- Caliber: .44 Special
- Barrel: 2 inch
- OA Length: 6.6 inches
- Weight: 20 ounces (unloaded)
- Grips: Rubberized
- Sights:Upper frame channel
- Action: Double-action-only
- Finish: matte stainless or black nitride
- Capacity: 5 rounds
- MSRP: $443
‘Speak softly and carry a big stick,’ — President Theodore Roosevelt
“Big Stick policy refers to U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt’s foreign policy: ‘speak softly, and carry a big stick…the exercise of intelligent forethought and of decisive action sufficiently far in advance of any likely crisis,'” explains Wikipedia.
Except for the speak softly part, that pretty much sums up Charter Arm’s new Boomer, a five-shot .44 Special snub-nosed revolver with a compact, snag-free ported barrel. The Boomer is an extension of their successful Bulldog series of revolvers and, like the Bulldog, this one has a big bark.
Big stick doesn’t refer to the gun, of course, which is quite compact and light for the chambering, but to the .44 Special cartridge. The .44 Special has been around for a long time, putting down bad guys from the days of the wild west to modern day Gotham. The staying power of this round is due to its excellent stopping power performance.
.44 Special vs. .45 ACP
OK, I can hear all you .45 ACP fans out there saying, “Why shoot an old cartridge when .45 ACP is cheaper and more readily available, especially when Charter Arms makes .45 ACP revolvers, too?” There’s no way I can settle the .44 Special versus .45 ACP argument. That’s been going on since 1904 when John Browning designed the .45 Auto for his new 1905 self-loading pistol and it’s not going away anytime soon. Just keep in mind that, although derived from earlier blackpowder rounds, the .44 Special was actually a new round developed just a few years earlier than the .45 ACP using a slightly lengthened case and smokeless powder. It has seen considerable improvements since then.
This round is obviously for the “bigger is better” following that believes that a larger, heavier round at lower velocity is a better stopper than a smaller, lighter round traveling faster. There are plenty of people who believe this, including the US Army when they decided .45 caliber was more effective against drug-crazed Moro warriors in the American-Philippine War than the .38 Special it was currently using.
Both .44 Special .45 ACP bullets are on the bigger side: .429 inches for the .44 and .451 inches for the .45. Not enough difference to argue over.
Loaded on the low end of performance with factory ammo, they both leave the barrel with around 300 foot pounds of energy. Depending on the charge, a hotly loaded charge can make as much as 828 foot-pounds for the .45 and 1,007 for the .44 given enough barrel. Either will get the job done.
While it may be more expensive, .44 Special ammo isn’t that hard to come by. If all else fails, you can still find it at big stores like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shop. It’s also readily available online in a range of loadings from cowboy loads with 240-grain lead bullets to defensive rounds like Hornady’s 180-grain XTP ammo. And it’s just as easy to reload as .45 ACP, which makes the costs comparable for reloaders. In fact, the bigger case capacity of the .44 offers more versatility for reloaders to customize loads from light plinking to heavy-hitting defense and hunting loads.
On paper, the .44 has a slight performance edge, even with factory ammo, but out of a 2-inch barrel, it’s inconsequential. Terminal ballistics are comparable.
When it comes to revolvers I prefer a traditional rimmed cartridge. You can obviously fire .45s in a revolver using moon clips to hold the rounds in place. Charter Arms even makes guns chambered for .45 ACP that don’t need moon clips. On the competition scene .45s rule because they are faster to reload with moon clips than with a speed loader. Ultimately I prefer .44 because the rimmed cases offer more reliable extraction which is crucial for self-defense firearms.
This is a Self-Defense Revolver
When it comes to self defense, the single most important factor is not caliber or cost, it’s dependability. If you have a cannon that won’t fire, it’s as good as a rock.
Moon clips work great most of the time. You might use moon clips and never have a problem—but they can bend and they can break. No matter how unlikely, why take the chance when there’s a reasonable alternative? Revolvers were designed to fire rimmed cartridges including .44 Special. The simplest way to get the job done is generally the best.
Light Platform, Heavy Round
One reason for the popularity of Charter Arms revolvers is that they are relatively light and compact, especially when it comes to a gun chambered for .44 Special. In fact, except for the width of the cylinder, the Boomer isn’t much bigger than a Smith & Wesson J-frame.
Designed to be Snag-Free
The Boomer has an exposed hammer without a hammer spur to eliminate snags. The snag-free philosophy is carried over to the barrel. Charter eliminated the front sight and tapered the barrel to ensure the smoothest draw possible. This gun is obviously meant as a last defense, close-up, stop-the-threat gun. In that mission it rocks. It’s fast out of the holster and onto the target and for me it was not difficult to put all rounds into center of mass on a silhouette at 7 yards.
I prefer a gun with a front sight, but if you’re concerned with snagging and see your daily carry as a last resort option, this may be exactly what you want. There are plenty of other Charter Arms .44 Special revolvers with ramped front sights. Either way Charter Arms has you covered.
The trigger pull measured right around 12 pounds on my Lyman trigger pull gauge. Some pulls it would register just under 12 pounds, the limit of the gauge, and sometimes would go over. Given that you hold the grip firmly to control recoil, the pull weight didn’t seem too high. The trigger is smooth, stacking until you feel a wall before it breaks. Of course, in firing drills you press right through and don’t notice it. The smoothness helps you stay on target though.
Recoil is Quite Manageable
When you’re slinging 240 grain bullets you have to expect some recoil. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, though. In fact, it’s not as bad as the recoil from a slightly heavier J-frame loaded with .357 Magnum rounds. The full-size rubber grip does a good job keeping it under control. I have to admit that the porting really helps to reduce muzzle flip, although it does obstruct your vision a bit.
The Boomer has enough recoil to let know you are shooting a powerful gun without so much to make it uncomfortable.
Attractive Price Point
The suggested retail price is $443 and I’ve seen it for sale for well under $400. When looking at price I always consider the value.
The Boomer is an exceptional value with good parts fit and function. The finish (available in either stainless steel or black nitride) isn’t as slick as more expensive options, but it’s good enough to protect the gun and keep it running over time. Overall it’s a solid revolver that functions well. There were no problems at the range over the course of 200 rounds and I don’t expect any soon with Charter Arms’ build quality. And it’s 100 percent made in America.
Availability is Increasing
The Boomer is a new gun for Charter Arms and it’s only beginning to make its way through the distribution channels. If you’re looking for a big bore “get off me” gun on a budget, or just looking for something a little different, the Charter Arms Boomer definitely deserves a look.
And if you like the idea of picking up a light .44 Special handgun but aren’t sold on the front-sight-free, low-drag design, there are plenty of other affordable options from Charter Arms out there. They also offer guns in more common chamberings including .38 Special, .357 Magnum, moon-clip-free 9mm Luger, .40 Smith & Wesson, .45 ACP and of course, .22 Long Rifle.
Learn more about Charter Arms revolvers at CharterArms.com: http://www.charterarms.com/
Shop for Charter Arms revolvers on GunsAmerica.com: https://www.gunsamerica.com/Search.htm?T=charter+arms&pagenum=1