Unique Charter Arms Pit Bull fires rimless ammo without clips
by John C. Krull
Gun Week Production Manger
I’ve done several reviews of Charter Arms (281 Canal St., Dept. GWK, Shelton, CT 06484; phone: 203-922-1652; online: charterfirearms.com) revolvers in the past, usually in .38 Special or .32 H&R, but the new Pit Bull revolver that Charter has introduced into the market is different and I believe one of a kind, and probably the first of many to come. There is a US patent pending on the unique Pit Bull, which is a 5-shot, stainless steel revolver with a gutter-type rear ramp sight and a blade front sight.
Okay, so there is nothing new about any of that. What is new and unique is the Pit Bull’s chambering. This revolver is chambered to accept .40S&W ammunition, which has a rimless case originally intended for autoloading handguns, and, here is the unique part, it doesn’t require the use of a moon clip to hold the rounds in the chambers of the cylinder of this revolver, or to extract them.
Charter Arms has been making revolvers in the US for the last 47 years. They are an American company in the state of Connecticut. So when you buy a Charter Arms handgun you are not only getting yourself a reliable and affordable pistol, but you are also doing your part to stimulate the US economy.
The Pit Bull is built on the same frame as the Charter Arms .44 Special Bull Dog, so you know it will hold up to the demands put on it by the .40 S&W ammunition.
The barrel is 2.3 inches in length with an overall gun length of 6.75 inches and a weight of only 20 ounces. All these features make for a great concealed carry gun. But additionally the grips are made of a recoil friendly rubber that helps assure a solid grip. The trigger is designed to not pinch your trigger finger when you are shooting it, but I did lose some of the skin on the far side of my trigger finger during the test firing. Of course I shot over 200 rounds that day, something that you probably won’t do.
The Pit Bull is shipped in a nice plastic box with egg crate foam to protect the gun. It also comes with a trigger lock for those of you who use them.
For dealers in Gestapo states like Maryland or New York, that has the COBIS system, a fired case is included with the gun for the dealer to ship off to the state police where required.
One of the best features about the Pit Bull and all of the Charter Arms line is that their handguns all carry a lifetime warranty. I’m not sure if any other American company has a warranty like this.
I can see a couple of advantages to being the owner of one of the Pit Bulls. For those of you (us) who have no great love for 9mm ammo’s performance, you might want to think about the .40S&W. Also with so many police officers now carrying their primary firearm chambered in .40S&W, this would be a suitable backup gun for them to carry with the ammo being interchangeable.
What Charter has done to allow the .40S&W rimless chambering without the moon clip is that the Pit Bull provides a rimless cartridge extractor assembly and a method of use that solves the long felt need. It provides a dual coil spring assembly located in the extractor to allow the insertion and retention of a .40S&W caliber in each chamber of the revolver’s cylinder. A little curved stud in each chamber of the cylinder mates to the groove in the case when loaded, and is pulled back to allow easy extraction after firing.
At the range we shot a variety of ammo from a couple of different manufacturers in the Pit Bull. We did all of our shooting from both the 7 and 15-yard lines in single and double action. While the trigger pull is, of course, lighter in single action modeon my RCBS trigger pull scale it registered 2.5 ouncesthe double action trigger pull was too great to measure. The scale only goes to 8 ounces and we exceeded that greatly. I’m not saying that the double action was bad; actually I liked it better than the single action because you can get your shots off faster if you don’t take the time to cock the hammer for every shot. I did have some trouble successfully “hammer cocking” the revolver and did let off a few shots a little sooner than I had wanted to.
Hammer cocking is when you shoot the gun in double-action mode, but for all practical purposes you cock the hammer and rotate the cylinder into battery by pulling the trigger to a point where the hammer comes to the rear and requires very little pressure for the release of the hammer to hit the primer or transfer bar in this case. I have found hammer cocking allows to usually get off a much more accurate shot than by the method of pulling the trigger without the hammer cocking. It gives you that extra millisecond to get a good sight picture and not jerk the trigger. I have used this method in competitive bullseye shooting for several years with my S&W Model 19 very successfully.
I can’t say that we had any problems with any of the ammo. It all was very accurate at the distances we shot. The one that I ended up preferring is the Federal Premium Ammunition (900 Ehlen Dr, Dept. GWK, Anoka, MN 55303; phone: 800-322-2342; online: federalpremiun.com) Guard Dog ammo. This is a home defense round that Federal says will prevent over-penetration through walls and whatnot in a home defense situation. The Guard Dog has a 135-grain bullet that is completely jacketed. The jacket appears to be copper. I tried to pull a bullet with my bullet puller and had no luck. I rapped that sucker of the bench a dozen times and actually put dents in my reloading bench. To get a bullet out I first had to run my Dremel tool down the side with a metal cutting blade to get a bullet out.
I recovered five rounds of Guard Dog fired into a box that was tightly packed with old copies of Gun Week. They penetrated 2.5 inches of newspaper before stopping. You could see how much the rounds deformed and came apart in the paper. Besides the copper from the jacket, the rear of the bullet has a lead-type base, but where these rounds are different is in the nose. There is a blue silicone type material that makes up just a little less than half of the bullet inside the jacket. I found this to be a very interesting bullet. I had to do some dissecting here to see why Federal says that there will be less penetration through walls and whatnot.
We fired a couple other flavors of Federalall personal protection rounds, plus some 165-grain Corbon (1311 Industry Rd., Dept. GWK, Sturgis, SD 57785; Phone: 605-347-4544; Online: corbon.com) rounds and some of the new .40S&W offerings from Winchester (600 Powder Mill Rd, Dept. GWK, East Alton, IL; 62024; phone: 618-258-2000; online: Winchester.com). I can’t say I was dissatisfied with any of them; of course we were shooting a revolver. What you might want to do if you happen to be carrying this gun as a backup to your primary auto-loading firearm is see which performs best in the autoloader and then do some shooting with that ammo in the Pit Bull.
Winchester supplied two different personal protection rounds and I’m not really sure how to report on them. One was with a 165-grain bullet and the other uses a 180-grain bullet. Both are bonded and both are jacketed hollowpoint bullets. I couldn’t detect any difference in the felt recoil and both printed on the target where I wanted them to. So once again you might have to give them a try in your auto-loading handgun to see how they function there and choose the best one for use in your revolver.
Of course there is also always the other problem that I just ran into last night with one of my customers. He had gone to Gander Mountain to pick up some .44 Mag ammo for a trip he is taking to Alaska the following week on a moose hunting trip. He was picking up the S&W 629 from me to carry on the trip for defense against bears. Gander only had two boxes of any type of .44 Mag on the shelf, and not what he really wanted. So once you find some ammo that your guns like and perform well in, you might want to consider buying some of it in a case lot, be it Federal, Winchester or any other brand.
The Pit Bull retails for $465. From what I hear Charter Arms is working on future versions that will be offered in both .45 ACP and 9mm Parabellum, if the .40S&W is not for you. I already have one customer who has inquired as to when it will be available in .45 ACP. Hopefully, Charter will have a 9mm version of this revolver out in the first quarter of 2012, but won’t have a .45 ACP version for a while longer because the frame will have to be redesigned for that caliber.
So give this Charter Arms revolver a try and see if it meets your expectations as it did mine. If the .40 S&W is a little too much for your liking give the .38 or .32 a try.
When contacting any of these manufacturers don’t forget to tell them that John at Gun Week sent you.
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