Gun Review – Taurus Judge Public Defender Polymer Gun Review
Big guns have been around for a longtime. And for just as long guys have been working to get those big bangs into smaller packages. A few years ago when Taurus introduced “The Judge” which had a 2.5″ cylinder capable of wrangling both the 45 Long Colt and the 410 shotshell with ease many of us freaked out with excitement and it’s release quickly resulted in Taurus’s top selling firearm. This isn’t the first instance of a shotshell being put into a handheld platform, but it was the most modern and well thought out design to date. The Judge made it possible for it’s handler to unleash 20 pellets of 000 Buck Shot (.32 cal diameter each) traveling at 850 fps in just 5 pulls of the trigger. While many parties claim that 5 shots firepower capacity is too limited, many others would argue in token that you’re getting 4x what you bargain for at basically 4 bullets per shot. And take into account the expanding pattern you get from the Judge’s rifled barrel (which is what makes this legal) it gives the handler more firepower than ever before while attaining sufficient accuracy through a “point and shoot” mentality. All of this proves even MORE effective when taking into consideration the “Magnum” version of the Judge which sports a 3 inch cylinder. adding another 1/8th ounce of shot or one more pellet of 000 buckshot.
With many subsequent models having been introduced since the original was released in 2006, the one we picked up for today’s gun review is Taurus’s new Judge Public Defender Polymer model. The polymer version is an extension of last year’s release of the more “concealable” (which is a very relative term with this gun) Public Defender. The original stainless public defender model was essentially the now popular Judge on a small frame revolver rather than a medium frame. This reduces weight, and created sort of a “snubby” style version of this gun. I should also add that with these changes we also saw a less substantial grip size which most closely resembles that of a Taurus model 85 “snubby” in 38 special (should have done a gun review on these before I sold them all off for HoG!). Most Judge’s are very smooth shooting even with heavy loads, and we were especially surprised to find out that this was the case with the Polymer version even though one would thing that with the reduced weight and the smaller grip it would make it more of a handful. It is without a doubt something you need to pay close attention and hold on to but thanks to Taurus’s patented “ribber grip” technology, it makes a simple task of maintaining a firm grip while firing off an entire cylinder of rounds.
Ironically, especially the writer of this gun review, one would think that a polymer version of a gun in the same size would weigh substantially less than that of the stainless and blue models. But this isn’t the case in our gun review of the Taurus Judge PD Poly. The Stainless model (all stainless, not the Poly with the stainless cylinder) weighs in at approximately 28.2 ounces empty, and the Poly comes in at a stout 27 oz even. Since there are no drastic differences in weight, the other selling point it seems we would have to lean on is the rigidity and durability of high density polymer. It’s rarely ugly, it flexes and absorbs recoil like a champ, and is very resistant to scratches and marring. Another benefit to having a solid polymer frame on a revolver like this are the round and melded edges. You will be hard pressed to find a “sharp” edge (outside of the fluorescent front sight post and hammer spur) to snag on clothing or poke you in an unwelcome place, and the cylinder release is cleverly tucked into the curves of the rear frame which I’ll also add located on the left side where the right handed shooters thumb would be.
Sidenote: This isn’t an overtly ambidextrous gun, but it’s also not the type of defense piece we expect the user to have to reload after emptying where the left hand/right hand issue would be a problem. You would have better luck using it as a club than you would trying to get 5 more shots in it.
Finally, Polymer isn’t as cold and unfriendly as steel, and while it may only be a difference of 1.2 ounces in weight, that weight feels a little more balanced and evenly distributed (the stainless model felt front heavy) resulting in an overall lighter “feel.”
Accuracy tests revealed moderate but not exceptional accuracy from the 45 Long Colt we tested at 20 feet, and buckshot groups with the Federal Premium 410 shot shells yielded basketball to beach ball sized groups at 15 feet. This is to be expected considering the extra shallow rifling this gun is equipped with. When done in such a way, it makes it easier for the buckshot or #4 or other to make it down the barrel without adding much rotation to it. However, the downside is that there is less stabilization for slugs and bullets reducing their overall accuracy. If ever there was a close quarters handgun this is it. Quantity and firepower over precision all day.
In our video we tested numerous distances, all of which resulted in a ragged hole center punched in our Alien Target (AlienTargets.net) from VersaTac, Inc. While the Judge PD Poly is fully capable of handling 45 Colt with ease, it’s fair to assess that most people buying this gun for personal defense would do so for it’s ability to “spray and pray” multiple shots with just a few squeezes of the trigger. Oh, and speaking of the trigger. Like most Taurus guns we’ve reviewed and shot AND owned the trigger is often the exception. It’s not that it’s a bad trigger at all. Its not. The caveat is how long and heavy the double action pull is. When cocked and fired in single action the pull is very crisp, light and with a solid wall aiding much in accuracy. BUT just as most of Taurus’s DA/SA snubbies have long and heavy Double Action triggers, this one is no exception. We highly suggest either lots of trigger time practicing getting the forearm and hand strength up so fast shots and accuracy come with ease, or get some 410 or 45 LC snap caps and start pulling the trigger on it. You’ll see in the video review when I fired it left handed I had a misfire and my hand got so fatigued I could barely squeeze through to find the dead round again.
Final Sidenote: Reliability wasn’t an issue at all. EXCEPT when we were testing accuracy with the 45 Long Colt which my Dad provided as he participated in this shooting gun review as well. He said the hand loads were older than he even knew and had probably inherited them somewhere along the way in his business (http://tc4.me). Also providing some misfires was some el cheapo Winchester #6 shot 410 loads we used for patterning purposes. The Federal Premium 410 Buckshot performed flawlessly through all of our testing.