America has to offer, and chambering .45 Colt provides a low recoil option. The story of Gene Brush, an Alaskan fishing guide who used a revolver chambered in .454 Casull to take down a charging bear had kick-started a resurgence in popularity for the .454 in 2009. Brush was ambushed by a bear without warning and survived to appear in national headlines. “There was no time to aim, barely time to squeeze the trigger,” reported the Anchorage Daily News. “He’s not sure whether he got off two shots or three, but one proved fatal.”
A matte stainless finish protects the Raging Judge Magnum from any weather you’ll likely encounter. This revolver isn’t a safe queen. It’s designed to work and work it does.
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