Sunday, December 6, 2009

Charter Bulldog .44 blows away Colt Cobra .38 at the range

Does a Bulldog beat a Cobra? A funny thing happened to my plans to buy a new-to-me Colt Cobra .38 Special snubby at the gun shop.

I almost had the Cobra paid off when what should come from the last gun show? A stainless Charter Bulldog Pug 2.5" barrel .44 Special snubby.

The first snubby I ever bought is a Charter Patriot .327 Magnum, shown at right at bottom with Crimson Trace Laser Grips, so adding a Bulldog, at right top, is pretty much a no-brainer.

They're built on the same stainless-steel frame, the only difference being caliber and round count, six .327 Magnums vs. five .44 Specials in the cylinder.

I can even swap the CT grips to either of the two Charters should I want to.

But after shooting the Bulldog on Saturday at the range, I doubt it will ever wear CT grips, unless I buy a second set for it.

I started out shooting 240-gr. Cowboy Loads, rated at 761 feet per second at the muzzle. You can call that a Cowboy Load, but it sure ain't light ballistically speaking.

Those numbers are classic 230-gr. .45 ACP ballistics, which is generally about the same speed and nobody ever calls .45 ACP a "Cowboy Load."
Anything hit with a 240-grain chunk of .44 lead moving at 761 FPS is going to be in a serious load of hurt.

The Cowboy Loads were mild recoil and easy to shoot, but patterned about 3" low of the bullseye. After putting three in the same hole, I pretty well established the point-of-impact for that load.

Then I switched to some 240-gr. Semi Wad Cutter full-house loads, not marked for velocity but I'll assume about 100 fps faster, say 861. And those patterned right on the bull for the iron sights.

So that's what this Bulldog likes best, 240-gr. full-house loads. I've got both SWCs and Plated Flat-Nose 240-gr. loads so either should work just fine for carry.

I've also got some 200-gr. Gold Dot Jacketed Hollow Points but I haven't tried those yet to see where they hit. We've also got some Winchester Silvertip JHPs at the shop, so I'll probably pick up a box of those to see what the Bulldog does with them too.

But it's definitely a keeper, so I'll keep the Bulldog and let the shop have the Colt Cobra back to sell.

When it comes to whether I want a .38 or a .44 for a backup, my math skills ain't too good but not only is .44 bigger than .38, 240 grains is also heavier than 158 grains.

And I don't have to go look up the ballistic tables to know that comparing the two in foot-pounds of energy delivered is no comparison whatsoever. And IMHO, ft./lbs. is the real payoff when it comes to ballistic matchups, the closest statistic we have to the fabled "knockdown power."

If you've got speed but low grain weight, you gotta have a lotta speed to make up for that handicap to build up ft./lbs. That's how .327 Magnum is such an impressive revolver round, not much weight, 100 grains for the American Eagle load we shot Saturday, but a smoking hot speed of 1500 fps. That delivers ft./lbs. just shy of classic .357 Magnum stats.

And if you've got good weight but low speed, you come up short again. With classic .38 Special ballistics, you've got 158 grains but slow speed, so you don't get much in the way of ft./lbs. or penetration either.

But like 230-gr. .45 ACP loads, a big ol' hunk of 240-gr. .44 lead at slow speed, 761 fps, adds up to impressive ft./lbs. of energy and penetration.

So it don't take a rocket surgeon to figure out a Bulldog .44 beats a Cobra .38 every time.

I spent the rest of the day at the range playing with my Para Ordnance P12-45 with my friend Jerry and his son Austin. Nothing's more fun that shooting with friends.

I'm the old guy who needs a haircut. Jerry's the younger guy who don't need a haircut. And Austin is the kid who had enough sense to wear a knit cap on a cold, rainy day.

The rain stopped long enough to let us shoot in relative comfort, but with a high in the low 40s, it was a bit brisk, as least for this thin-blooded ol' Southern redneck.
Austin also has a cool phone with a multi-exposure photo function and he took a series of photos of me working on my shoulder-holster draw and double-tap shooting. Thanks Austin.

No comments: