You'll read both high praise and vehement ****ation. They're both probably true.
I asked for and was promised a review gun while at SHOT. If it comes in, I'll be using it head-to-head against my original (and GREAT) Bulldog 44. It'll still be only a single sample of each, but we'll see ...
Until then, here's a poor photo of my daily carry gun:
Older Bulldogs from the first production run are, overall, very good-quality guns -- a handful to shoot, but durable, reliable, plenty accurate, powerful, compact and easy to carry. It has always seemed to me that the stainless steel versions were perhaps a little bit better-made than the blue ones, but I can't give you anything to really back up that impression.
The new ones have apparently suffered from spotty quality control. Fortunately, most of the problems I have heard of could have been found (and probably SHOULD have been found) in a buyer's close, hands-on inspection of the gun before they bought it -- hey, if the barrel-cylinder gap is wide enough to pass a Buick and the ejector rod is bent, don't buy it!
But, a new one that is good is REALLY good. A friend has one he bought about a year ago, and using his handloads it will keep all 5 shots well within 2" at 25 yards from a benchrest. He has fired at least a couple thousand rounds through it and it is stilll tight and reliable.
Anxious to hear your analysis Rocky. Saw a report from the Charter Arms factory on TV. I was impressed to say the least. I had a Bulldog, was happy because I paid next to nothing for it. Have a S&W 696 now, but wanted another Bulldog after watching the program.
I wanted on of these but never made the connection. I have followed threads on them for about six years: apparently if you got a good one it wasn't just good but great, and if you got a bad one, well . . .
I hope the people who run Charter today have gotten their act together because I sure would like to buy a good one!
We bought a pair of them early one, brother still has his original (from about 1975 or 76?). Never gave me or him any trouble, he still relies on his as a home defence gun ( i check it over every year to be sure it's still trouble free).
Had a buddy that bought one at the same time, and proceeded to load it up with the old "Keith load" (NOT recommended). At the first shot, we all knew he was in trouble (was still wearing the issue wooden grips)...but hard headed, it finished the 5 shots. No problems from that over load we could measure.
I managed to breat the "unbreakable" firing pin (some odd copper-berillium alloy or some such) within the first year. Was fixed by the original Charter Arms company, and no problems after that for years. With shot shells, makes one of the best sake guns I've used.
They are prone to getting out of time from lots of DA shooting. that's a big heavy cylinder when loaded, rotating around at a good speed in DA shooting, and that little thin bolt has to stop that rotation.... so it tends to peen out it's slot in the frame and make the cylinder a little "wiggly". Can be fixed, but not real sure who works on them now.
I remember working one near 30 years ago. Won't do another from that experience. Lack of skill was likeley most of my trouble! Left a real "bad taste" in my mouth. I did make it work though. Last contact with the owner about a decade ago. Still worked! Whatever! Never again. I'm not a smithy.
Bulldog is/was a good concept though. Slow and heavy bullets= survivors of GG-vs-BG events.
Somewhere in the late 1960's, Charter Arms is founded. About 1973 or 1974, they intriduced the .44 Bulldog (original one with the 3" non shrouded barrel).
Somewhere in the early 1980s, the original company goes belly up. A new company called "Chartco" is formed... they sell a version of the .44 Bulldog. They go belly up. That's followed by "Charter 2000" which goes belly up. Currently, are back to Charter Arms (same name as the first company).
Now at one time, PMC made an odd load with a 110gr. solid copper TUBE as a bullet (with a plastic pusher base). Hollow staright though the middle, it made some odd entrances holes in things...a car tire would leave a loose hollow plug bouncing around on the inside of the tire and fire wood would have an odd "wood worm" in the .44 hole made by the bullet. Not sure if they really added to the .44's stopping power, but it was an interesting attempt. Compared to other .44specail factory loads, it was one you could count on to shoot through a car door.
I love my Bulldog Target model as it is light enough to carry all day and comfortable to shoot. The whole idea of Charter Arms was to build a lightweight inexpensive quality gun.
Check the timing. Check the cylinder. There were money problems and the company went through lots of troubles but they still made good guns.
Today they make much better guns than they ever have before. They are accurate and they shoot well.
Lightweight is their trademark and they stand up well to options from Smith and Wesson and that maker of second rate quality handguns with the big red letter R on the grips. A Charter Arms Bulldog you can get for less that $400. That company with the R costs closer to $500 and the quality is hit or miss. S&W lightweight guns go for $800.
At the ranges for which small handguns are intended to be used I believe in getting the largest hole possible. The .44 Special stacks up well against the thirty calibers.
All in all they have made a pretty good lightweight small handgun.
I got one of the first gen Bulldogs that I picked used around 86'. It's been on loan to my brother in law since 00' as I have yet been back to San Antonio to pick it up. I still have about a box and half of that PMC 110gr JHP "cookie cutter" ammo. I've marked the box reference the POI/POA 6" high/low, (don't remember which direction) at 15 yds. Mine has never given me or my BIL any trouble. No experience with the newer models.
Do a search on Able Flatau and/or "airfoil" projectiles. Interesting reading, even though his original concept was for extending the range of grenade launchers. Those "ultramag" rounds are based on his work.
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