Charter Arms and Lew Horton Team Up for the Backpacker Revolver

Charter Arms and Lew Horton Team Up for the Backpacker Revolver
Lew Horton is offering a classy looking Charter Arms .44 Special — the Backpacker Revolver.
Lew Horton is offering a classy looking Charter Arms .44 Special — the Backpacker Revolver.
Lew Horton is offering a classy looking Charter Arms .44 Special — the Backpacker Revolver.

There have been plenty of companies that have bored revolvers for the venerable .44 Special. But in the modern era, there is one manufacturer whose name has become particularly intertwined with the big-bore round.

Charter Arms founder Doug McClenahan introduced his .44 Special revolver — the Bulldog — in 1973. It was a move that flew in the face of conventional wisdom at the time. Many believed at that point the .44 Magnum had relegated the older round to the ash bin of history. But McClenahan’s intuitions about the .44 Special proved to be accurate.

The Bulldog earned its place in firearms history, becoming one of the top selling revolvers of the 1970s and 1980s. All that time, the sturdy, compact and safe Bulldog never lost it blue-collar looks or reliability. But recently, the Connecticut manufacturer’s easy-to-carry .44 Special has received a bit of a makeover.

Well, to be more exact, Charter Arms is offering a dolled up limited edition version of its Bulldog through Lew Horton Distributing — the Backpacker Revolver.

Perhaps the most eye-catching aspect of the special edition revolver is its grips. The five-round handgun has been fitted with an elegant set of walnut grips, designed not only to enhance form, but also function. The round-butt naturally conforms to the hand, and the grips are further enhanced with three finger holds to ensure a firm purchase on the firearm.

The revolver also has its special edition name — Backpacker — etched on the left side of its 2.5-inch barrel. While perhaps not the biggest selling point to some, it nonetheless adds appeal to the gun given its extremely limited run. Only 50 Backpackers have been produced.

The .44 Special has fixed front sights and a sight groove in place of a rear sight. It also has all the features fans of Charter Arms have become familiar with over the years. Of these, the most notable are its one-piece frame, three-point cylinder lock, short hammer throw and hammer block transfer bar safety. This final feature ensures the revolver does not fire unless the trigger is at its full rear position.


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  1. I bought a Charter Bulldog 44 Special 12 years ago. Ideal to carry in the car, easy to conceal,
    and I’m sure I have enough firepower. Also, I’ve never had a problem finding factory ammo.
    It’s not a fun gun you would want to shoot a lot, it’s purely self defense.

    • My wife carries a Charter .44 and loves it. She can shoot it accurately and can carry it comfortably in a belly band holster that is not conspicuous. I own a S&W 624 in .44 Special and we both shoot the old Skeeter Skelton 240 gr SWC / 7.5 gr Unique load that has sufficient energy to deal with problem situations but is mild enough to be controllable in my spouse’s Charter.

  2. Meh. Most loadings for the .44 Special are pretty *light* (sub 300ft/lbs muzzle energy – maybe about the same as cowboy .45 Colt loads), I used them to get my kid used to his .44 magnum when he was smaller. Also, the .44 Special was hard-to-find ammo even before this latest batch of crooks were in office and it tended to be pretty expensive. It’s probably ok for predators of the two-legged variety, but I wouldn’t carry it someplace I expected to run into a dangerous animal.


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