Patterning the Judge Home Defender Part 2 – Normal Buckshot

We shot a wallet’s worth of money in the last Home Defender article, and we are doing it one more time. This time, I grabbed the Home Defender and a few boxes of normal .410. By Normal .410, I mean .410, which is designed for smooth-bore shotguns. It’s the common loads of various buckshot options I’ve found cruising around a variety of outdoor stores. I’ve spent anywhere from $1.50 a round to $3 a round. Sadly, this stuff is more expensive than a good 12-gauge buckshot. 

For testing purposes, I patterned each load five times at ten yards. My target is a slightly reduced A-zone IPSC target. The Taurus Home Defender’s rifled barrel tends to play oddly with the patterns of buckshot. From the three-inch barrel,normal buckshot used to create chaos and throw huge, unpredictable patterns. In my opinion, normal buckshot from a Judge was useless. Will that change with the Home Defender? 

Normal Buckshot and the Home Defender 

Winchester Super X – 2.5-Inch – 3 Pellet 000  

This Winchester Super X is one of the most common loads on the market for .410 Buckshot. I was able to find it pretty easily, even at big box stores. Sadly, I also paid close to $3 a round for the stuff. I found both 2.5 and 3-inch varieties. The pattern was over seven inches wide, with two of the three pellets landing outside of our A-zone. That’s not necessarily a great pattern by any means. This wouldn’t be a load I trusted with the Home Defender. 

Winchester Super X – 3-Inch – 5 Pellet 000

The same load as above, but now expanded to 3-inches with two extra pellets. This is the better load overall, with a lot more lead per trigger pull. It also seems to pattern much better as a 3-inch round. The patterns were consistent, and the pellets remained inside the A-zone. There was only a little extra recoil compared to the 2.5-inch load. This is clearly the better load for the Hoem Defender. I’m not sure why it works better, but I’m beginning to think the 3-inch chamber works better with 3-inch buckshot. The pattern was about six inches wide on average. 

Remington Home Defense – 3-Inch – 5 Pellet 000  

One of my all-time favorite .410 home defense loads, is back on the market, and I purchased five boxes as soon as I could. The Remington Home Defense load is packed full of lead, and five 000 pellets is no joke. Four of the five pellets landed within the A zone target and the spread was typically between six and half to seven inches. The pattern typically strung horizontally as you see here. 

They remained almost always on target. The recoil was a little sharper than most but still light enough to shoot fast. Of the standard buckshot loads for the Judge Home Defender, this is my favorite. It gives you a nice bang for your buck and plenty of threat-stopping potential. The pattern isn’t perfect, but it is consistent and fine for home defense ranges.

Aguila .410 Buckshot – 2.5 inch – 4 pellets 00 

This Aguila buckshot load is another one of the more common loads, and it tends to be fairly affordable for 25-round boxes. The rounds delivered a surprisingly nice performance. The 00 pellets are good enough, and you get four of them. They tended to have a flyer, but it was fairly well contained and landed close to the pattern and always within the A zone. Recoil was very low, and the affordability and availability make this a solid load for defensive use. 

Sellier & Bellot Buckshot – 3-Inch – 4 Pellets 00 Buckshot 

Sellier & Bellot was a very basic buckshot load and a cheapish one. It’s going to cost you roughly 75 cents per round on a good day. The load looks fine, a bit basic, but workable. It maintains a pattern within 7 inches or so and remains in the A-zone. There is more vertical stringing than horizontal. It’s not bad for a more budget-friendly buckshot load. The recoil is a little stout but still very controllable. It’s not a terrible choice for the Home Defender. 

American Tactical BB Buckshot – 12 Pellets BB

I bought this stuff cause it was cheap, and it’s about useless in the Judge Home Defender. To be fair, it would be pretty useless for a self-defense load anyway. Still, I had it on hand and wanted to give it a spin. Between three to six of the 12 pellets landed as desired, and the rest was unaccounted for. It’s a garbage load. I don’t see a purpose for this load with the Home Defender or even a standard shotgun. 

Testing Concluded 

I think the 3-inch long shells are the best bang for your money when it comes to normal .410 loads. I’d imagine the gap between the chamber and the barrel creates an issue with 2.5-inch loads. It’s a theory, but there are some holes to poke.  The Aguila load was a nice surprise overall for a 2.5-inch load. I would still prefer a 3-inch load for the extra lead anyway. 

The Judge Home Defender does seem to pattern better than the old 3-inch Judges. The patterns are tighter and a bit more employable for defensive use with the right ammo. I would love to see an 18-inch barrel version with pistol grip, or maybe as long as the barrel needs to be to be a ‘firearm.’ A smooth-bore, .410 revolver would be an interesting option with low recoil, one-handed possible operation, and no reliance on somewhat finicky .410 semi-auto actions. 

The longer barrel on the Home Defender clearly makes a difference. I’m becoming more and more of a fan of the Home Defender the more I use it. It seems a little less silly and more of a viable option for some niche use cases. 

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.