Taurus Judge vs Public Defender: Side by Side Comparison

by Travis Pike

July 10, 2023



The Taurus Judge is a lesson in marketing and branding any company should take note of. The Taurus Judge wasn’t always the Judge. Originally, Taurus called it the 4410. In this mid-2000s period, they were creating a series of snub nose, magnum-powered revolvers, and the 4410 offers a .410 variant to join the .44 Special, .41 Magnum, and .45 Colt models. Later the same year, they introduced the Taurus Judge. 

The Executive Vice President of Taurus learned that judges in Miami were apparently carrying the 4410 under their robes in high-crime areas. Armed with that knowledge, they renamed the gun to the Judge and changed the model number to 4510. A lesson in marketing can be derived here because proper branding can take you far. 

The Taurus Judge became a hit and quickly became one of the highest-selling firearms of that year and several years after. Heck, in 2022, according to Gunbroker data, it was the Number 2 revolver sold in the United States. Anything that is inherently illegal in California is going to be cool, and the Judge might not be a short-barreled shotgun federally, but it is illegal in California. 

Taurus had a golden calf (pun intended) with the Judge and milked it. This created additional Judge models and the offspring of the Judge known as the Public Defender. This led a few people to ask what the difference is between the two. If you’re one of those people, well, you’ve come to the right place. Today we are breaking down the Taurus Judge and Public Defender revolvers so you’ll not only know the difference, but can make a well-informed decision. 

Spec Comparison

Taurus Judge Feature Image

Taurus Judge

  • Final Grade : C
  • MSRP : $619.99
Caliber 45 Colt/410 2.5in
Action DA/SA
Capacity 5
Front Sight Fiber Optic
Rear Sight Fixed
Barrel Length 3.00 in
Weight 29 oz
Frame Stainless Steel
Check Price
Taurus Judge Public Defender Feature Image

Taurus Judge Public Defender

  • MSRP : $569.99
Caliber 45 Colt/410 2.5in
Action DA/SA
Capacity 5
Front Sight Fiber Optic
Rear Sight Fixed
Barrel Length 2.00 in
Weight 28 oz
Frame Stainless Steel
Check Price

What They Have In Common 

Obviously, they have a lot in common. They are both revolvers that chamber .410 and .45 Colt. They are traditional double-action designs and feature the same light rifling that prevents them from being NFA weapons. They are the same gun in many ways. The best way to say it is that every Public Defender is a Taurus Judge, but not every Judge is a Public Defender. 

Taurus Judge Hero

The Main Difference 

The biggest difference between the two is size. The Taurus Judge is the full-sized variant, if you will. The Public Defender is the compact variant that features a shorter barrel and somewhat trimmer frame. They mostly aim the regular Judge at defensive shooting and use it as a woods or property gun. Even the Judge, with a mere three-inch barrel, is 7.5 inches long. 

Using .410 shotshells that are a minimum of 2.5 inches long creates a long cylinder and a long gun. The Public Defender takes steps to make the weapon easier to conceal and aims at that market. The Public Defender barrels are shorter and measure out to 2.5 or 2 inches, dependent on the model. It gets to the point where the cylinder is slightly longer than the barrel. 

While the Judge’s shortest barrel is 3 inches, they do offer models with barrels up to 6.5 inches long. These great big long boys are quite capable and offer a bit more velocity and sight radius. This makes them a bit better wood and outdoor guns, although they are more difficult to carry. 

The Public Defenders are lighter guns, but only by a few ounces. The standard Judge weighs 29 ounces unloaded, and the lightest of the Public Defenders is 27 ounces. 

The main difference might be size, but there are some interesting differences between the two models that go beyond size. 

Upgrades and Accessories for Taurus Judge

Hogue 73000 Tracker and Judge Rubber Monogrip
  • Cobblestone texture provides an efficient non-slip, non-irritating stippling pattern
  • Will not fit Raging Judge or Raging Bull
Buy on Amazon
Comp-Tac Dual Concealment IWB/OWB Holsters
  • Fits 3in barrel model
Check Price

Caliber Differences 

There are a few caliber differences worth noting. The basic calibers of both the Judge and Public Defender are .45 Colt and .410, but that doesn’t tell the complete story. Several of the Judge models of the 4510 offer a 3-inch chamber to hold the longest .410 shotshells. The Public Defender model does not offer any 3-inch chambered variants of the gun. 

Speaking of powerful, the Raging Judge models are capable of chambering the .45 Colt, .410 up to a 3-inch chamber and the very powerful .454 Casull. This is a big step up from .45 Colt and enters the Judge into big and dangerous game categories. 

Notable Differences 

Beyond the caliber and size differences between the two guns, there are some minor differences that are notable and worth mentioning. 

The Public Defender variants come in numerous configurations. Some of those configurations include a bobbed hammer for easier and snag-free carry that renders the gun double action only. 

Public Defender variants also come in a polymer frame configuration known as the Public Defender Poly. The use of polymer reduces some of the weight without reducing any structural integrity. 

Judge users get the newer, larger grips that really fill the hand and are an ergonomic upgrade. Public Defender models get the smaller ribbed grips that attempt to maximize comfort with concealability. 

Oddly enough, the Public Defender models get better iron sights. The metal frame designs get a fixed rear sight, and the Public Defender Polymer models even get an adjustable rear sight. The Raging Judge models get proper sights as well. Sadly, the standard Judges only get a high-visibility front sight. 

That’s an odd design idea. Typically, smaller guns have more limited sights, but Taurus took the opposite route. 

The Taurus Judge series also now has an entry into the Executive Grade series. The company has released the Judge Executive Grade, which represents the best Judge in the market in terms of quality and design. It’s quite a handful of good-looking guns, and the Public Defender hasn’t gotten the same love. 

Long Live the Judge 

It’s surprising how well the Taurus Judge continues to sell. They continue supporting the weapon, and it’s an interesting gun that could be a niche tool for many. For me, I wanted a fun gun, and that’s the best role for the Judge to serve. I have a full review of it here. The Public Defender might be smaller than the Judge, but it’s still quite mighty. 

Hopefully, we’ve dialed in the differences, and you now know the various size, caliber, and notable differences between the two platforms. Do you have any other questions? Please feel to ask below. Do you have a preferred Judge model? Let us know below. 


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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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