Best Budget 38 company?


March 9, 2010, 07:15 AM
I am looking for a NEW 5 shot 38 special snub nose but do not want to pay S&W, Ruger, or Colt prices. The next price tier down seems to be Charter or Taurus.
Which is better (quality of finish, reliability, trigger, service)?

My inclination is Charter because they are an American company and if I am reading correctly currently they are producing a decent product again. Given I am interested in new and both companies have long histories feedback on more recent experiences is more relevant.

I don't see an option to do a poll.

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March 9, 2010, 07:33 AM
Given I am interested in new

If you're on a budget, then why go new? You'll just be paying more. If a used Ruger SP101 and a brand new Charter Arms .357mag Pug were on sale for the same price, I'd take the SP101 any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

By buying a high quality but used gun, you pay the same money for a gun with a rock solid reputation for durability and a strong customer service base to back it up.
To buy new, you're (many times) spending that money on a gun with a so-so reputation for durability, and a company that may disappear.

Now, if the idea that you are the first and only guy to shoot the gun is that important to you, then consider Taurus revolvers. They generally work, and the company is going to be around for a long time. I'd still be iffy about Charter although recent reports seem to indicate better quality but rough finish. I've only handled one recently made one and it seemed serviceable, but not on the quality level of Taurus.

March 9, 2010, 07:59 AM
I have several revolvers that are in excellent condition that I bought over the years that were used, most not shot too much at all , for much less than a new gun. Stay with S&W and Ruger and you should be o.k. However, do not dismiss Taurus or the Charter arms guns either. He gave you sound advice.

March 9, 2010, 09:22 AM
If you want new, buy Taurus. I had a 650CIA that was very good - I only sold it because my old eyes need a 4" barrel to hit anything.

Which leads to the second point, there are a boat load of really fine old service revolvers on the market right now for less than even a new Taurus.


March 9, 2010, 09:27 AM
I believe the best budget 38 to be the Rossi. Hammer mounted firing pin and it comes with some nice cooshy and comfortable ergonomic grips. It is a steel framed gun so it will run about 21 ounces unloaded. It comes in black (blued) finish and more uncommonly nickel. They can be had for around 275-300 used and 329 and up new.

They are a good underrated revolver. If you went this direction you could still get a 38 +P rated revovler for a fraction of the price of even a Taurus.

March 9, 2010, 10:23 AM
Buy the best used revolver you can. Used Ruger Security and Service Six series are usually less than $300.00 S&W ad Colts usually a little more. IMHO, a used high quality revolver beats a new budget one any day.. Best of luck!:D

March 9, 2010, 10:43 AM
You can get new Ruger LCR's for under $400.

March 9, 2010, 11:10 AM
My life is worth 100 bucks. Maybe yours isn't. That's up to you, I guess.

The little Rugers and Smiths aren't that much more than the cheap ones. Don't know about Charters, but I wouldn't trust a Rossi until I put at least enough rounds through it to make up the price difference.

And Colt hasn't made a double-action revolver for years now.

(For those who will inevitably chime in that I should shoot 500 rounds through my CCW gun anyway, that's another reason to get a gun that operates like one's other revolvers. If you are familiar with the operation of a 686, you can find out fairly quickly whether you can adapt to a 642, for example. I find that they're similar enough that practice transfers quite a bit. I'm not saying never to practice with the CCW gun; I'm saying that the learning curve is minimal if it's a familiar revolver, but in a slightly different size and weight.)

March 9, 2010, 08:30 PM
I understand folks on a budget. I recently purchased a S&W model 38 bodyguard for $200.00. I had to wait and I have been looking for years. I had to sell another gun I didnt use to get it and a lot of prayer. I finally got it and am very pleased. Its a 1969-1970 airweight. Its smooth and Im just really impressed with the fit and finish. That said I also own a Rossi its a nice gun. It is a little heavy which aids shooting hot loads. I do know that if you ever need a part be it a spring or a screw you will find Smith and Wesson has excellent customer service and Taurus/Rossi have none.

March 9, 2010, 10:46 PM
I did a lot of checking with actual owners prior to buying the Rossi and haven't been disappointed. My daughter and wife like it too. Currently $259 at Academy. The same gun with a 3" barrel is $229.


March 9, 2010, 11:18 PM
19-3 Ben has a very strong case!

March 10, 2010, 12:21 AM
Used is the way to go. You can get a used S&W snubbie out there for not very much money.

March 10, 2010, 08:22 AM
I'd pick a Taurus over a Charter or Rossi. Charters are okay but not as good as Taurus. I never owned a Rossi but every one I've seen developed timing problems if used extensively. I have several Taurus revolvers dating back to 1988 and I have had good experiences with them.

Used is the way to go

This will work if you know what to look for and you're buying from a reputable person or dealer. Many dealers give you a 30 day warranty on used guns so that gives you some protection on major problems the gun may have. Not sure? I'd buy the new taurus

March 10, 2010, 09:04 AM
Get a Taurus. I stand by my opinion that they have better triggers than the S&W j-frames. Lifetime warranty as well.

I'm a budget gun guy almost exclusively (by choice and by finance), and I wouldn't go anywhere near a Charter Arms. Just heard too many bad things about them needing work out of the box, tune ups down the road, and cheap construction in general. I looked at a few of their models including the .357 snub; they all felt VERY cheap, even by my standards.:barf:

The Bushmaster
March 10, 2010, 09:38 AM
Go high quality "used" instead of low quality "new"....

March 10, 2010, 10:56 AM
Where the heck are you finding these used S&W snubbies for $300? Send some my way, darn it!

March 10, 2010, 11:23 AM
Where the heck are you finding these used S&W snubbies for $300? Send some my way, darn it!

No kidding.

March 10, 2010, 11:31 AM
It was introduced as needing a "5" shot 38. Most of the suggestions are "NOT" 5 shot. All suggestions are good, but for 5 shot, it limits somewhat, the choices, both new and used.
Now, to restart the recommendations: limited to "5" shot; please.

March 10, 2010, 12:44 PM
Bud's Gun Shop has blued charter Arms 5 SHOT snubbies as low as $306, and the Ruger LCR for $398. I'd save up the extra $92 and buy the Ruger.

I didn't realize that the post police were about. I hope my response meets your criteria.:barf:

March 10, 2010, 03:01 PM
Yeah I have to agree with Ben here... The older revolvers are much better than the new crap they are foisiting on us! A used quality gun always trumps a new inferior product.

Charter Arms? Really?

March 10, 2010, 04:27 PM
I'm not a member of the "post police" but I am a member in good standing of "the flat earth society". Will that qualify under your criteria?????????

March 11, 2010, 02:50 AM
just to be different, I will attempt an answer specific to what OP asked

although Taurus earns it's fair share of bashing, their snubbie 85 seems to be well regarded by most
I don't own one myself, but have shot 'em, and I liked the DA trigger

(used guns are like used cars, sometimes you get lucky, sometimes you don't, but mostly I just never luck into those $300 S&Ws etc that everyone else does... only ones I run into for $300 are those I would not buy upon closer inspection)

March 11, 2010, 03:56 AM
I own a firearms training company set up for private citizens which maintains a supply of firearms at different price points for use by our students. The small 5-shot revolvers are very popular and therefore we have quite a few of them. Almost all were purchased used from a reputable dealer. Our guns are shot by our students every single week on our range, and were checked pretty thoroughly prior to purchase. While we have done very well with the Smiths and Rugers we own (no big surprise), the Taurus 85s have held up especially well for us and have normally been bought in the $175-200 range. I've seen some new Taurus 85 Ultralights on sale for just under $300 which should serve well if one must have a new gun.

I've been curious about this "budget" question as well, because I realize that not all of our students think they can afford even a used Smith with all of the other items and accessories they need. Tonight, during one of our CCW classes held at a gun store, I purchased a clean, used Charter Arms Undercover .38 for $185. Our instructors will shoot it all this week after private lessons and this coming Sunday in our group session. I'll let you know how it stacks up. We also bought a very clean Ruger SP101, but that one, even used, ran $350.

I've also been playing with an Armscorp .38 revolver, which is made in the Philippines. I acquired this one for testing from a friend of mine who works for Armscorp near my overseas house in Manila. Honestly, although not as well finished as I would like, it seems like a very credible attempt to reproduce the now-discontinued Colt Police Positive, but with a 2-inch barrel. I've put about 300 rounds through one now with no problems, which is probably more than the average non-enthusiast would shoot such a gun in a year. I've seen these guns selling new for $249 here in the US.

March 11, 2010, 07:42 PM
I bought a used but like new in the box S&W 642 airweight for 375.

March 12, 2010, 05:36 AM
I found some Armscorp .38's for $200.00 @ Centerfire They seem decent.

March 12, 2010, 04:14 PM
What's your budget?

As Ben and others have mentioned, I've seen used Smiths around the $200 - $300 dollar range, depending on the cosmetic condition. You just need to be patient, but when you see it, jump on it right away because at that sort of price it won't stay available long.

The used market is where I'd encourage someone on a tight budget. By staying with companies like Smith and Ruger you have a lot more aftermarket items available in the form of different grips and the holster accesories. If you get something like a Rossi and you find you don't like the grips on it, won't find as many as many aftermarket options.

Just some food for thought.

March 12, 2010, 04:18 PM
I found some Armscorp .38's for $200.00 @ Centerfire They seem decent.

I've been curious about these, too. Armscor is the same company that makes the RIA 1911's, right? And those seem to have a pretty decent reputation.

March 12, 2010, 04:32 PM
syempre!!!! armscor are philippine made guns. good guns for a decent price. back home in the philippines i owned a 1911, but never came across a 38 snubbie. so i can only speak for 1911's. @ that time, i could only afford cheap reloaded ammo. The 1911 performed great even with crappy ammo.

March 13, 2010, 12:37 AM
If I was looking for a new to me snubbie, I would look for one that has availble for it whatever add-ons that I would want. I.E. would be grips that fit my old hands, or even a set of Crimson Trace lazers. For that reason alone I would stay away from anything made on the order of a Colt, like the Amscor. I have a Colt Agent that I have carried for years. One day I attempted to use it without my glasses. OMG, I am blind. I have decided to look for a Tauris 357 2 inch that i will carry +P's in and install some lazer grips to take care of my old eyes.

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