American Handgunner May/June 2013 Digital Edition - Page 38

THESIXGUNNER Left to right: Original stainless steel Bulldog .44 special, Bulldog pug, 4" and 5" target Bulldogs. JohN taffiN charter armS uring my high school years as I started reading the likes of Elmer Keith and then a little later Bob Hagel and John Lachuk I also acquired a deep interest and then even deeper affection for the .44 Special. In the mid-1960s Charter targets Arms brought out the first .44 Special Bulldog. It could not have come at a better time. The .44 Magnum arrived in very late 1955 and started showing up in gun shops shot with 5" in 1956. There were many who foolishly felt the .44 Special was dead. Elmer Keith Bulldog showed retired his, Skeeter Skelton traded his 4" 1950 Target .44 Special in on a Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum with the same barrel length, and by the mid-1960s, both it was a real shooter. Colt and Smith & Wesson had dropped the .44 Special from their catalogs. The only way one could have a .44 Special was to find a used one, convert something like a .44-40 Colt Single Action to a .44 Special by fitting a new cylinder, or buy a Charter Arms Bulldog. Charter Arms managed to keep the meagerly flickering flame of the Special alive, at least until Skeeter realized his mistake and admitted the 4" .44 Magnum was too much of a good thing and traded it off, replacing it with another 4" Smith & Wesson .44 Special. During the ensuing years, S&W’s attention to the .44 Special was sporadic at best. It wasn’t until our own Mike there’s a wide Venturino, Clint Smith and Editor Roy twisted arms at S&W variety of good (with the cooperation of Tony Miele there) a few years ago, factory .44 special that a fixed-sight, N-frame .44 Special became a catalog item loads available today for S&W once again. so don’t shy away from All during this time, except for a brief closed doors session, the .44 special if you don’t reload. Charter Arms continued to offer .44 Specials. As this is written .44 Special sixguns are available from Colt, Freedom Arms, Ruger, Smith & Wesson and Taurus. However, Charter Arms is currently the only manufacturer offering a small-frame, 5-shot, double-action .44 Special, with adjustable sights. 4 . 4 D target Bulldog Special Left: the 4" was more compact, but still performed. right: they carried easily in this universal belt slide from Gary reeder and a Bianchi thumb-break. the 4" target Bulldog has a capacity of five rounds. Loads shown are Blazer 200-grain Jhps, proven performers. he original Charter Arms .44 Special in the 1960s was a blued, 5-shooter with a 3" barrel. At the time it was one of my most-carried sixguns and logged many miles in the top of my boot. One year, now more than 30 years ago, we rented a motorhome and took a rare vacation with the kids, who were all in high school at the time — and the .44 Bulldog was stashed in the camper and it came in handy. Twice in my life a gun protected my young family, and in both cases the gun I had with me was the .44 Bulldog. Sometime after introducing the original blued .44 Special Bulldog, Charter Arms came out with what they called a Target Model. It was an excellent idea, poorly executed. Somehow, someone thought they could come up with an adjustable-sighted .44 Special Bulldog by putting a shroud over a relatively thin barrel. Perhaps it could happen, however there has to be some way to anchor that shroud just as Dan Wesson did with the locking nut on the end of their barrels. Instead Charter Arms tried to hold the shroud on with one screw at the bottom ThAT FirsT ONe T Continued on page 93 38 WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • MAY/JUNE2013

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