The Judge Loses Weight: Taurus Ultra-Lite .45 Colt/.410 Shotshell Revolver


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

October 1st, 2007




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It doesn’t seem like it, but it has been over seven months since I reviewed the Taurus Judge .45 Colt/.410 Shotshell revolver. In those seven months, I have received a lot of feedback on that article, with the great majority of it being positive. As I expected, the snake lovers turned out in force for my comments recommending the Judge as a good carry gun in poisonous snake country, and some called me cruel, and worse, for my comments about shooting a car-jacker in the face, instead of gently turning over the keys and cash to the poor misguided thug. Besides all that stuff, shooters who have bought the Judge have reported great satisfaction with their purchase, except for one revolver that had to go back for warranty work. Instead of plowing the same ground over again, I will refer the reader to that earlier review for details on the Taurus Judge revolver, and just hit the high spots here.

The latest of the Judge series revolvers from Taurus is their new lighter weight Ultra-Lite Judge, and is the subject of this review. I did not find the original all-steel gun to be cumbersome, but after carrying and firing this Ultra-Lite, I like this version much better.

By comparison, at 25.1 ounces, the Ultra-Lite weighs 12.9 ounces less than the all-steel Judge. That three-quarters of a pound is significant if carried in a holster all day while fishing, backpacking, or just hiking around the woods. Other than the weight, the Ultra-Lite has all the features of the original Judge. The front sight is a highly visible fiber-optic unit, and the rear a square notch in the top of the frame. It is a fairly rugged and dependable combo, and the sights are very easy to align quickly. The Judge holds five shots, in any combination of .45 Colt or .410 bore shotshells, as the situation warrants.  For general woods-roaming in the summertime, I like two shotshells followed up with three .45 Colt loads. The first two can easily dispatch the largest snake, and the last three can handle everything else.

Shooting the Ultra-Lite Judge, I tested a variety of .45 Colt and .410 bore shotshell loads, including some triple-ought ( 000 ) buckshot.  Personally, I prefer birdshot and solid .45 Colt ammo in the Judge, but after many requests and an update on the previous Judge review to include buckshot, I tried some in the Ultra-Lite Judge. The revolver patterned numbers four and six birdshot very well at any range at which a snake could be a danger, clustering a tight pattern at six feet from the muzzle, and still pretty effective out to seven yards, as can be seen in the pictures.  With .45 Colt ammunition, this Judge wasn’t as accurate as the earlier gun, but still displayed usable accuracy at close defensive ranges. Seven yard accuracy offhand was pretty good, entirely acceptable for close range social work.

The fit and finish of the Ultra-Lite Judge was well executed. It has an even bead-blasted dull metal finish that is non-reflective. The trigger pull measured a smooth nine and one-third pounds in double-action mode, and the single action pull weight measured four pounds and nine ounces. The trigger is wide and smooth, and very comfortable to use. The barrel/cylinder gap measured just three one-thousandths (.003) of an inch. The Taurus Ribber grip does an excellent job of taming the recoil of the lightweight revolver, and it was not painful at all to shoot the Ultra-Lite Judge, with shotshells or .45 Colt heavy loads.

By design, the Judge is not really a hunting arm, though it could fill that role at close range, but is a pretty good choice for a firearm to carry while roaming the woods and wilderness for protection from snakes, wild dogs, and large animals. Like the all-steel Judge, it is also perfectly suited to the role of a "car gun" for defense against human predators while traveling the city streets and highways of our country.  I have done a lot of traveling, both in autos and on motorcycles, and just about all the people that I have run across have been nice folks. However, regardless of what some would have you to believe, there is evil in this world, and some people are just downright mean. Watching the evening news can be depressing sometimes, seeing the terrible ways in which some human beings treat others.  The police do a pretty good job of protecting  the citizenry in general, but still, everyday, some people kill, hurt, rob, beat, stab, shoot, slice and just generally abuse other people.  If you have a twenty-four cop at your side, you will probably be just fine. If not, you are responsible for protecting yourself and those whom depend upon you. You can protect yourself, or the police can show up later a draw a chalk line around your dead body. The first rule of a gunfight is "have a gun".

Of the Judge series of revolvers from Taurus, I think that this three-inch barreled Ultra-Lite is the best yet. It weighs less than most small-framed .22 revolvers, yet packs a lot more punch. For any one specific task, I can think of another gun that can do the job better than the Judge. It is not a target-grade paper puncher. It is not the perfect big game hunting sidearm. It is not the best upland bird hunting shotgun. However, it fills a niche that needs filling, as a good, lightweight, versatile trail gun, especially in snake country.  For a wilderness camper, it offers good versatility for filling the pot with meat. Also, as a car gun, it just might be as good of an anti-carjacker gun as you can get. Firing a load of shot at contact range, it has the power to do the job when pinpoint accuracy is not possible. If you hit your attacker in the face, he will leave you alone, and if you miss, you will not kill a bystander thirty yards away. For close range social work, defense against large animals, and to dispatch poisonous snakes, the Ultra-Lite Judge can fill the bill.

Rob Leahy of Simply Rugged Holsters in Alaska is building a dandy holster for the Judge, appropriately called "The Judge". It is a version of the Sourdough Pancake, and it is the perfect holster in which to carry a Judge revolver. They are tough, durable, rugged, and very affordable. Contact Rob through his website:

Check out the extensive line of Taurus firearms online at

For the location of a Taurus dealer near you, click on the dealer Finder icon at

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Taurus' Ultra-Lite Judge .45 Colt/.410 Shotshell revolver.





Five-shot cylinder can be loaded with a combination of .45 Colt and .410 shotshells.





Taurus Security System.





Taurus' Ribber grip does a great job of taming recoil.



Wide, smooth trigger is a great aid to fast double-action work.



Enclosed ejector rod.





Sights consist of fixed rear and high-visibility fiber-optic drift-adjustable front.





Accuracy was acceptable for the gun's intended purpose. Shown here is 000 Buckshot at seven yards.



#6 shot at 6 feet (top) and seven yards (bottom).



At 25 yards, .45 Colt ammo grouped into 6".



Seven yard .45 Colt group fired offhand shows that the Judge is capable of good accuracy at combat range.



Simply Rugged makes this great pancake holster for packing the Judge either concealed or on the trail. It can be worn strong-side or crossdraw, and offers good protection and concealability under a light jacket.