A Practical Argument for the .410 Revolver

The .410 revolver might not seem the most practical gun, but it’s plenty versatile.

A Practical Argument for the .410 Revolver

I had just finished a dove hunt with two of my young sons in southwest Oklahoma when my brother’s best friend came driving up to where we were loading our gear and packing away our shotguns. “Wanna see my new gun?” he asked.

Of course, my 8- and 10-year-old boys were quick to reply in the affirmative. After all, if you’re that age and growing up in a gun-loving family, there’s hardly any new gun you wouldn’t want to see!

What Brent pulled out of his car, however, was quite a surprise. It was a heavyweight revolver with an extra-long cylinder that Brent explained shot .410 shotshells. “It’s called the Taurus Judge,” he explained. I immediately thought to myself, “Yeah, judge, jury and executioner if my kids try to shoot that thing without a good, solid grip on it.”

Needless to say, we all shot it a time or two, and were each a little rattled by the percussion. Additionally, our ears were none the better for the experience. As Brent drove away, I told the boys, “That’ll never catch on. There’s just not a whole lot of uses for a .410 revolver.”

Boy, was I wrong! Turns out the Judge was chambered for .410 shotshells and .45 Colt, a longtime pistol and rifle caliber that has enjoyed decades of popularity. And over the subsequent years a number of different versions of the Judge have been launched, while at the same time other manufacturers introduced their own versions of revolvers chambered for .410/.45 Colt.

Since the advent of these guns, ammo companies have jumped in to help the revolvers’ popularity by introducing .410 self-defense loads for those choosing to keep the guns for protection. From practically no loads fitting that category 20 years ago, now nearly every major ammunition company has an offering or two.

Multi-Purpose Solution

My initial thought that there wasn’t much use for such a gun is still held by many who don’t own one. However, those who have chosen to purchase and use these revolvers are just as adamant about why everyone needs one!

As a “snake gun,” there’s no doubt a revolver loaded with .410 ammo is a good way to dispatch unwanted serpents when fishing, training dogs or participating in a number of other outdoor activities. These revolvers also make great “truck guns,” as they’re tough, not particularly expensive, very safe and can bump around in your console on backroads without much damage. Loaded with either .410 or .45 Colt, they could make a difference if you get in a bad situation while on the road.

Others have chosen to use these revolvers as their everyday carry guns, and some models are small enough and light enough to do so comfortably. Consequently, several holster companies make models to fit them for those who choose to carry them on their person. They also make good “nightstand guns,” kept near the bed for when things go bump in the night.

Additionally, many enjoy the guns simply for taking to the range and being able to shoot targets with a couple of different types of ammo. The novelty of these revolvers makes it likely whoever you go shooting with will want to put a few rounds through your .410/.45.

Still others see these guns as integral additions to a bugout bag. Being able to use two different types of ammunition could make it suitable for everything from self-defense to killing both small and large game if food becomes scarce.  

That said, let’s take a look at some of the .410 revolvers on the market today, and why it might behoove you to keep a few in stock for your customers’ consideration.

Taurus Judge

Since Taurus launched the Judge way back in 2006, the platform has managed to hold its popularity as the entire handgun scene has changed. “Wonder 9s” with frames made of polymer came along, then more recently we entered the era of sub-compact semi-autos with high-capacity magazines that can fit in your pocket. Still, the Taurus Judge lives on.

In all the Judge has been offered in about a dozen different varieties. The original Judge had a matte black oxide finish, a ribbed grip and featured a 3-inch barrel. Overall length was 9.5 inches, and weight was 29 ounces empty. The cylinder on this DA/SA revolver holds five 2.5-inch .410 shotshells or .45 Colt rounds, or a combination of both. Later iterations of the base Judge feature an identical revolver with a matte stainless finish, along with two longer versions sporting 6.5-inch barrels — one in black, the other in stainless. The guns have a U-groove rear sight and front sight with fiber-optic insert for getting on target quickly.

The Judge Magnum also comes in a couple of different versions. They are very similar to the original judge, except the cylinder is elongated to accept a 3-inch .410 shell, giving them a little more punch. A 3-inch-barreled version comes in both black and matte stainless, as does the model with a 6.5-inch barrel. All weigh slightly more than the original judge.

Next comes the Judge Public Defender, available in four models. This revolver features a shorter 2-inch barrel on both the black and matte stainless iterations, along with a more ergonomic grip that is shorter and easier to conceal. A polymer version, the Judge Public Defender Poly, is made with a polymer frame for those looking for an even lighter revolver. Like the steel-framed version, it features a 2-inch barrel and comes in black or matte stainless.

The Raging Judge is a unique pistol with several additional features not found on most of the other models. This heavy-duty Judge ups the ante with the capability to shoot .454 Casull rounds. It also features 20% more firepower with its six-shot cylinder, compared to the five-shot cylinders of the previously mentioned iterations. The Raging Judge is available in barrel lengths of 3 and 6.5 inches, with the 6.5-inch version having a cool-looking vent rib running the length of the barrel. Both also feature Taurus’ famous red Raging Bull backstraps for added cushioning.

When it comes to the Judge, however, Taurus saved the best for last. This year Taurus introduced the new Executive Judge, a high-end model for those who want a top-of-the-line combo revolver. Even those who don’t care much for .410 revolvers will have to admit that the Executive Judge is a fine piece of machinery.

Each Executive Judge is assembled by hand by a highly trained gunsmith in a separate room from where the other models are assembled to ensure perfect fit and finish. The revolver is built from stainless steel and polished to a beautiful satin finish. The presentation-grade wood grips help make the gun look like a million bucks. 

The Executive model comes in a nice Pelican Vault case with a classy envelope to hold the paperwork inside. The 9.5-inch overall gun has a 3-inch barrel, and the front site has a brass-rod insert.

Gunsmiths also reworked and tuned the action, making this model easier to shoot accurately than previous models. With an MSRP of $950, the Executive Judge won’t be a good fit for all of your customers. But for those who want a top-quality versatile revolver, this might just be the perfect Judge.

Smith & Wesson Governor 

It didn’t take long for other companies to catch on to the fact that the Judge’s initial popularity wasn’t waning anytime soon. In 2011, Smith & Wesson hopped into the fray with the S&W Governor. What Smith & Wesson offered at the time was what the company considered an upgraded version of the Judge.

While also a SA/DA action, the Governor boasts a six-round cylinder rather than five, giving it one round more capacity than the original Judge. Built with a Scandium frame, the Governor is strong with a little less overall weight than a comparable steel revolver. The barrel is 2.75 inches, and overall length is 8.5 inches, making it an inch shorter than the original Judge. With a u-channel rear, the gun wears a front night sight. The black synthetic grips contrast nicely with the silver finish and have finger grooves to ensure a good grasp when firing.

Of course, it is also chambered for 2.5-inch .410 shotshells and .45 Colt cartridges. But as an added bonus, the Governor also shoots .45 ACP ammo, giving it a little extra versatility. The Smith & Wesson Governor is available in two different models — one with a silver finish, the other finished in black. It carries a higher MSRP than most standard Taurus Judges, falling nearer to the Executive Judge.  

Magnum Research BFR

The Taurus Judge and S&W Governor are likely the only two .410/.45 Colt revolvers your customers are acquainted with. That doesn’t mean the Magnum Research BFR won’t catch their attention when they see it.

First, let’s dispense with the nomenclature. BFR originally stood for Biggest, Finest Revolver, which is a good description of this gun. When Kahr Arms bought Magnum Research in 2010,  they rebranded it the Big Frame Revolver.

Regardless, the BFR is big, and it is fine. Different models are made to fire a variety of large-bore ammunition, ranging from .44 Magnum to .500 Linebaugh. For our purposes, we’ll be talking about the model introduced last year that shoots .410 shotshells and .45 Colt ammo.

This single-action revolver is big, heavy and not one your customers are going to tote around in an IWB holster. It’s available with either a 5.25- or 7.5-inch barrel, with overall lengths of 15 inches and 12.75 inches, respectively. The long-barreled version weighs a whopping 4.5 pounds empty! With black rubber grips and a natural stainless finish, it is indeed a big, fine revolver that will garner attention anywhere you show up with it.

MSRP for this bad boy is about $1,300, and a pearl-handled version comes in at just over $1,500, so the BFR is not for everyone. But for those looking for a big, fine revolver, this certainly fills the bill.

Wrapping It Up

Not every customer who enters your shop over the next couple of months will ask if you have any .410 revolvers around. But some certainly might, and it’s never a bad idea to have the guns your customers are looking for on hand when they’re in the buying mood.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.