Handgun of the Decade

I continue to be puzzled by the popularity of the Taurus Judge.  This is not to say that I don’t see a value in the gun – if I lived out in the Antelope Valley and was still undertaking regular excursions into the Mojave desert, I would own one for no other reason than it would be a great against Mojave Greens, Diamondbacks, and the aggressive sidewinders that populate my native desert.  That I get.

Beyond that, I just don’t “get” the Judge.

And yet, Taurus can’t make them fast enough, because they literally fly off the shelves.  In fact, they’re so popular that Taurus is making a polymer framed Judge as well as a rifle version of the gun.  The Judge has been truly successful; I have to eat some crow and admit that when it first came out my very first though is “who is going to buy that silly-ass thing”?  Clearly, I was wrong in that a lot of people bought said gun; ultimately that’s why I want to award the Taurus Judge the prestigious and never before awarded “Gun Nuts Media Handgun of the Decade” award.  Not because I think it’s a great gun, but mostly because Taurus did something that I love: found a product that sells and sold the snot out of it.

You see, regardless of how I may feel about the utility or usefulness of a gun, I love capitalism.  I love the free market.  That’s why the Judge is my Handgun of the Decade, it has captured in essence to the beauty and glory of a free market and a capitalist society.  The fact that we exist in a world where product like the Taurus Judge can sell as well as it does is a truly shining beacon of the greatness of our consumer system.

So here’s to you, Taurus Judge.  May you and all your weird, impractical offspring continue to thrive and sell like hotcakes into the next decade.  Well played, Taurus.  Well played.


  1. I, too, had dismissed the Judge as a fairly useless gun, until talking with someone who owns a ranch and a Judge, and pointed out that the gun is just about perfect for dealing with two problems that one might encounter on a ranch: shooting rattle snakes, and putting down mortally wounded animals.

    In that context, I had to agree that the Judge is just the ticket.

    Outside of that, though, the gun doesn’t do anything that isn’t already done much better by other more traditional designs.

  2. Yeah, for popping snakes the Judge is hard to beat. Like I said, if I was still living in my beloved Mojave, I’d own one of the short barrelled ones just for doing that while outdoors.

    Although that being said, If choosing between a Judge and my Model 60 Pro loaded with three rounds of .357 snake shot and 2 158gr JHPs, I’d probably take the J-frame.

  3. I thought it was a pretty good idea when it was introduced, but have always been put off by the Epic Ugly.

    Think of it as a hand held shotgun: 2-3 rounds of .410 with the remainder of the cylinder filled with .45LC.

    The rifle version intrigues me, but then again I like quirky oddball firearms.

  4. A polymer Judge….making an *ugly* gun even UGLIER.

    Then I saw the polymer revolver (.38 spec +P snub) with *wood* grips


    Rifle model does sound interesting, though…don’t see many rifles with a revolver cylinder…but it could be wicked cool.

  5. If you’re giving prizes for marketing, I think Springfield turning the HS2000 from a demonstrated failure into a success by renaming it XD takes it. Same gun. Same poor quality. And yet its sales have beat out polymer handguns from much better known manufacturers on the basis of a few glossy ads and hard consonants.

  6. What really puzzled me (aside from where they got enough ugly-sticks to support the production volume) is that Blackhawk makes a molded CQC for that thing, and STILL doesn’t make a plain old K-frame one.

  7. I work at a rather large gun shop and we haven’t sold any of them lately. Most people buy Ruger or S&W in 357 or 38spc

    When I show someone a judge they do ooohhh and ahhhh about it but then always end up buying something else. Then again, i’ve only been working there a week or two. We’ll see if they start moving.

  8. They sell well for a couple reasons.

    1. Marketing. Look at the ads for them. They do a good job of talking up the Judge.
    2. Uneducated gun buyers/cool factor. I’m not trying to say Judge owners are uneducated, as there are some great uses for the Judge, but I think the majority of its sales went to people who bought it because it could shoot a shotgun shell – and they didn’t know what that can/can’t do, or people who bought it purely for the cool factor.

    I almost bought one a few weeks ago for the coolness factor, but my senses prevailed and got a .357 as it would be more useful.

    On top of that, the Judges just did not feel right in my hand, and most of them had canted front sites.

  9. IMHO most people buy the Judge because it doesn’t take much, if any range time to become proficient to defend yourself with a handheld shotgun.

  10. JP’s on to it, they marketed the hell out of it, and unless people are really into guns like we are, they don’t realize that the short little barrel makes for less than stellar velocities. But by god, it blasts the crap out of those watermelons!

    And yes, as a handgun it’s ugly as hell. But a “rifle” version has potential…

  11. Jason,

    Same poor quality.

    Think you’re wrong about the quality.

    Also, the folks at Intrac wouldn’t know “marketing” if you slit their throats with the paper cut from a full-page four-color magazine ad.

  12. The Judge would be a nearly ideal gun to tote on a farm tractor. Holster mounted to the tractor, not the farmer.

    I think it appeals to the same “herd” that ran up the prices of S&W 29s in the mid to late ’70’s. It’s the OHMYGAWDITSABIGFRIKKINGUN syndrome.

    It’s bigger, so it’s better, right? …… huh? …… right?

    Still, I’m with you on the award. ANY gun that sells like that is a win to our side. Ugly or not, it’s a win, and I like “win.”

    So, while we’re on the topic, how ’bout you design a “Judge Only” run for IDPA? 1st three rounds of 00 buck, next to of .45 LC, and you choose the layout of targets and staging?

    Be sure it includes a “Major Coffee Factor”, and all will be right.

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

    1. I actually know a guy that runs a Judge in IDPA. He doesn’t win stuff and he’s basically reloading all the time, but god bless him for running his carry gun in IDPA.

      And at least the Model 29 was a good gun.

  13. “because they literally fly off the shelves. ”

    That might be the appeal. I can certainly see the attraction to a levitating, self-propelled firearm. All my guns just sit there, waiting for me to use them. This sounds down right game-changing, though apparently the one I fired was defective, as it failed to literally fly anywhere.

  14. Anyone remember the Thunder 5? It was hard to find and hard to keep in stock. I kept a standing order for one with our RSR rep back in the day. Just like the HS2000 I couldn’t give them away at $300 (7% above our cost) yet when Springfield bought them they were an instant hit. I believe they do make a speed loader the HKS CS-44. Most people that buy them aren’t going to practice the last thing they need is laser grips and they only have to go to the range once a year.

  15. I have always wanted to get a .410/.45LC single-shot shotgun as a survival/utility gun, but I think the rifle version of the Judge would work quite well. Handguns are (arbitrarily) illegal to use for anything here in the Socialist Paradise of Canada, but the rifle version seems like it could be a pretty handy gun. Plus a bit of an oddball attention-getter. That is assuming it passes the various (arbitrary) qualifications of being non-restricted here (which I am fairly sure it would).

  16. …because they literally fly off the shelves.

    I’ve heard tales of evil guns roaming the streets on their own accord, blasting passers-by with reckless abandon, but if they’re upping the stakes now by going airborne, we’re in trouble.

  17. I’ve got a couple of friends of the steampunk variety who are salivating at the polymer Judge. They think it looks remarkably similar to the gun that Harrison Ford carried in Blade Runner.

  18. Here in Florida, with my CCW I can carry into a resturant, even if it has a bar, as long as I stay in the part of the resturant that is devoted to serving food and do not go into the magical section of the resturant that is devoted to serving alcohol (really a pain when the bathrooms are in the bar section). I am always afraid that one day I will inadvertantly stray into the wrong section of one of these places and my gun will magically jump out of my holster and start shooting all by itself.

    Do you guys think that this is more likely with one of these magical flying judge revolvers? I mean, since it already flys and stuff….


  19. Wow, all this gun snobbery makes me want to go buy a Judge, or Public Defender (polymer version).

    Its .45Colt and I’ve got thousands of rounds loaded for it.
    .45 Colt is a very effective round
    Some of the new defensive .410 ammo looks to be good at stopping men as well.
    It’s heavy enough to get quick followup shots with heavy .45 colt loads

    Its heavy, Ugly and Taurus
    All the kewl kids will look down their noses at me for owning one

  20. Well, I’m looking forward to the longgun version eagerly.

    It fits my Home Defense plan almost perfectly.

    I’ve been shooting a Mossberg 500 in 12 Gauge since I was 13. I can shoot and rack and keep up with most guys in the dove field with semis. No problem.

    But my lovely wife Dixie? Notsomuch. I’ve gotten her to fire the 590 exactly once – with #9 shot – and it was way too much for her.

    Let’s not forget that Mossberg’s studies indicated that the .410 was the best overall shotgun round for home use, counting the tradeoffs of blast/penetration, etc.

    I had been wanting to get a 20 gauge “coach gun” with external hammers for her – but this is much, much better. Less changes of a malf, a easier manual of arms “pull the trigger again”, and no tension of springs against itty bitty parts. (Not a serious problem, but it *can* happen, and I’ve had a sear break on a BHP before.)

    Just needs MOAR RAILS and a light for HD, and there we go.

  21. More rails on a Judge?

    Hmmm……. Judge upper for an AR platform? With mega rail farmage bolted liberally thereto?

    Damn, I’m not supposed to hallucinate after only one cuppa coffee in the morning.

    Sunk New Dawn
    Galveston, TX

  22. Maybe I’m missing the sarcasm, but what is the difference between a rifle that shoots shot and a shotgun?

  23. Maybe I’m missing the sarcasm, but what is the difference between a rifle that shoots shot and a shotgun?

    The rifle is useless as a shotgun because it shoots a donut shaped pattern.

    I’m still trying to figure out how disliking useless, stupid guns equals “gun snobbery”…

    The .410 will not wingshoot as well as a real shotgun. Its minuscule shot payload, short tube, and wretched pattern make it less practical for small game than a .22 pistol. It’s only marginally more effective against snakes than shotshells from a conventional revolver. The slugs are less effective against larger targets than actual .45 Colt loads. There is not a thing that this gun does that can’t be done better by something else. If stating that makes me a “snob”, well, there it is.

  24. I wanna see some speedloaders for 5 rds of .410?


    Easy enough.

    And useless or not, I am probably going to spring for one just to see what the hubbub is all about. If nothing else, it might be a good knock-around gun, and apart from that, I have a known penchant for whacky-assed, nonsensical feats of modern engineering.

  25. Miguel,

    Tam, the Judge long gun comes in two versions: Smoothbore and rifle according to Mas Ayoob.

    That’s nice.

    The question was about the difference between a rifle that shoots shotshells and a shotgun. I answered it.

  26. I really like the idea of the Judge but dont see myself buying one right away. Michael Bane likes the judge as a car gun and he has called it the perfect anti-carjacking gun more than once. I think an important part of this gun selling like hot cakes is the Federal and winchester rounds designed specially for it.

  27. “… shining beacon of the greatness of our consumer system”

    Tut, tut! Since production is a prerequisite to consumption, we have what is more properly described as a producer system. We could take it further though; production is a prerequisite to consumption and creativity is a prerequisite to production. Hence we have a creator system.

    What you are praising is the creativity. Any dumbass can consume, especially if the statists give him hand-outs of money that they confiscated from the creators.

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