Magnum Research Inc. Desert Eagle Mark XIX .50 Action Express

Magnum Research Inc. Desert Eagle Mark XIX .50 Action Express
The Desert Eagle’s been a firearms icon for more than 25 years and has more acting credits than most Hollywood celebrities, yet despite its price tag, people continues to purchase them. I don’t feel this is because the Desert Eagle gives you the versatility to fire three calibers from the same frame. It’s because you can own a piece of movie history and being able to fire the most powerful semi-automatic cartridge in the world doesn’t hurt either. But it does offer you the versatility to fire the .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum and .50 Action Express with a change of a few parts. If you purchase the .357 Magnum, upgrading to .44 or .50AE just requires a bolt and caliber specific barrels and magazines. However you feel about the Desert Eagle, it’s here to stay and will remain a legend, Icon and highly desirable.

Mossberg 510 Mini Turkey THUGS

Mossberg 510 Mini Turkey THUGS
Kids shouldn’t be focusing on how heavy and long the shotgun their hunting with is, they should be building memories of a lifetime. Mossberg has put that issue to rest with their 510 Mini Turkey THUGS and 510 All-Purpose pump shotguns. Designed from the ground up as a youth model shotgun, it grows with your son or daughter and allows them to focus on the hunt. Available in 20 gauge and the light recoiling .410 gauge, they will beg you to go shooting. Click on the picture to go strait to the Mossberg 510 page.

The 2014 SHOT Show will unveil new products.

The start of the 2014 SHOT Show and Conference on January 14th will signal the unveiling of the newest outdoor products for the coming year. Everything from firearms to hunting gear will be highlighted and released to the public in this grand event. For me this means new firearms and products to test and review. I look forward to sharing a small sampling of these items with you on my Blog and through the magazines and websites I write for. SHOT reports that this is the largest trade show of its kind in the world and the fifth largest trade show in Las Vegas, the SHOT Show features more than 1,600 exhibitors filling booth space covering 630,000 net square feet. The show, which is a trade-only event, attracts more than 62,000 industry professionals from all 50 states and 100 countries. The Monday before the show starts I will attend “Media Day at the Range.” The firearms industry event allows me and over 1000 members of the shooting press to examine and shoot the latest and greatest products the firearms industry has to offer. Until then look for posts on gear and gadgets I am using in my work and thanks for stopping by and reading my Blog.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Taurus Judge is taking the marketing bull by the horns!

The worst possible place to be with the Judge in hand!
Well nothing I can say or write will dull the fact that the Taurus Judge model of pistols is currently the best selling firearm they have ever had, or the fact that it is such a versatile pistol in that it fires .410 gauge shotgun shells and .45 Long Colts. But since its introduction, it has taken the market by storm and people are taking them home as fast as they can manufacture them. I remember seeing ads for Judge in various gun magazines and thinking, “that’s an interesting concept in a revolver.” The concept of a firearm shooting more than just the round it was designed for is nothing new. The .357 magnum will shot .38 specials; the Smith and Wesson .460XVR (Extreme Velocity Revolver) will shoot three other rounds, the 454 Casull, the .45 Long Colt and the .45 Schofield. There are also pistols that shoot shotgun shells as well, like the Bond Arms derringer, although a revolver that shoots 5 shotgun shells as fast as you can pull the trigger is not something you see everyday and I think that’s what gives the Taurus Judge its edge. Of course having 15 different models is not bad either, the hard part of all of this is deciding which one you will get, but nothing a little soul searching can’t fix.

The Model: 4510-3SSCT 3" Matte Stainless 2 1/2" Chamber Crimson Trace Grip
As you may or may not know, Taurus started as a Brazilian based tool maker in Porto Alegre, Brazil over 60 years ago and the name Taurus comes from the word (Forjas Taurus) meaning “Taurus Forge” In 1941 Taurus manufactured their first handgun, the Model 38101SO which had elements of some other firearm manufacturers of the day. In 1968 Taurus began to move it’s business into the U.S. and in 1974 Berretta had won a huge contract to supply pistols to the Brazilian Army. In the end, decided to sell the whole manufacturing facility to Taurus instead of moving it and this is when the PT-92 and PT-99, 9mm pistols where introduced to the world. 1982 saw more growth within the U.S. market with the company opening its doors in Miami, Florida, but Taurus wasn’t a house old name yet, and not familiar to U.S. shooters. Taurus is the only company who provide their firearms with a lifetime guarantee not the owner, something you don’t see anywhere else. In 1989 Taurus celebrated its 50th anniversary and went on to win the prestigious ISO 9001 designation from the International Organization for Standardization for superior manufacturing and marketing practices.

CTC Grips not only add value, they greatly increase the Judges flexibility
 In 1994 I bought my first Taurus, a PT-99 that gave me many years of service and my wife enjoyed her Taurus PT-58S in .380 auto. Like a lot of active shooters we eventually sold our pistols and bought others, but what really helped our resale value was that amazing warranty. Back then when I showed off my Taurus to friends, most of them didn’t know much about the company, and I must admit I didn’t either. I did know of the contract with Berretta and I loved the clean lines of the PT-99 and I wanted a 9mm that would give me my monies worth and it did just that. I have bought many firearms since then and my gun safe is void of any Taurus guns, but that’s about to change. I am very particular about what I buy and own and I have always wanted a firearm to fit more than one purpose. For instance, I hunt with my military rifles, since they manufacture hunting loads and I reload as well, ammunition is never an issue. Buy a 5 round magazine or modify a military one, get a scope mount designed for that rifle and you’re all set to hunt. Then I don’t have to buy a firearm that has only one purpose, but of coarse everyone is different in this aspect.  

With a simple notched rear sight, the front fiber optic sight is ideal for close range
2008 Shot Show, the Taurus Judge was introduced to the world for the first time, and I think that’s when the stares and head scratching began. When I described the new Judge to friends they were asking me, “It shoots what!” “Are you sure about that?” I reassured them that the information was true to the best of my knowledge, since I didn’t own one at the time. The most common question I received was, “What would you use it for?” My answer was simple as I could make it, “anything you want to shoot under 6 feet.” The Taurus Judge model I have to test is the 4510-3SSCT with a 2.5 inch chamber and has Crimson Trace laser grips installed by Taurus. On first inspection, the revolver looks like any other you may encounter, except for the overly long cylinder, which is what makes the Judge unique to begin with. Fit and finish was what you would expect from a name brand firearm manufacturer like Taurus, and since this model was matte stainless steel it is a good weather resistant finish. The pistol comes with a simple notched rear sight, a red fiber optic front sight and since this pistol is used for short range it is ideal. It also has a key locking system located directly on the hammer, called the Taurus Security System, it allows the user to secure the pistol, both loaded and unloaded. I found the trigger pull to be no problem both in single action or double action, although a senior, young adult or female may have problems with the double action trigger pull. My wife told me the double action was a little stiff, but not unmanageable for her. Since this model comes standard with CTC (Crimson Trace Company) grips it is lacking the well known Taurus rubber ribber grips. You can also find a large selection of holsters for the Judge like Hunter Company, BLACKHAWK and Galco Gun Leather, just to name a few. Not to mention all the holsters available through custom leather shops, just do a simple search to find what you want.

It's the mix of ammo that makes the Taurus Judge so lethal at close range
I am not surprised that Taurus has put it’s faith into Crimson Trace to supply the laser grips. The grip material they use is top notch and their laser units are as well, although I was a little concerned with the placement of the pressure pad on this model. I have rarely encountered a set of grips that hand placement wasn’t instinctive, but these require a bit of getting use to. When I test a new firearm I let others hold and shoot it to get their first reactions and then combine them with others to see what issues come up most. Everyone liked the Judge for the most part and really enjoyed shooting it for the first time, but the pressure pad for the laser was what people noticed most. We asked our contact at Crimson Trace about it and Travis told us this was a concern although it was the best place on that model for the pressure pad to be. So, while a small issue, it will not affect you’re shooting of the Judge, but depending on the individual, may take some getting use too. I personally don’t prefer the Taurus Rubber Ribber Grips supplied with most of their Judge models, but some grip manufacturers may make replacements or will soon.

A sampling of the ammo tested in the Judge for this article
Depending on what model you choose you can get a 2.5 inch or 3 inch chamber, if you get the 3 inch chamber you may also fire the 2.5 inch shells in it as well. Either length chamber will fire any of the .45 Colt ammunition currently on the market, to include shot shells. The choice is which of the .410 gauge shot shells or .45 Colts are you going to shoot out of your Judge, or which combination of both. it’s mind blowing with so many choices. The weight of this model empty was around 34.25 oz and loaded with 5 Rounds of Federals .410 Gauges, 2.5 inch; No# 4 shot Handgun Ammo it weighed in at around 38.05 oz. I then weighed it with 5 Rounds of 185 Grain, .45 Colt Hollow Points for a total weight of around 42.05 oz. Not the lightest gun, but the weight helps soak up some of the recoil of those .410 and .45 Colts, and I found it to still be a very manageable and fun handgun to shoot. My wife said she found the .410 rounds fun to shoot, but did not like the recoil of the .45 Colts at all. Since everyone has a different perception of recoil, what’s comfortable will vary from person to person, and this pistol is one where a firm grip is very helpful.

From left to right: .45 shot capsule, .45 HP, .45 xPloder, .45 LRN, .45 HB
Now like I said earlier, the things that make the Judge what it is could be anything to anyone, but the fact that it shoots so many different types of ammunition is what makes it great. You can custom load your Judge with the .410’s or .45’s that you feel will do the job or a mix of both. I would suggest that if you plan on carrying your Judge for self protection, then you should stick with .45 Colt hollow points from Hornady, Magtech, Gold Dot, Winchester, Buffalo Bore or Blazer, just to name a few. If you decide to carry .410 Gauge shot shells, then I suggest you to carry the new Winchester PDX1 which was designed for the Judge. It is made up of 3 defense discs over 12 plated BB shot and delivers a devastating punch to whatever it hits within 6 feet, this is what the Judge was designed for, close in protection. The PDX1 runs about $12 a box and can be ordered from Midway or other ammunition sellers. If you can’t get the PDX1, 3 ball or 4 ball buck shot will do well, as each ball is about the equivalent of a .32 cal handgun bullet. Slugs will also do for close in work and in a pinch; even shot will be effective at close ranges, but remember, the smaller the number the larger the shot and in this case larger is better.

From left to right: Winchester .410 000B, PDX1, Federal No 4 shot and Remington No 8shot
I prefer a mix of Winchesters PDX1 in the first two chambers and Hornady LEVERevolution 225 Grain Flex Tip eXpanding .45 Colt’s in the last three. If you are in a shooting situation in close quarters like your car, the first two rounds should stop any aggression, but if they don’t, then you have three rounds of .45 Colt to finish the fight and with these rounds you will have some range as well, but this is your choice. For my testing of the Judge I used five types of .410 ammunition and five types of .45 Colt. The five types of .410 gauge shells I used were all for the 2.5 inch chamber. I did not chronograph the shot loads as multiple projectiles tend to give inaccurate readings, but the Winchester slug’s velocity was at 1182 fps:

Winchester PDX1 Personal Defense ammunition with 12 plated BB’s and 3 plated cylinder projectiles
Federal 7/16 oz, No# 4 shot, handgun ammunition
Winchester 000 Buckshot
Remington ½ oz No# 8 shot
Winchester 1/5 oz slugs
The five types of .45 Long Colts I used were chronographed and this is the information for those loads:

Bullet:                                           Powder:                    Velocity:
Custom 125 Grain X Ploders            20 x Green DOT           1529 fps
250 Grain lead                                Winchester factory        797 fps
185 Grain Hollow Points                  12 x Herco                    857 fps
300 Grain cast Hollow Base             7 x Herco                     723 fps
Speer shot capsule, No 6 ½ shot     N/A                              N/A

.410 Gauge slugs at 7 yards / 21 feet

Taurus states that the Judge was designed for ranges of about 6 feet or closer. In order for Taurus to avoid every owner of a judge having to get a short barrel shotgun permit from the ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) they had to have rifling in the barrel. Without rifling it would be considered a short barrel shotgun by the ATF and would be against the law to own without a permit. The problem they found is with normal rifling it tends to spin the shot upon exiting the barrel and would rapidly spread the shot 360 degrees and compounding this problem is a 3 inch barrel. So to overcome this issue, they made the rifling less aggressive so it would spin the .45 Colt to stabilize the bullet, but not spin the shot out of control as soon as it leaves the barrel. But even with this less aggressive rifling it still spreads the shot faster than it would from a .410 shotgun designed to shoot that shot from a longer barrel. With that in mind, you would understand why the 6 foot range restriction is recommended, but I wanted to see if I could squeeze more distance out of the judge without sacrificing accuracy. So I tested the .410 gauge ammunition at 10 feet and in some cases 21 feet, farther than recommended, but closer to the common range for most shooting incidents.

Winchester PDX1 at 7 yards / 21 feet, notice the 3 discs and 12 BB's
I first fired some PDX1, 3 Ball Buck and slugs into a standard B-27 target (see the pictures for reference) I found the patterns to be tight at 6 feet and easily fit into the center of the target. But I wanted to see how far I could push the ammunition and Judge at longer ranges, so I shot my next rounds at 10 feet. Again they were fairly tight and fit easily inside the B-27. I then moved out to 21 feet and fired the same rounds and again were inside the targets outer ring. So I concluded that the Judge has the potential to fire certain types of .410 ammunition past the 6 foot limit with effective results.  All that was left was my No# 4 shoot and No# 8 shot, but prior experience has shown me that anything past 10 feet would result in large ineffective patterns, so I kept the test to 10 feet. The results were positive with all the shot landing within the outer ring. While I believe the patterns are manageable at longer ranges, I believe the stopping power of the shot could be reduced enough to be ineffective past the 21 foot test range. Therefore the 6 foot limit would optimal for stopping power and pattern and 10 feet would still produce very effective results, but in a pinch you could effectively deliver the shot into your target at ranges up to 21 feet.  

Winchesters 000 Buckshot at 7 yards / 21 feet
As the fame of the Judge grows and people recognize it on sight, the psychological impact of possibly being shot with any .410 gauge shoot shell at close range would be devastating. And at close range it is devastating and would be an effective fight stopper unless the attacker was possibly on drugs, enter the .45 Long Colt. The .45 Colt, often referred to as the .45 Long Colt to distinguish it from the short .45 cartridge required by the S&W Schofield revolver, is the oldest service cartridge still in use today. It was introduced in 1873 for the then new Colt SAA (Single Action Army) revolver, or better known as the Colt Peacemaker. The .45 Colt and the Colt SAA revolver are legends, and the most popular handgun/cartridge combination of the old west. The .45 Colt is still very popular with groups like the SASS (Single Action Shooting Society) a group who dresses in period western cloths and shoots mainly lever action rifles, double barrel shotguns and the .45 Colt pistol. They have gatherings of like minded people and shot their firearms in competitions on the ground and from horseback.

The best group at 25 yards with .45 Colt Hollow Base bullets, all rounds were fired free hand
I wanted to again push the Judge to the limits of its supposed capabilities with the .45 Long Colt. I have heard and read that it wouldn’t even hit a target at 25 yards and I knew this was not correct, although, how would it group at 25 yards. One of the first speed bumps the Taurus has encountered is the fact that firing a 2.5 inch .410 shotgun shell requires a longer cylinder or chamber. There has to be enough room for the shotgun shell to be fired and still leave enough room for the fired end to expand once the shot leaves, allowing the cylinder to rotate counter clockwise to index (index means to line up the next round with the barrel for firing) to the next round. This is a simple process, but causes problems for the second type of ammunition it fires, the .45 Colt. Once inserted into the chamber the .45 only goes about an inch and a half into the cylinder that measures a little over 2 and a half inches. The problem this causes is called free bore, or the space in between where the bullet starts and the lands and groves or rifling begins. In a normal pistol the ammunition is designed for that type firearm and in turn the bullet is very close too or touching the lands and grooves or rifling. This is a problem for the judge because the free bore affects accuracy mainly because if the bullet is fired and goes crooked it will stay crooked causing large groups, unstable bullets and key holing. (Key holing or tumbling is caused when a round stops spinning and becomes unstable and flips end over end like a football. This is commonly caused by distance or little or no rifling)

This was about our average group with all .45 Colts tested at 7 yards / 21 feet
Now the .45 Colts I tested were shot at two different ranges, the first volley of five rounds was fired at seven yards or 21 feet, the second volley of five rounds was fired at 25 yards, the normal max range for pistols. I wanted to see how far I could push the .45 round with the less aggressive rifling, and could it hit targets at 25 yards, and be an effective man stopper. The targets tell the tale and at seven yards it did well with all four types of rounds tested, but at 25 yards the pattern increased with all having one outside the 7 ring and I noticed that some of them had key holed or tumbled through the target. One of the ways we fixed this issue to increase the accuracy potential was to use a slightly larger bullet. Since the chamber measured at .452 we used bullets that were .458 and that seemed to tighten our groups. If you don’t reload, you will not have problems with any factory.45 Colt ammunition up to 21 feet, they will perform well enough to get the job done.  If you wish to get the custom loads I talk about in this article or others like it, contact Bob Shell at

All shot patterns averaged about this size at 10 feet, notice the wad strike at top right
Through the testing process I felt it was a great design and more than did what Taurus intended it to do, which in turn makes me want one even more. As I stated earlier, you have 15 choices of the Judge and finding one that fits your style is part of the fun, shooting it is the payoff.  In the end, I would definitely own a Taurus Judge and it would find a niche in my gun collection because it’s so versatile, and that’s what I like in a firearm. I would not be surprised to see Taurus design more types of Judges, although I think they have covered their ground really well.  I have to admit I love my main carry gun, after all it was my Fathers Day gift from my family, but I could see the Judge riding shotgun with me in my truck as a backup second pistol. I will also carry a smorgasbord of .410 and .45 Colts in an ammo case to be ready for whatever comes into play.  Go visit Taurus and see what Judge fits your style, I’m sure once you shoot a friend’s Judge or buy one of your own and shoot it, you will be impressed like I was and It will become a show piece and a valued addition to your gun collection.

Water bottle heads upwards after a hit with No 8 shot, note the barrel lower left
We would like to thank Kristin Hunt at Chevalier Advertising, for the sample Taurus Judge. Please visit her at: or at: and especially Taurus for making such a versatile revolver that fits so many rolls as a defensive handgun. You can see the Judge and all the other firearms they sell at:

I would also like to thank the following manufacturers for making quality and dependable products for our reference and testing.

Winchester Ammunition:
Speer shot capsules:
Galco Gunleather:
Hunter Company:

For your reference, the 15 models of the Taurus Judge are:

1.  Model: 4510-3BCT          
2.  Model: 4510-3BULCT
3.  Model: 4510-3MBCT       
4.  Model: 4510-3SSCT        
5.  Model: 4510-3SSULCT   
6.  Model: 4510PD-3B
7.  Model: 4510PD-3SS
8.  Model: 4510PD-3TI
9.  Model: 4510TKR-3B
10. Model: 4510TKR-3BUL
11. Model: 4510PD-3SS
12. Model: 4510TKR-3SSMAG
13. Model: 4510TRACKER-3SSUL
14. Model: 4510TRACKERB
15. Model: 4510TRACKERSS