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 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
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 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
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.