Charter Arms .44 Bulldog Stainless


OM44

New member
In the early 1970's I purchased a Charter Arms .44 Bulldog.
It turned out to be a great little gun. I sold it to a
police officer friend who needed a back-up gun. I have not
seen him in a long time. I wonder if he still has the gun.
I wish, now, that I had not sold it.

A couple of years ago I purchased a new Stainless .44 Bulldog.
I like revolvers. My initial security training was with revolvers.
I wished to use it as my CCW firearm.

Several people in different forums and in person told me not
to do it. It is not the same gun now as in the 70's they said.
Well, it turns out I was wrong and they were right.

Yesterday I was forced to return the gun to the factory for
repairs for the third time. The first time was for a really,
really bad single action trigger. The second time was for a
stuck case in one chamber. It was a factory round. This time
it is because I found the cylinder can be held still while
the trigger is pulled in double action style. The hammer
rises and falls and the cylinder doesn't turn.

I can't trust the gun anymore. I'm going to change my CCW
gun. I'll probably get a .45 auto.

So, again, to all who told me not to buy the Bulldog I say
you were right.
 

Hamilton Felix

New member
When the Charter Bulldog .44 was first announced, Col. Cooper called it a "good concept, poorly executed." I bought my first Bulldog .44 in the mid 1970's, traded it off, then bought another in the mid 1980's. They are "carry much, shoot seldom" guns. BTW, after handloading and shooting a fair bit, that first one experienced the flash gap shrinking to nearly nothing (gas ring not up to the beating), yet cylinder longitudinal slop increasing; cartridges could rattle fore and aft between cylinder and recoil shield.

Despite the fact it had a steel frame (pinned to an aluminum grip frame), that frame did eventually stretch.


My first Bulldog also had such rough rifling that it leaded with factory ammo. Charter bragged about their button swaged rifling, but I guess the button chattered a bit. I made a lead lapping tool, used a little valve grinding/lapping compound, and smoothed it up a bit. I still shot gas check or jacketed bullets when I could.

Having said all of that, I will still say "don't give up on the Bulldog .44 Special." Recognize that it's not a super durable gun, and that Charter's quality control is spotty. Learn how to examine revolvers, then spend time at gun shows, gun shops and pawn shops. When you see one that's in good shape, has a good lockup, and a halfway decent trigger (halfway is as good as it gets with that rough action), go ahead and buy it. But do not buy one you have not examined. Better yet is to try one out if you can.

The .44 Special is a great round. That Bulldog is MUCH lighter than my S&W .44 Magnum Mountain Gun. I liked it as a backpacker's gun. I had fun making shot loads for it. I learned to make cheap squib loads using modified .45 ACP brass and lead round balls. I had fun with the little gun. But it was never built to last a lifetime. There's a reason I've mostly been carrying a 1911 for the last few decades.
 

Purple

New member
I bought a CA Bulldog in the 80's. Didn't have any good luck with it at all! Right out of the box the firing pin would not strike the primers hard enough to fire. Not sure what ammo the factory was using, but after returning the gun back to the factory it would be returned as fixed, but would still not fire any factory ammo I could find. I gave up on it and haven't bought any CA weapons since.
 

fudo

New member
My stainless Bulldog shoots well, carry's well. I've been carrying it about two years, with no problems.
 

OM44

New member
To those who have a Charter Arms gun: Do you shoot it much, or just
carry it without practicing with it?
 

Hamilton Felix

New member
Shooting them a lot will wear them out, so it's either practice with reduced loads or practice with another gun.

For those who want REALLY reduced paper punchers and plinkers, and cheaper brass:

Lube up some clean .45 ACP brass, then drive it into your .44 Special sizing die -- you'll have to drive it in until the rims hits the die; using a shell holder stops it too soon.

When you knock it out with a dowel you'll have a short .44 shell that has enough rim for the Charter Arms extractor to function.

Take some .440 round lead balls for muzzle loading, and run them through your .430 bullet sizing die -- this leaves a little "belt" around the ball.

Seat these over about 2.5 grains of Bullseye, putting a gentle crimp on the reduced diameter belt.

This is all memory from about 35 years ago, when .44 Special brass harder to find than it is today. Those little plinker rounds made shooting the Charter Bulldog like shooting .22 ammo --- or maybe that's the way it seemed to me. Logically, a ball weighing about 130 grains, over 2.5 grains of Bullseye, should be just a bit milder than the classic .38 target load of a 148 gr. wadcutter over 2.7 grains of Bullseye. As I recall, it was just a mild little pop.

In another caliber, but still in the small revolver topic: We have a magnaported Airweight Centennial, and we also have a stainless steel Centennial. Both are .38 Special, though S&W offers a .357 Magnum version these days. The Airweight won't stand a steady diet of +P. I put the same grip on the stainless Centennial as on the Airweight that my wife carries daily. The idea is to do most of the +P practice with the more durable stainless steel gun, but carry +P JHP ammo in the Airweight.
 

Hamilton Felix

New member
If anyone here does get a new Stainless Charter .44 and wrings it out at the range, I for one will certainly be interested to hear his/her evaluation.
 

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