When Charter Arms decided to build the new Boomer revolver, the company took its classic Bulldog revolver and completely stripped it down to the bare essentials. Nothing extra—just a few modifications to make the revolver even more concealed-carry friendly. The new Boomer is small and compact, and like the Bulldog series, it is chambered in a serious self-defense cartridge: the .44 Special. In short, it is a fistful of power.
Study recent FBI data and you will find that most gunfights between an officer and a felon occur from a distance of 0 to 5 feet apart. Confrontations are close, and when they reach a boiling point, the action flows over fast. The reality is we citizens who carry concealed should expect the same type of situations, and this is the distance the Boomer was designed for, offering speed and power when needed in a moment.
Big Bark, Bigger Bite
The Charter Arms Boomer, like the company’s other .44 Special models, is a five-shot revolver. But unlike the traditional Bulldog series, the Boomer features an abbreviated barrel, no front sight to snag on clothing, a bobbed hammer and a double-action-only (DAO) trigger. The barrel of the Boomer is only 2 inches in length and has oblong ports cut at the 1 and 11 o’clock positions. The intent of the ports is to control muzzle flip when firing the Boomer.
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Charter Arms builds all of its revolvers, including the Boomer, on a one-piece frame for added strength, light weight and a smaller footprint. Other revolvers like those from Taurus and Smith & Wesson use two-piece frames with removable sideplates to access their action mechanisms. Ruger is the only other manufacturer of double-action revolver designs that use a one-piece frame.
The Charter Arms Boomer is built from stainless steel and wears a matte finish so there is no glare or shine. The outside of the Boomer is smooth and snag-free, which one expects in a concealed-carry revolver. The Boomer employs a DAO trigger that has a consistent and smooth pull with very little perceived stacking. The press requires about 12 pounds of pressure to make the Boomer go bang. The grooved trigger ensures your finger is secure to the trigger when you start that 12-pound press. The trigger press actually feels much lighter due to the smoothness of the trigger mechanism. I actually like the trigger pull weight on the Boomer for a concealed-carry revolver.
There are no sights on the Boomer except for a groove along the topstrap. This revolver is made to point and shoot—it is not intended as a target gun. As mentioned, the typical 0- to 5-foot gunfight distance researched by the FBI is the shooting distance the Boomer was intended for.
The coarsely serrated cylinder latch ensures the shooter’s thumb does not slip when swinging out the cylinder, or a shooter can pull on the knurled end of the ejector rod to swing out the cylinder. The ejector rod is not shrouded. The rod features a sleeve that snaps into the front of the frame. When the cylinder is closed, a pin in the center of the ejector fits into the rear of frame, locking up the rear of the cylinder. Finally, the Boomer weighs only 20 ounces unloaded.
The Charter Arms Boomer reminds me a lot of the Mag-Na-Port Backpacker from the late 1970s. Mag-Na-Port is a company that brought barrel porting into the mainstream with its proprietary trapezoidal ports. The company customized a run of Charter Arms’ .44 Special revolvers and called them Backpackers. The Boomer, however, uses a different rubber grip and porting. I never had the opportunity to experience the Backpacker, so I am glad Charter Arms introduced the Boomer.
Actually, chopping up larger double-action revolvers into pocket-sized snubbies has occurred since a Colt employee, J.H. Fitzgerald, began modifying large-caliber Colt revolvers in the 1930s into snub-nose revolvers that became known as “Fitz Specials.” These guns had bobbed hammers, shorter barrels, reshaped and rounded butts and triggerguards that were cut away, offering faster access to the trigger.
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My sample Charter Arms Boomer featured the stubby ported barrel and checkered walnut grips with Charter Arms’ inset medallions. The grips are rounded at the butt and felt nice in my average-sized hands—not too small, not too large. They did not print through any garments like the thin-collared shirts I like to wear. The bobbed hammer is flush with the rear of the frame, making the Boomer smooth. If you have big pockets, you could easily carry the Boomer in your pants pocket or jacket pocket and draw it without fear of snagging since there is no hammer spur to impede your draw.
I carried the Charter Arms Boomer in a leather DeSantis Cozy Partner IWB holster. This holster is made for S&W J-Frame revolvers and fits the Boomer perfectly. It features a tension device to hold the revolver in place and a memory band that ensures the mouth of the holster stays open for easy one-handed reholstering.
Range Time with the Charter Arms Boomer
I’ve fired a variety of Bulldog revolvers in the past and have found the recoil tolerable since the .44 Special does not have a fast muzzle velocity like a .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum. It doesn’t so much slam your palm like a magnum cartridge, but pushes it instead. I really wanted to see how the two oblong ports cut into barrel would tame recoil and muzzle flip. Since the bore axis is high due to the shooter’s grip on most revolvers, there is always a bit of muzzle flip to contend with while shooting. Those ports in the Boomer are designed to divert burning gases upward to counteract that muzzle flip.
My test ammunition included Federal’s 200-grain SWHPs, Hornady’s 165-grain Critical Defense FTXs and Winchester’s 200-grain Super-X
Silvertip HPs. I am always amazed at how Charter Arms designed its .44 Special revolvers, packing five rounds of .44 Special power in a space that most other manufactures put five .38 Special/.357 Magnum cartridges. Since the Boomer has no sights, except the groove in the topstrap, there was less aiming and more pointing. This snubbie is designed for very close work, so I placed targets at 7 yards and most of my five-shot groups were 4 inches on average. When I concentrated and pointed the Boomer consistently, I shot two- and three-shot clusters that nearly touched. The Boomer is accurate, but since the sights have been stripped off, precision is not part of its vocabulary. That’s about what I expected. The Boomer excels in quick point shooting. The ported barrel allowed me to get back on target faster with less muzzle flip when shooting rapidly. The recoil was also quite comfortable.
Always a “what if” type of guy, I installed a set of Crimson Trace Lasergrips. These grips are made of checkered rubber and have finger grooves. They feel good in hand, especially when sending off .44 Special rounds. Just grasping the Boomer with the Crimson Trace grips activates the laser, projecting a red dot on the target. The grips are zeroed at the factory for 50 feet, or about 17 yards. The laser increased my effectiveness with the stripped-down Boomer. In bright sunlight, the dot can be difficult to find, but in low light it excels.
The Charter Arms Boomer is made for close work—whites-of-their-eyes close. With it you can shoot groups at close range that you can cover with your hand. The Crimson Trace Lasergrips increased its effective range and might be a viable option for some shooters. In my humble opinion, the Charter Arms .44 Special Boomer revolver is stripped down to its barest close-in, self-defense essence. It’ll surely have your back in a crisis. Make sure you check it out.
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For more information, visit charterarms.com or call 203-922-1652.
This article was originally published in ‘Concealed Carry Handguns’ 2017. To subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.