The Taurus Judge Home Defender: This Bull Has Horns

Taurus Judge Home Defender revolver handgun


I’m not really partial to .410 revolvers. It’s not necessarily the gun, but the user base seems to annoy me more than anything else. I actually think the guns are fun novelties, but in terms of overall effectiveness, they top out with .45 Colt.

The .410 aspect is more of a novelty. The Taurus Judge was quite the seller, and it reinvigorated interest in .410. Taurus seems to want lightning to strike twice by releasing the Taurus Judge Home Defender edition.

The folks at Taurus were kind enough to send me one to test. I was skeptical, but intrigued. The Home Defender takes the Judge revolver and stretches it. Taurus kindof tied a Judge between two racehorses and said, go. The end result is a 13-inch barrel on the Judge frame. It’s that barrel that ties it all together for me. The 2- to 3-inch and occasionally 6-inch barrels on previous Judge models weren’t for me.

Taurus Judge Home Defender revolver handgun
Shotguns need side saddles, right?

Shotguns don’t have the same velocity issues rifles do with increasingly short barrels, but you certainly need more than three inches, and six inches isn’t much better. But when we stretch the barrel out to 13 inches, we get close to the length that’s commonly used with tactical entry shotguns.

The extra barrel length of the Judge Home Defender oomphs velocity, which makes it easier for rounds to penetrate deeper into an attacker. The overall length of the gun is 19.5 inches, and the weapon weighs 58.6 ounces. That extra barrel length sold me on the idea, but that wasn’t all Taurus has done to make the Home Defender compelling.

My Taurus Judge Home Defender

Sitting directly behind that 13-inch barrel is a five-shot cylinder that accommodates 3-inch shells. A .410 bore round is a thin little round, and there isn’t a lot of room for extra shot. For buckshot, the three-inch shells pack five pellets of 000 buckshot, which is a decent payload and about as good as you’re gonna get with a .410 round. With a tube-fed shotgun, loading it with 3-inch shells reduces capacity by a round, but that’s not a problem with cylinders.

Taurus Judge Home Defender revolver handgun
A light is a must-have for a home defense weapon.

The Home Defender also features a long forend. At the end is a healthy section of Picatinny rail. I’ve attached a Streamlight TL RM1 to the gun. You’ll notice the business end of the barrel lacks a front sight. The back of the gun lacks a rear sight, but is equipped with a section of rail across the top. A red dot is the obvious choice here, and I used the Vortex Defender-CCW.

Taurus Judge Home Defender revolver handgun
Your red dot doesn’t have to be small, but pistol-sized red dot work well.

You aren’t limited to a pistol-sized optic. No reciprocating slide means you can use as big a red dot as you like. Toss on a full-sized EOTech, Holosun, or Aimpoint if you want. The Judge Home Defender isn’t made for concealment. However, a small red dot left me extra room on the rail…enough room for a side saddle. It’s a Monstrum side saddle. It’s designed for .243 and .308 center fire rounds but fits .410 really well.

The Ergonomics of the Home Defender

The Taurus Judge Home Defender is really just their Judge revolver scaled up in many ways. Even though it’s almost 20 inches long, I can’t believe it still has that dinky judge grip. I replaced it with the slightly larger ATI Scorpion X2 grip. It’s still small, and I might go even larger. There is a set of shields on either side of the cylinder. This is to aid in reducing blast to your arm when you pull the trigger while holding the forend.

Taurus Judge Home Defender revolver handgun
The shields sit on both sides of the cylinder for extra protection.

While the gun’s heavy, it can be wielded with one hand. It still functions like a traditional double-action trigger. For home defense, this can be a pretty valuable feature. If we compare this to something like the Mossberg Shockwave in .410, the Shockwave requires two hands. The Home Defender can be operated one-handed.

Taurus Judge Home Defender revolver handgun
The Judge Home Defender falls more into the Shockwave category than the revolver realm.

The forend is broad and comfortable to hold, giving you plenty of room to grab and go. Using the forend makes the gun fairly easy to control and initiates a push-pull style method of recoil control like a normal shotgun. With two hands, the gun doesn’t feel heavy and is plenty easy to shoot.

At The Range

The giant handgun has a fearsome look to it, and you’d think shooting a.410 from a handgun would be rough. Obviously, that’s load-dependent.

I warmed up with some birdshot to get a feel for the gun. Buckshot tends to be absurdly expensive and tough to find for the .410. Not impossible, just difficult. The birdshot loads were surprisingly soft and fun to shoot. Blasting a series of clay pigeons laying on the berm was lots o’ fun. It’s silly fun, and that was my original feeling about the Judge.

Taurus Judge Home Defender revolver handgun
The Judge Home Defender is fairly easy to handle.

I then loaded the only buckshot I could get locally. It’s a Winchester Super X three-inch buckshot that tosses five 000 pellets. It’s not a bad load for home defense. In terms of recoil, it was more than the birdshot, but still very controllable and wasn’t a hand-slapper. The pattern was strung horizontally and was contained within the edges of the white portion of an FBI Q Target at ten yards.

Taurus Judge Home Defender revolver handgun
Two rounds fired rapidly resulted in one pellet landing outside the Q…or maybe it was the wad. I’m not sure.

That’s wide for a shotgun, but it’s a ton better than the original Judge. The original would throw buckshot widely and unpredictably, in my experience. The Judge Home Defender produces a consistent horizontal pattern that was tight enough to hit the front side of a bad guy rather well.

Going Fast

I practiced firing two rounds as fast as I could while keeping both rounds on target. I was able to fire both rounds from the low ready at 1.29 seconds at ten yards. One pellet of that batch landed outside of the target area. Control-wise, the gun moves quickly and allows for quick and accurate shots on target. One pellet outside is a little concerning, particularly when using buckshot.

Taurus Judge Home Defender revolver handgun
The .45 Colt worked well, this is a 25 yard group fire off hand

Aside from buckshot, the gun performed better with Hornady Critical Defense .410, which provides a .41 caliber FTX slug and two .35 caliber balls. That was the tightest patterning load i tested. It’s also very light recoiling and makes those quick follow-up shots quite easy.

Taurus Judge Home Defender revolver handgun
It’s super small so it’s easily maneuverable.


I also tried the Winchester PDX load. The disk performed really well, but the 12 BBs behind it covered the entire target. I’d eliminate the BBs entirely and keep the disks. I even tried some BB loads for the .410, and it was also patterned loosely.

What About .45 Colt?

I loaded a few rounds of .45 Colt into the Home Defender and tested the gun at twenty-five yards. I fired three rounds off-hand and measured for accuracy. All three shots landed on the head of the FBI Q Target quite nicely. Not bad for an off-hand group at 25 yards. This makes a great slug load for longer-range applications. Plus, no one has ever accused .45 Colt of not being a good fighting round.

Taurus Judge Home Defender revolver handgun
.45 Colt delivers a little more recoil

Home Defense Worthy

The Taurus Judge Home Defender fits into a rather odd category of home defense weapons. It’s small and short and very easy to handle. It lacks a stock, but the recoil isn’t intense enough to need one. It only holds five rounds, but that’s potentially 25 pellets with the right ammo. It’s easy to shoot and easy to handle.

Am I sold on the Home Defender over a standard 12-gauge shotgun? No, not in my home. However, my situation isn’t the same as everyone’s. There is certainly the potential for the Home Defender to be quite useful in very small rooms and homes. It’s great for an RV. Additionally, it’s fairly versatile and could be a good working gun. If you want an around-the-home gun that can deal with everything from snakes to thugs to bears, then the Home Defender has you covered.

This is the only Judge I’d use for home defense, and it’s surprisingly well thought out. It packs .410 power in a slightly shorter-than-Shockwave footprint.


Caliber: .410/.45 Colt
Capacity: 5 rounds
Action: DA/SA
Barrel Length: 13.0 inches
Overall Length: 19.5 inches
Weight: 58.6 ounces
MSRP: $757.99


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