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Old June 12, 2019, 05:08 PM   #1
ratshooter
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Charter Arms Bulldog

I was watching this documentary last night on David Berkowitz/Son Of Sam and in the story it stated the Charter Arms Bulldog was designed for use by the Sky Marshals in the heyday of skyjacking airliners. I had never heard that before. Any one else heard that the CA Bulldog was an Air Marshals gun?

Here is the documentary and the statement is made at the 54:10 mark on the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us1G-BLgE6s
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Old June 12, 2019, 05:58 PM   #2
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I never heard that before, but a CA classic Bulldog.44 is my EDC, Great little gun
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Old June 12, 2019, 06:13 PM   #3
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I think the Glaser safety slug was spawned by the air marshals needs. the combination of the .44 spl Bulldog and the Glaser safety slug just made the most sense at that time.
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Old June 12, 2019, 07:57 PM   #4
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Jerrys you are probably exactly right. I completely forgot about the safety slug. Thanks for the reminder.
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Old June 13, 2019, 12:50 PM   #5
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I was around when the original Bulldog was first marketed. In fact my shooting partner and I bought the first two to show up in our town (Tucson, AZ). Our initial shooting experiences would be worth another thread (smile).

I don't remember any talk back then about this gun being designed for Sky Marshals. Now maybe Tucson was too much of a back-water to hear the inside news but I sure don't remember anything about Sky Marshals.

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Old June 13, 2019, 02:06 PM   #6
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That sounds like a YouTube rumour to me. The muzzle flash from a Bulldog would likely burn the plane. snicker. Boss in the shop I worked in long ago kept his under the counter.
If the thing had been developed for the Air Marshals, both the original and current Charter Arms company's would be shouting that from the roof tops and they are not.
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Old June 14, 2019, 12:46 PM   #7
ratshooter
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Quote:
That sounds like a YouTube rumour to me. The muzzle flash from a Bulldog would likely burn the plane. snicker. Boss in the shop I worked in long ago kept his under the counter.
Did you watch the link I posted? Its not some youtube guy talking about the gun but a documentary posted on YT from an old crime show series.

I wasn't in to guns when the CA Bulldog came out. So I never heard or read why it was developed. But I could see it being used in that role with the above mentioned Glaser Safety Slugs or some of the "Bean Bag" loads that were developed for the Sky Marshals.
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Old June 14, 2019, 01:38 PM   #8
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That's a new one to me. The CA Bulldog was introduced because they saw a niche-and filled it.
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Old June 15, 2019, 08:45 AM   #9
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I tried the small rubber grips on my 44 Pug yesterday and I’m putting the original full size rubber grips back on. They really were uncomfortable. I carry it for traveling ccw.
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Old June 15, 2019, 09:28 AM   #10
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I to wanted a Bulldog from the beginning. Before tye whole Son of Sam thing, or Sky Marshal rumors that I also never heard until now.
Finally got one a few years ago. The Stainless DAO model. Surprisingly accurate, it sees mostly range use, but does get some carry use.

No reference to "Sky Marshals" in the Bulldog's history.
https://military.wikia.org/wiki/Charter_Arms_Bulldog

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_Arms_Bulldog

Wouldn't you think they would at least mention that in their history on their own website?
https://charterfirearms.com/pages/about-us


Then there is this
Quote:
Another somewhat odd aspect of Super Vels was that the shooter didn’t get off scot-free. When fired, Super Vel rounds generated a fireball that was about a foot in diameter. Since Sky Marshals carried snub-nosed, Smith & Wesson .38 Chief's Special, firing more than one or two Super Vel rounds from a gun with a 2” barrel left third degree burns on your gun hand, or both hands if you were shooting T-man style.
http://www.skymarshalstory.com/2008/...ullets-27.html
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Old June 15, 2019, 11:19 AM   #11
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Interesting post Cheapshooter. Like you all I had never heard of the Sky Marshal connection before I watched that old video. And yes you would think Charter would run with the fact their gun was chosen by the Marshals and make a big deal out of it.

I just wanted to see what you guys thought. I like the original 3" barreled gun in 44 they started with. But they want crazy prices for the new versions of that gun now.

Never heard that about the Super Vel either. If the rounds burn your hand it sounds more like a gun problem than a load problem. The Super Vel used bullets that were slightly smaller to help achieve the velocities they reached. That and a larger powder charge. So the burned hands are a puzzle.
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Old June 15, 2019, 11:37 AM   #12
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eBay is an excellent, although hit and hope, source for obscure information. I've read many vintage Charter Arms ads and articles there, and like others, have zero recollection of any references to Sky Marshalls.
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Old June 15, 2019, 11:52 AM   #13
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Quote:
The Super Vel used bullets that were slightly smaller
smaller as in diameter, or smaller as in lighter weight?
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Old June 15, 2019, 06:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
smaller as in diameter, or smaller as in lighter weight?
Yes they were slightly smaller in diameter and of course lighter like 110gr in 38 Special IIRC. The slightly smaller diameter allowed a little higher velocity without spiking the pressure. The English have been doing that same thing with their rifle barrels for a long time claiming lower pressures. The American thought is to have a tight bullet to bore fit on rifles.

I suspect that Marlin was thinking the same thing when they made lever action rifles in 44 Mag with slightly oversized bores. When Marlin made these rifles the SAAMI spec for the 44 mag round was higher than it is today. Marlin couldn't control the pressure factory loads were loaded to but they could help lower the pressure by using a slightly larger bore. The SAAMI mag pressure was on the ragged edge of what the 1894 action could take before it would loosen up.

This worked fine with jacketed bullets but when the Cowboy action shooters came along with lead bullets it didn't work so well. Not unless you loaded a slightly over sized lead bullet to fill the bore. Now the pressures have been lowered and Marlin can make tighter bores.

Super Vel did the same thing by using slightly undersized bullets and got much higher velocities in 38 Special duty guns without wrecking the guns. The cops had a better round and no new guns were needed.

https://www.supervelammunition.com/our-story
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Old June 15, 2019, 07:18 PM   #15
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gun writer Leroy Thompson used to be a big fan of the Bulldog .44 spl back in the 80s. he often mentioned the sky marshal thing. he did not say the Bulldog was manufactured for the sky marshal. but that it was "made" for the sky marshal when loaded with the Glaser safety slugs. the only thing I ever heard of being designed for the air marshals was the Glaser safety slug because of its use on aircraft.
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Old June 15, 2019, 08:15 PM   #16
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And then there is the Korth "sky marshal"
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Old June 16, 2019, 12:15 PM   #17
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Yes, I heard that the Bulldog was designed for air marshals, the idea being that the .44 Special bullet would not penetrate as well as other loads. They apparently used a load that would effectively stop hijackers without punching through them and hitting a bystander. I had one back in the 80s, and it was a nice little gun, but when it got hot, it tended to bind. Like the Ruger Security-Six, it had a modular construction, and all those interlocking parts would expand and unburned powder would cause it to just stop working. Once cleaned, the guns world work fine, but I got rid of it.

The Son of Sam used one in his murders and it gained quite a bit of notoriety. The gun was wonderfully concealable and was hard-hitting. Is it back in production?
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Old June 16, 2019, 01:13 PM   #18
Bill DeShivs
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The Bulldog was not designed for the Sky Marshalls. It was designed to be a concealable, big bore revolver.

The Super Vel. 38 Specials did not burn your hands when shooting from a 2 " .38- or any other gun. That is a ridiculous statement.
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Old June 16, 2019, 06:10 PM   #19
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Charter never got credit for saving the .44 special cartridge from obscurity. Charter sold a ton of Bulldogs. At first it was hard to find .44 special cartridges but when the Bulldogs became plentyfull the cartridges were easy to find. I remember.
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Old June 18, 2019, 03:17 PM   #20
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Charter Arms may have rescued the .44 Special from obscurity, but its Bulldog made the gun a highly concealable, large caliber package that was highly desired for off-duty cops and for homeowners. The large gaping hole in the barrel also was a good psychological deterrent.

That said, when the folks at COMBAT HANDGUNS converted a Ruger Speed-Six from a .357 to a .44 Special, I felt it was more an act of a mutilation then anything else. I mean, why would anyone want to take a 6-shot flat-shooting powerhouse and turn it into a 5-shot .44 that had the trajectory of a bowling ball? I couldn't understand it. Since then, I've mellowed out somewhat, and I can see why someone might want to do this; however, if I had to choose one for defense, I'd still choose the .357. Even if limited to the use of .38 +P, I'd still rather have the extra shot. And if I could use the .357, I'd have more faith in stopping someone with that caliber then the .44 Special.


Ruger Speed-Six...6-shot .357 or 5-shot .44
Special. Which would you choose?


The .44 still is a powerhouse, and it doesn't suffer from over-penetration; and there's s still the psychological angle. A big hole looks intimidating.

I doubt I'd ever have a use for the .44 Special, and don't know how great the cartridge being rescued from obscurity really was. Like the .41 Magnum, I think the world would continue spinning just fine if it vanished from the earth entirely. Like that Ruger Speed-Six, would there be any advantage to having it in a .44 Special in today's world? The .38 Special has excellent stopping power and the .357 has astronomical stopping power. And there's the fact that it holds one less round. Finally, there's the issue of cleaning. Most .44 Special loads are lead hollowpoints. Shoot a box of those and there will be enough lead in your barrel to make cleaning a real chore (just like the. .38 Special +P FBI load).

Having a .44 Special is nice for those who want it. But there are probably better choices.
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Old June 18, 2019, 06:03 PM   #21
Bill DeShivs
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.44 Special ammunition doesn't lead badly.
+P lead .38 special does. It's all about velocity.
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Old June 18, 2019, 06:20 PM   #22
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Quote:
.44 Special ammunition doesn't lead badly.
It did in both Bulldogs I had.
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Old June 18, 2019, 06:27 PM   #23
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If you are getting lead in your barrel you are doing wrong somewhere. I shoot lead 158gr cast bullets to over 1150fps from my 357 revolvers and don't get any lead buildup. Don't confuse frosting with leading.

The secret is bullet lube and bullet fit. If the chamber mouths are the same size or smaller than the bore you will get leading. If the chamber mouths are just a little bigger than the bore you shouldn't get leading. And the bullets need to be sized as big or slightly bigger than the chamber mouths.

That was one of the things Ross Seyfried wrote about so much and liked so much about the older S&W guns was the perfect fit between cylinder mouths and bores.
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Old June 18, 2019, 10:20 PM   #24
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I remember hearing the connection between the Sky Marshalls and the .44 Bulldog also. It probably came from reading magazines. I also seem to remember someone on one of the forums having first hand info about this, but I hate to guess when I can't remember exactly what was said.

I really enjoy my old 3" Bulldog. I finally got it back from Charter Arms after they replaced the Stratford barrel with a Shelton barrel. It went from shooting 3 1/2" left at 20 yards to only 1 1/2" left at 20 yards; with 15 yards 1" left and everything closer hitting center of target. Both barrels seem to like my 215 gr wc, as they hit right in the center of the target elevation wise.

They also did a nice job of putting a high polish on the barrel and frame before re-blueing. He also removed an old dime sized rust stain that had been steel wooled by a previous owner, on the cylinder. There isn't even a hint of that old purple hue you see on many of the old frames. It really has a nice look to it.

My first trip to the range with the new barrel also had a nice double action target. 10 rounds inside of 3 1/2" at 6 and 10 yards. To pull my 15 yard shots closer to center, I am going to change the Pach Compacs to the thinner Charter Arms rubber grips. In the past, that stopped my pulling da shots to the right.

The 19 or 20 ounce 3" makes for comfortable all day holster carry. Stargater53 was unimpressed by the Ruger .44 conversion, but just before buying the Bulldog, i agonized over an older Interarms Rossi Model 720 5 shot .44 Special. It had the fluted cylinder and adj sights. Weight was probably at 30-31 ounces. The first time I saw it, I was amazed I'd never heard of it. Some quick research showed it was loved by many and had a strong following. Everytime I'd go back to the shop to look at it, the weight for an all day carry made me back away. It's probably cause I'm 71 and not 41. In my younger, roaming the farm and woods days, I'd have snatched it up without thinking.
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Old June 19, 2019, 06:13 AM   #25
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I carry a Charter Classic Bulldog .44 as my EDC gun. It is loaded with Hornady 180 grain XTP JHP ammo. 1000 ft/sec at 400 ft/lbs energy.

In .38 Special, Federal’s 129 grain HydraShok +P round generates 950 ft/sec and 258 ft/lbs energy.

In a five shot, short barreled revolver, I would expect the bigger, heavier, faster, more powerful round to be more effective.
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