Taurus Public Defender

Taurus Public Defender

I must confess i didn't get it when Taurus introduced the Judge. I thought it was awful bulky for a concealed carry piece, and I questioned the concept of shotgun shells in a defensive revolver. I could see the benefit for folks who spend a lot of time in snake country, but I didn't consider the Judge a proper concealed carry gun. Fortunately for Taurus, no one asked me, because the Judge is the best-selling gun in Taurus history.

The Judge caught on fast, and it wasn't long before I started seeing them on the belts of my rancher friends. Few are gun guys, yet almost every rancher I know bought one.

No matter where I went, Judge-toting ranchers were itching to whip out' their new toys. By the time it had been out a year, I'd probably fired a dozen of these guns. They impressed me enough that I eventually ordered the then-new UltraLite model.


My Ultralight shot nice, tight patterns with .410 buckshot and it grouped phenomenally well with .45 Colt loads. Consequently, I've shot it an awful lot and eventually came to embrace the idea of the .410-buckshot-loaded wheelgun for self defense.


Evidently, so have a lot of other folks, because the popularity of the Judge led Taurus to introduce the more concealable Public Defender last year.

The Public Defender is based on Taurus' small-frame Model 85. Though the cylinder is stretched to accommodate 21â'„2-inch .410 shells, the grip frame is the same as Taurus' popular snubby, so it's easier to conceal. Taurus' distinctive ribbed, rubber grips are standard. So is a low-profile cylinder release latch.

The hammer is an abbreviated number with just enough serrations to provide a purchase for cocking and decocking the revolver should you choose to fire it single-action.

The Public Defender's smooth, narrow trigger looks good, but its 11-pound, four-ounce double-action pull is too heavy for fast double-action work.


The single-action pull is also heavy at six pounds, seven ounces.

The Public Defender's barrel is a stubby, two-inch tube with a shrouded ejector rod. A ramped front sight with a red fiber-optic insert is dovetailed into the barrel rib. The rear sight is a fixed notch.

The Public Defender features a bobbed hammer and low-profile cylinder latch that make it a better concealed carry gun.

This sight combination works well in daylight and adequately in low-light conditions, but it is not a night sight.


The Public Defender is available in matte stainless, blue steel and blue steel with a titanium cylinder. I chose the matte stainless finish for its corrosion resistance, which is an essential concealed carry feature in the humid patch of coastal Texas I call home.

The Judge's popularity is largely due to the decisive effect of buckshot on people and the belief that the pattern thrown by the little five-shooter will make hits more likely. That popularity drove Federal to design a new shotshell specifically for the Judge (featured in last month's issue--Ed.). I did the bulk of my testing with the new 2½-inch load, which propels four pellets of 000 buck at 1,200 fps.

The Public Defender comes with a fiber-optic front sight, but the author believes a tritium model would be a good addition.

At five and seven yards, the Public Defender threw tight, fist-size patterns right on top of the front sight. I imagine four pellets striking so close together and driving helter-skelter through an attacker's chest cavity would be devastating. But that power comes at a price: Recoil and muzzle rise were considerable, though not unmanageable with a bit of practice.

At 10 yards, the patterns opened up a bit, but all the pellets were well within the chest of a B-27 silhouette. At 15 yards, the pattern opened up considerably more. But even at that range it didn't spread enough to make up for bad shot placement. Though vertical dispersion was significant, the pellets were well-centered.

Based on my experience with the Public Defender and other Judges, I would say 10 yards is about the effective range for shotshells. Still, 10 yards is a hell of a long way for a gunfight, and I would feel pretty safe with a shotshell-stuffed snubby.

Poor buckshot performance at long range and on intermediate barriers is why I carry my Judge with two shotshells and three .45 Colt defensive loads. So loaded, I can handle just about any problem on the ranch or on the street.

With that in mind, I tested two .45 loads from Hornady as well as Speer's 250-grain Gold Dot load. All three shot well, with Hornady's light-kicking 255-grain cowboy load being the most fun, and the Gold Dot load being the most accurate. All three were accurate enough for self-defense.

Overall, I was impressed with the new Public Defender. My test gun was very accurate, and the smaller grip frame makes it much more concealable. I'd like to see a night sight option and a better trigger pull, but the Public Defender is a keeper as is.

The gun's trigger pull is fairly heavy, but it's smooth enough to make accurate double-action shooting possible.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

Kyle Lamb and Eric Poole talk SIG pistols

G&A Editor Eric Poole and Viking Tacticals's Kyle Lamb talks about 2 new pistols from SIG Sauer and a Lipsey's Special of the P365.

Taurus G3c

Taurus G3c

Taurus introduces the compact version of their wildly successful 9mm pistol; the G3.

Handgun Basics

Handgun Basics

SIG Academy's Hana Bilodeau joins Rich and Jim to discuss the essential skills all handgunners should master.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

The number of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for the SIG P320 is only going to increase. Accessories

SIG P320 Accessories and Upgrades

James Tarr - December 14, 2017

The number of accessories and aftermarket upgrades for the SIG P320 is only going to increase.

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo with these 10 low-priced pistols. Compact

10 Cheap Guns Under $250

Evan Brune - September 24, 2015

Guns are fun, and cheap guns are even more fun. Spend less on the firearm and more on ammo...

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most parts in just minutes.
Instead, the curtain-rod engineer with a Accessories

8 Popular Drop-In Glock Mods

Dusty Gibson - July 17, 2013

While some modifications require an experienced gunsmith, the average shooter can install most...

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a terrific balance of weight, power and shootability. 1911

Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander 9mm Review

J. Scott Rupp - May 08, 2019

Available in .38 Super, 9mm and .45 ACP, the Ed Brown 1911 Executive Commander offers a...

See More Trending Articles

More Revolvers

The story of the 1917 revolver and .45 Auto Rim. Revolvers

History of the 1917 Revolver and .45 Auto Rim

Bob Campbell - March 04, 2020

The story of the 1917 revolver and .45 Auto Rim.

Ruger's reliable and accurate GP100 now offers an extra round of .357 power. Revolvers

Review: Ruger GP100 7-Shot .357 Magnum

Brad Fitzpatrick - January 15, 2019

Ruger's reliable and accurate GP100 now offers an extra round of .357 power.

In the early 1950s, gun writer Elmer Keith went to Smith & Wesson, urging it to build a gun strong enough to handle the heavy .44 Special loads he had developed for the S&W .44 Hand Ejector. His persistence paid off as Remington and Smith & Wesson got together to design the .44 Magnum. Revolvers

Smith & Wesson Model 29 - History and Beauty Shot

Stan Trzoniec - September 27, 2019

In the early 1950s, gun writer Elmer Keith went to Smith & Wesson, urging it to build a gun...

Remembering a Civil War-era double-action revolver. Revolvers

The Starr Revolver

Bob Campbell - April 16, 2019

Remembering a Civil War-era double-action revolver.

See More Revolvers

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now