Trust a Charter Bulldog?


November 17, 2010, 11:05 PM
I've read before that the Charter revolvers such as the Bulldog were sort of Saturday Night Special type revolvers and not particularly well-regarded in the durability category. It's my understanding that Charter went under and a new company pretty much duplicating the name (Charter 2000) has taken up their designs with a few improvements. I'm interested in a 5-shot big-bore snubbie (.44 Special or .45 Colt) and there aren't too many out there these days. So my question is, would you trust your life to a Charter Bulldog?

If you enjoyed reading about "Trust a Charter Bulldog?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
November 17, 2010, 11:27 PM
i have an older bulldog target and it is very trust worthy, my daughter bought a new charter 22mag snub, and it key holed at 15 feet, no matter what brand we used, got rid of it after dealer wouldn't help sending it back===funny thing was we traded it back to them a few gun shows later, money we lost was the same as if we had shipped it back on our dime like charter wanted us too.

now that dealer probable has 2 ex buyers bad mouthing them

November 18, 2010, 12:45 AM
I don't know about the Bulldog, but my 38 Undercover is a long way from a "Saturday Night Special." It was made in the 70's and is a very nice gun. And yes, it's my everyday carry gun now.

The new Charters (under the Charter Arms name again) seem to be well made. I admit I haven't shot one, and don't plan to buy one, but only because I have one of the old ones.

From what I've read the ones to avoid are the ones made under the Charco and Charter 2000 names.

November 18, 2010, 06:59 AM
You had it partly correct...

As CajunBass stated, the original Charter Arms were good quality firearms. The company went under and was taken over first by CHARCO and then by Charter 2000. Quality took a nosedive under both CHARCO and Charter 2000. The name is back under the original owners now again as Charter Arms and quality is better then ever. I own a new production Charter Arms Bulldog Pug in .44 Special and it currently has over 2400 rounds of Speer 200gr Gold Dot through it. It is more than accurate enough for it's purpose with 3" groups at 25 yards slow fire and has had no mechanical issues or failures of any sort. Close range rapid fire is amazingly controllable for such a light firearm as well. It has not shown any excessive wear and is as tight now as it was after the first 50 rounds during breakin.

I carry it daily and it rests on my nightstand at night.

Sniper X
November 18, 2010, 11:11 AM
I just had a memory flash, isn't that the gun Son of Sam made famous? I seem to remember the model from reading about his capture way back when.

November 18, 2010, 11:25 AM
I own a new CA but a ultra light 38. Not fun to shoot because of the 12oz wieght but a good solid gun that can be bought at a lower cost new that the big names used.

November 18, 2010, 12:24 PM
Sniper X, I believe you are right. He was also known as the .44 caliber killer, and I believe the Charter was his tool of choice.

November 18, 2010, 03:09 PM
I bought a Bulldog in the "son of Sam" era.have put a ton of 44'sthru it.looks rough but still goes bang,what else could ask for...jwr

Sniper X
November 18, 2010, 03:18 PM
I shot one and loved it. I'd actually love to have a snubbie one to carry as a back up[.

November 18, 2010, 03:35 PM
I have had 3 CA .38's since 1978. I also have had a Charter 2000 .44 since '02. They are inexpensive guns that do what they advertise. I don't believe they will take +p for hundreds of rounds every month. For occasional range time and carry they are perfect.

November 18, 2010, 09:19 PM
I have carried one daily since about 1987. You have to put some time into working with any gun before you trust your life to it. Would I trust my life to a new Charter Bulldog out of the box (or any other new gun)? Nope. But this one has never malfunctioned one time. Maybe I got lucky, maybe they really WERE better back then. But any gun you choose will have to digest at least 500 rounds without so much as a hiccup before you can place that much faith in it. If you're unfamiliar with the finer points of revolvers take someone who is to the gun shop with you to inspect your choices. Every company occasionally has one slip out the shipping door that's not 100%. Almost everyone I have talked to that had to return one to Charter was taken care of although in some cases in took them a very long time to make it right. If you can find one of the older ones that has not been abused with heavy handloads and checks out good I would consider it over a new one. Those will be hard to find but you may get lucky. Charters are to be carried a lot and shot occasionally. Heavy range use will shorten their life. You will need to keep a close eye on all of the screws as they will loosen from recoil. Loc-tite is your friend. Also consider the Taurus 5 shot .44 Spl.

November 18, 2010, 09:25 PM
I've not fired one, but the firechief of my hometown trusted his life to a CA revolver. I understand it was his daily CCW, and it was probably one of the older ones. If the new ones are as good as the originals, I'd consider getting one.

Wasn't a Bulldog also the main handgun in Manhunter?

November 18, 2010, 09:33 PM
bought 2 of the older .44 sp over the years and sold them both, stupid, stupid, they were both great guns and if I could find another for a great price, I would buy it.

November 18, 2010, 09:44 PM
Charter Arms pistols are totally functional. The quality of manufacture varies by decade, mine from the 80’s is fine.

I think any issues with the Bulldog are due to reloaders trying to "magnumtize" the things. The first production year stupid gunwriters were using Elmer Keith loads in these lightweight pistols. Check out the article by George Nonte in the 1975 Gun Digest. He actually loaded a 250 Keith Bullet with 17.5 grains 2400, thought that had too much recoil (duh!) then shot a bunch of 250’s with 7.5 to 8.0 grains Unique.

The first load is now considered 44 Magnum level, the second are hot in a N frame. Firing these mini nukes in a light frame Bulldog, I am personally amazed the top strap did not come off!.

I suspect more idiots have ruined their Bulldogs, knocking them out of time, stretching the frame, by attempting to hot rod these things.

The Bulldog is best at what it does, a big bore, heavy bullet, at low pressure with moderate velocities.

November 18, 2010, 10:39 PM
Slamfire hits the nail with every swing on this one.

I bought my Bulldog in '77 and it has digested countless rounds - all handloaded. Used within its design, it has few equals. It has worn its way through more hip pockets than I can remember.

The folks who want it to be a magnum end up breaking things and hurting themselves. My mild load with wad cutter never failed to punch neat holes in paper and a few pieces of small game, not to mention a occasional predator in the henhouse (literally!).

That said, it can be a real handfull, esp with warmer loads. But after more than 30 years it is still action tight and shoots to point of aim.

The original question referred to its Saturday night special status. That is a long overused political football. The real Saturday night special is not the weapon but the person behind it - a long over-argued point.

November 19, 2010, 10:46 AM
The real problem here is that I don't see anyone giving these kind of positive reviews for the modern bulldogs. I've handed two or three and I must say I was never sufficiently impressed with their fit and finish to ever purchase one. Also, the lack of any decent-looking aftermarket grips has always been a turnoff.

I wish S&W or Ruger would do something about a reasonably-priced bulldog. For that matter, I'd even be happy if Taurus would start making theirs again.

Harley Quinn
November 19, 2010, 01:26 PM
I have one and a friend carries his as a back up, and off duty... A good used one out of the 80's...I sold a 44 Bulldog to a guy and he attempted to kill self shooting through the chest missed vitals and lived, he was pretty irritated about it:what:

November 20, 2010, 10:00 AM
scottishclaymore - The Bulldog I commented on *is* a current production model. As I said, I have 2400 rounds through it and have had no issues.

November 20, 2010, 10:19 AM
About 5 years ago I purchased a new Bulldog Pug. The owner of the gunshop warned me they were terrible, but I bought it anyway based on the good experiences of owners of the older guns.

Mine was horrible. It came from the factory with the cylinder binding. At the range it shot 10" low and 10" left with a target at 15ft.

I had the same experience as Chevelle427 with the mine. The gunshop didn't even want to get involved with it. But they warned me up front when I bought it that they wanted nothing to do with it. I sold it on consignment with them and chalked up the money lost to experience.

About a month after it sold the owner of the shop told me to stop in. When I did he showed me a used Taurus 445 that was being sold on consignment. Just handling this gun I could tell it was much better made then the Bulldog, and cheaper priced. I bought it and am completely happy with it after 5 years. And I never liked Taurus, go figure.

I would not touch a newer Charter gun ever again. Friends that have the older ones are quite happy with theirs.

Hondo 60
November 20, 2010, 12:25 PM
I bought a Charter Undercover 38 spl in July of 2009.
All I can say is, it was my first revolver so I didn't know any better.

For instance - when I open the cylinder on my Charter it's just sloppy loose.
It moves back & forth, up & down, sideways etc.
My Smiths & Rugers are just tight. And the light weight of the Charter makes
it less pleasant to shoot too.

While the Charter does shoot, there's just no comparison to a S&W or Ruger.
Save up a bit & find a used Smith or Ruger on or at your local gun store.

November 20, 2010, 06:43 PM
Thanks for the clarification, I didn't understand that. Good to hear.

November 20, 2010, 09:55 PM
I have a Charter Bulldog. I purchased it three years ago because I could not get a quick kill on a troublesome dog with a Plus p 38 which I used in a old Charter that was my father's carry gun. I put 200 hundred rounds through it. These were reloads some times they would miss fire, but they would fire on a single action pull. The only problem I had with the gun was that Charter's use a small screw for the cylinder release. It became loose an backed out causing problems releasing the cylinder to reload. A little loctight fixed that problem. I would recommend using factory fresh Ammo if you are going to use the gun for protecti0on. I have never a factory load misfire.

November 21, 2010, 08:13 AM
A "Bulldog" 5 years ago could have been a Charter 2000 or older still in stock Charco. Both those makers were known for issues.

Charter Arms being made today are back under the original owners and quality being produced is even higher than the original incarnation.

Give a new Charter Arms a may change your mind.

November 21, 2010, 01:36 PM
I also have a old one from original CA. Its been a great pistol I would seriously look at a new one if my dealer would ever get one in. I use the blazer ammo with the gold dot HP . Recoil isn't that bad according to my 5'3" wife likes to shoot it . Then she says my 1911's recoil to much Go figure.

Jesse Heywood
November 21, 2010, 02:01 PM
The guns made by Charter Arms have been known for long, hard triggers. They are not the best for fit and finish. But hey have been reliable, meaning that when the trigger is pulled a bullet will go out the barrel.

Reliability is not the same as durability. These guns were not made to be durable. They won't last with constant use or heavy loads.

I would not hesitate to use a Bulldog for self-defense. I would not take one to the range every week.

November 21, 2010, 02:43 PM
I owned a pair of them from the 80's, one each blued and stainless.

Neither was satisfactory.

When I was down to only one of them I returned it to the factory at least a couple of times asking that they correct a problem where the cylinder would frequently bind and seize up during either live-fire or dry-fire. The last time it was returned from the factory with a letter stating it had been (yet again) corrected, I picked it up out of the box and started dry-firing it. I didn't make it all the way around the 5-shot cylinder before it locked up tight as a drum.

I'd used a local gun shop to handle mailing & receiving for me ... and the Bulldog remained with them when I walked out the door. They offered me a reasonable deal in trade for something else and said they had a bored gunsmith who didn't mind a challenge. Fine with me.

Personally, I have no interest in trying a 3rd Bulldog ... and especially not if the design is the same.

November 22, 2010, 07:17 AM
Hmm...not made to shoot every week. Good thing I only shoot mine every other week.

As I've current production Charter Arms (not Charter 2000 or Charco) currently has over 2400 rounds of Speer 200gr GD through it.

That's pretty durable in my book.

If you enjoyed reading about "Trust a Charter Bulldog?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!