New CA Bulldog .44 opinions/experiences?

vanfunk

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Hi All:

My LGS got in a brand-new Charter Arms Bulldog a few weeks ago. It’s a 3” blued model with wood grips, kinda like a “classic” Bulldog of the 70’s. I’ve always harbored a somewhat secret fascination with these guns as there are so few lightweight .44 Special revolvers out there. The price is fine but I have some reservations:

1) the trigger feels like my first divorce; long, heavy and abrasive. The DA pull must be 16 lbs and spans the distance between Detroit and Ann Arbor. The single action is probably 8 lbs and it feels like you’re trying to do something it doesn’t want to do.

2) the trigger guard is aluminum but feels cheap and plasticky. Is the cylinder release plastic? Again here the action of the cylinder release feels like it’s riding on broken clam shells.

Good news - the cylinder seems to time just fine and the barrel and sights seem to be straight. The finish is smooth and looks good.

So, one can’t expect Colt or S&W quality at this price point, but they also don’t offer a 20 oz .44 Special. Does anyone have one of the new ones, made in the last year or so? I wouldn’t expect a miracle but I’d like it to work out of the box and keep a group on paper out to 15 yards. I wouldn’t plan on shooting anything other than standard pressure LSWC fodder and perhaps some wadcutters.

Thanks!
 
I was just looking at a bulldog target 44. On sale at midway. Just to see what others talk about here and there. So tempting but ive been condensing down volume to just what I must have. Your comment isn't helping. A first suppressor is nagging at me also. Hope others can give you examples of them being good. I'm interested in this
 
I am actually trying to find one of those currently myself, so consider me a bit jealous that you have to make this choice.

I have found across my three charter arms that the trigger smoothes up nicely with time, and that it is easy to order and swap out their hammer spring for a lighter one.

You might also be able to order a stainless steel trigger guard guard and grip frame from CA and replace the plastic one. This will add a few ounces of weight and durability. I have been meaning to ask them about ordering one myself for a while now to swap out the plastic from the .380 pitbull.
 
Since Charter Arms introduction way back when I have owned, shot, sold out of a shop, and tried tuning many of these. How they have survived almost sixty years amazes me. Brownell's Gunsmith Kinks book has chapters devoted to them.
That said, I kind of liked my original Bulldog. It made a light, handy carry hoping down on the farm with two shot loads and three Keith's in the cylinder. Original grips had to go in favor of Pachmayrs. I never had or saw one with a trigger that could be made slick. (action). They served a purpose for new cops in the sixties who couldn't find or afford a Chiefs Special. I gave one of my boys a Police Bulldog and the other Target Bulldog. I doubt they have left the safe.
I know there are fans and I'm glad there are. I don't want any gun company to fail but I just don't have a need for one.
Doesn't mean I won't buy another if the price is right. Addictions are hard to break.
 
Hi All:

My LGS got in a brand-new Charter Arms Bulldog a few weeks ago. It’s a 3” blued model with wood grips, kinda like a “classic” Bulldog of the 70’s. I’ve always harbored a somewhat secret fascination with these guns as there are so few lightweight .44 Special revolvers out there. The price is fine but I have some reservations:

1) the trigger feels like my first divorce; long, heavy and abrasive. The DA pull must be 16 lbs and spans the distance between Detroit and Ann Arbor. The single action is probably 8 lbs and it feels like you’re trying to do something it doesn’t want to do.

Trigger will smooth up with use. They always do.

Mine is from, I'm pretty sure, 2010-ish. I'd be interested to hear if there are any differences with current production.
2) the trigger guard is aluminum but feels cheap and plasticky. Is the cylinder release plastic? Again here the action of the cylinder release feels like it’s riding on broken clam shells.
Cylinder release should be steel. I'd be real surprised if it weren't.
Good news - the cylinder seems to time just fine and the barrel and sights seem to be straight. The finish is smooth and looks good.

So, one can’t expect Colt or S&W quality at this price point, but they also don’t offer a 20 oz .44 Special. Does anyone have one of the new ones, made in the last year or so? I wouldn’t expect a miracle but I’d like it to work out of the box and keep a group on paper out to 15 yards. I wouldn’t plan on shooting anything other than standard pressure LSWC fodder and perhaps some wadcutters.

Thanks!
 
I've had a couple of them over the years. They shoot OK. They're not a Smith and Wesson, but you know that going in. With the wood grips, they kick like a mule. Do youself a favor and get a set of the rubber ones Charter sells. They're about $25.00 or so and worth every dime.
 
2) the trigger guard is aluminum but feels cheap and plasticky. Is the cylinder release plastic? Again here the action of the cylinder release feels like it’s riding on broken clam shells.

Ask your LGS guy for a magnet.

I've owned two Charters, both from the company's first incarnation. A .38 and a .44 Target. The .38 worked and shot well enough, but I discovered my preference for 3" barrels and sold it. The front sight of the .44 was about a degree off plumb, and even after adjusting the rear sight as far as was possible I was shooting about 5" from POI at 5 yards. Didn't pay much for it, so I sold it on with a warning. If I ever came across one of their .32s I might give Charter's revolvers another try. I also had a couple of their AR7s -- shot both quite a bit and mine never gave any real trouble.
 
I can't speak to the newer models, I bought one in the late 70's. The trigger was actually not to bad on that gun. I gifted it to a friend when he graduated from the police academy and he carried it as an off duty weapon for many years after all these years and 100's of rounds, he still has it and shoots it regularly.
 
1) the trigger feels like my first divorce; long, heavy and abrasive. The DA pull must be 16 lbs and spans the distance between Detroit and Ann Arbor. The single action is probably 8 lbs and it feels like you’re trying to do something it doesn’t want to do.

I had one in the mid 1980's that was probably made in the 1970's. I shot mine a few times at 25 yards. It was reasonably accurate considering the short barrel (3") and fixed sights. My trigger pull was not as crazy as yours sounds. Maybe let a gunsmith check yours out.
 
Ask your LGS guy for a magnet.

I've owned two Charters, both from the company's first incarnation. A .38 and a .44 Target. The .38 worked and shot well enough, but I discovered my preference for 3" barrels and sold it. The front sight of the .44 was about a degree off plumb, and even after adjusting the rear sight as far as was possible I was shooting about 5" from POI at 5 yards. Didn't pay much for it, so I sold it on with a warning. If I ever came across one of their .32s I might give Charter's revolvers another try. I also had a couple of their AR7s -- shot both quite a bit and mine never gave any real trouble.
Aluminum is a Non-Ferrous metal and will not attract a magnet.
 
I've been avoiding Charter since I bought the Professional in .32 and had the transfer bar break and the fixed sights shooting way low with a normal sight picture. I did solve the sight issue by holding the middle of the fiber optic rod with the top of the rear sight, but I don't like how different that is to everything else I shoot.

You want to know how Charter quality is these days? Ask @blue32
 
Comparing a Gun to a 1st Divorce! LOVE IT!
Mark_Mark i concur on the divorce to gun comment sir. I got a couple of guns I foolishly let go miss those two guns more than my ex wife.,ok well truth be told I kind of miss her too. I was too young and stupid to know I had such a a good woman.

To the OP I'm probably going to pick up a stainless bulldog boomer tomorrow morning actually. I've owned several bulldogs off an on both new and old and never had a priority any of them. The older guns are better made I mean the Stratford and Bridgeport era ones. But the new ones are good too. I've had to send $1,000+ S&W revolvers and even a Ruger SP101 back for replacement.

So any gun can give an issue not just the cheaper priced ones. Again the current production charter arms guns a god serviceable guns in my experience with them. I really love revolvers and shoot them well. I think as a citizen carrying for self defense the bulldog is hard to beat.
 
... Does anyone have one of the new ones, made in the last year or so? ...
Sorry, my pair of Bulldogs (silver, 2½") I purchased NIB in Summer'14. Aside from some cutter-chatter in the bore, they appear to me to be decent economy-grade .44spls and accurate enough for defensive, close-range purposes.

I have one configured with a hammer and the other without.

Here's a pic of my favorite handload :

2v2uKstJTxAW38L.jpg


:)
 
Sorry, my pair of Bulldogs (silver, 2½") I purchased NIB in Summer'14. Aside from some cutter-chatter in the bore, they appear to me to be decent economy-grade .44spls and accurate enough for defensive, close-range purposes.

I have one configured with a hammer and the other without.

Here's a pic of my favorite handload :

2v2uKstJTxAW38L.jpg


:)
that looks like it would hurt
 
The old Charter Arms Bulldog of the '70s-'80s was tortured tested by Robert Dunlap (AGI and Lead Instructor at Lassen College). He hand loaded 44 specials to 44 mag and test fired it. Checked it and no dimensional changes. OK for a pinch but not sustained diet. I don't know about the newer ones but I asked and some parts are MIM. I'll trust CA over Taurus; but that's just my bias.
 
As long as the company is in business and they stand behind the warranty I’d buy another one. My 38 snub never failed. The cyl did feel a little wobbly to me and I sent it in and they fixed it. Sold it to my buddy and haven’t heard a range report yet. That all said I like the 20oz 44 special ideal. I’d take mine in a hammerless 2 inch if I could. Wadcutters only
 
George Nonte tested the first Bulldog here in Peoria. Stiff loads caused the barrel shroud to eek its way forward under recoil. I can remember him laughing about it at the time. "Cant make a race horse out of a plow mule."
This from a guy with a yard full of Corvairs.
 
George Nonte tested the first Bulldog here in Peoria. Stiff loads caused the barrel shroud to eek its way forward under recoil. I can remember him laughing about it at the time. "Cant make a race horse out of a plow mule."
This from a guy with a yard full of Corvairs.
I believe that was the bulldog pug with the shrouded barrel. The 3 inch tapered barrel guns didn't have this issue. I had a bulldog pug that experienced that issue I decreased between the barrel and the frame took a cotton and swap and put some red loctite and a soft smack with a rubber mallet to set it back against the frane and let it dry and it had that issue again.

That said the current bulldogs the shroud is part of the barrel itself or is the barrel itself and is screwed into the frame so no worries there on the above mentioned issue.

Also I had the issue happen with a scandium J frame 340PD S&W replaced the gun under warranty for me. So again this could happen with even expensive guns.
 
Ok guys, thanks! So I’m getting the picture.. sometimes you have to give and take, kinda like a good (third for me) marriage. I may buy this Bulldog after all and see if I can make some modest improvements where necessary. I already bought a second set of dies to leave set for .44 special and 200 grain SWCs, so I sort-of have to buy it now. :)
 
Ok guys, thanks! So I’m getting the picture.. sometimes you have to give and take, kinda like a good (third for me) marriage. I may buy this Bulldog after all and see if I can make some modest improvements where necessary. I already bought a second set of dies to leave set for .44 special and 200 grain SWCs, so I sort-of have to buy it now. :)
@vanfunk you go from a $3,000 gun review to a $300 gun! LOVE your STYLE!
 
Yeah, I’m not a snob by any means. Show me another manufacturer making a 20 oz .44 Special and I’ll buy it, whatever the price, lol. It’s funny, one of my most expensive handguns, the Nighthawk Combat Special, is still back at the factory getting fixed. The Glock 42 .380 I bought on a lark at $379 is absolutely cruising and has turned out to be one of my most accurate pistols, seriously. I am still looking for a Star PD to replace the one I had 20 years ago. Paid $175 for that I think… most reliable and accurate subcompact .45 I ever had!
 
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