Patterning the Judge Home Defender Part 1 – Judge Centric .410

I’ll come out and say I dislike the Taurus Judge. I dislike the .410 from a 3-inch barrel and think it’s just an oversized .45 Colt gun. Purchasing a Judge fresh off my second deployment taught me a lot of things and one was skepticism. I’ve kept that Judge since as a reminder to be skeptical (and because it’s broken and no one buys broken guns.) When Taurus announced the Judge Home Defender, I was skeptical but intrigued. Firing .410 from a 3-inch barrel is silly, but a 13-inch barrel puts it right up there with the Shockwave. I decided to test both Judge centric ammo and standard buckshot. 

Today, we are going to specifically focus on ammunition designed for the Judge series of handguns. 

Loading up the Taurus Judge Home Defender

The world of .410 ammo is a bit tricky. It’s often tough to find, especially when it comes to buckshot. I’ve seen lots of people buying it up and reselling it like it was .22LR in 2012. Over the last few months, I’ve purchased it everywhere I’ve been able to find it, and AmmoToGo provided me with a good dose of what’s available, including the Winchester, Hornady, and two types of Sellier and Bellot ammo. 

With a couple of ammo boxes full of .410, I figured it was high time to pattern the Judge Home Defender and see if it redeemed my opinion on the Judge platform. The Judge was popular enough that the ammo companies began producing Judge-centric .410 ammunition. I’ve gathered a handful of different types of Taurus Judge-centric ammo and took them to the range. 

Every load was patterned at 10 yards from a standing position, and five shots of each were fired with every load but one. I only had four rounds of Federal .410 handgun, and it seems to be out of production. My target is a slightly shrunk IPSC A-Zone. 

Can a 13-inch barrel make a difference? Only one way to find out. 

Throwing Judge Centric Ammo Downrange 

Federal Personal Defense Handgun 410 Handgun – 2.5 inch – 4 Pellet 000 

The Federal Personal Defense Handgun loads performed excellently. This produced a tight pattern that landed dead center in the A-zone. The four pellets are very impressive from a rifled barrel. Sadly, this load seems to be out of production. It would take the top spot if availability wasn’t a concern. The recoil is very mild, and I’d love to know the magic behind the round and why it works so well from a rifled barrel. 

The Federal load was super impressive

Hornady Critical Defense 410 Triple Defense – 2.5 inch-  1 .41 caliber slug – two .35 caliber pellets

This Hornady load is a Judge-centric load that is designed around the rifled barrel of the Judge Home Defender. With this in mind, I assumed it would be a solid load for the Home Defender. I was right, and the pellets and slug grouped well together when patterned. It’s like the Flite control for the Judge Home Defender. 

It’s got very low recoil and fires easily. Not every pattern was this tight, but they were within 2-inches or so. The FTX slug tends to penetrate a little less than desired, but the two .35 caliber pellets tend to penetrate well. 

Winchester PDX Defender Loads – 2.5 Inch – Three Disks – 12 BB Pellets

This is another Judge centric load and one of the original options. It’s as nontraditional as ammunition gets. This 2.5-inch load holds three disks, which engages the rifling, and it’s backed by 12 BBs. This is a load I want to love, but it’s held back by the BBs. The three disks pattern really well, but the BBs are unpredictable and fly everywhere. On my target backing box, I used blue painter’s tape to mark the BB holes I could find. This load has the worst recoil, but it’s still not bad. If Winchester would ditch the BBs, then I’d be a bigger fan of this load. 

Sellier & Bellot Elite Protection – 2.5 Inch – 1 Pellet 000 buckshot – 12 pieces BB Buck 

This Sellier & Bellot load is another load seemingly designed for the Judge. In fact, it even has a revolver cylinder on the box. The load throws a single ball backed by BB buck. It’s like a Rhodesian load for the .410. Sadly, it’s absolutely terrible. The pellet and wad tend to hit the target, but the BBs go everywhere. I included a picture of the second target to show the BB spread far and wide. The recoil was very light, which is nice. 

The pellets went everywhere, except where I wanted them to go.

The Judge Home Defender – Worth It 

The Judge centric ammo still remains a bit of a mess. The Hornady load is fantastic, and the Federal .410 handgun load is also amazing. The Winchester and S&B loads with BBs are a nonstarter for me. It’s a split bag, but the Hornady load seems to be the most common and easiest to find option compared to the other loads on this list and would be my go-to option. 

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.