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.410 Revolvers

by George Wehby   |  July 26th, 2011 42

While filming the 2011 PDTV season, we were doing some experimenting with the .410 revolvers.  I know there is a bunch of controversy surrounding them, but people are buying them for personal defense.  That being the case, we decided to see how the loads and weapon systems can best be utilized for personal defense.

The Taurus Judge has the capabilities of shooting a .410 shotshell or .45 Colt.  The Smith & Wesson Governor can shoot the .410 shotshell, 45 Colt or the .45 ACP with a moonclip.  The idea behind our testing was to see the maximum effective range per load and the different load penetration depths in ballistic gel.  We shot the ballistic gel at the distance we found was ideal for the particular load based on the shot spread.  We looked at both Number 4 birdshot and Winchester’s PDX1 loads with “Defensive Disks.”

Both the .45 ACP and .45 Colt performed pretty standard for revolvers in range and penetration depth, but the .410 shotshells had limiting results. They still proved quite effective given certain use restraints.  The Number 4 birdshot was only effective regarding spread and penetration out to 3 yards, leading me to believe it is a close contact option only.  Anything beyond that range will be less reliable in penetration and there is extreme spread of the pellets well beyond a human-sized target.  The Defensive Disks proved to be reliable out to at least 10 yards with reliable penetration and out to 25 yards for effective projectile spread.

We used the testing and the results to create a PDTV episode surrounding the .410 revolvers on the upcoming season of PDTV.  I hope you find them informative and entertaining. Stay Safe.

Fired at three yards from a Taurus Public Defender Poly, No. 4 birdshot penetrated half the length of a 16-inch block of 10% ballistic gelatin.

Winchester's PDX1 .410 Defender loads have three "Defensive Discs" and 12 BB shot. From 10 yards, the discs penetrated a foot of 10% ballistic gelatin.

 

  • Bryan W. Carpenter

    I was unhappy with the rapid spread of 00 buck shot. (5 balls in a 3" hull). I saw a video of a man spiral cutting a 12 gauge between the powder and the shot. I was hoping to find the results of something like that in your tests?

  • Jim

    I too would like to see the same tests with the Federal buckshot loads. They are a lot cheaper than the PDX stuff and have been on the market longer.

  • David

    I would like to see more on this subject. You have a little here but in depth story would be nice. I carry a Bond 410/45.

  • Ken

    At their best, these are home defense guns. Look around your house and see what the maxium distance shot might be, should someone break into your home. With most homes, this will be no more than 30 feet, or less.

    The load that these guns were meant to use for the .410 is the 000 Buck. At 2 1/2 inch shells, (standard Judge) you get 3 large pellets that punch the paper with the same size hole as the .45 LC. Force = Mass x Acceleration. Test the 000 Buck loads in .410 and I think you will be very surprised.

    At 30 feet, my results show a held pattern of 3 hits inside the size of a large orange or a grapefruit. Using any .410 load other than 000 Buck is a total waste of these gun's potential for home defense. . .#4 bird shot might be good for snakes or very large spiders; but, any bird shot load in one of these guns is not a home defense load.

    • amg

      You're right BUT #6 does a nice job on medium to large rats.

    • John Hudson

      Ken, with that being said, I travel a lot and have been teaching my wife to shoot some. She has very small hands and I am concerned with being able to handle the 410 shotshell in a pistol. I want to get her a home self defense weapon and have seriously been considering the Judge. Do you think this would be a good option?

      • MIKe M

        Sure, she does not have to aim, just point the judge at the bad guy

    • brucieh

      If you have an intruder in your home. It would seem to me no matter what kind of shot you have in the .410; it should be easier to hit the target and anyone hit by it even if it didn't put him down I am sure it would make him/ her sorry they came to visit.

  • John A. Spotto

    Why does everyone who test these guns insist they are inefective beyond 10 yds. That is 30 ft. In most States and courts, beyond that would not be considered PD but rather an attack and you you would find yourself in jail. All you folks need to research you State Laws and learn what their definition of self-defense and deadly force is. I, for one, would not want to be shot with one of these at 10, 20 or even 30 yds for that matter. Just 2 pellets or disk will ruin your day.
    30 FT away is not PD unless they are actually in your home and chances are The BG will be a whole lot closer. Keep it real and take it for what is was designed. Keep up this BS and I will cancell my subscription.

    • George Wehby

      I appreciate your feedback, this was just my findings and opinion based on the limited resourses I was provided in ammunition and ballistic gel. This exercise was to see the weapons capabilities based on penetration and shot spread of the listed loads. Your mileage will vary.

  • David Simpson

    Police Officer for 35 years, crime scene Tech 70's – 80's and in autopsy(s) saw the results of alot of gunshot wounds from high powered rifles to 25's and 22's. I see alot of talk about magic bullit that goes deeper expands better et cetera and I was also a sniper, firearms trainer and you can talk all you want but the bottom line is this. If the bullit hits the right spot then it works you can send all the power most hand have at the target but if you don't hit it then the power is wasted. Learn to shoot well with what your comfortable and the rest of your issues will be answered.

    • George Wehby

      Agreed 1000 times over. Train Train Train!!!

    • Jake

      These 410 shot shells can have 15+ shots in one trigger pull. A full cylinder gives 90+ bullets to put into the target. The odds of one trigger pull's worth of bullets hitting the right spot is much better than a single bullet. A useful tactic could be a 410 3 in magnum for the first shot, and the rest can be 45 ACP or Colt.

      Sure, training is important for the ideal person, but tools are being developed for us that don't practice enough.

      That's why the 410 (multiple shot) concept is so tempting.

    • Lewis Hart

      You lost all your credibility with me when you can't spell BULLET.

      • Dave Hamilton

        Bingo! My thought exactly….

    • reb

      I really wish people would stop writing this crap. Everyone knows you need to hit what you are shooting at, and if you want to totally stop or kill someone you have to hit them where it hurts. It doesn't take any law enforcement or military experience to know this. 'nuff said, people, let's get on with the reviews.

  • James Konen

    I get a pretty usable pattern with my 2 1/2" judge for use on blue & ruffed grouse at around 10yds. using # 6 shot. Kills 'em dead.,not quite as tough to bring down as a man though.

  • Alex

    IF you purchased this firearm was purdchased as a home defense weapon, good for you. I did and love it. I also love the extreme spread of a bird shot load for the given distance from my bed to my bedroom door. At 15 feet, half of the “maximum effective distance” even higher count birdshot will do significant damage with a pattern wide as the door. Not only wide as the door but highly likely to hit the eyes, airway and throat, all of which are disabling shots if not fatal. It is likely the attacker will fall to the ground based purely on the fact that you have inflected damage to the sencory organs and/or airway. Following up with a load of buckshot is a garuntee, but will raise the legal question of whether a second shot is needed. The smaller shot are also less likely to penetrate several layers of drywall or plaster, saving any worries of hitting people asleep in other rooms. Finally, i DAO revolver is point and squeeze. Excellent for me at night under pressure; invaluable to my wife who will flinch when pulling the trigger. the spread to the pattern is still going to hit the soon to be hospital patient.

  • Jon Gill

    I appreciate you guys testing penetration depths with these loads. I own a Taurus Judge Public Defender and a S&W Governor. I have heard various things about the stopping power of the .410 shells. I use the PDX1's for the first shot, then follow with a couple .45 LC's and then finish with another PDX1. I wish there were more actual cases where these weapons have been used for self defense so we can get some real world results. Thanks for the great article. I enjoy your show.

    • Jake

      I agree. Wish they used the FBI testing standards so a comparison with other options could be made.

  • Jake

    FBI standard distance is 7 yards.

  • mbammes

    Wonder if they had any problems with the Judge jamming up I have a Judge that jams up no matter what kind of ammo or how much you clean it but Taurus tell me thats there is nothing wrong with it

    • RONALD WHEELER

      I HAD A JUDGE DO THE SAME THING. I FOUND THE LITTLE PALL ON THE CYLINDER WAS BAD. I SENT IN PICTURES TO TAURUS, THEY FIXED IT. REPLY AND I WILL SEND THE PICTURES TO YOU.

      • Don Williams

        Ronald, I have the same problem. I would like to see your pics.

    • Ted

      I bought a new Judge and the first time I took it to the range it locked up. I contacted Taurus they sent FedEX by to pick it up. They fixed it and I had it back in good working order in 2 weeks. It stays beside the bed loaded with PdX1 and 2 .45colts.

  • Jim Rankin

    I have had a Judge since before the names was even stamped on the barre. I started the 2.5 inch chamber and graduated to the 3" as soon as it became available and LOVE it. I have shot various loads and have found the Silver Bear (Russian, brass cased) buckshot to be the most effective…….around the farm on pests, that is. So far it has eliminated several raccoons and possums and the #6 shot has taken several Copperhead snakes out of my way. Whatever the results, in my gun the PDX1 ammo is what stays in my bedside Judge. I don't have a room longer than 30 feet so why worry? Good article, can't wait to see the video.

    • RENN

      DARK HOUSE, MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, CAN’T SEE WELL, WAKE UP SUDDENLY, MAYBE 30 FEET AWAY. AGAIN AS HAS BEEN SAID ABOVE, MISSING WITH ONE PDX ON YOUR SIDE??? AND ME MISSING WITH 70 PERCENT OF MY 4 SHOT, ONLY 3 TO FIVE OF THEM IN YOUR FACE LEAVES YOU 100% UNABLE TO SHOOT WITH ANY ACCURACY AFTER THAT, AND ME WITH 4 OR 5 MORE ROUNDS AND A TOTAL OF ???? 120 MORE PROJECTILES THAN YOU??? AGAIN ENOUGH SAID

  • joe

    If shoot them they will leave,if you shoot them they will leave,if you shoot them they will leave

  • Bob Wright

    The Judge is an ideal "home defense" weapon capable of inflicting significant damage within the walls of your home- WITHOUT the risk of penetrating ordinary dryr-wall. For us "older folk" with dimmer eye-sight- thisis a god-send! Many pellets in the face are far better than a .45 slug- missing! which CAN penetrate dry-walls & cause damage!

    • RENN

      I AGREE WITH THIS GUY TOTALLY

  • http://www.westernexpedition.com Eric

    I bought a Judge last year after a close encounter with a mountain lion. Have run .45LC, 4-shot, and PDX rounds through it at both static (gun range) and live (squirrel) targets. The .45LC proved most effective in all cases. The PDX are an excellent option if home defense is your primary purpose. And the 4-shot proved to be pretty much worthless except for making noise. Which has left me wondering if I wouldn't be better off just carrying a S&W J-Frame or similar small revolver. It would be considerably more compact and a .38 SPL or .357 Mag would certainly be effective on a lion. For home defense I can see the benefit of using the Judge with PDX rounds. And use it primarily for that today. Neat handgun and I'd buy it again.

    • RENN

      MOUNTAIN LION ATTACK???? IF SOMEONE IS WORRIED ABOUT THAT, THEY HAVE NO CLUE ABOUT STATISTICS AND ARE JUST BLOWING THEIR LITTLE SMOKIE STACK. IN THE LAST 100 YEARS IN NORTH AMERICA ONLY 14 KNOW DEATHS ARE ATTRIBUTED TO LIONS, AND ONLY 4 ATTACKS PER YEAR ON AVERAGE ARE REPORTED. SO CHANCES OF A LION ATTACK ARE .0000000001% IN YOUR LIFETIME. THAT’S FOR CANADA AND AMERICA. AND FOR ANY OF YOU WHO SAY SHOTGUN BB’S IN A .410 PISTOL JUST “DON’T HAVE THE STOPPING POWER” FOR A HUMAN? WHO NEEDS STOPPING POWER. WHAT THE HELL??? ONE BB WITH 4 OR 5 PUMPS FROM A BB GUN HURTS LIKE A MMMOTHER CCCHHUCKER. IF YOU GOT HIT BY 15 TO 20, OR MORE BB’S ALL AT ONCE. AND THEY EACH HAD 15 TIMES THE VELOCITY OF A BB GUN? WHAT THE HELL, YOU WOULD BE IN ZERO % OF A FIGHTING MOOD AFTER THAT. YOU WOULD BE HURTIN FOR CERTAIN. LIKE IF A FLAMETHROWER WAS AIMED AT YOUR FOXHOLE. YOU WOULD BE BURNIN LIKE HELL FIRE…… YOU WOULD ALSO BE AWARE THAT I HAD 4 OR 5 MORE ROUNDS LEFT. ENOUGH SAID

  • Steve Duncan

    I have a Double D 45/410 in my bedroom,and in my livingroom,S&W 2 inch in my vehicle,I will be buying the Judge soon as price goes down, bedroom,first shot from waking up, 000, and second shot 45 Colt, I dont think I will have trouble, When I git the Judge, all rounds 000, empty gun ,reload,and then,and ONLY then check the corpse,and call the police,first words out of your mouth,'''''' I feared for my,and my wifes life,'''' Im a Marine Rifle Coach,former Seattle Police Officer,and NRA certified, Expert,but I still like the shotshells for first waking up, just my opinion. Semper Fi.

  • John Hudson

    I travel a lot and have been teaching my wife to shoot some. She has very small hands and I am concerned with being able to handle the 410 shotshell in a pistol. I want to get her a home self defense weapon and have seriously been considering the Judge. Do you think this would be a good option for a woman?

    • FORKLIFT

      I roll my own….. 3" multi hull

      16 gr. H 110

      " strech wad "

      5 000 buck

      roll crimp

      At 21 feet it gives fist sized spread at 1000+ fps

    • Ringo

      John,

      I travel constantly. I purchased The Judge for home defense as soon as it became available. My wife is about the size of the average female (5'6" 130). Not only can she handle this firearm, but she LOVES taking it to the range if only for the looks she gets after she pulls the trigger. We only practice at 3 & 7 yards when shooting this one. I don't have a room in my house longer than 30'.

      Just my 2 cents…

  • buxtonpete

    out of my 410 shotgun i prefer 2 x 357 watcutters. they keyhole about 4 inches apart. can't say how they would work out of a handgun.

  • hilario

    Three .351 rounds balls works well in 45 colt

    Brezilians brass 410 21/2 hold two and 12 number 2 pellet.

    These last round gives 6" at 10 yards for the balls with 5 pellets covering a FBI target.

    Multiple shots produce inusual trauma, with great shocking power.

    The judge is my survival weapon

    And my wife home defense personal gun.

  • Dai Uy

    My castle when I travel is a fully self contained 17.5 trailer(R-POD). I camp in Black Bear and occasional Grizzly country. I love my 3"' chambered SS Judge but keep my .454 Casull handy should it be necessary. My preference is the 2.5" or 3" Federal 000 Buckshot with a couple of 45 Colts.

  • Larry

    A few comments: Use #4 Buckshot NOT #4 birdshot. I've had a Judge since it first came out, and if used for what it was designed for, it's a very good defense load. All the mumbo-jumbo about what constitutes personal defense is useless unless you check your individual State laws. The Judge is not up to S&W standards on fit and finish, however for the money, it serves very well out to about 10 yards for everything I shoot in it. I have had NO problems with it mechanically, and the single action trigger pull is sweet. The .45 Colt groups under 3" at 25 yards. Don't forget that the energy from the 00 or the 000 buck is cumulative. Check out the American Rifleman article on the various loads for the Judge and you'll be surprised at how much energy it inflicts with 3" loads stuffed with double-aught buck. (over 1000 ft lbs.!) I assure you that even with #4 birdshot- a person shot in the head from 7 yards will have a very shot lifespan. I have shot several wild dogs and a few coyotes with it-and it does the job within that distance. My carry load for the Judge, is : Cylinder 1 and 2 PDX discs with #4, Cylinder 3-4 3" 410 000 buck, cylinder 5 .45 Colt 230 grain lead bullet. One last thing-don't forget the venerable .410 slug. Very cheap, and very effective. Shoots pretty darn accurate too. Look at its ballistics for a surprise.

  • Jim

    I just purchased the JUDGE .M4510 ..2inch barrel .. Once I have some time to fire it .. I will surely post my findings here .. I got it for home defense and traveling security. Anyway .. wish me luck .. I have heard so many horror stories and some great results. We'll see.

  • Mick

    I prefer the #4 Buck, that gives you 9 pellets of approx .25 cal and a good shot group

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