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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
A friend of mine is contemplating the purchase of a Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 Spl. He has asked my opinion. I related that my ONLY deviation from the world of S&W and Colt DA revolvers was my brief and UGLY foray into the Taurus line. He wishes to use the Bulldog for CCW using the short barrel Buffalo Bore load designed for self defense. On paper that sounds like a good plan, BUT I have no experience with Charter Arms weapons. Are they well made and reliable ? Do they respond well to tweaking if needed by a qualified 'smith ? Are they simply junk to be avoided ? DON'T tell me that Taurus makes something comparable---he's my friend, and I WILL NOT allow him to purchase a Taurus revolver. BTW, IIRC the Bulldog was used in the infamous Son of Sam murders.......
 

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Quality is on the low end of the scale.
Charter Arms quality depends on whether they're about to be bankrupt or are just out of a bankruptcy.
Jeff Cooper described the earlier Charter Arms .44 as "A good idea that lacks in the execution".
Personally, I put the Charter Arms under the Taurus in quality.

Quality isn't Saturday Night Special level, but is often just about one good step above that.
They usually go "BANG" when the trigger is pulled, but they don't respond very well to gunsmithing attempts to improve them.
Since the parts are case hardened cast steel, you can't polish them to improve the trigger without a high risk of breaking through the thin cased layer, which ruins the part.
A trigger job is limited to a spring kit, with the hope that the lighter spring kit doesn't induce ignition or trigger return problems.

In short, as long as you get one that works out of the box and doesn't break, it's a good tackle box/truck gun, and would serve as a carry much/fire very little defense gun.
 

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Charter revolvers are...okay...if you intend to leave'em in the "Carried a lot and seldom shot" drawer. They won't hold up for very long doin' beater duty, but should serve the purpose in an Up to your Ass in Alligators situation. None of the romp'em/stomp'em ammo either. Standard pressure only please.

Tell him to shoot it 10 times to verify function and carry it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
OMG Gentlemen. I thank you soooo much for your most informative comments. I will steer my friend clear of this disastrous plan. GLAD that he asked me, and that I had you to ask..........
 

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Joe, I hope you don't mind me adding another comment a few days late. Since I agree with what the other two posters said pretty much, I don't have a whole lot more two add EXCEPT my own personal experience.

About 30 years ago I opted NOT to buy a brand new model 10 S&W for $185 so that I could save a WHOPPING $55 and buy a new Charter Arms snubnose for $130, also in .38 Spec. I was really surprised to find that the gun was very accurate. Unfortunately, I was even more surprised to find that after shooting, the cylinder coud NOT be swung open for unloading...it was stuck, jammed. And when I finally did get it open, the empty cartridges wouldn't come out of the cylinder...they were jammed, too. Happened all the time.

Still the gun really was accurate. So I bought a larger .357 model Tracker, thinking that the larger frame and cylinder would stand up to the pressure better (I figured the small frame 5 shot snubbie was just too weak, hence the problem.) WRONG! The EXACT same thing happened on it, though not quite as bad.

Since this was back in the heydey of the saturday night special, I'm ashamed to say I bought a few of those back then as well, and dfarriswheel is right, Charters were a step above them, but still not a gun worth having. I suppose a gun smith could've fixed those problems, but I also came across a cheap used charter .22 semi-auto survival pistol, and it was junk, TOO, and as they say: 3 strikes and you're out.

I hope they've improved since then. It was a shame...they were American made and I really wanted to like them. As a result of this experience, however, I still get a weird thrill watching the empty cartridges practically slide out of my 20 year old S&W model 64 with barely a touch of the ejector rod! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
Hi Jim. Welcome to the Forum. I'm glad you chimed in. Thanks for your reply. More information is always better. You certainly gave Charter Arms enough opportunity to prove themselves. I owned 3 Taurus revolvers that I purchased MAINLY because I couldn't find a comparable S&W to buy. I was lured in by their eye pleasing appearance and low cost also. All 3 were snubs. I bought a .22Mag for my wife to carry, (better than NO weapon), the same weapon in .22LR for her to practice and plink with, and a 7shot, Total Titanium .357Magnum to carry myself. All 3 were junk, and could not be 'smithed into an acceptable weapon. I sold them off for less than 1/2 of what i had into them. As dfariswheel (who's opinions I value) stated above these were "a good idea that lacked execution" He also rated Charter Arms quality below that of Taurus. That sealed it for me. Your post is the icing on the cake............
 

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Hi I work for charter arms as a builder of their revolvers.we dumped our parts manufacturers last sept because of lack of tolerances.we have new people and in fact just started making our "Pit Bull" 40 cal revolver on our large frame.fit and polish and very good...............as is the accuracy....
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
WOW ! ! ! Welcome to the Forum, Darcy. It's great to have someone on the inside to chat with. Are you making the "Pit Bull" in .44Spl. with parts from your new supplier ? What is the country of origin of your new parts supplier ? Also, can the Pit Bull in .44Spl be purchased w/ adjustable sights ?
 

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Well the "Pit Bull" is strickly 40 cal but the same frame is used for the 44 spcl. ALL our parts are from a 50 mile radius of Shelton CT. 100 percent American made!!! We have a target "bulldog" with adj. sights. Check out our new catalog Welcome to Charter Arms
as i said as of sept. we've only been useing our new parts. World of difference.My wife has been carrying a 38 undercover for 18 years with no problems.try out our new 40,I'd rather let the weapon speak for itself.
Darcy Whone
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the link, Darcy.......
 

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My grandfather owned one. Loved it. Reliable and accurate far beyond what it's price would suggest.

It is though, the only revolver(Brand) I know of that I have seen at least 5 people that have said they had reliability problems. That's a strong selling point for revos, IMO. If it has reliability problems, obviously it's a pass. Even though I've heard through the grapevine of Taurus problems, I personally have not had a friend, family member, or customer that has had a problem with one. I can't say that about Charter Arms, and I've known literally a fraction as many owners of this brand. GunTest magazine had an article on a comparo of an S&W, a Charter, and an SP101(I think). The Charter they tested malfunctioned in DA as often as not! Unreal. I'm considering buying one myself, to be honest. Though I've been debating it for at least a year now, and still cant make myself do it. I may just keep it in the "Maybe one Day" file.
 

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Have had several preCharco.

Charter Arms, later Charco, then Charter 2000, and now back to Charter Arms.

Quality varied although I never had a seriously bad one. The better ones seemed to be in the 500k serial range and before.

Wish I'd kept my first one; will keep the second. Carried it for a lot of years. Replaced it with a S&W J stainless.

If you want a DA pull like a S&W, Ruger or Rossi are probably better candidates than Taurus. Quality varies also in Rossis. Although I'm not too happy w/Ruger for other issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
If you want a DA pull like a S&W, Ruger or Rossi are probably better candidates than Taurus. Quality varies also in Rossis.
I don't know about Ruger or Rossi, but you'll NEVER get a DA trigger as nice as a S&W outta a Taurus. I've spent alotta time and money trying. For some reason, I was thinking that Rossi was a subsidiary of Taurus. Is that true ? ?
 

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I've been into the lockwork of a few Taurus revolvers.

Underwhelming is the word, I think. The sideplates just fall out of the frames once the screws are removed.

I especially don't care for the little rack and pinion-esque hammer block mechanism. Get it one tooth off...or if that little-bitty gear jumps a tooth...and the whole gun locks up solid.

Which reminds me...That's precisely why I had to open up two of'em.

Nary a Rossi to my credit. Not many people buy'em around here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I've been into the lockwork of a few Taurus revolvers.

Underwhelming is the word, I think. The sideplates just fall out of the frames once the screws are removed.

I especially don't care for the little rack and pinion-esque hammer block mechanism. Get it one tooth off...or if that little-bitty gear jumps a tooth...and the whole gun locks up solid.

Which reminds me...That's precisely why I had to open up two of'em.

Nary a Rossi to my credit. Not many people buy'em around here.
LMFAO, Johnny---"underwhelming is the word". TOOOO funny. It amazes me that the Kool-Aide drinkers still tout the junk. When you're used to shooting fine Colts and S&Ws, it's hard to like a Taurus. They are inexpensive for a reason. NOT a good reason, either........
 

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Taurus did make a revolver that caught my interest, despite their revolvers not exactly being high on my must have list.

The K-frame-sized 5-shot .44 Special models with fixed sights could have found a way into my sock drawer if they'd made a round butt 3-inch model. (Note that they may have, and I just missed it for lack of keen interest.)

Of course, it would have been fired only enough to verify function and lightly to refamiliarize myself with it...but such a beast would be tempting. After a lot of thought, I considered that maybe there a reason that Smith & Wesson wasn't too quick to counter with a K-Frame .44 Special 5-shooter of their own...so I put it out of my mind.
 

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I acknowledge the quality of S&W and ESPECIALLY Colt revos. Colt makes my 2 favorite wheelguns, and I would choose one of them over almost any other revolver.

As far as Taurus, I HEAR plenty stories, but that's here online. I know of very few actual incidents with them. Same for Rossi. I've only known 2 people that owned them(Rossis), and both people have/had good experiences with em. I did see a Rossi blown wide open at class last weekend. Apparently from a hot handload, top strap blown, literally. I do believe they are sister companies, but I'm not positive.

The OP said Taurus is out, regardless. I assume Rossi would be too then. I'm not trying to sway anyone, just sharing experiences, or lack thereof.
 

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I don't know about Ruger or Rossi, but you'll NEVER get a DA trigger as nice as a S&W outta a Taurus. I've spent alotta time and money trying. For some reason, I was thinking that Rossi was a subsidiary of Taurus. Is that true ? ?
DA Rossi actions are quite similar to S&W J frames. Quality varies. If you have one where the parts and fit are decent to begin with, you should be able to get a DA trigger pull like a J frame.

DA Rugers can never have DA pulls quite as good as a Smith, but they are good generally and worth smoothing.

Taurus bought Rossi IIRC in '96 or '97. The fit and finish on Rossis did improve but not necessarily to S&W standards.

Even if the parts and fit were decent to begin with, by design I don't think Charter DA pulls can be as good as a Smith. The 55 degree hammer fall (faster lock time) and the trigger return spring design seem to negate the possiblity. I do wonder if a DA only Charter (decent parts and fit to begin with) might offer the possiblity of a much better pull if the overtravel can be eliminated.

If the parts and fit were decent to begin with, I believe the Taurus design could be smithed into a fair DA pull. The preceding notes from JohnnyT and one eye joe are sadly correct however.

A person can get a decent Charter, Rossi, or Taurus, but the chances of getting one not so good are appreciably greater than with S&W or Ruger.

A matter of opinion as to what constitutes "decent" and what is legitimately decent to folks who don't shoot much is going to be of a lower standard than that for most of us on this board.

Here are some extreme examples of that:
Do you need a trigger job? | Revolvers, Gunsmithing | GrantCunningham.com

I and all, or most, of you have refined tastes. We put in the time shooting, studying, dry firing, refining, and otherwise improving our guns, and ourselves in the process.

So other people aren't interested in doing that. As long as they conduct themselves in a truly responsible manner, it doesn't matter if they want inexpensive or even cheap guns. As long a given individual gun is mechanically safe and reliable, it's fine for them.

Overall, dfariswheel is right about Charters; JohnnyT and one eye joe right about Tauri. I generally only want a Smith in DA revolvers, but appreciate having the option of buying the others, especially since they sometimes make interesting models unlike what S&W offers.

Now would darcy whone please be kind enough to tell me how to identify the guns made post Sept.?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Very informative post, Dave. Thanks for the great link.........
 

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I carried a CA .44 3" barrel as a backup and an off duty gun back in the 80's.
There was nothing bad about it. Reliable, strong and dependable. I still kick myself for trading it away. I have heard nothing but negative comments about Charters quality lately so I guess you pay your money and take your chances. YMMV.
 
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