Taurus Judge Review: The Verdict Is In!

by Travis Pike

May 2, 2023

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In the year of our lord 2010, the gun industry was seemingly taken over by the idea of a .410 Revolver. Of all companies, it was Taurus to lead the charge with the Judge. Today in our Taurus Judge review, we are testing this titanic-sized revolver to see what all the hype was about. 

A revolver that can shoot both .410 shotgun shells and 45 ACP without any changes to cylinder or barrels.

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Taurus Judge Specs

  • Caliber 45 Colt/.410
  • Action DA/SA
  • Capacity 5
  • Front Sight Fiber Optic
  • Rear Sight Fixed
  • Frame Stainless Steel
  • Barrel Length 3 in
  • Overall Length 9.5 in
  • Weight 29 oz

Taurus Judge Background

Taurus has always been a creative force in firearms. Some of their designs work, and some don’t. In the early 2000s, Taurus was producing an interesting line of big-bore snub nose revolvers in .45 Colt, .44 Special, and .41 Magnum. These guns wore traditional number designations like other Taurus firearms, and from that line popped up a gun called the 4410. 

The 4410 became the 4510, but they were largely the same gun. They were five-shot revolvers that chambered either .45 Colt or .410 shotshells. The guns feature 3-inch barrels and compact frames. They changed the name after an exec at Taurus learned that Judges in high-crime areas of Miami were carrying the gun for self-defense. Therefore, the 4510 became the Judge.

Let’s face it, Judge is a much cooler name than 4510, and I think that it clearly worked for Taurus. I had never heard of the 4510, but I had heard of the Judge, and honestly, in 2010, I didn’t know much about guns, and I wanted one. Even with The Judge printed in comic sans across the barrel. In the Shooting Times of 2009, Taurus reported the Judge was their top-selling firearm. 

The Taurus Judge avoids being an AOW or short-barreled shotgun by rifling the barrel. (except in California, where it is a short-barreled shotgun.) The gun can fire .45 Colt loads to take advantage of the rifling. That rifling is shallower than normal and is supposed to help with shotshell dispersion. 

The Judge has grown into a full line of firearms, and in 2023 they released the latest model, the Taurus Judge Executive. 

Taurus Judge Features

Taurus Judge Features
1 Rubber Grips
2 Sing Action/Double Action design
3 2.5 to 3-inch Cylinder
4 High Visibility Front Sight

Models and Variations of the Taurus Judge

The Judge comes in several configurations. There are some with longer barrels and some that are black oxide finishes. They also have a polymer framed version.

Taurus Judge –  Our Take

Taurus Judge Hero

The Judge is a big gun. Its size is somewhat obnoxious, and that’s okay because who doesn’t like a big, ridiculous revolver? This is never a gun you would carry concealed. The Judge packs a compact frame, but that’s the only thing compact about it. I had a good dose of .45 Colt and .410 and hit the range running. The first question most have when they see a huge handgun that fires shotshells is about recoil. 

Recoil will depend on your shotshell fired, with birdshot and buckshot handling a good bit different. The heavy loads of Federal Handgun Buckshot delivered a dose of stiff recoil. It’s akin to a .357 Magnum at most. The birdshot loads are like shooting a .38 Special from a lightweight revolver. It’s mild but noticeable. Rounds like the Winchester .410 PDX deliver a bit more sting with their disk shape pellets moving fast. 

When shooting .45 Colt, the gun has some buck to it, but honestly, the .45 Colt is no magnum, and the 29 ounces of Taurus Judge absorbs that recoil nicely. The rubber grips from Taurus help absorb some of the recoil and keep things soft and easy to handle. 

Shooting Straight

Taurus Judge Front Sight
Taurus Judge Fiber Optic Front Sight

How does that rifling work with the various loads? Honestly, it’s a compromise that doesn’t do shotshells or .45 Colt any favors. I can put a .45 Colt round into a 10-inch gong at 25 yards, but that group is huge and unpredictable. The light rifling doesn’t engage the .45 Colt rounds very well, and the projectiles have to jump a long way through the 2.5-inch cylinder. The .410 loads tend to disperse in unpredictable patterns. Most seem to get thrown low and right. 

I even rested the gun to make sure it wasn’t my flinch causing it to fail. The gun just consistently patterns buckshot to the low right. Birdshot goes everywhere, but the effective range seems to end about three feet from the barrel. The Federal handgun loads patterned much more predictably and admittedly did better at longer ranges, but still not great. 

The Winchester PDX loads with circular plates seem to work the best for self-defense purposes. They patterned consistently and tightly at your point of aim within 10 yards. This is the only shotgun load I’d likely use if they forced me to use this gun for defensive use. While I can hit a target with the Judge, it’s not a very accurate gun by modern standards. 

Handling Things

Taurus Judge Grip
Taurus Judge Rubber Grip

The Judge has some fairly sensible ergonomics. The ribber grips provide a nice cushion and a good grip texture. However, the fundamental problem I have is that the grips are a little too short for my hands. It’s a compact frame revolver, so I get it, but the Judge is not a compact revolver, so go bigger with the grips. 

The gun is quite heavy, and the weight is all forward of the gun. It’s off balance, but not exactly a bad thing by any means. The Judge is fairly plain as a revolver, and you won’t have any issues handling the little gun. 

On the price front, the Judge is fairly affordable. Different models have different cost points, but I can find the base model Judge for less than 500 dollars. 

What About Reliability?

Taurus Judge Cylinder Broken Lock
Taurus Judge Cylinder Broken Lock

What about reliability? That matters a lot., right? Well, I got bad news. I shot 50 rounds of .45 Colt and about 150 rounds of various .410. Birdshot was what I shot mostly, but also a box of slugs, the Federal Handgun buckshot loads, and ten rounds of the Winchester PDX loads. I had about two hundred rounds through the gun when the cylinder just popped open and wouldn’t lock back into place. 

The cylinder lock on the Judge was broken. You can see the clear chip in the lock. The gun is now unusable. Back to Taurus, it goes. 

Taurus Judge Pros and Cons 

  • Fun To Shoot
  • Affordable
  • Inaccurate
  • Unreliable

Report Card

Shootability

Most loads offer a bit of recoil, but honestly, it’s never painful. The gun doesn’t hurt your hand, and the trigger is fairly nice for the budget price.

B
Reliability

In less than 500 rounds, the gun broke. That puts it at the bottom barrel of reliability to me.

F
Ergonomics

The gun is heavy but easy to use, and the rubber grips might be short but help absorb recoil.

B
Accuracy

The shallow rifling and long cylinder make it tough to get tight groups with .45 Colt, and outside of one load of shot, the buckshot tends to pattern shortly.

D
Value

At less than 500 dollars, it’s a fairly affordable firearm, especially in the revolver world.

B
Taurus Judge Final Grade

Our Grade

C

Reviewed by Travis Pike

Reader’s Grade

B+

Based on 3 Reviews

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Taurus Judge Starter Pack

These three items are must haves for all firearms owners.

Taurus Judge Gun Deals

Upgrades and Accessories for the Taurus Judge

For handguns we always recommend a good holster. The leather holster fits the wheel gun aesthetic.

We also have two different replacement grips. One comes with a laser!

Upgrades and Accessories for the Taurus Judge

DeSantis Speed Scabbard Leather OWB Belt Holster
  • Leather
  • Belt slots are 1.75in wide
  • Level I Retention
Check Amazon Price
Crimson Trace Lasergrip for Taurus Judge
  • Rubber Overmold Grip
  • Front Activation Pressure Switch
  • Master On/Off Switch
  • Precise Windage and Elevation Adjustments
Check Price
Hogue 73000 Tracker and Judge Rubber Monogrip
  • Cobblestone texture provides an efficient non-slip, non-irritating stippling pattern
Check Amazon Price

Best Ammo for Your Taurus Judge

The neat thing about the Judge is that it shoots both 410 and 45 ACP. I am not sure it shoots either very well, but it does shoot them.

410

Hornady 410 Triple Defense

Hornady 410 Triple Defense

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
gun.deals $1.00
Natchez $1.05
Optics Planet $1.35

45 ACP

Speer Gold Dot 5.7x28mm Ammo 40gr HP 50 Rounds

Hornady Critical Defense 45 ACP 185 Grain FTX

Marketplace
Cost Per Round
gun.deals $1.05
Target Sports USA $1.25
Primary Arms $1.43

Other Revolvers of its Class to Check Out

Well, the Judge did not get the highest scores here at Gun University. If you want to see our favorite revolvers, read this article on our favorites. Spoiler alert, here is our favorite beginner wheel gun.

Ruger SP101

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Reader’s Grade

TBD

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How to Care for Your Taurus Judge

Cleaning your judge is like any other revolver. Here is a short video showing you how to clean a Judge.

Check out the links below for the manufacturer’s website and operator’s manual along with a video review from Military Arms Channel.

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About Travis Pike

Travis is a former United States Marine Corps Infantryman and currently a firearms writer, instructor, and works in Emergency Management.

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