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Old December 28, 2019, 11:54 AM   #1
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Join Date: December 11, 2001
Location: Maryland
Posts: 2,027
Thinking about a big bore CCW revolver

I've always loved revolvers. However, over the past several years, I've moved mostly to autos for home defense and when I can carry and my revolvers have been mostly relegated to range use. Well, since I bought my 6 round Taurus 856 and my new model Colt King Cobra, that has changed, and when I'm in states where I can carry, those are what usually come with me.

With revolvers, I still have my preference for capacity, but whereas I want 10+ rounds in an auto, I'm happy with 6 in a revolver (I have retired my 5 round J-frames). However, in the winter, I like a bigger bore than 9mm/38spl. During warmer months, I'm perfectly happy with a 9mm or .38 with modern hollow points. However, even with the advancements in modern hollow point design, heavy clothing can still clog the hollow point and keep them from expanding. A larger caliber makes a bigger hole, so should the hollow point fail to expand, it doesn't rely as much on reliable expansion for its effectiveness. So, in the winter I often pick a .40S&W auto over my 9mms. I do have a .45LC S&W 625MG, but the 4" N-frame is just a little large to carry most of the time (I do carry it at times though), so I'm thinking something smaller so I can carry a larger bore revolver during the winter months may be nice.

One direction I may go is a 2-3" N-frame (.45LC, .44spl, or .44mag loaded with .44spl), but I am concerned that large cylinder may make it just as hard to conceal comfortably as my 625. I do like IWB, so the shorter barrel will be a little more comfortable, and I do sometimes carry OWB so the shorter barrel will be a little easier to conceal, but it will still have the same massive 6 round cylinder. However, the greater weight also makes it harder to carry all day. On the plus side, addition to the 20% greater round count vs. a 5 round revolver, it also will give controllable and quick follow up shots with its greater weight.

Another option is to go with one of several 5 round options, many of which I've had my eye on for years. I'm not entirely comfortable with only 5 rounds, but the larger bore does help compensate (while I don't like 5 rounds of .38spl, 5 rounds of .45LC or .44spl will make me a little more comfortable with the lower round count). These are lighter than the N-frame making them easier to carry, though with correspondingly slower follow up shots. The smaller cylinder will make them much easier to conceal.

So, my 5 round options (more or less in order):
  • Charter Arms Bulldog in .44spl. This is pretty much the standard in this niche. Slightly smaller than a K-frame, barely heavier than a J-frame. Recoil may be a bit stout as a result, with slower than ideal follow up shots, but it will be easy to carry and conceal.
  • Taurus 431 in .44spl. It is about the size and weight of a K-frame, so it will handle the recoil better and provide faster follow up shots than the lighter options. I also like that it is a 3" and not a 2 or 2.5" barrel like most of the others. However, it is a hair heavier and larger (still quite concealable).
  • Taurus 450 or 445. I've wanted the .45LC 450 since it was new, but they are hard to find and have become quite pricey when you can find one. So, I might go with the .44spl 445, though their prices have been rising since they were discontinued as well (they are cheaper and easier to find since they were made longer).
  • Charter Arms Bulldog in .45LC.. I already have a .45LC revolver and love the caliber. However, the .45LC Bulldog is slightly larger than the .44spl, and I don't stock .45LC and won't stock .44spl, just buying (or loading) both as needed.
  • S&W 69 or used .44spl L-frame. A bit bigger and heavier than I really want, but that also means quicker follow up shots and more practice. Some are 4" barrels, but the discontinued .44spl L-frame options are 2.5 and 3" and I'd love to find a 3". Unfortunately, they can be on the expensive side for my current budget.
  • Ruger GP101. Similar negatives and advantages vs. the S&W L-frames. Though, the 3" is currently in production, and it is a hair less expensive. I mostly put these in order, but this may be tied with the S&W (and depending upon my mood, may be slightly higher on the list on some days)
  • Charter Arms Pitbull in .40S&W. I know the .45ACP version is larger than the .44spl Bulldog (I think it is the same as the .45LC Bulldog), though I don't know exactly where this falls in comparison. With a 10 round .40S&W auto (a M&P40c) that is smaller, I'm not sure about this one since it uses the same round. Also, I'd lose the revolver only bullet shapes that make a revolver so versatile. Though, it will be a lot cheaper to shoot than then .44spl or .45LC options.

I know generally how people view the different manufacturers, so I'm going to ask something difficult, ignore those reputations. I'm asking, especially those who own one or more of the above, for advice based upon the strengths and weaknesses of each for carry and shooting. In your opinion, are the carry strengths of the Bulldog enough to ignore the recoil and pick it over the GP100, L-frames or Taurus 431? Are the quicker follow up shots of the 431, GP100 or L-frames worth the extra weight? Is the extra size of the .45LC Bulldog worth picking it over the .44spl, or are they a wash otherwise so go smaller? Is the 2.5" or 3" N-frame going to carry that much easier than my 4" Mountain Gun so it is worth going that way for the 6th round? And of course, why (since I'm not just taking a poll but looking for help deciding which way to go and these are all things I'm weighing in my decision).
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