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Old 10-06-2018, 11:01 PM
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Default New Charter Arms .44 Bulldog

I found a very nice condition early Charter Arms .44 Bulldog this morning, very possibly first year of production (1973-74) based upon what little I can find about the SN (275xxx). Not much information to be found out there about CA SNs.

I completely disassembled and cleaned/lubed it this afternoon, it worked a little more smoothly afterward. It had a sticky SA trigger pull before the cleaning. I found an extremely thorough video on the internet covering CA assembly/disassembly, as I have never done it before, although I did once many years ago own a .38 Special CA Undercover - one of the guns I wish I had kept.

I just finished loading up about 100 240 grain bullet mild handloads, will probably shoot them up on Monday. Seems like it might be a fun gun. I have wanted one of these for many years, but this one is the first I have found at a relatively reasonable price ($300). Anyone have experiences they'd like to relate about the .44 Bulldog?
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Old 10-06-2018, 11:11 PM
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I have been a big fan of the .44 sp. for many years and have owned 2 24-3's and also a 1950 Target 4". they are wonderful revolvers for sure. One time at a local gun show, there were a couple of the original .44 BullDogs on the table in the original boxes . I was waiting for this guy to move away so I could buy one of them and he purchased them as I was standing there. I was so depressed. the .44sp is one of my favorites.
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Old 10-06-2018, 11:18 PM
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Love the Bulldogs. Mine has become my preferred CCW. Enjoy!
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Old 10-06-2018, 11:26 PM
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Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
I found a very nice condition early Charter Arms .44 Bulldog this morning, very possibly first year of production (1973-74) based upon what little I can find about the SN (275xxx). Not much information to be found out there about CA SNs.

I completely disassembled and cleaned/lubed it this afternoon, it worked a little more smoothly afterward. It had a sticky SA trigger pull before the cleaning. I found an extremely thorough video on the internet covering CA assembly/disassembly, as I have never done it before, although I did once many years ago own a .38 Special CA Undercover - one of the guns I wish I had kept.

I just finished loading up about 100 240 grain bullet mild handloads, will probably shoot them up on Monday. Seems like it might be a fun gun. I have wanted one of these for many years, but this one is the first I have found at a relatively reasonable price ($300). Anyone have experiences they'd like to relate about the .44 Bulldog?
You know the drill, we need to see PICTURES of this latest find of yours!

Your SN is definitely 1st year. Mine is 301xxx and the folks at Charter Arms told me it is a 1973 vintage.

Fun gun. You'll love it. The big bonus is that it is an easy one to carry - pocket or IWB. The downside it that it can be a bit of a handful with stout loads....
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Old 10-07-2018, 12:20 AM
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I'll write up a brief range report on it in a few days and will include a picture or two of it at that time. I purposely made up my handloads on the mild side, they should have a MV below 750 ft/sec, but I will chronograph that load when I fire it. I was originally going to use 180 grain lead cowboy bullets to get lower recoil, but I discovered that all I had in inventory were 240 grain copper plated lead bullets. so that's what I used.
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Old 10-07-2018, 01:25 AM
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I'll write up a brief range report on it in a few days and will include a picture or two of it at that time. I purposely made up my handloads on the mild side, they should have a MV below 750 ft/sec, but I will chronograph that load when I fire it. I was originally going to use 180 grain lead cowboy bullets to get lower recoil, but I discovered that all I had in inventory were 240 grain copper plated lead bullets. so that's what I used.
I like to split the difference. 200gr plated HP over a 5.2gr-5.4gr charge of AA#2 makes for a nice load with some zip to it but not enough to blow your hair back...
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Old 10-07-2018, 05:57 AM
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I'm also a fan of CA. But can only handle my early ca. 1970 Undercover .38 ; the Bull Dog still gets frequent TLC however. Would yours be a Bridgeport model ? The very earliest models out of Bridgeport used this "oak tree" grip medallion, but soon ( late sixties) switched to the familiar Charter Arms scroll medallion. Please post some photos.

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Old 10-07-2018, 06:52 AM
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I picked up the older style in the black and gold box , was a Stainless 3 in 44 mint cond . I never fired it, also found a few speed loaders here and there for 5/ ea picked them up . I went to a shop on Sat and they had a real nice Charter under cover 38 in nickle , it was a older gun for 329
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Old 10-07-2018, 09:03 AM
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Bought this one back in the 70’s when they were first introduced. Skeeter Skelton wrote an article about it in Shooting Times, that review was the primary reason I bought the revolver.
The fact I still have the gun should speak for itself. My handloads usually consist of the Lyman 429421 SWC over a charge of Unique or a 200 gr cast wadcutter.
Factory load is the Federal load or the 200 gr gold dot.
This was the first 44 spl I owned. I have several model 24’s in various configurations now and the 44 spl is one of my all time favorite revolver rounds.
Enjoy your’s.
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Old 10-07-2018, 11:18 AM
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Default Absolutely loved them....

and then noticed the trigger reset issue they are famous for.

Sold number one thinking that is was just that particular gun. Months later, bought a second one....same issue.

Finally, pursuing the "third times a charm", I purchased the old model production that was stainless. Great, smooth finish which I hand polished to that of fine nickel, and the trigger was much better.

Factory front sight soldering had left a few cosmetic spaces that I couldn't get over so I sent it back for repair.

They returned it repaired and the sight looked great....

HOWEVER, while it was there for repair, they decided to give it a nice SANDBLASTED finish before returning it to me.

That was the last Charter Armes I owned and never looked back again.

Do the new remakes of the old Bulldog still have the trigger reset issue like the originals? or has that been addressed. This issue has been discussed at length here many times.

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Old 10-07-2018, 02:42 PM
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Tell us how you really feel about CA weapons 2K7... LOL! I can definitely see how your experience with the beloved Bulldog left a bad impression.

Kidding aside, I have not experienced any reset issues with my newish 3 .5 year old Bulldog Pug. But I only have about 4000 rounds through it so far. Most of them ripped off double action in quick succession at 10 yrds.

OP - I only feed her reloads at publised load data levels. Cast bullets 162 gr WC to 255 SWC, as well as some 240 gr plated. While the dog groups better with some than others, most loads group well at the close range I usually shoot it at. Favorite plinking round is a 172 gr RN over a charge of Red Dot or Bullseye. For field loads, I settled on 240 gr WFN and 208 gr WC over a nice charge of Unique. I do not "soup up" my loads and keep them limited to published load data.

Be well all.

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Old 10-07-2018, 05:14 PM
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I'm a fan CA Bulldog,congrats!
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Old 10-07-2018, 06:24 PM
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My one and only .44 Bulldog, from approximately 1973. Factory nickel, rare bird!
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Old 10-07-2018, 07:23 PM
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Bought this one back in the 70’s when they were first introduced.


New Charter Arms .44 Bulldog-902e6b1a-6e4b-4659-8a27-30487d24cacd-jpg
Wow. That gun looks like it just came out of the factory! I guess you're gonna keep it, huh?
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Old 10-07-2018, 07:59 PM
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An original Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 Special has always been sort of a semi-important grail gun for me. I see them come up for sale, and it's always been like, "Well, maybe next time...I need the money for so-and-so." You know? And then I take the money I could've used for the Bulldog and fritter it away on other stuff.

There's just something about the name "Bulldog" that I like. Its chunky-stout appearance with that large hole in the end of the barrel just appeals to me. I always think of Bulldog Drummond, even though there was no such thing as Charter Arms when the films were made.



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Old 10-07-2018, 08:14 PM
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I too recently became nostalgic for a Charter Arms Bulldog. I had one of the first ones, back in the early 79s, and foolishly let it slip away. A couple of weeks ago I bought this one on Gunbroker, and am pretty happy with it. I have assembled most of the components to load up a few handloads with home cast 210 grain gullets, but couldn't wait, so picked up a box of cowboy loads, 200 gr rounded flat point. Here she is on her "maiden" voyage!!:



This seems to be almost "identical" with my old original one. Serial is 348XXX.

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Old 10-07-2018, 08:15 PM
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Watchdog......yeah after 40 some years I think I will hang on to it a bit longer. Got kinda attached to it.
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Old 10-07-2018, 09:23 PM
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A few years ago I read up on the 44 spl and the Charter Bulldog. I couple guy on forums had them and said they were well built guns. I read the older Charters had some problems and Charter even was in and out of business a few times. The reports said the newer guns got better and better. I seldom read negative reviews on the newer Charters.

Since buying mine it has become my main daily carry loaded with 44spl hollow points. It has around an 11 lb DA trigger and the SA is decent I can shoot 250 round target shooting session without my hand saying I give up.

I already had a press so I bought 44 spl dies and I reload for my target practice sessions.

For the price of this gun I was more than surprised with its quality and looks.
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Old 10-07-2018, 10:06 PM
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I had one in the early 1980s and really liked it but at the time there was very little 44 special brass around. I even had trouble finding factory rounds. This was before the S&W 24s were reintroduced. I found that I could use 45 acp brass resized by running them into a 44 S&W full length resizing die. The result was a short case that I reloaded to 44 S&W specs. I still have some those skinny 45 acp rounds with cast 44 bullets that worked fine in my bulldog.
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Old 10-08-2018, 07:35 AM
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I used to do the same thing, but over the years had forgotten about it. Your post brought back those memories. I am sure if I go dig around I could find some of that repurposed 45 acp brass.
I cast bullets during the winter months, think I will see if I can find that brass and stuff some of my cast 44’s in them for old times sake.
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Old 10-08-2018, 08:53 AM
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Another 44 Bulldog fan here. I had one several years ago, shot it a few times then sold it off to buy something else. Then I saw this one at my dealers a few weeks back. I got it for something like $325 or so. After all, I had 44 Special ammo. I needed a gun to go with it.





According to Charter it's from Bridgeport, circa 1983. It was dry as a bone when I got it, but a little oil, went a long way.
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Old 10-08-2018, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by jimgoldth View Post
I had one in the early 1980s and really liked it but at the time there was very little 44 special brass around. I even had trouble finding factory rounds. This was before the S&W 24s were reintroduced. I found that I could use 45 acp brass resized by running them into a 44 S&W full length resizing die. The result was a short case that I reloaded to 44 S&W specs. I still have some those skinny 45 acp rounds with cast 44 bullets that worked fine in my bulldog.
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I used to do the same thing, but over the years had forgotten about it. Your post brought back those memories. I am sure if I go dig around I could find some of that repurposed 45 acp brass.
I cast bullets during the winter months, think I will see if I can find that brass and stuff some of my cast 44’s in them for old times sake.
Interesting. How do those modified 45acp cases headspace since the brass has no rim and they are way shorter than the 44 special brass?

You must be resizing them the entire length of the case wall - including the web - all the way down to the extractor groove - to form a kind of semi-rim. Do they extract OK?

Otherwise I'd think that they'd just drop too far into the cylinders since they are too short to headspace on the mouth. I'd like to see a picture of some of those modified cases.

Last edited by BC38; 10-08-2018 at 11:35 AM.
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Old 10-08-2018, 05:19 PM
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Interesting. How do those modified 45acp cases headspace since the brass has no rim and they are way shorter than the 44 special brass?

You must be resizing them the entire length of the case wall - including the web - all the way down to the extractor groove - to form a kind of semi-rim. Do they extract OK?

Otherwise I'd think that they'd just drop too far into the cylinders since they are too short to headspace on the mouth. I'd like to see a picture of some of those modified cases.

Yes, they have to be full length resized and the web has to be swaged down in the sizing die.
You start with a sized 45 acp brass, then size it in a 44 sizing die in increments, and you keep the brass wet with lube, otherwise you are courting disaster.
A sized 45 acp case at the base in front of the extractor groove is .471.....resized in the 44 die it becomes .465 and the rim of the cartridge is .476.
So the extractor will index and pull the case out, as you can see in the photo with my wife holding the Bulldog.
You can see the swaged web on the case on the left in the photo of the before and after photo.
While this can be done, I would never bother doing it while I can obtain 44 spl brass.
But this process is one those options a reloader has if he or she cannot find 44 spl brass.
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Old 10-08-2018, 08:25 PM
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Yes, they have to be full length resized and the web has to be swaged down in the sizing die.
You start with a sized 45 acp brass, then size it in a 44 sizing die in increments, and you keep the brass wet with lube, otherwise you are courting disaster.
A sized 45 acp case at the base in front of the extractor groove is .471.....resized in the 44 die it becomes .465 and the rim of the cartridge is .476.
So the extractor will index and pull the case out, as you can see in the photo with my wife holding the Bulldog.
You can see the swaged web on the case on the left in the photo of the before and after photo.
While this can be done, I would never bother doing it while I can obtain 44 spl brass.
But this process is one those options a reloader has if he or she cannot find 44 spl brass.
Good to know. I have 500 or 600 pieces of 44 special brass, but it is good to know this can be done in an emergency. Looks like the minimum charges and pressures are fairly close for a 200gr LRN using AA#2 for both the 44 spl and the 45acp.
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Old 10-12-2018, 05:35 PM
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Earlier this week, I took the Bulldog to the range (as I earlier mentioned it is probably a first year production Bridgeport), and I am somewhat disappointed with it. Picture below:


1. My handloads used an X-Treme plated 240 grain lead bullet. MV was chronographed at 628 ft/sec (average). Firing over sand bags seated at a bench, I was doing well to keep most shots on the paper at 50 feet. I might have been able to keep most shots in the chest area of a man-sized target at that distance, but not much better. After that performance I didn't even bother to try grouping by firing unsupported. No idea whether the problem was with the gun or my handloads.

2. Recoil was uncomfortable and unpleasant even with that mild load. I think much of that was due to the small grips which do not fit my hand well. I am thinking about looking for a larger pair.

3. Mechanical issues. First, opening the cylinder was a little difficult, and I found that it was usually easier to do it by pulling forward on the extractor rod knob than by using the thumb latch. Ponderiing this situation, I noticed that the cylinder release screw is just that - a screw. It can be screwed in too far or not far enough. If it is screwed in too far, the spring loaded plunger cannot be moved forward enough to release the cylinder. If it is too loose the cylinder cannot be closed. This is certainly an odd design, but I don't know what can be done about it. Has anyone else noticed this problem? Second, the cylinder has just enough lateral play to slip over the cylinder stop stud on the frame. This is somewhat disconcerting, and it seems that the stud should have about twice the height that it does. This is something that I had to be very careful about when unloading as the cylinder would move over the stud. Again, has anyone else encountered the same problem?
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Old 10-12-2018, 05:50 PM
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DWalt...I had the same problem with the cylinder screw thingy, and came to the same conclusion that you did. I found that a small screwdriver with the correct sized blade and a long shank could be used to screw the thing in and out. Curiously, what appeared visually to be the correct setting was not the most efficient. So I played with the screw in and out, each time pressing forward with the release button until it opened easily. With the hammer cocked, you can see where the screw is from above. I have some removable locktite that I am going to apply from the rear of the screw to hold it in place. Haven't done so yet, but don't see why that would not work well to keep the screw from working loose under recoil.

I haven't put any of the handloads that I mentioned above together yet, but I will be sure to post the results when I do. So far, I have only fired the cowboy loads that I posted above, with the 200 gr billets. The recoil was mild, and accuracy seemed good, but I was only firing at 21 feet (7 yards).

Best Regards, Les
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Old 10-12-2018, 08:18 PM
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I've wanted a Bulldog for years, but now my hands are too trashed to handle the recoil. Alas for wasted opportunity. I passed up a chance to buy an older one, finish-worn but mechanically solid, twenty years ago. Dry-firing it, I didn't notice any reset problem; but it was well broken in, to put it mildly.
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Old 10-12-2018, 08:55 PM
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"I have some removable locktite that I am going to apply from the rear of the screw to hold it in place. Haven't done so yet, but don't see why that would not work well to keep the screw from working loose under recoil. "

I had thought of the same thing to hold the cylinder release screw in position except I was thinking about applying a dab of Super Glue instead of Loctite. It's not under any particular stress, so the Super Glue should hold. Also could be easily dissolved by Acetone if needed. My original intent was to reload with some 180 grain .44 bullets which I thought I had some of, but when I looked, I had only the 240 grainers. So I used what I had. For sure, I will not be loading any more 240 grain bullets for use in the Bulldog.
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Old 10-13-2018, 09:53 AM
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Never encountered any mechanical issues with mine, but it sounds as though you an Les qre on the way of sorting your’s out.
As mentioned in my previous post, my handloads use either the Lyman 249241 or a cast wadcutter at 200 grains, or 200 grain factory loads.
The Bulldog weighs 19 oz’s, and it can be vicious when shooting the heavier bullets. Mine has the standard factory grips and I have large hands, which I end up with my little finger curled under the butt of the revolver.
Skeeter Skelton addressed the recoil in his article, he shot his normal 44 spl SWC load in the gun and the cylinder latch sliced open his thumb. This bulldog can bite.
I don’t have an answer for your accuracy issues, but I have not encountered what you document.

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Old 10-13-2018, 10:10 AM
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I bought one, about 40 years ago.

I was aware that the .44 Special was factory loaded "light", so didn't give recoil a second thought.

WOW ! Those lightly loaded factory rounds, really gave a thump ! I guess I am a wussy, as to recoil tolerance.

Even my even lighter loaded reloads, made it too unpleasant to routinely shoot, so I gifted it to a friend, that fancied it.
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Old 10-13-2018, 10:41 AM
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For anyone who has trouble with the recoil of the old Bulldogs with the wood grips, try a set of the "full combat" Neoprene grips that Charter has on their website. One size fits all Charters, old or new. They're about the most comfortable grips I've ever used. I had a set on a previous Bulldog, and they make a world of difference.

About $20.00 so it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to try them.
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Old 10-13-2018, 10:59 AM
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“About $20.00 so it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to try them.”

You will pay 1/2+ the cost of the stocks for shipping. I bought a pink set for my daughter for a .32 Long.
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Old 10-15-2018, 04:50 PM
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After looking harder, I did find some 180 grain .44 Cowboy bullets I earlier thought I had, they were just well-hidden. I am going to make up some light loads using them for the Bulldog this week. Haven't yet checked out the grip situation.
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Old 10-15-2018, 09:01 PM
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I'm a big fan of Pachmayr Compac grips for carry, and range use with a CA44.
Pachmayr Grippers are really nice for range duty and HD.
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Old 10-15-2018, 10:46 PM
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Quality has varied a good bit over the years. I owned a couple that were decent guns for the money, but had a couple that had various mechanical issues. The latest guns seem to be pretty well built. I had zero issues with my last one, but sold it when the S&W 69 came out.

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Old 10-15-2018, 11:59 PM
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I'm a big fan of the .44 Special and have several S&Ws in that caliber. A couple of years ago this popped up for sale locally and I just couldn't resist.



It came with the box, all the paperwork, the original grips, a set of Pachmyer Compacts and the sales receipt showing it had been bought locally on Sept 4, 1985. It also came with a box of Remington 246 LRN ammo containing 45 rounds.
I bought it from its second owner who said the he knew the original owner. The story was that the first guy bought it new and fired 5 rounds. The guy I got it from said he had never fired it. Considering its condition, I believe the story.

BTW: those Pachmyer grips make a BIG difference in felt recoil.

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Old 10-16-2018, 08:14 AM
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I have one of the originals that I carried as a BUG in '73 and '74. It's now in pieces, awaiting a barrel.
Around 5 years ago I found a bargain basement target bulldog. I run Pachs on mine also. It's a good shooter, but Lordy, is the finish ugly.
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Old 10-19-2018, 04:37 PM
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I ordered Pachmayr Presentation rubber grips for it yesterday. Seem to be somewhat larger than the factory wood grips. From eBay, $23.50 shipped, should arrive early next week.
----------------------------------------------------------
Grips arrived in the mail this afternoon. Feels great, should really tame the recoil:

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Old 10-19-2018, 10:15 PM
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New Bulldog, Pachmayr Compac grips, Simply Rugged holster ...



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