I have been thinking about getting a Judge or PD. I like the Judge Magnum for the 3" cylinder thinking the ammo selection might be better. Can any 410 ammo be used in the Judge as long as the shell fits in the cylinder? With the cost of 410 ammo already being expensive I hope special ammo isn't needed.
I've got a Mag and as far as .410, I can use any Federal or Winchester, non-ribbed shells in either length. Don't waste your money on designer ammo, 000 Buck is accurate and a still relatively tight spread at SD range and a bit beyond. Mine doesn't like metal cases either, they don't jam tight like the plastic, ribbed jobbies but usually have to be lightly bumped with a pencil to get 'em out. As for the LCs, only issue I ever had was with the Hydra Shok because after firing, the primers of most would jam the cylinder. If you seriously want to shoot .45LC, you're better off to get a gun designed specifically for it. The Judge is just a .410 with the capability to shoot LCs only to circumvent legal issues.
I like to carry #4 Buck for snakes and varmints, though #9 shot holds pretty tight out to SD range and gives better odds on snakes. Although some claim you're not supposed to do it, I've had better accuracy with 1/4 oz .410 rifled slugs than the LCs, 1/5 oz were about on par with the LCs. You should keep in mind that at least the older Judges, were terribly inconsistent on what they'd shoot from model to model. I've seen from other threads on here that even the same model Judges, may differ slightly on the ammo they'll accept. I advise cautious experimentation to find what works best in yours. As a rule though, the smooth cased Federals and Winchesters seem to work well in all Judge Mags.
Ammo will get you through times of no money, better than money will get you through times of no ammo.
I had a 2.5 inch chambered one that shot 45 Colt pretty well, especially Silvertips. 45 Colt is pretty easy to load, even with a simple setup.
I can speak from a bit of experience. Over the last 7 years I have owned several Judge's, and perform maintenance on them locally. The bottom line is , yes you can shoot any 410 that fits. But...I know there is always a but..For close range varmint control any 410 will work. But do not expect any kind of good pattern with bird shot beyond 15 feet. The rifling in the Judge barrel spreads the shot big time. Personally I won't shoot 410 from a Judge that has higher than 1150 FPS. Both for my old wrist pain and wear and tear on the frame. If you want to get fair accuracy stick with the slower 410 loads made for a handgun. Federal, Hornady and Winchester makes some that work ok.
As far as 45LC, I get respectable accuracy at 15 yards (about 4 inch group) at 25 yards that group will open up to about 5 inches using factory loads both normal and cowboy. I also have developed a 45LC load that will even eek out better accuracy than factory loads. I use a 250GRN SWC under 5.2 grains of Trailboss. It is very mild to shoot and quite accurate from the 2.5 - 3 inch Judge barrels. One last caveat. I have not owned a Poly Judge, therefore I have no personal experience shooting warm 410 ammo in one. But have heard concerns about shooting 410 loads above 1300 FPS over the long term.
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You should be able to load any .410 the pistol is chambered for. Keep in mind, the pistol is intended and designed for self defense, which is typically pretty close, like 7-10 yards or closer. So, evaluating or judging what shoots best in your Judge will need to be done with those distances in mind. I prefer #4 for the first shot, 000 Buck for the second and .45 LC for the third, fourth, and fifth for woods carry. Straight up 000 Buck for home defense.
Obviously, since the barrel is sized and rifled for .45 caliber projectiles, it should shoot .45LC better than .41 caliber or smaller projectiles. Some have like the disc loads, others ball shot, and others mixed loads. Each person's situation and firearms are going to be different. What shoots well in mine might not shoot so well in yours.
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The knock on the Judge in the very beginning was that the velocity of .410 ammo was really bad coming out of the short barrel. It took a year or two before Federal, Winchester, and Remington came out with self defense ammo that fixed that issue. So, while you can shoot 2.5 inch .410 ammo in any Judge, don't expect all things to be equal when it comes to results and viability.
“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote" - Benjamin Franklin
When Leonidas was preparing to make his stand, a Persian envoy arrived. The envoy explained to Leonidas the futility of trying to resist the advance of the huge Persian army and demanded that the Spartans lay down their arms. Leonidas told Xerxes "MOLON LABE", or "Come And Get Them."
NRA and TSRA member, and proud Texas LTC holder
I have had my Judge for a number of years now. I opted for the 2.5" chamber because it gets just a little better accuracy with the .45LC. IMO, the 3" cylinder has too much throat for the bullet to jump for any degree of accuracy, JMHO. Mine is also a rare 4" barreled version. I really don't think this has much effect on the shot gun rounds, because that rifled barrel is not what shotgun rounds are looking for when they designed them. But my BIL owns a trap range and he told me they have had a guy who comes out shooting a 6.5" Judge with good results. He said it tends to wow the other shooters.
I have never looked at whether a .410 shotgun round was high velocity, or not. What I do look for is: 1. Hardened, or plated shot. Soft shot in the Judge deforms soft shot in the rifling causing it to sail. I have seen a Judge shooting .410 #000 buck shot (soft shot) only land one pellet on target at 5 FEET, not yards, but feet. If you go with soft shot, no matter the size or power, accuracy will be terrible. 2. A shot cup is very good. The shot cup Federal puts in their PD #000 Buck with copper plated shot is good enough that at 25 yards it will put all the pellets in the 8 ring on a B-25 full silhouette target with my Judge. I have found almost all trap, skeet, or clays .410 loads (#8, #8 1/2, #9) are hardened shot.
This time of year, my Judge stays loaded with these clays rounds because of the snakes. I typically kill 6-8 snakes, almost all Copperheads, every summer. A few years ago, I took out one that was a good 20 feet above me up in a tree with one shot. BTW, these loads are also good against tree rats too. Now I think the Federal PD Handgun #000 Buckshot in 2.5" .410 is the best SD load on the market. I routinely put all the pellets in the 8 ring with my Judge at 25 yards. If presented with a shot on a deer at 25 yards, I would not hesitate to use my Judge on it. At home defense ranges, you are probably going to have one big hole. Do not waste your time with .410 slug loads, you are always better off using .45LC instead. I use Speer 250 grain Gold Dots in my Judge and I get good accuracy at 25 yards shooting off hand standing unsupported.
Oh, BTW, several of my neighbors who have seen me use my Judge on snakes, have gone out and bought themselves a Judge.
Battle of Wanat: 10 years ago last 13 July, 1LT Brostram was killed in combat killing the last enemy combatant in the outpost. The LT went to the point of decision and made the difference that turned the tide of the battle. The original investigation found the Bde Cmdr, the Bn Cmdr and the Co Cmdr at fault for dereliction of duty. If you want to see what a sarcastic silver star citation reads like, pull up the company commander's silver star.
The Judge can generally handle a selection of .410 shells about as well as your average semiautomatic pistol can handle a selection of cartridges. In other words, much like how one should test any ammo they plan on using for self-defense in a semiautomatic pistol, the same rings true of the Judge.
That being said, ammo which was designed with the Judge (or handguns in general) in mind will obviously function/perform more reliably on average than a standard shell which was designed for a shotgun with an 18"+ smoothbore barrel. So when it comes to self-defense, I would highly recommend sticking with something like Federal Premium .410 Handgun 000 Buck, reserving cheaper standard .410 ammo for fun at the range.
"If you work for a living, why do you kill yourself working?" - Tuco Remírez - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
"When you have to shoot, shoot. Don't talk. - Same
Shotgun powders burn fast. In fact, many handgun powders are just shotgun powders. Green dot works great in .38 special. Blue dot is a slower powder that often works in magnum handgun calibers. These are actually shotgun powders.
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