This is why a SEAL Team 6 member uses the odd Taurus Judge revolver

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A good deal of very niche social media accounts fired up at the beginning of March, all chattering about a reveal by a former Navy SEAL and member of DEVGRU (also known as SEAL Team 6) and a weapon they spotted in a picture he posted. I’m not going to mention the man’s name because I’m not sure he’d appreciate it. What caught everyone’s eye was the handgun in the “kangaroo” pouch of his plate carrier. It was a revolver, which is odd already, but not only that, it was a Taurus Judge! 

It is unheard of for modern military forces to use revolvers. The last revolvers in use were by the Air Force and were for strictly training K9s with blanks. What’s more, the Taurus Judge is an oddball revolver all by itself. The Taurus Judge is a .45 Colt revolver that can also chamber .410 shotgun rounds. It’s a huge gun due to its 2.5 or three-inch cylinder that’s just long enough to accommodate the long .410 shells. 

No military force has ever adopted this oddball revolver, and the use of .410 rounds is often seen as a very niche tool and typically used more as a novelty. But obviously, when you reach the level of a DEVRU operator, the standard issue is often not so standard. 

Related: Hands-on with an S&W M1917 revolver – the weapon that armed the US in WWI

What exactly is the Judge 

Taurus Judge
Taurus Judge (Wikimedia Commons)

As we covered, it’s a mighty big firearm that can chamber either .45 Colt or .410 shotshells. Taurus has a variety of Judge revolvers with different dimensions and materials. The model we see in the SEAL’s photo appears to be a fairly standard model. It appears to have a three-inch barrel and either a 2.5 or three-inch cylinder. Shotshells come in various sizes, and .410 comes in 2.5 and three-inch varieties. 

The gun holds five rounds total, and the user can mix and match .45 Colt with .410 in any way they choose. Like all shotgun rounds, the .410 is available in a variety of shot sizes and even slugs. Buckshot is typically the largest multiple projectile round, with varying birdshot loads being the smallest. Additionally, slugs that fire a single projectile exist, but .410 slugs are fairly anemic when compared to .45 Colt. 

The standard model is 7.5 inches long (-/+ depending on chamber length) and weighs 29 ounces. It’s just a little bigger and a little heavier than a Glock 19. It features an exposed hammer that can be manually coked to single action or fired in double action. 

As someone who has shot a Judge with a variety of rounds, I can say the recoil varies. Even with full-powered buckshot, it’s still fairly mild. It’s a bit more than any Glock 19, but still controllable. It’s not going to jump from your hand or recoil dramatically. However, it is stiff and stout compared to modern 9mm fighting pistols. 

Related: This is what made the MP7 SEAL Team 6’s favorite PDW

Why carry a Judge revolver? 

Plenty of people asked why someone would carry a Judge. It holds a mere five rounds and wasn’t a great fighting weapon. Your typical Glock 19 offered three times the ammo in a smaller, lighter package. The DEVGRU SEAL explained that he used the Judge for “poppin’ locks.” He loaded the first two rounds with birdshot for blasting those locks, and the next three rounds were buckshot for “poppin’ heads.” 

Shotguns as breaching weapons are nothing new. The .410, you know is quite a small round and birdshot isn’t exactly powerful. In contrast, a typical breaching shotgun is 12 gauge and uses a special round. So, at first glance, you’d think a .410 wouldn’t be great for shooting locks, and if you try it with American or European locks, it’s probably a bad idea. 

Taurus Judge
A Taurus Judge (Wikimedia Commons)

However, in my experience, a lot of the things you find in the Middle East aren’t exactly well-made. In Afghanistan, I remember coming across plastic locks, which were often used to secure things away from children more than thieves. We ran into locks made from pot metal you could break off with a single swing of an E-Tool. A round or two of .410 birdshot could certainly take them out. 

With that said, I’ve never taken on something like a Masterlock with a .410 Judge, so heck, maybe it even works for decently-made locks. I’m certainly no SEAL and no member of DEVGRU. 

The Big Iron 

I think it’s safe to say this is the one and only time a Judge has been used by an American military member OCONUS. It’s an odd choice, but if it works, it works. The gun is much smaller and lighter than most breaching tools, and if you are facing light and cheap locks, then it’s easier to tote this than a 12 gauge or a sledgehammer. I’m not going to judge the choices of a SEAL in DEVGRU. (Pun fully intended.) 

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Travis Pike

Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record-setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines, and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.