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Bulldog Pug .44: Perfect carry revolver?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by MachIVshooter, Aug 15, 2011.

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  1. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    It just might be, at least to me.

    I finally made it out to shoot the little 2.5", 5-shot .44 Special I got a couple weeks back. Initially I wanted it just because, but carrying it quite a bit and finally getting some lead down range has made me think this might be one of the better $350 guns I've come into.

    [​IMG]

    I'll start with what my initial impressions were. This is certainly no S&W; Fit and finish is definitely not as nice. It does, however, compare favorably to my 3" SP-101, except the little Charter has a much nicer trigger. It did have a noticeable hitch when cocking the hammer, but that has nearly disappeared with some dry firing and range time. It's about the same size and weight as my SP-101, but balances better. The Cylinder is slightly wider, but I did not find this problematic for concealment. Before I got it I had been looking at grip options, but after shooting it, I've abandoned that quest. Charter did a good job with the stocks; The'ye not bulky, but offer a comfortable and positive grip, even with my large hands. I only wish they had a little bit of a recurve at the top, as this thing wants to roll in the hand a little with warmer loads.

    Due to the crane design, it has a little more cylinder wiggle than a S&W or Ruger, but this does not seem to affect function; it is a superbly accurate little snub. No, I didn't print any one-hole 25 yard groups. I didn't even have paper targets with me. What I did do was aim at reasonably sized targets at ranges out to 60 yards, and had no trouble hitting the ~15" ant hill at the full 60 or the 1-gallon paint cans at 35. This is a fixed-sight snub-nose revolver, so being able to hit such targets off-hand definitely satisfies my expectations. I'm sure it's mechanical accuracy in a machine rest is much better, but I don't really care. What matters to me is the ability to hit what I'm aiming at; The excellent balance, smooth trigger and simple but very functional sights on this little wheelgun proved very conducive to that.

    Speedloaders (HKS CA-44) require a little finess and rotating the cylinder a bit, because they don't quite clear the grip. They will dump the rounds, though.

    On to shooting, I started with some Magtech 200 Gr. LRNFP cowboy loads. There is recoil, but not much more than a .38 Snub. And holy cow are these loads wimpy; Average velocity: 520 FPS :eek: Still, it's a good practice load, making rapid DA fire easy.

    My handloads that are my carry load are a different story. A 210 gr. Remington semi-jacketed HP over 8.5 grains of Unique and CCI 350 primers, this load was only expected to yield ~850 FPS, as Sierra showed 950 out of a 6-1/2" S&W for that charge. Well, imagine my surprise when I got an average of 980 FPS (20 rounds, 13 FPS SD, 947 low/1,006 high) from the 2.5" Pug barrel! That's a pretty darn respectable load, producing 447 ft/lbs, which eclipses any .357 Magnum load I'm aware of when fired from a 2.5" gun. Recoil, however, was quite stiff in the 21 ounce Charter, on par with full power .44 Mag loads fired from my 3" 629. I don't find it bothersome, but it'll be too much for many shooters.

    Summary? This little gun is affordable, reliable, good looking, carries easily, is quite accurate and packs a wallop on the muzzle end. It's not gonna displace my P3AT that'll drop into my pocket, regardless of attire. But I'll be carrying it whenever I can. I'd rate the value of this gun as excellent.

    P.S. With a little dremeling, a cut-down SKS stripper clip makes a great speed strip for .44 spl/mag!
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  2. mnrivrat

    mnrivrat Member

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    Something about that 44 Spl that satisfies the shooting itch. Just seems like a lot of cartridge for the modest recoil it produces. It is also a very accurate cartridge in any decent gun.

    I have a pair of Rossi Model 720's that fill that nitch for me. Stainless steel with 3 inch barrels and about K frame in size. The only Rossi gun that I could not pass up after shooting a friends . Both of mine are mechanicaly tight with near perfect timing, etc.

    My brother has carried and shot a Charter Arms revolver for years . It always goes bang, and shoots straight. It doesn't need to be expensive or fancy, it just needs to work.
     
  3. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    The Bulldog is a small package considering it's a .44 caliber. A 200gr bullet at 800-850fps well stop a fight real fast. I find the Bulldog much easier to shoot than my M640 .357 J frame. The Bulldog is not much larger either.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Lawdawg45

    Lawdawg45 Member

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    I've carried one for years and I love it.

    LD45
     
  5. 357_

    357_ Member

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    Check out Buffalo Bore, they have a 158g JHP that is a tad over 1300fps from my sp101. Works out to something like 600ft/lbs :evil:

    http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=102
     
  6. calaverasslim

    calaverasslim Member

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    A friend of mine, down here in South Texas, offered me his 3" model Charter Arms. NIB. At the time, it was a little pricey but since it was new, I didn't argue. 44 sp is my favorite round, so I was set. Like shooters, my CA hitched a little when new, but after about 50 rounds started to shape up.

    For practice, I load some 44 Colt and bang away but for carry, I prefer the Speer GDHP or the Winchester STHP.

    I guess that Masaad Ayoob has a strong influence on me, I adhere to his adage of loading factory ammo when carrying. I also like the Federal 200gr LSWCHP's.

    All in all, a great carry gun and loaded with a dependable round, I wouldn't hesitate to use it.
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  7. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    I wouldn't call the recoil modest in this lightweight gun with those 450 ft/lb loads. Not quite as nasty as a 340 PD with full house magnums, but enough to sting the palm pretty good. I said it didn't really bother me, but that also doesn't mean I wanna send box after box of those loads downrange

    That's stout. I've never been able to get a 158 moving that quickly from a 2.5" gun. A bit over 1,100 was the most I could muster with heavy charges of Blue Dot.

    Regardless, for a gun that's the same size as an SP-101, I like the extra 20% bullet diameter and less obnoxious report.
     
  8. Mike1234567

    Mike1234567 member

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    Awe... that's such a cute little puggy. But what a bite!!
     
  9. David E

    David E Member

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    You've been carrying a gun for personal defense for weeks before firing a single shot thru it???? :eek:
     
  10. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    I was waiting for someone to jump on that.

    If the cylinder indexes and the firing pin protrudes, I have no problem carrying a revolver that I haven't fired yet. Autoloaders are a different story, but ammo sensitivity, extraction, ejection, etc. aren't revolver problems. Sure, once in a blue moon they break parts and/or lock up under recoil. But a litmus test really won't eliminate that possibilty. In point of fact, one of our mod's recently posted about his CCW wheelgun that had been great for years (decades?) and then malfunctioned with no warning.

    And guess what? If functioned flawlessly anyway, as I knew it would.
     
  11. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Member

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    You gave a nice report on the gun. I am waiting for Charter to release the classic Bulldog with the exposed ejector rod and the 3" barrel. But if i see one of the new Taurus 445s for sale first I may get that instead.

    I was surprised at the velocity you got from that 210gr load. That should do the job.
     
  12. Tallinar

    Tallinar Member

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    Thanks for the review. I've kinda kept the Bulldog Pug in the back of my mind for the past few years.
     
  13. waidmann

    waidmann Member

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    If you remove the left grip and very carefully using an exacto-knive remove grip material following the right angle footprint, your speedloaders will function without the gymnastics.

    And, yes its a neat carry piece.
     
  14. memphisjim

    memphisjim Member

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    look up a s&w296
     
  15. eazyrider

    eazyrider Member

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    I really want one as well. I will probably pick one up soon. I have handled them and to me at least they seem to be a fine gun.
     
  16. shep854

    shep854 Member

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    I have an "old" (1st generation?) Taurus 445 2"bbl that I like a lot, except for the ammo cost. I also want to have a custom wooden stock made. For me, a paddle holster would be the perfect carry. The problem is, such a holster would have to be a custom job, and the budget won't allow that, yet.

    One thing about these .44s...something like Gold Dots are easy to see from the business end! I once loaded mine and pointed it at a mirror (finger OFF the trigger, natch ;) ), and the baleful gleam of the cartridges in the cylinder was chilling--I couldn't help but think of The Terminator.:uhoh:
     
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  17. MachIVshooter

    MachIVshooter Member

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    MUCH larger. Nice gun, but not in the same league. Yeah, they can handle hotter loads, but the little Charter is just fine with those 210 gr/980 FPS loads of mine, which are under-max and standard pressure. Plenty of oomph to get the job done.

    I'd have to go with a 396 anyway; The hump on the 296 is just plain ugly.

    [​IMG]
     
  18. shep854

    shep854 Member

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    Yes, the hump is ugly, even on a J-frame, but somehow it grows on you...:p
     
  19. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

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    I have had half a dozen Bulldogs and prefer the 3" barrel of the older models as the one weakness of the .44 Special is low velocity. The barrel is not the part that is hard to conceal on a handgun anyway, it is the grip.
     
  20. moxie

    moxie Member

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    Bought mine in '88. Still looks and shoots like new!
     
  21. engineer88

    engineer88 Member

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    MachIV you make a good case for the bulldog. Does it fit jframe holsters or SP101 holsters? Just curious as I have a lot of both and it fitting one or the other would mean less of an investment to get into one of these.
     
  22. Dan-O

    Dan-O Member

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    I sure like mine:

    [​IMG]
     
  23. shep854

    shep854 Member

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    "It's about the same size and weight as my SP-101, but balances better."--MachIVShooter

    Did you mean GP-100 instead of SP-101? Those .44s take up a good bit of space, even if only 5 of 'em.

    Note the relative size of the Pug and M60 .357 in Post #3.
     
  24. David E

    David E Member

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    Corrected it for you. :rolleyes:
     
  25. Jaymo

    Jaymo Member

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    Nah, it's a lot lighter than a GP100. It's only 21 ounces.
    I love my Bulldogs. I wish Charter would bring back the 2.5" bull-barrel version.
     
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