My foray into Charter Arms revolvers....

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by BobWright, Aug 5, 2022.

  1. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    Several posts hereabouts about Charter Arms revolvers. I've had only one, a .44 Special Bulldog from many years ago. I bought it primarily from Skeeter Skelton's article in Shooting Times introducing the .44 Special.

    I bought the Charter Bulldog and immediately began loading for it. Due to its short barrel, the extractor throw was a mite too short for reliable ejecting of fired cases. At that time I had a quantity of .44 Russian cases left over from some long-ago project. At that time, Speer had those half jacket SWC bullets, and I loaded some 225 gr. HJHP. I don't recall the load now, but it was built around Unique powder. My load, .44 Russian, proved to be very accurate and pleasant shooting in the little revolver.

    One day at the range, there was some remaining snow on the berm 100 yards, actually 110 yards, down range. There were little clumps of snow remaining, about ten or twelve inches in diameter, so I decided to try that little gun at long range, something entirely out of its bailiwick.

    I began walking my shots toward one clump of snow, holding the front sight up increasingly higher until the base of the sight blade was even with the top of the rear sight notch. Holding that preposterous sight picture, I touch off a round of .44 Russian and to my surprise, the snow clump exploded. Picking other clumps, I was able to pt anywhere from three to four rounds out of the five shot cylinder into those snow clumps.

    Considering my load was not any screaming devil, I figured that little gun was plenty accurate!

    But, in a wild moment, traded that little Charter Bulldog off for something a little heavier and larger.

    Bob Wright
     
  2. Kookla

    Kookla Member

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    Have handled some Charters at the local shop, but never went in on one. Was always curious how they'd hold up long term.

    Think we've all had our wild moments with trades. What did you trade it in for?
     
  3. BobWright

    BobWright Member

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    I'm not too sure, but it was either a 4" S&W Model 28, brand new, or a 4 3/4" .44 Magnum Iver Johnson imported Uberti Cattleman. Believe it might have bee the latter.

    Bob Wright
     
  4. Buckeye63

    Buckeye63 Member

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    These are my two Buldogs .. as u can see one is a
    Boomer ( Belly gun)
    They operate well …
    873AD5BC-26E4-4756-90F5-4365FEF7FEB8.jpeg 7868EF13-62A1-40AC-A16B-D5B24883E34A.jpeg

    Boomer compared to a 642
    4EDD41A6-BC65-4ABD-955E-5EDA9C4809B8.jpeg
     
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  5. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    Love my Bulldog! I load 165 Grain SWC”’s and when I do carry it 165 Hornady Critical Defense. Shoots like .38 .P from a J Frame. I have run heavier bullets but the lightweights are fun and fast, already .430”. Heavier bullets can be unpleasant for any extended periods of shooting but in small lots they are fun. I found a pair of Charter wood Target Bulldog stocks that fill my hand nicely. It’s a must have in my opinion.
     
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  6. Pat Riot
    • Contributing Member

    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    I wanted a Charter .45 Colt since I learned of them. I will probably have to pass on buying one though. My wrists are just too damaged for that weight of a gun and that type of cartridge. I may pick up a .38 one day just because I have never owned a Charter Arms.
     
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  7. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    I stupidly passed on a Pocket Target .22 a few years ago, though the price was a bit steep even then.
    I have a buddy who offered me a clean Undercover .38 for $200, but its one of the examples with a pressed on barrel shroud which Ive read are prone to flying downrange at inopportune times.....
    Thats about the extent of my dabbling with them. (Shrugs)
     
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  8. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    Pressed in barrel? Really! How long did they do that?
     
  9. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    They aren't made like they use to be
     
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  10. NIGHTLORD40K

    NIGHTLORD40K Member

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    Well, for a few years the barrel itself was threaded into the frame, but an aluminum shroud was then pressed over it. This was a lightweight design, and it balanced well, but there were apparently several incidences of the shroud working loose and launching itself.
    Those were the CHARCO marked ones, made in Ansonia, Ct. They were only produced there for 3-4 years in the early '90s, but that was generally considered the absolute low point of Charter quality, and probably responsible for a lot of their iffy reputation.

    Its too bad too, cuz the trigger on that one was very nice.....although it was so light I kinda suspect someone did a home trigger job to it and ignition might be spotty.
    For $200 I still thought about it pretty hard. Ended up spending the money on more ammo, lol.
     
  11. kennedy

    kennedy Member

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    love them, sold a few of the first generation years ago and decided to get back into them, here is a 44 bulldog, and a left handed southpaw in 38. If I carry the 38 fits nice charter 002.JPG
     
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  12. jeepnik

    jeepnik Member

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    I have only one request of CA. Make a Southpaw version of the Bulldog. The .38 spl Southpaw is a joy for us lefties. But a heavier caliber would be nice.
     
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  13. kennedy

    kennedy Member

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    I wish a lot of manufacturers would make left handed friendly guns for us
     
  14. eddiememphis

    eddiememphis Member

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    I have one. Got a good deal on it. It was pink. My nephew dubbed it the stripper gun.

    i-S7RvgtF-M.jpg
    i-c4fmpZZ-M.jpg

    Now it's black and shiny.

    It had the worst trigger I have ever used on anything. It felt like it was made of sandpaper.

    i-f5sSLwz-M.jpg

    Closeup of the hammer. Every internal part was like this. Burrs and machine marks everywhere. It took a long time to get everything smoothed out like it should be. 7 pound, 9 ounce DA trigger pull. And yes, it is now smooth.

    Would I buy another one? Nope. Do I carry it? Nope. Why keep it? It's a novelty. A left handed revolver is a pretty unique little gun.
     
  15. aaaaa

    aaaaa Member

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    The 180 grain lead flat point cowboy loads from Calvaryammunition.com did not seem to have a lot of recoil. I could shoot them all day.

    The American Eagle semi jacketed 225 grains had a lot of recoil and muzzel flash.

    I am sticking with the cowboy loads.
     
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  16. aaaaa

    aaaaa Member

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    My Charter Arms 45 Colt snubby had some cylinder slop. I sent it in and they fixed the trigger and said the cylinder was normal, but seems better now. I like the gun, nice grip to hang on to. Front sight too high, will work on that at the range to file it down some. Will depend on the loads though. The high front sight is apparently for something like 250 grain. It is a great gun and can pocket carry but will need shirt untucked or the butt is showing in the pocket opening.
     
  17. aaaaa

    aaaaa Member

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    As for quality issues, Charter Arms has a rocky history, so the owner says in this interview, history begins here. Company went to pot in the 1980s then went out of business. Nick Ecker, son of original partner-owner, bought the company in 2000 and got it going again. Presumably it has been a much better company ever since. but for the price, I don't see how the CA guns can be as good as a S&W. But for what they cost, they seem to be nice guns. I got my Bulldog 45 for $450. Saw a S&W Model 69 and it was priced $850.
     
  18. dickydalton

    dickydalton Member

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    Got a Boomer, it Kicks...
     
  19. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    It's apples and oranges to compare Charter to S&W, it's not even tho in the 60s it was made to be a competitor to S&W by a former S&W employee.

    No, a more fair comparison for Charter is Taurus and maybe Rock Island, even tho they only make a 6 shot .38, the other stuff is imported Alfa revolvers. Charter and Taurus is night and day difference in out of box quality and longevity, customer service we know Charter is top notch while Taurus is iffy. The benefit with Taurus is you have a high change of getting a good one and it will run for a good long time, with Charter it seems you have a 50/50 chance of it being bad from the get go and if it's okay it likely won't last long before it has to go back for repair.
     
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  20. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    The owner is a distant relative, my mother’s maiden name is Ecker. Same region of the country. That being said I have never met the owner or even spoke with him. I have their office manager, very nice woman but a bit
    busy these days as a few here have experienced. I sent my Bulldog back not for defects but an upgrade to a new hammer and trigger, cost was shipping, very happy with the work. Picked up a .32 H&R Professional that made it to the 300 round mark and started binding, went back under Warranty. Came back better than original, smooth trigger, action and lockup like a bank vault. Time will tell though. Both jobs were this year, January/February then June. Based on my conversations with them they seem to have some QC issues because of COVID related workforce issues. It is understandable as there are many companies having the same issues. Let’s hope they get it together. The designs are older and proven, it is just a matter of proper execution. Several here have had issues over the last few years, some have thrown in the towel. That’s a shame but I don’t blame them, a gun has to be reliable. It’s one of few American owned and Operated companies left. Let’s hope it gets back to running on all 8 cylinders.
     
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  21. aaaaa

    aaaaa Member

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    I filed down the mountain of a front sight on my CA 45 Colt by 2.5 mm and it shoots point of aim both 180 grain cowboy loads and American Eagle 225 grain. I am really happy with this sight adjustment. Ran 50 rounds of the 180 and 20 of the 225. I shot a lot of it SA to be more accurate to test the sight, and got good groups at 5, 7 and 10 yards. Here is the before and after. I filed to about the yellow line:
    upload_2022-8-8_17-19-9.png

    Red things in cylinder are A-Zoom snap caps for dry fire.
    upload_2022-8-8_17-19-37.jpeg
     
  22. Great Scot

    Great Scot Member

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    My Charter Bulldog with a few custom changes. Carry’s as easy as a J-frame. Actually a great trigger and decent fixed sights.

    83CB9CCE-03EF-46C2-AA15-84A5D76AD6F6.jpeg
     

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  23. Charlie Martinez

    Charlie Martinez Member

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    I can't say my CA is as good as a Smith, a Colt or a Ruger but for nearly 50 years it has digested a fair amount of 38 Special and P+ rounds and a few 357 Mag factory loads without breaking. I have had to tighten a couple of screws on the frame and applied epoxy glue to the ejector rod threads to keep it from loosening up every time I shot it but once I got those little kinks resolved it has been fine. I think I paid $60 for it practically unused in a pawn shop back in the 70's.
    For CC I would seriously consider either the 45 ACP or the 44 Special snub revolvers they offer for well under $480 and I keep hoping they will someday come out with an affordable 44 Magnum DA revolver similar to the Taurus Pathfinder.
     
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  24. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    Dont get me wrong, I want to like Charter, and I agree the design can work if properly executed, but that's the challenge for a small company trying to hit a price point in an anti business area like SW Connecticut and competing with a giant corporation like Taurus.

    Whatever the issues are now, you can't overcome cost cutting and I question the quality of the MIM parts that are used as I had a transfer bar break on me. Also, the Covid excuse no longer works on me, every company has had that same problem and doesnt have the same level of qc issues.

    There are things I like that Charter does, they're the Kel Tec of the revolver world, and I appriciate that and if they make an interesting enough product I would buy it. That said, between Charter and Taurus, I've chosen Taurus, the quality is more there right down to visual appearance.
     
  25. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    That is completely understandable! If the market is self defense a product has to be reliable. You can read on this forum that every maker has issues, from the new Python down the the Charter and Taurus. Nobody is making a problem free product. I don’t know why that is, maybe as gun guys we are more critical, shoot them more or expect more. I am not sure. I have quite a few revolvers that are considered now Classic Smith and Wesson, a 1950’s Colt. With the exception of my Model 640 Centenial they were all acquired used amd proven reliable. I was not buying revolvers in the bad days or Colt and Smith&Wesson. My Rugers, bought new, have been reliable but not without issues, far from a perfect product. They work though and that is the most important thing.
    I am going to go out on a limb here and say the average (we as a community would not be average) Charter or Taurus buyer pick up a gun, put a few rounds in it and put it in the drawer. Rarely to fire the gun other than initially. So your analogy of Keltec may not be off base, I have myself compared them to Harrington and Richardson or Iver Johnson in the break open days.
     
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