Federal birdshot loads for the Judge

My buddy Steve at the Firearms Blog asks for opinions on Federal’s new “Self-Defense Birdshot” load for the Taurus Judge.  No, that’s not a typo, I actually wrote that.  In addition to their Judge buckshot load, Federal has also released a .410 shotshell load that contains about 60 pellets of number 4 shot – not to be confused with #4 Buckshot, mind you.  No, this is 60 pellets of #4 birdshot.  Which, nevermind that you can already buy .410 shotshells loaded with #4 birdshot, I don’t know what particularly makes this round “personal defense” as opposed to the other .410 shotshells.

As far as the round’s actual efficiency for personal defense, I have a pretty simple question: would you load your 12 gauge shotgun with birdshot for personal defense?  I wouldn’t, unless it was the very last box of ammo in the house.  So if I’m not going to load a much larger and more effective gun with birdshot, I’m certainly not loading a revolver with a 2.5 inch barrel with birdshot.

If you’ve got a Judge, and you’re shopping for a round for personal defense, Federal makes an excellent 255 grain semi-wadcutter hollowpoint.  It’s an all lead round doing about 800 fps.  If that’s not your particular flavor, Hornady makes a .45 Colt round in the LeveRevolution line with a 225 grain bullet with a polymer tip.  It’s designed for slugging deer, but out of a short barrelled pistol would probably make a handy defensive round.

The .45 Colt is a proven stopper.  There are a lot of cowboys under a lot of headstones because of that round, so there’s no particular reason I see to go mucking around with a shotshell for personal defense from 2 legged varmints.


  1. Haha, The funny google search results I can imagine this page getting 🙂

  2. Under certain conditions, such as apartment or condo living, the heavier birdshots are a viable load. The ranges are short and overpenetration is an unacceptable risk. Not all of us can use buckshot or slugs

  3. Caleb: during my testing of a ‘Judge’ I found the sample I had wouldn’t shoot semi-wadcutter bullets worth a hoot. Didn’t matter if they were home cast or factory swaged, they key-holed badly…..consistently! Round nose lead on the other hand shot better than I expected, so see if others experience the same results I did. Also I found ‘Cowboy Loads’ shot better, accuracy wise, than Cor-Bon. Big Surprise, I know, but it was what I found.

    All the Best,
    Frank W. James

  4. Frank, thanks for the heads up. If someone gave me a Judge, i’d probably stick to the Cowboy flatpoint loads. Good enough for Wyatt Earp, good enough for me.

  5. Me, I’d try running the .410 buckshot loads that S&B and a couple others make. 3″ Judge with 5-pellet 00 buck I think would make someone redefine their priorities.

  6. I think Mike is right. Living in an apartment type setup one of my main concerns in home defense is over penetration. Dry wall and fiberglass insulation doesn’t do much to stop a lot of calibers.

  7. Any round that’s going to be effective against a human is going to penetrate a wall. I live an apartment, and I keep buckshot in my shotgun and real SD rounds in my pistols.

    Rather than cripple the effectiveness of my shotgun by loading up with birdshot, I put serious thinking into my surroundings and risks to my neighbors in as many scenarios I can think of, and serious time training with any firearm I would use for self-defense.

    If you don’t miss, wall penetration isn’t an issue. Train to be sure of your shots before you make them. That way, if the time comes to use your shotgun, you fall back on your training rather than concerning yourself with the what-ifs of wall penetration.

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