Is The .410 Handgun a Viable Defense Platform?

We live in magical times, folks. The firearms world has never seen such a diverse and stunning array of products that run the gamut from brutally successful to full-on suck.We have weapon-mounted lights, sights that glow in the dark, pistol-mounted RMRs, high-capacity striker-fired handguns, and….410 pistols?taurus_judge_kit_first_24_survival_shtf_teotwawki

The .410 revolver has been developed and marketed as a do-it-all self defense gun that offers the power and versatility of a shotgun with the compact dimensions of a handgun. However, in practice, they offer the versatility, but not much power due to the short barrel lengths offered, and the compact dimensions are, well…not so compact. The cylinder length and large frame that are necessitated by the need to encompass five .410 shotgun shells mean that the .410 handgun is a hefty, sizable beast that you could likely bludgeon an medium-sized elk to death with if you were short on ammo.

However, the (very) short-range versatility of the pistol-launched shotshell does have some merit and use – carry duty in venomous snake country pops into mind as a superb use for this platform. You can also load and fire .45 Colt cartridges from the .410 revolvers; if you have a Taurus “Raging Judge Magnum”, you can also use it to hurl beefy .454 Casull projectiles at unwitting targets. Therefore, the .410 revolver idea is not without merit, but if you wanted a .454 Casull, you surely can do better than a .410 shotgun-handgun hybrid.

Where the .410 handgun falls flat on its face is in the self-defense market. Though there are many variations of ammo that are marketed as dedicated self defense rounds that boast plated buckshot, flattened lead “pucks” backed by BBs, and even non-lethal rubber buckshot, none of these could be considered superior to the two or three hits one could theoretically achieve with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun with self-defense hollow-point ammo in the same time it takes to aim, fire, recover, and fire again with a .410 revolver.

Yes, you can use defensive slugs, which make the .410 handgun act like…a normal, smaller handgun that boasts a higher capacity with less recoil and faster reloads. So all this adds up to make one wonder why someone would carry a .410 handgun for a self-defense platform, other than the sheer braggadocio of being able to say, “I’m carrying a damn shotgun in my pocket.”

As a one-gun survivalist platform, the .410 revolver might have merit. Taurus markets the “First 24 Kit” (read our review here) that offers a tan-colored .410 Taurus Judge, a box of 25 Hornady  Critical Defense ammo, plus other survival goodies like paracord, a flashlight, a Zippo fire starter, a Suunto Compass, extra batteries, and a CRKT Sting knife, all encompassed in a nice SKB hard case. In a survival situation, the ability to forage for small game with a pistol may work if some birdshot rounds were stowed away in the kit, and I suppose I might eschew the Hornady Critical Defense rounds for a box of hollowpoint defense .45 Colt ammunition instead, but at first glance, a kit such as this may be a good starting point for a starting survivalist who doesn’t want to think about his gear too much, and just buy one kit that has what he thinks he needs. But I digress.

I found a great article on the efficacy of the .410 shotgun for defense; it delves into entry-level ballistics, and offers some great videos that compare .410 “defense” ammo to modern 9mm hollowpoint ammunition. A great read if you carry a .410 handgun or not.

See the full article here, and leave a comment below!

3 comments… add one
  • Steve December 10, 2016, 5:22 am

    It’s just damn fun to shoot! 🙂

  • HIgherview December 15, 2016, 12:22 am

    I’m not sure why it is not mentioned that .410 shot out of a revolver is pretty good medicine for grouse and partridge (where legal). I have shot many grouse with my Taurus Judge and S&W Governor. I don’t even think of using the .410 shot for self defense, even though there are some good loads out there now designed just for use in these revolvers. But for two legged predators I would much rather have a good .45 Long Colt or .45 ACP HP. I got my first 45 / 410 when the Judge came out just because I could still have a weapon for predators (we have everything up to Grizzlys here), but have a better weapon for the tasty birds than my 10mm. Of course if I am primarily hunting birds I will have a shotgun, but I am often carrying a rifle for big game when I come across the fool hens. Sometime I am just taking a walk when I come across them. Right away my bag increased with the .410 revolver. Buffalo Bore, Cor-Bon and others make good loads for the .45 LC for self defense either human or furry. I moved up to the S&W Governor when it came out just so I can shoot +P ammo for more penetration on bear loads. I haven’t had to shoot a bear yet, but i have used it on a couple of deer with good effect. I keep four .45 Colt +P rounds in the first four chambers in the cylinder in case of an immediate need for defense. I can simply turn the cylinder to line up the .410 shot shell if I want to shoot a grouse. So far the grouse have be accommodating, I’m not sure a charging grizzly would be so patient. The shot does spin as it leaves the barrel so it will have a sort of a O effect and there will be a donut hole in the pattern. I take that into account when aiming for the birds, and find it works very well out to 15 yards or so out of either of these weapons.

  • Roger December 26, 2016, 10:34 pm

    I like to carry the Savage model 42 (22LR over .410) as a ‘survival gun’, with 200 rounds (50 subsonic) of 22LR and 50 rounds of .410 ( 30/20- #6/.000 buck), I feel that it provides a large range of uses. As a short-range defensive weapon, using .000 buck (5 pellets), 3 inch shells through a 20 inch barrel gives a lot more velocity/firepower than a revolver with a 2″ (or so) barrel! Will it stop a bear? I hope I never have to find out! A question for anyone out there, is the Taurus Raging Bull (8 1/2″ barrel) safe to fire .410 ammo thru, will it damage the rifling, and will it produce a half-way tight pattern? Thank you any info! GLAHP! (Good Luck and Happy Prepping!)


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