With all the new fangled miniature auto loaders for concealed carry available today it is tough to beat a snub nose revolver chambered in a cartridge that is loaded with a big heavy slow bullet.
Short barreled revolvers suffer from velocity loss more so than their larger counterparts. A .357 Magnum from a 2 1/4″ barrel is different than the same round from a 6″ barrel but a 6″ barrel is not conducive to concealed carry. That is not saying a .357 pill from a 2 1/4″ barrel is anemic. When velocity loss is unavoidable another option is to go with a large heavy slug. This is where the .44 Special shines.
Chambering the .44 Smith and Wesson Special in a small, lightweight revolver is a solid match as it is a lower pressure round that is not a barn burner. That keeps recoil down over such rounds as the .357 Magnum and allows manufactures to build the revolver lighter for ease in carrying day to day.
The Charter Arms Bulldog is a fine example of that recipe in an affordable revolver built in America.
The muzzle of the large .44 Special
The Charter Arms Bulldog rollmark
The cylinder latch is serrated to help your finger keep traction during a reload
The cylinder swung out showing the five shot capacity.
The front sight is serrated to disrupt any glare.
Fixed rear sight provides and excellent reference for the front sight
The top strap is grooved for a clear sight picture.
The trigger broke at a clean 4 1/2 pounds in single action with some take up and little overtravel. Double action was a long 12 pound pull, which is pretty standard for defensive revolvers.
The star ejector positively ejected the spent cases and is spring loaded to offer a bit of resistance at the end of the throw.
Initial Range Trip
My mom and I were the first to try out the Bulldog test sample. She has helped me with several reviews over the years and is a proficient revolver shooter. She has carried a Ruger SP 101 in .357 Magnum for many years now so she is familiar with snub nose defensive revolvers. She and I ran a few cylinders through the small revolver. It was dead on at thirty feet and pretty soft shooting. My mom even commented on the single action trigger and minor recoil. My opinion so far is the same as hers and not because she can still whip my tail if I disagree with her.
Reload 1 was a 200gr Hornady XTP 10.3gr of Bluedot
Reload 2 was a 200gr Hornady XTP 8.5gr Power Pistol
Reload 3 was a 240gr Hornady XTP unknown propellent
Reload 4 was a 240gr lead semi-wad cutter unknown propellent.
Accuracy measured at twenty-five yards from a rest. Considering the distance, the role the revolver was designed for, and the fixed combat sights I was well pleased with the accuracy of the Bulldog.
Barbara taking careful aim with the Bulldog
Second Range Trip
Me trying out some Hornady Critical Defense in .44 Special
Allison, with the Bulldog and 3 rounds.
At this point we were at around 100 rounds through the Bulldog without issue. With the Hornady Critical Duty, recoil was a bit sharp but manageable with some practice.
Third Range Trip
We took the Bulldog out to run a few reloads that were donated. These reloads were pretty warm, they will be used for the upcoming ballistic test, but I wanted to get a few groups with them as well for the review.
By now we have run about 125 rounds through the Bulldog without any problems or signs of stress on the frame.
Fourth Range Trip
Roger Pettit of PC Shooting, who was instrumental in getting rangehot.com the Bulldog test sample from Charter Arms, teaches a concealed carry class on a regular basis. I am an assistant instructor in his class and since he was good enough to donate a box of his .44 Special reloads I though it would be a good idea to take the little revolver to his class and let him and any of the students that wanted to try it out. We passed it around and ran a few more cylinders through it bringing total round count to 150 and still the little bulldog was running like a champ. In this last range trip we shot at some defensive targets from about five yards away. Though some of the shooters were less experienced than others they were able to get solid hits with the Bulldog.
Here is Roger shooting the last nine rounds for the test.
Truth be known, I am a fan of the auto-loader for every day carry but after all was said and done, I like the Bulldog. It is soft shooting and easily controlled except with the hot stuff but that is also controllable with a bit of practice. The hammer was easily cocked and the single action trigger was nice. Even double action firing was easy on the finger. I like the .44 Smith and Wesson Special as a defensive round, especially out of a snub nose revolver. It seems like a solid combination. I can see the Bulldog as a primary carry handgun when concealment is very important but without using a small cartridge. It could also serve well as a back up handgun or even one that could be left loaded in a vehicle, as long as that is done safely. I imagine this revolver with a speed strip reload would be right at home on your hip or glove box. Some women conceal carry in a purse and the benefit of a revolver is it could be fired while inside a purse without worry of a malfunction as with an autoloader in a similar situation. Being a stainless steel revolver, the maintenance would not be as important as on many auto loaders. Don’t get me wrong, I am all about taking care of what takes care of you but a stainless steel revolver falls just before a rock on the low maintenance scale.
Roger Pettit of PC Shooting