After deciding you want a .410/.45 handgun, the next question becomes "which one". Unless you have a preference for a certain manufacturer, it boils down to the features specific to the handgun, overall quality, price and value. Following is a comparison of features between the S&W Governor and a Taurus Judge 4510-TKR.
|----- Smith & Wesson Governor -----|
|Caliber Choices||.45 Colt, .45 Auto|
|Weight (actual)||29.6 oz.|
|Barrel Length||2.75”, 6 grooves|
|Twist||RH, 1 in 15”|
|Front Sight||Tritium Dot|
|Trigger Pull (S/A)||4.5 lbs.|
|Trigger Pull (D/A)||10.0 lbs.|
|----- Taurus Judge 4510-TKR -----|
|.410 Chambering||2.5” (some 3”)|
|Caliber Choices||.45 Colt|
|Weight (actual)||34.9 oz.|
|Barrel Length||3”, 6 grooves|
|Twist||RH, 1 in 12”|
|Front Sight||Fiber Optic|
|Trigger Pull (S/A)||3.0 lbs.|
|Trigger Pull (D/A)||8.0 to 9.0 lbs.|
|M.S.R.P.||$602 ($648 stainless)|
Using my review of a Judge 4510-TKR (stainless) published in the Aug/Sept '10 Ohio Valley Outdoors Magazine, and some additional testing, I can elaborate on more than just physical comparisons.
Customer Service -- Without a doubt, S&W surpasses Taurus. I posed the same question (What is the cylinder-to-barrel clearance?) to both companies via phone call and spoke to an individual. S&W responded within 24 hours; I still haven't heard from Taurus. In total, sixteen (16) questions/comments were made to S&W for this review...every one was answered and/or addressed in a timely manner. S&W gets an A+ for customer service. In conversations with several gun dealers and individuals who have contacted Taurus, they have also had unsatisfactory experiences.
Model Availability -- S&W currently offers 2 models of the Governor; Taurus offers 12 models of the Judge. I would suspect S&W may add additional models if sales of the current Governor meet or exceed their expectations. Right now, the Taurus offers a better selection.
Manufacturing and Quality Control -- Hands down, the S&W Governor is the better of the two based my evaluation of each one. Following are three images to support my opinion.
Smith & Wesson Governor
Barrel Alignment -- notice how the barrel, shroud and frame are perfectly aligned on the Governor; the barrel on the Judge used for this article did not aligned with the frame.
Cylinder Release -- there is ample clearance between the cylinder shroud and the cylinder release on the Governor; on the Judge, the release has to be pushed completely forward coming in contact with the cylinder shroud to release the cylinder.
Side Plate -- Fit of the side plate to the frame on the Governor is excellent; on the Judge, this seam is obvious.
Cylinder - The cylinder rotational movement in the Taurus Judge is .032" (2.3); the Governor is only .009" (.6). Cylinder-to-barrel alignment can affect accuracy and may be a safety issue if the movement becomes excessive.
The Little Extra -- The little extra is the carry case that comes with the Governor. It's a blue plastic S&W case with 'eggshell' foam padding. The Taurus Judge comes in a box. To purchase an inexpensive carry case adds $10 to $20 to the cost of the Judge.
Ammunition Choice -- The nod goes to S&W because of the ability to shoot .45 Auto. .45 Auto cartridges are widely available in a variety of loads. You can practice with relatively inexpensive target loads or fill the cylinders with quality personal protection loads such as Winchester's PDX1 Defender.
Shot Patterning -- From 6 feet, the Judge patterned in a circular area averaging 19" with all 3 shot sizes (excluding the stray pellets hitting outside the main cluster). At 12 feet, the Judge shot patterns for #4 and #6 were an average of 29"; #7.5 shot was averaging a 31" pattern (excluding the flyers). Moving to 25 feet, 74% of #4 (48 of 65), 67% of #6 (78 of 116), and 63% of #7.5 (102 of 161) hit the 36" square target from the Judge. Based on this, the S&W Governor definitely performs better with Winchester's Super-X Game Load HS.
PDX1 .410 Defender -- From 12 feet, the Judge produced an average disk group of 1 1/8" with the plated BB shot within 9" of the group. At 25 feet, disk groups averaged 2 " with the plated BB shot as far as 15" to 16" from the disks. The Judge had slightly tighter groups with the disks and the Governor produced tighter patterns from the plated shot. For personal defense using Winchester's PDX1 .410 Defender, the Governor has the edge with a slightly wider disk pattern and a tighter plated BB shot pattern.
.45 Colt -- Both guns shot very good and consistent with this cartridge. Muzzle velocity from the Judge with a 3" barrel averaged 758 fps, 39 fps faster than the Governor's 719 fps with a 2 3/4" barrel. The Judge has a slight velocity edge over the Governor. As for accuracy, they are even.
Front Sight -- The Governor's tritium dot is a visible green dot in darkness and a white dot in daylight; the fiber optic on the Judge cannot be seen in darkness and is about the equivalent of a clear orange piece of plastic tubing in daylight, unless in direct sunlight. The Governor's front sight is a better choice.
Trigger Pull -- Both have a nice single action trigger, but I prefer the Judge at a 3 lb. pull. In double action, I prefer the Governor's smoother and consistent trigger pull even though heavier at 10 lbs.
Warranty -- The Governor and the Judge have nearly identical warranties. Smith & Wesson's warranty (free from defects in material and workmanship) is for one year from date of purchase by original owner. Taurus is the same except for 1 year and 10 days. After the initial warranty, Smith & Wesson has a Lifetime Service Policy; Taurus calls theirs a Lifetime Repair Policy. A warranty and lifetime service/repair policy are only as good as the manufacturer standing behind it.
Origin of Manufacture -- Taurus Judge (Made in Brazil), Smith & Wesson Governor (Springfield, MA, USA)
And the winner is...Having both the Governor and the Judge at the same time made it possible to do side-by-side comparisons, scrutinize the differences, match feature-for-feature, test shot patterns and evaluate center fire accuracy. The bottom linethe Smith & Wesson Governor is a noticeably better handgun. Smith & Wesson prides itself on quality, and the Governor is no exception. I know that Taurus does make some good quality handguns, but the Judge could use some improvement.
For additional information, check out the article "Smith & Wesson Governor". The link is: ohiovalleyoutdoors.com/page/content.detail/id/505644/Smith---Wesson-Governor.html?nav=5015
First Published May 2012