Crapgame has been eyeing the Rossi Circuit Judge .410/.45LC for a while.
The Taurus Judge has issues, mainly that the velocities produced by its short-barreled gun are mediocre, making it nearly useless as a defensive tool with shotshells or .45LC ammo. It sounds like a fun toy to play with, but I wouldn’t trust my life to an unconcealable handgun that delivers such low muzzle-energy.
But the Rossi Circuit Judge is a handy carbine-length version of the Judge, and with that longer barrel, the velocity issue wouldn’t (or shouldn’t) be a problem. And so it caught Crapgame’s eye and held it. We kept it on our radar as we made our usual rounds of gun stores, hoping to get a closer look at one.
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Well, we finally found a Circuit Judge to examine, at Dick’s Sporting Goods, of all places. (Note, their website is NOT dicks.com. Don’t ask how we know this). I would have bet money that a full-service store like Hoffman’s, just up the road from Dick’s, would have been the place that we found one, but kudos to Dick’s for stepping up their game with regards to gun selection (we also noticed more AR15s at Dick’s, including some that were NOT finished in RealTree camo. Evil Black Rifles at Dick’s? Wow).
The ammo flexibility is still a great selling feature of the Circuit Judge. The fiber-optic sights were acceptable, and the stock comb was the right height to let us see the sights comfortably. But the grip portion of the stock was a real problem for both of us.
From looking at the picture, it is obvious that the Circuit Judge is a Taurus Judge handgun frame with a rifle stock attached. And we understand that; it’s a way to leverage the existing tooling in a new way. If it’s done right, it works great.
But it wasn’t done right in this case. The pistol-grip portion of the stock was WAY too thick. Furthermore, the area behind the pistol-grip was also too thick. These two factors combine to make holding the Circuit Judge very uncomfortable to hold, and difficult to hold securely as well. Your right arm (for righties) had to be nearly perpendicular to the gun’s axis to grip it at all. That doesn’t make trigger access comfortable, and it makes proper finger-placement on the trigger impossible.
Now, it is entirely possible to turn a handgun into a rifle and provide a comfortable grip. Beretta and Browning have both done it.
Notice that both of these designs have addressed the placement of the grip hand and the shooter’s arm (the Beretta has relieved their stock behind the grip, and Browning flattened the stock in that area, and both designs used materials other than wood to make their stocks). Not so with the Circuit Judge, because they went with a more traditional stock design completely made of wood.
If someone offers a different stock design, one that corrects this problem, I know of one person who would be very interested in owning a Circuit Judge. But until then, no sale.