: Charter Arms Bulldog 44spl.

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Norman F. Johnson

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Apr 7, 1994, 2:47:37 PM4/7/94
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Some Bulldog stuff that I have written:

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Mine is the 3" stainless model. Loads that are actually painful
when fired using the factory grips are more than acceptable when
Pachmyer "Grippers" are used.

I have been doing some experiments using ultra lightweight
bullets moving at high velocities (high energy) in an attempt to
develop very close range defense loads that will not "over
penetrate" (a term that I have not satisfactorily defined for
myself yet). My tests are far from complete (what shooter EVER
completes his testing?) but I do have considerable data that has
enabled me to learn many of the characteristics of the Bulldog.

I swage 125, 140 and 158 grain .357 bullets (both cast and
jacketed) to fit my .44 cylinder throats snuggly. As the Cast
Bullet Association members have discovered, fitting the throats
of the gun's throats is probably the single most important step
that one can take to improve a revolver's accuracy. NOTE: Elmer
Keith was wrong! This is particularly true for lead bullets
because it virtually eliminates gas cutting, but often helps with
jacketed bullets also.

I relate the above because my Bulldog's throat is oversize
(.4340") as are most of the revolvers of all makes that I have
owned in the past few years.

As is always true, recoil is related directly to the ejecta
(total weight that is expelled from the barrel). In a
lightweight gun like the Bulldog, this is particularly noticable.
A load using a heavy bullet and slow powder can be a real bear,
whereas lightweight bullets and maximum loads of Bullseye, W-W
231, 700X, Unique, etc. can give high energy and pleasant or at
least manageable recoil.

Factory .44 Special loads, no matter what the gun writers say,
are pleasant to shoot in the Charter Arms. Sometimes I think
gun writers merely pass on old wives tails rather than doing the
necessary work to find out what REALLY happens or what really
works. Ken Waters who writes Pet Loads for Handloader and Rifle
magazines is a notable exception.

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The apparent recoil of a very light gun like the Bulldog (19
oz.) is noticably more susceptable to total ejecta weight than
one like the 39 oz. .45 Colt 1911A1. Factory .44 special loads
are very pleasant and (to my hand) lighter than hardball in the
1911. If one loads a 200 grain .44 bullet to 900 fps with a fast
powder the recoil is lighter yet because bullet weight has been
reduced by 40 gr and velocity has not been increased a great
deal.

If, however one loads for maximum performance, a slower powder is
needed and that increases total ejecta weight. Gun writers,
other than the few who actually take the time to do real
measurements, nearly always assume that fast powders work best in
short barrel guns. I have proven to my own satisfaction that
highest performance can usually be obtained from the use of slow
powders like H-110, W-W296, etc. even with very light weight
bullets, but often at the cost of a bellowing roar and punishing
recoil.

For hunting loads, heavy recoil and lots of noise are perfectably
acceptable to me but for home defense they are not. One can
suffer great hearing loss from those boomers going off inside a
building. Even the mild .45 ACP once had my ears ringing for
days.

I find that the fastest powder that will give acceptable velocity
at safe pressure levels is the best compromise to keep recoil and
boom down to manageable levels.

Of course SATISFACTORY noise and recoil are VERY subjective.
Personally I love the jump of a healthy handgun load but DO NOT
like shoulder bruiser rifles.

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The Charter Arms .44 Bulldog (19 oz.) is a very strong little gun
and can withstand more punishment than most shooters can
tolerate. Factory loads are pleasant to shoot and are good
manstoppers. Load development can provide gun/load
combinations that will suffice for just about any handgun use.

As is always true, recoil is related directly to the ejecta
(total weight, including combustion gasses) that is expelled from
the barrel. In a lightweight gun like the Bulldog (19 oz.), this
is particularly noticable. A maximum load using a heavy bullet
and slow powder can be a real bear, but lightweight bullets
and maximum loads of Bullseye, W-W 231, 700X, Unique, etc.
can give high energy and pleasant or at least manageable
recoil.

Additionally, a lightweight gun like the Bulldog can benefit from
well fitted grips more than a heavier one. Some loads that are
actually painful when fired using the factory grips are more than
acceptable when Pachmyer "Grippers" are used.

This is my constant choice for backpack type uses. I would not
think of being without it on hunting trips.

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My own experience and the use, even abuse, of the .44 stainless
Bulldog by friends bears my contention that this is a severely
underrated little revolver.

Please read Fouling Shot # 59, starting on page 7 by Paco Kelly.
He is a law enforcement officer, has lived in the wilderness for
several years and is a DOER rather than a writer. The destructive
tests run on the Bulldog demonstrates the amazing strength of
this little gun.

Send $3.00 for this back issue to:

Frank Stanard, Director of Services
7418 Ridgewood Avenue
Chevy Chase, MD 20815

It is well worth the price.

$14.00 per year to: Cast Bullet Association (Fouling Shot)
Ralland Fortier
4103 Foxcraft Drive
Traverse City, Mich. 49684

will get you a one year membership.

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With the proper selection of powders and bullet diameter one
should not need jacketed bullets in the Bulldog. Measure the
throats of your gun and make bullets that are the diameter of the
smallest throat in the cylinder (never mind the bore diameter as
long as it is not larger than the throats). My Bulldog throats
(and two Ruger Redhawks) are .4340" (sic) and lead bullets of
that diameter shoot very well and do not lead the barrel. The
nominal .429" diameter bullets fly wild and lead the barrel badly
because of gas cutting.

This grossly oversize throat diameter, unfortunately, is
not at all unusual today. I have Smith and Ruger .45s that have
.4550" diameter throats rather than the nominal .452". To make
things even more out of balance, the Ruger has a .449" bore. It
is a real shooter tho when .455" bullets are used and I use it
for my "thumper" loads.

My Bulldog shoots to the point of aim with 240 gr. bullets.
Predictably, the lighter ones shooting dramatically lower.
Bullets that I swage from 158 gr. 38s shoot a full 14" low at 25
yards. I hate fixed sights.

I know of no one who does Bulldog work. Mine is "good enough" to
hold well and since it is not a target gun I decided not to put
any money into a trigger job. My experience has been that my own
trigger jobs, altho not great, are better than those that I have
had done by gunsmiths. Finding a gunsmith that one can trust is
akin to finding a lawyer that one can trust.

Let me know if I can help; the bulldog is FUN!!!

God Bless!

Norm

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