Charter Arms Bulldog

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Charter Arms Bulldog
Charter Arms Bulldog 2.JPG
Charter Arms Bulldog .44 Special with 5 rounds
Type Revolver
Place of origin United States
Production history
Designer Doug McClenahan
Designed 1970s
Manufacturer Charter Arms
Number built More than 500,000
Variants 13520, 14420, 7352, 74420 and 74421
Weight 21.8 oz (620 g) and 20.1 oz (570 g)
Length 6.7 inches (171 mm) and 7.2 inches (184 mm)
Barrel length 2.2 inches (56 mm) and 2.5 inches (64 mm)

Cartridge .44 Special and .357 Magnum
Caliber .44 and .357
Action Double action
Rate of fire Single
Muzzle velocity Usually between 705–1,000 ft/s (215–305 m/s); can reach 1,100 ft/s (340 m/s) with some kinds of bullets.
Feed system 5-round cylinder

The Bulldog is a 5-shot double action revolver designed by Doug McClenahan and produced by Charter Arms. It was introduced in 1973. The Bulldog has been available for the .44 Special and .357 Magnum cartridges with a length of 7.2 inches (184 mm) and 6.7 inches (171 mm) and barrel lengths of either 2.5 inches (64 mm) or 2.2 inches (56 mm). It was a top-selling gun during the 1980s and it is considered as Charter Arms' trademark weapon.[1] It has been produced by four different companies since it was released.


Designed by the founder of the first version of Charter Arms,[2] Doug McClenahan,[3] the Bulldog was released in 1973. It was one of the best-selling weapons of the 1970s and the 1980s in the United States.[4] Its design and execution, which were quite modern at the time, caught the attention of the gun press and combat shooters.[5] By the mid-1980s, more than half a million units had been produced and nearly 37,000 were being manufactured every year.[4] Bulldog production has been stopped a few times since 1992, when Charter Arms (the original manufacturer) went bankrupt.

Some time later, manufacturing began again under the Charco (descendant company of Charter Arms) trademark, but this company also filed bankruptcy; the models produced during this period showed obvious production flaws.[6] It was produced again by Charter 2000; this company, which failed also, improved the weapon with a one-piece barrel, front sight, ejector-shroud assembly.[2] The original model had no ejector-shroud and the aluminum front sight was soldered to the barrel.

In June 2007, a version of the Bulldog with new features[3] began to be produced by another company named Charter Arms,[7] but this time was distributed by MKS Supply.[8]

The Bulldog was used by the infamous serial killer David Berkowitz aka "The .44 Caliber Killer" and the "Son of Sam" who was responsible for a brutal series of attacks and murders in New York City during 1976–1977 (before he was caught due to an outstanding parking violation).[9]


Like most Charter Arms weapons, the Bulldog is a relatively inexpensive yet serviceable, no-frills,[2] snubnosed revolver.[7] It can be concealed easily because of its small size,[7] and has no sharp edges to contend with when carrying the weapon in a holster or a pocket.[3] The Bulldog is a solid framed double action revolver with a five-round cylinder which can be opened by pushing a release slide on the left of the gun, or in the original model by pulling the ejector rod. It features a concave sight.[4] Its triggerpull, in both single and double-action modes, is quite light.[2] If a large quantity of residue piles up inside the revolver because of heavy usage, the cylinder cranes axle screw can be removed and the cylinder pulled out from the gun for cleaning.[3] Most critics believe the best way to employ the Bulldog is self-defense.[3][6]


The accuracy of the Bulldog is aided by its trigger pull. According to reviews, it is more accurate than expected for a revolver of its size and type[2] but probably not enough to be called an "accurate" weapon.[3][6]

When the gun is fired, the hammer does not actually strike the firing pin. Under normal firing circumstances a small steel bar (called a transfer bar) is raised when the hammer is cocked, placing it into a position between the firing pin and the hammer itself. The falling hammer strikes the transfer bar, which in turn strikes the firing pin, discharging the weapon.[3]


The Bulldog is apparently intended for light, fast bullets, as with heavier and slower bullets it is less accurate.[2] With most ammunition types the muzzle velocity tends to be between 705 and 1000 feet per second (215 and 305 meters per second, respectively).[7][10] For self-defense the Blazer 200-grain (13 g) Gold Dot is, apparently, the load of choice for the Bulldog.[10] If the Bulldog is used to hunt, the most effective ammo is, reportedly, the 240- or 250-grain (16 g) SWC. With this bullet type, the shot is very powerful and has a strong penetration but the recoil can easily be handled. Other ammo types are weaker or provide too much recoil.[10]

In popular culture[edit]

The character of FBI Investigator Will Graham carried the Charter Arms .44 Bulldog in the novel Red Dragon and the motion picture Manhunter based on the novel. Graham started carrying the .44 caliber weapon after the .38 Special revolver he was carrying failed to put down a serial killer that Graham was tracking. Graham would later use the .44 Bulldog to kill serial killer Francis Dolarhyde in the film Manhunter. However, Graham fires six shots at Dolarhyde without reloading, which is not possible to do with a five shot .44 Bulldog.[citation needed]

In the novel Gun Machine one of the discovered guns is a .44 Bulldog, which reveals to be a major clue when the gun turns out to be the same gun Son of Sam used,[11] stolen from NYPD evidence.

In the song "John (Lil Wayne song)" by rap artist Lil' Wayne about the killing of John Lennon, the weapon is referenced in the opening line: ".44 Bulldog, my motherfuckin' pet. I point it at you and tell that motherfucker, fetch."[12]


Five models of the Bulldog have been produced, allowing customers to choose between: .44 Special and .357 Magnum cartridges, gun lengths of 7.2 inches (184 mm) and 6.7 inches (171 mm) and barrel lengths of either 2.5 inches (64 mm) or 2.2 inches (56 mm).[13][14] All Bulldog models have a cylinder of 5 shots.[4] Currently, Charter Arms only offers its 14420, 74420 and 74421 versions.[14] Charter's Police Undercover could also be considered as a Bulldog variant because it's produced with the same frame model but its caliber is different and it was built to resemble the Undercover by Charter.[15]

Variant[13][14] Caliber[13][14] Length[13][14] Barrel length[13][14] Weight[13][14] Capacity[4] Grip[13][14] Hammer[13][14]
Model 13520 .357 Magnum 6.7 inches (171 mm) 2.2 inches (56 mm) 21.8 oz (620 g) 5 Cyl Full Regular
Model 14420 .44 Special 7.2 inches (184 mm) 2.5 inches (64 mm) 21.8 oz (620 g) 5 Cyl Full Regular
Model 73520 .357 Magnum 6.7 inches (171 mm) 2.2 inches (56 mm) 20.1 oz (570 g) 5 Cyl Full Regular
Model 74420 .44 Special 7.2 inches (184 mm) 2.5 inches (64 mm) 20.1 oz (570 g) 5 Cyl Full Regular
Model 74421 .44 Special 7.2 inches (184 mm) 2.5 inches (64 mm) 21.8 oz (620 g) 5 Cyl Full Double action only


  1. ^ Williams, Dick. "Pocket Protectors". Guns and Hunting. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Quinn, Jeff. "Charter 2000 .44 Bulldog Pug". Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Trzoneic, Stan (January 2008). "Charter Arms Bulldog Pug - A classic .44 returns to production, with several CCW-friendly enhancements.". Guns & Ammo. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d e McNab, p. 74
  5. ^ "Charter 2000’s Bulldog Shows Why Experts Liked .44 Special". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  6. ^ a b c Chris Luchini and Norman F. Johnson. "Charter Arms Bulldog". rec.guns. Retrieved 2008-04-04. 
  7. ^ a b c d "The Gun Zone - Charter Arms Bulldog Pug". Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  8. ^ "MKS Supply Partners". Retrieved 2007-10-28. 
  9. ^ "David Berkowitz". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  10. ^ a b c M.L. McPherson. "Charter Arms 44 Special Bulldogs: Care and Feeding". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  11. ^ Stasio, Marilyn (4 January 2013). "Stolen Life". New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2015. 
  12. ^ Retrieved 9 March 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h "Bulldog parts and prices" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The Bulldog from Charter Arms". Retrieved 2007-10-15. 
  15. ^ "The Police Undercover from Charter Arms". Retrieved 2007-10-25. 


  • Chris McNab. Atlas ilustrado de Armas de fuego (in Spanish). Susaeta Ediciones. ISBN 84-305-5801-2. 

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