Slap me upside the head and call me stupid. The Insider is supposed to have his finger on the pulse of the industry to predict trends, foresee developments and anticipate changes. However, I’ve completely missed one of the most remarkable handgun innovations in the past five years, the surging popularity of .410 revolvers.
I admit that I’ve known of handguns that fire .410 shotgun shells for a long time. Thompson/Center offered a special barrel for the Contender years ago with the quaint idea that it could be used to shoot skeet. American Derringer offered .410s eons ago in stack-barreled derringers. The little two-shooters were marketed as self-defense handguns with the obvious advantage of a hail of little BBs being more likely to hit a would-be attacker than a single projectile. Quite frankly, I considered shotshell-firing handguns to be novelties.
And so it was that I dismissed the fanfare that greeted The Judge when Taurus introduced this .410 (and .45 Colt) revolver in 2006 at the SHOT Show. I thought it was interesting, but nothing more. Another novelty gun. (Yeah, and that internet thing will never catch on.)
I was wrong on so many levels. First, I didn’t think the shooting public would swarm en masse to buy an overly large shotshell-firing handgun. There just aren’t that many rattlesnakes in Ohio, Michigan or Nebraska. I just never imagined The Judge would be accepted as a serious self-defense firearm. (Yeah, and a tiny music player with white ear buds will never fly.)
“Wrong” doesn’t come close to my missing the significance of The Judge. It’s the single best-selling line for Taurus now (encompassing 17 different models) and is growing sales not just for the “raging bull” manufacturer, but also for accessory makers like Crimson Trace. Ammunition companies now make revolver-specific .410 loads.
In a deliciously ironic cap to his career, outgoing Taurus CEO Bob Morrison saw Smith & Wesson copy its longstanding rival in 2011 with the introduction of a .410 revolver called The Governor.
Taurus deserves a standing ovation for literally creating a new market for a new genre of handgun—a five-shot defensive revolver firing .410 shells and.45 Colt. The Insider should have known better than to underestimate the appetite of American shooters for big revolvers. I missed this one big time.
And on a final note, check out a new website 410handguns.com for a subject-specific informational site on everything to do with these popular handguns, including a very interesting section on how to measure their accuracy (traditional five-shot groups obviously don’t work).