Harrell Reviews the Taurus-Rossi Circuit Judge 45/410 Revolving Rifle
Russ Chastain 07.20.20
Back about a decade ago when Taurus/Rossi brought out its Circuit Judge rifle, it really turned me on. I mean, not enough to go out and buy one… but for some reason I’ve been enamored of rifles with revolving cylinders for as long as I can remember. Heck, I like them so much that the very first new gun I ever bought was a Uberti black powder revolver, featured in an article on 5 black powder guns that mean a lot to me… and which I used to take a buck as related in an article called “The Cap and Ball Buck.”
So anyway, back to the Circuit Judge, which is a rifle with a revolving cylinder, designed to fire 45 Colt (no, it’s not “long colt”) cartridges and/or 410 shotgun shells. Paul Harrell recently posted a video in which he test & reviews the ol’ CJ.
Although you can safely fire 2-1/2″ and 3″ 410 shells in the CJ, it has a rifled barrel.
Paul starts out with an accuracy test at 25 yards with 45 Colt ammo. He’s surprised to find that the most-common bullet weight for 45 Colt ammo (250 grains) doesn’t group very well from his rifle.
With 410 slugs, he discovers that a smoothbore 410 shotgun shoots his flavor of slugs (Winchester 1/5-ounce rifled slugs) more accurately than the Rossi does. And to me, this makes sense — because he’s firing slugs which were meant to be fired through a smoothbore barrel. So this is not really a fair comparison, in my opinion… when it comes to shotgun slugs, rifled bores generally do better with sabot slugs which actually engage the rifling in the bore. Rifled slugs, on the other hand, have “rifling” molded into the slug itself and they’re sized & shaped to perform best in a smooth bore. So paul’s comparison here is more or less an “apples & oranges” scenario.
Next he moves on to buckshot, and he claims each shell contains 5 pellets — which is what Federal says about the 3″ 000 buckshot ammo he’s firing — but since each shot actually caused 3 hits on target, viewers might begin to wonder what sort of mistake has been made (and by whom). But then he demonstrates the difference by shooting the same ammo at the same range with a smoothbore 410 shotgun — and this time, three shots produce 15 impacts on target. Yikes!
Clearly, the Circuit Judge ain’t much when it comes to shooting 410 ammo.
But wait — there’s more! Now Paul deigns to follow the instructions by changing the “choke tube” at the muzzle, installing the one with straight grooves that’s intended to be used with shotgun shells with shot payloads — meaning buckshot or birdshot. That should have been in place during all of the buckshot shooting, if you ask me (which he didn’t).
Sadly, the buckshot pattern didn’t change much with the “rotation stopper” screwed into the barrel. But with birdshot, it made a huge improvement in how the smaller pellets pattern.
Even more sadly, the smoothbore 410 he uses for comparison produces much better results. Sigh. My dreams of a revolving everything-gun are withering…
Next, he compares velocity of Federal American Eagle 225-grain 45 Colt ammo from a Taurus Judge revolver with a 3″ barrel, then the Circuit Judge which has an 18.5-inch barrel.
Paul’s results? 812 FPS with the 3″ barrel and 1079 FPS with the 18.5″ barrel. Pretty good improvement.
Moving right along, we have that perennial favorite: The meat target! He attacks this with Winchester Silvertip 225-grain JHP ammo at 5 yards. This is a good test to demonstrate how velocity can dramatically affect a bullet’s terminal performance; the handgun doesn’t shoot them fast enough to produce good expansion, but the rifle certainly does.
As for the actual operation of the Circuit Judge itself, Paul touches on some of that:
- Escaping gas from cylinder gap (not a problem)
- Ejecting empty cases/shells (sometimes sucks)
Check out the video and see if you agree with his results… me, I’m probably going to have to remain Judge-less… especially considering the MSRP of $737.86.
What’s your take on it?