When the Judge came out, I was a young Marine barely old enough to purchase a handgun. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. It’s a handheld shotgun! In reality, I was a bit disappointed with the .410 firing prowess, so it became a .45 Colt gun, but that was pretty pricey to feed. Now, more than a decade later, the Taurus Judge Home Defender has made its premiere. Taurus took the Judge and stretched it out. The 3-inch barrel is now 13 inches, and the gun comes standard with a 3-inch cylinder. Up front, the gun has a big beefy handguard.
We get something that does seem more akin to a home defense gun. The question we are asking today revolves around answering a simple question. Is the Judge Home Defender a capable home defense weapon? This isn’t a full review of the gun, but with the experience of a couple hundred rounds, I wanted to answer at least this one question. We’ll start from front to rear and inside out to answer it.
The Judge Home Defender – Sights and Lights
Up front, we have a big handguard to support the 13-inch barrel and to protect your hands from a potentially hot barrel. It’s also a great place to rest your hand to deal with the front-heavy weight of the weapon. At the end of that handguard sits an integrated Picatinny rail that allows you to mount a nice-sized weapon light. A weapon light is critical for a home defense weapon.
At the end of the barrel, you’ll notice a distinct lack of a front sight, which is fine because there isn’t a rear sight either. Instead, we have a nice long rail across the top of the gun. Mounting a red dot is your sighting solution. You aren’t limited in size when it comes to red dots. Since it’s a revolver, you can mount an Eotech XPS3 if you want to. I went smaller with a Vortex Defender-CCW.
The Judge Home Defender is modern enough to accommodate lights and red dots. Lights are necessary for home defense, and red dots can be handy for the task. The presence of optics and lights is certainly nice for a modern home defense weapon to have, the perhaps hardest and scariest moment of your life made easier.
I don’t think it’s controversial to say that .45 Colt is a proven ‘man-stopper’, as the term goes. It’s been around for well over a hundred years and has raised hell ever since its creation. However, is five rounds of .45 Colt a better option than 17 rounds of 9mm? I don’t think so. The main benefit of this gun would come from firing .410. Specifically, buckshot loads.
When a single trigger pull can launch multiple projectiles, then you get a significant change in what trigger pull does to a target. Multiple projectiles mean multiple wound tracts and a better chance of disabling an attacker with a single shot or fewer shots. You still need to aim a Home Defender, and shotguns in general, but if you flinch or maybe throw your shot a hair, that sin is covered by the spread of a shotshell.
With that in mind, how does .410 buckshot perform in the gun? Sadly, it’s tough to find .410 buckshot. I guess hunting season ate it up. Remington makes a great 3-inch load, but I couldn’t get my hands on it. I tried Winchester Super X in 2.5 and 3-inch varieties. The rounds patterned wide, but at 15 yards they all remained well within the Q of an FBI Q target. These loads will penetrate deep enough to matter.
Next, I tried the Hornady Triple Defense. It paks a .41 caliber slug and two .35 caliber buckshot balls. This was the best patterning load. In the past, this round has suffered from poor penetration from a standard Judge with a three-inch barrel. However, the 13-inch barrel allows it to reach proper velocities and dig into with more than adequate penetration.
With .45 Colt, I produced a fifty-cent-sized group at 25 yards, so for a longer range, it’s an option. I will still defer to the preference of buckshot.
Yay or Neigh For Home Defense
Is the Judge Home Defender capable of being a useful home defense tool? Yes. It will stop a threat firing effective HD rounds. What does it offer compared to all the other options? Well, it is very small and very easy to control. It can be fired one-handed if necessary but also fires buckshot versus a single pistol round. It’s a bit more akin to a scaled down Shockwave than a pistol. You don’t have to pump it like a Bantam/Youth 500 in the same chambering.
It’s a niche tool, but even a niche tool can be an effective tool. If you want something that can handle like a handgun than shotgun but launch multiple projectiles per trigger pull, the Judge Home Defender might be for you. Plus, admittedly, it’s a lot of fun to shoot!