By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters
There are a lot of “gimmick” guns out there that promise Death Star-esque firepower but don’t do a lot of good in reality. People who buy them claim a practical reason, but actually bought it to say they have one.
One of the worst offenders in this class of pistol are .410 revolvers. On paper, “it’s a shotgun you can concealed carry!” but in reality it’s a hulking short-barrel revolver that you can’t concealed carry very well, though there are a few companies making concealed carry revolver holsters for them.
Obviously, I’m talking about the Judge and the Governor revolvers, though Taurus makes a larger version (the Raging Judge) and Magnum Research makes a BFR in .410/.45 Colt. The latter two guns actually have some practical application, but not so much for the former.
This isn’t so much about the .410-gauge. There’s plenty you can do with a .410-gauge in the field. It’s a fine small-game getter and is effective on smaller birds such as dove, grouse or quail, with far less recoil than the 12-guage (which some consider overkill for small birds) though it isn’t as good for waterfowl or larger upland birds such as pheasant. I certainly wouldn’t use one for turkey.
However, .410 is lousy for using with buckshot, which is the standard self-defense load in a shotgun.
The typical 2-½” .410-gauge shell holds 4 pellets of 000 buckshot. Triple-aught, as it’s called, is a .36 caliber ball, which in a .410-gauge will be reduced down to the vicinity of 800 feet per second or somewhere thereabouts. In other words, a less-accurate .380.
But what about birdshot? While birdshot can be lethal, it doesn’t penetrate nearly as well and – once again – the reduction in velocity due to barrel length is going to further reduce the capacity of said pellets to put down a threat.
Might make a decent snake gun though.
Some might protest that you can also use .45 Colt in these guns, and that’s true. The .45 Colt is a great defensive round with good hollowpoints. However, where the .410 revolvers fall down is that the typical revolver in .45 Colt (Smith Model 25, Colt SAA, Ruger Blackhawk and Redhawk revolvers) can get good performance out of the round due to barrel length. The great wheelgun sage Elmer Keith opined the optimum barrel length was 4 inches, which has generally held true over time.
Good luck finding a short-barrel load in .45 Colt.
Additionally, the Taurus Judge and the S&W Governor aren’t really good as concealed carry revolvers because they’re enormous and are practically heavy enough to use for small boat anchors.
In fact, the only “compact” .45 Colt revolver this writer has found to date is a Cimmaron Bisley Thunderer with a 3-½” barrel, a streamlined Colt SAA Clone. While smaller than a full-size SAA, it’s about the size of a 4-in K-frame which is hardly compact.
That said, the BFR chambered in .45/.410 could be of some use. The barrel is long enough that you might be able to get small game at close range with shot, and since it can handle the modern loadings of .45 Colt (which equal the .44 Magnum in all respects) that also makes it a decent hunting handgun. The Taurus Raging Judge could likewise work in this role, as it can also chamber .454 Casull.
That said, much like a person owning a Barrett .50 BMG, there’s no shame in getting a .410 revolver if you’re an enthusiast and genuinely want one. If it’s what you’re into, awesome! Enjoy it, loud and proud. Just don’t go kidding anyone about the practicality.
Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for AlienGearHolsters.com, a subsidiary of Hayden, ID, based Tedder Industries, where he writes about gun accessories, gun safety, open and concealed carry tips. Click here to visit aliengearholsters.com.