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I bought a S&W Governor a few years back and have played with it quite a bit. I've shot most of the 2 1/2" defensive and shot loads through it and have been less than impressed. The Winchester PDX1 load might be OK at near point blank range for defense but ignition problems with it keep it from being used for anything other than the range. I haven't been able to find the Winchester 000 2 1/2" load but I’ve heard other people give it positive reviews. The data I did find for it listed it's velocity at 1300 fps. At 500+ fps faster than the PDX1 load, I doubt that was from a 2 7/8" barrel.

The PDX1 load prints the three .40 caliber, 71 gr disc into 3" at seven yards and the 12 8.5 gr .180 cal. BBs are already spreading outside the silhouette. 15' is as far as you can go to keep everything in and 10' to keep them all in the chest. The one 10% ballistic gel test I found for it said the BBs penetrated 4.5" and the disc penetrated 7.5 to 8.5s". The load is listed on Winchester's data sheet at 750 fps. The combined disc/shot weight is approximately 315 gr and it produces a paper energy of 392 ft/lbs of energy. I tried chronographing it and the few readings I actually captured, and were in a believable range, were closer to 700 fps from the Governor. That would be 342 ft/lbs of energy. Also, I’m not sure that ft/lbs measurements are valid for a multiple projectile round. The individual 71 gr disc would be 82 and 77 ft/lbs. A 71gr. 32acp round is about 200fps faster and produces around 130 ft/lbs of energy. I've seen videos of slingshots that were more powerful than the individual disc. This brings me to my question.

Are 410 revolvers viable self defense guns? Once the shot spreads, can the individual pellets/disc be an effective fight stopper? I've studied terminal/wound ballistics of handgun ammo since I started my LE career 40+ years ago. Long enough to see the big/slow - small/fast debate roll around twice. I've read everything from 1904's Thompson-LeGarde test though the FBI test and beyond and hundreds of magazine articles on the subject. I haven't found any in-depth test/article on 410 handguns. Does anyone know of articles, test or research that has been done on it? Or, know of any incident in which it was actually used for self defense? Sorry for the length and thanks in advance.
 

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Bad breath range..... beyond that, practically any cartridge handgun would likely be more capable, if the patterns are as bad as you say. In my opinion.....
 

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You would be better served with most any standard caliber from 9mm up. At least you would be fairly certain of getting the penetration needed to do the job at hand. Even the buckshot load would be marginal in my opinion...and then only at very close range.
 

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maj118,

My background is much like yours. In addition I was my department's chief firearms instructor (400 armed personal) my last 6 years before I retired. From all I have studied, read, and heard, I find the whole Governor concept (and the cheeper one too) a gimmick to sell guns that has no real basis for use, particularly self defense. In a discussion a year or so back a guy made a pretty good case for them as snake defense, but a whole lot of other things will do that and defend you too.

YMMV,
Dave
 

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No way does one of these 410 revolvers do 1300 fps velocity, more like 500 or Less
 

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I use my Judge for rattlesnakes using 7 1/2's. I killed a bunch with it. Better than a revolver shooting shot capsules.
Using Winchester's defense loads I get pretty good patterns at 15-20 ft. And there's always .45 colt loads for back-up shots.
 

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At least you would be fairly certain of getting the penetration needed to do the job at hand.
I think one's definition of "the job at hand" is central to what one's idea of "self defense" is.
Getting "penetrated" by a 9mm bullet increases the chances of hitting a vital organ or blood vessel & killing an assailant, but it may not "deter" him any faster than getting sprayed in the face with less lethal, multiple projectiles. That 9mm bullet may not deter or slow him up at all if it penetrates in the wrong spot. I've witnessed people getting shot with weapons much more powerful than a 9mm handgun multiple times & still pose a threat for a considerable time. Increasing the odds of killing the perp does not necessarily increase your odds of successfully defending your self. Getting sprayed with one of those 410 defense loads at 10' or 15' is going to change the mind set of any person on the wrong end of one just as much if not more than getting shot with a 115 grain bullet. Those that think they are going to be in a long range firefight, in a self defense situation, have been watching too many movies. Self defense has been legally defined in every State & the consequences of killing someone, even in self defense, can be devastating to your life & your bank account. Deterrence, without killing, would be the hoped for outcome should self defense ever be required & the 410 handgun fits that criteria quite well. Just my two cents!
 

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Good Morning, Maj118,

I have a rule of not disparaging another's gun. In interest of keeping you vertical, I might be deviating slightly from that rule but possibly not. It depends upon actual intended use of a .410 chambered handgun. For bipedal self-defense, the Governor or any other .410 handgun is, to my estimation, a gimmick. I wouldn't use a .410 slug outta a bird gun for bipedal self-defense.

Bad guys know how to be bad guys. Many are trained killers by way of the US military. Never assume it's gonna be easy. Never assume that on your best day you're gonna be able to hit a bad guy. It's darn near delusional to assume you're gonna connect with a head shot. Pray for it, but never assume it. Better yet, pray for avoidance. Avoiding a gunfight is the only known way of survival. If that ain't an option, pray that you're able to avoid taking a bad guy's round(s).

Please do not assume the following is in any way condescending. It is not. It is an attempt to help you choose a handgun that MIGHT keep you vertical. Before you get routed to a self-defense handgun, it's a very wise idea to know how the biological science of human incapacity. Without a CNS hit, you're gonna have to lower a bad dude's blood pressure to zero. Keep in mind that while you're waiting for a bad dude's brain to shut down due to lack of oxygenated blood, he's gonna be putting rounds on you, and that's always bad. A bad dude with a heart that's no longer pumping life still has ~8 seconds of carnage remaining. That's an eternity if he were putting rounds on you. It gets far more complex: the reality is ~95% of bad guys who are disposed to murder are either under the influence of illegal drugs, psychopaths, or a combination of both. Dopers and psychopaths tend to deviate from biological laws of incapacity.

All else being equal, bigger and heavier is better. A good quality semi will whip a revolver every single time. In fact, while once the top of self-defense handguns, my money's on revolvers as no longer considered tactical handguns. A good quality semi has any revolver beat so far to the losing end of the self-defense field, that I'd dismiss revolvers from suitable self-defense handguns.

Please don't assume that I'm biased against revolvers. I might be a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: I love The Chief, more commonly known as the Model 36 & Model 60. I've carried a Model 60 for 20+ years. I was aware of it's limitations and I was always a strict adherent to the primary rule of gun fighting: the only way to survive a gunfight is to not get in one. The reality is my Sig P239 .40 S&W is vastly superior to The Chief. But I love The Chief.

The 1911-A1 .45 ACP sits alone atop the pinnacle of self-defense handguns. I might be wrong here, but I doubt it: the 1911-A1 was the first semi to be designed as an offensive battle handgun. Not only is the .45 ACP an extremely formidable cartridge, a full-size 1911-A1 is perfectly balanced with the most natural point of any handgun. A 1911-A1 can be reloaded inside a few seconds while not requiring a good guy to take his eyes off a deadly threat.

I could go full dissertation on why a 1911-A1 has been and will remain the best divinely created bipedal self-defense handgun.

My advice is to use a .410 for birds and snakes. Use a 1911-A1 .45 ACP if bad guys intend to schedule your corpse for autopsy.

I wish you the absolute best.
 

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Foolish to be sure. A .410 is lethal from a shotgun but the pistol can't reach velocity. False sense of security from a short barrel. BIG blast out front means it will kill---sorry.
I am in the camp that a .45 ACP is best. Next is the .357, anything under and throw rocks. Next is too much power like Dirty Harry with the .44 mag. 100% false.
If I had to carry I would have a 1911 and never a .380 or a .410. Either would make a BG burp before he killed you. The .45 Colt is proven for hundreds of years.
Today the gun is too heavy or kicks too much. Darn a 1/2# more on your belt must drag you to your knees. But it is ounces today with wimps.
JWP. Do you have readings of your own? I forget all powder is gone in an inch. A .410 from a 2" barrel is as fast as one from a long barrel shotgun. Do not give me the gas expansion junk either.
 

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The Federal #000 Handgun Buckshot goes 16" in bare ballistic gelatin
It will go 11 to 12" in denim covered ballistic gelatin
Why do people just make up nonsense like 500 fps??? If you have no clue then move on, don't post.


"At $10 per box of 20, Federal’s “Revolver” 000 Buckshot loads are both effective and cost-efficient. With a center hold, groups like this single headshot can be yours at dining-room distances. The four 73-grain .36 caliber pellets consistently hit within four inches of each other. Traveling at 850 fps from a 2.5-inch barrel, they collectively deliver about 468 lb-feet of energy with multiple wound channels.

This single round would produce nearly the same trauma and incapacitation as a half-magazine full of .380 ACP hardball. No wonder some people look to the Smith & Wesson Governor (or Taurus Judge) as a bedside home-defense gun. But why stop with a single shot when your cylinder holds six? If your target holds still long enough, you can multiply the mayhem with additional shots."
Gun Review: S&W Governor (Take Three) - The Truth About Guns
 
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The Federal #000 Handgun Buckshot goes 16" in bare ballistic gelatin
It will go 11 to 12" in denim covered ballistic gelatin
Why do people just make up nonsense like 500 fps??? If you have no clue then move on, don't post.


"At $10 per box of 20, Federal’s “Revolver” 000 Buckshot loads are both effective and cost-efficient. With a center hold, groups like this single headshot can be yours at dining-room distances. The four 73-grain .36 caliber pellets consistently hit within four inches of each other. Traveling at 850 fps from a 2.5-inch barrel, they collectively deliver about 468 lb-feet of energy with multiple wound channels.

This single round would produce nearly the same trauma and incapacitation as a half-magazine full of .380 ACP hardball. No wonder some people look to the Smith & Wesson Governor (or Taurus Judge) as a bedside home-defense gun. But why stop with a single shot when your cylinder holds six? If your target holds still long enough, you can multiply the mayhem with additional shots."
Gun Review: S&W Governor (Take Three) - The Truth About Guns

This is the only velocity given with 410 shells that I found in your link and it is higher than the shot shell velocity that I saw years ago.

“We also tested Winchester’s innovative PDX .410 self-defense ammunition. Instead of traditional birdshot, buckshot or slugs, 2.5-inch PDX shells are loaded with three copper “Defense Discs” and twelve plated BB shot traveling at 750 fps”
 

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I would rely more on a crucifix and Holy Water!
True since a short gun must be rifled, short shotguns are not legal. The little guns are rifled for the .410 and .45 Colt and neither works. Some have a wad cutter at the muzzle to stop spin, still sad. It is like snake loads in a rifled revolver, 2 or 3 feet. I made many snake loads for the bees that bore wood, never hit a single one at a few feet. The .410 shotgun or my smooth bore .22 is deadly. But a mouse too far will not die with the .22 smooth bore. Yes I have a Winchester .22 smooth bore rifle.
Spin on buckshot is not good even if it has some power not attained from a short barrel.
JWP and I have many arguments about powder burn, then he agrees with me.
I cant even find buckshot loads for the .410, maybe holds 3 and is like a .380 with one hit if lucky. The .380 is another sad carry. It will kill with a head shot but at 10 yards with most can't hit a pie plate.
 

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I have to add my 2 cents worth. I have read the posts comparing stopping power, penetration, grouping, etc and everyone seems to have forgotten one thing. No firearm is going to be of any use to anyone who won't pick it up, These large handguns are great for big guys with lots of training and skill, but my wife is scared and needs something she can shoot and makes enough noise to scare someone off who just stepped into the wrong house. She is not going going after a determined bad guy. Would I be deterred under these circumstances by a load of .410 shot in the face? Yes, I would. If I was determined, a 44 would not stop me until too late unless hit in the right spot. I just put this out as food for thought. In my hands, I wouldn't load the 410, I would load the 45. Is it a gimmick? Possibly. Probably. But in the right circumstances it would still be an unpleasant greeting.
 

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OK, for those that have never shot either a Judge or a Governor, please just quit talking theory as you imagine it to be and actually try one. No, it's not for long distances, and it's not for everyone, but for close work, such as stopping someone from breaking in through your door or as a car defense gun, it is unparalleled. Don't get me wrong, I dearly love my 1911s, 357s, 9mms and other pistols, but don't sell the Judge/Governor short when it's used with the RIGHT loads and for the purposes it's designed to meet. I still keep a CZ with a bright light mounted on it loaded with 18 + 1 rounds of 9mm goodness next to the bed (inside the house might require more precision hits than the 410 would allow, unless using 45LC, which are accurate to 15 - 20 yards, and I don't think anyone in their right mind would doubt the validity of using 45LC for defense work :). There's usually a 12 gauge pump within reach as well, because when someone wakens me from a nice, deep slumber, I tend to get grumpy. But, when traveling, the Judge sits in the car with me. Again, if you've taken the time to actually shoot one with the proper ammo, you would know why.
These guns got bad raps when they first came out because someone got one, stuck some standard 410 birdshot in it and hated it because it spread-out all over the place. Then, the ammo makers got to work. My favorite is the Federal Handgun 000 buck. Even out of my short-barreled Public Defender Judge snubnose, at 5-6 paces, it will put all four 36 cal pellets on a paper plate, and penetration tests are impressive. Anything beyond that range and you'll be doing some tall explaining to the prosecutor as to why you were shooting at that distance. Again, these pistols have a limited range of influence, but within that range, you don't want to be on the receiving end.
For in the car, I like to keep 5 rounds of the Federal Handgun 000. For someone trying to invade your space, the results would be devastating. The same goes for any kind of close encounter within a normal combat range. Every pull of the trigger is the equivalent of shooting something four times.
Check out these two videos. I especially like it when he does a cylinder dump into a block of ballistic gel :D. This guy does some really good ammo tests.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNVXuspaJtE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDMDd4eAQO0

Oh, and as for the size of this pistol, I can fit my Public Defender into the pocket of some of my walking shorts and the grips are pretty comfortable in my hand. Nope, my wife doesn't like it, but she's not too fond of anything that makes loud noise and tries to jump out of her hand. She prefers my old Mossberg Home Defender 410 shotgun.
 
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