Range Report: Charter Arms Pitbull in .45 ACP

By Robert Sadowski published on in Firearms, Range Reports

I’ve always liked large frame revolvers that fire .45 ACP ammo, since I like the idea of firing the same cartridge as my 1911 and other .45 ACP pistols. The problem I’ve had with these revolvers is an on-again, off-again relationship with moon clips. You need moon clips to quickly load and reload most big bore revolvers. The problem is clips that bend or break. Fortunately, the newest model in the Charter Arms Pitbull series can share ammo with your 1911 .45 ACPs without the need for moon clips.

Charter Arms Pitbull revolver with American Eagle ammunition

The Pitbull is a stout revolver capable of good accuracy and good service.

This Pitbull—like all the other models in the Pitbull series—is designed to fire a rimless, semi-automatic pistol cartridge. The unique feature of the Pitbull series is the ejector has a built in spring loaded plunger for each chamber that is depressed when a cartridge is inserted into the chamber and snaps back out into the extractor groove of the rimless cartridge case. With this system there is no need for moonclips. The chambers are also stepped, so .45 ACP cases headspace on the case mouth.

This 5-shot revolver is stout, compact, and made from a 416 stainless steel one-piece frame. The grip and trigger guard are made from an aluminum alloy. The 3-inch stainless steel barrel has the front ramp sight milled out of the top side. The ejector rests in a full lug under the barrel. The front edge of the lug was rounded making the revolver easier to holster. The rear sight is a groove milled along the top side of the frame. The sights are snag-free and provide a good sight picture for close up work.

Charter Arms Pitbull
Caliber: .45 ACP
Action Type: Revolver, DA/SA
Overall Length: 7.2 in.
Barrel Length: 2.5 in.
Maximum Width: 1.6 in.
Weight Unloaded: 22 oz.
Capacity: 5
Finish: Nitride
Grip: Checkered rubber/finger grooves
Sight: Fixed
Trigger Pull Weight: (DA) 12 lbs.
Trigger Pull Weight: (SA) 5.5 lbs.
MSRP: $509

A common feature of all Charter Arms revolvers is a safety transfer bar. This system prevents the hammer from striking the firing pin unless the trigger is pulled fully to the rear.

A new nitride finish being offered by Charter Arms was applied to the Pitbull that was very well executed and gave the revolver a no-nonsense look that does not need to be babied. The grips were checkered rubber with finger grooves and fit my average size hands well. There were also thin to ease conceal carry and the rubber helped elevate felt recoil.

Initially, the DA trigger was gritty but smoothed up after dry fire and use. It measured 12 pounds in DA mode and in SA mode broke at 5.5 pounds. The trigger was serviceable and well suited for a defense handgun. The trigger is serrated so your finger does not slip when rapid fire shooting in DA mode.

Though the Pitbull is made for close in work, I still tested accuracy out to 25 yards. With both ball and JHP ammo the Pitbull consistently shot 3-inch, 5-shot groups. I used Federal American Eagle 230-grain FMJ (ball ammo), Winchester Defend loaded with a 230-grain JHP, and HPR loaded with a 185-grain JHP. Recoil was noticeable but quite manageable. Loading and ejecting empty cases was error free.

Smartly, I pressed the ejector rod against the wood to see whether the ejector would slip past the empty cases. I found I could only trip up the Pitbull once. In that instance, I used a screwdriver, but a pen or other slender object, used as a tool, will work to eject the case.

The Pitbull is an easy revolver to use and I like the fact it feeds of the same ammo as my 1911.

Performance: Charter Arms Pitbull

.45 ACP Velocity Energy Best Accuracy Average Accuracy
Federal American Eagle 230-gr. FMJ 706 255 2.7 2.8
HPR 185-gr. JHP 873 313 2.9 3.3
Winchester Defend 230-gr. JHP 776 308 3.0 3.2

* Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity in fps, and average accuracy in inches for best five-shot groups at 25 yards.

Have you shot the Charter Arms Pitbull? What are your thoughts on big bore revolvers? Share your answers in the comment section.


Robert Sadowski has written about firearms and hunting for nearly 15 years. He is the author of four gun books, editor of three others and is a contributor to numerous gun-enthusiast magazines, including Combat Handguns, Black Guns, Tactical Weapons for Military and Police, Gun Tests, Personal and Home Defense, Gun Hunter, SHOT Business, and others. He has a personal affinity for large-caliber revolvers and the AR platform.

View all articles by Robert Sadowski

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Comments (24)

  • frank


    I have a Pitbull in .45 cal and I love it. Can someone please compare the recoil of the .45 versus the .40?


    • Dan



      As a general rule, the 40cal is a bit more snappy than the 45cal. My own personal feeling is that the 45 is a little (not much) easier to control. This is just my opinion based on my own experience.


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