I have always been a fan of the Charter
Arms 44 Special Bulldog revolvers. The Bulldog is unique
among American compact revolvers, in that it is chambered for a
big-bore cartridge: the 44 Special. While the 44 Special gets
little attention these days, it is a dandy cartridge for social
work, throwing a heavy bullet at moderate speeds, much like the
revolver version of the 45 ACP cartridge. The Bulldog revolvers
can be thought of like the ever-popular five-shot 38 Special,
but making a bigger hole. The Bulldogs are reliable, powerful,
and easy to use. I have a few of them stashed around my home, as
they are an easy point-and-shoot handgun. The one in my shower
is the stainless steel version.
Now, Charter has introduced a special version
of the Bulldog called the “Boomer”. The story is, Nick Ecker
of Charter had his prototype version of this compact 44 belly
gun lying on his desk. When he walked into his office, his dog,
Boomer, was using the gun for a chew-toy. Hence the weapon
earned the title “Boomer”, and “Boomer” is a fitting
name for a big-bore belly gun.
For a little historical perspective on the
Charter Arms Boomer, the original concept of shortening the
barrel, bobbing the hammer, and removing the front sight goes
back to the 1970s, when Larry Kelly of Mag-Na-Port offered a
custom version of the Charter Bulldog that Kelly called the
“Backpacker”. Larry’s son, Ken, continues as head of
Mag-Na-Port today, and he was kind enough to give me a brief
history on that popular customization of the Bulldog. Ken
in the fall of ’77 when my dad, Larry Kelly was designing a
gun for Mag-Na-Port’s second limited edition, he chose the
Charter Arms Bulldog .44 Special. He wanted to make
the ultimate back-up gun or as Dad said, “belly-gun”.
The conversion consisted of removing the front sight, cutting
the barrel down to 1.875” and crowning it, Mag-Na-Port
revolver porting, de-horn the hammer, engraved Backpacker &
the limited edition number, hard chrome finish, and Pachmayr
Ecker from Charter Arms made sure Dad got all the Bulldogs he
needed. People went nuts over a gun with no front sight!
The original plan for the limited edition was set at 250, but
the demand was so great it was increased to 585. The
request for the Backpacker conversion was overwhelming and since
then we have done thousands of conversions. It is one of
my favorite to do as I started my career as a gunsmith on the
Charter Arms Backpacker!
- Ken Kelly”
in the early 1980s, I did a similar treatment to a Charter Arms
38 Special, without the porting. I was doing some work which
required that a handgun be carried that absolutely could not be
spotted, as anyone spotting a gun would become immediately
suspicious. I carried a bobbed stainless 38 Charter in my boot.
The handgun had no front sight, but was intended for use only at
nose-to-nose distances, and was carried daily in my left boot.
The new Boomer reminds me a lot of that old Charter 38, and is
the same concept, but makes a bigger hole.
discuss the absence of the front sight, as that feature will be
questioned by many. The deletion of the front sight makes for a
snag-free draw from the pocket, as does the bobbed hammer. This
weapon is built for down and dirty fighting, in the gravest of
social situations. This is not a main-line police duty gun, nor
a hunting gun. It is made for quickly resolving up close and
personal gunfights. Some people are of the idea that a conflict
will take place at a measured ten yards, just like they practice
on a square range. The hard truth is, that more than likely,
your attacker will be on you before you know if. He is not going
to confront you from across the parking lot. He will be the guy
that comes up asking to “borrow” a coupla’ bucks, or to
bum a cigarette, or to ask directions. Your action will be a
reaction to his action, and it has to be quick. Also, on the
square range, we are trained to focus on the front sight. In a
fight, when under attack, there are very few people who will not
be focused entirely upon the attacker. For these reasons, the
absence of a front sight is not as important as some might
think. Then there is darkness. Most
unfavorable social situations take place in poor lighting.
Even a tritium sight can be hard to see in the dark, especially
if one has just entered the darkness from a lighted area.
I am of the belief that I will take every advantage that I can,
and for that reason, every handgun that I carry for defense
wears a Crimson Trace Laser, and this Boomer is ideal for
attaching a Crimson Trace Lasergrip. With the Lasergrip, place
the dot on the target and pull the trigger. It could not be any
simpler. Even at twenty-five yards, with the Lasergrip, precise
bullet placement is possible, in most any lighting condition.
The Lasergrip adds no weight nor bulk to the Boomer, and in my
pocket, is an essential part of the package.
The Boomer is offered with two finish
options; matte stainless steel or black Nitride over stainless.
I really like the Nitride, as it adds hardness and lubricity to
the surfaces, including the chambers and bore. The Boomer is
double-action-only, meaning that to fire the weapon requires a
long trigger stroke, which both cocks and releases the hammer to
fire. The short barrel is ported, to reduce muzzle jump under
recoil. The grip is a synthetic rubber, which is both
hand-filling and comfortable.
are listed in the chart below. Weight is listed in ounces.
Trigger pull is listed as pounds of resistance, as measured
using my Lyman digital scale. Linear measurements are listed in
inches. The cylinder length does not include the ratchet star.
|Barrel / Cylinder Gap
|Trigger Pull DA
||9 Pounds, 12 Ounces
||Matte Stainless or Black
|MSRP as of June 2016
||$422.00 US (Matte
Stainless), $442.00 US (Black Nitride)
For shooting the new Boomer, I selected a
couple of my favorite loads. The Handload uses a 250 grain lead
Keith bullet with five grains of Titegroup. One of my favorite
factory loads for the 44 Special is the 220 grain Lehigh Defense
Extreme Penetrator. This bullet is constructed of copper, and
has a unique shape that has proven very
disruptive in ballistic gel, while still offering deep
penetration. This load leaves the barrel of this Boomer clocking
768 feet-per-second, ten feet from the muzzle. On the topic of
ammunition, there are several good effective loads available for
the Charter Arms revolvers. One is not limited at all to the
weak “cowboy action” loads. Those are for target games. Good
hollowpoint ammo is available, along with the Lehigh Defense
load mentioned above. “Heavy 44 Special” loads from Buffalo
Bore are NOT recommended for this gun, but Buffalo Bore does
have ammo that is suitable for the Charter Arms, which is still
I fired the Boomer at various targets out to
seven yards by indexing the weapon towards the targets, with
satisfying results. The Boomer points naturally and makes a big
hole. However, I also installed a set of Crimson Trace
Lasergrips as mentioned above, to make the Boomer useful at
longer distances, and keeping every shot in the kill zone of a
standard human silhouette target at twenty-five yards proved to
be no problem. The CT Lasergrip looks and feels like the factory
grip, adds no weight nor bulk, and increases the hit factor
substantially out past reaching distance. The Boomer proved to
be one-hundred percent reliable, with every cartridge firing as
it should, and ejection of the fired cases was smooth, with none
sticking, and most falling free on the ejector stroke.
The Charter Arms Boomer is a dandy little
revolver; not much bigger than a 38 Special, but a lot more
effective. It is lightweight, reliable, and makes a big hole.
The Boomer is built right, and built in the USA. It fills a
niche that is occupied by no other. The Boomer is my new pocket
Check out the entire line of Charter firearms
and accessories online at www.charterarms.com.
For the location of a Charter Arms dealer
near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.
To order the Charter 44 Boomer online, click
on the GUN GENIE at www.galleryofguns.com.
Check out Crimson Trace's product line at www.crimsontrace.com.
To order quality 44 Special ammunition, go to
more information on Mag-Na-Port International, go to www.magnaport.com.
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