The name “Boomer” describes it all. The Charter Arms Boomer is a compact revolver stripped down to the basics and chambered in a serious handgun cartridge. It is a fistful of power with a loud boom for a signature. Make that signature five loud booms.

The five-shot Boomer revolver is chambered in the classic .44 Special and is based on Charter Arms’ Bulldog series of powerful compact revolvers. The company’s Bulldogs have a reputation for being small, reliable as can be and powerful for close quarters. What separates the Boomer from the other .44 Special Bulldog revolvers is that it is completely stripped down. Features that could impede a draw from deep concealment are noticeably missing from the Boomer. This is a revolver made for close-up work—the type of distance most commonly encountered in a violent confrontation.

According to FBI statistics from 2003 to 2012, most gunfights between officers and attackers occurred between 0 and 5 feet. This is the reality of a typical gunfight. In addition, it’s what law enforcement officers and concealed carriers will most likely encounter. This distance is the sweet spot for the Boomer. It offers speed, easy “pointability” and power to back up that point.

Revolvers are simple. Pull the trigger, and if it fails to fire, pull the trigger again. The Boomer is that simple. The exterior of the Boomer is smooth and snag free, exactly what you want in a concealed-carry weapon. Furthermore, the Boomer employs a double-action-only (DAO) trigger, a stubby 2-inch barrel and a grip frame with walnut or rubber grip panels.

I got my hands on a Charter Arms Boomer with checkered walnut grips for testing. The gun’s grip affords a good hold when unleashing .44 Special loads, especially in this lightweight, compact revolver. Unlike some other revolvers, the Boomer uses a one-piece frame like all of Charter Arms’ revolvers, which results in exceptional durability.

The Charter Arms Boomer employs features found on other Charter Arms DAO revolvers like the bobbed hammer, which is flush with the rear of the frame so there is no hammer spur to snag on a shirttail or coat pocket when drawing the revolver. The front edge of the cylinder is nicely beveled for easy reholstering without tearing up your rig.

The 2-inch-long barrel is tapered and does not have a front sight, but it does have two oblong ports cut into the top, in the 11 and 1 o’clock positions. Those slots divert burning gases upward to counteract muzzle flip when a shot is fired. They also make the Boomer loud. While these ports may seem new to Charters Arms, they are actually part of the company’s storied history.

Bobbed hammers and shortened barrels on large-caliber revolver are not new. A Colt employee, J.H. FitzGerald, modified Colt revolvers in the 1930s, creating what have become known as “Fitz Specials.” These modified revolvers, mostly large-caliber New Service revolvers, had bobbed hammers, barrels trimmed to 2 inches, re-shaped and rounded butts for discreet carry and, in what was the most radical treatment, the front portion of each triggerguard was removed, allowing faster access to the trigger.

But what about those ports? In the 1970s, Mag-Na-Port, a company that revolutionized firearm porting, created a limited run of customized Charter Arms Bulldogs, called Backpackers, with many of the same features as a “Fitz Special,” including trapezoidal ports cut into the barrel. The Boomer picks up the tradition of large-bore, snub-nose revolvers and sets it squarely in the 21st century.

The Boomer is made of stainless steel and wears a matte stainless finish. In testing, I never noticed a glare reflecting off the gun, even in direct sunlight. The trigger is grooved so when your finger starts its press, your fingertip sticks to the trigger and does not slip. The DAO trigger on my test gun measured slightly over 12 pounds, but it feels much lighter, no doubt due to the smoothness of the trigger pull. The Boomer uses a coiled mainspring, and I only noticed a slightly perceptible amount of stacking during the trigger press. I think this is a well-thought-out trigger pull weight for a concealed-carry revolver. It’s not too light for safety reasons and not so heavy that the trigger press interferes with sight alignment.

As for sights, you only have a groove running the length of the topstrap. The cylinder latch is coarsely serrated so your thumb does not slip when pressing it forward to swing out the cylinder. The ejector rod is not enclosed in a shroud. An operator can also pull the ejector rod out by pulling on the knurled end of the ejector rod. The rod has a sleeve that snaps into the front of the frame when the cylinder is closed. This locks the front of the cylinder while a pin in the center of the ejector fits into the rear of frame, locking the rear of the cylinder.

Taking Aim

I put the Charter Arms Boomer through its paces with an assortment of .44 Special cartridges: Federal’s 200-grain Classic HPs, Winchester’s 200-grain Super-X HPs and Hornady’s 165-grain Critical Defense FTXs.

The Charter Arms Boomer is a point-and-shoot self-defense revolver made for very close work, so I engaged targets set at 7 yards. Most five-shot groups clustered into 4 inches on average, but when I did my part, I was surprised to get clusters of two and three shots that nearly touched. No doubt the Boomer is accurate, but I was not expecting this kind of precision. Point shooting is where the Boomer excels. In rapid fire, the ported barrels allowed me to get back on target faster with less muzzle flip.

Doing a few appendix-draw drills at very close range, I fired the Boomer from the side of my torso to simulate a face-to-face encounter. The checkered walnut grips fill the area behind the trigger-guard and give the user a nice handle that is not too large or too small. These grips also made recoil quite comfortable.

Charter Arms’ .44 Special revolvers offer a lot of firepower in compact, concealable packages, and the Boomer carries on that legacy in a completely snag-free design. I highly recommend checking it out.

Charter Arms Boomer Specs

Caliber: .44 Special
Barrel: 2 inches
OA Length: 6.75 inches
Weight: 18 ounces (empty)
Grips: Walnut or rubber
Sights: Rear groove
Action: DAO
Finish: Matte stainless
Capacity: 5
MSRP: $443

Charter Arms Boomer Performance

Load Velocity Accuracy
Federal 200 Classic HP 801 3.50
Hornady 165 FTX 878 3.67
Winchester 200 Super-X HP 867 4.00

*Bullet weight measured in grains, velocity measured in fps by chronograph and accuracy measured in inches for best five-shot groups at 7 yards.

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This article was originally published in “Pocket Pistols” #186. To subscribe, visit

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