Charter Arms Pit Bull Rimless Double-Action Revolver in 40 S&W


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

October 12th, 2011


YouTube Video





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Charter Arms "Pit Bull" 40 S&W revolver.





Pit Bull comes with hard case, instructions, and trigger lock.



Spring-loaded extractors engage cartridge extractor grooves for positive ejection.





For many years, firearms manufacturers have looked for ways to successfully chamber rimless cartridges in a double-action revolver with a swing-out cylinder. The most successful attempts have used moon clips; thin pieces of stamped spring steel which hold the rims of the cartridge in sets. Usually, the moon clips will hold two, three, five, or six cartridges, but there are clips made to hold seven and eight shots as well, for revolvers with as many chambers in the cylinder. The moon clip method works well, but there have also been designs that used no moon clips, using wire springs or other methods to retain and eject the cartridges. Most of these came and went without much commercial success.

Charter Arms of Shelton, Connecticut has been developing a rimless double-action revolver for several months now. I fired a prototype back in January of this year, and the revolvers are now in production. The Pit Bull uses a patented spring-loaded rim engagement assembly. As the cartridges are loaded into the chambers, they push the extractor out of the way. As the cartridge is fully chambered, the extractor, a sliding piece of stainless steel which is about three-sixteenths of an inch wide, snaps into the rim solidly. Upon ejection, as the ejector rod is operated as is normal with a double-action revolver, the extractor rod system ejects all five rounds at once, positively and quickly.

The execution of the system is a very good design, but why build a revolver for a rimless cartridge, when plenty of rimmed cartridges exist? The answer to that lies in the performance, availability, and popularity of the 40 S&W cartridge. The 40 S&W is one of the most popular handgun cartridges in the United States. As such, availability of the cartridge is excellent, with 40 S&W ammo being available almost anywhere that ammunition is sold. Also due to its popularity, the cost of 40 S&W ammo is reasonable, compared to many popular revolver cartridges. Most importantly, the 40 S&W is a good, efficient cartridge for a medium-bore belly gun.

In their 44 Bulldog and Bulldog Pug revolvers, Charter Arms leads the industry in big-bore belly guns. The 44 Charters have somewhat of a cult following, and for good reason: the 44 Special in a small concealable revolver is a great defensive weapon. The 40 S&W Pit Bull follows in the same usage, with a slightly smaller bore, and a very efficient cartridge. The five-shot Charters are relatively small, lightweight, and compact; almost as small as a five shot 38 Special revolver, but packing more punch. The cylinder locks into the frame at the front and rear for good alignment with the barrel. The Pit Bull is made almost entirely of stainless steel, and has a comfortable and controllable synthetic rubber grip, with molded-in checkering for a positive hold. The hammer is serrated for a non-slip surface for thumb-cocking the action for a single-action trigger pull. The trigger face is smooth for a steady double-action trigger pull. The stainless steel wears a satin bead-blasted finish. The front sight is a long sloping ramp and the ejector rod is enclosed, to make the Pit Bull pocket-friendly, for a smooth, snag-free draw under pressure.

A revolver of this type is carried for personal defense. If we know a fight is coming, most of us will either try to avoid it, or prepare with heavier armament, such as a shotgun, rifle, or a Marine platoon. However, we carry handguns concealed because we never know when the fight will come, so we must always be prepared, even if the fight is not expected. A belly gun such as the Pit Bull makes a lot of sense. Many folks think that five shots are not enough for a defensive handgun, but statistics show that in most gunfights, five shots are more than enough, and with the ejection system of the Pit Bull, reloads can be quick if needed. Five shots of 40 caliber in a compact, reliable package is a logical choice for most folks who want to go heeled. A revolver is very easy to use, is always ready with no safeties to manipulate, and has a very simple manual-of-arms. To load the Pit Bull, the cylinder latch is pushed forward with pressure on the right side of the cylinder, and the cylinder swings out for loading. Press a cartridge into each chamber, close the cylinder, and the Pit Bull is ready to fight, whether put into action immediately, or placed in a bedside drawer for months. I advocate rotating out the ammunition at least once a month, as you should practice at least that often, but the fact is, sometimes handguns are left loaded for months or years at a time. A good revolver is more likely to be ready to function reliably when left in such condition than is a semi-auto.

Critical specifications are listed in the chart below. Linear measurements are listed in inches. Weight is listed in ounces. Trigger pull is listed as pounds of force. DA is the double-action trigger pull, and SA is the single-action trigger pull. The double-action pull was very smooth, and the single-action pull crisp and relatively light for a belly gun. Perfect.

Weight 20.5 Ounces
Overall Length 7 Inches
Overall Height 4.62 Inches
Cylinder Length 1.625 Inches
Cylinder Diameter 1.45 Inches
Barrel Length 2.265 Inches
Barrel Diameter 0.675 Inch
Trigger Pull DA 8.4 Pounds
Trigger Pull SA 3.5 Pounds
Barrel / Cylinder Gap 0.003 Inch

Velocity testing was done at an elevation of 541 feet above sea level, on a mild sunny day. Range temperatures hovered in the seventy-eight degree range, with forty-two percent humidity. Wind conditions were light, with a slight gusty breeze. Velocities are listed in feet-per-second. Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet. DPX is a homogenous copper hollow cavity bullet. PB is Cor-Bon Pow’R Ball, a specialty hollowpoint bullet with a nylon ball inserted into the hollow nose. EPR is a specialty round from Extreme Shock with a polymer ball in the nose of a hollowpoint bullet. FMJ is a full metal jacket bullet. Velocities were recorded at a distance of ten feet from the muzzle.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Cor-Bon DPX 140 1090
Cor-Bon JHP 135 1201
Cor-Bon PB 135 1272
Buffalo Bore JHP 155 1178
Buffalo Bore JHP 180 1002
Buffalo Bore FMJ 180 995
Extreme Shock EPR 150 1013
Black Hills JHP 180 907
Stryker JHP 180 857

Accuracy of the Charter Pit Bull was very good. I made no attempt to make a bulls-eye revolver out of this handgun, as the sight radius is short, but I did try some twenty-five yard shots on a silhouette target, and the Pit Bull did very well. Standing on my hind legs like a man, I could center a cylinder-full into the vital zone quickly, and making a head shot was also fairly easy, if I took careful aim. From the bench, the Pit Bull would cluster its shots into groups measuring between two and three-quarters and three and three-quarters inches with most ammo. My favorite load for the Pit Bull is the Buffalo Bore 180 grain jacketed hollowpoint. This load leaves the barrel of the Pit Bull in excess of one thousand feet-per-second, and would be my choice of a carry load for defense, against man or animal.

The Charter Pit Bull proved to be well-built and reliable. No problems were encountered at all. Every cartridge fired and ejected perfectly, even the Plus P hollowpoints. There was no sticky extraction experienced. The Pit Bull had a perfect barrel/cylinder gap, measuring only three one-thousandths (.003) of an inch, which is tighter than many revolvers costing hundreds of dollars more. While on that subject, Charter revolvers have always been priced competitively, costing no more than many imported revolvers, but made entirely in the USA.

Check out the Pit Bull and other Charter Arms products online at

For the location of a Charter retailer near you, click on the DEALER LOCATOR at

To order the Pit Bull online, go to

To order quality 40 S&W ammunition, go to,, and

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Pit Bull (bottom and left) compared to Jeff's older-generation 44 Special Stainless Bulldog (top and right).





Synthetic rubber grip is comfortable and textured for a positive grip.





Jeff's favorite ammo for the Pit Bull is the Buffalo Bore 180 grain hollowpoint.



Transfer bar internal safety.