Revolver Showdown: The Smith & Wesson Governor vs. the Taurus Judge (2024)

Revolver Showdown: The Smith & Wesson Governor vs. the Taurus Judge (1)

Revolver Showdown: The Smith & Wesson Governor vs. the Taurus Judge (2)

Revolver Showdown: The Smith & Wesson Governor vs. the Taurus Judge (3)

When the Taurus Judge hit the market, there was nothing like it. It was the ultimate revolver to pass judgement on any criminal. For a while, it seemed that no other manufacturer would be able to touch the Judge. That is until the introduction of the Smith & Wesson Governor. It seemed S&W was determined to build a bigger, better and nicer revolver. I had to find out which was really better, so I got my hands on both of these beasts for testing.

The Contenders

Comparing the Judge and the Governor is something like comparing two brands of the same type of cereal. Taurus reached the market first with its .45 Colt/.410 combination. It is a beast of a revolver with a great feel and good sights, and Taurus offers a variety of different configurations. For reference, I officially tested the “2-441031T” model.

Smith & Wesson had to play catchup and is kind of still playing catchup when it comes to available variants. Both companies offer good warranties, however, and both of these odd revolvers perform basically the same way. And, in my opinion, they make for the ultimate home-defense and trail guns. So, what makes one of them better and what makes them different?

Let’s start with the obvious. While the standard Judge is a five-shot model, the Governor holds six shots. The cylinder on the Governor is also a little larger, obviously, because it holds an extra round. The other big difference is that the Governor is also capable of firing .45 ACP rounds. While you do have to use moon clips to hold the .45 ACP ammo in place, you can mix .45 ACP, .45 Colt, and 2.5-inch .410 shotshells all in the same cylinder. S&W even includes two 6-round and three 2-round moon clips with every Governor.

Another big difference comes when you look at the sights. The Governor comes with a tritium night sight up front that works very well. I was able to acquire targets very quickly with ease in pretty much any lighting situation. On the other hand, the Judge has a fiber-optic front sight, which isn’t bad, but it doesn’t glow in the dark. Both utilize rear sight channels like many other revolvers. In the end, the sights on both revolvers worked very well. It’s really a tough call, but I give a slight edge to the Governor because the front sight glows in the dark. Again, I look at these guns as very good home defenders, and a glowing sight offers an advantage in a dark home-defense situation.

This brings us to the revolvers’ grips and ergonomics. The Judge has a very soft ribbed/rubber grip that Taurus calls “Ribber.” The soft ridges are comfortable on the hand and provide a very good grip on the firearm. However, the grips also like to collect dirt and debris, and it doesn’t provide the no-thought hand placement of its competitor. The Governor, on the other hand, provides a harder rubber grip with molded finger grooves and subtle texturing that feels perfect in my hands. This is a very nice, more traditional wheelgun grip that has a very ergonomic feel and provides me with that grab-and-shoot hand positioning I want in a fast-breaking defensive situation.

Entering The Ring

In testing, both the Judge and Governor performed flawlessly and really produced identical results downrange. I tested the Judge and Governor with a variety of .45 Colts and .410 rounds, and the recoil was very mild with the former ammo type. The .410 loads I ran produced only moderate recoil; they gave the guns a decent jolt, but it wasn’t very violent. It was also easy to load.45 Colt rounds and eject their spent cases with both guns. However, loading and ejecting .410 shells proved a bit challenging for the Governor, which preferred the smoothest shells. The Judge doesn’t seem to have as tight tolerances and thus didn’t have as many issues.

I did shoot some .45 ACP rounds through the Governor, but because I striving for an apples-to-apples comparison, I didn’t do much with them. But, it is worth noting that the Governor digested all three ammo types without any malfunctions. The moon clips are a little tough to use, but they worked well.

At the range, I didn’t expect great accuracy results because these are snub-nose revolvers. However, both the Judge and Governor exceeded my expectations. At 15 yards, I shot groups measuring about 2.5 inches wide with some Cowboy Action .45 Colt rounds. Then I switched to some full-power 230-grain .45 Colt JHPs. What a difference a load makes! The recoil as a bit heavier but still manageable. The Judge seemed to handle the added recoil a little bit better than the Governor. I think it may be due to the grip design. The Taurus’ soft grooves seemed to make the recoil a bit more manageable than the Governor’s harder rubber grip. The more powerful .45 Colt load produced much wider groups. However, I dropped a few shots at the same 15 yards anticipating that recoil. Once I figured it out, I created 3.5-inch groups with the Judge and 4-inch groups with the Governor.

I was particularly excited to turn these two beasts into mini shotguns with .410 shells. A birdshot-equipped Judge or Governor would work reasonably well for small pest control. However, the pellets are small in size and few in number, and they spread very rapidly. No, they wouldn’t reliably kill a snake at 10 yards. But this ammo makes for some very fun skeet shooting. A few of my friends joined me for just that, and it was fun and difficult. We burned through about 150 rounds and only hit five clays. Good thing birdshot .410 birdshot rounds are very inexpensive, because I plan on doing more of this skeet shooting in the near future.

Buckshot loads proved to be both effective and cost-efficient. The .36-caliber pellets in the Federal’s 000 Buckshot loads consistently hit within 4 inches of each other out of both guns. Pretty impressive considering the 2.75- and 3-inch barrels of the Governor and Judge, respectively. This is why I call these guns the ultimate home defenders. I tested the buckshot at 7 yards to achieve these impressive results. With the right ammo at relatively short range, the .410 revolver is a devastating defensive weapon.

I also tested Winchester’s PDX1 .410 ammo along with Hornady’s .410 Triple Defense rounds. Instead of traditional birdshot or buckshot, the 2.5-inch PDX1 shells contain three copper discs and 12 BBs that travel at around 750 fps. The three copper discs consistently produced fairly tight groups. Unfortunately, the 12 BBs went all over the place. One shot from 7 yards away caused massive devastation to my paper target, and I couldn’t account for 6 BBs for most of my shots.

Each Hornady .410 Triple Defense round consists of two round .35-caliber balls topped with one non-jacketed FTX slug. The .41-caliber FTX slug definitely engages the gun’s rifling and produced patterns similar to those created by the three discs in the PDX1 rounds without the hassle of the little BBs. Both rounds worked very well in the revolvers, but I would use the Hornady ammo over the Winchester in a defensive situation because the BBs are less predictable.

The Verdict

RELATED STORYVIDEO: 3-for-3 at 120 Yards with the Taurus Raging Bull .44 Mag Revolver

So, who is the victor, the Taurus Judge or the Smith & Wesson Governor? This is going to come down to brand loyalty for a lot of people. Price is another big consideration, too. The Judge I tested has an MSRP of $589, while the Governor is $869. That’s a big difference in price for two guns that perform almost identically. The Governor one-ups the Judge with one more round in the cylinder and one more choice for ammunition, though. Unfortunately, Smith & Wesson only offers one style — a simple, straightforward black model — while Taurus offers many different models, finishes and configurations.

Both the Judge and the Governor are incredible guns and, in my opinion, would make great choices for home defense. I personally like the feel of the Governor a little over the Judge, but I recommend that you take both for a test-drive when you get a chance.

Taurus Judge

  • Caliber: .45 Colt/.410
  • Barrel: 3 inches
  • OA Length: 9.5 inches
  • Weight: 29 ounces (empty)
  • Grip: Ribber
  • Sights: Fiber-optic front, fixed rear
  • Action: DA/SA
  • Finish: Black
  • Capacity: 5
  • MSRP: $589

Smith & Wesson Governor

  • Caliber: .45 ACP/.45 Colt/.410
  • Barrel: 2.75 inches
  • OA Length: 8.5 inches
  • Weight: 29.6 ounces (empty)
  • Grip: Synthetic
  • Sights: Tritium front, fixed rear
  • Action: DA/SA
  • Finish: Black
  • Capacity: 6
  • MSRP: $869

For more information about the Smith & Wesson Governor and the Taurus Judge, please visits and

Revolver Showdown: The Smith & Wesson Governor vs. the Taurus Judge (2024)


How accurate is the Smith and Wesson Governor? ›

The Governor produced solid defensive accuracy at 7 yards with . 45 Colt loads. Groups ranged from 2 inches to 3.15 inches, with the best five-shot averages produced by Winchester's PDX-1 225-grain jacketed hollow points at 2.5 inches. At 25 yards, groups opened up into the 5- to 6-inch range.

What is the effective range of a Taurus Judge? ›

These heavy loads should produce devastating results at 15 feet to perhaps 21 feet, the magic 7 yard average range. In truth across a room or bedroom is more likely. The Judge must be aimed, but the pattern has spread enough to aid in hitting at 10 to 15 feet. This handgun isn't useful past 21 feet with shot loads.

Is the Taurus Judge accurate? ›

The Taurus Judge is fast on target and plenty accurate enough for personal defense. A word to the wise, this is not the revolver to hotrod the . 45 Colt. Recoil is prohibitive even though the Judge is designed to be portable and light enough for field use.

Can you shoot 454 out of a Taurus Judge? ›

Packing a giant 6-round cylinder, the Taurus Raging Judge® shoots the 454 Casull round in addition to delivering the same popular ammo combo of 45 Colt and 410 shotshell from the original Judge models.

Which is better judge or Governor? ›

While the standard Judge is a five-shot model, the Governor holds six shots. The cylinder on the Governor is also a little larger, obviously, because it holds an extra round. The other big difference is that the Governor is also capable of firing . 45 ACP rounds.

Is the governor a good self defense gun? ›

The Smith & Wesson Governor is the perfect six-round revolver for home defense and survival shooting. It can shoot . 410 2.5” shells, . 45 ACP, and .

Is the Taurus Judge a powerful handgun? ›

Some reviews of the Taurus Judge comment on the revolver's poor accuracy — a factor that might not be as much of an issue for a revolver that shoots shotshells. Accuracy aside, the Judge is certainly a powerful revolver that could make some feel a little safer as a self-defense weapon.

Is a Taurus Judge good for home defense? ›

I liked the Taurus Judge a lot, enough to add it to my own personal arsenal. I firmly believe it is the best choice of guns for home defense I have seen. And it would make a pretty good companion in bear country too, loaded with a combination of . 410 slugs and buckshot.

Will Taurus Judge shoot 410 slug? ›

Taurus Judge Review PART THREE, .410 Slugs. - YouTube

Can Taurus Judge shoot 2.5 inch shells? ›

The Taurus Judge is a five-shot . 45 Colt revolver with an elongated cylinder that allows it to chamber 2½-inch or 3-inch .

What handgun does the Navy SEALs use? ›

For now, the M9 continues to be the primary sidearm for U.S. uniformed personnel worldwide and the P226 continues to be the primary handgun of the SEALs. Why do Navy Seals use a Sig P226? The simple answer is the weapon has proven itself in service for more than 30 years.

Will Taurus Judge shoot 3-inch shells? ›

The fiber optic front sight gathers light and allows the shooter to get on target quickly. The Taurus Judge has a 3- inch rifled barrel and holds five rounds in its behemoth sized cylinder, which is chambered for firing 2.5" or 3" .

Will a 454 Casull stop a grizzly bear? ›

The grizzly bear was killed with one shot. There was one use of a . 454 Casull revolver. 4 or 5 shots were fired and the grizzly bear was finished off at the scene with a rifle brought by the defender's wife.

Is a 454 Casull more powerful than a 44 Magnum? ›

454 Casull generates almost 5 times the recoil of the . 45 Colt, and about 75% more recoil energy than the . 44 Magnum. It can deliver a 250 grain (16 g) bullet with a muzzle velocity of over 1,900 feet per second (580 m/s), developing up to 2,000 ft-lb (2.7 kJ) of energy from a handgun.

Will the Taurus Judge shoot slugs? ›

Judge revolvers will shoot birdshot, buckshot or slugs depending upon the shooter's needs. Furthermore, the same revolvers will chamber and shoot .

Can a federal Judge overrule a governor? ›

Answer: No. It is a common misconception among pro se litigants that federal courts can revisit and perhaps overturn a decision of the state courts. Only if a federal issue was part of a state court decision can the federal court review a decision by the state court.

Can you carry a Taurus Judge? ›

So the Judge is a little slimmer. It is also a little smaller overall, so if you wanted to carry it, the Judge or Public Defender by Taurus will be a little easier. If you intend to carry it, that is; for most people, the Judge or Governor is a home defensegun through and through.

What ammo does the governor shoot? ›

Similar to the Taurus Judge, the Governor can fire 2+1⁄2-inch-long (64 mm) . 410 shotgun shells, . 45 Colt cartridges, and also . 45 ACP cartridges with the use of supplied moon clips (due to the lack of a rim on the ACP cartridges).

What firearm DO US marshals carry? ›

The primary handgun for marshals are Glock pistols in .40 S&W caliber (22, 23, 27), and each deputy may carry a backup handgun of their choice if it meets certain requirements.

What hand guns do the FBI use? ›

Their primary weapon, their sidearm, is a Glock 19M; it's a brand new weapon—that's predominantly what we're going to teach them with.

Is the Taurus Judge a good hunting gun? ›

The . 410 cartridge has always been one of the favorite rounds of small-game hunters, especially for rabbits, squirrels and grouse.

Can you shoot 45 +P in a Taurus Judge? ›

Can I shoot your +P 45 Colt ammo in my Taurus Judge or my S&W Governor? No. The Judge/Governor is not designed to be strong enough to use +P ammo.

Can you dry fire a Taurus Judge? ›

Yes, except for the . 22 caliber pistols. .22 caliber revolvers such as models 94 and 941 also should not be dry fired.

Can a Taurus Judge shoot 410 buckshot? ›

The Taurus Judge offers excellent value and the ability to shoot . 410 shotgun shells as well as . 45 caliber ammunition.

Is a revolver enough for home defense? ›

Revolvers are simple, reliable handguns chambered in a variety of calibers that are effective for self-defense situations. Many of the most popular are chambered in . 38 Special/. 357 Mag., meaning they can use shells of either type.

Can you shoot 410 slugs from a governor? ›

The Smith & Wesson® GOVERNOR® can be loaded with a 410 Shotshell 2-1/2", a 45 ACP, or a 45 COLT.

Can a 410 take down a deer? ›

Anything larger and the requirements for precise shot placement would become prohibitively difficult. People often recommend that the maximum range one should attempt to use a . 410 slug to take a deer is 100 yards, but some even say only 40 or 50. It all boils down to shot placement.

Is a 410 good for snakes? ›

410 bore is the standard for dispatching serpents. Prior to that, a well-placed blow from a garden hoe or a shovel quickly ended a viper. Now there are many options to quickly and safely deal with snakes.

Can you shoot 3 410 shells in a Taurus Judge? ›

33") or eight 000 (. 36") buckshot in the standard 12 gauge shell commonly used for personal defense or big game hunting. In 2008 Taurus introduced the Judge Magnum which can fire either standard 2 1⁄2" or 3" . 410 shotshells which contain five 000 buckshot and are more effective as personal defense rounds.

What can you shoot out of a Taurus Judge? ›

Federal's 410 Buckshot is one of the ammo loads built for handguns like the Taurus Judge. They're designed for guns like the Judge. So their performance is more consistent than ammo for semi-automatic rifles.

Is the Taurus Judge good for concealed carry? ›

For concealed carry, the super tiny Taurus Public Defender is ideal. Impressive stopping power with smart and safe design, you won't be caught unprepared with this great revolver at your side.

What pistol did Chris Kyle carry? ›

“When on deployment, Chris Kyle carried a Springfield Armory® 1911 TRP™ Operator pistol, so we felt it appropriate to make this special edition pistol to honor his memory and support the ongoing work of the foundation. Very much like American hero Chris Kyle, this pistol is truly one of a kind.”

What pistol do the Green Berets use? ›

Despite the standardization of the M17/M18 across the military, Special Operations Command has elected to standardize the Glock 19 as its handgun of choice. From Navy SEALs to Green Berets, the Special Operations community overwhelmingly prefers the original Austrian design.

What pistol do Army Rangers use? ›

The M9 semi-automatic pistol offers a short recoil with single and double action alternatives. The 15-round magazine provides a legitimate backup weapon for soldiers, even special ops. In fact, the M9 is carried by many U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) including Army Rangers.

Can the judge shoot 45 long colt? ›

The Taurus Judge is exactly what it looks like: a revolver with a long, large-diameter cylinder. Why the extra length? Because in addition to the famous and long-lived . 45 Colt it can fire, this revolver can also chamber and fire .

What bullets can you shoot out of a 410? ›

410 pumps chambered for both 2 ½- and 3-inch shells. The other is a Skeet chambered specifically for 2 ½-inch shells. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly, the best choke at 25 yards proved to be and improved cylinder (I.C.).

Can you shoot +P in a Governor? ›

No. The Judge/Governor is not designed to be strong enough to use +P ammo. If you'd like to use very powerful loads in the Judge/Governor, use any of our Standard Pressure loads found in the 3 links below. These loads are safe to use in ANY 45 Colt firearm and are much more powerful than ordinary 45 Colt ammo.

What frame does the Smith and Wesson Governor use? ›

The Smith & Wesson Governor is a snub-nosed (2.75 inch barrel) single-action/double-action revolver built on the Z-frame (a stretched N-frame) and utilizes a K-frame grip with a lightweight scandium alloy or stainless steel frame.

Can you shoot slugs in the governor? ›

Technically the answer is yes. To see if they can do it well I've been testing a Smith & Wesson Governor with shotshells, . 410 slugs, .

Is the Smith & Wesson Governor mass compliant? ›

Massachussetts Compliant!

Versatile. Lightweight. The Smith & Wesson Governor revolver puts six rounds of customizable response under your control.

Will +P ammo hurt my gun? ›

It is well within the tolerances of modern firearms and certainly within the pressure level created by proof loads which modern guns are tested with. Therefore, it's "safe."

Does FBI use +P ammo? ›

The 135 grain +P Critical Duty round is once again chosen for FBI duty. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has awarded Hornady with a fixed price indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (IDIQ) agreement for 9 mm +P Luger 135-grain Critical Duty ammunition.

Does +P ammo kick more? ›

The standard pressure load creates a wound/crush cavity that's about 5 percent larger than the wound/crush cavity created by the +P load. And, with the +P load the shooter experiences about 5 percent more recoil and exaggerated wear on their firearm.

Can you dry fire a S&W Governor? ›

Q: Can I dry fire my Smith & Wesson? A: Yes, except for the . 22 caliber pistols which includes models 22A, 22S, 422, 2206, 2214, 2213 and 41.

Can the judge shoot 45 ACP? ›

The Taurus Judge is a five shot revolver designed and produced by Taurus International, chambered for . 410 bore shot shells and the . 45 Colt cartridge. Taurus promotes the Judge as a self-defense tool against carjacking and for home protection.
Taurus Judge
Feed system5, 6, or 7 round cylinder
16 more rows

Can you shoot a 45 ACP in the Smith and Wesson Governor? ›

Smith & Wesson Inc.

The Smith & Wesson® GOVERNOR® can be loaded with a 410 Shotshell 2-1/2", a 45 ACP, or a 45 COLT. What would you load it with? Mike Wilson and 3,697 others like this.

Do you remove the choke when shooting slugs? ›

I'm glad you asked this question. You should not shoot slugs—or any other shot—through your barrel without a choke in place, since there is a very real possibility that you will damage the threading.

How far can you shoot a slug accurately? ›

Your expected range of accuracy for any box of slugs you grab in a store should be about 50 yards. This is an average range for the typical field gun with a smooth barrel and bead sight, shooting any brand of ammunition picked at random.

How accurate is a 12-gauge slug at 100 yards? ›

Maximum effective range is limited as much by the slug's rapid decay of energy and velocity as by its poor accuracy." Published in 1964, the "Fact Book" states that a typical 12-gauge, 1-ounce slug traveling at 1560 fps loses 60 percent of its energy at 100 yards.

Can you conceal carry in Mass? ›

Concealed carry is legal in Massachusetts for individuals who have a Massachusetts LTC or a formerly issued, valid Class A LTC. The minimum age is 21 years old, and LTCs are issued to residents and non-residents.

Is Taurus mass compliant? ›

Taurus G3c *MA Compliant* 9mm, 3.2" Barrel, Manual Thumb Safety, Tan, 10rd.

What ammo does a Smith and Wesson Governor use? ›

Load with . 410 2 1/2″ shotshells, . 45 ACP or . 45 Colt – alone or in combination with the included moon clips* – and hit your target in every situation.

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