After reading the test of .410-bore shotshells adjacent, shooters may wonder what guns are good choices to shoot the small-gauge self-defense rounds. While we can't attest to how a given gun will work with a given shell, we can recommend some firearms that generally suit the .410 shotshell in home-defense situations.
About a year ago, Ray Ordorica compared two handguns chambered for the .410 shotshell, the S&W Governor 45 ACP, 45 LC, 410/2.5-inch, $679; and the Taurus Judge Model 4510TKR-3BUL 45 LC/410 2.5-inch, $620. We learned back then that these handguns performed better with smaller shot. Ray first patterned the Gov at 3 yards, which gave a pattern with Winchester Super-X No. 7.5 shot that fit onto a sheet of 8.5-inch x 11-inch paper. At 5 yards from the muzzle, the pattern with the Governor spread to about 18 inches. This was far superior to what we got with shot loads from the Judge, he reported, which would spread to about a foot at only 3 feet. The same held true with the #4 shot. The Governor's pattern slightly overlapped a sheet of paper with a spotty pattern fired from 9 feet, but at that same range the Judge barely struck the paper. At 15 feet, the pattern differences were astounding. The Smith Governor put all its shot into a 17-inch circle. The Judge put its shot into a 34-inch circle, twice the diameter. The Judge's pattern had many holes, but the Governor's pattern was even, and quite impressive. The shotshell results very much favored the Smith & Wesson.
With 000 buck from 20 feet, the results from both guns were spotty. He concluded the maximum range for 000 buck is about 20 feet.