Rifles > Historical

The Rossi Circuit Judge

This revival of the revolver-action long gun provides flexible shooting options in a light and handy shooting package.


Taurus International has been enjoying robust sales of its multi-caliber revolvers, including the .45 Colt/.410 Judge and the 992 Tracker .22 LR/.22 Mag. with interchangeable cylinders. Working in conjunction with its sister company, Rossi Firearms, the two Brazilian gunmakers have combined these popular Taurus revolver actions with Rossi’s shoulder stocks and rifle-length barrels to produce the Rossi Circuit Judge. This revival of the old revolver carbine provides an unusual twist in that these guns can chamber more than one caliber of ammunition. 

Once revolvers arrived on the shooting scene, revolver-action rifles were not far behind.
The first repeating rifle adopted by the U.S. military for combat was the blackpowder Colt 1855. Available in both rifle and carbine configurations, this revolving long gun exhibited two problems that have been resolved in their modern Rossi counterparts. First, the paper cartridges used to load blackpowder into the 1855 could tear and leak into the mechanism of the carbine. This loose powder could ignite when the gun was fired causing all of the chambers of the gun to go off at once. This event, known as a chainfire, caused the gun to blow apart. Modern smokeless powder pistol cartridges and shot shells eliminate this issue.

The second problem with early revolving carbines was the hot gas escaping sideways from the gap between the cylinder and the barrel. This is not much of a concern when firing a revolving handgun because both hands are behind the cylinder gap. Placing a support hand under the barrel of a revolving carbine, as you would with other long guns, resulted in nasty burns to the hand or arm of the shooter. The Rossi Circuit Judge design eliminates this problem with the installation of gas-deflector shields on the frame near the cylinder gap as well as a wedge-shaped flair to the forearm between the cylinder and where the shooter’s hand rests. These enhancements successfully work to protect the shooter.

Circuit Judge Features
Both the .45 Colt/.410 and .22 LR/.22 Mag. configurations share several features in common. The barrels are 18.5-inches long and topped with adjustable fiber-optic sights, and Weaver sight rails are installed to allow the use of optics. The safety features include a transfer-bar safety and a Taurus security key lock located in the hammer. The cylinders swing out to the left side of the gun like most modern double-action revolvers. The external hammer can be cocked for single-action firing or the trigger can be pulled to fire in double-action mode.

These two revolving-action guns differ from each other in interesting ways. The .45-caliber model fires pistol cartridges and .410 shot shells from a single cylinder. The stocks are hardwood with an unusual, but comfortable, pistol grip on the shoulder stock. The barrel is threaded to accept a toothed choke, called a straight-rifled choke by the manufacturer, for use with.410 shells. A smooth-bore thread protector sleeve is included for use when firing .45 Colt cartridges. Think of the straight-rifled choke as a full choke for use only with .410 shells and the thread protector-sleeve as a cylinder bore choke that can be safely used with .45 Colt or .410 loads, and all will go well.

The .22-caliber Circuit Judge tested for this review is called the Tuffy model because of its lightweight, weather-resistant synthetic stock. The shoulder stock contains a small removable panel in the butt pad that reveals a storage compartment for nine-rounds of spare ammunition. Either .22 Long Rifle or .22 Mag. can be stored in this space and a clear plastic window on the left side of the stock shows how many rounds are present.

This .22 rifle uses interchangeable cylinders to alternate between .22 Long Rifle and .22 Mag. cartridges. The synthetic forearm contains a release lever that allows it to slide forward on the barrel. With the forearm in the forward position, the cylinder is opened and a button on the right of the frame is pressed and held, allowing the cylinder and yoke to be removed from the frame. No tools are required. Just reverse the process to install the alternate cylinder and the gun is ready to fire.

Informal Shooting & Function Testing
The informal testing for the Circuit Judge combo guns produced a lot of noise, gun smoke and perforated targets. This particular gun set called for a good deal more shooting than the average review. Having two guns to work with automatically doubles the round count. But one gun can fire four varieties of .22 Rimfire ammunition, including .22 Short, .22 Long, .22 Long Rifle, and .22 Mag. The other one fires .45 Colt loads as well as 2 1/2- and 3-inch .410 shells of the birdshot, buckshot and slug variety.

The guns proved to be light and handy while firing standing shots. The fiber-optic sights were bright and easy to see. The triggers of both samples used in this review were smooth in double-action mode with a crisp, short let off in single-action mode. For those shooters who are familiar with double-action revolvers, firing a long gun with a double-action trigger feels great and it’s not a challenge to shoot accurately. However, it may take some getting used to for those who cut their teeth on bolt-, lever- or semi-automatic rifles. For new shooters, firing the Circuit Judge with the double-action trigger may prove more intuitive than learning to cycle the slide of a pump-action shotgun or the bolt of a bolt-action rifle. 

Both guns were fed from all of the varieties of ammunition I had on hand. The .22 Long Rifle cylinder was charged with .22 Shorts, inexpensive bulk-box rounds, .22 shot shells and premium hollow points, and a wide variety of bullet weights and brands were tested via the .22 Mag. cylinder. The .45 Colt/.410 tasted everything from low-recoil .45 Colt Cowboy loads up to potent standard-pressure self-defense and hunting loads. It should be noted that this gun is not rated for +P, +P+ or "Magnum" .45 Colt ammunition. The .410 shells ranged from light target-grade birdshot loads up to the hard hitting 3-inch Winchester PDX1 round that launches 410-grains of mixed defense discs and BB shot pellets. In short, there were no malfunctions, jams, failures to fire or ejection issues. The Rossi Circuit Judge guns proved to be reliable with a wide range of rounds.

Accuracy Results for the .410/.45 Colt Circuit Judge
When it was time to conduct formal testing with .45 Colt loads, I approached the bench with some reservations. While the Judge revolvers can deliver acceptable defensive accuracy with .45 Colt loads at 7 yards, the accuracy is not stellar much past that range. As it turns out, my concerns about the Circuit Judge were unfounded.

Shooting the Circuit Judge from the bench in a Caldwell Shooting Lead Sled Solo, with a Trijicon RM05 9.0 MOA Dual-Illuminated Amber Dot optic mounted on the sight rail, five consecutive five-shot groups were fired into targets set at 25 yards. All three .45 Colt loads produced at least one five-shot group of 1 inch. The best group average of 1.25 inches was produced by Winchester Supreme Elite 225-grain PDX1 bonded hollow points, followed by DoubleTap 255-grain hard-cast lead semi-wadcutters at 1.3 inches and Hornady Critical Defense 185-grain FTX at 1.4 inches.

The .410 slug shells tested in this gun performed poorly. This is not the fault of the shell manufacturers. The rifled slugs are .410-caliber projectiles. The Circuit Judge barrel is designed to safely fire .452 lead bullets or .454-caliber jacketed bullets loaded into .45 Colt pistol cartridges. This difference of .044 inches leaves plenty of room for a .410 slug to wander on its journey down the barrel and to wander off once it hits the atmosphere. If you need a solid projectile to get the job done, stick with the .45 Colt loads for the best results.

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31 Responses to The Rossi Circuit Judge

Mike wrote:
November 26, 2014

I have a rossi just because I saw it and WANTED it.... My younger daughters can learn with the 410, I cleared the squirrels out of my attic with it, it won't take out structural walls if you need it for home defense, and I just love revolvers. Semi-autos of any kind scare the crap out of me since I save more than one person get handed a semi-auto cocked and ready with their finger on the trigger and wave it around not understanding it is ready to go- a revolver is more obvious- especially when dealing with younger shooters and people who DO NOT use them frequently. Just a personal preference, you understand... everyone else's preferences are equally valid. The only thing I don't understand about it is the changeable choke- why would you use the RIFLED choke with 410 shot, and the non-rifled with 45cal and 410 slugs? it seems opposite to me.

curt wrote:
November 15, 2014

Just got mine at Academy, plan in having it to compliment my Bond Arms 4 inch derrenger and S&W Governor 3 inch now thats alot of 410 or 45LC rounds, the only guns I would try to shoot CorBon 45LC out of is the derrenger because its made in Texas and over built and their is no mechanism to wreck out other than the lock down breach. Love all three will never seperate from them.Bring on open carry Texas

jerry wrote:
October 12, 2014

the circuit judge I have has a 1x38 twist rate. The rifling visually does not make a full turn in 18.5' and a swivel handle cleaning rod makes 1/2 turn pulled or pushed down the barrel.

Kenton B Barlow wrote:
September 09, 2014

I use mine wth .45 colt for deer hunting. nice and light.

Kenton B Barlow wrote:
September 09, 2014

I shoot mine all the time aand have never had any issues. I love all 4 of mine.

Dale Cherry wrote:
November 05, 2013

Anyone who dosnt have one of these little big guns don't know what they speak of.

Doug Roberts wrote:
June 10, 2013

Let me start off with... he wife hits golf balls at 100 yards with her 1960's era S&W 357 with iron sights. She enjoys the M1 Carbine too, again with iron sights. Point here is she knows and loves her revolvers and also plays with the other toys too. She is 100% a revolver girl. I just picked up the tactical version in 410/45 2 days ago. We shot it for the first time today. I loaded 2 PDX 1 3" shot shells and 3 Long colt 45's. Her first shot left her weak hand wrist bleeding. I can see exactly where her watch was. She very reluctantly agreed to shoot it again hoping it was nothing more than a fluke. She did get tagged again, but not as badly. Suffice to say she will not shoot the weapon again. I am very disappointed in the weapon and will be taking it back to have a chat with the dealer to see what our options are. She only has 10 rounds through her total. I believe that a taller discharge shield and a reduced head space gap would solve this issue. If anyone has any experience with this, please feel free to contact me. Yes, I do reload but since this was a new gun purchase, I can only put in what is on the shelf at the store currently.

Boggs wrote:
May 22, 2013

I own a lot of guns, and this is my favorite--for many reasons, including the fact that you can still buy 410 ammo.

John Boyd wrote:
May 19, 2013

I own both a Taurus Judge, 3" Magnum model, as well as a Rossi Circuit judge, the Carbine version of the Judge. Home defense and self defense are my primary goals, which these tools satisfy greatly. The Taurus Judge,with PDX1 defensive rounds, gives 1.5" groups, plus bigger countin the bb's. Same with the Rossi Circuit Judge, only 1" groups at 25 yards, all day long, is its forte. for home defense, I stock mine with 3 pdx1 rds and 2.45 Colt Rds. I am very pleased with these firearms and look forward to owning,shooting, and having fun with for a long, long time. I open carry (New Mexico) most everywhere I go (safely) with the Taurus Judge; it is a "BIG GUN" and makes its own statement. I do not go out after dark or go to plaes where trubble is likely, like pool halls or bars (illegal to open carry in NM). But for being safe on the streets, the parking lots and everything, I am very satisfied with the Taurus Judge, model 4510KR-3B Mag. it makes a special social statement. The Circuit Judge Carbine version of the Judge is a fun gun, ONe of the funnest ever for me. Cept for the occasional change, it is a very good shooter and as a companion to the Taurus Judge? When I go afield with my Taurus Judge holstered and the Rossi Circuit Judge on it's sling, it is a "statement." Man it is bada$$. but cool though, for any legal field shootin, ya caint go wrong, and do not forget the home and self-devensive capabilities either.

William Storoe wrote:
March 31, 2013

Hi everyone... I have read a lot of different posts on this gun... And have read both positive and negative reviews... I am an avid winged hunter and shoot quail monthly as a shooter for a hunting dog trainer... And to do that you have to hit the bird every time... Or you mess up the training... I use the circuit judge with high brass 7.5's or 6's, depending on the distance of the planned shots... And I can consistently hit these birds and drop them... Many at 40-50 yards using the 6's. I have mounted a leopueld delta pot MOA 3.5 door on it and use a 'both eye open' shooting technique and can really perform in a multiple bird event... Have you ever gotten a 'Quintuple'? But, as stated... It is a tight/full choke pattern... I started shooting it as a challenge... 12 ga/20 ga was becoming too easy...mi started shooting 410 and then my interest in 45 LC found this gun and wanted to try... I also have it in stainless.... And the tactical version with the shooter stock... Really good tactical advancement piece. Short swing arm and fast targeting. Fun to shoot. Once you learn to shoot this gun... It becomes very hard to go back to traditional bird gunning... Plus... When you go bird hunting with this gun... (My setup is around 1100 or so...) it draws a lot more attention than all the others that have spent thousands on their guns.... And this gun has the ability to perform exceptionally well on short and long...

NWPNW wrote:
March 06, 2013

I love when people who dont have one say that they stink. This is a great gun. Easy and natural to use. Obviously its not a serious hunting weapon, but it serves a real purpose. This is my around the farm gun. Shooting at pests, chasin off coyotes, or harvesting my own birds, it is all kinds of handy. It sits well in my truck or on the back of a tractor. Loaded with #4 most of the time, pdx for HD. I will say that I would not pay the MSRP of $650-700, but I picked one up on a good trade valued around $400, and I am happy with it.

Andy wrote:
February 23, 2013

My Circuit Judge. Until you work up a load for this gun it will not be impressive to shoot. I worked up. Load and discovered the perfect 230gr round noze, HS6 powder. It is very accurate out to 100 yrds. its light weight and aim-ability, lack of recoil, lack of noise, make it my first choice for wilderness carry. I have to put in the Shot gun choke to shoot my #8 shot shells, pattern is perfect at 25yrds for bunnies. As of late I am shooting skeet,,, fun. All the bad words,'novelty' and such loose place if you reload 45colt and 410. Now, its Cheap, fun, Accurate, practicle.

Rick Harris wrote:
February 23, 2013

Looking for a 44 mag. With the thumb hole stock for deer hunting.

Mark wrote:
January 30, 2013

I got the tuffy tactical in .410 / .45 colt and have shot dove confidently. The .45s are fun to shoot and quiet. From cowboy rounds to Winchester hollow points. With that much lead down the bore I am glad they include a boar snake brush cleaning tool. I'm accurate at 60+yards with .45 colt cowboy action loads 250 grains. This tuffy model needs strap rings/studs. The no strap option is the only drawback to this model.

gmorg wrote:
January 16, 2013

I have been thinking on picking up 2 of these guns, a his and hers. I have read and seen more good things about this gun. Perfect to teach my wife on. Very well rounded gun for the home or survival. I too have noted that the only people complaining about it are the ones who don't own or tried one. There is a video on YouTube of a young man who killed a 300lb bout about 60 yards away with no problem. The 410 HD rounds, well I would not like to get hit from 10 yards away with them.

Ron wrote:
January 09, 2013

I don't agree at all that the 45/410 in an 18" barrel revolver carbine is just a novelty. To me it is close to ideal for home defense. We all know that a revolver is stone cold reliable compared to any auto or slide action gun. Just point and shoot double action. Easy, always goes bang. When there's no time for anything but grab, point and shoot, which I suspect is typical of real life home defense, it would be a great relief to know that it is loaded, there's no safety, no worry just pull the dang trigger. I keep a .45 auto on my bedside table but if I had one more second I could grab the CJ. A big factor to me would be in teaching my wife and daughter to use it. A revolver is the only way with the girls and I usually figure a 38 is about max but with the CJ a 410/45 would be easy for them to handle. I think it is definitely the way to go, gonna get one!

Rod wrote:
January 01, 2013

410 is my home defense choice. I have various pistols and long guns. Before knocking a 410 I would suggest going into an empty building and firing a 12 gauge shotgun without ear protection. It will be an extremely unpleasant experience.

John wrote:
December 05, 2012

I own a 3 inch mag judge and a ss circuit judge. I have a 12 gauge tristar cobra force shotgun. Shot the circuit judge last weekend with my brother. Using pdx1 for home defense, it blew out the bottom half of a plastic gallon milk jug at thirty feet. The 45 colt shot very accurately too. That 18 inch rifle barrel really makes it accurate. People who have criticized these guns either don't own them or haven't shot them. Guess what, if you think these are novelty guns...just shoot 45 cal out of them. For me...the judge sits on my coffee table in a hollowed out book with pdx1 hd shells. My front door is 25 feet away, back door 15 feet. I assume two guys breaking in my front door and two in my back door, simultaneously. I can grab the judge fast and shoot if need be quicker than I can grab my 12 gauge and chamber it. Any gun is a novelty gun if it jams, can't be aimed quickly or is too difficult to maneuver in a pinch.

Smithkowitz wrote:
November 16, 2012

Just picked up a 45/410 Circuit Judge tonight at Cabela's on Clearance! It was on $449, for the blued version. I hope it is a nice as most reviews make it sound. I've read a few disappointing ones too . . . shell ejection issues and stock cracking behind the hammer? Seems like a pretty good home defense unit next to the 20 gauge Mossberg.

Tyler Howard wrote:
November 12, 2012

I bought my .45/.410 for $520 brand new I love it. It exceeded my expectations

Andy wrote:
October 24, 2012

I own a Cicuit Judge, this is a fantastic hunting weapon. I own the 45/410 model and now that I have discvovered the perfect load for it, I love it. mine will hit a beer can at 100 yards every shot. Also 410 Rabbit loads make this the best rabbit hunting tool I have ever had. this is not a long range gun, but the right ammo makes this thing shoot nice.

Cowboy777 wrote:
September 09, 2012

These novelty guns are nice to intro newbie folks to shooting. Not real accurate, but the 22 is tempting.

Cowboy T wrote:
August 31, 2012

The 45/410 Circuit Judge is built to take .45 Colt loads, not Ruger-only ones. Stick to the SAAMI specs and load for it as if it were a Colt SAA. Now, here's what Taurus could do for the hotter loads. Take that new Raging Judge Magnum revolver, which does fire six rounds of .454 Casull, and make a Circuit Judge out of it. That would make a mighty interesting bigger game rifle for hunting in the woods/brush.

Richard-M wrote:
July 27, 2012

My expierience with 410 3" Winchester X-super slugs produced the best grouping, 1.5" @ 25yds. DO NOT use +P ammo or any hot round. Who manufactures the stock fiber sights? I would like to upgrade and compatible sizes are everything. I also have the CJ in 44 magnum. I have only tested George Arms 240gr 1000fps FMJ ammo and it preformed poorly. Want to upgrade these sights also.

Russell wrote:
July 01, 2012

Hi I would love to know if you can safely fire the 454 Casull rounds ...45 colt +p I think it be a great gun for around the house ..410 poisonous snakes and 45 for the kangaroos and pigs in the garden!!!

Art wrote:
June 07, 2012

I have a circuit judge and love the versatility. As Gary said you can have a gun for different aps. But the gun is effective with out dumping a ton of money. I have found the people who dis this gun have not used it.

Richard wrote:
June 01, 2012

Love my Judge revolver, the rifle looks great, but it would have being better if 454 casull was also an option...

John wrote:
May 28, 2012

I could see this as a great HD option for a petite woman.

ant v wrote:
May 28, 2012

how long has the tuffy 22 model been out? it isn't advertised on rossis webiste, people have been complaining the stock is too short, how did you find it?

Gary wrote:
May 27, 2012

This .45/.410 is just another "novelty" item dreamed up for people with more dollars than sense. Clearly this rifle and shotgun combination is the worst of both worlds, nothing more than an expensive plinker. If you wanted a real "small and handy" rifle to use for hunting or self-defense, buy a lever or semi-auto. If you wanted a real shotgun for hunting, trap, or self-defense, buy a 12-gauge pump. I know that AR has to write articles on new guns that come out but sometimes the reviews read like Travel Books glorifying a trip to the Boondocks. For Chris: since this gun will not handle the "Ruger" .45 loads, don't hold your breath waiting for a .460 or .500.

Chris Kuenzer wrote:
May 22, 2012

Can we look forward to a 460 S&W or 500 magnum chambered in this firearm?