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Charter Arms, any good?

This is a discussion on Charter Arms, any good? within the Pistols & Revolvers forums, part of the Pistol & Revolver Forum category; I was looking at an older blued 4" Charter Arms police bulldog recently, just wondering what any Charter Arms owners had to say about them. ...


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Old September 18th, 2010, 08:39 PM   #1
 
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Charter Arms, any good?

I was looking at an older blued 4" Charter Arms police bulldog recently, just wondering what any Charter Arms owners had to say about them.

A plus is they are made in the USA, but from what I read people say they aren't very durable. I don't expect it to be a tank for $300 or so new, the older 4" models look like neat little toys though, I'm not interested in the snubs. I like to have something from each US manufacturer who made .38 Special revolvers,but don't want to buy an American version of Taurus



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Old September 19th, 2010, 04:36 AM   #2
 
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My only experience with Charter Arms is a .44 special Bulldog with probably a 2.5-3" barrel from the mid to late 70's that my dad had when I was young. The fit and finish was pretty terrible, with the edges around the cylinder window being sharp enough to cut you, and the crane had a 1/8" gap at the front that would make the cylinder hard to close. It had a very smooth DA trigger pull, though.
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Old September 19th, 2010, 06:42 AM   #3
 
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No direct experience, but I hear the older ones (pre-90's, I think) and the ones made after 2005 are okay. A firechief I was acquainted with when growing up concealed carried one of their smaller models every day, so he must have thought they were alright.

It's hard to find Charter Arms revolvers in my shops, so I've done quite a bit of web research on them. Most owners are happy if they expect a gun that does its job, rather than a pretty work of art. You hear about a few more lemons than you do with S&W and Ruger, but their customer support is supposedly good. For what it's worth, the most common problems I read about are ones that bite their owners and ones that shoot loose. Rarer do I read about ones that freeze up somehow. Most owners (90%, maybe?) claim to have fired thousands of rounds without any issues.

I've been looking for one of their 4" .22's, myself. I'd give a CA revolver the same thorough look I'd give any Smith or Ruger: check cylinder play, verify that all the cylinders line up with the barrel during lockup, look in the barrel for imperfections, feel what the trigger pull is like. Being that the one you're looking at is older, I'd check for evidence that someone tried to do a trigger job.

Dunno if this helps. Post pics if you get it.
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Old September 19th, 2010, 01:13 PM   #4
 
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The snubs are everywhere at gun shows near me, but the only ones I think are neat are the 4" .38's like the Police Bulldog.

I'll see if I can work a deal on it, might be worth adding to my little cheap service revolver collection of Taurus, etc. .38's.
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Old September 19th, 2010, 06:40 PM   #5
 
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I purchased a Charter Arms Target Patriot last year because it was, at the time, the only revolver chambered in 327 Federal Magnum with a 4" barrel and adjustable sights. I have put nearly 1500 rounds of 327 and hot, handloaded 32 Magnum thru it and it just keeps getting better. I did have to take the screws out and green loctite them, as they loosened up after a hundred rounds. I cast and load all my ammunition and the gun loves it all. I won't hesitate to buy Charter Arms again.
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Old September 20th, 2010, 05:15 AM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stantheman86 View Post
The snubs are everywhere at gun shows near me, but the only ones I think are neat are the 4" .38's like the Police Bulldog.

I'll see if I can work a deal on it, might be worth adding to my little cheap service revolver collection of Taurus, etc. .38's.
Not wanting to put down anyone's firearm choice, but with your collection of cheap guns is where the Charter belongs. I have owned 2: a .44 Bulldog and a .38 Undercover. Both purchases were based on an unwillingness to wait and save up more money for a quality weapon. The last one (.38) literally blew up in my hand (minor cuts only). On the + side, Charter replaced the damaged gun without question.

As always, YMMV. Good luck.
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Old September 20th, 2010, 07:02 AM   #7
 
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I had a nice 1967 vintage Undercover .38 Spl. Great little snubby. I wanted to move to a hammerless or hooded hammer snubby though so I don't have it anymore.
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Old September 21st, 2010, 04:24 PM   #8
 
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I have kind of a "compulsion" where I like to have a 4" .38 or .357 from every gun maker that makes one, just for fun.......I should have learned when I "had to have" an Armscor 4" .38 and it was a piece of garbage.
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Old September 21st, 2010, 07:45 PM   #9
 
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I've had a Charter Arms 38 spl 2" Undercover for over thirty years. It used to be my truck gun and carry gun after I got my CCW. I worked at a gunshop with a range. I put many a round through that little Undercover.It held up well. I don't carry it anymore but it found a new home in the night stand. That's the only experience I have with one. I am quite satisfied the way it shoots.I'd much rather have a LCR or SP101. Back when I bought it they were reasonably priced. I have no idea what they are getting for them now.

I carry a LCR or a G27 on a regular basis.
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Old September 22nd, 2010, 07:17 AM   #10
 
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I have had a Bulldog since the early 80s, and it has served me well. It's not a Smith & Wesson, to be sure, but it's adequate for the purpose (woods bummin') and I like the fact that it's light weight and packs a pretty good wallop. If I lose it, I'm not out much.

If this is to be a constant shooter for you, maybe you should look at a used Smith or Ruger, though. Just my .02.
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Old October 13th, 2010, 07:22 AM   #11
 
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My very first handgun of any kind was a Charter Arms Undercover - model 73820.
It's very light weight, although you can get a lighter model (like a 53820 only 12oz).

The good:
light weight (16 oz)
Goes bang almost every time I pull the trigger (have had some lite primer strikes).
Customer service is willing to help. (b/c gap was too big - they replaced the barrel)
Price when compared to Ruger or S&W

Bad:
have had some lite primer strikes - I probably need to send it in again. - have never seen this issue with my Rugers or S&Ws
B/C gap was too big (but they fixed it)
light weight makes for harder felt recoil.
workmanship is obviously not up to Ruger or S&W standards.
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Old October 13th, 2010, 07:55 AM   #12
 
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I have had the Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 Special stainless for about 40 years. It is my backup hunting pistol. Have not shot thousands of rounds but hundreds. It does have hundreds of hours in the woods in all kinds of weather.

Great little pistol with a light "target" type load, but as others mentioned it is a handfull with a hot load. For hunting backup I use the Sierra 220 gr silhoutte bullet and a max load out of the Sierra Manual. Don't shoot those much, but the one time I needed it on a hog, it worked perfectly.

Yurko, light strikes are mainspring or interference with the hammer fall. If Charter repaced the mainspring it is probably not that. Look closely at the hammer for any drag marks.

Do you reload? Another possibility, if the primer is not seated all the way to the bottom of the primer pocket that can mimic light strikes as the firing pin pushes the primer to the bottom of the pocker. It can also be primers. CCI and Winchester have harder primers than Federal.

Tom
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Old October 14th, 2010, 06:19 AM   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crafter32034 View Post
Not wanting to put down anyone's firearm choice, but with your collection of cheap guns is where the Charter belongs. I have owned 2: a .44 Bulldog and a .38 Undercover. Both purchases were based on an unwillingness to wait and save up more money for a quality weapon. The last one (.38) literally blew up in my hand (minor cuts only). On the + side, Charter replaced the damaged gun without question.

As always, YMMV. Good luck.
I haven't seen one go this far, but I do know a few guy's (more than 2 or 3) over the years that had bulldogs, in both calibers .38 &.44, the ones that shot them after quite a few rounds were coming out of time "soft internal part's" once the timeng goes and it isn't checked for, it would be easy to have one shot out of position cause a major problem, probably why your gun was one that blew! To correct this problem with these cheaper style gun's, just don't shoot em, thats pretty simple!
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Old October 14th, 2010, 01:40 PM   #14
 
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Ive looked at them as well, if you want a solid long lasting built like a tank gun well its Ruger all the way. Don't settle get the Ruger!
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Old October 14th, 2010, 02:00 PM   #15
 
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I have 2 Bulldogs that are from the late '60's. They do exactly what I want them to do, which is to provide a big caliber bullet in a very small package for close up, personal defense. The hammer spurs have been cut off of both so that they are effectively da revolvers. However, don't do that if you aren't planning on carrying yours in a pocket since the single action pull on the old ones is pretty good.

Both have held up well under some pretty heavy loads, but the recoil can make them pretty uncomfortable. I have had to tighten screws a couple of times. The only design concerns that I have are the crane and bolt appear pretty light weight, so I am careful about how I handle them with the cylinder open. However, no problems yet.
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