.44 Snub Options?


Brass Rain
February 23, 2011, 04:11 AM
I don't know how I stumbled on it, but I found the Charter Arms Bulldog Pug .44 Special revolver online, and thought it was a really neat idea. It was a shoe-in for a spot on my list, and I wanted it as a future, Winter-time carry gun when I could more easily hide the extra bulk and weight. But the reviews I'm finding are pretty mixed, from "I had it for years, shot thousands of rounds through it, and it still functions fine" to "It locked up on me and I sent it to the factory. Got it back and couldn't dry-fire it for a whole cylinder before it locked up again." And more like that. A revolver's big advantage is supreme reliability, so without that, I'm not very interested.

I looked at other .44 options. Smith & Wesson has their Night Guard 329 which looks great but the MSRP is over $1000. Taurus has a Model 444 Ultralite which is made with Titanium for some reason, and is still pretty expensive at $733 MSRP. I wouldn't mind a Taurus for a plinking .22 but I've heard so many opposing opinions on them that I don't know if I could depend on one for my life. Ruger's only offering is their handcannon Alaskan which is supremely cool, but is also huge and heavy and also MSRPs for $1000.

I don't think I'd use .44 Magnum out of whatever I found to fill this role, and choose .44 Special in stead (provided I could find any...) as I have no delusions of controlling high-powered Magnum loads with a 3" barrel. Still, I have a thing for the .44 caliber.

Am I just going to have to save for a while and pay a grand for a decent one? :( Do you guys have experience with short-barreled .44s?

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February 23, 2011, 08:42 AM
I have two 44 specials. Both are great carry weapons, and both are super reliable. Taurus 431 and Rossi 720. Both are 3in tubes. I have no problem carrying them as a CCW. They are stoked with Blazer 200 grn Gold Dots. As for plinikng I use 200 grn flat points.
If you can find one of these, get it. You will never look back.

February 23, 2011, 08:59 AM
that I like a great deal and have carried it on occasions , especially when camping or as a backup. It is a compact frame and can be found , evn though they are not made now.

Beach Nut
February 23, 2011, 09:28 AM
Actually, Taurus is going to start manufacturing the 445 model again
this year. I've been interested in getting a large caliber belly gun myself.
I thought about the Charter Arms Pug, but I'd prefer something that held
six rounds if possible. The Taurus UL444 would be a handful to shoot with
.44 Magnum rounds and the Ruger Alaskan and the S&W Mountain Gun
are good shooters, but very heavy to lug around. My search continues
for now.

February 23, 2011, 10:39 AM
The 4" 329's are a bit pricey. Another snubby N-frame 6-shooter in .44M is the PC Shop 2 5/8" 629 UDR - ~$900 locally. For a tad less, if you can still find one as they were dropped recently, is the 2.5" 396NG, a standard hammer L-frame 5-shooter in .44 Special with a steel cylinder and weighing ~25 oz. The original 396's had a Ti cylinder and weighed <19 oz. I have the original L-frame .44 Specials - the EDC pocketable 18.7 oz 296, below, and it's SS 3" big brother, a 696. Both surface regularly in the used market ~$350-$800.



February 23, 2011, 12:55 PM
Charter has obviously gone through some bad runs over the years, but my Bull Pug (which was manufactured 2 years ago) has been nothing if not reliable. I have over 1000 rounds through it, and have yet to have an issue of any kind. It's a little rough in the looks department, but the trigger is decent and it's every bit as accurate as any J frame I've shot.

Mine's just a sample size of one, but for a winter carry gun and a year-round car gun I love it.

Brass Rain
February 23, 2011, 06:04 PM
I don't see a huge benefit in using the super-light materials in a .44 caliber. Seems like with such a thumping cartridge, you'd welcome the additional weight of steel. Anyway, I'll look around for information on the models recommended so far. And thank you guys for those suggestions.

February 23, 2011, 06:13 PM
I've got a Taurus 431 3" I paid $265 for a few months ago. Love that gun, the trigger is as smooth as a S&W, it is dead on accurate, it is easy to conceal (same approximate size as a 3" K Frame) and it has proven to be quite reliable. Not a bad looker either.


February 23, 2011, 06:29 PM
If you are patient and keep your eyes open distributors and large vendors sometimes have special runs done. I picked up a S&W Model 29 'Bounty Hunter' .44 Magnum with a 3" barrel from Buds Gun Shop for $566 in 2008.

Here's a photo of one I found online (thanks whoever took this pic):


Oh, yeah, I've also got a Taurus .44 Special I picked up used at a gunshow the same year as the Bounty Hunter for $350. Here's a pic (Mine this time):


DC Plumber
February 23, 2011, 07:34 PM
I have two. I bought a used Smith and Wesson 696-0 in 2000 for $365. It is a 5 shot .44 special on the stainless L Frame, with a 3" barrel, round butt. I limit it to low pressure loads. It is a beautiful gun.

I also have a Smith and Wesson 24-4 Lew Horton Special which is a limited run of blued N Frame 6 shot .44 specials with a tapered 3" barrel, round butt. I paid
$545 about 6 years ago. It will handle high pressure rounds as it is an N Frame. I shoot 240g Speer GDHP handloads over 17g of 2400. They've chrono'd 950fps.

Both guns would most likely cost quite a bit more today. The model 24 may be a little heavy to carry concealed, but it too is a beautiful gun. I doubt I could ever sell either one.

February 23, 2011, 08:16 PM
I found this 3'' barrel that Numrich gun parts had for sale on gunbroker.com for $100 and put it on my 29-2. I am very much pleased with the results. It shoots as good at 25yds as the 6" that was original to it.

I taylor make my 44 Magnum rounds to the power level I desire.


Brass Rain
February 23, 2011, 09:53 PM
I've looked up several of the models mentioned here and I guess most people aren't as interested in them as me, since many have been discontinued.

February 23, 2011, 10:21 PM
I have carried an older Charter .44 since the 80s ( I got a really good one) but if I was going to look at replacing it today I would try to find the Taurus .44 Spl. either new or used. With a little bit of work they can be made into great carry guns that will be much better than the Charter. Very close to the S&W design. Rossi would be almost as nice. In .44 Spl. don't even think about an alloy model. You want all the weight you can get. The Charter is wonderful to carry all day at 19 oz. empty but it's not a lot of fun to shoot.

February 23, 2011, 10:32 PM
I have to second all the votes for Taurus and Rossi .44's. I have a Taurus Model 445, and a Model 441, 3-in. and a Rossi Model 720, 3-in. All of these are in my carry rotation, so I trust them explicitly. They are also great to shoot and very accurate.

February 24, 2011, 07:24 AM
The Bulldog is a lot of stopping power in a small package. Just a hair larger than a J frame S&W. My particular revolver has been 100% reliable but I do read about others with issues.


February 24, 2011, 08:55 AM
I have a bulldog like the one picktured above...19 oz (unloaded) and i pocket carry on occasion....mine has been 100% reliable.

February 24, 2011, 10:08 AM
I own the Ruger Alaskan in .44 and love it. It's a recent purchase and I haven't taken it backpacking yet, but as you said, it's no lightweight. Honestly, that's exactly why I bought the Alaskan. In the immortal words of Patches O'Hoolihan, an airweight .44 is as useful as a "poopy flavored lollipop". ;) Ok, ok, airweight .44's are not useless, just painful.

February 24, 2011, 01:58 PM
I now own 5 Tauri in .44 Special. One is the blued 441 with the 3 inch barrel and the other snub is a 431 in stainless steel. The others are 4 inch models.

There are 3 Rossi 720s at auction right now for Gun Broker.com.

There have been at least one Taurus snub 441 or 431 at Gun Broker.com, Guns America.com, or at Auction Arms.com in the last 3 or 4 weeks.

There is a 441 snub at one of these right now.... or was as of yesterday. Might still be there.

All I know is that there has been a lot of bidding on the Tauri when they pop up.

Sometimes several in a week. Rossis are bit harder to find.

There's just something about that big chunk of lead that is comforting.

February 24, 2011, 05:07 PM

5 shot tracker with a 2 inch barrel the same size as my S&W 66. Very shootable due to the porting. Easily keeps all 5 on a paper plate at 25 yards off hand double action.

February 24, 2011, 05:46 PM
I had a Charter Arms Bulldog from about 2004 and it was junk, period. A friend who owns a gun shop called me in to look at a Taurus 445 which is about the same type of gun. Never been a Taurus fan and said I'd never own one. That gun changed my mind.

I've seen reviews on here from people that have tried newer Charter revolvers and have no complaints. My experience left a bad taste, would never consider another.

My advice, if Taurus is going to start making these again jump on one. It's easily twice the gun of a Charter. But you also see complaints on Taurus. So I'd want to handle the gun before buying.

Just looked at the Taurus website, I don't see where they plan on making the 445 again. It seems well made but it's size tells me I wouldn't want to shoot anything besides regular .44 Spl loads out of it.

You aren't going to find a 6 shot .44 in a small size so settle on 5 shots.


February 24, 2011, 06:59 PM
Am I the only one with a S&W 696 (3", 5-shot L frame .44 Sp with round butt)? Maybe I am, as they have not made it in years. I bought mine used at a gun show and don't think I have seen one for sale since. It's a bit heavy for CCW, but I have carried it on ourdoor trips. It's a very nice gun if you can find one, although I have found myself recommending the 329PD, the Scandium .44 Mag, loaded as a .44 Sp. It's got better sights, holds another round, is a lot lighter and if you need it you can stick magnum rounds in there.

February 24, 2011, 08:53 PM
Nope, wgp, you're not the only one. Way back in fall of 96 I started hearing about the 696 and started looking for one. Found one at the Indy 1500 gun show. I really thought I only wanted to examine one. Ended up buying it. I have never seen another one. This one has the slight bore restriction from the crush fit barrel but it is pretty accurate with most of my handloads. After an action job it has one of the smoothest DA pulls of any S&W I have. Is yours a 696 or a 696-1? I've had several people try to buy it but I plan on keeping it. I do love the .44 Spl.

February 25, 2011, 12:00 AM
Mine is a no-dash. I was going to sell it a year or so ago and then did some investigation and discovered it was worth a lot more than I thought it was, so I kept it.

I have managed to hang onto several slightly unusual guns: a 6" .22 Diamondback, the 696, a Colt .45 CCO and a .38 Sp Single Action Army. I regret selling a 3" Lew Horton .41 Mag and a Model 29 with 8 3/8" barrel. Trying not to make those mistakes again.

February 25, 2011, 07:04 AM
Nothing wrong with a 696 other then the fact that you can't find them and collectors think they're worth more then gold.

I looked at them when they came out. Came close to buying one opted instead for the 686+ with 7 rounds.

Brass Rain
February 25, 2011, 07:41 AM
Yeah it's been mentioned that I don't want an aluminum/titanium/scandium/whatever frame. You're right, I don't. I want steel and hopefully a 3" barrel but five-shot cylinder so it's not so wide there. I've never fired a .44 Special or Magnum, but I can guess that they thump pretty hard. I wouldn't mind the weight, really, as long as I could keep it hidden and on target. The Bulldog is basically exactly what I want, just Charter Arms isn't one of those companies I feel like I could buy from and trust the gun 100%. Ruger, Smith, Glock, etc. are all proven to generally do as advertised. I'll continue to Google some of the other models brought up here. I really should consider buying used from places like Gunbroker as more of an option. Of course there's no reason to find myself a smokin' deal right now, consider I can't even buy a handgun just yet, and I'm pretty set on the Smith 442 to be my initial, standard carry gun.

But it's neat to know there's more interest in short .44 Special than I thought. It seems like a great idea to me.

February 25, 2011, 08:13 AM
Well, a 2.5" became a 3" - alloys are a no-no - the S&W 696 is the obvious choice. Over eight years ago, mine was $439 new. I have shot it a bunch - lots of fun - with mild .44 Specials & .44 Russians. The X96 family has a small forcing cone with a sharp edge - they weren't intended for 'Keith-level' loads. There is a better choice... only weighs six ounces more. You also gain an inch in sight radius, another round in the cylinder, both a larger hammer & trigger, a real forcing cone, and a rating that exceeds Keith-level .44 Specials. I'm speaking of the 4" 629 - a 629-6 SKU #163603 - a .44 Magnum.

Below you'll see my 696-1 and 629-6:


The cult following for the 696 has made used examples actually more expensive than a new 4" 629. In my case, my 4" 629 will be here when the 696 is a memory. Sure - it's an L-frame, the 629 is an N-frame - but look at the actual size comparison above - and only a six ounce weight saving. Just a thought.


February 25, 2011, 10:04 AM
Brass Rain, I think you'll find that there is a lot of difference between shooting a .44 Sp and .44 Mag. But I don't think handling recoil in my .44 Sp 696 is particularly worse than +P .38s in my 442. Have fun learning all this stuff.

February 25, 2011, 03:34 PM
I've never fired a .44 Special or Magnum, but I can guess that they thump pretty hard. I wouldn't mind the weight, really, as long as I could keep it hidden and on target.

Big difference between the SPL and Mag. The Taurus 445 that I have is also ported. I've always been against porting till I fired this gun. I have 5 shots of .44 SPL and can easily squeeze off more then one shot before losing the target.

I own a few .44 Mag revolvers but have never fired a magnum round in any of them. I load my own and keep velocity down to no more then 1100 fps.

Cocked & Locked
February 25, 2011, 03:36 PM
S&W 2.5 incher


February 25, 2011, 03:41 PM
Brass Rain -- if weight is not an issue, I do recommend that you give the Ruger Alaskan a good look. It shoots very well, especially for a snubbie, and the frame/grip configuration fits my hand very well. I wouldn't want to fire a couple hundred rounds of magnum at the range in one setting, but if you're shooting specials, you can do this all day long.

Brass Rain
February 26, 2011, 02:59 AM
Brass Rain -- if weight is not an issue, I do recommend that you give the Ruger Alaskan a good look. It shoots very well, especially for a snubbie, and the frame/grip configuration fits my hand very well. I wouldn't want to fire a couple hundred rounds of magnum at the range in one setting, but if you're shooting specials, you can do this all day long.
Looks neat and all, but that thing's not just heavy but HUGE. Six round cylinder, full-size grip, and it's 2 and a half pounds. I think it would be great if backpacking in Alaska where I might stumble onto something that can bite me in half and eat me, but I can't imagine concealing it.

February 26, 2011, 06:54 AM
"...but I can't imagine concealing it."

Think about an SOB holster, combined with a untucked t-shirt, and an "overshirt" as well. Stand up straight, and it might work well for concealment.

Jim H.

February 26, 2011, 11:31 PM
I have, and will always have a Bulldog and a Bulldog Pug manufactured in "STRATFORD.CONN."
If you can latch on to one of these go for it.

February 27, 2011, 07:22 AM
I've never fired a .44 Special or Magnum, but I can guess that they thump pretty hard.

As long as we are talking about a steel handgun, like my 3" Taurus 431 pictured on the prior page, the recoil of .44 Special is best described as "moderate". Maybe a little more kick than .38 +Ps out of a S&W 686. No big deal.

.44 Magnum does kick more, but honestly if you are talking about a steel .44 Mag with proper fitting wood or rubber grips, for me the recoil is heavy but not painful. I was expecting much worse the first time I fired one (a blued 7.5" Ruger Redhawk). I now own 2 .44 Mags, a 5.5" Redhawk and a 4" S&W Model 29. I haven't fired the 29 yet, but the Redhawk shooting .44 Special feels like a S&W K Frame shooting very light wadcutter loads. And .44 Magnums from that heavy beast honestly have about the same felt recoil (for me) as 357s from my 686. But YMMV.

February 27, 2011, 12:17 PM
S&W 2.5 incher

you win the thread.

February 27, 2011, 01:52 PM
no triple lock ?http://i870.photobucket.com/albums/ab266/tims_albums/100_1496.jpg

or a big boomer

i also had (2) 24-3 lew horton snubs that i foolishly let get away

nice fixed sight magnum C&L

CSA 357
February 27, 2011, 08:00 PM
love my 3 inch 624!

February 27, 2011, 11:41 PM
Have been very happy with my STRATFORD.CONN. Charter arms Bulldog pug. Like said before if you can get one of the original charter bull dogs, jump on it. the recoil for the 44 Special is not that bad. However you know you shot it.

March 2, 2011, 11:12 AM
I have both a S&W 696 and a current incarnation Charter Arms. I use the 696 for a woodsbumming gun and the Bulldog Pug for CCW. Both are fine firearms, although I expect the S&W will outlast the Charter Arms.

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