The Rossi Circuit Judge is the rifle version of the Judge, which is a revolver in .45 Colt/.410. That means that in the same revolver, you can shoot both large caliber bullets as well as small shotshells. Far from being a novelty, they’re a handy firearm that a lot of people use for dispatching pests and hunting small game.
The Circuit Judge is the much bigger brother to the Judge: it comes with a stock, which can be had in several styles and materials, and a barrel length of 18.5”. This does two important things. First, it makes it a much easier firearm to shoot accurately, especially if you mount an optic. Second, for states where it’s legally easier to own, possess, and carry a rifle rather than a pistol, this format is better.
We’d get a circuit judge mostly for hunting small game, but the generally cool, cowboy-inspired aesthetics make it a firearm that looks just as good hanging on the wall as it does out in the field. It’s also fairly unusual to see a revolver rifle these days, so it certainly has some cool factor as well.
For much of the past two years, we’ve been hearing and seeing rumors that the Circuit Judge is no longer being made by Rossi. These rumors, coming mostly from forum posts and the occasional Youtube video, claim that, due to the unusual caliber and format, the Circuit Judge has been discontinued due to a lack of sales over time.
At the time, it certainly looked like those rumors might be true. In the research, we were doing to attempt to confirm or disconfirm those rumors, we couldn’t find a single Circuit Judge for sale new, and very few of them used. Logically, things began to add up here. Even though we certainly like the Circuit Judge in terms of concept and utility, .45 Colt is an old, expensive cartridge and a revolver rifle is about the farthest thing in the world from the all-popular AR15.
It’s a beautiful rifle, to be sure, but with a small capacity of large-caliber rounds, it would not be the most practical self-defense weapon these days, so the narrative of them not selling well in an era of high-capacity, semi-automatic rifles makes sense to us, and there was some evidence here.
Has the Rossi Circuit Judge Been Discontinued?
No, Rossi has not discontinued the Circuit Judge as of Jan 2022. They are simply out of stock at most stores at the moment, but are still in active production according to Rossi.
Not ones to let a rumor go on without some confirmation, we decided to do a little bit more investigating. In this case we got in touch with Rossi themselves.
Luckily, their customer service looks to be top of the line, even for folks not making a purchase or even pretending to do so. When we chatted with a customer service rep, which we managed to get to without going through too many automated prompts, they informed us that, in fact, the Circuit Judge was a current production model and that there are no public plans to discontinue the line any time soon.
The rumors, then, were not all they were cracked up to be. Our best guess is that Rossi usually produces these in relatively small numbers, as it is, indeed, somewhat of a niche weapon. Given that, since the middle of 2020, it’s been hard to buy nearly any gun in any volume, we suspect this is simply a matter of dealers having a hard time getting or keeping any in stock.
Rumors or not, the immediate problem isn’t solved for us, and we’d still like to be able to buy a Circuit Judge.
Where to Buy the Circuit Judge
Right now, it looks like the easiest way to get your hands on a Circuit Judge is used through Gunbroker. Doing this, you’re likely to overpay a bit for it, and you’ll have to deal with the process of getting it transferred to an FFL near you. With that in mind, if you want one soon, this might be about the most reliable way to go.
A second option would be to go to your local gun store and see if you can speak to either a manager or someone else who has some say over inventory. Since it’s a production model, assuming the gun store usually is a distributor for Rossi, they ought to be able to order you one. We can’t make any promises as far as wait times, but, ideally, this is a good way to get your hands on a Circuit Judge with a little patience on your part.
George has been an avid shooter for twenty years. He began shooting when he was gifted a Browning SA-22 for target practice. Now, as an academic, he combines his love of firearms and knowledge of history to write for firearms blogs and is still a frequent sight at the local range.
My complaint on my Circuit Judge is the lack of parts available. The rear sight was lost and I cant find one. The stock cracked and the wooden replacement has eluded me. I finally just glued my old one and clamped it to dry.
I replaced the rear sight with a skinner and have a mounted reddot when I use an optic – everything is fine sub 100 yards
The rear sight broke on my late wife’s Circuit Judge when it was brand new, the dealer said it was a Rossi issue so I contacted Rossi. They said they didn’t have one but check back periodically. Fwd 10 years later still checking back periodically and they still don’t have/can’t get one.