The .410 cartridge has always been one of the favorite rounds of small-game hunters, especially for rabbits, squirrels and grouse.
In my rabbit hunting gang, both for cottontail and snowshoe, four out of the six of us who hunt at least two days per week in the winter carry a .410 long gun. Although my primary rabbit shotgun is a 20-gauge Beretta over/under, on occasion I carry my .410 double-barrel loaded with No. 4 shot for snowshoe rabbits. But this gun has since been replaced with a new Taurus .410/45 Colt five-shot revolver called The Judge.
The Judge will shoot both a 21⁄2-inch, .410 shot shell and a 45 Colt. The Judge comes in several different barrel lengths, but I have chosen a three-inch model in stainless steel with soft rubber grips that weighs 34 ounces. According to the manufacturer’s Web site, the revolver’s name is based on the fact that several Miami judges carry it into their courtrooms under their robes. In terms of personal protection, this gun, shooting .410 ammunition or 45 Colt, is a formidable self-defense weapon.
At the range, I found the Judge performed much better than I expected, in terms of patterning which I believe is enhanced by the fact that the barreling of this gun is rifled. The rifling makes the .410 loads shot spin when it exits the barrel, resulting in a more accurate and wider shot pattern.
But it can also be a very exciting and fun handgun to take afield for small and some bigger game. That’s why I ordered the Judge as soon as it became available.
I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I went to the gun range with the Judge. I remember watching the video on the Taurus Web site, showing what this handgun could do as a self-defense weapon. It was truly awesome, but my intent was hunting.
The ammunition I chose for the test and field was Winchester Super X and included 21⁄2-inch high-brass game loads with one-half ounces of No. 4 and 6 shot and a velocity of 1,245 feet per second; the rifled one-fifth-ounce HP slugs with a velocity of 1,830 feet per second and energy of 651 foot pounds and the 000 buckshot packed with three .36-caliber lead pellets. And last to be tested was the Super X 45 Colt 225-grain Silvertip HP with a velocity of 920 feet per second and 423 foot pounds of force.
From a bench rest position, shooting at about 10 yards at a
12-inch Shoot-N-C target, the pattern consistency with both the
No. 4 and 6 shot loads convinced me that any small game animal that got within that range might be destined for a rabbit stew or grouse barbeque. Similarly, the 000 buckshot could be quite a surprise for a predator like a coyote who’s curiosity brought him too close.
As for the slugs and the 45 Colt, at 15-20 yards, they actually hit where I aimed when sighted along the top of the grooved barrel and large fiber-optic front sight. Three-shot group sizes ranged from 23⁄4 inches to the best of 11⁄4 inches. However, the tighter group was attained shooting at the Shoot-N-C target at just about 15 yards. At that distance, I was able to acquire a better and clearer sight picture which I am sure added to the shot placement accuracy. In any case, I would not hesitate to squeeze off a 45 Colt round at a whitetail that wandered within that range of my ground blind or tree stand.
With the confidence I gained at the range, I headed to a recently cut cornfield, where I knew I would find squirrels. Set up in a group of scrub pines less than 10 yards from the field, I didn’t have to wait long. The bushy-tail critter actually came in from behind me and let me know he was there with his chattering, scolding alarm. He mistakenly ran only a few feet up an oak tree, then decided to peek around to see if I was still there. The Judge then collected its first squirrel. Two more times that day, similar scenarios resulted in two more squirrels for the stew.
I won’t be carrying my Judge under my robe, but I’ll have it on my hip during future rabbit and boar hunts in New York and in Texas for turkey and javelina hunts next month. And speaking of carrying the Judge in Texas, I thought it would be proper attire if I carried it in a Texas-style holster. Through the Internet, I found a leather handcrafting artist, Gail Taylor in San Antonio whose company, Very Texas, designed a felt-lined leather holster and belt with 12 bullet loops that hold six rounds of 45 Colt and six .410 rounds. Check it out at www.verytexas.com.
My conclusion on the Judge as a hunting handgun is that if you stay within the range of 10-15 yards with the shotshells and 000 buck shot and perhaps 20 yards with the slugs and 45 Colt bullets, you’ll thoroughly enjoy your hunt. I’ve always found the challenge of getting close to the game is more than half the enjoyment and satisfaction. You be the Judge. And if you would like to view a brief film clip of the Judge in action, go to www.taurususa.com.
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