.410 Loads for Self-Defense — A Carjacker’s Worst Nightmare and More

By Dave Dolbee published on in Ammunition

I have always loved the .410. At a young age, I was introduced to it as an alternative to the .22 long rifle for rabbits and squirrels. Due to the shot pattern, it was easier to harvest the fast moving little critters. Later, I was introduced to bird hunting and quickly realized those old men were not shooting the .410 to gain an advantage. Instead, it was a show of skill on fast-moving Bobwhite’s. However, it was when I was first introduced to the .410 for self-defense that I gained a respect for the cartridge.

White haired woman in light brown shirt with sunless points a silver Taurus Judge straight in front of her for target practice against a background of miscellaneous items and greenery.

The Taurus Judge is fast on target and plenty accurate enough for personal defense.

At the time, one use I never considered the .410 for was self-defense. My thinking at the time was, “Who would want a .410 when you could just as easily use a 12 gauge?” At a minimum, for those with recoil issues, you would want a 20 gauge. I, like many who worked behind the sporting goods counter at one time or another, thought of the .410 as a cartridge with little utility beyond rabbit-sized game.

Then, one day, I fell upon the Springfield M6 survival rifle. Talking to an old timer, he assured me the .410 had more punch than I was giving it credit for. While I was not planning to wait for an actual survival situation, a local game farm with hogs, goats, and sheep seemed an appropriate testing grounds.

Still unsure of the .410, I had a buddy with me as a backup. The plan was for me to take a goat or ram and he would follow up with a .243—so much for plans. We made the stalk to within 20 yards, and I lined up a Corsican ram. I was planning to make a neck shot, but got caught up in the moment and took a heart/lung shot. The ram took off at the shot and my buddy was so startled at my shot that he forgot to back me up.

Smith and Wesson Governor revolver right profile on blue background

Capable of shooting a .45 Long Colt or .410 cartridge, the Smith and Wesson Governor is a top choice for self-defense.

Fortunately, the ram fell about 30 yards later. The little .410 slug proved it had more than enough punch, so we headed back into the hills to try it on a hog. I have taken more than a few hogs and no intention of trying to bust through the shoulder plate, so this would be a neck shot for sure. It took us a day to stalk close enough for the iron sighted M6, but once in range, a neck shot to a 150-pound sow dispatched her in short order. In fact, she dropped in her tracks.

We know there is more to the .410 story than hunting game. However, it took the innovative minds at Taurus to show us that it was a viable cartridge in a revolver when it introduced the Judge—nothing will clear a would-be carjacker’s head from your car’s window better in my opinion.

As the Taurus Judge, Smith and Wesson Governor, and other models of the ilk, gained in popularity, it was natural for the ammunition manufacturers to look for ways to maximize the cartridge’s potential for self-defense. Today, there is a host of purpose-built self-defense ammunition for the .410.

Winchester PDX-1 Defender

For over 40 years Winchester has continually been recognized as a leader in quality and innovation in shotgun ammunition. The latest development to build on their tremendous success is the PDX1 Defender Load. When considering the safety of yourself and your family, choose the shotshell load that delivers the ultimate threat-stopping combo of two distinct personal defense technologies at the same time. The PDX1 is a highly effective in both shotguns and .410 compatible handguns. PDX1 features three plated Defense Disc projectiles and 16 pellets of plated BB shot to delver the one-two punch that you need, when you need it. It’s the ideal personal defense load for short range encounters with the terminal performance that you need to stop the threats. It is also an excellent hunting round suitable for predators, varmints, and pest control!

Winchester PDX1 Defender

PDX1 features three plated Defense Disc projectiles and 16 pellets of plated BB shot to delver the one-two punch that you need, when you need it.

S&B Self Defense

Sellier & Bellot has been making high quality ammunition for a number of years. S&B maintain a state of the art factory overseas where they make high quality ammunition and components. This particular defensive load is designed to perform well out of .410 bore shotguns, or Taurus Judge-style handguns.

Federal .45 LC/.410 Bore Defensive 70 Round Combo Pack

Want reliable performance, realistic practice and amazing value? Federal Premium’s new .45 Long Colt and .410 Bore combo packs feature two of its bestselling ammunition lines combined in one convenient package at a great price. Each Combo Pack includes American Eagle .45 Long Colt defensive ammunition and Premium Personal Defense 2-1/2″ 000 Buck .410 gauge ammunition. This combo package is ideal for owners of the Taurus Judge, the Taurus Public Defender, or Smith & Wesson Governor.

Federal American Eagle .410/.45 Long Colt ammunition combo pack

Each Combo Pack includes American Eagle .45 Long Colt defensive ammunition and Premium Personal Defense 2-1/2″ 000 Buck .410 gauge ammunition.

Hornady Critical Defense

Ten bullets through one hole is the philosophy that brought Hornady Manufacturing from a two-man operation in 1949, to a world-leading innovator of bullet, ammunition, reloading tool and accessory design and manufacture today. Hornady outperforms their competitors by ensuring the products they make are what the customers want right now, and then accurately predict and manufacture what theyll want and need in the future.

Delivering effective shot patterns that place all projectiles on a man-sized target at seven yards, the Critical Defense 410 features a unique Triple Defense projectile column consisting of two .35 caliber round balls topped with one non-jacketed FTX slug. Unique to the Critical Defense 410, the .41 caliber FTX slug actually engages the gun’s rifling, and contacts the target nose on; enabling the patented Hornady Flex Tip technology to assist in expansion for greatly enhanced terminal performance. Each .35 caliber round ball is made of high antimony, cold swaged lead to resist deformation and provide excellent penetration.

American Tactical Imports

American Tactical Imports (ATI) now offers premium quality .410 ammunition for self defense. I had the opportunity to run a few magazines through ATI’s Omni Hybrid 410 “A one of a kind shotgun wonder.” While the ammunition isn’t in wide distribution yet, the street price is set to be cheaper than most .223 ammunition. As for performance, I was impressed enough to add it here and will be doing further testing using a Taurus Judge in the following weeks.

Do you own a .410 for self-defense? Which model? Which ammunition are you using? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (24)

  • Robert


    Thanks a lot for giving me that lead. I going to try it right now. Would anyone else have anywhere else to look?


  • Robert


    I like carrying my Judge, it gives me a big variety and combinations I can use for different occasions I find myself going to. I do find that wearing my shoulder holster with a horizontal draw is the most comfortable for me. I would really like to find some non -lethal rubber bullets for it, can anyone help me with that? Thanks


    • Sco


      Lightfield 2½” rubber buckshot. Available online at most ammo sites.


  • Stormy


    I carry a Taurus public defender, short barrel n nubbed hammer. First round, number nine birdshot. I probably won’t kill you on the first round, but I damn sure won’t miss. At 7 yards, it covers the silhouette. If you are not sobered up by that, the next two are PDX1’s, followed by 2-45 LC Federal jacketed hollow points for the coup de grace. Nuff said!


  • Dave


    Marlin .410″ lever-action shotgun with XS rear aperture, white front sights installed, leather butt-cuff with extra .410 shells, cord-wrapped lever. Loaded with Remington “ultimate home defense” 2-1/2″ 00 buck: four x 00 buck pellets @ 1,300fps. from a 20-in. cylinder bore barrel.


  • Sco


    I have a 2½ with a 4″ barrel Tracker and a Raging Magnum with the 6½. I was surprised to learn the shorter the barrel, the tighter the pattern on every shot shell. Guess it makes sense because more rifling makes more spin and scatters it. I’ve shot Cor-Bon 265gr +p out of the tracker, pretty sure pushing it to the limit. Loaded my own 3″ shells for the RJM. Used the slug and buck from Hornady Critical Defense and added some copper plated #4 buck and BB shot. Looks devastating on paper but haven’t tested on meat yet. Underwood hard cast is my bear protection in 454. Would like to try some Garrett 365gr Hammerheads eventually. Just so many options. Hunting squirrels and bear defense with the same gun.


  • Kenneth Muller


    I have raging judge magnum I love it. It’s the best gun I have for a home intruder I use all of the ammo talked about above but also have one 45 colt hornady 225 gr FTX and one 454 casull hornady 300 gr XTP those are my last two shots. The 454 is the only one I’ve found to make this gun kick but still love the fact that it will shot 454.


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