Review: Charter Arms Bulldog

Bulldog1

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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