Taurus Polymer-Frame 45 Colt/410 Shotshell “Public Defender Poly” Revolver


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

January 12th, 2011


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Taurus "Public Defender Poly" 45 Colt/410 Shotshell revolver.







Low-profile cylinder release latch.





Windage-adjustable rear and fiber-optic front sights.





Taurus Security System key lock is inset into the hammer.







The Taurus Judge series of revolvers have been a hit with the public since first introduced back in 2006. A few months later, when production began, gun sellers could not keep the 45 Colt/410 Shotshell revolvers on the shelves. To this day, the Judge revolvers are still very hot sellers. We have reviewed here the original Judge, the UltraLite, and the compact Public Defender. Now, we have a version of the Public Defender with a polymer frame to reduce weight a bit more. At just over twenty-three ounces, the polymer revolver weighs five ounces less than the steel Public Defender, which is a considerable weight savings when carried on the hip or in a pocket.

The Public Defender Polymer uses a steel sub-frame, with the grip, trigger guard, barrel shroud, and top strap made of reinforced polymer. Polymer has been used in handguns since the HK VP70 was introduced four decades ago. Some folks do not like polymer handguns, but it is not because polymer does not work well. I agree that a plastic pistol does not stir the soul like walnut and blued steel, but for a handgun that is a tool, it works very well. Polymer is lightweight, self-lubricating, and does not rust. Nobody is going to accuse the new Polymer Judge of being just a pretty face. It is a homely-looking revolver, but it serves its purpose very well. Like the rest of the Judge series of revolvers, Poly can shoot 45 Colt ammunition, and it does it well. However, its forte is its ability to throw a charge of buckshot, birdshot, or a combination of both for a formidable weapon for close-range personal defense. Since the Judge was first introduced, folks have been walking into gun stores and asking for “the carjacker gun”, as it was recognized early on as being an ideal carjacker repellant. If someone jerks your car door open and immediately gets a face-full of birdshot, he will suddenly have a change of priorities, I promise you. At across-the-room distances, a load of buckshot, or even better, the new Winchester PDX1 load that contains three flattened disks and twelve pellets of plated BB-sized shot, makes for a very good defensive load from a handgun. It is not equivalent to a heavy payload of shot from a twelve gauge shotgun, but it is a whole lot lighter weight of a weapon to carry. Poly is small enough and light enough to conceal well under a jacket or un-tucked shirt, and rides very well in a cross draw holster while seated in a vehicle, for immediate access.

The Polymer Public Defender wears better sights than previous models of the Judge, as Poly’s rear sight is windage-adjustable, yet still low-profile and snag-free. The rear sight notch is good and wide for quick alignment, and the front is a red fiber-optic rod set into a square-faced steel post. The small hammer spur is well-checkered for a positive, non-slip purchase by the shooter’s thumb. Poly can be fired from either the single action or double action modes. The single action pull was crisp on the sample revolver, and the double action very smooth. Pull weights are listed in the chart below, along with other critical specifications.

Weight 23.2 ounces
Barrel Length 2.06 inches
Trigger Pull SA 3 pounds, 15 ounces
Trigger Pull DA 8 pounds, 14 ounces
Cylinder Length 2.6 inches
Cylinder Diameter 1.515 inches
Chambers 5
Overall Length 7.75 inches
Overall Height 4.625 inches
Barrel/Cylinder Gap 0.004
Ammunition 45 Colt or 2.5 inch 410 shotshell
Grip Synthetic Rubber

The Polymer Public Defender was fired using a variety of 410 shotshell ammunition and with a lead-bullet 45 Colt handload. Functioning was perfect with all ammo tested. I concentrated mostly on 410 shotshell ammunition because I consider this handgun a 410 shotgun first, with the 45 Colt playing a secondary role. The reason for this is that there are many 45 Colt handguns on the market, and the Judge series of revolvers can certainly shoot that ammo as well as most, but the ability of the weapon to fire the shotshells for defense against poisonous snakes, pest control, and for social work make the Judge revolvers unique.

The light weight of the Polymer Public defender, which helps make it ideal for concealed carry, also makes the felt recoil a bit sharper. However, the excellent cushioned Ribber grip makes the weapon easy to control, and eliminates any pain. I fired Poly at ranges from three to twenty-five yards, with very good results. At across-the-room distances, keeping buckshot and PDX1 loads on a human silhouette was easy to do. The revolver fired smoothly, and the empty cases always ejected easily, no matter the load tested. Again, functioning was perfect.

The Polymer Public Defender was easy to control, as can be seen in the accompanying video. It hides well in a coat pocket, or when carried in a belt holster such as the versatile Simply Rugged Sourdough Pancake. Loaded with PDX1 ammo for self defense, it is a rugged, reliable weapon that is easy to shoot, and easy to shoot well. Loaded with small birdshot, it is an excellent choice for use against poisonous reptiles in the woods, and if larger predators might be a problem, carrying two shotshells with three 45 Colt loads would be a good choice, especially in bear country. Like all of the Judge revolvers, this new polymer-framed revolver is a versatile, reliable weapon, and Judge Poly is my favorite Judge yet.

Check out the extensive line of Taurus firearms online at www.taurususa.com.

For the location of a Taurus dealer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at www.lipseys.com.

To order Judge Poly online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

To order any of the line of quality Simply Rugged holsters, go to www.simplyrugged.com.

For a closer look at the line of PDX1 defensive ammunition, go to www.winchester.com.

Jeff Quinn

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Simply Rugged Sourdough Pancake holster is an excellent, versatile means of concealing the Polymer Public Defender.



Public Defender Poly (right) compared in size to compact S&W J-frame revolver (left).





38 Special cartridge (top) compared to 45 Colt (center) and .410 shotshell (bottom).



Winchester PDX1 personal defense ammunition.



Taurus' Ribber grip is very comfortable, and takes the sting out of the recoil.