Taurus Big-Bore Double Feature

Taurus Big-Bore Double Feature

Taurus' new handguns--the PT845 semiauto and the latest iterations of The Judge DA revolver--get a thumbs-up from the critics. These are two action stars you won't want to miss.

The New PT845
The most recent addition to Taurus International's rapidly growing line of semiautomatic pistols is the PT845, a polymer-frame .45 ACP with 12-round magazine capacity and a conventional hammer-fired, double-action/single-action operating mechanism. It is the third member of the new Taurus PT800-series full-size autoloader family, which now includes the PT809 9mm with 17-round magazine capacity, the PT840 .40 S&W with 15-round magazine capacity, and the PT845. All three chamberings are available either with carbon-steel black-finish slide or with stainless-steel natural-finish slide.

The PT800-series autos were derived from the 24/7-OSS pistol line, but the firing mechanisms are completely different. It seems that many folks wanted a pistol similar to the 24/7-OSS design in all other respects but having a conventional double-action hammer-fired mechanism instead of the 24/7-OSS' unique "short-action" DAO-type striker-fired trigger. The PT800 series is the result.


The Same But Different
In the hand, the PT845 feels nearly identical to the existing Taurus 24/7-OSS line, as they share a similar overall external configuration. The grip is very comfortable and feels much smaller than a typical double-stack pistol because of its finger grooves. Three backstrap inserts of varying sizes come with each PT845, allowing a "custom fit" easily as removing and replacing the lanyard pin in the base of the grip.



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Taurus PT845:

Model:PT845
Purpose:Self-defense
Manufacturer:Forjas Taurus, S.A. Sao Paulo, Brazil
Distributor:Taurus International Mfg.
16175 NW 49th Ave.
Miami, FL 33014
800-327-3776
Action type:Recoil-operated semiautomatic
Magazine type/capacity:Double-stack/12 rounds
Frame material:Molded polymer frame/steel insert
Slide material:Chrome-moly steel; stainless steel
Caliber:.45 ACP
Trigger type:Double-action/single-action
Pull Weight:9 lbs., 13 oz. (DA); 3 lbs., 13 oz. (SA)
Barrel length::4.0 inches
Rifling:Six grooves, 1:16 LH twist
Sights:Drift-adjustable dovetail rear; dovetailed front; three-dot
Metal finish:Black Tennifer; natural stainless
Safeties:Ambidextrous thumb safety; firing-pin block; TSS key lock
Grip material and finish:Integral polymer/matte black
Overall length:8.25 inches
Height:6 inches
Width:1.4 inches
Weigh,empty: 28.2 oz.
MSRP:$632

The arched contour of the medium backstrap makes the gun very controllable, and the deep indent at the thumb web puts your hand high on the grip, lessening subjective recoil and reducing recovery time by aligning your grasp more closely with the axis of the bore.


The difference between the PT845 and the 24/7-OSS in this regard is perceptibly less than you would expect in view of the fact that striker-fired pistols typically sit notably lower than hammer-fired guns due to the internal height of a hammer mechanism. Incidentally, the grip of the PT845 is hard-surface with treaded grooves on the frontstrap and backstrap, while the PT809 9mm and PT840 .40 S&W versions have soft-rubber "Ribber" overmolds.


A small but very elegant feature is the "memory dish" in the frame--both sides--just above the front of the trigger guard. It is an index point alongside the gun for either your trigger finger or for the thumb of your support hand. The frame's full-length extended dust cover shields the pistol's innards from grit and dirt, and it also provides a molded-in two-slot Picatinny-spec equipment rail. The grip angle is the same as the 24/7-OSS family, which parallels the classic Model 1911 design and makes the PT845 equally pointable.

Standard sights on the PT845 are a low-profile Novak three-dot system, dovetailed in the front and rear; the latter drift-adjustable for windage with locking setscrews. Like the 24/7-OSS pistols, there is a visible and tactile loaded-chamber indicator located in conjunctionwith the external extractor. Unlike the 24/7, front grasping grooves in the slide aid in manual cycling.

But of course, the primary difference between the PT845 and the 24/7-OSS line is the hammer-fired trigger mechanism, which can be operated in the conventional DA/SA autoloader mode, with a first shot from rest requiring a long trigger pull and about 10 pounds of pressure to operate the hammer. Subsequent cocked-hammer single-action pulls are approximately 4 pounds.

Taurus emphasizes what it terms the "strike two" capability of this system. In other words, it has the same ability to deliver a second strike in the event of a light-indent misfire as does the 24/7 design.

The PT845 features a full-length, captive guide-rod system for stability. An ambidextrous manual safety allows cocked-and-locked carry, similar to the classic Model 1911.

The PT845's trigger resets to the double-action position when released, should the gun not fire.

An additional set of PT845 features that distinguish it from the 24/7-OSS family is its total ambidexterity. The manual safety, magazine-release button, and slide lock are present in mirror-image positions on both sides of the frame. These are not reversible; they are simultaneously ambidextrous.

The manual safety operates in the same manner as the classic Model 1911, allowing cocked-and-locked carry. Plus, when pushed firmly down past the fire position, the safety also serves as a decocking lever. Other PT800 series safety features include the Taurus Security System (TSS) key lock and an internal self-engaging firing-pin block to eliminate accidental discharge if the gun is dropped on a hard surface.

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Taurus PT845 25-Yard Accuracy

Factory LoadVelocity (fps)Standard Deviation (fps)25-Yard Accuracy (in.)
.45 ACP, 4.0-Inch Barrel
Speer 185-gr. Gold Dot1088142.88
Winchester 185-gr. Silvertip939102.75
Hornady 200-gr. TAP CQ943142.83
Remington 23-gr. BJHP 886213.12
Winchester 230-gr. SXT/HP913172.68
NOTES: Accuracy is the average of five, five-shot groups fired from a sandbag benchrest at 25 yards. Velocity is the average of five rounds measured 10 feet from the gun's muzzle.

There are two very important things about all these safety features. The first is that you don't have to use them if you don't want to; you won't even notice they are there. I carry the PT845 safety-off and ready to go just like a DA revolver.

The second important thing is the fact that these features are there makes the PT800 series acceptable to politically pressured law enforcement administrators who run in horror from any ready-to-fire handgun design that does not have manual safety features. Every police officer and trainer I have shown the PT845 loves the fact that this gun can be used without noticing all its available safeties; all their administrative bosses smile because they are there.

Another new element of the PT800 series is a disassembly procedure that is different from other generations of the 24/7-OSS platform. To strip the PT845 for maintenance, you first remove the magazine and visually inspect the chamber to ensure it is empty. Then, slightly pull the slide back out of battery to relieve pressure on the crosswise spring-loaded takedown bar that passes through the frame above the trigger. Push downward on both ends of the bar, and simply pull the slide/barrel assembly forward off the frame. There is no need to pull or release the trigger/hammer mechanism, as is the case with many DAO polymer-pistol designs. This is tremendously valuable insurance against injury. The captive dual-spring recoil-guide assembly and barrel can be readily removed.

To reassemble, simply return the slide/barrel assembly to the frame rails and move it to the rear until the takedown bar clicks. That's it.

On the PASA Park Action Pistol range, I found the PT845 to be very comfortable to operate and fire. I burned up about 300 rounds of .45 ACP 230-grain ball ammo running plate drills, and then I put it through a set of 25-yard accuracy runs with a selection of personal-defense/duty loads. All the results are listed in the accompanying chart. Overall average group size was 2.85 inches. Overall total of mechanical malfunctions was exactly zero.

Clearly, the new PT845 auto-loader from Taurus is a worthy product for those who either require or prefer a modern-feature polymer .45 ACP pistol with a traditional double-action trigger mechanism.

All Rise For The Judge
In the past two years, Taurus' Model 4510 "The Judge" .45 Colt cartridge and .410 shotshell personal-defense revolver has become the single largest selling product in the entire Taurus catalog. That's a fairly remarkable fact, considering that The Judge is an extremely unusual tool, looks notwithstanding, with nothing else in the firearms marketplace that remotely compares.

The new PT845 (top) evolved from Taurus' popular 24/7 pistol platform.
The PT845's safety and slide-lock controls are identical on both sides of the frame.

It is a medium-frame, double-action revolver with an extremely long five-shot cylinder that will chamber .410 shotshells as well as .45 Colt cartridges. The barrel is rifled to basic .45 Colt specifications (six grooves; 1:12-inch twist) with a couple of proprietary Taurus tweaks to ensure optimum dispersal of the .410 shot pattern as well, making it legal under federal and state laws prohibiting short-barrel smoothbore shotguns.

Other .410/.45 Colt handguns have been previously offered by various manufacturers, and for several years, Taurus itself had in fact produced the basic concept as the Model 4410--a sporting revolver and "snake defense" gun--without it attracting much consumer notice.

Then, in 2005, Taurus chief Bob Morrison heard that a number of judges in high-crime jurisdictions of the Miami area were buying the gun for personal defense in their courtrooms. Intrigued, he initiated a test protocol to evaluate the effectiveness of the revolver for close-range personal defense when loaded with then-available .410 shotshell varieties. The results exceeded his expectations.

Due to the spin imparted by the rifled barrel, the shot columns from the revolver dispersed rapidly at very close ranges. This was unlike shot columns fired from smoothbore shotgun barrels, which remained tightly patterned at personal-defense distances.

Most people assume that a shotgun sprays its load from the muzzle forward, but at room-length distances, a shot load from a typical open-choke 12-gauge shotgun does not open up much more than 3 inches, requiring a shotgun to be "aimed" for close-range work. At close range, it's as easy to miss with a shotgun as it is with a handgun or a carbine.

Due to the .410 revolver's rifled bore, even #4 game loads from the small-gauge .410 spread an even pattern that reaches about a 15- to 18-inch diameter only 10 to 12 feet from the muzzle. This makes the gun extremely effective as a point-and-shoot firearm in close quarters, and it is also much easier to maneuver and handle than a full-size shotgun in confined situations. Plus, the revolver's capability for follow-up shots with conventional .45 Colt defense-bullet cartridges gave it a dual-ammunition capability unlike any other handgun made. The implications were obvious.

In early 2006, Morrison had the Model 4410 reconfigured with features appropriate for a personal-defense tool, changed the model designation to "4510" to more accurately indicate its chamberings, and christened it "The Judge." Shortly afterward, a segment reviewing the new version of the gun appeared on Shooting Times' "Personal Defense Television," showing the devastating effect of two .410 shot loads double-tapped from the driver's seat of a car at a silhouette target simulating an attacker at the passenger window. Sales immediately skyrocketed, and The Judge has been back-ordered ever since.

The initial configuration of the Model 4510 Judge featured a cylinder chambered for standard 2.5-inch .410 shotshells. For 2008, new 3-inch-magnum-chambered versions were added to the line; they come with slightly longer cylinders and extended frames.

There are currently eight different Judge variations available.

The original 2.5-inch-chamber configuration is available with 3-inch barrel in both blued steel and stainless steel, weighing 34.1 and 34.4 ounces, respectively. The new 3-inch-magnum-chamber version with 3-inch barrel is also offered in blued and stainless, weighing 36.2 and 36.6 ounces, respectively. Ultra-Lite versions of The Judge with 3-inch barrels were introduced in late 2007, and they feature lightweight aluminum-alloy frames and 2.5-inch-chamber steel cylinders, in both blue finish and natural "stainless" finish, weighing an easy-to-carry 25 ounces. There are also two sport configurations of The Judge with 6.5-inch barrels and 2.5-inch-chamber cylinders in blued steel and stainless steel, weighing 38.6 and 38.2 ounces, respectively.

Disassembly of the PT845 is quick and simple.
The new 4.0-inch-barreled PT845 delivered superior duty-grade accuracy at 25 yards.

All versions of The Judge share the same basic personal-defense-oriented features. All are built on the Taurus double-action medium "Tracker" frame, with side-swing cylinder that is conventionally latched with a frame-mounted thumbpiece release at the rear and a spring-loaded ball-detent cylinder-yoke latch at the front. The ejector rod is not latched at its front. The TSS hammer-mounted key lock is standard.

The fixed rear sight is a conventional square-notch groove in the top of the f

rame, but the front sight is dovetailed for windage adjustment. It has a high-visibility, red fiber-optic insert for instant target acquisition.

The grips are Taurus' soft-rubber wraparound Ribber-style, which moderate recoil and readily compress to conform to virtually any hand size or finger length, while providing increased surface area palm adhesion for maximum controllability.

Judge variations include the new 3-inch-magnum cylinder (top), 2.5-inch cylinder with 6.5-inch barrel Tracker version, alloy-frame Ultra-Lite, and standard models. All are available in both blued and brushed-natural finish.

Other than the slightly longer frame and cylinder, the 3-inch-magnum-chamber versions differ from the 2.5-inch-chamber versions only in the presence of an additional screw on the right side of the frame forward of the sideplate. This is a securing point for the cylinder-yoke button. All versions sport a distinctive "The Judge" logo emblazoned on the right side of the barrel.

What's It Good For?
Soon after The Judge began to attract attention in the marketplace as a personal-defense revolver, a number of reviews appeared in various publications and websites, each questioning the effectiveness of .410 shotshells for defense and noting their lack of penetration, stopping power, and effective range. Many of these reviews presented The Judge's shotshell features as something of an oddity, concluding that while it was certainly a well-made gun and adequate for snake defense in the bush, it really should not be taken as a "serious personal-defense gun," except when loaded with .45 Colt "manstoppers."

In my assessment, many of these reviews missed essential points. When considering The Judge as a defensive tool, it is critical to understand what it is actually for and what it is not for. When loaded with shotshells, The Judge is designed specifically for the purpose of extreme-close-range defense against sudden personal attack. This means within the confines of a vehicle, bedroom, living room, or an in-your-face assault on the street.

It is also particularly designed for use by members of your family who may not be comfortable or capable with arms such as a .45 ACP Model 1911, a .357 Magnum revolver, or a 12-gauge shotgun. It is also intended for those who are not professionally trained or practiced in the principles of instant sight-alignment or precise shot placement under extreme stress. Firing .410 shotshells, it is purely an up-close, reflexive, point-and-shoot tool.

Choice of .410 shotshell load is also critical to any comprehensive evaluation of The Judge's effectiveness. Most reviews of The Judge have focused on its performance with .410 small-game loads. The heaviest shot commercially loaded in .410 game loads is #4. But at 12- to 15-foot distance, a #4 pattern from The Judge has opened up to approximately 18 inches in diameter, and penetration has dropped to nonlethal levels on a human target, particularly one wearing dense-fabric clothing.

Much more appropriate for defense use in The Judge are 000-buckshot loads designed for deer-size animals and available both in 2.5-inch and 3-inch magnum .410 loads. A 3-inch magnum, triple-ought .410 delivers five 70-grain .357-caliber lead bullets at about 1,100 fps from a 3-inch barrel Judge revolver with a pattern spread of about 7 inches at 12 feet and approximately 12 inches at 20 feet. So an assailant struck by a quick double-tap from this load from a short-barreled Judge is essentially being hit by 10 near-simultaneous .357-caliber slugs at greater than .38 Special +P velocities. Definitely lethal.

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Taurus Judge:

Model:4510 "The Judge"
Purpose:Self-defense
Manufacturer:Forjas Taurus, S.A. Sao Paulo, Brazil
Distributor:Taurus International Mfg.
16175 NW 49th Ave.
Miami, FL 33014
800-327-3776
Action type:Double-action revolver
Magazine type/capacity: 5 rounds
Frame material:Stainless steel (tested); carbon steel; forged alloy
Cylinder material:Stainless steel (tested); carbon steel
Caliber:.45 Colt/ .410 Bore 3-inch(tested); 2 1/2-inch
Trigger type:Double-action
Pull Weight:10 lbs., 9 oz. (DA); 4 lbs., 8 oz. (SA)
Barrel length::3.0 (tested); 6.5 inches
Rifling:Six grooves, 1:12 RH twist
Sights:Fixed frame-groove rear; dovetailed, fiber-optic front
Metal finish:Satin stainless(tested); blued; blue anodized
Safeties:Transfer-bar; TSS key lock
Stock material:Taurus "Ribber"
Overall length:9.5 inches (tested)
Height:5 inches
Width:1.5 inches
Weight,empty: 36.6 oz.(tested); 25 oz. (Ultra-Lite)
MSRP:$608 (stainless, 3-inch cylinder); $519 (blued, 2.5 inch cylinder); $569 (stainless, 2.5-inch cylinder); $589 (Ultra-Lite, blued)

The Judge's cylinder design allows alternating use of .410 shotshells and .45 Colt ammunition for defense situations.

As for the .45 Colt cartridge performance of The Judge, little needs to be said about the known effectiveness of a 200- to 250-grain .45-caliber bullet for defense. So how accurate is The Judge with .45 Colt cartridge ammunition in view of the long freebore the bullet must travel in the extended .410 shotshell cylinder chambers before it jumps the barrel/cylinder gap and engages the rifling?

I must confess, this is where The Judge exceeded my expectations. As shown in the chart, a representative selection of .45 Colt commercial ammunition from a 3-inch-barreled, magnum-cylinder Judge averaged 3.12 inches overall for five-shot, full-cylinder groups at 25 yards. The average group size for the same series of .45 Colt loads from a 6.5-inch version of The Judge averaged a quarter-inch smaller. I attributed the difference to my eyes' appreciation for the more precise sight-alignment enabled by the longer sight radius of the 6.5-inch gun.

These results are on a par with any "pure" .45 Colt revolver on the market, and they're better than many. Whatever Taurus did to tweak the rifling specs obviously worked.

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Taurus Judge Revolvers: .410 10-Foot Patterns

Factory LoadShot Weight (oz.)Velocity (fps)(nominal)Pattern (in.) @ 10 ft
3-inch Barrel, 2.5-Inch Chambers
Federal #60.5120015.0
Remington #40.5120012.5
Winchester #40.5124512.0
Winchester 000 3 13004.50
3-inch Barrel, 3-inch Magnum Chambers
Federal #40.7113514.5
Remington #40.7113515.5
Winchester #40.7113515.0
Winchester 000 5 11356.75
NOTES: Pattern data is the average of five rounds. Shot weight for buckshot loads is the number of 70-grain 000 pellets.

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Taurus Judge Revolvers: .45 Colt 25-Yard Accuracy

Factory LoadShot Weight (oz.)Velocity (fps)(nominal)Pattern (in.) @ 10 ft
6.5-inch Barrel, 2.5-Inch Chambers
CCI Blazer 200-gr. JHP952183.25
CorBon 200-gr. JHP +P1120212.68
CorBon 225-gr. DPX +P1103152.75
Federal 225-gr. SWCHP842263.12
Speer 200-gr. Gold Dot 936 172.50
Winchester 210-gr. Silvertip 978 102.88
Overall average accuracy 2.88
3-inch Barrel, 3-inch Magnum Chambers
CCI Blazer 200-gr. JHP901213.47
CorBon 200-gr. JHP +P1089242.88
CorBon 225-gr. DPX +P1057123.20
Federal 225-gr. SWCHP798203.25
Speer 200-gr. Gold Dot 889 16 2.83
Winchester 210-gr. Silvertip 937 173.12
Overall average accuracy 3.12
NOTES: Accuracy is the average of five full-cylinder groups fired from a sandbag benchrest at 25 yards. Velocity is the average of five rounds measured 12 feet from the guns' muzzles.

The overwhelming and unanticipated popularity of The Judge has made many in the industry sit up and take notice. Defense and tactical-oriented accessory and ammunition makers are certainly taking it seriously. BlackHawk recently introduced a Judge-specific version of its high-tech SERPA holster. LaserLyte is now marketing a Judge-specific barrel-mounting system for its ultracompact laser-aiming system. And Federal Premium ammunition will introduce two new 2.5-inch Personal Defense .410 loads in 2009 specifically designed for--you guessed it--The Judge. One is a #4 shotshell load, the other is a 000-buckshot load, and both are rated at 1,300 fps muzzle velocity from the gun.

These days, I carry a Judge revolver in my vehicle everywhere that the law allows, loaded with alternating 000-buck and .45 Colt defense cartridges. There is also one in our bedroom. There's no more effective close-range personal-defense handgun on the market. And with game loads, it's also good for snakes in the grass.

The new 3-inch-magnum-chamber version of The Judge has a longer frame and cylinder than the 2.5-inch-chamber version.

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