The Firearms Forum banner
1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Gather around children, there once was a time before the micro-compact double-stacks. Heck, we're going to the long ago time before GLOCK even existed!

Yes, in those dark and depressing days of Avocado Green and Harvet Gold colored kitchen appliances and disco, folks carried guns. Mind you, the market was primitive by today's standards but there was variety even back then.

You had a number of concealable and pocket carry guns. Bauer Automatics, S&W Chief Specials, Walther PPKs, Colt Detective Specials, and Beretta Jetfires for example. If you wanted something in a cartridge larger than .38 Special or .380 Auto and had money to spend, then a ASP 9mm or Devel 9mm was your option in an automatic or you could get a snub-nose S&W Model 19 or Colt Lawman in .357 Magnum.

But of you were a common, blue collar working class American then, your options were a little more limited if you were trying to save a penny but still pack a punch.

I'll give you a hint on two of your choices back then. They were introduced within a few years of each other, have aluminum frames, and both are chambered in cartridge that start with the number 4.

Still haven't figured it out yet? Okay, fine, one more hint.

Both guns were commonly purchased, but weren't big names in the market. They were sleeper hits.

Give up?

Fine, here's the answer.....

Air gun Trigger Grey Gun barrel Gun accessory


The Star PD in .45 ACP and the Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 Special. Charter Arms introduced the Bulldog in 1973 and it was an instant hit. Star introduced the PD in 1975 and it too was a success.

Both guns sold very well at very reasonable prices, and more importantly, they were chambered in two proven cartridges.

Remember folks, this was before proven and reliable hollowpoint ammunition existed. So, if you're stuck with a round that won't expand, then the bigger was always viewed as being the better option.

Both guns were sleeper hits and both made huge waves in the concealed carry market of the time. The Star PD was well liked by such period writers like Jeff Cooper and Massad Ayoob.



I have a personal connection to the Star PD. My Father carried one as a back up and off duty piece when he was a plainclothes cop back in the late 70s and early 80s.



He attests to its reliability and accuracy and likes that it had a capacity of six plus one.



Dad never carried a Bulldog back then, he was a S&W guy through and through when it came to revolvers. But he did states that Charter Arms made a good gun back then, and always liked the idea of the Bulldog. He just never purchased one back then since he had the Star PD for his big bore concealed carry needs.



The Bulldog was very popular since it chambered the. 44 Special in a gun that was similar in size to the Colt Detective Special. Though limited to five shots, .44 Special was no laughing matter.

The Bulldog and the capability of the .44 Special was made rather infamous for being the gun of choice by David Berkowitz, otherwose known as the "Son of Sam" serial killer.

Both guns by today's standards are antiquated, outdated, obsolete, and belong in a museum. But back then, they were reliable and capable firearms. Hell, they still are because I still carry them. Right now as I write this, I have the Bulldog on my hip and the Star PD within my carry rotation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,044 Posts
Yup, I still carry an old '80s 3" Bulldog .44 spc with Underwood full wadcutters. The grips are either the new rubber ones or the original or newer wood Bulldog grips. I reload brass with 215gr swc cast lead and carry Silvertips in a pocket as a reload. The newer Bulldog grips are now on another '80s 38 ss Undercover. I always thought that Star would be a good one to have, but never came across one. Today, the Shield .45acp sort of takes its place for many.

Here's one I bought on line years ago. This one kept shooting left and finally Charter Arms agreed to replace the barrel which corrected the problem. Shoots straight now.
Eye Font Parallel Circle Slope
Shoe Vertebrate Mammal Glove Wood
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
21,869 Posts
Back in the 1970s if you got caught carrying a gun in Illinois you were in big trouble. I did keep a Ruger Blackhawk 357 and a 12 gauge shotgun in my truck on occasions. There was no need for me to own a carry gun as I couldn't carry it anyway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Back in the 1970s if you got caught carrying a gun in Illinois you were in big trouble. I did keep a Ruger Blackhawk 357 and a 12 gauge shotgun in my truck on occasions. There was no need for me to own a carry gun as I couldn't carry it anyway.
In FL, prior to 1987, CCW permits were "May Issue" on thr County Level. Some counties were fairly liberal in their issuance and others were very strict. Dade County (now known as Miami-Dade County) back in the 1970s was very restrictive and getting a carry permit was because you either were connected due to wealth or career or family.

But a lot of people just didn't care and carried anyways. Especially towards the end of the 1970s a day the first half of the 1980s due to the drug war. Honest people carried to protect themselves and didn't care what the law said.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,101 Posts
I carried when I thought necessary regardless of law. I always figured the only way it would be an issue is if I used it. At which time it would be for life & death situation, so willing to take my chances.
But would never carry second rate firearms for SD.
Back in 80s my boy got out of school. Economy had just crashed here, no jobs of any kind. He decided to go to police training. The head instructor for firearms training was a local Deputy Sheriff.
I knew him well because I sold guns and equipment to county and he did the buying. Anyway my boy is one of those kids who could break a bowling ball. So when time came to get him pistol , I just happened to have a new Charter Arms in case. I wanted him to take a used m10 but he wanted that CA. I think it was named Police Bulldog, 4” adj sites.
Long story short the CA was piece of junk. All they were shooting were 3D 38sp training ammo. The instructor took the time to call me up and chew me out for sending kid to class with CA. I never liked them before that, classed as second rate. Never had another new one in stock. If I had one it was a used trade in.
I don’t have enough experience with Star to rate them. I’ve had several older Stars in 9mm Largo and 32 and 22 pistols that functioned well. Never had to work on any of the late models to view the running gears.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I carried when I thought necessary regardless of law. I always figured the only way it would be an issue is if I used it. At which time it would be for life & death situation, so willing to take my chances.
But would never carry second rate firearms for SD.
Back in 80s my boy got out of school. Economy had just crashed here, no jobs of any kind. He decided to go to police training. The head instructor for firearms training was a local Deputy Sheriff.
I knew him well because I sold guns and equipment to county and he did the buying. Anyway my boy is one of those kids who could break a bowling ball. So when time came to get him pistol , I just happened to have a new Charter Arms in case. I wanted him to take a used m10 but he wanted that CA. I think it was named Police Bulldog, 4” adj sites.
Long story short the CA was piece of junk. All they were shooting were 3D 38sp training ammo. The instructor took the time to call me up and chew me out for sending kid to class with CA. I never liked them before that, classed as second rate. Never had another new one in stock. If I had one it was a used trade in.
I don’t have enough experience with Star to rate them. I’ve had several older Stars in 9mm Largo and 32 and 22 pistols that functioned well. Never had to work on any of the late models to view the running gears.
The Police Bulldog was their 4" duty revolver and it was never up to snuff as a duty gun.



It was not made for long. It was their attempt to make a gun to compete with the S&W Model 12 and it did poorly. The Charter Arms built good guns for CCW/BUG purposes, but as general duty pistols, they had their faults.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9 Posts
Miam_JBT, thank you for a great post. Brings back a lot of memories. Your Dad was sharp - serious about his job but also responsible for his family. Both of those guns were certainly adequate for his circumstances. Neither were considered "best in class." In that era those few officers who were allowed to carry a semi and who wanted a big-bore (and could afford it) sought out a Colt Commander or Combat Commander. I was the armorer and chief firearms instructor for a thousand-man West Coast PD in the late 70's and 80's, so saw and tested a lot of guns, including a variety of Charter Arms. While we appreciated their efforts we never had one stand up to very much shooting. 'Course the department-authorized S&W M10s, M19s, etc. would also loosen up ("end shake cylinder") after thousands of rounds as well, but the CAs would rattle loose a lot sooner. Still, for a light, compact, powerful back-up it had to be considered. What did "Will Graham" carry in "Manhunter"?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,044 Posts
Amongst Charter Arms users, I think we all pretty much realize that especially in those .44 specials, you shoot light loads for most practice and if you do carry something warmer, don't shoot too many. If you do, most of the pins and screws will need tightening and you will eventually shake it loose and mess up the timing. But for carry, that light .44 spc fills a missing niche among revolvers. No one else makes one that light - and probably for good reason. They don't want to be repairing them as they wear. I've bought older 1980s models at auction, and both have gone back for repairs. The 44 about 3x but I am a happy camper. The last time it finally got that new barrel I kept trying to convince them to change, along with a nice polish and reblue and does stay tighter than it and many others used to. Not a trace of that purple/plum coloring that older steel often takes on. It may show up in time, but I may not even be around by them.

The stainless 38 undercover had a problem with the early design that allowed the cylinder to slide back too far on the shaft and miss the little stop on the frame and go past it. They snugged it up, but it's still not perfect with no real fix. The new ones have a o ring that prevents that. But it is still very usable as a carry gun or backup as is. They polished a small section of old rust on the cylinder to where I can't see it any longer and gave it just enough of a polish overall to have that nice soft look, unlike the newer ones. More like a nice S&W model 60 would look like. I'm perfectly happy with both and realize they are not range or duty guns, but work just fine with limited use - especially for the lower price you can sometimes find them at.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Amongst Charter Arms users, I think we all pretty much realize that especially in those .44 specials, you shoot light loads for most practice and if you do carry something warmer, don't shoot too many. If you do, most of the pins and screws will need tightening and you will eventually shake it loose and mess up the timing. But for carry, that light .44 spc fills a missing niche among revolvers. No one else makes one that light - and probably for good reason. They don't want to be repairing them as they wear. I've bought older 1980s models at auction, and both have gone back for repairs. The 44 about 3x but I am a happy camper. The last time it finally got that new barrel I kept trying to convince them to change, along with a nice polish and reblue and does stay tighter than it and many others used to. Not a trace of that purple/plum coloring that older steel often takes on. It may show up in time, but I may not even be around by them.

The stainless 38 undercover had a problem with the early design that allowed the cylinder to slide back too far on the shaft and miss the little stop on the frame and go past it. They snugged it up, but it's still not perfect with no real fix. The new ones have a o ring that prevents that. But it is still very usable as a carry gun or backup as is. They polished a small section of old rust on the cylinder to where I can't see it any longer and gave it just enough of a polish overall to have that nice soft look, unlike the newer ones. More like a nice S&W model 60 would look like. I'm perfectly happy with both and realize they are not range or duty guns, but work just fine with limited use - especially for the lower price you can sometimes find them at.
To me, the Bulldog perfectly fills a gap. A three inch small frame revolver chambered in a capable, lower pressure large bore projectile.

.44 Special is a gentleman's cartridge and yes, it can be hotrodded. But with even the softer loads, it is a viable self-defense capable cartridge.

It is thr same size as my three inch Colt King Cobra, but weighs less.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,044 Posts
Back in the late 1970s, early 1980s I bought my wife a model 36 J frame with a 3" barrel in 38 spc. That began a serious appreciation of the 3" small frame carry gun. They point and shoot better than a 2" and the accuracy level improves at the same time. When I bought that one, the dealer who also supplied a few PDs in the area told me that those who couldn't qualify with a 2" would buy a 3" to pass. They helped that much. Now, I think I was more accurate with that old pinned 36 than I am with the 3" Bulldog, but I was also much younger then and shot more. A Bulldog at 19oz and that 36 somewhere around 22 or 23 iirc, they do feel different in the hand. But they also give you more velocity than the 2" and still conceal easily. One of these days I may replace that all steel 3" J frame, maybe with a model 60-4. Maybe. Until then, I'll enjoy that 3" .44 Special.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Back in the late 1970s, early 1980s I bought my wife a model 36 J frame with a 3" barrel in 38 spc. That began a serious appreciation of the 3" small frame carry gun. They point and shoot better than a 2" and the accuracy level improves at the same time. When I bought that one, the dealer who also supplied a few PDs in the area told me that those who couldn't qualify with a 2" would buy a 3" to pass. They helped that much. Now, I think I was more accurate with that old pinned 36 than I am with the 3" Bulldog, but I was also much younger then and shot more. A Bulldog at 19oz and that 36 somewhere around 22 or 23 iirc, they do feel different in the hand. But they also give you more velocity than the 2" and still conceal easily. One of these days I may replace that all steel 3" J frame, maybe with a model 60-4. Maybe. Until then, I'll enjoy that 3" .44 Special.
I have small pile of three inch J-Frames. I have a round butt and square butt nickel plated Model 36 along with the same in blued. Also have a three inch Model 31-1 in .32 S&W Long. That is a handy little bugger with no recoil whatsoever. If I ever get arthritis when I become older, that'll probably be one of my good to guns.

Three inch revolvers for me are the perfect balance for the most part. I have them in S&W J-Frames as mentioned along with K-Frames too. Plus Colt D-Frames and even in Ruger Security Sixes, GP100s, and Vaqueros.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13 Posts
Had one of the PD's back in the day. Functioned OK with ball, but wasn't something you wanted to spend the afternoon plinking with. Got rid of it pretty quick, as it had feeding problems with my SWC handloads.

One of my rounds hadn't been crimped enough. The bullet slipped in the case, causing a half moon gauge in the aluminum barrel ramp of the frame. I couldn't believe the aluminum frame was so dead soft, that it would be devited so that badly by the mouth of a brass cartridge case.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
103 Posts
I carried a Star PD with the silver "Starvel" finish on recommendation of the Colonel. I know it wasn't as far back as '70s, but close. I carried it in [ready for the sacrilege?] a first generation Milt Sparks Summer Special made for a full size Colt 1911 that I cut off for the shorter barrel. You definitely knew when it went off, but it was satisfactorily accurate and surprisingly fed the old Speer 200gr Flying Ashtrays 100%. It was stolen in a burglary here in southern Colorado, and turned up about 8 years later somewhere in Oregon. No, I wasn't prepared for a trip to the NW to retrieve it, so it apparently was destroyed there.

-jb, thanks for the memories
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,147 Posts
I carried a Star PD with the silver "Starvel" finish on recommendation of the Colonel. I know it wasn't as far back as '70s, but close. I carried it in [ready for the sacrilege?] a first generation Milt Sparks Summer Special made for a full size Colt 1911 that I cut off for the shorter barrel. You definitely knew when it went off, but it was satisfactorily accurate and surprisingly fed the old Speer 200gr Flying Ashtrays 100%. It was stolen in a burglary here in southern Colorado, and turned up about 8 years later somewhere in Oregon. No, I wasn't prepared for a trip to the NW to retrieve it, so it apparently was destroyed there.

-jb, thanks for the memories
Why wasn't it shipped to you rather than destroyed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
86 Posts
My truck carries the same 1911 my 69 Buick used to carry. I had that bad boy legally carried in the trunk tucked in between the sheet metal and the back seat. My theory was that in the event circumstances led me to place self preservation above compliance I could rip the seat out and and retrieve it. That theory was tested once and son of a gun it worked like a charm. Now I'm lucky if I can move the grandkids booster seats out of my way.

As for on the person since I'm in a transition mode and have only begun to carry in the last couple of years I still carry old stuff passed down from, my father. With winter clothes it's a Colt Commander otherwise it's a Walther PPKS. I have been contemplating actually modernizing as I fully embrace my responsibility
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
103 Posts
ral, sadly, that's a very real possibility. Shipping was not offered. Something to the effect "if you want it back you'll have to retrieve it."

-jb, maybe LEO don't have a FedEx account?
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top