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  1. #1
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    Default Charter Arms Bulldog .357 Mag.

    Last gun show I went to, I picked up a Charter Arms Bulldog .357 mag, 6" barrel, serial number in the 438XXX range. The first defect that I noticed was that the left grip is cracked a bit, but decently repaired.

    Firing .38 spl 158 gr lead semi wadcutters at 50 ft, I get about a 3" group, so far, after having put about 300 rounds through it. With .357, 158 gr LSW, it increases to about 5" and is rather unpleasant to shoot by comparison to the .38 spl.I stopped at about 100 rounds of this loading. I had five rounds of a lighter bullet, I think it was 124 gr FMJ that another shooter at the range offered me in exchange for letting him fire it to get an ideas whether he wanted a longer-barreled weapon himself to replace his S&W with a short barrel. I found the recoil of the 124 gr more manageable and as accurate as the .38 spl.

    My biggest problem was that it is almost impossible to use speed loaders because of the shape of the grips. I am not entirely comfortable with the idea of having to singly load even a five-shoot revolver that I intend to use mostly as a home defense weapon.

    It would seem, then, that I should be looking at finding or fabricating replacement grips or modifying the issue grips to allow use of the speed loaders. If the gun has any value as a collector's item, now or down the road, modifying the original grips is not a good idea.

    I plan to retire in December, so I shall probably have time, if neccessary, to fabricate a set of grips, but it would be easier , if such exist, to buy a set. Any ideas on manufacturers who would have grips to meet this requirement?

    I was planning to start reloading in my liesure years, mostly to be able to keep up a good stock of the more exotic ammo that I use, like 6.5 Carcano and 6.5 Japanese. Should I be looking to reload .357 mag as well with a lighter bullet. I have not seen anything other than 158gr loads in any of the shops in my area. Is this the norm or just a temporary glitch in the supply chains? Or would I be best off to just contiune using .38 spl for both training and home defense?

  2. #2
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    Clyde is offline Gold Bullet Member and Noted Curmudgeon
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    Quote Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
    Last gun show I went to, I picked up a Charter Arms Bulldog .357 mag, 6" barrel, serial number in the 438XXX range. The first defect that I noticed was that the left grip is cracked a bit, but decently repaired.

    Firing .38 spl 158 gr lead semi wadcutters at 50 ft, I get about a 3" group, so far, after having put about 300 rounds through it. With .357, 158 gr LSW, it increases to about 5" and is rather unpleasant to shoot by comparison to the .38 spl.I stopped at about 100 rounds of this loading. I had five rounds of a lighter bullet, I think it was 124 gr FMJ that another shooter at the range offered me in exchange for letting him fire it to get an ideas whether he wanted a longer-barreled weapon himself to replace his S&W with a short barrel. I found the recoil of the 124 gr more manageable and as accurate as the .38 spl.

    My biggest problem was that it is almost impossible to use speed loaders because of the shape of the grips. I am not entirely comfortable with the idea of having to singly load even a five-shoot revolver that I intend to use mostly as a home defense weapon.

    It would seem, then, that I should be looking at finding or fabricating replacement grips or modifying the issue grips to allow use of the speed loaders. If the gun has any value as a collector's item, now or down the road, modifying the original grips is not a good idea.

    I plan to retire in December, so I shall probably have time, if neccessary, to fabricate a set of grips, but it would be easier , if such exist, to buy a set. Any ideas on manufacturers who would have grips to meet this requirement?

    I was planning to start reloading in my liesure years, mostly to be able to keep up a good stock of the more exotic ammo that I use, like 6.5 Carcano and 6.5 Japanese. Should I be looking to reload .357 mag as well with a lighter bullet. I have not seen anything other than 158gr loads in any of the shops in my area. Is this the norm or just a temporary glitch in the supply chains? Or would I be best off to just contiune using .38 spl for both training and home defense?
    Probaby just a temporary shortage in your area. 110- and 125-grain JHP or JSP are catalogged by a number of makers at such places as Cabela's, Midway, etc.. For home defence, if you chose to go with 38 Spl, you will certainly want +P loadings, probably 110 or 125 grain. Hotted up FMJ is a poor choice for defensive ammo unless you expect your target to be wearing protective clothing. As to bullet weight, you'll have to decide. But yo can get more oomph! from full-house 357 Mag loads than you can with a 38 Special, in any bullet weight. More rioom in the case for powder and all that.

    While i roll out some loads with the lighter bullets, I mostly still favor the 158 JSP or JHP loads i got with my first 357 some 45 years ago. Just an old fuddy-duddy i guess, besides being a curmudgeon. For the sake of the budget, you will want to do reloading for practice ammo, at least. And that little 5-shooter will hold up a lot better if you do most of your shooting with mild loads. So will your hands...
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

  3. #3
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    Another loading option are Speed Strips, with practice they can be a very quick way to reload a revolver also, and they have the advantage in some circumstances of being flat and more easily hid in a pocket than a speed loader.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee1959 View Post
    Another loading option are Speed Strips, with practice they can be a very quick way to reload a revolver also, and they have the advantage in some circumstances of being flat and more easily hid in a pocket than a speed loader.
    Okay, that's a new one to me. Got any idea where I should start researching them?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by leftysergeant View Post
    Okay, that's a new one to me. Got any idea where I should start researching them?

    Here you go. Not as fast as speedloaders but pretty quick with practice.

    http://www.bianchi-intl.com/product/...TxtModelID=580

  6. #6
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    For bullets, you should be able to use any 380, 9mm, or 357. The 380 and 9mm are 0.002 difference in diameter.... if you use lead bullets, it clears up nicely as the lead is a little wider and will seal the gap. The gap is small enough either way that it should be fine to do this, though with jacketed ammo it may produce less accurate rounds. The point is you could make a flat shooting, ultra high velocity 90 grain stinger if you wanted --- but you would have to mess around with it to get the accuracy and load that you want.


    Bullet weight isnt the issue. Physics tells you... equal and opposite reaction. Its both, in other words .... a 308 does not have a shoulder beating recoil because of the bullet weight! You can load a heavy round to a lower velocity and get a gentle load. You can load a light bullet to the same velocity and get an even softer load. Or you can dump a ton of powder behind a 90 grain (jacketed, if you want to do ultra hot loads) and make a stout load again! Its BOTH the weight and the velocity that create the recoil. Basically, you can make a load that you will like with some effort and research, is the bottom line. I load 380s in my 9mm to get a high velocity fast moving round ... it cycles the guns, it knocks down the plates, it would meet IDPA power factor. Its just moving faster to make up for the 20+ grains lighter bullets.


    I have little to offer on the reloader or the grips. I do not even understand the issue, if you can open the cylinder, you can use a speedloader, right? What exactly is not happening there, are the grips actually in the way of the loader? Or is it just difficult to use with your hands on that grip? Surely there are alternative grips for this gun --- most revolvers have someone out there making grips. Google around... I got this page right away ... http://www.handgungrips.com/Charter_Arms_Grips/1960/c

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonnin View Post
    I have little to offer on the reloader or the grips. I do not even understand the issue, if you can open the cylinder, you can use a speedloader, right? What exactly is not happening there, are the grips actually in the way of the loader? Or is it just difficult to use with your hands on that grip? Surely there are alternative grips for this gun --- most revolvers have someone out there making grips. Google around... I got this page right away ... http://www.handgungrips.com/Charter_Arms_Grips/1960/c
    Not all grips will allow you to insert the speed loader into the cylinder if they are too thick. I have encountered this before. The original Taurus 66 grips were too wide at the top of the grip to allow a speed loader, they needed a thinner section, or cutout about where the thumb would ride or that general vicinity. Later grips for them had this and allowed you to slip the speed loader past the grip and get the tips of the bullets into the cylinder.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by lee1959 View Post
    Not all grips will allow you to insert the speed loader into the cylinder if they are too thick. I have encountered this before. The original Taurus 66 grips were too wide at the top of the grip to allow a speed loader, they needed a thinner section, or cutout about where the thumb would ride or that general vicinity. Later grips for them had this and allowed you to slip the speed loader past the grip and get the tips of the bullets into the cylinder.
    Makes sense. I have not used loaders much .... too many "door" style single actions and have always carried autos.

  9. #9
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    You can thin the original grips to allow use of the speed loader; however, I wouldn't count on using it.

    Reloading a revolver is slow at best, esp. in a home defense situation.

    Get a shotgun, and/or a hi cap pistol, JMHO; or two revolvers, or all four.
    03man - Don Voigt
    Author of "The Japanese T99 Arisaka Rifle" 2010 edition
    Co-author of "The Knee Mortars of Japan 1921-1945" 2011 edition
    Near Charlotte, NC

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