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Old October 4, 2007, 07:35 PM   #1
Tokamak
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Bulldog Pug vs Ruger SP101

I was reading an article in this month's Guns and Ammo on the Charter Arms Bulldog Pug.

The article stated that the Pug comes in .44 special and .357 magnum with a price of around $399.00.

It struck me that that is what I paid for my SP101 in .357 magnum. Actually I think I paid $389.00 new for it a few years ago.

I trust Ruger and have heard that Chater Arms had poor quality products.

When they cost about the same, would anyone here buy a Charter Arms over a Ruger? My initial thought is no for me.

Anyone own the Pug in .357? What is your opinion?
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Old October 4, 2007, 08:57 PM   #2
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I have always considered Charter Arms to be a "second or third tier" gun.

With that being said, if the price was close I would select the Ruger every time. As far as 44 Spl, a Charter in 44 Spl, which is a low pressure round compared to the 357 Magnum, does hold interest to me. I would not "waste my money" on a 357 Charter Arms anything.

This is just my opinion, it's worth what you paid for it.

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Old October 4, 2007, 10:43 PM   #3
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I don't know too much about Charter Arms besides what I have read on the internet, which we all know is accurate all the time. I have many Ruger firearms and certainly would not buy a Charter Arms revolver over a Ruger. It's not because the Charter Arms is a hunk of junk, it's more because Rugers and my SP 101 in particular have served me very well, if it ain't broke don't fix it type of thing. Even if they weren't close in price I'd rather have the Ruger.
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Old October 5, 2007, 02:14 AM   #4
Mosin44az
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That's probably "suggested retail" in that magazine article. Actual store price for Charter Arms would be much lower I bet. I still wouldn't get one.
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Old October 5, 2007, 11:04 AM   #5
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I would always take the Ruger, they are built like tanks and designed so that they can be mas produced and still function very well. Furthermore the ruger has excellent factory support and a buch of guys that do great aftermarket custom work on them.

The Charter not so much...
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Old October 5, 2007, 10:24 PM   #6
Jim March
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http://www.buffalobore.com/ammunition/default.htm#44spl

Quote:
This Heavy .44 Special ammunition can be fired in every .44 Special or .44 Magnum gun made EXCEPT CHARTER ARMS .44 SPECIAL BULLDOG.
About all you need to know.

The Undercover in 38spl is OK, and some vintage specimens are downright exceptional. But the 44/357 variants, my call is "forget it".
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Old October 6, 2007, 12:16 AM   #7
Tokamak
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That pretty much says I had it right in the first place.

Looks like you all agree with me.

I was thinking maybe I was missing something.
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Old October 6, 2007, 03:55 PM   #8
Ozzieman
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Realy

"a Charter in 44 Spl, which is a low pressure round compared to the 357 Magnum,"
I’m not sure what “low pressure” has to do with the function or knock down power of a gun but since the low pressure 44 special factory rounds have about the same energy as a 45 ACP then does that mean that the 45 doesn’t work either?
The main advantage of the bulldog is the small package in a big bore gun. Also the Charter is lighter than the SP101.
I will agree that the Ruger is a better built gun but because it shoots “HIGH” pressure rounds it has to be. That does not make it the better choice for everything nor is it.
I will also agree that the newer guns from Charter (charter 2000) have problems but the older guns are great little guns for its proper use.
To say that all of Charter arms guns are "forget it" guns, then I can say the same thing about Rugers if all I compare them to is there triggers when comparing them to Smith guns.
Let’s face it a Ruger will never come to par with a Smith trigger so “Forget it”.
But to say that is silly and wrong. Lets face it Ruger guns are tanks and very well made but they also have negative traits and the one is weight.
Also the 357 mag isn’t the do every thing that some people seem to think.
One apon a time I loaded some 357 mag deer rounds for a Contender that I wouldn’t want to try in a SP101, I’m sure the gun would handle them, but a steady diet would make a Ruger rattle.
My point to this is that I have many 44 sp guns and one of them is a Bull dog that I have had for over 25 years. It shoots well and handles well for a small BIG bore gun. It does what it was desighned for and does it well.
I would NOT shoot buffalo bore ammunition in any of the 3 Smith N frame 44 sp guns that I have.
It’s not the gun here, it’s the ammo.
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Old October 6, 2007, 05:21 PM   #9
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I'd LOVE to see a ruger snubby (sp101) in a .44 special!!!
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Old October 7, 2007, 07:54 AM   #10
JB696
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Sadly, there was a time when comparing a Charter Arms to a Ruger would be laughable. But the quality of Ruger guns, unless you are "lucky" and get one of the good ones, has dropped significantly. With a new Ruger revolver, don't be surprised to find poorly fitted parts, front sights cocked to the left or right, buggered up screw slots, mis-aligned cylinder bores, oversized cylinder latch slots milled in the frame, severe endshake, careless finishing, gritty triggers, and barrel to cylinder gaps of .010 to .015. As usual, some die-hard Ruger fans will chime in with "all the ones I bought lately were excellent" or "sure, a few bad ones slip through". I've been shopping for a new SP101 snubby at gun shops and large retailers. I check them out whenever they get one in. I'll buy the first one I find that is made as well as my 1979 Charter Arms Bulldog Pug.
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Old October 7, 2007, 11:36 AM   #11
Ozzieman
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SpookBoy

If you can find one, check out a taurus 445 in 44 sp.
I have one, it took a little tuning to make it a good gun but the ballance is much better than a Charter and once a gun smith worked on it the trigger came close to the Smith 60 I own.

http://www.taurususa.com/newsreviews/.44special_000.cfm
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Old October 7, 2007, 11:47 AM   #12
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Quote:
Sadly, there was a time when comparing a Charter Arms to a Ruger would be laughable. But the quality of Ruger guns, unless you are "lucky" and get one of the good ones, has dropped significantly. With a new Ruger revolver, don't be surprised to find poorly fitted parts, front sights cocked to the left or right, buggered up screw slots, mis-aligned cylinder bores, oversized cylinder latch slots milled in the frame, severe endshake, careless finishing, gritty triggers, and barrel to cylinder gaps of .010 to .015. As usual, some die-hard Ruger fans will chime in with "all the ones I bought lately were excellent" or "sure, a few bad ones slip through". I've been shopping for a new SP101 snubby at gun shops and large retailers. I check them out whenever they get one in. I'll buy the first one I find that is made as well as my 1979 Charter Arms Bulldog Pug.
Sadly, JB speaks the truth. Before plunking down your shekels, you had better look any new gun over just as hard as you would a used one.
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Old October 8, 2007, 04:19 AM   #13
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I have a recent model 44 Pug and a Charter 38 special. The finish of these guns is a little rough. Mechanically they worked fine out of the box and I don't find the 44 that bad to shoot and quite accurate for the smalleness of the gun. Then as luck would have it I came across a mint or almost never fired vintage 44 in Stainless Steel and later a blued vintage model. They paid more attention to fitting the parts and external fit and finish back then.

My SP101 is very old, close to the first or second year of issue and has no issues besides being heavy for it's smallness. A 44 version would be neat IMO and the platform is definitely sturdy enough for it if the cylinder is large enough.

My other 44 is a Taurus 431. Huge behemoth frame for a five shot gun. What were they thinking. Nice gun however.

IMO the Charter guns are not glitter glam guns but they do work. More like a Dollar Store hammer than an Estwing but they can both hit nails.
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Old October 8, 2007, 11:49 AM   #14
JB696
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Back around 1980 a friend of mine said that Charter Arms was going, or had, gone under and if I wanted any .44 Pugs, get them now. I bought four of them from a couple of different stores. One was a little sloppy and had too much metal ground off in a couple of spots. But the other three were just about perfect. Snug lockup, good fit, and beautiful polishing. I still have one of them. The old ones don't look like the crude. utilitarian offerings available now. But most of the new Rugers aren't as nice as my old Pug, either. My old SP101's from 1989 to 1992 have a fine, subtle, brushed "satin" finish. The new ones have a coarse, deeply scratched finish that looks like it was done with #80 grit sandpaper. Some of the scratches are so deep that if you ever got them polished out, there wouldn't be much gun left. Oh well......
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Old October 8, 2007, 12:02 PM   #15
Mark Milton
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Uh, unless something has changed in the past decade, Ruger makes frames for Charter at their Arizona casting facility....


If I wanted a snub nose .357 for carry, I'd probably pick the charter (between the two) as it is LIGHTER even with a steel frame.
If Wanted a snub nose .357 for shooting max loads and weight was no bother, I'd get a GP -100 instead of the SP-101.
My own first choice in a five shot pocket rocket is the discontinued Colt Magnum Carry or the Taurus CIA. The Taurus has a front-yoke lock up system the other guns lack, and the Colt holds six rounds and is better balanced.

There is a reason why the SP-101 series has not caught on any where near like the Smith J frames even though they supposedly fulfill the same tactical purpose. They are a tad chunkier.
The whole purpose for a five shot pocket rocket is something light and easy to carry.
Also, Ruger don't make no .44 special.
As for Buffalo Bore ammo, I think you are looking at hot loaded rounds for big game hunting, which is not what the five shot snub .44s are made for.

My step-dad was a cop in the 80s and he carried a Charter tracker in .357 for years. He liked it better than the Colt Trooper as it shot just as well, but was a lot lighter and easier to pack.
Usually in stores the Charters go for significantly less than the Rugers too.
You have to decide what you want a gun for, and what suits you.
Truth be told, I bought an L frame back in the 90s, because I was hung up on durability. In reality, I'd have gotten more use from the gun if I bought a K frame instead. I usually plink with plus p .38 ammo anyway and the K frames were a lot lighter and better balanced than the then -trendy L frames.
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Old October 8, 2007, 05:49 PM   #16
rugernut
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get yourself a ruger and then forget about it. your great grand kids wont wear it out. yeah they are bulky and heavy but you wont wear it out.
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Old October 8, 2007, 06:54 PM   #17
Jim March
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First, Ruger QC is back on the upswing. I would still STRONGLY recommending doing a pre-purchase checkout of a new specimen, but I say the same about S&W. The only new revolvers I'm interested in that I'd buy sight unseen is Freedom Arms.

That said, when I bought my New Vaquero during the first year of production, I examined three at a dealer and all were so good, the only thing I had to base my selection on was what the fake case colors looked like (the only 357s I could find were blue/fake case). That was close to the beginning of the current "spike" in Ruger QC and I've heard no indications that it's fallen.

BUT LEMONS STILL HAPPEN. M'kay?

Responding to:

Quote:
They paid more attention to fitting the parts and external fit and finish back then.
Yes, but...that wasn't *entirely* a good thing.

See, early Charters were set up to function "tight". That is, the cylinder would be locked tight by the action at the moment of firing - the cylinder was supposed to have ZERO play in any direction when the trigger was being pulled and the hammer dropping for ignition. Same as a Python and some other classic Colt DAs.

This "tight system" can produce the best accuracy - but that cylinder damned well better be both "tight" and perfectly aligned with the barrel.

If, due to wear and/or heavy loads, it's NOT aligned right yet it's still tight, things go to hell fast.

Ooops.

Ruger and S&W (and some later Colt DAs) took a "deliberately sloppy" approach, leaving some rotational slop in place so that the bullet can do the final rotational alignment between barrel and cylinder. This system is usually a hair less accurate although it isn't that bad when done right.

So: my vintage Charter Arms Undercover 38 is a wonderful, dead tight, absolutely right dream of a little snub. I love it. BUT I also baby it, keeping +P to an absolute minimum...because when that "tight action" system goes a little off, I'd best be checking it often and have it tuned back up when it does.

The new Charter 2000s have adapted the "rotational slop" system of Ruger and S&W. It's less expensive to fit and is more robust.
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