View Full Version : Boston Bulldog

October 26, 2001, 11:13 PM
My nephew inheirted a nickle plated revolver marked Boston Bulldog. I believe it is a .22 cal. with a 3" barrel. I haven't seen it yet but said I'd find out what I could.
Anyone have any info on these things?

Thanks in advance ;)

James K
October 27, 2001, 12:04 AM
Hi, loknload,

The "Bulldog" (there was a series) revolvers were of a group often called "suicide specials" in the common and not entirely erroneous belief that they were good for only one shot. They were very cheaply made by a couple of different makers and sold around 1890 for as little as $1.00 ($.25 extra for nickel plating), the equivalent of $40 today. The name originated with an English Webley revolver which got its name from the famous British Bulldog, a breed noted for toughness and tenacity, as Churchill pointed out.

At least one U.S. maker put out a copy of the British revolver, but mostly the only thing used was the name. Few came anywhere near matching the Webley quality. They were made in calibers from .44 down to .22. Some were double action, others were single action, often with a spur trigger and no trigger guard.

Collector interest is minimal (about non-existent) unless the gun is in perfect condition, and very few are. Nickel plating is usually chipped or flaked, and bluing is worn off; few are in working condition and are not worth fixing especially since parts have to be made.

My sources don't show a Boston Bulldog name, but Harley has a good handle on those guns and can probably provide more info.

Since the gun is an heirloom, I suggest retiring it and telling folks how great-great grandpa fought off the Indians (oops, Native Americans) with it.


Harley Nolden
October 27, 2001, 05:00 AM

I cannot locate a "Boston Bull Dog," however, the term "Bull Dog" was a trade name used by Forehand and Wadsworth Co (during the same era Jim mentioned,) on inexpensive pocket revolvers.


October 27, 2001, 09:36 AM
Thanks Jim, Thanks Harley. ;) I appreciate the info. I'm going to get a chance to see it tonight so I"ll be able to tell him something other than "Put it away and don't shoot yourself in the foot":)

Steven Mace
October 27, 2001, 12:55 PM
Here's some information on the 'Boston Bulldog' revolver that I've been able to find:

* American Bulldog (Solid-Frame DA Revolvers)
With the introduction of the solid-frame double action revolvers in 1878, the four frame sizes and serial numbering method of the earlier handguns were carried over. These DA revolvers were available in centerfire calibres also, and in this series the .41 rimfire was replaced entirely by the .44 Bulldog and .44 Webley centerfire cartridges.

This is yet another revolver design which, though it started production under the Johnson & Bye partnership, continued to be produced by Iver Johnson Arms (& Cycle Works) for a number of years.

There are five different brand names known in the solid frame, double action series. These are American Bulldog, Boston Bulldog, Old Hickory, Eagle, and British Bulldog, with the American Bulldog being the most common model. All were
identical except for markings. This series is most often referred to by collectors by the most common name, American Bulldog. In this series of revolvers, there is justification to divide the production into three different models. There was a major change in frame shape about 1885, and markings on the American Bulldog were changed in 1899:
American Bulldog, First Type (1878 - 1885)
Saw-handle grip strap, square butt, 3 or 4" barrels.

American Bulldog, Second Type (1886 - 1897)
Rounded rear grip strap, square butt, 3 or 5" barrels. Also, a light weight version was introduced called the Boston Bulldog.

American Bulldog, Third Type (probably post-1900)
Same as Second Type except Model 1898 added to the marking on the top strap. There are strong indications that this type of marking was not added until after 1900, for the purpose of using up left-over parts after the introduction of the Model 1900 Double Action Revolvers.

Value on any of these revolvers in excellent condition probably won't exceed $200. Hope this helps!

Steve Mace

October 27, 2001, 01:20 PM
Thanks for the info Steven, We'll see if this thing fits any of the descriptions that you have listed.
According to my nephew this thing is suppose to be in pretty good condition. Seems that maybe this thing was purchased new, test fired and then thrown in the old sock drawer never to be seen again. I've gotten several S&W revolvers this way and they are some of the prizes in my collection ;)

James K
October 27, 2001, 10:56 PM
Hi, Steven,

My thanks also. I found references to all those except the Boston Bulldog.