Concealed Carry & Home Defense

CCW Weekend: Should You Carry .45 Colt Or .410 In That Judge Or Governor?

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By Sam Hoober, Alien Gear Holsters

No matter the criticisms that have been leveled in their direction, people keep buying the .45/.410 revolvers such as the Taurus Judge and S&W Governor. They aren’t bad guns, but they aren’t everything they’re cracked up to be either.

Then again, not everyone wants to buy a Glock. Who says you have to have the same old thing as everyone else in that concealed carry holster, nightstand safe or however you tote or store your pistol?

Anyone can just get some plastic compact that everyone and their brother has by now. They’re unoriginal. They’re boring, and let’s face it – you aren’t that tactical; you work in an office, you shop at Bed, Bath and Beyond and you aren’t fooling anybody!

But enough of that. Let’s say you DID want a .410 revolver. Should you believe the shotgun hype and carry .410? Or trust in a big ol’ slug of lead and get .45 Colt for a carry load?

Until relatively recently, .45 Colt had all the upside and .410 had all the downside. Today, it’s actually a bit of a different story.

You see, until ammunition makers started paying attention to the .410 revolver crowd, you had to be content with whatever 2-½” .410 gauge shells you could get your hands on. Some people would purposely get birdshot with the idea being that the spread guaranteed more hits, though birdshot is not the best defensive ammunition against humans.

Too little penetration, you see. You hit, but not deep enough.

Buckshot, either double-aught or triple-aught, is better; you’d hit with multiple projectiles at close range. However, the hitch there is that you only get a few pellets (there are only three pellets of 000 per round) and they aren’t exactly potent. Each 000 pellet is smaller and slower than .380 Auto.

On paper, .45 Colt has the advantage. It is available in JHP for self-defense. Granted, many JHP rounds for revolvers (and also for semi-autos) are designed for use in service-class pistols, such as the Ruger Blackhawk/Redhawk, Smith and Wesson Model 25 and so on.

It is a proven self-defense round and in a tank of a revolver (which the Judge and Governor are) not unmanageable to shoot.

You can also use some alternative bullet types that will work just as well. Soft-cast lead will expand in soft tissues. Jacketed soft nose bullets will also, though they’re typically better for handgun hunting…but are drastically better than hardball.

Then again, you can also load .45 ACP that is formulated for use in short-barrel pistols with moonclips in some models and just not have to worry about it.

However, ammunition makers in the very recent past – like the past year or two – have been coming out with rifled hollow point slugs loaded in 2-½” .410 shotshells, which favors use in such revolvers. They can also, of course, be used to even greater effect from an actual .410 gauge shotgun, and some people use them for hunting small to medium game, up to and including deer.

So…what should you carry IF you were to get the urge to lug one of these monstrosities about? Short-barrel JHP in .45, either .45 Colt (if you find such a load) or .45 ACP in a moonclip, followed by rifled hollow point slug in .410. The dearth of pellets in a buckshot shell for this gauge negates the perceived advantage. Birdshot at close range out of a 2.5-inch barrel could be seen as a less-lethal alternative, but you want lethal ammunition in case you have to defend your life.

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Sam Hoober is Contributing Editor for, 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