Guns & Patriots

Review: Charter Arms Bulldog

The .44 Special revolver has always been one of those great guns for which I have held a special affinity.  It is a relatively mild shooting cartridge that throws a big chunk of lead downrange.  Plus it is easy to handload hotter rounds if you so desire.

The Charter Arms Bulldog (http://www.charterfirearms.com/products/Charter_Bulldog_14420.html) is one of the handguns that I recall wanting in my early youth.  The idea of having a compact .44 tucked in your waistband for protection seemed like the ultimate in self-defense.  I didn’t know the difference between a “Special” and a “Magnum” then, but even now I think the Bulldog loaded with .44 Special ammo is an effective manstopper.

Over the years, the Bulldog .44 has changed, but the design is still recognizable and the model is still popular with shooters.

Bulldog Basics

The modern Bulldog chambered in .44 Special holds five rounds and sports a 2.5” barrel.  The gun is compact enough for easy concealed carry on the belt or in a shoulder rig, but it is a little too large for ankle carry.  Alternative carry options like the Smart Holster (http://www.smartcarry.com/) or the Taclett from Tuff Products (https://www.tuffproducts.com/product.php?productid=17517&cat=273&page=2) are excellent choices for the Bulldog also.

The frame, cylinder and barrel are all stainless steel, giving the Bulldog plenty of strength to handle as much shooting as you will likely do in a lifetime. 

Even though the revolver doesn’t rely on an aluminum frame, the Bulldog is still relatively light, weighing 21 ounces (unloaded.)  The weight of the gun feels very good in the hand, and it points very well.

The grips on the Charter Arms Bulldog are full-sized and fill the entire hand.  Unlike smaller compact guns, the Bulldog really mates to the hand well.  I credit the rubber grips for such a positive feeling.

A nice addition on the Bulldog is the full-length lug underneath the barrel.  This shrouds the entire extractor rod, protecting it, and gives a little more weight at the end of the gun to provide good balance and recoil reduction.

The sights on this gun are fixed.  The front ramp is serrated and black, which reduces glare, but also can be difficult to see in low light.  The rear sight is a notch cut into the top of the frame.  The sights are very useable, but I would have liked a slightly wider notch in the rear for faster acquisition of the front sight.
The double action trigger pull is very smooth, and not very heavy, on the Bulldog.  The single action trigger is a real beauty with no take up and a crisp break.  Shooting single action is a real joy.

My Experiences

I’ve had my Bulldog for several months now.  I initially ran several brands of ammo through it and obtained good results for accuracy at 15 yards.  Since that time, I have put several hundred more rounds through the gun and still really enjoy shooting it.

Reliability is 100% on the Bulldog.  I encountered no problems with shooting or extracting.  Every time I pressed the trigger, I got a bang.  Each time I hit the extractor rod, the brass cleanly dropped from the cylinder.

Accuracy is definitely acceptable for self-defense work.  I did not bench rest the gun to obtain the most accurate results possible.  However, hitting center mass on a man-sized target at 15 yards was easy.  At closer distances, .44-caliber holes will easily eat out the center of whatever target you want to use.

Recoil is tame and easily handled by all but the most novice of shooters.  If you handload some hot rounds, recoil will likely increase quickly.  With factory loads, recoil is no issue.  There are some light shooting cowboy loads out there if you want to shoot with some very mild ammo.

Of Bulldogs and Tigers…

This particular version of the Bulldog features a special camouflage pattern finish (http://www.charterfirearms.com/products/Charter_44_Special_24420.html).  The finish uses green and black colors in a pattern similar to the Tiger Stripe pattern originally used by troops in the Vietnam War.

I’ve never been a fan of the traditional Tiger Stripe pattern for camouflage clothing, but this spin of the
design on the Bulldog looks really good.  The pictures do not do the finish justice.

The pricing on the Bulldogs is very affordable.  A standard blue Bulldog carries an MSRP of $414, while the camo-patterned version I have is just a few dollars more at $466.  “Street” prices run significantly less, with the blued Bulldog priced around $340 and the tiger version as low as $375.

Final Thoughts

The Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 Special is a great revolver.  It is fun to shoot, reasonably priced and a great choice for self-defense.  Add in the special finish, and I think this is a superb handgun.

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  • nukmahm

    One place article contradicted itself. Said it comes in stainless and later mentioned blued. There is regular stainless, the Tiger Stripe stainless (shown), and blue plus, I think, another cammo offered currently which I believe is over stainless. I own 3 modern stainless, one old stainless (no full lug), and the tiger stainless. A poor man’s 1911 with same deadly ballistics to stop an attack at half the cost of most 1911s. Note, I do not own stock in the company but, I wish I did. (to my knowledge it is family owned).

  • thetmanski

    I’ve had a bulldog for about 5 years now and it had to go back to the factory once, the cylinder moved forward too far for the firing pin to get a solid hit on the primer.  The factory fixed it up and had it back in less than 2 weeks and it’s been totally reliable since.   I outfitted mine with some Barami hip grips so I could “mexican” carry it without a holster and it just disappears under a t-shirt that way.   The hip grips have a little hook that clips over your belt to hold the gun in place.   They make the gun a little bit rougher on the hand when shooting, but some padded gloves help with that.  Or i  can swap the grips out in less than 5 minutes.  It’s a great shooter, very accurate for it’s size and shoots a great cartridge.  I really like my little Bulldog!

  • TheBitterClinger1

    OK you people have me interested; the last thing I need is another handgun but I am in the market for revolvers for the next two young people coming up. All that and Tiger Stripes too? Yes, you have me interested.

  • BigMark

    I have an older blued model with the small diameter barrel and exposed cylinder ejector.  I have carried it so many years that it hardly shows blue any longer.  I have shot snakes at close range, and once a coyote at 75 yards.  It is the greatest little conceled carry firearm that I have ever owned, and I’m a collector.
    I load my own in something between a special and a magnum powder charge…and it has never complained, just settles in and does it’s job.
    For it’s cost, you can’t go wrong.  And no, I don’t own stock in the company either.

  • paperpushermj

    TheBitterClinger1 If you are a big Bullet fan like myself… Go for it.

  • spymyeyes

    So
    far, nothing beats my Raging Judge Magnum.

    This
    weapon has a 3″ cylinder and a 3″ barrel and weighs almost 4lbs fully
    loaded and that solid stainless steel weight makes all recoil/rise as easy to
    handle as shooting  a 9mm. The pistol
    grip is also a custom soft foam with a hard rubber strip that seats perfectly
    with your palm and gets rid of painful kickback issues. The fiber optic sight
    works very well, even in low light. With the versatility of ammo loads that
    this weapon offers, you can have the ability to respond to any threat with the
    force required to keep you safe. This revolver holds 6 rounds and will shoot
    any 2 1/2″ or 3″ 410. shotgun shell, 45.cal longcolt, or 454 casull
    rounds up to 300 grains.  I like to
    change the loads depending on where I am or will be going.  If you live in the inner city (like me) I like
    to keep my 1st round 3″ 410. PDX1 so the shotgun round won’t go through my
    house and kill an innocent person outside or in the next house over. My second
    round is a 45.cal longcolt 255 grain hollow point, if it is even needed. Third,
    fourth, and fifth rounds go shotgun – longcolt – shotgun, and a 454 casull 300
    grain hollow point for my last round so there is never any doubt that you just
    fired your last shot! As with all wheel guns if you just pull the hammer back
    about 1/4″ it frees the cylinder so you can spin it to whatever round you
    want to fire.    I have fired almost
    every single handgun caliber there is and NOTHING beats a 454 casull round.
    They are extremely accurate, use high quality propellants so there is minimal
    smoke clouds from firing, and once you start shooting these rounds you will
    know without a doubt why they are used to hunt grizzlies & moose! The
    Raging Judge Magnum also comes in a 6″ barrel length for serious hunters
    who want to mount a scope or whatever to the built in rails. The power,
    versatility, and FEAR this weapon projects makes it the best handgun I have
    ever owned. At 10 yards I put all 6 rounds with-in the head of the badguy on
    the target and I kept it for proof as that was the best I have ever shot!

    As
    a last tip to all the gun lovers out there I will share this tid-bit, an all
    stainless steel handgun can be made to shine like chrome if you use some
    MOTHER’S POLISH and a dremel!

  • M14sRock

    I owned a couple of “Pugs” back in the late ’80s. They were great revolvers and I regret letting them go.

    I will definitely pick up one of the current crop.

  • steviedavie

    I purchased the .44 Bulldog with a Crimson Trace laser and it is my favorite – light weigh, nice grip and it shoots well. 

  • Paul Bartomioli

    Mine is an original.  Made in the original plant in Stratford, CT.  Purchased just before the pistol became notorious from the Son of Sam.  Alloy frame. skinny wooden grips.  I carry the hottest loads I can find.  Practice with the lightest.  At the distances I would use this pistol for self defense, point of impact is moot.  Love the pistol.  Paid MUCH LESS than $150 for it brand new.  NOT willing to sell…

  • Fred

    I got one recently. Great concealment, accurate, nicely finished & manageable recoil.
    Money well spent.