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Charter Arms Undercover 38 Special - Help!

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by jettwo, Dec 23, 2007.

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  1. jettwo

    jettwo Member

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    I have just aquired an older model Charter Arms Undercover 38 Special w/ 2 1/2 inch barrel for removing a few viruses from a computer. The number on the gun is 45496 and was made in Bridgeport, Conn. I would like to know how old the gun is, etc, but so far I have found no info on it. The old guy I got the gun from said he's had it around 20 to 25 years and he got it used. I cleaned and tested the gun and it works perfectly. If anyone could help me with some info about this model I would be greatfull.
     
  2. rdrancher

    rdrancher Member

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    Good score!

    My Undercover's serial # is 4308xx. I figured out that it was manufactured about 1976. Mine is one of my favorite everyday carries and a fine shooter.

    FYI J-frame holsters and Tyler T-Grips work fine on the little snub. Be sure to check the end of the ejector rod routinely for proper adjustment.

    CharterArmsUndercover.jpg

    Have fun with it!

    rd
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2007
  3. Harley Quinn

    Harley Quinn Member

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    Probably a pre 80 which makes it one of the better ones around.
    Charter arms is back in business now.:uhoh:
     
  4. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    My recollection is that your 38 is not rated for +P.

    It is a fine little pistol as is.

    One shooting bud, he is a Wildlife Officer, ex Vietnam Vet. He carried one. If you don't know, the animals in the woods are pretty peaceful, it is the meth labs that are dangerous. So bud is carrying a Charter Arms Undercover, and when I looked at it, the crane screw was missing!. To reload you popped the whole cylinder and crane out. Bud knew that and had been carrying it that way for a long while.

    He felt secure with this thing. I guess compared to some of the firefights he had been in, my bud considered a slow reload a minor issue.
     
  5. prism

    prism Member

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    barami hip-grip works, too.
     
  6. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    I have one of these, same era. Here's the scoop:

    The gun's design is a good one, and in a lot of ways similar to a Ruger:

    * No side-plate, as the action "forks up" into the back of the primary frame, and the grip frame is separate.

    * It locks up at both the crane and rear of the cylinder.

    * The transfer bar safety is very "Rugerish".

    The primary frame is steel, the grip frame is aluminum. The barrel core is steel with an aluminum wrapping.

    They made only one questionable decision: they set the gun up for "tight lockup" similar to most Colt DAs. When you run "The Checkout" (see sticky this forum) the cylinder is supposed to feel "welded to the frame" at full lockup, trigger back. You MUST then check cylinder alignment with the flashlight trick on the unloaded gun. If the alignment is perfect and the lockup is tight, the gun will shoot REAL well unless that ever gets "off" later.

    If the cylinder-to-barrel alignment is off and the gun has a tight lockup (zero rotational play), things will go to hell real fast. DO NOT SHOOT IT IN THIS CONDITION. Get it fixed.

    Rugers and S&Ws are set up for a bit of deliberate "rotational slop" so that the gun can do it's final cylinder-to-barrel alignment via the bullet. This system doesn't have the peak accuracy the Colt/Charter system has, but it's far more tolerant of wear.

    And this is also why we say "no hot loads in a Charter Undercover". Unlike it's 44cal cousin the Bulldog, the Undercover isn't weak - but it isn't tolerant of wear either.

    There's good news on the ammo front though.

    First, not everything "+P" is all that nasty. Avoid Cor-Bon and Buffalo Bore +P at all cost. The mildest +P you can get, and it's damned effective defense ammo too, is the Remington 158gr plain lead hollowpoint +P. Winchester sells the same load, same shape, same performance but the lead is harder and expansion is unlikely from a snub. Stick with the Remingtons, and do almost all of your practice with standard-pressure stuff.

    Buffalo Bore recently came out with a line of standard pressure (not +P) defensive ammo that's as effective as most other company's +P. Very good but a bit expensive. Still might be worth considering a couple of boxes, esp. their 158 which will perform like the Remmie 158s.

    http://www.buffalobore.com/ammunition/default.htm#standard38
     
  7. rdrancher

    rdrancher Member

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    A few more tidbits from Charter's 1978 ad for the Undercover.

    Weight Only 16 Ounces
    Yet here's real durability, for the frame, cylinder, barrel and all critical moving parts are made of chrome-moly machined steel. Weight saving alloys are used only for non-critical parts.

    6 Inches Long, 4 Inches High
    The Undercover is a pleasure to carry. The silhouette is thin and the butt nicely rounded.

    Unbreakable Firing Pin
    The pin is made of indestructible beryllium copper. Add to that the flame
    hardened breech face.

    Hammer Blocked For Safety
    This feature means absolute assurance against firing unless the trigger is in full rear position. It won't fire even if it's dropped.

    8 Groove Rifled Barrel
    Instead of the conventional 6, 8 grooves help achieve an unusually high degree of accuracy.

    Rapid Fire Capability
    A very short double and single action aided by a 55 degree hammer arc plus a minimum travel trigger pull are distinctive features.

    rd
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2007
  8. jettwo

    jettwo Member

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    I obviously chose the right forum out of the many I glanced through. What a great response! Thank you all for the information on the gun and the ammo. It's nice to know that a made a good deal for the gun, I have only had it a few weeks and I really like it. I have no experience with handguns, the only guns I have owned before the Charter Arms are shotguns and rifles. Thanks to all of you again. By the way, rdrancher, where can I pick up the grips for this gun? I like the ones you have pictured
     
  9. vicspank

    vicspank Member

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    I have one of the brand new ones.2 months old,reguard less of what you might here,the new ones are great too after they get broke in.They have the same design as the older models.There is just somthing about an older gun thats been well maintained that has that charm though.Mabe 25 yrs from now the new ones might share that category also.
    vicspank
     
  10. tideguyinva

    tideguyinva Member

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    Here is my little specimen
    Picture121.gif
     
  11. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    Definitely run "the checkout", the stickied post in this sub-forum.
     
  12. LWC

    LWC Member

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    Here's mine

    Undercover
    Serial no. 12xxx

    100_4542.jpg
     
  13. rdrancher

    rdrancher Member

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    The grips themselves are standard issue Charters that I located by posting a WTB (want to buy) ad here in the classifieds. I recently picked up another set of checkered stockers off of ebay. The hole for the pin had to be redrilled in the correct location for both sets of grips, but the fit is perfect after that slight mod.

    The Tyler T-Grips (shown in flat black) are available from http://www.t-grip.com. The J-Frame size fits well. Installation is as simple as loosening the grip screw and slipping the T-Grip's copper tab under the grips.

    rd
     
  14. Phil DeGraves

    Phil DeGraves Member

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    The thing I don't like about it is the very flimsy cylinder yoke and ejection rod set up.
     
  15. Philmccan

    Philmccan Member

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    Discolored hammer

    I do not mean to get to far off topic but I have a question regarding the hammer on these guns. I received a used undercover .38 as a gift with a much discolored hammer. I assumed it was an after market part and was planning on having it replaced. Then I noticed mostly on LWC's pic the hammer appears to be discolored a bit too. Then I looked closer to other 2 pic's in this thread and saw a little discolor on them too. So is this normal on these guns? Thanks.
     
  16. rdrancher

    rdrancher Member

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    Philmccan - First of all, welcome to the forum!

    And to answer your question. The discoloring of the hammer is perfectly normal.

    rd
     
  17. Philmccan

    Philmccan Member

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    rdrancher, Thanks for welcoming me and thanks to answering my question.
     
  18. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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  19. mnw42

    mnw42 Member

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    +1 on Buffalo Bore's standard pressure fodder. I use them in my Cobra. A friend of mine had an old Undercover that he will never get rid of.
     
  20. bannockburn

    bannockburn Member

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    jettwo

    Two things to watch for with your Undercover: one-even though SlamFire1's friend didn't seem to mind shooting without the crane screw in place, it's not something I would recommend doing. Always check periodically that the screw is there, the washer's there too, and that it's in there tight. Item two-keep on eye on the frame pins to make sure they don't start working there way out of the frame. Mine had a tendency to this after I had run through a box of wadcutter ammo. Other than that, check the alignment and the lock-up, and have fun with it.
     
  21. s2mason

    s2mason Member

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    1981 charter arms undercover .38

    I recently inherited a 1981 Charter Arms Undercover .38 spcl. It is in excellent shape. Is this gun capable of shooting +p ammo? I'm not a real experienced gun owner, so should I have this checked out by a gun smith prior to shooting it? Also, any other info on this gun would be useful, such as approx value, reliability, etc.
     
  22. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    s2mason: everything you need to know is in this thread. The only thing to remember is, if it says "Charco" it's from a very bad period in the company's history and quality control ranged from "OK" to "ghastly". I think in '81 you'd be pre-Charco though. Any Charter should be run through "the checkout" - see stickied post this forum.

    Quoting Phil:

    The Charter design is NOT flimsy. The ejector rod backs into a matching recess in the frame and locks the top of the crane in VERY firmly. It's a tighter fit than the crane latch Ruger uses in the SP/GP/SRH series. Crane-to-frame fit is one area the Charter design excels at.
     
  23. White Horseradish

    White Horseradish Member

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    My mom has an Undercover just like that. Watch out for the ejector rod unscrewing, a little Loctite is nice there. Other than that, Charters are nice little guns. I have a stainless Undercover from the newer incarnation of the company (with the shrouded ejector) and I am very happy with it. As mentioned, J-frame holsters work with them. J-frame speedloaders do too, but the grips aren't conducive to their use, so speedstrips are better for carrying reloads.
     
  24. s2mason

    s2mason Member

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    Guys, thanks for all help. I'm new to this stuff. Can you tell me what a "stickied post" is so I can check it out?
     
  25. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    Stop with the wimpy 38's Step up to the 44 spl. and enjoy shooting a good lite snub.
     
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