Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle Review

Obsolete Arms and Ammo
By Bob Shell

Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle Review
Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

Apache Junction, AZ –-( At the SHOT show as usual I stopped at the Taurus/Rossi booths to see what they have new.

The Circuit Judge has been around for a couple of years so I was curious as to how well this novel firearm worked. As usual they have a lot of novelty type of guns many that I look forward to working with as time and circumstances permit. A couple of years ago I did an article on the Taurus Judge Revolver which has some interesting features. They have come out with a rifle version of the Judge known as the Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle.

Like the revolver it is a 5 shot that uses 45 Colt and 410 gauge shotshells. I ask for and received a sample rifle for testing which I received sometime later.

Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle
Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle

There is an insert that reduces the capacity to three rounds. For hunting migritory birds it is a federal law to have only three shots. Since the insert is easily removable it might cause a legal problem in some areas so that is something to be aware of. If you are in doubt about the legality of any firearm it is a lot cheaper to check it out before a game warden gives you a citation. It would make a nice rabbit gun out to 20 or so yards with a load of #6 shot. Its lightweight and quick shoulder acquisition would make snap shots easy. Again, check for legality in your area. I don’t see much use for the 87 grain slugs as they are not particularly accurate and not powerful enough for hunting big game. For small game I would go with the 275 grain hollow base at about 1200 FPS. Hornady makes a 45 bullet that weighs 255 grains and is .454 in diameter which would make it a potentially great bullet to use. For a handloader the Circuit Judge is quite versatile within its limits. As with any gun you will have to determine what works for you.

One thing right off is I like its lightweight. My wheels are not very good so its lightweight is an important feature for me. Even with hunting loads recoil isn’t a problem. I feel that with proper loads in the 45 it can do ok for deer size game at woods ranges. A low power scope should be a good addition to this rifle. The rifle has attractive dark colored wood and the bluing is nice. The sight are high visibility and are adjustable.

Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle Likes 45 and 410 Ammo
Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle Likes 45 and 410 Ammo

The 5 shot rifle has a double action trigger pull which is somewhat heavy for accurate work. The single action is a lot lighter making accurate shooting easier. Several people who tried it generally liked it due to its lightweight and balance. We tried some cowboy loads from Ten X and Winchester. They were both mild and reasonably accurate. Having some experience with a Judge it will probably require an oversize bullet to produce the best accuracy. The Judge is designed for close range self-defense against intruders or rattle snakes on a hiking trail. With the proper ammo, it does its job well. The Circuit Judge should be looked at as a hunting rifle for some large game at woods ranges. It isn’t difficult to work up a safe load but with the long cylinder getting accuracy might be more challenging. Whatever range you can keep 5 shots into a small saucer should be your max range for hunting. Depending on the load range can be from 50 to 100 yards. It is not a long range gun as trajectory would be very steep past 100 yards. The fact that you can easily mount a scope makes it more desirable.

I have tried a verity of loads from cowboy to some serious hunting loads. One thing that we noticed is it does spit some gas back into your face. It’s not a large amount but is noticable but if you wear safety glasess there should be no problem. It is a lot easier shooting it single action as opposed to the double action trigger, which is heavy. I let a couple of women and a young boy shoot it and they all liked it and handled it well. The lightweight really comes in handy for small statured people.

The stock screw has a tendency to come loose, which can be annoying just a minor thing to watch for. It looks too small for its application though some locktite may help.

The shotgun loads tried worked well enough to harvest small game at 15 to 20 yards. The patterns were adequate for such things as rabbits and squirrels. You would do well to try a couple of brands and sizes of shot to determine what works best for your hunting needs. The same would apply to handloads. I do not recommend any type of 44 caliber ammo as accuracy would be poor and some of it may be too hot. I have heard that some shooters try 44’s hence the reason I mention it.

We shot some Barnes Bullets brand VOR TX 200 grain XPB bullets which while mild were very consistent in the Circuit Judge some Barnes 225 grain XPB bullets were quite a bit warmer and are what I am looking for as I am looking for a hunting outfit.. We shot some Ranier bullets and results are listed below. My goal isn’t to get a lot more velocity but to tweak these loads and make sure some of them are accurate enough for hunting at 50 yards or so. I would not recommend making these loads any hotter as I am not sure what this gun is proofed for. I did not shoot any of these heavy loads in my Judge revolver as the recoil would be too vicious and there was no need for those in such a light weight gun. Just as a test we shot a Ranch Hand with a 12’ barrel and it always chronographed higher undoubtly due to the Circuit Judge having a large flash gap. Like any firearm, you need to find out what works best. I read that if you have a 40 caliber weapon that will launch a 200 grain bullet at 1000 FPS or faster, you have a woods deer rifle. That seems to be the least powerful load for deer hunting. The Circuit Judge will far exceed that with ease. They shouldn’t fit but don’t even think about trying 454 Casull or 460 S & W rounds. They are loaded to much higher pressure then would be prudent to shoot in the Circuit Judge.


LOAD                          BULLET                          VELOCITY                COMMENT

12 grains Herco           200 grain Berry HP            1158                          high es

Ten X                           200 grain lead                    776                             light

Ten X                           250 grain lead                    768                             nice

Winchester                   250 grain lead                     776                            cowboy load

10 grains Unique          250 grain Ranier FP           1146                            fair

Barnes                          200 Gr XPB                       1210                           mild-consistent

24 grains 2400             Barnes      225 XPB           1683                            consistent

12 grains Herco          275 grain HB cast              1126                           accurate

18 grains Lil-Gun        Ranier  300 grain FP          1218                           high es

22 grains 296              Ranier   300 grain FP           1315                          high es

10 grains Herco          305 grain cast HB               1042                           accurate

458 diameter hollow base bullets
458 diameter hollow base bullets

Since the cylinder is a lot longer and chambered for 410 shot shells loads that can be heavier and some of the bullets can be seated out further which may enhance accuracy. From an accuracy standpoint, the 458 diameter hollow base bullets seem to be the best. A 305 grain cast bullet should make a good hunting bullet. Such game as deer and pigs should fall to those in a convincing manner. Like the Judge, the Circuit likes oversize bullets. Like any other gun it prefers some loads over others. That is why it is important to see what your particular rifle prefers.

The rifle comes with a base and I am going to mount a Hawke Eclipse 30 on it. This scope is a 1.25 X 4 X 24 with lighted reticle which can be red or green at your choosing. I have used Hawke scopes in the past and I highly reccoimend them for any hunting situation. For more info you can go to for a listing of their fine products. During testing the Hawke acquitted itself well as I would expect. The clarity make shooting groups easier. Since this would be essentially a woods gun for deer hunting lighting could be an issue. Usually the best time to hunt deer is around sunrise and sunset which are usually low light situations. This is where the Hawke scope shines.

Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle
Rossi Circuit Judge Rifle with a Hawke Eclipse 30 Scope

The question is would I take this gun hunting because that is its main purpose as far as I am concerned. It can be used for self-defense if nothing else is available but I have a Judge that fills that bill nicely. So yes, I would take it on certain hunts where there wasn’t a chance for long shots.

For deer sized game out to about 100 yards it should do well and I will give it a thumbs up for that purpose. Walking through brush for rabbits? I would definitely use it. It is a unique gun and the price is reasonable.

About Bob Shell
A Custom Reloader of Obsolete and Antique Ammo, Bob Shell, writes about the subject of Guns, Ammo, Shooting and Related Subjects. Visit:

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This has become my go to gun. I’ve recently discovered the ultimate cartridge for deer that I believe I can safely shoot according to the gun’s specs. It’s the Cor Bon 45 Colt +P 225gr DPX. It delivers 720ftlbs of energy with a muzzle velocity of 1200fps, similar energy to a hot .357 magnum or 10mm. It fires a lead-free copper bullet for those concerned about that. This gun can take down most anything North American will throw at you within reasonable distances. I know of people who regularly use hot ammo with double the energy of the Cor Bon,… Read more »


Bottom line. If you had to do the buyout buggiie and you could only have one firearm for both self protection and hunting would you choose this one?

Cpl. Austin

We have been trying different loads with my Circuit Judge, the 255 gr. LRNFP seem to work best for 50-100 yds and the 300 gr. LRNFP for up to 50yds, we have alot of fun shooting steel targets at 50 yds , it really packs a punch.


I’m trying to find out the largest caliber shot that can be fire through that CJ choke tube. Rossi says do not fire 45 LC or slugs through the choke tube. The choke tube ridges look smaller than 45 caliber and when I line up a 45 round against it the bullet definitely will not fit through it without a lot of force behind it. When hunting small game I will occasionally see a coyote and having something larger than 6 shot in one of the chambers would enable me to quickly rotate the cylinder to line up the round… Read more »


I mounted a Cabelas’ caliber specific scope on my CJ, and like- before the scope- I was lucky, to come within 12-15″ , of the bullseye, at only 25 yards, with any of six varieties of lead, 45 long, bullets. Just happened on some Remington , HTP (High Terminal Performance) 230gr, Jacketed Hollow Points, (all copper) and now- I am proud to own this gun ! Right on , every time, with some tweaking the scope @ 50 yards. Looking forward to trying Federals copper ammo, with the lead tip, or having some FMJ copper round nose ammo, created. Happy… Read more »


There are two screw in tubes(not really chokes) that come with the Circuit Judge. It is my understanding that one has no grooves and is just a thread protector when shooting 45 Colt or slugs. The other has straight grooves to stop the spiraling of your shot cup when shooting .410 shotshells as the barrel is rifled so that it is not considered a short barreled shotgun(illegal). As for the question about 45 vs slugs, some places allow shotgun only deer hunting which makes the 45LC illegal. Once again the only .410 slugs that I have found to work are… Read more »


On the 45/410 I have the open sights are garbage and come loose fall off. The stock loosens. One time after firing a few shots it trigger locked itself and jammed.
Apa from that I like it. I run .410 solid slugs drops everything I hunt flat as tack. I’m going to have to spend money on now do it , scope and pistol grip stock but i like it just needs tuning

John Detlef

Mine fell off first time sighting it in so now I’m without them and haven’t got to use it


Hear a lot of questions about what kind of slug works best and am wondering what’s wrong with the 45lc?


The choke according to Rossi website is just rifled or straight smooth. I do not believe either has a converging bore.
Under California law all judges are illegal revolver shotguns are assault weapons CA penal code 12276.1(a)(8) .
So you in CA can not own a sporting shotgun because of your Unconstitutional government.

George Mclean

I believe the circuit judge is legal in California; buds gun shop has it as California legal rifle.
I do agree that the state of California does a lot of unconstitutional things; it’s the crappy state with the very nice weather lol.

jackie egner

Need any info i can get to replace rear site

Paul Dudley

I have seen on UTUBE they are not changing the choke when using the .45 long Colt and 410 cartridge together does this matter when using the choke for.45 long Colt

Paul Dudley

I have brought the Braztech Rossi circuit judge in 410/.45 long Colt I was wondering if I had to change the choke when using .45 long Colt I’m using hornady critical defence loaded with 185 gr FTX and Winchester super x 3″ cartridges as I have seen on UTUBE they didn’t change choke I wouldn’t use 410 choke with .45 long Colt bullet but can you use the long Colt choke to fire the 3″ 410 cartridge thank you

buffalo Zirk

bought one for the wife, light weight, good for small statured person and last year she did a doe in at 110 yards with neck shot. We shoot buffalo bore (not +P stuff) and it works great out to 100-120 yards with scope. She likes it and it is going out this weekend!

matt m

I have a 45/410 circuit judge all i want to know is what kind of 410 slug can i shoot out of the gun. the gun has a rifled barrel … do i leave the choke that you need to shoot45 bullets in the gun to shoot 410 slugs ???? Plz help ????

John Kasben

Can you shoot 2-1/2 in slugs with the 3 in chamber. If not what would be better to use – 2-1/2 or 3″

Ken Benesh

You can shoot the 2 1/2″ slugs in the SJ, but as other have said, it is not a very accurate slug gun. Brennieke slugs work best if you have to use slugs. Sabot slugs are worth a try, if you can find some.


Many thanks for this article, as I have pulled out my CJ and am eyeing it for some fun in the woods and at the gun club. I’m just a shooter (no hunting – at least not so far) – started shooting and collecting guns a couple years ago. Got one of these as my first “long” gun (a Rem 870 being the first, if shotguns count) a couple years ago and absolutely love the look, the feel on-shoulder, and amazingly soft recoil. If nothing else, this seems like “the” rifle to carry around one’s farm or ranch for protection… Read more »


My daughter took her first deer on opening day of the MN firearms deer season with this gun! Dropped it like a ton of bricks at 30 yards in the neck. We are very happy with this gun! Now if I can just find more Brenneke slugs for it she’ll be set.


I got a CJ in .44 mag (calif) in march 2013, and had problems from day one: shoots to the right . Tried everything; adjust sights, scope & finally bore sight laser. Barrel is bent; has over 1/8″ bow! Taurus says warranty is up to Rossi & they only give one year! $35 just to look at it plus more labor to fix, $96 for barrel & now they say stock is cracked! They said 6 weeks to fix, it’s been 8 weeks & now the say another 4 to 6 weeks for stock from Brazil. I told them stock… Read more »

Roger Williams

I know it’s been about a year since your post, I would really like to know if you got your gun back. See, I bought a Circuit Judge 45/410 on 12 May 2015, shot about 100 rounds of 45lc and 40 shot shells. I had it just over a week when the stock started to crack right behind the pistol grip. I’m no stranger to woodworking and I felt I could have easily clamped and glued it. But hey, this thing is under warranty so I called Rossi to see about a replacement. I had a bad feeling about this… Read more »


I’ve got same problem. Mine broke in same place. I ordered a new one in March of 2015. I’ve called every other week. They now say they are switching manufacturer of the stock because its breaking where ours is or did. They have to get the prototype in, shoot it, test it vigorously and then make them to be sold. I asked the man on phone from Braztech since were getting a new stock from a different manufacturer could we get forearm as well. He said e everyone who is ordering any part will get a complete stock and forearm… Read more »


Bought one of these for my 13 year old daughter for deer hunting in shotgun only zone in Minnesota. We love it. Light and easy to shoot single action. However, found that only Brennieke slugs worked in this rifle. Other brands rattled down the barrel resulting in very errant shots. Plus it looks really cool!


I bought one of these a few weeks ago. Great fun to shoot but still looking for more accuracy so I can hunt with. Thinking the comment above so far about 45LC ammo being best for deer hunting but would love any recommendations you all might have.


I just bought the Circuit Judge and I am very satisfied with Its performance and accuracy. It seems to be a little more accurate with the 45 long colt shells. Its going to make a great hunting weapon and home defender.


I bought the circuit judge for ease of use for my kids. Was very easy to shoot deer under 100 yards.


What hollow base projectiles were used? What bullet mold?


I bought a Circuit Judge a little over a year ago. I have lots of fun shooting it. I have done several reloads myself and still looking for the perfect balance between accuracy and velocity. My 14 year old daughter loves shooting it as much as I do. It is a great gun to shoot.

Ovid dillard

I would never use a pump or semi auto for self protection.a circuit judge does not jam. If it does you just go to the next cylinder.if you have a bad shell in other types of shotguns you may not have enough time.

Gerald Posey

How about one of these in a 357 Magnum/38 Special 8-Shot Configuration 😉

James Kiser

I used circuit Judge this year and took two deer with it using 3 inch renneke slugs.Both only went thirty yards or less after the shot.Both were broadside shots one at fifty yards and the other at 30 yards.Both shots went trough the animals.I feel very cofiedent in the ability of this gun.


how far was the deer when you shot it from you?

Rich Vail

He said 50 yds & 30 yds.


The circuit judge seems like a good option to have handy, I have thought about buying one to keep loaded with #4buckshot (not #4 birdshot…yes there is a difference) for HD, and it would be nice to have as a back up to my Mossberg .410 pump actions.

Philip Martin

My wife just got one. So far she has not fired it but I feel it is a nice weapon to us around the house for home defense. I am planning on testing the weapon out later this week to see just what it can do.


I saw something like that back in the mid 90s and it was hanging on the back wall in Cork, Ireland, it looked really old.

I spotted it right away and thought it was an odd looking weapon.

I never had the chance to go into the shop as I was heading for Angola, Africa on a work assignment.

Michael Smith

This gun comes with a screw in choke. Can you shoot 45 ammo in it with the choke in it or do you have to take it out?