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Taurus Public Defender Polymer Revolver Review

Taurus Public Defender Polymer

Taurus Public Defender Polymer

Today we’ll be taking a look at the Taurus Public Defender Polymer .45LC/410 GA. This little hand-cannon holds five shots and Taurus claims it weighs in at 27 ounces unloaded. My scale showed it weighed in at 23.5 ounces (+/- .5 ounces). Coming from the sales success of the Judge revolver, Taurus released the Public Defender Polymer to be considered as a concealed carry weapon. The relatively small size, having an overall length of 7.65” is very good for possible concealment. The barrel is a mere 2” long and the gun at its widest point is only 1.5”. Taurus also includes the Taurus safety lock, which is in the form of a small key that gets inserted just below the hammer and turned. Once the gun is locked, it cannot be fired.

The front sight is a red hi-vis with a fixed rear sight. The red front sight allows for obtaining a quick sight picture and helps keep track of where the barrel is pointing. Overall, the sights are good right out of the box. However, the rear sights have a bit of an edge on their forward face. Since I don’t use this gun as a concealed carry, it’s of no real issue to me. However, if you intend to carry this gun inside a purse or other concealed case, I recommend that you take the gun with you to see if the sights snag on anything on the way in or out of whatever you intend to use.

The grips are rubber, Taurus calling them their “Ribber” grips for the numerous ribs running horizontally along the handle. The handle of the gun is a bit small, which may be a bit problematic for larger hands. I can shoot this with a two-handed grip, but it is compact to say the least.

The gun can be fired single or double action. The trigger pull is over 12 pounds in double-action. It is smooth, but it takes some effort to pull in double action. In single action, the trigger pull is much less coming in at slightly over 5 pounds.  The trigger itself has groves the entire length of it to provide for a better grip and feel to it. The trigger guard is a little on the small side in front of the trigger. Not so small that you can’t comfortably use it, but gloves might be an issue. I’ve not tried to fire it with gloves on. Since I don’t really intend to use it outside of my house, except at the indoor range, this is of little concern for me. However, I mention it in case you might have other plans for it.

The frame is made of polymer over a steel frame. The top strap is nice and flat with faux vented ribs at the barrel. The hammer is bobbed to keep it from catching on things like clothing, or the inside of a purse. Even though it is small, it is easy to find and operate. The top surface is knurled so as to provide a surface that is easy to grip. Small touches like that and the trigger grooves are a welcome feature.

The profile of the gun is dominated by the large cylinder. The cylinder release is on the left side, behind and in line with the lower edge of the cylinder. Once the cylinder is deployed, the standard rod type unloading feature is present. Because the gun is small, the casing closest to the frame can sometimes be a bit tricky to remove, especially if you’re in a hurry. One thing I noted on my gun, the cylinder will touch the frame at the back end if it is man-handled. The spindle the cylinder is mounted to has a little trouble with the enormity and the weight of it. This isn’t unexpected, but, this isn’t the case on similar revolvers.

Range Time

The Public Defender is as easy to load and shoot as any other revolver. However, I have one minor issue with it. Because the handle is so small, if you have larger hands, your middle finger will contact the bottom of the trigger guard. Mine rests right on the knuckle. The recoil, no matter what you are shooting from it, drives the trigger guard with into that knuckle. Ouch! After about 20 rounds, that knuckle hurts and, if any .410 shells were shot, my hand becomes somewhat numb. The rubber grips do a fair job of absorbing the shock, but because of what this thing shoots, a fair amount of energy is still transferred to your hand. I can only get two fingers under the trigger guard. I know that the purpose of this gun is to be small, but I’d really like some more real estate under there to hang on to when firing the relatively large loads this thing spits out.

Because of the various calibers/loads that can be shot with this gun, I thought it best to use a variety to provide a little perspective. I had some 250 grain 45 Long Colt re-loads that I use to practice with. Considering the price of ammo these days, this saves some cash while still providing a good, reliable cartridge to shoot. The recoil with these re-loads is very manageable. I was able to hit center mass at 7.5 yards consistently with the Public Defender with these rounds utilizing the ICE-QT target. Now, make no mistake, this is no competition gun. You aren’t going to be able to place 1” shot groups with this thing, but that’s not the point of the gun, anyway. This rig is meant to perform a home defense role, slamming out large caliber bullets and various shot. You only need to be able to hit what you’re aiming at, not put an eye out. The Public Defender excels at putting lead downrange. To that end, since this is meant to be a home defense gun, I did not test for accuracy beyond the 7.5 yard point. Most experts agree that most home defense situations will happen within that space. So, I used that as my yardstick.

Taurus DefenderThe hi-vis red front site post is easy to maintain on target with a good sight picture. The trigger is smooth all the way to the break point. However, like most revolvers, it is a very long pull. If you’re a first time shooter, this may cause a little apprehension at first. You will get used to it and become comfortable with it. I find myself shooting single action just because the trigger pull is so long.

I then decided it was time for some serious rounds to be tested. I loaded the Public Defender up with Hornady Critical Defense 185 grain FTX rounds. These things are nasty. These rounds were made with this type of weapon in mind. In my experience, these things pack a punch. They have a good deal more recoil than the re-load I was using (to be expected). They also cause a good deal of muzzle flash. At night, that might become a problem if you shoot these rounds. The flash is so bright and significant; it could end up temporarily blinding the shooter. Hornady claims the opposite on their website, but again, that has not been my experience. With the obvious flash and recoil, these are a little more difficult to keep on target. These will also cause a fair amount of energy to be transferred through the grips causing a bit of a buzzing sensation in your hands.

Critical Defense Rounds Muzzle Flash

Critical Defense Rounds Muzzle Flash

 

Next up I used the Winchester Supreme PDX1 410 Defender shot shell. These were the 2.5” variety with 3 discs and 12 BBs. These also have a fairly heavy recoil, but felt less than what the Critical Defense rounds were putting out. There was very little muzzle flash associated with these. I was surprised at this since the Public Defender’s barrel is very short. Again, using the ICE-QT target, these were devastating. The discs punched large holes in the targets, with the BB’s leaving obvious holes of their own. Again, these rounds aren’t for competition, but I was able to easily hit center mass with these at 7.5 yards. Since these shoot somewhat of a pattern, you don’t have to be needle accurate with these rounds. These will hit what you’re aiming for with enough stopping power to get the job done. Now, once the Taurus is empty, reloading is a bit of a challenge. The rounds hang up in the bore that remains closest to the frame of the gun when the cylinder is deployed. The grip gives enough room to depress the extractor rod, but trying to pull that particular round out proves problematic. You have to rotate the cylinder to get it free. I mention this only as something to think about because if you find yourself in a situation where you need to reload rapidly, this could cause a real problem.

PDX1 Rounds

PDX1 Rounds

My last set of test rounds were the Winchester SXZ410. These are 000 buck designed for handguns. This stuff is impressive. Each shot shell contains 3 000 buck 3 ounce balls. Felt recoil is very manageable and the Public Defender was easy to maintain a good sight picture after each shot. There was very little energy transfer like there was for the Critical Defense rounds. With the same type target arranged at 7.5 yards downrange, these projectiles had devastating effect. If this lead rain isn’t going to stop an attacker from coming at you, nothing will. I easily kept all the rounds on the target shot after shot. There were a couple of stray buckshot off target, but I can’t say that wasn’t due to my poor shooting skills, rather than a couple of errant shot. The bottom line is that as with the PDX, these will get the job done and as with the PDX rounds, muzzle flash was kept to a minimum.

SXZ Rounds

SXZ Rounds

Conclusions

I like the Taurus Public Defender Polymer very much. Despite the obvious drawbacks, there is very little available with the compact size and versatility of this gun. In my opinion, this is not an ideal EDC gun, but it is a great front line home defense gun. Much shorter and lighter than a shotgun, it takes some of the intimidation factor out of handling a long gun in the house. Often in those situations, a long gun can put you at a disadvantage if you are trying to turn a corner. That is where this weapon system excels. In close quarters, this can put a great deal of firepower downrange in a very compact and easy to use platform. With no external safety to fumble with, it can be rapidly deployed in an emergency situation with devastating effect. It might also be a good consideration for those of you who carry in your car. This will easily fit in a glove box, center console or lock box in your vehicle. I often carry mine in the center console of my Jeep when I go off-roading.  It makes a good snake gun, and, well, whatever else might present a threat to you outdoors. All in all, a good design and now that ammunition manufacturers are on board with the concept, it keeps getting better. I know that Remington also makes some very good ammunition for these guns, but at the time of this writing, I could not obtain any for these shot tests.

If you need a self-defense platform that puts out great stopping power, is easy to handle, and can fire a variety of rounds, this may be the answer to your quest.

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  • Cobrawing

    I’m not sure what to make of this revolver. On the one hand I like the compactness, although I wouldn’t have chosen the 45LC/410 shotgun for the caliber. I would have simply preferred it in .45ACP thus making it lighter, readily available and still very effective round. The issue with rapid reloads always hanging up is pretty much a deal killer for me. If these rounds hang up with regularity as you have experienced then this product never should have been approved for release by Taurus and no weapon that does this should be recommended by anyone.

    • John Norris

      in my taurus judge, the only time i get hangups with the shot shells is when the plastic of the case is ribbed (remington for instance) the hornady and winchester are both smooth plastic cases and do not hang up at all. I bought mine for home defence ( or at least another option, lol)also wanted a back up gun for my hunting trip to NM last fall, a bear attacked one of the guys the year before…. None of the 45lc rounds hung up with over 500 rounds of various brands and styles.

    • PIP

      your my man…simple…Carry it a bit farther…dont approve tauras or make it…junk!!!

  • 2ThinkN_Do2

    I have the Bond Arms Snake Slayer IV which shoots 3″ 410 loads, it only weighs 23.5 oz. I can relate to the WAP you get in the hand with this after multiple rounds. I generally wear shooting gloves when using this. I imagine the Taurus is actually much more laid back, since it has the “ribber” grips, weighs more and only shoots the 2.5″ rounds. Another thrill are the 325 grain Hard Cast Bear Loads that are available in 45LC by various manufacturers.

  • Wildman

    Not a Taurus fan. Ruger and S&W make much better revolvers.

    • PIP

      i agree with wildman..Taurus is crap..and will always be crap..go get a weapon of worth..sig…kimber..beretta…s&w…wather..almost cant figure why any one would buy a Taurus..my brother in law got a judge…looks weird..ruger and S&W make comparable mods…why then purchase that crap??? dum-founded…….

      • Patrick Dean

        Haters go somewhere else and stop wasting our time.

        • PIP

          wat the hell is a “HATER”…..this forum is for open discusion of the weopon above..all coments welcome…america…right..i agreed with another intellegant human meaning “wild man”,,,seems ol pat dont like common sencse..teehee

  • james lagnese

    What would be nice is if they offered this pistol with a 45LC only cylinder to shorten it up and lengthen the barrel to 2.5″. It still would be shorter and more practical for most. I don’t want or need an ugly pistol that shoots shot shells in addition to a pistol cartridge. Think of a big bore LCR. Unfortunately no one makes this.

    • Chris

      From my understanding of the history of the Judge is that it was designed as an end around to legally have a short gun (Not a full barrel shotgun) that could fire shotgun shells by making it a .45LC platform that just happened to handle 410 shells. The Public Defender was just an offshoot of their popular Judge platform.

      And Yes, I have it as my preferred concealed carry. Being a bigger guy and riding a motorcycle, I carry it in one concealed pouch in my vest, with my PT145 in the other side to balance it out. I like that if I need, I can shoot the first two shotgun shells from the bike and not have to be as concerned about accuracy. The remaining 3 shots are the Horniday Critical Defense.

      • james lagnese

        I am a big guy and I ride as well. I don’t normally carry when I ride as it’s not comfortable, At least for me. I have to research to see what rigs are best for riding. I was thinking of a Cimarron Thunderer or Charter Arms Bulldog.

        • Chris

          i have 2 concealed carry pouches in my vest and have been carrying there over 2 years with close to 40 miles on the bike. Funny that even my family and friends don’t realize i am carrying until we get on the conversation.

          • james lagnese

            I saw Cabelas has a concealed carry vest in tall sizes. Something to think about. :)

    • PublicDefnder owner

      The do make them. It’s called the Colt Peacemaker….

      • http://www.mymotorrad.com/ james lagnese

        And a colt isn’t a Taurus and a Peacemaker isn’t double action.

  • james lagnese

    “I then decided it was time for some serious rounds to be tested. I loaded the Public Defender up with Hornady Critical Defense 185 grain FTX rounds. These things are nasty. These rounds were made with this type of weapon in mind. In my experience, these things pack a punch. They have a good deal more recoil than the re-load I was using (to be expected). They also cause a good deal of muzzle flash. At night, that might become a problem if you shoot these rounds. The flash is so bright and significant; it could end up temporarily blinding the shooter. Hornady claims the opposite on their website, but again, that has not been my experience. ”

    Did you chronograph the rounds? Did you fire into gelatin or live animal? Probably not. Your perceptions are based on shooting a pistol with a 2″ barrel. The reason you have so much flash is that there’s a lot of powder that doesn’t get burned in the barrel. Hornady probably developed the round with a 4.625″-7.5″ barrel in mind where a lot more of the powder gets burned before the bullet exits the barrel, so there may be a lot less flash…If you want to see flash, try a 2-2.5″ .357 with full power 125 grain loads. Same deal.

    • RTuck

      My perceptions are with shooting those rounds with this gun. The review was for THIS gun,

      • james lagnese

        Yup and it shows.

    • 2ThinkN_Do2

      I think the largest flash I ever experienced was with Hornady 200gr FTX 460 Magnum loads in my S&W 460V 5″barrel, that or the Hornady 180gr 44 Magnum XTP in an S&W Model 629 w/3″ barrel. Although the 460V even warmed my face up, and I was shooting outside : )

    • Badkarma060

      I use that sometimes in my S&W 686 and the ball of fire that comes out the barrel looks like a basketball. At close range you would fry some bad guys eyebrows, lol.

  • msg51

    Why doesn’t anyone compare Federal 2.5″-000? This is what I use in my Judge Public Defender. It has 4-000 projectiles of @ 36 caliber. Out of my Judge they pattern about 6″ to 8″ at 30 feet. I sometimes use this as a vehicle gun, but mostly for home defense. The only issue with extraction is the inside case will hang up on the grip. A little turn of the cylinder and it drops out. I don’t consider this a big issue, because at this range if you have not dispatched the threat, you most likely will not have time to reload. And if all 5 rounds hit their target it is not likely the target will survive 20-36 caliber pellets.

    I do not understand why Winchester puts BB’s in their defense loads. From what I have observed they have a very wide spread, which could increase the risk of collateral damage. I also noticed Winchester does not pattern well. The pattern tends to elongate and have at least one flyer. Federal has a circular pattern with no flyers and no stray BB’s.

    I think I will stay with my 38 oz. steel Judge considering it’s usage.

    • RTuck

      I couldn’t get the Federal rounds where I live in Colorado. I’ve used them before and I did look for them when writing this. They were sold out everywhere I looked.

      I agree with your comments. I like the Federal rounds also. In fact, I would rank the Winchester SXZ410 rounds #1, the Federal rounds you mention #2, then the PDX1 rounds #3 for home defense. (IMHO)

  • msg51

    Why doesn’t anyone compare Federal 2.5″-000? This is what I use in my Judge Public Defender. It has 4-000 projectiles of @ 36 caliber. Out of my Judge they pattern about 6″ to 8″ at 30 feet. I sometimes use this as a vehicle gun, but mostly for home defense. The only issue with extraction is the inside case will hang up on the grip. A little turn of the cylinder and it drops out. I don’t consider this a big issue, because at this range if you have not dispatched the threat, you most likely will not have time to reload. And if all 5 rounds hit their target it is not likely the target will survive 20-36 caliber pellets.

    I do not understand why Winchester puts BB’s in their defense loads. From what I have observed they have a very wide spread, which could increase the risk of collateral damage. I also noticed Winchester does not pattern well. The pattern tends to elongate and have at least one flyer. Federal has a circular pattern with no flyers and no stray BB’s.

    I think I will stay with my 38 oz. steel Judge considering it’s usage.

  • PreacherPauly

    I like it. As noted in the article this would be a great home defense gun. I reload the 45 LC. Having the 410 may not be a man stopper, but with alternating loads in the gun it would be a very effective combination. Even a poor or bad shooter could defend themselves in close quarters.

  • MarthaJernigan

    Like Cindy responded I’m alarmed with the aim of you able to earn $8454
    In four weeks on the processor. Added Help, BIG44.­c­o­m

  • robert

    Just bought my judge 4510 model, poly grip. fyi I found a pachmyr extended grip that they are just now introducing. I have large hands and found the stock grip to be a bit small…..

  • Sights On Solutions

    The evaluation of the Taurus Defender is very informative
    and closely follows my experience with the weapon.

    This is not a weapon you will take on the range for extensive target practice for two reasons; its
    ammunition is slightly expensive and it, (the Defender), does beat your hand up
    a bit after prolonged use. The polymer frame is light weight and, because of this, the shooter must manage the recoil without the benefit of the weapons weight absorbing some of the recoil for you. If you find this to be a problem, it is easily solved by opting for the stainless steel variation of this weapon, which is inherently heavier, and benefits the shooter in managing recoil.

    The second reason why the prosecutor / Judge doesn’t require extensive range time is that the weapon is a close quarters weapon, and does not require extensive training in accuracy, (indisputable effectiveness of a 410 shotgun shell at close range). Time is better spent training to draw form a concealed platform rather than point accuracy. This approach requires limited firing of the weapon while reinforcing muscle memory while still reinforcing good training principles.

    The other drawback outlined in the article is the grip, and the “hanging pinky” phenomena that is inevitable with the (Prosecutor). The full size model, The Judge, has a full grip where your pinky remains comfortably wrap around, when firing. It does increase the size and hence the profile of the weapon somewhat, a consideration when deciding if this weapon is for you.

    Ultimately, in a violent scenario where one is in a potential fight for their life, the comfort consideration, of this weapon is FAR outweighed by its effectiveness. You won’t find yourself saying afterwards, “Yeah I’m alive but… the weapon was to be desired in the comfort area!”

    Stay Safe!