Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldog -- worth buying?


October 19, 2009, 08:03 PM
I find myself wanting a .44 Special snubby really badly these days. I don't need it, I want it.

I had a Rossi .44 Special 3" in the early 90s and loved it; hated having to get rid of it, but along about '96 I hit something of a hard-time skid and had to sell a few things.

Now I'd like another .44 Special. Problem is, neither Rossi nor Taurus makes one anymore and I can't even find used ones on the internet auction sites.

I can get a new Bulldog from Charter Arms, but I'm a little leery of Charter quality, with all the things I've read lately.

I know they have a lifetime guarantee, and that's good, but I'd prefer to avoid the headache of having to send it back multiple times. I want a gun that's right, right out of the box.

So my question is, for a gun that probably won't see hard use (a couple hundred rounds or so a year is probably what'll be shot through it), is the Charter up to snuff? Is their quality good enough to plunk down $350 or so for a new Bulldog, or is the risk of getting a lemon just too high?

Is the Charter Bulldog worth buying these days, or should I resist my .44 Special yearning?

Thanks for any input.

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October 19, 2009, 08:11 PM
I was interested in one until I saw the price they're selling for anymore. Almost all the ones i'm finding are selling in the $400-$425 range. $300, sure, $350 maybe, but $400? No way for me. At that price point I'd start shopping for a Taurus 2" 44 mag.

I have two friends that have owned new production charter revolvers and they have nothing horrible to say about them. They're cheapish, the go bang when you pull the trigger, but it can take a team of mules to get the trigger moving and one one (a pink lady) the chambers must not have been polished as it liked to stick cases.

Big Bill
October 19, 2009, 08:28 PM
I think it would be worth the money. I've heard some good things about them. So, go ahead and scratch that itch.

October 20, 2009, 12:56 AM
I have had one for years with no problems. It's surprisingly accurate for it's size. I also don't shoot it much and when I do it's with mild reloads. I don't remember exactly how much I paid for it but it was definitely below $300. I have read all kinds of opinions about them here on THR. My experience has been good and got my money's worth. If you are seriously considering one check out the Eagle Secret Service grips for concealment.

October 20, 2009, 12:59 AM
I had a .44 Bulldog Pug and liked it. Never had any issues, wish I'd never sold it.

October 20, 2009, 08:02 AM
Had one, sold it, want it back.

October 20, 2009, 08:13 AM
I have one, I like it-though I wish it could take ammo like Buffalo Bore in .44 spcl. Knowing what I know now I'd have opted for a smith, taurus, or Rossi in .44 spcl.

October 20, 2009, 06:22 PM
Thanks for the replies.

I don't care about the Charter not taking the +P ammo. Standard stuff is fine with me; I have a Super Blackhawk if I wanna spit out .429s at high velocity.

I do notice that the Charters have gone up maybe 25% in price over the last few years.

I'll continue to research, look for a good price or a Rossi or Taurus that might pop up.

October 20, 2009, 06:28 PM
Their price used to be the selling point. now that they have gone up, its not worth it to me. There are now in a price bracket that puts it with better quality revolvers IMO..


October 20, 2009, 06:32 PM
That's true, but then, there really are no other new options in a snubby .44 Special.

October 20, 2009, 07:18 PM
I picked up an early '70s vintage Stratford Bulldog a couple months ago for $325. It's in very good condition, shoots great, and is surprisingly accurate. I have been carrying it with Speer 200gr GDHPs and with 180gr WCs over 6.5gr of Unique, and I feel very well armed. One must remember of course that it's not a Smith, but it's still pretty nice.

October 20, 2009, 07:30 PM
I got lucky and found an early 80's model in my local pawn shop for $200. It was a 3" in excellent condition. It was a great gun, but I sold it a while back. Man, it was fun to shoot.

October 20, 2009, 08:14 PM
It seems like I've seen more used Bulldogs for sale in the last six months than ever. I wonder if the ammo cost and scarcity is making non-reloaders get out of the .44SPL business.

October 20, 2009, 09:15 PM
The design of the Charter Arms is only so-so, and the workmanship is shoddy, in my opinion. Still, for $285 it would be a reasonable buy. Not for the $400+ they're asking for it.

The gun is not designed for a lot of shooting and is too flimsy for my tastes. A good .357 will give you much better stopping power, plus you can shoot .38 Specials if you want.

My CA's .38 would constantly bind on me, and my Bulldog had a horrible trigger. I found I was much more comfortable with a Ruger .357 Speed-Six, though it was a little heavier. The Bulldog was just too light-framed and is clearly at the bottom of the heap. A Taurus or Rossi would, I think, be much better buys.

October 20, 2009, 09:17 PM
I shot a Charter .357 Magnum a few times and it feels like you're shooting straight out of your hand. Pretty fun, but my wrist was hurting the next day.

October 20, 2009, 10:12 PM
I have not looked in a while, but aren't everyone else's prices going up too?

I have two Charter .44 Specials, and I love them. I have 4 Charter revolvers in total, and I love them all.

October 20, 2009, 10:18 PM
Everyone's prices are up, but for the same price you can pick up a new SP101 or for less, a used tracker like this one

If you HAVE to have a .44 spl, it's your only option at the price point but there are much better guns at the same price point.

October 21, 2009, 06:53 AM
All my SAAs are 44's. except 3, mainly 44 special.

I own and carry a Charter Arms 3" Bulldog and love it.200gr GDHP oir 200gr STHP for carry and for shooting I handload 200gr RNFP.

Great shooter and a real joy to ownh.

October 21, 2009, 07:25 AM
I had one for several years and shot some horrendously hot hand-loads (for that gun) through it until I actually bent the crane. I sent it back to Charter and they replaced the stuff I screwed up for no charge. I toned down the loads and only shot cast through it for a few more years until a buddy bought it from me. It was an accurate (big surprise) and fun gun to shot.

October 21, 2009, 08:43 AM
I already have an Sp101 .357. It's superb. But I still have my .44 Special itch, too.

October 21, 2009, 10:28 AM
I have the older Charter Arms bulldog made in 1980 at the Stratford Conn plant and have carried it IWB on occasions. It is blue with wood grips and a 3" barrel. They are fine guns for the money . I have 4 charter arms revolvers and have a very good opinion of them and no trouble to speak of. Now I wish I could say the same for some of my S&W revolvers. That said, It gives me great piece of mind just looking at those big 44 lead bullets when it is carried or used as my truck gun.

October 21, 2009, 09:23 PM
That said, It gives me great piece of mind just looking at those big 44 lead bullets when it is carried or used as my truck gun.

They tend to leave a lasting impression on bad guys as well.

October 25, 2009, 01:34 PM
Are you sure Taurus isn't making the model 445 any more? I have one that I've not had all that long (it has their locking mechanism on the hammer) and is a good piece. I like the caliber too, and is a good carry gun, albeit a pretty thick frame.

I purchased mine along with a Taurus model 605 at the same time. Got them both for under $600.00. Maybe it's been longer than I thought? ;) Like them both.

October 25, 2009, 03:54 PM
Last time I checked the Taurus website, maybe a year back, they still had a picture of their .44 Special but it said "Discontinued". And I can't find any at the auction sites, either.

Tom Henry
October 25, 2009, 08:43 PM
The name Charco jumped out when I read your post. I thought Charco no longer owned the company that manufactures these revolvers.
I have a charco bulldog pug in 44spl that I bought new for its light weight sometime in the early to mid 90's. The only reason I still have it is because I cannot find it in me to sell such a unreliable gun.
I have many handguns and while I don't consider myself an expert, I would stay away from this revolver if it is a Charco.
Maybe I bought a lemon, but once burned.....


October 27, 2009, 12:40 PM
That's sad that the 445 is not available any longer. I can understand your desire to own a stubby .44 spl. I guess the magnums have killed the special allure, but in my opinion, the .44 magnum is too much gun to lug around and is more power than one needs for defense.

October 27, 2009, 01:42 PM
I have an early model Bulldog,Son of Sam era,that has a ton of ammo thru it,never an trouble out of looks rough but still goes bang.don't know what more you could ask for....jwr

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