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Old October 17, 2012, 06:24 PM   #1
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Smith & Wesson Governor - Home Defense Gun

S&W Fans:

During a recent visit to a LGS I found a used S&W Governor in " like new " condition, with case, manuals and all moon clips. The price: $499.00. Needless to say, I placed it on Lay-Away without hesitation.

After reading related gun reviews, I found many firearms owners feel this is a novelty gun that may not be a recommended/effective home defense gun. Many stated that a .410 000 buck cartridge would not be effective at stopping criminals beyond 15 ft. Furthermore, others claim this revolver offers marginal accuracy when .45 ACP or .45 long colt ammunition is used...

This has made me reconsider my decision to invest money on this type of revolver. Please share your thoughts and suggestions.
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Old October 17, 2012, 06:32 PM   #2
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Its not the exact same gun but I've rented a Taurus Judge at a local range and had no problems with accuracy firing 45 Colt out of it. If anything I would expect the Smith to be even more accurate than the Taurus. I didn't try firing .410 out of it so I can't really give you an opinion on that.
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Old October 17, 2012, 06:37 PM   #3
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Don't own one but have taken good looks at both the Taurus and the S&W. My observation would lead me to buy the S&W if I wanted such a gun. It just seems to be a better made gun.

I do think to some extent it is more of a novelty gun than a serious gun but with .410 it could be a snake gun if a person had a need for one.
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Old October 17, 2012, 06:47 PM   #4
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The 410 buckshot has the same weight and velocity per pellet as 12 gauge, just fewer pellets. For SD in a house ten yards would be about the max range of any realistic encounters. I've seen deer killed with 2 00 buck pellets at 45 yards.
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Old October 17, 2012, 07:31 PM   #5
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I think this model / type of firearm is not worth buying. For $500, you could get a good S&W 357, 22, 38, etc. I just bought a Colt pre Woodsman for $460. I think its novelty item with much less usefulness than people realize, but if you want a gun like this, the S&W should at least be a well made version.
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Old October 17, 2012, 07:43 PM   #6
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Got one and hell yeah. The Federal Buck is fine out to 10 yds or so for accuracy, and I can hit a silhouette in the torso 5 out of 5 from 25 yds from a standing two handed grip with 45 ACP or Colt. Luv the #6 bird from 10' in on the face of any creature, and from 10' to 20' it will cause enough duck and cover wounding to save your life for a followup 45 or buckshot.

Don't laugh at 410 birdshot as it's killed grizzly at point blank with one shot to the snout.
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Old October 17, 2012, 07:49 PM   #7
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for .410 at close range its a killer but anything beyond 10 yards gets slightly sketchy. now as for accuracy with .45acp and lc i dunno ive heard some complain and some seem to like it. as a HD just im sure it would be fine and as a car or truck gun. for carry sure but i would def not use .410 as being in public and cc with a mini shotgun seems unethical.
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Old October 17, 2012, 08:03 PM   #8
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There are a whole lot of people out there with opinions, and some of those opinions are valid while others are based on misunderstanding, anecdotes, and BS.

In your OP you stated you were looking for a "home defense gun". So consider your home, and identify the longest distance inside your home (or immediately outside it for that matter) at which you might engage an intruder.

What would that be - 20 feet? 30 feet? Are you really likely to engage someone inside your house at any greater distance than that?

The .45 Long Colt cartridge is a great round. It doesn't know what sort of revolver its being fired out of, and out of any Smith & Wesson revolver its going to perform entirely satisfactorily - and particularly at 15 to 30 feet. That revolver is quite likely to be as accurate as you are, again at those distances.

I wouldn't endorse firing .410 rounds in a defensive role, but thats based on my very limited experience with .410 rounds. I don't have any use for a revolver that fires .410, but that doesn't make it a "novelty" handgun - it makes it a tool I have no need for. But it works great for snakes. If you spend a lot of time in snake country, it might be exactly the tool you need.

If you want a home defense firearm, and you've ensured that a handgun will fill this purpose for you, a S&W revolver that fires .45 Long Colt is likely to do a great job for you.
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Old October 17, 2012, 08:48 PM   #9
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There are some loades made for revolvers like those.

Winchester has a few nice ones like the PDX.

I don't own one of these but I'd feel safe in my home with one.

Self defense is such a personal thing. It's really more about your comfort level than anything.

These .410 revolvers are pretty new so there aren't a lot of dead bad guys yet to use as solid evidence of how effective they are.
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Old October 17, 2012, 08:54 PM   #10
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It would not be my first choice, but it's better than many options out there. I'd personally pick it over a Snub in 38 spl and anything else smaller than a 9mm for HD. For HD distances, 10' to 20', they should work fine. I recommend alternating the chambers between 410 buckshot and 45LC.
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Old October 18, 2012, 07:39 AM   #11
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something I haven't seen talked about yet...

even if you don't have issue with the .410 / 45 calibers accuracy reliable stopping, whatever...

... I would worry about dependable function of the revolver with the cylinder that long... I shoot alot of uber magnum revolvers, have several with extra long cylinders ( 357 Max & the like ) my expirience... long term, is the double action triggers are much heavier ( because of the extra mass of the cylinder, can get even worse with the added bullet / shell weights ) there is more chance of lint / dirt causing scrub on the cylinder, because of longer cylinder... shooting shot shells has to have a higher incedence of locked up cylinder, because of possible plastic or wadding jamming at the forcing cone area...

... not that you're going to have trouble shooting it every time, but just want some of those who may not have thought of this, to be aware, that the failure might just be where / when you need it most...

my next revolver purchase will be a 500 S&W ( yep, same long cylinder ) but it's purpose will be for big grins only... If I'm camping in griz country, my Ruger Alaskan in 454 ( with a standard length cylinder ) will still be my side arm, not anything with the extra length cylinder, from a strickly reliability stand point...

if you are buying any .410 revolver, I hope you are buying it for big grins, rather that for protecting your life... that said, I may end up with one for a truck gun, to shoot skunks on the driveway... better to be stinky if the gun should lock up, than dead, because of the same
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Old October 18, 2012, 07:51 AM   #12
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Regarding the .410 round...

I wouldn't want to be shot with it. Regarding the Governor, I wouldn't mind having one, but I'm not sure what it could do that my .357 can't. Besides shoot .410 and .45lc that is.
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Old October 18, 2012, 09:45 AM   #13
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I have little doubt as to the power of the .410 shell. Just look at how many defend their homes, police their communities, and hunt with .410 shotguns.

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Old October 18, 2012, 10:42 AM   #14
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I have a Taurus Judge with the 6-1/2" barrel. The gun is way more accurate than I am, but likes 200 gr JHP more than a heavier round. I've run the .410 000 buck through it and can honestly say I don't want to be on the receiving side of it.
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Old October 18, 2012, 10:55 AM   #15
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I love when people say things like "much less usefulness" it shoots 45 cal bullets out the barrel how is that "much less usefulness"??

I want one & say go for it, just don't get any lint around it
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Old October 18, 2012, 03:33 PM   #16
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I sho one of these with 45 ACP and it was accurate enough for home defense and with so #9 shot loads it would be good for snakes and rats. I don't think 3 buckshot would be as effective as one .45 slug if you were lucky enough to put all three in the target. I consider the gun to be a novelty.
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Old October 18, 2012, 03:59 PM   #17
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Formidable Short Range Defensive Weapon

Michael Bane talks about the Judge on his blog, specifically about using one for an episode of Shooting Gallery...

As far as "what did we learn," that'll be obvious on the episode, but I would like to say that the endless Internet detractors of the Taurus Judge platform need to take a deep breath and get over it. With Winchester PDX1 or Federal 4-pellet buckshot, the Judge is a formidable short-range defensive weapon. Period.
I have a Governor and agree with Bane.
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Old October 18, 2012, 05:13 PM   #18
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My 2¢ is to just get a 12 gauge pump and feet it some 00.
I'm sure the guvn'r can be plenty lethal though. Hickok45 does a decent comparison of most ammo types that go thru a Judge. That should give you an idea if you think it's appropriate for your home.
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Old October 19, 2012, 12:10 AM   #19
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If you like the gun, and train with it to maximize your skill with it there is not reason that it can not be used to defend you, your home and your loved ones.

What I think many object to when it comes to the "shotgun revolvers" is the continued myth that one "can't miss" with a shotgun, or that a 410 revolver is somehow massively more effective than some other large bore handgun. People can and do miss with shotguns and shotgun revolvers all of the time and I would no more advise someone to buy a 410 revolver, load it up and not practice / train / learn to aim it then I would advise that approach for any other type of firearm that you can mention. Yet again, because of the "shotguns can't miss myth" there are tons of people out there doing, or even worse advising others to do just this. This concept is as ignorant as folks who tell me because they own X breed of dog if they are ever attacked they know their dog will know what to do.

Personally I am not a fan of the concept as if I want a shotgun, I want my 12 gauge. Comparing 12 or 20 gauge home defense rounds buck or slug to 410 simply is apples and oranges when it comes to stopping power. If I want a revolver I want something that is not quite that large and bulky. To me the shotgun revolver does neither task well.

If we are talking about handguns 9 out of 10 times to some degree size / portability comes into play even for just "home defense" There is much to be said for a revolver one can pack around the house or slip in a pocket or waist band. The shotgun revolvers don't do that well.

No matter what you do don't load it with bird shot, it's a poor choice for anti-personel use. Yet another common shotgun myth.
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Old October 19, 2012, 12:21 AM   #20
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You're getting a good enough deal on it that it's at least worth trying out for a while. You'll probably end up liking it, but if not, you're likely not going to lose money on it if you sell it sometime down the road.

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Old October 19, 2012, 12:50 AM   #21
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well it seems like a good choice for that price, me personally i waiting to see if S&W will come out with their version of a raging judge.
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Old October 19, 2012, 02:41 PM   #22
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Some gunsmiths now offer a choke for the Judge. I have the Rossi 410 Pistol, and screw in the choke for birdshot and lead buck. Works great to keep a tight pattern. Not getting a flyer on the buck as I do without a choke. Just another option for those who would rather load up with the 410, as you can't mix the 45 colt in without disengaging the choke.
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Old October 19, 2012, 06:43 PM   #23
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I love when people say things like "much less usefulness" it shoots 45 cal bullets out the barrel how is that "much less usefulness"??

I want one & say go for it, just don't get any lint around it
So what if it fires 45 colt bullets? That doesn't mean its a great SD option. Are you new to guns?

My bedside gun is a glock 19. A glock 19 is a vastly superior home defense gun, and if you have to ask "why" then you won't understand.

If someone wants a 45 colt for whatever reason (despite the obvious drawbacks) and someone wants the buck shot capability (despite again, obvious drawbacks) then its probably a fine gun. If you want it for the heck of it, or because it appears interesting, thats fine. However, if you want a great home defense gun, there are many better choices out there.
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Old October 19, 2012, 07:28 PM   #24
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There are a whole lot of people out there with opinions, and some of those opinions are valid while others are based on misunderstanding, anecdotes, and BS.
So whats up, doc? 45 colt for HD? So it beats out a 22lr, a 32 acp and a 50 A&E but does a 5 shot 45 colt revolver really beat out anything else?

Since a few people think that the anti-judge/governor people don't have their facts straight (lol) here is my list of criticisms of this type of revolver:

(these are NOT in a particular order, just off the top of my head)

1) capacity - ok so 5 shots is "enough" but if you have this gun, with 5, you could have instead a semi with say 10 or even more. I'd rather have more than 5, because you never know and your accuracy will be way lower in a SD scenario. Many studies state that 33% or 1 in 3 "hits" is the expectation. 1 shot of 5 is 20% so you may register one hit, in 5 rounds? (2 shots is 40% which is above average SD accuracy per any study or report on the subject). Will you reload the gun? Can you reload? Should you have to face this? Why ponder it when you could have a double stack auto?

2) Size - now of course, this doesn't come into play as much in a SD scenario, but once again, compare it to say a S&W J frame. What are you getting for the size? The power? I don't think its a good tradeoff. Everyone says "well its great 10 yds or less" so is a 9mm or a 38 special and countless other rounds. Every round should be good at that range. Many of the common pistol rounds are quite powerful at said ranges.

3) Accuracy - I can't think it would very accurate compared to other SD pistols or other pistols in general. Remember in a SD scenario you are much more likely to shoot the gun in DA. Of course you can get good with DA firing, but it takes a lot of time. Add in a shorter barrel length, and you have a gun that would not be too easy to shoot well with consistently. So you say to me "well it only needs to be accurate to 10 yds or less" and I say "well can't you shoot a 9mm or 38 10 yds or less on a man size target"? The other issue here is that your intent is not to wound the assailant but rather to maim or kill. I think a well placed shot with a 9mm or 38 hp (for example) is more deadly than the sloppy shooting that may happen because you are shooting a revolver with buckshot. Of course the buckshot is deadly if most of them land on target, but there you got less range.

4) Recoil - this is a prime consideration. So you may only place 1 in 3 shots in a SD encounter, which means a follow up shot is likely to be needed. How quick could you get one off? You think you could shoot quickly with 45 colt? Quick enough to save your life? Seems like an unnecessary gamble to me. Remember, "its effective out to say 10 yds" and so is a 45 acp (referring to semi here), 9mm, 38 special, 380, etc.

5) Weight - now of course, one must consider the lethality of 45 colt here and actually the lethality of buckshot WITHIN RANGE. The gun has to be bigger to offer the power of these chamberings, BUT, in these ranges, many guns are deadly. The weight dampens recoil, but if anyone wants to carry this, its not very light compared to other SD options. I know that the OP said he wants an exclusive HD gun, but many others think the Judge or Governor is a realistic CCW, and while it beats out a few other designs, its not a great one for that purpose. If the weight was the ONLY problem here, it wouldn't be very important, but its not.

6) Collateral damage - ever consider your buckshot going across the road and hitting someone or something else? You want to gamble on that? So the SD range is probably going to be inside say 30 ft, and you buy a judge/governor because you want to hit the attacker for sure. That makes sense BUT if you can't take most any handgun, and put your shots on a man size target consistently at 10 yds or less, then you should have a long arm, not a revolver which fires buckshot and not a handgun in general for that matter.

7) Which round to you actually ready the gun with? 45 colt / 45 acp has greater recoil, making for a slower follow up shot, and more power than what you need, BUT the 410 buckshot offers collateral damage risk while basically insuring some hits. So which one? Alternate them? Is that a good idea?
45 colt exclusive? Why not another type of gun, such as a DA S&W or Ruger, or etc. Surely many other 45 cal revolvers are more accurate. Buckshot exclusive? Why aren't you more confident in your accuracy? Why limit your range? (I mean this towards 2 legged creatures, not natural predators).

Honorable mention - buying such a gun from Taurus. I know this thread is about S&W, but many people buy a Judge, and trust their life to it. How much more proof do you need that this is a big gamble? Its a gamble of your life, no less. I think if someone is dead set on this type of revolver, I'd pay extra for the S&W although I have not read a ton about Judge quality control horror stories. Even so, Taurus earned their rep, and I care about my life more so than trusting a Taurus product, in general. (Exceptions can be made to this).

As said before, I don't think the Governor / Judge actually offers what people buy them for.
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Old October 19, 2012, 07:29 PM   #25
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Winchester_73 "That doesn't mean its a great SD option"

When did I mention SD options? 45ACP or 45 colt will certainly work in a defensive situation. O ya then you could hunt with some hot 45 colt rounds, if you lived in snake country the 410 sure beats 9mm shot out of your g17. Then you bring up “357, 22, 38, etc. I just bought a Colt pre Woodsman” for self-defense I would take the Governor. It seems you are the new one, I’m guessing daily!
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