Federal Brings Back .410 Handgun Loads

In my recent test of the Judge Home Defender, I lamented the fact that Federal had seemingly discontinued their .410 handgun line of ammo. I had a few of the old shells lying around, and in testing, it proved to provide the tightest pattern possible with the Judge Home Defender. A month later, I’m in a gun store, and what do I see? A box of Federal .410 handgun, but not just an old box left over from yesteryear. The box bears the modern graphic design and styling of modern Federal ammo. 

Breaking Down The New Federal .410 Handgun Ammo 

I bought a box or two, or well, most of it the shop had. From there, I peeped at Federal’s website and found the four loads of the new .410 handgun lineup. The loads include both 2.5 and 3-inch shells and come in both No. 4 shot, No. 4 buckshot, and 000 buckshot. 

The 2.5-inch No. 4 Shot load holds 59 pellets, and I don’t see this as a capable self-defense round against two-legged vermin. Against snakes and other small critters? Sure, but don’t use any birdshot load for real self-defense. 

The No. 4 Buckshot load is a 3-inch option that holds nine pellets of buckshot. This load is okay, but Number 4 buckshot isn’t always a reliable penetrator. Sometimes it goes deep enough, but sometimes it absolutely sucks. For pests or wild dogs and coyotes, it’s fine, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. 

The final two loads are 000 buckshot options with both a 2.5 and 3-inch option. The 2.5-inch option gives you four pellets, and the 3-inch option gives you five pellets. The load reportedly moves at 775 feet per second. This is the load I would use in my Judge Home Defender and was the only load available at this gun store. 

To The Range 

I grabbed the Home Defender, which has been growing on me more and more, and grabbed a couple of targets to pattern the load. I dropped the five shells in and patterned the load at ten yards. You can color me impressed. The five pellets were patterned into a group the size of my palm. Every single round fired patterned into that predictably sized group. 

Out of the fifteen yards, the pattern remained locked into a target’s head. At 20 yards, the rounds remained in the torso of an FBI Q target. It’s not a bad pattern at all. The pattern centered on my optic’s zero without any issues and remained consistent with its point of impact. 

Each press of the trigger throws five .35 caliber rounds, equivalent to five 9mm rounds fired at once. For such a small and handy little gun, that’s quite a lot of lead for one pull of the trigger. The recoil was stouter than most other buckshot loads, but it’s still just a.410. It’s controllable, and placing two shots on target in under two seconds is easy enough. Two quick presses, and you’ve put a 1911’s worth of 9mm on target. 

The .410 handgun load does throw some gas out the sides of the Home Defender. It’s more than most buckshot loads, but still not enough to be painful. It’s enough to be noticeable. Not a big deal. I was happy to report that they extracted and ejected with ease. Some .410 loads aren’t designed for a revolver cylinder, so they swell and make ejection difficult. That’s not an issue with the Federal .410 handgun load. 

The Right Load 

If I were to turn my Judge Home Defender into my home defense weapon, they would be loaded with the Federal .410 handgun rounds. They offer a lot of firepower, low recoil, easy ejection, and great patterns. There isn’t a lot to dislike. The .410 handgun lineup is back and perfect for the Home Defender. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.