Is The .410 Handgun a Viable Defense Platform?

410 Handgun

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, high-capacity striker-fired handguns, and….410 pistols?

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 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” () 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, extra batteries, and a, all encompassed in a nice. 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.

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