Since the Taurus Judge revolver came on the scene in 2007, the .45/.410 five-shooter has taken the defense handgun market by storm. An indication of this revolver’s popularity is that at least three other gun makers I’m aware of are chambering revolvers in .45/.410—imitation being the sincerest form of flattery.

Supposedly, the Judge got its name because a number of Miami judges carried these into the courtroom for protection and security. One of the Judge variations, a lighter and shorter-barreled model was dubbed the “Public Defender.” Then, in 2010, the Public Defender Ultra-Lite was introduced. I’d had very little experience with the Taurus product that started the whole thing. The time had finally come.

Gun Details

The Public Defender is actually based on the Model 85 frame, which is the platform on which the small five-shot .38 Special Taurus “snubbies” originated. In its Public Defender guise, the cylinder window in the frame (thus the frame itself) has been expanded and elongated to accept the longer cylinder needed for the 2½-inch .410 shotshell. To aid in “concealabilty” and ease of carry, the Public Defender Ultra-Lite has an aluminum alloy frame mated with a true 2-inch barrel. This pares the weight down to just 20.7 ounces, and the overall length is 9 inches from muzzle to backstrap. It is very much akin to the British “Bulldog” revolvers of the 19th century—small and light with a big hole in the barrel.

Though it’s not what I would term a “pocket gun,” it’s definitely portable if worn on a belt or an inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster. The standard red fiber-optic front sight housing has been rounded so there are no sharp edges to snag on clothing or leather, and it has a fixed rear sight that is integral with the frame. The hammer spur has a reduced profile to aid in this effort as well, but it also has deep checkering for good thumb purchase. An inconspicuous key-activated locking device is part of the hammer, which can disable the revolver for long-term storage.

My sample gun has a stainless steel cylinder and barrel liner. The rest of the gun, including the frame and barrel shroud, is aluminum alloy. A small steel plate is also located on the inner surface of the top strap, just above the barrel-cylinder gap, to help prevent topstrap cutting by the hot gases produced by exploding cartridges. The Public Defender has a non-reflective, matte gray finish, but steel parts like the hammer, trigger, cylinder release catch, ejector rod and screws are satin-nickel-plated, which provides for an interesting color contrast. A blued model is also available. My test gun came with the standard soft rubber “Ribber” grips, so-named because of the horizontal grooves molded into the one-piece grip that help with recoil absorption and muzzle flip reduction. They also provide a firm grip that could help keep someone from pulling the gun out of your hand in the event of a tactical faux pas.

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