Range Report: Charter Arms Pitbull in .45 ACP

Charter Arms Pitbull revolver with American Eagle ammunition

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.

Specifications 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.


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Comments (26)

  1. i have a stainless version that I have shot with both 230 grain FMJ and 200 grain FMJ both new freedom munitions ammo that performed flawlessly and 2.8(200)-3.5(230)” 5 shots at 7 yards averages. loading was fairly easy depressing the ejector rod slightly and all empties fell right out smoothly. I hold the muzzle up and press the ejector rod for smooth easy emptying of the chambers. recoil is very manageable for me and I really like it .its double action pull is a little heavy but smooth on mine. plus single action is very smooth, feels good , and helps accuracy at 22 ozs easy to carry and plenty accurate enough for it’s intended purpose. I like this 45 revolvers versatility. no moon clips a huge plus. i use a spare Kimber 7 round magazine as my spare ammo holder, but any 1911 mag will do

  2. Would the Pitbull be able to shoot 45GAP ammo since the pressure and ballistics are the same as 45 ACP?

    1. @Frank:

      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.

  3. I have both steel & polymer moon clips. I mostly use the polymer, as they are MUCH easier to load & unload – real finger savers! 🙂

  4. I have a 2 1/2 inch bulldog and I really like it. I’m going to be giving this new pitbull a serious look. I am assuming that function and recoil of the two are similar.

    1. Thanks for your response to my question, JR. While I haven’t experienced any problems with extraction from my six round Pit Bull 9mm, I’d guess that others had, so Charter proactively reduced the cylinder capacity. ‘Sorta makes one wonder if the six round variety might accrue some collector status…..

  5. I carried a .44 special Bulldog in my boot for close to 25 years. That was a long time ago. I had a satin nickel finish put on so I didn’t have to worry about rust. That little hand cannon never failed me no matter what the situation. Handloads (some a little scary), store bought ammo, it didn’t matter. That Bulldog would eat ’em up & spit ’em out. You can’t beat a Bulldog when you need a back-up that always functions and knocks the stuffing out of whatever your target.

  6. I yield to the commonly accepted usage. Serrated it is.

    (Although it continues to bother me that this forum sends a message reading: “Error: Time limit is exhausted.” The proper word is exceeded).

    I suppose I expect too much.

  7. As for the other 45 ACP revolvers – you should look into the brand called “Rimz” which are made of some space age polymer. No tool is required – the cases snap in & out with ease. I have been using them for several years with complete satisfaction.


    1. I tried to look up “Rimz Revolver” and all I could find are speed loaders and moonclips. I’d like to check out the revolver. Any help with the search ?

    2. I’m fairly certain the gentleman is referring to the polymer moon clips. RIMZ Moon Clips by Beckham Products Design LLC.
      I’ve never tried them. Personally, I wonder if a good spring-steel would make more sense..

  8. I would heartily suggest that the author of this article take extra time to proofread his work!

    The author indicates the rubber grips actually elevated the felt recoil, or did he possibly mean that the rubber grips actually alleviated the felt recoil?

    There were another few instances of errors but I won’t go into it here: the author is the one who needs to proof read his own work, his readers should not have to do it for him.

    1. The first paragraph of a review contains multiple typos.

      “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 is [that] clip[s] bend or break.”

      Also, “The trigger is serrated [sic] so your finger does not slip when rapid fire shooting in DA mode.” Knives sometimes feature serrations; I don’t think most shooters would consider a “serrated” trigger to be a positive attribute. (Yes, I’ve seen this misuse of that word creeping into common usage, especially on forums, which doesn’t make it more acceptable. Describing the trigger as knurled or textured would be preferable).

      Overall I found Mr. Sadowski’s review of the Charter Arms Pitbull in .45 to be both informative and entertaining.

    2. Sir,
      Thanks for reading Roberts article. Trigger faces are indeed serrated. That is the terminology I have used many times. A smooth trigger face is OK for most uses but the serrated face lends better control and especially is helpful with a hard kicking trigger. Every description I can find is to use serrated. What would it be, a grooved or furrowed trigger? So- that is what it is.

  9. I would love to like Charter Arms Revolvers, but I have heard so many bad things about them over the past 10 or 15 years. That being said, this review, like all gun reviews is about 99% positive. Out of all the gun reviews that I have read in the last 25 years or so, 99% of them have been about 99% positive. Every gun made cant be that good all the time, especially when it comes to very cheap low quality guns. Yes, I have read plenty of spectacular reviews on ultra cheap guns too. That all being said, if you look up any gun and read owner reviews done by regular people that were posted on a forum, well only then is it a completely different story. Even guns that are considered to be expensive, extremely high quality, finely tuned machines have a few bad reviews now and then. As far as I know, there is only one publication that reviews guns just like a regular guy gun owner would review a gun. In this particular publication, every gun has some kind of negative feature or something, anything that they are not crazy about or something that could be fixed or redesigned. So if I buy a Charter revolver, is it going to be just as wonderful as this review?

    1. Eric M,

      Reviews are typically positive for several reasons. There are a ton of conspiracy theories and some valid points to be made. Like all things or writers, nothing is perfect. Likewise, all products have a failure rate. There is little value in writing about something that didn’t work—once. I have had some of the highest dollar guns or optics fail. In fact, I have a $6,000 custom rifle I had to send back to have the stock reworked once. I had a pair of high dollar binos that fogged up on a hunt. I had used them dozens of times before without a glitch though. What review should I write? If it had happened the first time I used the binos, should I declare them all junk? What is the value in saying this one did not work on this occasion? Was it the gun that failed or the ammo? Perhaps it was neither. Perhaps it was operator error, poor maintenance, etc., and the negative review of the product would be unfair to the manufacturer.

      On the other hand, we owe you—the reader—an honest and fair evaluation as well. You’ll notice reviews talking about cleaning and lubing the firearm before the first range session. We often take better care of our test firearms than the average shooter. At times, better than our personal guns in an effort to milk every bit of performance out of them. For the ideal review, a single gun normally takes a minimum of three trips to the range, several brands of ammunition, conditions, and multiple shooters.

      In my experience, ‘most‘ failures, regardless of the price of the gun, is the fault of the user. That’s true whether I am the shooter, or a friend, family member, or another writer. Many gun writers are professional or at least an amature gunsmiths. That gives a level of insight on why a gun failed or is having trouble and how to remedy it. Many gun require a break in period as well—something few shooters give it before running to the internet to tell their tale of woe. There are recalls of course. Cheaper guns are not as polished as more expensive models and more finicky, but they does not mean they won’t run with a bit of work.

      As a last resort, I would say do your own homework. If a gun is not functioning for you, take it to a local gun club and have an experienced shooter or two work it with you. You may be surprised. That gun you thought was a lazy dog may just hunt after all… If not, seek a professional and have them look into it.

      But to your original question. I would say, “Yes. Buy a Charter Arms and follow these tips and it should run every bit as good. ~ Dave Dolbee

    2. Reviews are typically positive only with guns and pretty much not much else. For example, automotive reviewers typically pick a car or an automotive product apart when they are doing reviews. I mean they really pick, which is a good thing because I want to know everything. However, a lot of the time they complain about things that I wouldn’t even notice or care about in the smallest sense, but its good to know anyway. For example, I need tires for my truck and I have been reading a lot of reviews on all terrain tires. The reviewers really pick at tires when they review them, but that is a good thing. They mention things that I would never ever think of in a 100 years. Like I said, gun reviews are about the only reviews that are 99% positive 99% of the time.

      Just to let you know, if I had to review my own guns, I would definitely have complaints because there is not much out there that is perfect and people generally want to hear about the things that aren’t perfect. For example, my Ruger P95 needs a redesign on the magazine ejection button because its location makes me reach for it when I have to eject a mag, but other than that its a good gun. My Rossi 357 has a front sight with an orange sticker for visibility and that is pretty cheap, but besides that its a good gun. My Performance Center model 629 is a spectacular revolver, but the grips from the factory just dont belong on a gun like that. My Sig P229 is a fabulous firearm, but I hate the grip. Mine is an older model and since then Sig has redesigned grips for their pistols so I figure that grip style probably wasnt very popular. I love the grip and feel of my Sig P250, which has the newer style grip. These are just small examples, but this is the kind of stuff people want to hear about.

    3. I have owned several Charter Arms revolvers. They fit a niche and that is what is important. I am as happy with the new Charter Arms as Robert is, and also with my older guns. However– small frames take a beating from big cartridges. No way around that. 500 rounds a year with a .38 frame size revolver and the assembly pins get loose. Tighten them. Clean the beast and it will remain safe and reliable. With this much momentum the small parts take a beating. The frame doesn’t crack. You could load Elmer Keith memorial loads and have a real problem! That being said after reading this article I think that beyond question the .45 ACP revolver is the better choice in the Charter Arms. This is a revolver to be carried a lot and fired seldom. Combat isn’t about making a nice 50 round group on the target. It is about yanking the gun out and getting a hit quickly. That hit should be hard. The Charter Arms revolver is among the great all around defensive revolvers.

    4. My friend bought a picket .380 pistol. At the range, he couldn,t hit the target and was so frustrated he was about to return it for a refund. I took it and my first shot hit the bullseye. I didn’t say anything as I handed it back to him. He kept the gun.

  10. I have been looking for a Pit Bull .45 for several months, ever since Charter announced it. I have a Pit Bull 9mm as well as a Pit Bull .40S&W, so I merely want to complete the series with the Pit Bull .45, but it is proving to be more difficult than I had figured. I am on “Want Lists” with my local dealers, and I methodically comb the displays at our gun shows…..all to no avail. By-the-way, my Pit Bull 9mm is a six-shot revolver, and all that I am finding in my searches are five-shot Pit Bull 9mm pieces. Does anybody know why Charter Arms changed from the six shot to the five shot cylinder?

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