Taurus Judge VS Bond Arms Snake Slayer – GunHunter Magazine

Shotshell-loaded pistols are the bee’s knees in poisonous-snake country.

The unseasonably warm South Texas weather slowed deer hunting to a crawl. With only 15 minutes of daylight and a 30-minute walk back to the truck, I left my blind a little early. I was sweating, and little gnats swarmed around my face. I brushed them away in aggravation as I walked along a well worn cow path that cut through the prickly pear cactus and mesquite brush. I had walked in on that same trail and other than a few cottontails bouncing in and out of the brush, I hadn’t seen living thing.

As I swatted the gnats from my eyes, I slipped in full stride, losing my balance and nearly falling headlong onto the ground. Somehow I managed to find my balance and righted myself. I looked down at my boots, expecting that I’d stepped in a fresh cow pie and slipped. To my surprise, there was no cow manure on my boot soles. What the heck had I slipped on, anyway? I looked behind me and saw the source of my slip — a huge diamondback rattlesnake coiled up no more than 15 inches from my legs, preparing to strike! He’d never rattled.

My first instinct was to jump away, which I did with a gallant adrenaline powered leap, but by then it was getting dark. I fired at him with my deer rifle but missed, and he crawled off unscathed. As the last light of day faded, I realized that I had stepped on the serpent, probably while he was outstretched and sunning himself, and nearly fell right on top of him. Who knows what would have happened if . . .

— Russell Thornberry, 1962

Nothing gets your attention like suddenly finding yourself at arm’s length from a poisonous snake. Sometimes screaming and jumping to record heights works out, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes the issue gets down to you and the snake. I always choose me!

Trying to get your wits about you in such a situation can be tough, especially when armed with a deer rifle or a bow and arrow, neither of which is the best weapon for close-range snake protection. That situation is best served with a shotgun full of bird shot, but more often than not, we aren’t toting a shotgun. One can carry only so many arms afield before needing porters.

There is a viable option — a handgun in .44/.410 bore. Several manufacturers offer these, ranging from pocket-size derringers to heavy-duty hip guns that demand stout holsters.

GunHunter Managing Editor Larry Teague and I decided to put several of these snake charmers to the test so that we could report somewhat scientifically what the user might expect of each gun in a close-range snake fest. Each of the three handguns is chambered in .45 Long Colt, which also accepts .410-bore shotshells and metal shotshells in .45 Long Colt. To compare the handguns’ overall performance, we tested four different shot loads in each gun.

Derringer Shot PatternPerhaps the greatest surprise was that more shot doesn’t necessarily mean more pellets in the kill zone. As you will notice, each of the handguns tested put more pellets in the kill zone with No. 6 shot than with No. 8. So more pellets fired isn’t necessarily the end-all, be-all.

Given that no two firearms, even of the same make and model, will duplicate one another in such tests, this experiment offers the reader a worthy general comparison.

As one might expect, the longer the barrel, the greater the percentage of pellets in the target zone.

The trade-off, of course, is size and weight. Our three handguns ranged from 11/2 to 4.65 pounds.

Larry and I concluded that each handgun offers worthwhile snake protection at snake-biting range and far exceeds the protective value of screaming and jumping straight up!

Download the article in PDF Format Here

  • Captain George J. Dowling

    I have both Guns; the “El Juez”, version, of the “Taurus Judge”; also, the Newest, Derringer, you have; the “Snake Slayer IV”. [With the extended, Rosewood handles, and the gold and silver, “Texas Ranger”, logo]. My new Concealed carry guns! I find, yours, more conveiniant.
    Taurus did some research, and published their findings, on the effectiveness, of differant, loads, at differant distances. Would you, have similar findings, on the “Snake Slayer IV”?… I found, personally, to avoid, the “Bird Shot”, and only use, the OOO Buck!… Foregoing, the .45 Long Colt, as Well! I’d like others thoughts, on this?
    This Gun, is only for, “Up Close”, and Personal Use! Why, Chance, “Pissing Some One Off, with “Bird-Shot”?… lol
    Thank You,

    Captain George

    • http://facebok krag-stevens cash

      that somebody would be a snake. The JUDGE RULES so far, have yet to get my hands on a “SLAYER”

      • http://Yahoo BaldingEagle

        I own a Taurus Raging Judge 45LC/ 410/454 Casull. No dought that pistol will bring anything down in
        the United States. And it’s a fine weapon! But none the less you hump this weapon around, it gets
        On the other hand I own a 3-1/2″ Snake Slayer and have it on me at all times, for a personal carry. At 15′ with a 410-2-1/2″ PDXI WINCHESTER shotshell gives a pattern of about 1″.

        I really like both of these weapons. But their tools, each has it’s own purpose.

        The best gun you’ll carry, is going to be the one that saves YOUR LIFE!!!

        • Steve

          The best gun to carry is the one you have with you when you need it. That means something that is small and light. Not one you have to think about as to weather you should take it with you or not. NOT THE BIGGER HEAVIER ONE THAT I LEFT AT HOME!!! (Oops)!!!

      • Richard

        I own the 45 long 410 , Now the 45 colt up close for conceal or Defence 95 % of shooting to save your life are within 3 to 5 feet . Your assailant will lose one shot, He or She will never Rob again. The 410 for snake bird shot works just fine ! Although you will hit the person in the leg, I say better bird shot in the calf, Then Fangs of a Rattlesnake. You will live.! Now if you can get close enough to use pellet with bird shot & you know your Gun. It is up to you ! Best is HP With Bird Shot. No your Guns & Ammo ! The life you save may be your own.

    • Det. Capt. Larry Davidson Retired

      Capt. George Downing if you are same guy tahe worked for NCIS with me 40 years ago I will have to agree, LOL

    • Jerry Chapin

      Capt. George,
      I have a Snake Slayer IV also and it’s my primary concealed weapon. My ammo of choice is 2 3″ .410 Shot Shell 000 shot. Each have 5 rounds with a diameter equal in size to a .357 cal. magnum bullet. I reasoned that 10 rounds in a chest cavity is going to do some damage…

    • Robert

      Captain George
      I have to agree. I retired after 30+ yrs on the job went to work for an armored car company. I carried a Sig on my hip, and the Texas Defender in the pocket of my vest for my “oh sh**” back up loaded with 000 buck. It was not my intent to p*** someone off with it. It was to go home that day.

  • http://AOL llyd turner

    I did extensive research before I purchased my Snake Slayer and everone reccommended you arm over the competition.
    I like it so much that I have purchased two more barrels.
    Lloyd Turner

  • RB

    Bond makes a great product no doubt about it. The only issue I have is with the safety; the BAD cross-draw holster (recommended for use while sitting in a vehicle) pushes the safety on when closing the holster. Since this is a single action requiring deliberate action to cock and when the hammer is forward there is a firing pin block that prevents the hammer from striking the firing pin if the weapon is dropped, the manual safety seems redundant and just one more thing you have to manipulate get this pistol in action. Training is the obvious solution but when you need it quick in an emergency situation it is just one more thing that can go wrong, particularly if you are forced to use your weak hand or are injured. None of the holsters support carrying the pistol cocked (and I don’t think you’d want to). Does this pistol really need a safety?

    • RJ

      There is a great review of these derringers on GunBlast…and it addresses this potential problem… apparently, there is a set screw inside the hammer-well which when tightened disables the crossbolt safety from engaging. I am somewhat concerned about the legal ramifications of such action, but it IS food for thought


      Just keep in mind that the legal-beagles might come in to hound you about this if anything goes awry

      • Charles Cox

        I’ve fired the Bond Arms Derringer & I like it. I don’t like the short handle and when I order mine it will have the longest handle that I can get. I want a 3 finger handle for better control!
        As for the safety. my question is who needs one? The gun is hard enough to cock as it is and has a terrible trigger. If it goes off, you want it to go off, there will be no question about it. It already has a “LAWYERS” trigger!
        I also like the ability to buy different barrels.

      • http://n/a Joe S.

        Of course, if you can fire your weapon smoothly in a life or death scenario, you just might be alive to face the legal beagles.

    • http://Yahoo BaldingEagle

      There is a allen set screw that sit’s on the top of the derringer, next to the trigger. Tighten the set screw down with the safety off. I would recommend leaving the trigger guard on. Because if you pull the trigger, you can push the hammer forward into the firing pin and discharge the derringer. But you should always keep your finger off the trigger until you are on target. I too had your prolem with the safety.

  • Errol

    RB, I prefer to lock the safety in the “fire” position. There is a small set screw that allows this. Your Bond is then ready to cock and fire without using the safety.
    I love my SS IV and felt the same way in regard to the saftey – it isn’t needed, so I put mine in the fire position, set the screw and eliminated the problem.

  • Errol

    I wanted to add a quick opinion in regard to the above gun & ammo comparison.
    The best pattern I have found and, I believe, the best overall load for self defense is #4 shot – Winchester or Remington. I use 3″ shells and they are very effective at the 3 – 15 foot range.
    I do like the .45 LC and the 000 buck but have found the #4 is surprisingly effective. This has become the load I always keep in my Bond. Good for whatever comes at you!

    • http://Yahoo BaldingEagle

      I’ve shot 3″ Winchester 000-buck and find it a good powerful shot. But the 1st of the five 36 caliber ballshot gets shoved off target.


      • Steve

        Think positive, you’ll be able to get the other bad guy standing right next to him.

  • Daniel S.

    This is one of the finest carry conceal weapons available, especially for hiking. It’s a tough decision, 45LC Bear Loads, or 410 Snake loads? Generally I carry it with the first barrel to fire with Snake Shot and the 2nd Barrel with 3″ 000 Buck for larger critters. I’d just have to shoot both barrels if it’s something other than a snake or small varmint. I imagine a load of #4 shot might stop a person or dog too if needed. This is a lot of fun to shoot, even with the somewhat wicked kick with the 3″ shells! 45LC 300 Grain Bear Loads are fun too, but the kick isn’t really bad at all. I recently acquired the 4.25″ 357 Mag/38Spcl and the 3″ 22WMR (just released) barrels; they are both a lot of fun. Had some nice little flames with some of the 22WMR ammo I was shooting. Also have the 22LR barrel for cheap fun and practice with aim; even though different calibers and brands have some very different characteristics, it still helps with the basics and the trigger pull. This is one top notch quality product and Made in the USA, Awesome! My 21 year old son shot it earlier this summer for the first time, ” Holy Sh_t Dad, that thing kicks your A _ _!” He was only shooting the 2 1/2″ buckshot. I love it!!, it’s truly a blast! Too bad you can’t fire both barrels at the same time, that would be TRULY WICKED!

  • Errol

    The biggest adjustment for me was the downward trigger pull but a little practice takes care of that.
    @ Daniel, yes, I would definitely use the .45 LC in bear country – you can always keep a handful of snake shot in your pocket. A mad bear at close range – the hottest .45 round available!

    • Steve

      Shoot a mad bear at close range? Now he is going to be verry mad. After you shoot, run like hell.

    • Scott

      I also found the trigger to be a challenge to overcome, and found myself flinching, anticipating the shot, when still trying to “pull” the trigger. I have big hands, and found that after I removed the trigger guard, the problem was solved. Also, you have to realize this is no target pistol, and I found that sighting and just pulling the trigger, rather than “squeezing” it, had better results. This powerhouse will do the trick, at ranges it is intended for. I had excellent results with my SS IV at 27 feet, using 000 buck, the PDF shot and 45 colt. Very deadly weapon.

  • Steven Parker

    I had been looking at the Taruis Judge and the Snake Slayer and couldn’t make up my mind.I am sure glad I went with the Snake slayer. After shooting it a few shots two handed I was able to shoot and reload one handed. I wrote bond arms about getting a 22 mag barrel and they came up with one. The 45/410 is a blast to shoot and I like #4 shot in the bottom barrel then 000 buck on the top. Of all the guns I own this is the only one my wife say’s I love more than her.

  • http://www.bestforhunting.com Aritfact

    That is a neat little snake pistol, but what I I wish there was a way to have antivenin on hand when out in the back country of the west. I believe it has to be refrigerated to last. Lots of the times I find myself 5-10 miles from the nearest road. What does a guy do if he gets snake bit in an area like that? I guess snake bite prevention is the best method. For now I guess I will just have to stick with my snake proof gear like Snake-Boots and Snake-gaiters.

  • Gurn Blanston

    I picked up my new Ranger 2 days ago. I tested it yesterday for the first time – at an outdoor range not too far from our home. I fired a couple of Winchester 3″ 7 1/2 birdshot rounds through it – for familiarization. Kicked my butt! But, at a real-size silhouette target at 30 feet – wow, what a pattern! I think I’ll change to 2 1/2″ rounds, for less kick – maybe load a 4-shot and a 7 1/2-shot in the 2 chambers for carry. I’m going to order the .22 mag and .22 LR barrels for it tomorrow. Thanks for making such a gorgeous and effective product. I feel like a little kid with a new toy (maybe I am!).

    Gurn Blanston

  • Guyzer

    i just bought the Texas Defender at a pond shop in Twin Falls ID. The cost was $349.00 used. It is 45Lc &410. looking at the thing before i bought it was just like new. i mean not a scratch and looking very polished. the pond guy behind the counter said it was fired once that he knows of. So the seller says, and that it was too much gun for him. So he traded it for something he could handle. I know for just a few bucks more, i could have bought a brand new one but this one is new. Bad thing is i have no manual for it. i would like to get 4.25 barrel and the ext. grips. cant waite to shoot this thing..
    PS, I do have a Concealed Fierarm Permit out of Utah, good in 30 states. I believe you should have one also…
    Guyzer, Idaho.

  • Mike Joe

    I have an Oregon concealed permit, which is not good in too many states, so I obtained a non resident Florida permit… good in almost 40 states…better than Utah. Bought the Snake Slayer 4, at first I was concerned about the trigger pull, but it got better with use, and now I just love the gun. I ordered some other barrels. With the .410 PDX defense loads at 10 feet, it pulverized a large spanish onion. I mean nothing but onion juice raining down on the cactus! This is a fantastic gun for both kinds of snakes, crawling and otherwise. Only gun I will ever need.

  • T.R. Dyer

    I looked at several other manufacturers and they all fell short of Bond Arms. The cross bolt safety and rebounding hammer make it safe. The internal design makes it reliable. Being made right here in the Lone Star State makes it a must have. Mine originally was a Texas Defender in .38/.357 but I purchased the SS IV bbl in .45/.410 and extended black ash grips making it a “Ranger II” before they were selling them! I eventuall purchased a .44 Spl barrel because I like variety. Many manufacturers are making .45/.410 revolvers these days but try sticking one in your waistband. The weight and thickness is a real complication to concealment. Not so with the Bond Arms derringer! I like mine so much I purchased another barrel in .44 Spl because variety is the spice of life. Additionally, in .45LC, the Buffalo Bore load in your Bond Arms derringer is my choice for urban snakes.

    • Ray

      I’ve had my snakeslayer for a while now. I share all the praises of it. Despite the solid construction of the handgun I haven’t fired any of the buffalo bore .45LC with it yet. I’m most likely being overly cautious; but I’m hesitant to without getting some feedback. Anybody have any experience to share on the matter? For that matter, what a little hand numbing monster of a pocket cannon would it be if they were to put out a .45/70 barrel?


      • David

        I’m not sure what a buffalo bore is but I have fired my Snake Slayer IV many times with 45LC in cowboy loads (simple lead projectile) and with hollow point self defense loads and both performed flawlessly. This is now my only gun for concealed carry.

      • Captain George J. Dowling

        With the use of the OOO Buckshot, [coming out, with the Force, of 5 .357 Magnum shells], “Why”, Deal, with all that extra “Kick”?

      • Steve

        A 45/70 is almost as long as the barrel. What a blast that would be. (Pun intended)!

  • Harry klavon

    I would like to see a laser on snake gun.45 & 410

  • Dr Hires

    WOW! Can these perfect guns get any better? Well, I just had to buy a 4.25 in. barrel for my 45/410 Snake Slayer. Mind you, I have no qualms with the 3.5 barral – you can shoot it all day – with no sore hand. Well, 30 seconds to attach new 4.25 barral and WOW! What utility. So, now I’m hooked. I am going to buy a couple more Snake Slayers with different Cal.

  • Charles Cox

    Awsome little gun, just wish the handles weren’t so expensive. Maybe with increased production, the price will come down.

  • John Willis

    Love my snake slayer. Bought it 1 week ago and have shot over 150 rounds through it flawlessly. Gun is tight and yes built like a tank. Fun as hell to shoot. My hats off to the guys at bond arms.. long live Texas.

  • J. Peterman

    Sounds like a great gun, and so much more fun than simply walking around the snake (lame!). If I was carrying this I would have the confidence to not pay attention to what I was doing AT ALL!

    I’m cool if I shoot the snake AFTER he bites me, right? Its like retroactive anti-venom ownage.

  • Firedawg314

    I have the Judge Poly and the Bond Arms Snake Slayer. The judge is small and easy to carry, but this Derringer has taken 1st place. Using the .410 shells are great. I have my derringer resting behind my belt buckle, no one expects it there when I’m conceal and carry. I love it, it’s like a mini tank. When you hold the gun, you know you have a huge chunk of steel. You will not go wrong getting this gun.

  • nelson miller

    i have had my snake slayer for almost a year now it is a great small gun i have the 45/410 i enjoy it very much i have killed 9 snakes with it so far it is a great small carry gun thanks

  • Jim Lane

    Is a trigger upgrade ready for sale yet? I find the trigger too hard to pull. If it is will you want the gun shipped to you o cac Iinstall it myself? Thank s Jim Lane

    • admin

      Please feel free to contact us by phone, Monday – Friday 9am-5pm (CST) 1-817-573-4445 so we can help you.


    When I first became interested in using firearms, approximately 4 years ago, I was advised to purchase the Taurus Judge. I have never encountered such an unreliable piece of equipment as this firearm. The trigger jams, the cylinder doesn’t turn. Albeit these two occurrences are periodic I should not have to be surprised with a problem in a critical situation.

    After I had purchased the product I became acquainted with a gunsmith in the area. He reaffirmed the difficulty that I was having with my Taurus and volunteered to try to help. After numerous contacts with the manufacturer neither one of us were satisfied with the end result I have sent the product to the manufacturer for adjustments as needed since it is guaranteed for life and the product has been returned with no modifications or changes in the problems still persist. I cannot advocate the use of this firearm to anyone they may express an interest with it.

  • Wayne

    I really like the SS IV and the longer barrel. I am also a 44 special fan and would like to see the longer barrel in 44 spl. Any chance?

    • admin

      Check our gun barrels selection for the caliber and length you are looking for.

  • Nicholas

    What is it with this desire to shoot snakes? Leave them be, they’ll leave you be. Don’t understand it.

    That being said, you make fine little guns and I can’t wait to get one for my wife for home defense.

    • Bryan

      Some of us happen across rattlers from time to time. I, for one, do NOT leave them be!

  • Chip Caffrey

    I have owned a Cowboy Defender with the Centurian barrells (410 and 45 long). I put stag handles on mine and bought the Bond holster. I absolutely love this weapon. I carry it everywhere I go on my farm in the Ozark Mountains. I also have a taurus Judge 5 shot revolver. I have a shoulder holster for it. It is a fantastic weapon but for concealment carry or hiking thru the woods, the thing is just to big and cumbersome.
    What I do carry on me at all times is a stainless steel Walther PPK .380 with custom walnut grips. Would like a bigger round but then you run into concealment problems.

  • http://plumbingwintertips.blogspot.Co.uk/ Blogspot.co.uk

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts about 410 pistol.

  • JOHN


    • admin

      We do not offer shooting at our factory, if you are in the area please check out The Pirate’s Den Sports Center – They carry our firearms and have an onsite shooting range.

  • Dubois Selbig

    The best conceal carry ever . Slugs shoot as good the 45s I carry 000 buck and slugs.

  • Woody

    Got a “new” Snake Slayer in .410/.45 in a trade. The original owner was un-impressed with it. I traded him out of it and walked away feeling like I had insulted the Pope. This gun has been fired 11 times and he threw in 60 dollars worth of ammo. After a good cleaning and close up inspection I am in some kind of euphoric haze over this gun. The wife said “lay it down and it’s mine”. All I can say is “what a great gun”. The fit and finish is to die for and test firing is everything one could expect. Have not killed anything yet but with 5 acres in North Florida oak country I’m sure I will.