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S & W Governor opinions

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by 351 WINCHESTER, Apr 4, 2013.


    351 WINCHESTER Well-Known Member

    I handled one at my lgs last week. I like the idea of being able to shoot shotgun and pistol ammo, but would like feedback as to accuracy with different loads and any other feedback positive or negative.
  2. SullyVols

    SullyVols Well-Known Member

    It's my understanding that the .410 shotgun is very weak and isn't very suitable for self defense. The ranges I've been to won't let you shoot shot. I've also heard complaints about the way the barrel is assembled on the governor and other lightweight S&W guns. The Taurus Raging Judge (.454 Casull) might be a better choice for the money if you really want one. Granted it's much heavier and a Taurus.
  3. huntershooter

    huntershooter Well-Known Member

    I see you have 3K+ posts; guess I wonder if this is a serious question.

    If you want to shoot a .45 Colt cartridge the "Governor" would be my last choice in a S&W revolver.
    Perhaps the perceived "advantage" of having three buckshot pellets in a SD scenario helps psychologically.
    The lousy penetration of .410 buckshot (and sub-par accuracy) in no way compares to a 250 gr.+-, .45 Colt bullet.
    I guess I have trouble understanding the appeal of, or mindset of whomever would consider purchasing this revolver.

    My thinking is: If one feels an "edge" with this revolver, get more practice or invest in some shooting lessons. If you want to shoot .410 cartridges-get a .410 shotgun.
  4. 7.62 Solution

    7.62 Solution Active Member

    I have owned a governor for about a year and really enjoy shooting it. I use it primarily for plinking with friends at about 15 yds loaded with low power .45 acp in moon clips. I bought it for 2 reasons 1 because of its versatility in ammo choices and I just plain wanted one. Accuracy is acceptable for me (its not a target pistol) but I can hit metal targets often enough to stay interested. Fit and finish is good although I am starting to notice some signs of use in the black finish on the aluminum frame. I have put a few .410 #8s through it into a sheet of cardboard the spread as one would guess is pretty wide. But for getting after rodents in the barn when you don't want new holes in the barn walls it would be a good choice. I didn't buy it for self defense so I really don't have an opinion on that.

    I am happy with the pistol.
  5. bikemutt

    bikemutt Well-Known Member

    I like mine just fine, it's my nightstand gun.

    I have fired all three projectiles from it and found it to be more accurate than I expected, particularly with PDX .410. It also balanced better than I thought it would be and manages recoil well.

    I prefer it to the Taurus Judge which one of my woods buddies has, so does he.

    It's pretty obvious if you want to only shoot one of the payloads you should buy a gun that's optimized for that payload. It's strong suite is versatility; with versatility comes compromise.

    It packs nice in the woods too where it may be loaded up with some potent bullets for defense and quickly re-loaded in order to harvest a grouse for dinner without turning the poor creature into a pile of feathers.

    It's one of the few guns I have that can honestly say I would replace it with the same gun if my wife sold it, or it otherwise came to be no longer in my possession.
  6. JFrame

    JFrame Well-Known Member


    Here are some numbers compiled for the Governor by Wiley Clapp (American Rifleman, March 2012):

    .410 (Accuracy -- 5 yards)

    Federal 2 1/2" 000 (4) buckshot: 4" ring (19 balls), 8" (1 ball), 12" (0 balls)

    Remington 2 1/2" 000 (4) buckshot: 4" ring (6 balls), 8" (9 balls), 12" (5 balls)

    Winchester 2 1/2" Defense Discs (3) BB shot (12): 4" ring (3/15), 8" (12/0), 12" (18/0)

    .410 (Velocity/Energy -- 5 yards)

    Federal 2 1/2" 000 (4) Buckshot: 1,198 fps, 930 ft/lbs.

    Remington 2 1/2" 000 (4) Buckshot: 1,212 fps, 952 ft/lbs.

    Winchester 2 1/2" Defense Discs (3) BB shot (12): 788 fps, 408 ft/lbs.

    .45 ACP (Accuracy -- 25 yards, average group size)

    Federal No. GMA45A 230-gr. Match FMJ -- 3.20"
    Black Hills 230-gr. JHP -- 3.06"

    .45 ACP (Velocity/Energy -- 12')

    Federal No. GMA45A 230-gr. Match FMJ -- 739 fps, 279 ft/lbs.
    Black Hills 230-gr. JHP -- 832 fps, 354 ft/lbs.

    .45 Colt (Accuracy -- 25 yards, average group size)

    Speer No. 23984 250-gr. Gold Dot JHP -- 4.08"
    Black Hills Cowboy 250-gr. RNFP -- 4.33"

    .45 Colt (Velocity/Energy -- 12')

    Speer No. 23984 250-gr. Gold Dot JHP -- 877 fps, 427 ft/lbs.
    Black Hills Cowboy 250-gr. RNFP -- 707 fps, 277 ft/lbs.

    I love the way the Governor handles. As with Bikemutt, it has become one of my nightstand pieces.

  7. buckhorn_cortez

    buckhorn_cortez Well-Known Member

    I'm curious as to why you're interested in shooting a small shotgun shell out a pistol. Would you elaborate on why you think this is useful, and if so, what is the use?
  8. bikemutt

    bikemutt Well-Known Member

    As a close quarters defensive gun for someone who lives in a very densely populated neighborhood, a shotshell has some merit. That it can be deployed from a handgun form factor also has merit. Of course none of that matters if the result is a failure to defend, however I wouldn't offer to be a test target for 4 rounds of PDX .410 at close range, and for sure not the 2 additional rounds of .45ACP.
  9. dacavasi

    dacavasi Well-Known Member

    IMHO this type of gun's strongest suite is in snake/small critter defense, using appropriately-sized shotshells. I think that 'flexibility' between 45LC and .410 is a questionable advantage for this kind of revolver. IIRC, these are smoothbores.
  10. JFrame

    JFrame Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure if I understood you right, but the Governor is definitely not a smoothbore. That would put it under NFA restrictions.

    The rifling in the Governor imparts some spiraling spin to the shot pattern as it comes out, although within 5 yards (or possibly a little farther) it's not a huge factor.

  11. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Well-Known Member

    I do not have one but have been considering it. I saw a TV show on the Taurus Judge where they were shooting skeet with the Judge. That would be an interesting exercise. At times, I like to humble myself at skeet with a 410 shotgun, the revolver would be an even greater humbling experience.:)

    There are some 410 shelf defense shells on the market that look to be effective at short ranges.

    For me, the main drawback has been the revolver's size whether S&W or Taurus.

    Maybe someday I will invest.
  12. Paladin7

    Paladin7 Well-Known Member

    So, my friend has the S&W Governor and I've handled it, shot it, evaluated it, etc.

    Here's what I think...

    - It holds 6 rounds and you can shoot 45 ACP with moonclips (which are provided with the gun) - I don't believe the Taurus has these options...
    - Recoil when shooting 45 ACP is surprisingly light (makes an odd sound as well)

    - Size and balance given the long cylinder - "awkward to handle" is the best way I can describe it
    - Moonclips are clunky to work with in this gun. The supplied moonclips bend easily making it very hard to charge into and extract from the cylinders when they do
    - .410 is all over the place in this gun, accuracy is only acceptable at very close range and the .410, even in the defensive loadings, are just not that impressive, vs 45 Colt or esp. 45 ACP defensive loads
    - Extraction of the .410 in a defensive scenario is lousy. The .410 shells tend to swell in the cylinder after firing and are slow to smack out, vs more traditional brass

    Bottom Line: I just don't understand the purpose of this gun outside of a fun option and it is definitely a fun gun.

    NO WAY would I rely on one for serious social purposes, when there are better options out there. For fun, hey, why not...
  13. JFrame

    JFrame Well-Known Member

    Understanding that subjective impressions are exactly that, allow me to respond in kind...

    Size and balance: I like it -- what can I say. It balances nicely for me.

    Moon clips: I'm not sure where the clunkiness comes in. All the ones I've fired have inserted and extracted fine. There were two moon clips supplied with the Governor. I bought 55 more for perhaps 2 bucks each, including Wilson Combats -- and both the generics and Wilsons have worked fine. I'm really not seeing what the issue is here.

    .410 all over the place: At five yards, my 000 buck was printing in 3 1/2" groups or thereabouts -- just about what Wiley Clapp's shooting tests showed him. I can't characterize "all over the place," but for within a decent-sized room, that seems okay.

    .410 extraction issue: I can't really address that, because I haven't fired enough .410's in my Governor to cause an extraction problem.

    Not to be presumptuous, but is it possible that your friend has abused his moon clips, and otherwise not kept his Governor in very clean working condition? Also as far as the moon clips -- for the price, they seem pretty disposable if they go "out of true" for whatever reason.

    Anyway, I just wanted to respond because I wanted the OP to have the full spectrum of perceptions and observations. :)

  14. Stainz

    Stainz Well-Known Member

    I first saw the Governor in early June 2011. I had shot a Taurus Judge revolver and just wasn't impressed - nasty trigger and awful grip. What pushed the Governor 'over the top' was the six shot .45 ACP use. I keep 240+ moonclips loaded with 230gr FMJ ball homebrews - but only have a 4" 625JM - I need another .45 ACP revolver - for a night stand gun. The 325 Night Guard was an immediate thought - until the Governor. They share the six rounds moonclipped, Tritium Night Sight front/fixed rear sights, SS barrel & cylinder, and Al/Sc frame. The Governor is longer - by 7/8"; heavier, too - by 1.8 oz. Price was the killer - the best price locally was $889 for the 325NG, while the Governor was $579. Sadly, the 325NG was soon no longer a choice - S&W dropped the NG series. I bought the Governor on impulse the first day I saw it!

    Of course, .45 Colt usage is a plus - great self defense round whether in the guise of a 250gr Gold Dot or 255 gr LSWC. I have a pair of 625 Mountain Guns in .45 Colt - practically target guns in comparison. Great woods protection - a bit heavy for urban carry - and, if used in a SD situation, a bit too nice to have a case number engraved on it as evidence. S&W still makes Governors -.45 Colt MG's are costly! It will also chamber and fire .45 GAP, if you have any, as well as .45 'short' Colts - or Schofields - and 2.5" .410 shotshells.

    Mine shoots close enough from 7-12 yd to be considered coincident POA/POI with 230gr FMJ ball ammo, 250gr Speer Gold Dots(Speer loads or homebrews over 5.7gr Titegroup), and 255gr LSWC over 5.7gr Titegroup. Six shot groups were <3" at 12yd - acceptable for self defense. The fine shot shell swirled. The Win PDX1 left four large holes (Three balls and the plastic sabot.) and 10 or 11 BB holes, the missing BB's maybe going through the big holes - or off the plate. The target was a large paper disposable dinner plate at 3-7yd. The swirled bird shot was on a reversed large bg target - barely - at 7yd.

    The nice thing about our 'free' society is that my rationales for buying anything, the Governor included, are not dependent on the feelings or opinions of others. To me, the Governor checks boxes which include home defense, woods carry, and fun - and that was good enough for me. As I approach my sixty-fifth birthday all too fast, the Governor is my first and only 'shotgun' - a milestone of sorts.


    PS Moonclips in blued steel, as supplied by S&W, were $35/100 delivered from Ranch Products.
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2013
  15. bikemutt

    bikemutt Well-Known Member

    Maybe a few .410 buckshot survivors could chime in :)
  16. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Well-Known Member

    The Smith and Wesson Governor would be a great revolver if they shortened the cylinder about an inch and a half and throated it properly for .45 Colt.
  17. WardenWolf

    WardenWolf member

    To give you an idea, .410 slugs operating out of full-length barrels have less energy than a normal .45 Colt bullet. Shotguns operate at much lower pressures than both pistols and rifles. As such, they are extremely inefficient out of a pistol-length barrel, and a pistol-caliber shotshell can actually be superior because they can operate at pistol-level pressures.

    This is why I always tell people that the Judge, Governor, etc. are all poor choices. If you're going for snake defense you're better off with a pistol shotshell, and if you're going for self-defense, .410 pellets out of that short barrel won't even give .22LR a run for its money in effectiveness. And, on top of this, you're sacrificing .45 Colt accuracy to do it. You wind up with a gun that is very heavy and bulky, expensive, and inferior in performance.
  18. farm23

    farm23 Well-Known Member

    Jframe thanks for the data. I was surprised and pleased at the velocity of the 410 buckshot. I do not need another weapon but I would like to get a Governor and a Bond Arms derringer just because I want one. A friend has the Governor and it is a blast to shoot [you can actually break hand thrown clay pigeons with fair regularly].
  19. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Well-Known Member

    +1 Warden Wolf. I couldn't have put it better myself.
  20. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Well-Known Member


    My club raffled one of these off last year. I spent $25 on some tickets. I would not pay any more than that, I think it is one of the dumbest guns I have ever seen. You asked for opinions.

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