July 2012

A Brace of Snubby 44 Specials: Taurus takes on Charter Arms

These blued big-bore wheelguns — Charter Arms’ Bulldog Model 14420 and the Taurus Model 445B2UL — are powerful carry companions, but both had issues we tried to resolve.

Many of us like to carry a 38 or 357 snubbie in the pocket as a backup to a larger gun. They’re not a bad selection either, with good loads, some of which (specifically, Buffalo Bore) put out 158-grain bullets at 1000 fps. However, some of us prefer bigger, heavier bullets for self-protection, and for that purpose, enter the Charter Arms Bulldog. For years that model was the only viable small 44 Special, but since the advent of the Bulldog around 1973, S&W came out with a similar five-shot revolver called the Model 296, now dropped from production. In more recent days, Taurus entered the fray with two small, light 44 Specials, blued and stainless. The Charter Arms website (www.CharterArms.com) today lists 11 varieties of the 44 Special Bulldog, as well as many other revolvers in 22 LR and 22 Mag., 32 H&R, 38 Spl., 357 Mag, a delightful rimless revolver in 40 S&W that doesn’t need moon clips, and the 44 Specials. For this test we chose the model 14420 standard Bulldog with 2.5-inch barrel and matte-blue finish (MSRP $414), and put it against the Taurus glossy-blued 2-inch version, Model 445B2UL (MSRP $508).

Both are five-shot conventional revolvers, with both SA and DA modes. Both guns had excellent DA and SA pulls, which was something of a surprise to our test crew. Each gun had rubber grips and external hammers and shrouded ejector rods. The frame on the Charter was blackened stainless, while that on the Taurus was aluminum. The guns were very similar in weight and balance, except that the Taurus grip was much larger. In light of our recent experiments with firelapping, we measured the guns inside and out and found some surprises and mistakes that were borne out on the targets.

Because it was difficult to obtain factory-loaded 44 Special ammo, we tested with three handloads and three factory loads, one of which showed up on the UPS truck just as we were concluding our chronographing. The handloads were five grains of Bullseye behind a 250-grain Mt. Baldy (www.MTBaldyBullets.com) cast Keith bullet, the same powder behind a 240-grain Speer JHP, 7.5 grains of Unique behind the Keith bullet, Black Hills cowboy loads with a 210-grain cast RNFP bullet, Remington 246-grain lead RN, and the late-comer, Speer 200-grain Gold Dot Hollow Points. Here’s what we found.

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