Range Reports

Everyday Carry with Charter’s Pit Bull 9mm Revolver

Charter Arms 9mm Pit Bull with Shot Group

Charter Arms’ 9mm revolver, called the Pit Bull, uses a common pistol cartridge in an uncomplicated wheelgun design—an elegant set up for many concealed-carry shooters who prize simplicity and reliability over all else.

For many shooters, revolvers are easy to operate compared to semiautomatic pistols. Pull the trigger of a revolver and it goes bang, and if it fails to fire, pull the trigger again. With a semiautomatic, if the trigger is pulled and the pistol does not fire, the user usually must go through a procedure to get the pistol back online. Or, drop a magazine in the snow, mud, or tall grass, and a semiautomatic can be put out of action. In contrast, a revolver’s cylinder holds the cartridges and is attached to the frame. Nothing to drop, nothing to lose. Revolvers also don’t leave empties rolling around on the floor.

Charter Arms 9mm Pit Bull / Shooter showing Left Action
The Charter Arms Pit Bull offered good close-range performance with the bite of 9mm ammunition.

The revolver by design — and the Pit Bull in particular — is a weapon that requires minimal training to be used effectively in defensive circumstances. Training should be at the top of any shooter or concealed-carry user’s list, but the basic simplicity of the revolver allows the user to concentrate on the threat and not on safeties, de-cockers and other assorted levers, as on semiautomatic pistols.

Typically, rimmed cartridges like .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 Colt (or as some prefer, .45 Long Colt to differentiate the round in casual conversation from the .45 ACP), and others are used in revolvers. Semiautomatic cartridges like the 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, .45 ACP, and others are rimless. (Technically, they are not “rimless,” but instead have a rim that is slightly smaller than the diameter of the case.) To work in a revolver, rimless cartridges need some sort of device to hold the cartridge in the chamber of a revolver’s cylinder. Combat revolvers used during WWI, like the M1917, used half-moon clips that held three .45 ACP cartridges in the revolver’s chambers. These clips allowed rimless cartridges to be used in revolvers. The Charter Arms Pit Bull uses a different design. The Pit Bull incorporates a spring-loaded lip of steel that makes full contact with the rim of the rimless cartridge. This allows the insertion and retention of the 9mm cartridge in each chamber of the cylinder. The system also allows the user to quickly eject the empties. There is no need for any half- or full-moon clips. The chambers of the cylinder are also stepped so the case mouth of the 9mm bottoms out or headspaces on the step and does not fall through the chamber.

Charter Arms 9mm Pit Bull / Muzzle Pointing Left
Small, compact, and simple to use, the Pit Bull in 9mm is a viable choice for concealed carry. Photo courtesy of Charter Arms.

The Pit Bull, like other Charter Arms revolvers, is strong, lightweight, and reliable. Charter Arms has been perfecting economical and reliable compact revolver for decades. They and Ruger are the only major U.S. manufacturers of double-action revolvers that use a one-piece frame. Smith & Wesson and Taurus double-action revolvers have a sideplate that, once removed, allows access to the mechanism. The mechanism for the Charter Arms revolver is accessed after removing the trigger guard. A one-piece frame makes Charter Arms revolvers strong, and that is important, especially when the revolver is chambered in .38 Special +P, .357 Magnum, and .44 Special cartridges. The Pit Bull uses the same frame as the iconic .44 Special Bulldog, and since the frame and cylinder are nearly the same, the shorter 9mm bullets travel about 7/8ths inch in the chamber before it reaches the forcing cone and then the rifling.

The ejector rod is housed in a shroud that blends with the gun’s lines and is long enough to fully push out the empty cases. Push the cylinder latch forward to swing out the cylinder. The cylinder snaps back into the frame in place with a confident sound. The serrated hammer gives a sure grip cocking and decocking the revolver. The firing system uses a transfer bar, which will not allow the revolver to fire even if it is dropped on the hammer. The firing pin is built into the frame. The hammer slams the transfer bar, which in turn pounds the firing pin into the primer of the cartridge.

The checkered black-rubber grip does a nice job of filling the space behind the trigger guard. The texture feels secure, without being sticky like some rubber grips. The grip completely surrounds the frame. There is no metal backstrap showing through the grip to slam into your palm when shooting hot loads. The finger grooves, too, are comfortable for the average-size hand. The grip and the smooth-surfaced trigger work together to produce a smooth, DA trigger pull. The overall finish of the Pit Bull is a generally uniform matte stainless.

A revolver chambered in 9mm Luger (or 9mm Para or 9×19) may sound odd, but it makes sense because the 9mm cartridge is extremely popular and common with civilians and law enforcement and the military. Many shooters may already own a 9mm semi-automatic pistol, so if the shooter adds a Pit Bull to his lineup, there is no need to buy different ammo. The Pit Bull will chew through anything you feed your 9mm Glock, Beretta, SIG, or S&W M&P.

Charter Arms 9mm Pit Bull in Galco SOB Holster
The Galco SOB holster allows concealed-carry users to comfortably tote the small Pit Bull.

From a coat pocket or conceal-carry rig, the Pit Bull can be quickly brought into action. The sights do not snag. The ramp front sight and the groove rear sight are large and make target acquisition easy. The Pit Bull is no target pistol, nor does it pretend to be. Like its name implies, it’s a fierce package that’s made to be used in close quarters.

Shooting a Pit Bull at the range recently, I was able to consistently group six holes within 4 to 5 inches at 15 yards from a rest. In single action, the trigger broke cleanly and crisply at 4 pounds 6 ounces, on average. Its double-action pull was heavier than 12 pounds, though it felt lighter. I was able to shoot DA quickly and accurately using a two-hand hold.

I used an assortment of factory-loaded ammo—Speer and two types of Winchester ammo—and handloaded ammo. The 124-grain Speer Short Barrel ammo had nearly the same muzzle velocity as the 115-grain Winchester Super X. The felt recoil with the Speer rounds was more pronounced than either of the Winchester loads.

Charter Arms 9mm Pit Bull with Shot Group
This is a typical six-shot group from the Pit Bull at 15 yards.

All in, the Pit Bull was a comfortable gun to shoot. In fact, I used up some old reloads to break-in the Pit Bull. I had no difficulty ejecting the empties, but after about 200 rounds of mixed fodder—factory and reloads—residue built up in the Pit Bull and one or two of the rimless 9mm cartridges stuck in the cylinder. The Pit Bull is not designed for sustained fire like I was using it. The stuck cases were easily knocked free when I tapped the cylinder on the shooting bench.

I stored the Pit Bull in a Galco SOB (Small Of Back) holster for a week before I traded my everyday carry rig for the SOB and the Pit Bull. For a few weeks I carried the Pit Bull in the Galco holster, which placed the small revolver behind my right hip and at the center of my spine. This type of carry arrangement offers good concealment, even if your shirt accidentally flies open.

The downside of small-of-back holsters is they are uncomfortable to sit down on. When sitting, I noticed the SOB rig came between me and the chair back or vehicle seat. Thus, for extended periods driving a vehicle, a small-of-the-back holster is not recommended. Depending on your activities, the SOB is best suited for those who are on their feet most of the day. When covered with a button shirt or loose-fitting polo, it was easy to hide the Pit Bull from sight in side and rear views.

The Galco SOB is made of old-school leather that’s molded to the shape of the revolver. A tension screw is used to adjust the hold on the weapon. There is no security strap on the SOB. I liked the fact I could re-holster the Pit Bull with one hand since the mouth of the SOB stays open. The Pit Bull was also easy to reholster with the sharp edge of the front of the cylinder chamfered and the front edge of the barrel shroud rounded so the Pit Bull did not snag.

Charter Arms has made it easy and simple for a revolver to coexist with the 9mm round. The Pit Bull is easy to use, easy on the wallet, and easily chews through 9mm ammo with good consistent groups.

Performance

Charter Arms 9mm Pit Bull Rimless Revolver

  • Velocity measured 15 feet from the muzzle by a ProChrono digital chronograph
  • Accuracy numbers result of three 5-shot groups fired at 15 yards from a benchrest
9mm Luger Muzzle Velocity Best Group Average Group
Winchester Super X 115-gr Silvertip HP 1,100 fps 2.75 in. 4.25 in.
Winchester (white box) 147-gr JHP 876 fps 2.0 in. 3.0 in.
Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 124-gr GDHP 1,090 fps 3.25 in. 3.63 in.

 

 
Charter Arms Pit Bull, MSRP $465
Action Double-action
Barrel Length 2.2 inches
Caliber 9mm Luger
Overall Length 6.75 inches
Weight Unloaded 22 oz.
Sights Fixed, ramp front, groove rear
Grip Checkered neoprene
Capacity 6 rounds
Finish Matte Stainless

 Share your thoughts about the Charter Arms Pit Bull revolver with us in the comment section.

[rsadowski]

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Comments (49)

  1. I took my chamber off and polished each chamber with red rouge and a felt tip on my dremel. Then followed with flitz and a clean felt tip. Cases eject much better now.

  2. Good question: I wonder why no one had thought of this before….

    Self Defense gun, possibly drawing from pants pocket, purse, but CERTAINLY NOT a holster on the belt (majority of the time).

    why do we need a HAMMER exposed. This ain’t target shooting you are not going to have tine to SA this gun in self defense. I would buy without the hammer.

    I may, and have it shaved off…

  3. They quite making the 6 shot, due to difficulty in extraction issues, with the 5 shot they can use a larger indent device that better catches the rim of the case. My 6 shot would not eject, so polished the chambers with red rouge and flitz. now they work fine until chambers get too dirty.

  4. After trying to find one for nearly 3 years I Finally got my 9mm Pitbull a couple of months back through Gallery of Guns. I love it. Very accurate and the only thing cheaper to shoot is a .22. The only caveat I’ve found is that you must use brass case cartridges. For whatever reason, steel cases are VERY difficult to eject. No big deal. I, too, was surprised to find that my new gun was a 5-shot, rather than a 6-shot, and called Charter Arms thinking I might’ve received old stock. I also spoke with a nice lady who assured that was not the case. Incidentally, there is apparently a Canadian compliant version of the Pitbull that has a 4.33″ barrel but it doesn’t appear to be available in the U.S.

  5. I just got the 9mm pitbull I ordered over a year ago, I was disappointed at first because it was a 5 shot not the 6 that I thought I was getting…I called Charter Arms and the nice lady there told me they are no longer making the six shot and have gone back to the 5 shot because of malfunctions in the six shot…she also said there made still be some 6 shots out there in the market place inventory. Also they have not had any problems since going back to the five shot

  6. I bought a new 9mm pitbull a couple months ago. Had to send it back to the factory for repair, since the head space was wrong and ejection was an issue. Charter Arms paid the freight both ways and the revolver works fine now. The accuracy is similar to what was shown above. I like the gun and would recommend it especially because the factory stands behind it and it is easy and fun to shoot. It is a good back up to a 9mm auto or vice-versa.

  7. The trouble with buying the Charter Arms 9 mm pitbull is they are VERY hard to find for sale. I have been waiting for 2 years and still have not found one for sale in our area. (South Central TX).

  8. 9mm is short case, designed for high pressure, uses relatively small chares of fast burning powder. That is why the 9mm does better than the .38 with 110 to 125 grain bullets- sometimes lots faster.
    A small hot cartridge.
    The .38 was designed for slower burning powder.
    The .38 is the more powerful in a 4 inch revolver with heavy handloads- 160 grains at 1200 fps. In the little guns, well, the 9mm just might be the hotter load. .

  9. Just for educational purposes Monday I was test firing a Kahr CW 9, with 3 inch barrel.
    Speer Gold Dot, 124 grain 9mm, clocked 1020 fps.
    My usual backup is a Smith and Wesson M36 two inch barrel .38 Special .
    Black HIlls 125 grain +P, 850 fps.
    Speer 135 grain .38 Special +P Gold Dot, 780 fps.
    True — 3 inch versus 2 inch but lots of difference.
    Of course the .38 does well with 158 grain bullets, but you get the idea.

  10. I guess I miss the point of preferring a 9mm revolver over a 38 spl. Is the 9mm more powerful or have better penetration than a 38 spl +P JHP?

    I wouldn’t trade my S&W 38 spl +P Titanium air weight for one of these Charter Arms 9mm revolvers. I can put 50– 38 spl+P rounds through my revolver and it continues to work flawlessly.

    Plus, I was soured on Charter Arms when the last stainless steel .22 LR revolver I owned would sometimes built- up so much carbon after only approx. 25 rounds that the cylinder wouldn’t turn when I pulled on the trigger. That was using Federal 525 bulk pack ammo. I sure wouldn’t want that to happen with any self defense revolver.

    There just seems to be several ‘possible’ failing points… even if remote… to trust my life to this particular model revolver for self defense purposes.

    1. One advantage is efficiency. The 9mm gets a little extra tube length by virtue of it being a shorter cartridge, thus you get some extra velocity at no cost.

    2. I’d be curious if that were true Joe. Especially in a revolver. The tiny amount you might gain in the shorter cartridge would be lost at the gas exit between the cylinder and the start of the barrel.

    3. I vote with Nathan.. I don’t see how there can’t be any significant power gain in a revolver. Especially with a 2-3″ barrel and the gap between the cylinder & the barrel’s forcing cone.

    4. People often don’t consider the way barrels are measured in Revolvers vs pistols. A pistol barrel is measured including the chamber, whereas a revolver is measured from the actual barrel, not including the chamber.
      However, I must say that the difference between a 9 mm and a 38 Special (which is my preference personally) is certainly negligible. If the gun works and you shoot it well, carry it easy, and like how it looks, buy it. My motto.

  11. I had one of the earlier pit bulls they made about 20 to 25 years ago was cal 9mm Federal and was rimmed. Federal quit making the ammo and left an orphan gun, the rimless 9mms would drop down into the cyl so no way to use, were no moon clips, that would work. I finally sold it at a gun show and told the guy the problem and he said, no worry, so don’t know what he did. No more 9mm Federal ammo ever appeared again, a shame as what a neat little gun it was.

  12. I have a Taurus 905 that I love. I use TK Customs moon clips with it and it makes loads and unloads very quick. The moon clips that come with the 905 are garbage compared to the TK customs clips. Recoil is more with the 9mm.compared to .38 special, but not nearly as much as .357.

    1. I know I have seen several articles over the past 18 months, but have not been able to find one anywhere in the country. My local shop has had 2 on BO for almost a year. I emailed the VP of the company and he says they are planning a run this fall.

  13. I keep seeing articles about the 9mm pit bull, but no one has any in the market place. Is Charter Arms going to produce any in a large enough quantity so that they will be available?

  14. I have had poor experiences with Charter of any year period or company
    owbership. The latest have good designs but need way more machining to make them smooth like a ccw peiece should be. This is at best a back up gun or a 2nd gun not a ccw primary as even though are cartridges are more efficient in a revolver they are not ccw relodable. For example I carry a 638 and have done so 20 years now.. I carry ammo on a Bianchi speed strip x 2 with 5 rds on each. You can carry the strip easy and flat in pocket. You cannot carry a speedloader or moonclip easy in a pocket. You can not carry auto cartridges properly on a speed strip And if ya dont carry spare ammo then ya dont get it. Charter if ya want my interest in a gun then build a .45acp on a bulldog frame. And yes snubbies are expert guns not for newbies. Best newbie gun i found is a Kahr P9

  15. I’m sure this is a fine revolver, but to suggest that any snubnose revolver is “a weapon that requires minimal training to be used effectively in defensive situations” is simply wrong. Snubnose revolvers are cool and all, but they are expert guns.

  16. I’ve owned a 40 cal. S & W Pitbull since last spring. Put CT laser grips on it and find it to be very accurate out 7 to 10 yds. Had to return it to Charter for a front sight/barrel adjustment which they took care of ASAP including shipping both ways. Important you hold revolver vertical when dropping out spent cartridges. Hit extractor hard and they fall clear. I paid premium to acquire thru Davidson and my FFD Pawn shop. Hard to get, I feel it’s worth it.

    1. B T W : Carry a spare 10 or larger capacity 40 cal. auto mag. for your backup ammo. Easy to extract with thumb into cylinder to re-load and carry in pocket or belt.

  17. I have noticed the articles on this site are well written, but the pictures used don’t quite match the article. Sometimes handguns are misidentified, and sometimes the weapon doesn’t match the holster, as above. I seriously doubt this rig was carried for weeks as shown. That said, this is a neat little pistol that makes a lot of sense with ammo availability being what it is.

  18. I really like the idea of a revolver that shoots 9mm. I don’t care for the idea that it can only shoot 9mm. I’ve never used moon clips, but it seems like a .357 that can use moon clips would be a really good set-up. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t that let you shoot 9mm, .357, and .380sp. How about .380 and even .38 super. And wouldn’t the moon clips act as a kind-of speed loader, or do the clips make it difficult to load and unload ?

    1. Moon clips are anything BUT speed loaders. I loved how Charter Arms designed a way around them. But I have read posts about how it do not always work in practice. Empties getting seriously caught up in the ejector, etc. I still would love one of these if it worked 100%. …in 40 SW or better.

    2. Personally I can’t imagine why you would want to use moon clips instead of a speed loader. I have used Safriland speedloaders with my S&W 686 for years. Even though spring loaded, they have never gotten weak or failed to work. I use HKS for my Taurus 38 snobby, and to be honest, I prefer the HKS, even though it takes one extra action to release the round,. It is every bit as quick I think.

      Here is a somewhat basic info video on pistol round in a revolver, but part of the video shows the issues with moonclips. I have never owned one, but a friend of my that I shoot with years back did, and I did not care for the moonclips at all. Personal choice I guess. That’s why we love America.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_rmJgeXcVs

      Oh, and i know that none of us are Jerry, but here is what he can do with a speedloader. 12 rounds from a 6 shooter, all on target, in under 3 seconds. (2:20 in the video)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyIq9FdTgwM

      Like I said, I was very interested in this 40 SW Pitbull, and I am still tempted. But as I read reviews, there have been just too many complaints about issues and bad service. If I could garuantee a good one, I wouldn’t hesitate. I heard the company has undergone a few owner changes, with subsequent issues of quality and service

    3. Eating crow here. Jerry uses moon clips. They have gotten a lot better than anything I ever tried to use years back.

      I know how to admit learning something. I am just an old dog how likes some things from the old times. lol

      Be interested if you find some that work in your .357

    4. Well, like I said, the reason I would like to use the moon clips is so I can shoot 9mm out of my .357. That would be a great benefit. I’ll look into the cons of moon clips, but even if I have my cylinder machined, and it doesn’t work out, I’m only out the cost of machining. I could still load my S&W one at a time or use speed loaders. I guess I just think it would by cool to be able to use so many different calibers in one gun.

      And, I could never shoot like jerry. I couldn’t shoot that fast with 2 guns. It takes me 3 seconds to get my gun out of my holster. Not quite, but I’m old and beat up. Not near as fast as I used to be.

  19. I’m no expert but … shouldn’t the trigger be covered by the holster to prevent accidental misfiring?
    Btw … I love my 9mm 6-shot Pitbull. Despite having to return it due to a faulty cylinder (somewhat of a prob with initial production runs), Charter Arms was aware of the problem, responded with excellent service and sent a new one. I added a Crimson Trace to it and it is ALWAYS reliable even with cheap ammo, dead on from 15 yards, and does no require moon clips.

  20. Bob, I agree with you 99.9%. However since the .45 ACP didn’t arrive on-scene until after the turn of the 20th century, the term “LONG Colt was used to differentiate between it and the Schofield round; shorter, weaker,& cheaper, but able to chamber and fire in the Colt revolver. Admittedly, this has been a long on-going controversial debate between historians/writers, but is closer to Long Colt/ Schofield;,than to Long Colt/ACP,
    Respectfully:
    Will

  21. By the way you have the revolver positioned in the holster you are an amateur. Have you ever actually carried a handgun concealed?
    Carrying a handgun in a holster in the manner illustrated is a danger to the user and to everyone around him. Galco designed the holster to pinch the trigger guard and to maintain retention.

    .

    1. geez gunslinger4590, ya ever think they might have pulled it out slightly for the picture to see the gun better than just the holster???

  22. I was looking to buy one of these in 40 SW awhile ago, but decided against it when I read enough horror stories of poor service and unresolved issues. Some were happy,but it seemed to be a crap shoot whether or not you got a good one.
    I really wanted to believe in it, but did not take the chance.

  23. Don’t have the Pitbull simply because I just don’t like the 9mm. However I do have , and carry, the Charter Arms Bulldog .44 spl.. Every thing you said about the Pitbull relates to the Bulldog, except the accuracy. I get a tighter group, but then I do reload my own rounds. I am looking forward to purchasing the Charter Arms .40. When I was a kid revolvers where still the handgun to have, no one wanted an auto
    Great article, keep writing.

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