Charter Arms “Boomer” 44 Special Five-Shot Pocket Cannon

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

June 27th, 2016


Click pictures for a larger version.








Barrel is ported to reduce muzzle rise under recoil.





Synthetic rubber grip is hand-filling and comfortable.





New Boomer 44 Special compared to Jeff's old Undercover 38 Special deep-cover gun.







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 writes:


Back 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 grips. 

Dave 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”

Back 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.

Let’s 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.

However, 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.

Specifications 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.

Chambering 44 Special
Overall Length 6.62 Inches
Overall Height 4.9 Inches
Weight 18 Ounces
Barrel Length 1.982 Inches
Cylinder Length 1.586 Inches
Cylinder Diameter 1.45 Inches
Barrel / Cylinder Gap 0.003 Inch
Trigger Pull DA 9 Pounds, 12 Ounces
Options Matte Stainless or Black Nitride Finish
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 very effective.

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 gun.

Check out the entire line of Charter firearms and accessories online at

For the location of a Charter Arms dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the Charter 44 Boomer online, click on the GUN GENIE at

Check out Crimson Trace's product line at

To order quality 44 Special ammunition, go to,,,  and

For more information on Mag-Na-Port International, go to

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.



The Boomer is available in either Matte Stainless or Black Nitride finish.



Nick Ecker's dog "Boomer", using a Charter 44 as a chew toy.





Crimson Trace Lasergrip adds no bulk nor weight, but makes the weapon much more useful at longer distances.



Lehigh Defense 220-grain Xtreme Penetrator ammunition.



Shooting CroMagnon Targets at seven yards using the CT Lasergrip.