The new Polymer Judge marries the benefits of ultramodern polymer with the hard-hitting capabilities of a .45/.410 concealment revolver. Shown with the Polymer Judge is a new DeSantis Gunhide belt holster designed specifically for the brand new revolver.
Polymer frames have been a solution to weight reduction in concealed carry firearms for over a quarter of a century, but Taurus has taken the concept to a new level with a polymer shell surrounding a steel skeleton sub-frame that is bonded with a lightweight black polymer exterior. Not only is the Public Defender Polymer lighter (by a quarter pound), but it is an entirely new version of the Judge that combines the best features of all previous models with the addition of an adjustable rear sight.
The fact that the majority of CCW holders will never draw their gun (unless they’re at the shooting range for practice or qualification) makes weight a big factor when selecting a weapon that will be riding on your hip day after day. That Taurus manufactured a gun chambered in .45 Colt/.410 gauge as compact as the original Public Defender is in itself an achievement, but at a weight of 28 ounces empty (five .410 shotshells ups the carry weight another 5 ounces), you definitely know it is there.
Speaking with Taurus president and CEO, Bob Morrison, he explained that, “Making the Public Defender lighter in weight, while not compromising the integrity of the gun, led our engineers to conclude that a polymer exterior was the best way to achieve our goal. There is a full metal skeleton under the polymer exterior, and although it might be highly uncomfortable, the gun could actually shoot without any polymer around it. What we do is put that full-steel frame into a special mold we developed and inject the plastic around the frame so that it attaches to the metal. It is a very delicate manufacturing operation done under great pressure. You end up with a polymer frame bonded to the steel skeleton underneath.”
To make all of this work, the Public Defender Polymer has a very different frame configuration and every part of the gun’s exterior, except for the 2.5-inch cylinder, is new. “The steel structure goes all the way around, over the top of the cylinder, down the back, the recoil shield is metal, and the crane is seated into the steel sub-frame that projects forward, giving the Polymer it’s squared off edges.” When you look at the gun from the left side you can see where the steel frame rests on top of the polymer triggerguard. The recoil shield is shrouded in polymer and the cylinder thumb release is recessed into the polymer panel. The topstrap and barrel shroud complete the exterior cover. The vent rib on top of the barrel shroud was done for aesthetics to give the gun additional character.
The total weight saving with the polymer exterior is 4 ounces. That is enough to almost offset the added weight of five .45 Colt cartridges or .410 shotshells, bringing the loaded weight of the Polymer Public Defender to within an ounce of an empty all steel Public Defender. More than weight savings, the new frame configuration and triggerguard design make the gun easier to handle. The new casehardened hammer and small hammer spur make the Polymer easier to cock for a single-action shot, whereas the bobbed hammer on the steel Public Defender can be somewhat difficult to use, making that model a dedicated double-action-only for some shooters.
Recoil is always the first question when polymer is being used and surprisingly both the steel and Polymer Public Defenders achieve the same recoil reduction through Taurus’ energy absorbing “ribber” grips and reinforced backstrap. The grip construction has the effect of a recoil pad on a rifle or shotgun in mitigating some of the energy transferred when the gun is discharged. The long 2.5-inch cylinder (the heaviest part of the gun) also helps manage recoil, especially with .45 Colt, which imparts a muzzle rise closer to a .38 Special in the Public Defender Polymer. Even tested with new Hornady .45 Colt Critical Defense FTX, felt recoil was no more than one would anticipate from a lighter load. Kick with Federal Premium Personal Defense 000 buckshot was no more severe than with the standard Public Defender, so there is really no tradeoff in going polymer.
“We’ve been able to achieve that through the design of the grip angle and working with the human structure,” explained Morrison. “You’ve got to structure the gun so the recoil isn’t abusive when you’re shooting it. I think ‘why we decided to make it’ is probably the real question, and the answer is that the public sort of demanded it; they were looking for something new and innovative. The high-tech polymer used for the Public Defender is a special blend developed for Taurus, and what we have achieved is a gun that doesn’t really feel any different than the all-steel gun. As for polymer guns I think we’re there. I think this is pretty much it.”