Affordable guns are one of the most important components of 2nd Amendment freedom, and since 1964 the Charters Arms name has been known for making guns that average working people can afford. The guns are reliable, and in this next era of Charter Arms, they carry a number of innovations that we don’t see in any other guns in the firearm community.
Going back to 2008 we have heard that the Charter Arms Bulldog revolver would be available for “rimless” cases in a model called the “Pitbull.” These calibers are the 9mm, .40S&W and .45ACP primarily, where the rim of the case is same width as the body of the case, so they are called rimless. This makes them suited perfectly for semi-auto pistols, but not revolvers. Revolvers generally don’t handle rimless cases very well because you have to use what are called “full moon” and “half moon” clips to hold them in the cylinder, and most people don’t want to deal with them. Ballistically, the.38 Special, that has an extended rim to hold the cases in the revolver cylinder, is sufficient for most people in a revolver, but there has always been a demand for revolvers that take the pistol calibers. The .38 Special, and it’s big brother, the .357 Magnum, are long cases, and the shorter, higher pressure auto-gun calibers make for a potentially shorter framed revolver, and this is the niche that Charter is hoping to fill.
The MRSP $465 Pitbull is available only in .40S&W for now, and has a 2.3″ barrel. It weighs 20 oz. empty, and holds 5 rounds of .40S&W. It is only available in matte stainless steel right now, though I expect alloy guns to hit the market at some point this year. This first model is only available with an exposed hammer.
Due to patent and distribution issues apparently, the Charter rimless case guns haven’t come into the market much. The .40S&W has been available since August, but they are just now coming into the gun shops. We were able to shoot one at Media Day at the Range, SHOT Show 2012, and it handle really well, and even after what had to be thousands of rounds at the end of the day, the gun was covered in gun powder soot, but she was still running. Because the gun has been available in prototype since 2008, these are not new guns and the bugs have been worked out of them. Adding alloy guns, hammerless, and other calibers probably is more a matter of capitalization than ability. Once the gun gets a footing in the market others will follow.
Look in the pictures and you will see the little nubs that hold the rimless case in place in the cylinder. They are held there by spring tension, so you pop the rounds in. Once they are in the cylinder you can hold it upside down and they don’t come out, a nice feature if you have to reload during a gunfight. But unlike many .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers, you have to use the cartridge ejector to get the empty shells out. This is a really important thing to train yourself to do if you are in the habit of knocking or plucking your empties out of your .38. If there is a weakness to the Pitbull, it is that the empties can “jump” the ejector, and make them hard to get out. But this isn’t a big weakness if you simply understand how the gun functions.
We hope to get some of these Charter Arms guns in for testing, but from what we saw at Media Day, they are going to be a popular gun in the coming year. Law Enforcement officers especially seemed to appreciate a pistol cartridge revolver because many of them carry a .40S&W for their main carry gun, but would prefer a revolver for a backup weapon. Revolvers, as we have explained here many times, are the ultimate concealed carry backup weapon, because they always go boom and they don’t have to be held correctly to fire reliably. A backup weapon is what you use when you lose or break your primary service pistol. So if you normally carry a couple extra mags on your belt for your pistol, carrying a Charter Arms Pitbull in .40S&W gives you 20 or 30 rounds to use in your backup, instead of only the 5 rounds it holds in the cylinder if you were carrying a .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver.
Also check out the lefty version of the .38 Undercover that Charter brought to Media Day. On their website they call it the “Southpaw” so it is easy to miss if you are looking for the words “left hand”. Lefty guns always do well in the market once the word gets around, and though I’m not a lefty, I can appreciate how nice it would be to have a gun made for me if I was. It took me a minute to even notice that everything was “backwards” on the gun, or frontwards if I was a lefty. These days everything in semi-auto pistols is ambidextrous, so you can swap out the mag release, de-cocker and slide release for lefty on a lot of guns, having a revolver with this convenience requires making a lefty revolver, and that is what Charter Arms has done. I hope they come out with a lefty in the Pitbull series as well.
If you don’t know the Charter Arms guns, they are worth a look. The basic .38 Undercover has an MSRP of $352 and is generally in gunshops under $300. Even the Pink Lady you see here with the polished stainless and bright pink frame is generally under $400, as are the $465 MSRP Pitbull and lefty guns are also generally under $400. Charter Arms is a working man’s revolver, and a lot of value for what you pay. I have never heard of any reliability or consistency problems with their products, and googling around I found nothing but praise for their customer service. We hope to give Charter Arms some space in the GunsAmerica Blog this year if they are able to send us some guns to check out. They seem like a great value that gun people need to know about.