By: Kimberly Drake

When the small, unknown, South American “Taurus Forge” tool company produced its first revolver in 1941, the gun was a combination of elements used by other firearms manufacturers of the time period. Decades later, the idea of incorporating a little bit of everything into a gun evolved into a revolver that is now a household name.

When it first hit the market, this now-iconic gun was dubbed the “Model 44.” Later, the company learned that judges in areas of high crime preferred these weapons to keep behind the bench for self-defense, and thus the gun earned its more marketable name of the “Taurus Judge.”

Ammunition Versatility
The versatility of the Judge allows it to transform from its primary role as a defensive revolver to a varmint gun as quickly as you can change ammunition. This hefty yet compact single and double action revolver can chamber five rounds of .45 colt and .45 Schofield ammunition, as well as .410 shotshells. Because of the loads it can carry and its potential for recoil, all Taurus Judge handguns sport a shock-absorbing rubber grip design. It also has fixed rear and fiber-optic front sights to help keep you on target no matter what ammo you choose.

Because of its unique barrel length, the Judge manages to stay outside of the scope of the National Firearms Act as a short-barreled shotgun – at least in most states – and it comes in four models:

The Judge: Chambering both .410 (2 ½”) and .45 Colt ammo, this original model weighs in at 29 ounces with a compact frame. It is both single and double action and is ideal for short distance shooting, or, when loaded with .45 Colt ammo, distant targets.

The Judge Public Defender: This scaled-down version of the original Judge boasts concealability and versatility. Only slightly lighter than the original, at 27 ounces this is still a meaty gun, but it sports a small frame. I have the older model Public Defender and find its size is somewhere between my S&W Bodyguard and S&W .357. A chunky gun to carry for sure, but with its ability to fire off rounds much like a .410 shotgun, I like to keep it around the farm for fending off varmints and such.


The Raging Judge 513: With a name like this and the ability to chamber yet another caliber of ammo, this revolver is both the judge and jury. Like the other guns in this Taurus lineup, the Raging Judge shoots both .410 and .45 Colt ammo, but added to the mix is its capacity to chamber the .454 Casull round. Available in three and six-inch barrel lengths, this is definitely an intimidating firearm, and with a weight of 60.6 ounces, it’s also intimidating to carry.

Taurus Judge Magnum: A big gun with a slightly smaller frame and weight than the Raging Judge, this 36.8-ounce gun is still a whale of a weapon in many respects. It packs devastating power in a weapon that isn’t unreasonable to carry.

A Storied History of Self-Defense
The Judge’s name came about because of its users who uphold the law in a courtroom. But this “decision-maker that lays down the law” has upheld justice outside the courtroom as well, in the hands of those caught in situations where there was no judge or jury.

In May 2009, The Oklahoman News reported an Oklahoma City pharmacy owner and wounded veteran of Operation Desert Storm defended his business and staff from a group of armed robbers attempting what appeared to be an organized attack. As he was being shot at by the perpetrators, Jerome Ersland pulled out his semi-automatic pistol and shot back, hitting one of the assailants, gaining enough time to grab his larger – and more powerful – loaded Taurus Judge. The other robber saw the massive gun and fled. Ersland pursued and was met with another perpetrator in a getaway car, holding a shotgun. The business owner raised his Judge and fired, ending the attack.

In May 2011, CBS 4 Denver reported Darrell Kutchin was minding his own business inside his Denver, Colorado home when three teenagers broke in. Kutchin heard the commotion and grabbed his loaded Judge. One of the intruders brandished a loaded pistol and pointed it at the homeowner. Kutchin fired a second round after missing the first time, and hit his target.

The diversity of this self-defense revolver is reason enough to consider including it in your home arsenal. It’s truly the judge, jury, and executioner no assailant wants to contend with.

Kimberly Drake is a freelance columnist from Minocqua, Wisconsin. Contact her at