Are you a gourmet gun owner? One of those enthusiasts who gets off on the satisfying snick of a cylinder slotting into the frame? A firearms fanatic who contemplates a trigger pull like a foodie savoring a radicchio and mozzarella pasta casserole? If so, the Charter Arms Undercover is not for you. The snubbie will leave your metaphorical tummy rumbling. If, however, you couldn’t give a damn about anything other than utility (i.e. shooting someone), the Charter Arms Undercover is a gun whose owners come hungry for self-defense, and leave satisfied that their attacker ate lead. Whatever else you can—or cannot—say about this mid-priced revolver, it’s one accurate gun of a son.

As a rule, I don’t worship at The Altar of Tight Groupings (great band). But a recent experience with the Charter Arms Target Mag Pug left me wondering if a reasonably competent shooter equipped with any of Charter’s products could hit the broadside of a barn. I’m pleased to report that the Undercover is one of the most accurate .38s I’ve ever fired. The collection of dots in the target’s center (at twenty feet) was so well-gathered that Adam at American Firearms School challenged me to repeat the feat using double action. Only I’d already punched the paper in double action mode.

The Undercover’s sights are bog standard. So all hail the revolver’s eight-grooved pull broach-rifled barrel.

The Connecticut company claims their mastery of the pull broach technique ensures that their revolver barrels are better than their competition at sealing the hot gasses created by the primer and gunpowder. They also say the manufacturing process leads to less bullet deformation. Combined with the revolver’s extra grooves, the Charter Arms Undercover delivers astounding accuracy at higher velocities.

True dat. The Undercover is a compact weapon of body mass destruction. BUT—

I have every reason to believe that the testing and evaluation Undercover .38 was out of time (i.e. the cylinder wasn’t lined up with the barrel). The little snub-nosed bastard was shaving lead and spitting it back at my face; my right cheek was signed by a spray of hot metal. Closer inspection revealed a not-entirely-unexpected, entirely unacceptable amount of cylinder wobble. Check it out:

Weebles may wobble without falling down, but revolver cylinders should [be] rock steady.

By the same token, a revolver’s action should be like driving into a wall. Zoooom . . . BANG! Not so here. The more you pull the Undercover’s trigger, the heavier it gets. Until the hammer finally, grudgingly, falls. The lack of trigger satisfaction doesn’t affect the handgun’s accuracy, but it makes range practice something of a chore. In the world of personal defense, that’s not a good thing.

I’m also not convinced about the Undercover’s three-point cylinder lock-up system: I went off half-cocked more than once. Pre-loading? Not an issue. I trained myself to check for full cylinder lock. Re-loading under stress? Issue. Failure to fire is not my friend. It’s a problem that speaks to the reliability of the Charter Arms Undercover, and I can’t say I like what I’m hearing.

Simply put, the Charter lacks qualm calming quality. You don’t have to be a gun expert to know it. Cylinder in, cylinder out. Spin. Cylinder in. Lock. Dry fire, single action. Dry fire, double action. NOW how much would you pay? Me? I assume that smoothness out of the box equals reliability down the road. I’d pay the extra $200+ for J-framed goodness.

That said, I used the Undercover to send some 600 rounds downrange without incident. I also cruised the web for Charter horror stories—and found plenty. But they were all pre-CEO Nick Ecker.

For their part, Charter reckons their .38s are built like a brick shithouse [parpahrasing]. For example, the revolvers’ side pates aren’t attached by screws like, say, Smith & Wesson’s. And the Undercover’s barrel is threaded into the frame for extra strength. And the company backs up its products with a lifetime warranty.

Yes, well, if anything goes wrong with your Undercover, the ensuing transaction is strictly between you and Mr. Ecker’s boys. Take a Charter Arms weapon to your local gunsmith for an upgrade or repair and you’re likely to be greeted with a Gallic shrug. Don’t get me wrong: the chances that the Charter Arms Undercover will fall apart at The Moment of Truth are less than the chances that the average white guy in Coon Rapids Iowa will need one for self-defense. So, call it good? Good.

If I was looking for a highly accurate concealed carry or home defense handgun, didn’t care about caliber or plan to fire thousands of round through it, wanted a revolver, had a strict budget and excluded used handguns from my shopping list, I’d buy a Charter Arms Undercover .38 revolver. How great is that?

The Charter Arms Undercover revolver is a meat and potatoes revolver from you local diner. Sure the food at Smith & Wollensky’s is better, but it costs more. Customers emerge from both establishments fat, happy and glad to be alive. And that’s all that matters, isn’t it?


Model: 73820
Finish: Stainless
Frame: Stainless steel
Grip: Full
Barrel length:2″
Capacity: 5-shot
Caliber: .38 Special +P
Hammer: Standard
Weight: 16 oz.
Sugg Retail: $407.00


Style * * * *

Classic snubbie.

Ergonomics * * *

Feels right. Star deducted for ever-so-slightly cranky cylinder. And another removed for lousy trigger pull.

Reliability * *

The Undercover fired hundreds of rounds without not firing one. But the wobbly cylinder and lead shower were deeply worrying. If I’d bought this with my own cash, the gun would have gone straight back to the factory.

Customize This *

Crimson Trace laser grips are out of stock.


Does what it needs to do, no more, and a little less.

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67 Responses to Gun Review: Charter Arms Undercover .38 Revolver

  1. Some other posts have touched on the topic of what to expect after a self-defence shooting. One item I've heard several times is to expect your gun to be confiscated. Once in the police possession, don't expect it back anytime soon. Also, A gun used for concealed carry may lead a rougher life than normal.

    So, do you want your high dollar custom piece, or worse, the sentimental antique grand-papaw carried way back in the war, to be your carry piece?

    This represents a solid value in the save your life, lose your gun proposition. Shoot once in anger and replace. Etc.

    In my line of work, we have various safety equipment that falls in the same category. Safety harness are replaced after a single event. Contaminated respirators are disposed rather than cleaned. This gun is another in the same line. Perfect it ain't, effective it is.

  2. Robert, how did the "out the door" price compare to the MSRP? Reason I ask is because my observation is that manufacturers set their MSRP deliberately high so that their dealers can "mark down" the guns for a "discount" that the buyer will appreciate.

    FWIW in 2008 I paid ~$460 for a Smith and Wesson 642 (Lightweight hammerless J-frame .38, review to come soon, I promise!) Even now I often see the same gun at "big box" sporting goods stores for less than five bills. Assuming the price difference is less than ~$100 there's no way Charter would be getting my business, sad to say. S&W is just a safer bet all around.

  3. It looks good to me, as a first time revolver buyer. To the article writer who says the gun "showered him with lead shavings". If you were really convinced there was something wrong with the gun, you are a FOOL to have shot it, both for safety and warranty reasons.

  4. A revolver that's slightly out of timing is not a lethal threat. Charter Arms provided the weapon, so back it went.

  5. I have the CA .38 undercover in black. I also live in Massachusetts where the guns laws a bit crazy. For instance, for a hand gun to be on the approved list of hand guns set out by our Attoney General the gun must be submitted for approval. The AGs office does everything possible to a submitted gun including smashing them loaded into concrete barriers to ensure they won't fire if dropped. Charter is a newly approved hand gun here unlike Colt, Rugar, Glock and Taurus all not available for sale in Mass. So since 1998 when the new law went into effect the only snub that isn't pre 1998 was Smith and the prices new and used reflect that. For example, my new CA was $125 less than a used Smith. After reading this review I checked for the problems noted, (wobbly cylinder) and mine is as tight as it could be. I have fire about 100 rounds through it so far without any trouble. It's no Smith but who cares?

  6. I am amazed the revolver you reviewed had that wobbly cylinder. I would have thought the American made charter arms revolvers would be better quality than that.

  7. I purchased a used Charter Arms Undercover recently LNIB for $150. First trip to the range I found it to be as accurate (at self defence distances)and as relieable as my other SD revolvers that are in $800 to $1K price range. On inspection and cleaning I did not find any problems with the weapon what so ever, no loose cylinder or evidence of a timing problem.

  8. Thanks for the great review. I have bought a older blue Charter Undercover 249xxx made in Bridgeport Conn. The cylinder is tight with no wobble or looseness that I can feel dry firing. I’m off to the range this weekend and I hope the accuracy is critical mass good like your newer model.

  9. I’ve owned my little CA 38 spl in matte stainless for over a year. I’ve put well past 600 rounds through it. Many of these were 158 grain re-loads, and several boxes of + P Hornady, and Federal high velocity personal defense rounds . This little jewel fires every time, and hits right where I aim it. Now, there is some “wobble” when the cylinder is out of the frame, ( hanging on the “crane ” ), but once loaded up, and the cylinder locks into the frame there is no movement at all. I hike a lot in Arizona , and we can carry concealed, or plain sight in this State, no permit needed. Really cool !. This little guy is so light, and packs just enough punch that it suits my needs to a tee. I used a little red loctite here , and there,.but no big deal. Fit & finish is very smooth on mine. Got a hell of a deal through a Police officer / FFL dealer. Good gun for hours of “carry ” and ..”.seconds of shooting ” when needed.

  10. I acquired a CA Undercover manufactured in 1980, prior to the ejector rod shroud. It was in like new condition with no wear anywhere! The cylinder locked up tight and it was timed fine. After shooting two boxes of lead target .38 loads it began to become very rough pulling the trigger and the cylinder did not want to release. After inspection two things were loose, the cylinder latch release screw (#14 in the CA exploded parts view) moved deeper into the cylinder face plate and the ejector rod head (#26 in the same view) was backing out and was loose! I locked-tight both and to date, after another 100 rounds, it has performed flawlessly and is accurate. I did order the combat rubber grips from CA which fit perfectly and was easier to grip than the original smaller wood grips. My wife bought a brand new Pink Lady and she had problems with the cylinder binding and could hardly pull the trigger. The front of the cylinder was being gouged against the barrel and the gun dealer sent it back to CA and two weeks later it was shipped back to the dealer and they fixed the problem and it shot accurately and functioned perfectly which it should have done out of the box new the first time. It did not cost her anything because of the warranty and the gun store took care of the shipping fee. I have to question their quality control but they do back up their guns, definitely. We will keep both weapons since they shoot accurately and are light to pack concealed or in a backpack however I will have to think hard about ever purchasing another one. I have to say, in all fairness, they are made in America and they are neat light weight weapons when they perform as they should. Oh, wait, if you’re tracking Bigfoot this is not the gun for you!

    • I just had the same thing happen to a CA undercover I won on Gunbroker. I fired five factory lead loads and now the cylinder won’t open. Could you please e-mail me as to how you got at the parts that needed adjustment?


  11. my 2″ charter snubby purchased new at a pawn charter dealer in ’08 ran 600 rounds including some +p s. no problem …accurate, but not like a longer barreled, heavier semi. then i loaded it and could not get the cylinder to unlock. put gun oil on the thumb release with no results while pressing the cylinder from opposite side. will send back to charter and all will be good on the life time warranty.

  12. I own 3 handguns and they all shoot very well but my Charter Arms 38 undercover is still the best! I never miss what I aim for, is feels just right, handles right and I would not sell it for many times what I paid for it. It is perfect for CCW, I have four different holsters for it so I can carry it anyway I want to, so I am never without it!

  13. I purchased an Off Duty model in 1988. I was new to handguns and knew nothing about them, but wanted something for home defense( no CCP’S in those days). I still own this gun and (17) seventeen other hand guns made by nine (09) different manufacturers.
    Although I’ve never had any problems with it, my wife has never been able to fire double action. The trigger is much to heavy for her to press.
    I live in condition yellow and this is the gun I have on me at home due to the fact that it is so small and light I can carry it all day and forget I have it on me. I often forget to take it out of my jeans pocket. Two years ago I purchased a CTC grip for it mostley because I have them on most all my other guns ( I own some that CTC does not have models for) and have become accustomed to them. CTC makes one model for CA revolvers but it fits every one ever made.
    Earlier this year I decided to get a trigger job just because. I called the largest gun shop in our area to get an estimate and the smith stated simply ” I don’t work on them.” I then tried the number two shop and was told ” $125.00 but don’t expect too much they won’t clean up like a Smith & Wesson”. I decided against continuing.
    The gun looks nice and I have never had any trouble with it but If I could do it over I would spend the extra dollars and get a S&W due to their much better reputation with gunsmiths. Today I would purchase a Ruger LCR.

  14. A female coworker tells of firing her Charter Arms .38 with reloads and watching the barrel fall off the gun. She was able to laugh, said it was like a cartoon where the barrel droops and falls off.

    Doesn’t sound very funny in real life.

    I want to find out more about this. I would like to have a revolver in the near future. Many are of the opinion that they are more reliable than autopistols. Now I have to wonder.

    • At present I own eighteen (18) handguns of which six (06) are revolvers.
      I do not know what your intended use for the revolver is but I suggest you start your search at the Ruger web site. Between the various GP100, SP101 and LCR models you should be able to find exactly what you are looking for. Ruger has long had a reputation for strong revolvers. I suggest you consider .357 cal. as any revolver built to use .357 will easily handle any .38 cal.. If weight is a major consideration check the .38 cal. LCR. At 13.5 ozs. it is 3.6ozs. lighter than the .357 model.I personally would still go with the .357 model even for pocket carry because both guns are the same size, 17.1ozs is just as comfortable to carry as 13.5 and the extra weight will help with felt recoil.
      If you just do not like the Rugers, I would next try Smith and Wesson. They usually cost a little more (some models a lot more).
      Taurus revolvers can be quiet good at times and very poor at others. From what I am hearing at present there QC is terrible. They do make a great many models. One of which is the 856, a small six (06) shot .38cal revolver.Their prices are very competitive but I would want to try one first (a good idea with any gun) so a dealer with a range would top my list.
      I own a twenty-three (23) y/o Charter Arms revolver that I carry daily at home, but I do not recommend them because of a poor reputation with gunsmiths. One gunsmith stated that he does no work of any kind on them.
      As for this barrel falling off, I don’t know how thats even possible without the gun having been in obvious need of repair. At any rate I would not let that influence my decision to purchase a revolver.
      Just for the record both my daily carry and primary home defense guns are pistols. But I do like a good revolver.

    • If she can UNDO EIGHT-TWELVE MACHINE THREADS from barrel to frame,,,,,,PLUS a staked & TAPERED DOWEL PIN,,,,,, then the barrel will magically fall off !!
      AGAIN,,, A wise man not knowing much about a subject will stay silent and learn– a foolish man not knowing much about a subject WILL SPEAK LOUDLY ABOUT IT- THEREFORE SHOWING HIS–OR HERS ! IGNORANCE,,,, China bc
      Grandpappy,,, back in the 50’s to 60’s many State Police depts. felt revolvers were more reliable(less parts to break) and safer (bad design on some pistol’s safety) PLUS you had to pull trigger heavy on rev. v.s. pistol and could eyeball to see if round rtf v.s. chambered and hidden. Many well published “shot in foot with pistol” helped bias beliefs back then also. Good Luck !
      P.S. Check the “LADY SMITH 9mm)” out. Why the Lady’s gun?? It is much THINNER than others=easy to carry in small of back for hours and LIGHTER than most. With laser grips it can TACK NAILS= I know+night or day. Tx

  15. My wife purchased a Charter Arms Lavender Lady on 11/20/11, and we took it to our local range a few times. She had fired a total of about 70 rounds through it. On 12/5/11, on the 14th round, the gun exploded. The part of the barrel that screws into the aluminum frame broke apart, causing the top strap on the frame to give way. Fortunately, she was firing one handed at the time, and was not hit by any of the shrapnel. I was able to locate the barrel and several of the fragments that went flying. We sent it back to them, and they should’ve received the FedEx box today. We fully intend to tell them we do not want a replacement from them. Just waiting to see what they have to say about it. The retailer she bought it from pulled their whole C.A. inventory and stated they would never sell another one.

    • Sudden, catastrophic failure is usually attributable to ammunition. What kind of ammunition was in use at the time of the event?

      While there can be many causes, including a defective firearm, the usual suspect in events such as this involve reloaded ammunition. I’ve seen a dozen or so revolvers destroyed by an accidental “double charge” of fast-burning gunpowder. One of these was a nice old K-38. It retained the barrel but the cylinder burst and the top strap separated near the front of the cylinder.

      It would be interesting to hear if the cause was ever determined?

  16. thanks for this terrific site. I have a real old C/A undercvr spec. & while reliable enough to ‘go bang’ after a couple hundred various types of ammo l find that it is nowhere accurate sufficient to think about using at any distance beyond twenty (20) feet. it is possible that the ‘ol barrel is by now, smoothbore (eyes not good enough to perform much of a groove measurement) and l may send it off to Conn just for personal feedback from this ‘new and improved’ mgmt team there. Was very interested in the narrative from the couple with the disintegrating Lavender Lady….. @ least l hope you folks post again, if only to say ‘C/A responded appropriately” or somesuch. once again, thanks for this great site, and l am bookmarkin it, sure! every best regard

  17. So, the Monday following us sending the revolver back to C.A., the president of the company called my wife. She expressed her concerns over what had occurred and her apprehension at firing their products. He asked her to have me call him, and I did so a few days later. He attempted to claim inconsistencies on the part of the ammo manufacturers and their quality control, stating she may have purchased a “hot” box of ammo. After explaining to him a little about my military & L.E. experience, which includes being an armorer, he backed off that a bit. I had told my wife that at the first hint of attitude, I would inform him they would be hearing from our attorney, but he seemed to be a genuine enough guy. He offered my wife choice of their inventory or a full refund, and I left it up to her how she wanted to resolve it, since it happened to her, with her revolver. She decided she liked one of their higher priced hammerless ones, and she asked them to include the Crimson Trace grips, which they offered on other models, but not this one. She received her gun about a week and a half later, with the grips. So far it has performed as an owner should expect, and the laser sight helps her accuracy. I was pleased with the level of customer service, but I really expected it, given what had occurred. I had done some research, and this was the third such malfunction of one of their lightweight revolvers in 2011. For me, once is too many, but they won’t get off so easy should something occur with the replacement.

  18. Need a comment. Bought the 38 special Undercover Charter Arms because of the weight and the dealer said it was good for a protection gun in the house, especially for my wife. My question is I had a hard time pushing in the cylinder release, I tightened the screw down, the cylinder opens easy enough, BUT the release itself moves east to west and wiggles north to south. Is this normal for this gun?

  19. My husband and I bought my used CA .38 Special over twenty years ago. He wanted to get a large frame small caliber handgun for me but I held out for something that I could hold up and steady for several moments with a big hole pointing at what was scaring me.

    This gun has been in the side door pocket of several Chevy vans, the glove box of everything from Corvettes to Trackers to my current STS-V, my purse or another bag and open carried in my leg holster.

    I’m a quilter and the first thing I did was make myself a little ‘sheepskin’ fabric lined corduroy gun-shaped bag to keep it in. After all those miles and many classes and shooting sessions (I hold CCW’s from both NE & AZ), both the little gun and the little bag look like new.

    Yesterday we went to a local indoor range and while my husband was working with a couple 40 year old automatic .22’s, I fired half a box of shells through my gun. I can, with great effort, use the gun double action, but it effects my accuracy. I generally pull the hammer back with my supporting, left thumb.

    When I attend a class by myself, I always have my instructor or rangemaster sign my targets because the grouping is generally good enough that it’s hard to believe someone with so little experience and T & A (that’s Talent and Ability) could do what I do with that little old short nosed pea shooter.

    I agree that if I used the gun in self-defense I’d expect to have it confiscated and never see it again. Boy, I’d hate lose my little gun, but that wouldn’t keep me from doing what I had to do, believe me.

    Two things mean personal security to me: a fully charged cell phone with a nearby tower and a Charter Arms Undercover Special five shot with four .38 special shells in it and I’m good to go!

    • Patty, why do you only keep four rounds in your 5-shot revolver? Does your gun not have a safety mechanism to allow carry with all chambers loaded? Most modern revolvers can be safely carried with all five chambers loaded so no need to carry with hammer down on an empty round like the old-style cowboy guns.

      The only exception would be if your gun has the old style hammer mounted firing pin and no transfer bar or firing pin block safety.

  20. Valuable info. Fortunate me I found your web site by accident, and I’m stunned why this twist of fate didn’t took place in advance! I bookmarked it.

  21. Great info on the centerfires….I am looking for something on the smaller stuff. I have a 3 in .22 Mag Pathfinder that I have used for years for snake and critter control. I used snake shot alot and the gun performed extremely well and looks just great. I have four S/W and other autos, but this one always finds its way into my pocket Great gun…Sorry about your problems with Charter.

  22. Check out the Charter Arms thread on The Firing Line sponsored by S.W.A.T. magazine. They have a lot of info on this weapon. If my memory is correct you have 1965 or slightly later first generation gun. I am seeking a close manufacature date on the never -fired Undercover 38 spl Serial Number 121811 that I inherited several years ago.

  23. I wrote last year about my C.A. 38 2 inch barrel in matte stainless, and had to write again to say it is still shooting / functioning fine after close to 1000 rounds through it. I read with interest the various problems others had with their C.A. revolvers. Those comments reminded me of a Sig Sauer ( of all things ) .22 Trailside that I bought new many years ago. It was a beautiful little .22 auto, but after one box of .22 long rifles through it, the slide came apart, and small pieces hit me in the face harm done to me, but the little Sig was toast. Sig gave me my money back, and I bought two Browning Buckmark Plus Nickle autos with no problems. I also own an FNP 40 that is a real good shooter, but at two pounds too heavy on the hiking trails . So, I carry a light weight, although cheap, Charter Arms Stainless .38 shorty. I carry premium self defense ammo in it ( no reloads ) on the trail. Granted, it is just what it is for the money. Mine works like a charm, but quality control at C.A. is always suspect ( they have their heart in it, but they need to make them much better than they do ). I like the weight, size, and “handiness ” of it. Now, mine had the cylinder thumb release “lock up ” after about 100 rounds of hot factory loads. I put red locktite on the hammer adjusting screw after cleaning it with alcohol. It never has done the ” lock up ” again.

    • I recently purchased a CharterArms Undercover. I have owned several of them over the years and have been happy with all of them, though Admitedly, they were all first generation guns. The one I have now is in excellent condition, and is an extremely early production gun, #1916, probably made in late 1964 from what I have been albe to learn about it.

  24. I just received a Charter Arms undercover that I won on Gunbroker. The cylinder latch worked fine when I unpacked it a few days ago. I shot five rounds of Winchester 158 gr lead HP through it today and now the cylinder won’t open. It has a serial number that begins with “88” and has the older exposed ejector rod. Is this something I can fix myself?

    • Hey Tom, I’ve had my C.A. for four years now, and it used to be difficult to open the cylinder with the thumb latch. After I ran about 100 rounds of hot factory loads through it, the cylinder would not open at all. On mine…..what I did was… pull the hammer all the way back to full cock, and cleaned the little adjusting screw you’ll see down in the hammer slot. ( I used rubbing alcohol to clean it ). Then just keep adjusting the screw until the cylinder thumb release pops the cylinder open easily. I then put one small drop of red lock tite on that screw, and the rest is history. It never fails to open the cylinder….ever.
      You will notice the little locking ball that pushes back the thumb latch when the cylinder closes. You want to adjust that screw so that ball pushes back on the thumb latch just enough to open the cylinder. Just be careful with the lock tite….don’t get it all over the inside hammer well. I just oiled the area really good , so lock tite would not stick to other areas…just on that screw head. Hope this ” cures ” your problem.

  25. Picked up a pair of CA undercovers I ordered last week today . Cleaned and oiled them when I
    got home and checked both for function multiple times dry firing . One seemed a bit balky at opening a time or two before being live fired .
    My wife and I stepped into our back yard 7yd defense range and ran 50 rds of American Eagle
    130gr fmj through each . Got great accuracy from both . especially in double action fire . One opened easily for a reload .
    The problem child gave repeated opening problems . Close inspection revealed that it would not open in two cylinder positions . Rotating past these two it would open flawlessly . Appears that 2 ejector seats were not machined deeply enough . I’ll contact Charter Monday . If they fix the problem at their expense I have 2 shooters I am happy with .
    If not ………………………………………..

    • Didn’t get to call CA until yesterday afternoon . Very courteous and willing to remedy the problem at their expense .
      Called my dealer at 3:30pm looking for a shipping box and explained the problem . He told me I had an additional lifetime warranty through his supplier and would deal with it immediately .
      My dealer called today at 11:45AM and told me he had my new pistol waiting for me to come and pick it up ; no charge .
      I’m a happy camper.

  26. I’m now a satisfied customer . Picked up the replacement pistol this morning . Fit and function were much better than that of the ‘Problem Child’. Cleaned and oiled it when I got home and ran 50 rounds through it at 7yds double and single action . Flawless performance . Wife and I now both have dependable defensive firearms for every day carry . Hope we never need them.

  27. Bought one of these for $300 NIB in 2011. No cylinder wobble. No lead shower. It’s just a BUG and it does what it’s supposed to do. No sweat if someone steals it or the cops have to confiscate it.

  28. I own Charter Arms DAO .38special undercover,it shoots to point of aim,does not give a lead shower,is reliable with anything I feed it,low power loads,+p loads ,if it fits it works!Used it in my states ,(Mississippi),enhanced ccw class shot a 98 out of a possible 100 great little revolver,depend on it every day,just did one change to it,I carry it in the appendix carry,so I changed the boot grip to the full combat grip,but it leaves the option,if I want to carry in the pocket during our very hot summers,to go back to the boot grip.Also looking forward to a 9mm revolver,and the .45acp version coming out in late fall.Ya’ll have a good one,and Keep your powder dry.

  29. I have six C/A 38’s. Lots of everything else, S&W, Colt, Ruger, etc.. I will buy more C/A’s in the future, especially used one!!!!

    C/A is one of my preferred carries. Use a Black Hawk In-The-Pocket holster, I bet my life on it..

    Like any mechanical device, they are man made and must be tested.

    They make great gifts. Don’t remove the hammer, sear, or trigger assembles. It is difficult to get back together. Find a willing/patient Gunsmith.

    KB Webb, Webbco Gunsmithing.

  30. I had to send my Charter 2000 DAO Undercover back for warranty work,the firing pin stuck out freezing up the cylinder.I sent it back on August first recieved it back on the 29th,was I surprised,they not only replaced the firing pin spring which was what was wrong,but they replaced the firing pin,tightened up the action,and brush cleaned the outside,which made it look almost new,it shoots like new too.In this day and time for this kind of service I give Charter Arms five stars,I will be buying more C.A. Guns in the future.Be prepared and ready.Keep your powder dry.

  31. I got mine 3 days ago…went to the firing range for the first time with it and from 11.5 yards planted 10 rounds straight in the bullseye head and heart center of target…to me that must mean something ! This is a pretty damn accurate gun for a short barrel .38 spl !!

  32. I have a Charter Arms Patriot .327 magnum with a 2 – 1/2 inch barrel (stainless) that I carry concealed. The only problem I have is that in the summer it rusts when I sweat more. The rest of the year it is ok, it is very accurate also. Will buy another.

  33. Ahhh. Safe and great and what not. That’s what they say about this gun? I say its cursed. Its the firearm used to kill John Lennon. If I owned one, I’d feel a small bit of guilt for killing debatebly the best musician of the 20th century. That’s just me, though.

    • You can say a gun is cursed(IT WASN’T THIS ONE=IT WAS A BULLDOG) or you can go on HEARSAY EVIDENCE like “grandpappy”(note Lowercase) or you can go on KNOWLEDGE of 55 years rifle/revolver/pistol use!
      My first interaction with a firearm was at the age of 5-6 when I couldn’t lift a 22 Winchester semi because it weighed too much. I could lift the Remington 22 single shot and so carried it down the stairs over at my Grandparent’s house after church. My Mother freaked-my Dad said the firing pin was out of it. Dad should know;it was his gun as a child. I went back to watching Hop a Long Cassidy or the Lone Ranger on TV.
      I was EDUCATED in GUN SAFETY as a child-not like today when “Parents or Grownups” have NO CLUE AS TO WHAT OR HOW TO PROTECT THEIR CHILDREN. Stay off the 3rd rail-duh- don’t climb telephone poles to get the ball etc.
      Back to the subject (I had to show a little of my small database). We lived in a ghetto in Baltimore-Heroin city. My Mother got a stainless 38 Charter for Christmas because she had been yoked(robbed) 3 times waiting for the the bus to work. Forty some years ago and 100’s of rounds later NOT ONE PROBLEM ! I even have her letter to Charter Arms asking if she can load +P’s in it (We knew a LOT of Police).
      I have worked Hospital most of my life where I see the results of gun violence-ER-Units. I will work for friends -to help them out in retail- once in a while. I use a SW 2″ Banker’s(UNeducated know it as undercover heh-heh) or my CA 2″ in transit and SW357 at store.
      A thousand year statement from China says it best: A wise man not knowing a subject will stay silent and a uneducated man will speak loudly. Sincerely, Rick PD,Rph

    • Here is what I have used on many of my firearms and it does help , it’s called 10-10-80 , it is 10% Marvel Mystery oil , 10% STP oil treatment , and 80% Dextron 3or4 auto transmission fluid mixed together , slickest lube you will ever use it also wicks into the metal of a firearm , take my word for it you won’t use anything else , and it does help to loosen up the trigger pull . This lube was passed along to me by a man , now gone to meet his maker , name of Jim Meyers of Laurel , Mississippi , he was a machinist for most of his life this is why I trust this lube so much since he worked with metals . Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  34. “…is a gun whose owners come hungry for self-defense, and leave satisfied that their attacker ate lead. ”

    Sounds like something a short-peckered, pimple faced kid would say… the Obongoite roaches love guys like you… no wonder they want our guns.

    Charter Arms, Rossi, Taurus snubbies are all crap. Guys, get a good used S&W or Ruger or a new Kahr CM9… and try not to talk like a frustrated wimp who would likely get beaten and buggered in any confrontation.

  35. I owned two Charter Arms Pathfinder .22 magnum revolvers. I had so many problems I have to send them back FOUR times. Nick Ecker finally called me and told me “their no good” so he replaced my TWO revolvers with ONE .32 H&R undercoverette. I took it to the range today and it made it to the 15th round and locked up… It is waiting for another return label and either another botched repair job or a switch for yet another POS. Don’t buy these guns. Soon or later they FAIL. I’m into them for almost $700.00 and still don’t have a firearm I can use……

  36. Late to the party here, but shaving lead is unacceptable.

    The “wobbly” cylinder when open is meaningless. Most Charters will do that. A wobbly cylinder when locked closed is another story.

  37. My Charter Arms revolver has been completely trouble free. Bought it new in 2014. No lead shaving, no cylinder binding, lock up super tight. The trigger is smooth, does not stack, and lighter than my J-frame which makes it more accurate for me. Customer service is great. Never had to send it for repairs, but my emails to the company about products and general info get returned. Very polite and friendly people.

  38. I’m happy to have stumbled acrossed this chat sight about the C/A “UNDERCOVER” 5 – Shot 38SPL, as I just picked one up “USED” for my mom, whom recently lost my step-father and wanted a bit more Security / Home Defense! I’ve yet to take it to the range, and give it a thorough run through, but from what I’ve read, it should do just fine for the task at hand, which will be sitting in the Nightstand ( undisturbed ) unless someone decides to get stupid, and invite themselves in unannounced??? ALL of the comments were greatly appreciated! ! Or, at least those comments that stayed on task, in talking about the reliability of the lil’ Snubby!!

  39. I enjoyed the review Robert. I just wanted to give a little perspective between the older version of the CA Undercover.38 special made in Stratford, Conn and the newer version. I carry mine in Texas. It was carried by my Dad (passed 21 years ago) for self defense. He bought it used at a pawn shop. Over the years I have put a few hundred rounds thru it. I must say that with the added CTC grip with the laser it is as accurate as ever and now it’s is a quick draw and point. I have a minuscule cylinder wiggle and non with the cylinder is locked in place. The gun has never miss fired or experienced a heaver trigger pull or cylinder lock-up. I am sure that I could pay more and I am also sure any of the big companies will produce a quality product. However, I am so satisfied with this weapon I can say I wouldn’t replace it with any other revolver at any price. Yes I may well loose this gun if I am forced to use it but that is what my Dad bought it for and it’s what I’ll use it for. Needless to say, I would not replace it with a newer version.

  40. My Charter Arms is old made in about 67, I’ve had it now going on 38 years. During that time it’s handled all sorts of 38 special loads from factory civilian to military hard ball to heavy reloads. Never malfunctioned. Did go back to the factory in the 90’s and was reblued. Carried it for just about every use possible.

    Like me it’s a bit worn and long in the tooth and probably not as good as it once was, but still as good once as it ever was

  41. We should remember all of us the gun was designed back in the days of lead RN or wadcutter target ammo being the only choices. JHP ammo, +P ammo, etc. were years in the future and the pressures they can generate is more than the base design envelope makers anticipated.

    Mine is 30+ years old (Serial #’d in the 636,xxx range) and was purchased as a back up pistol for uniform carry. It rode in the pocket of my reefer coat or on a hip holster for over a decade before something with more bite (a Detonics Mk VI) replaced it. I ran about 400 rounds of lead ball and SWC standard velocity ammo through mine back in the 80s and know reasonably well where it hits out to about 20 yards. A low profile, snag resistent, hammer exists and sits on mine. After the Berrylium firing pin lawsuit acqyured much of the early inventory and began selling those when the company broke up the first time. Also all of the internal parts are available on Just type undercover there and search parts.

    The cylinder wobble shown doesn’t exist on mine. [That’s probably a crane screw or thread issue. My suspicion would be someone buggered up the threads when taking the cylinder off and putting it back, Whatever, mine doesn’t have the problem.]

    The gunsmith issue is because the frame is aluminum, but the pins holding it together are steel. This means every time a gunsmith takes the trigger group off (for whatever weird reason) the pin holes get a little looser, so they don’t want to mess with that as the oversize pins are not readily available and would have to be hand made.

    Loaded with wadcutters or SWC standard velocity ammo mine performs quite well in the manner it was designed for. My biggest complaint if you could call it that is the bluing has worn off the cylinder after 3 decades of use. I last fired mine the week before Xmas 2015 and it worked just fine.

  42. I have a 1991 stainless steel Bulldog that is of the “original” configuration. It has held together since I picked it up used for $175.00. It saved my life on December 25th 2006. (I’ll neve sell it).

    I am in the process of purchasing a Charter Arms .45 ACP Pitbull ($465.00 OTD). I believe it will serve me well. Nick and Dee Ecker stand by their products. I don’t think that they’ll “fall down on the job” when I need them most.

    I’ll buy Charter Arms again and again.

  43. I have a new 38 UC Lite. Great so far. It’s tight, easier to clean than an automatic, and hasn’t failed once, firing target and FMJ rounds. I’m an average shooter, but I get a lot of target hits with this pistol. Recoil is nominal. My barrel doesn’t wobble at all. Trigger pull is a bit tough, but, ya learn. Ya know ? It’s light, and easy to carry. I think if what you are looking for is a lightweight, reliable basic weapon, it’s gonna fill the bill. I’m glad I picked up this gun. But, only holds 5 rounds.

  44. At first I thought this was the least accurate pistol I had ever seen. I was about to give up and start filing on the front sight but I decided to give it one last chance….I sat it firmly on a bench and began driving nails from 10-15 yds. That’s when I realized it had been me all along. After several boxes of shells I know that if you clasp your hands around it with a good firm grip this puppy is as accurate a J frame as you will ever find. It has won my confidence out to 20 yds.

  45. I have got an upper 5 digit serial # CA Undercover I bought new in box long, long, ago. I carried it as a back up and off duty revolver for decades. It doesn’t like 158 gtain +P ammunition, but it loves wad cutters and hydroshock wadcutters. Of course standard velocity ball ammunition also works well. The intended purpose of a 2 inch revolver is self defense at 20 yards or less. My CA works superbly at those ranges. I added something called a Tyler T grip to my grips in the late 70s and that lets it fill my hand better. In the same time frame Charter Arms had come out with a spurless hammer for law enforcement and I added one of them. The limitations of a thin cylinder wall are known and the .solution in .38 Special is simply do not use +P ammunition and never ever use +P+ ammunition unless you like having your gun suddenly disassemble. If you need more oomph, then just get a bigger gun.
    Practice, practice and practice some more. It is okay to use something like a large 4 inch revolver for most of your practice. (Note: Most). The goal is to shoot at least 1,000 rounds a year for a few years until you are really sure you can hit what you want to hit at combat ranges. Then try it with the little 2 inch to be sure. I haven’t worn a badge for decades, but I still shoot the little Undercover a dozen times a year. I have carried it so much there is no more bluing on the cylinde and much of the frame coating long ago flaked off. It doesn’t care. Rabbits, snakes, paper targets, they all look the same to the Undercover.
    There are plenty of sources of spare parts for these things since they have been made since the early 1960s. Gunparts, Gunbroker, CA themselves, etc. If I had one with the cylinder wobble shown, I woulld simply buy a new cylinder w/yoke assembly on gun broker and swap it in. That will fix the wobble. Use the old cylinder assembly as a fishing weight.
    I should add that when I go backpacking or fishing I usually bring more oomph, a stainless steel CA Bulldog 44. That works well too.

  46. Colt and Smith & Wesson had a history of always denegrating the competition by lying or stretching truths with actual media campaigns against the opponent. That goes back to the 1870s when the imported $2 Bulldog revolvers were destroying sales of the US made $12 to $15 dollar products and the two companies coined the phrase ‘suicide specials’ to describe them in newspaper ads. They were also the first to insist that loyal Americans would always buy only American made products, even if the foreign product was both cheaper and better. They continued that during and post WWI when the American consumers (having been exposed to them in the Great War) wanted better semi automatics by claiming the German guns such as the Luger were very unreliable (it wasn’t) and poorly made (it wasn’t). So what happened n the late 1950s when CA brought out their Undercover to compete against the Colt Detective Special and Chief’s Special at 1/3 the cost came as no surprise. Lots of rumor and innuendo, even some highly publicized fake tests to prove Charter Arms products were inferior for any purpose. It wasn’t. The only mission of the Undercover was to make a cheap, light weight, reliable, hideout revolver that could fire .38 Special ball ammunition in self defense of the owner. Both smaller and cheaper than the closest Colt product and half or less the cost of the similar Chief’s Special of S&W it was a very clear economic threat. Had Charter Arms managed to evade some lawsuits It was S&W themselves who betrayed all gun owners by going to Ted Kennedy to enlist his aid in campaigning against small concealable firearms for the public at large. Both companies maintained that cheap firearms were mostly owned or wanted by criminals and real law abiding Americans only purchased quality firearms like theirs. Of course the actions of Chapman and Berkowitz didn’t help the reputation of the CA products. Colt had bigger problems around then and pretty much left CA alone by 72, and Smith backed off when lots of their hunting product customers grew irritated at S&W’s actions at deriding a product many of the big names in the industry actually owned one or two of. But too late, Ted Kennedy was on a roll. Meanwhile CA’s own workers had sued them over respiratory issues caused by machining Berrylium. The money to pay the lawyers came out of CA’s advertising budget and sales slipped and qulity also began to suffer. The best CA’s were the ones made in Bridgeport and Stratford in the early years. After that the rumors of quality issues became true.

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