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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 five-shot snub-nose 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 with a fixed front sight, and a rear sight milled into the top of the receiver. 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 double-action 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 singed 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 duty 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. Reloading 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.

Duty guns and carry guns can take all sorts of shapes, from pistols by SIG Sauer, Beretta, Springfield, Remington and dozens of other makers in loads from .380 ACP to .45 ACP. But some shooters like the simple manual of arms offered by revolvers like the Charter Arms Undercover in .38 Special +P.

Simply put, the Charter lacks qualm-calming quality. You don’t have to be a gun expert to know it. Cylinder in, cylinder release, 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 of JHP and ball ammo 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 [paraphrasing]. For example, the Undercover revolvers’ side plates aren’t attached by screws like, say, Smith & Wesson’s. And the Undercover’s 2-inch 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 Off Duty or Undercover revolver 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 pull one from his holster for self-defense. So, call it good? Good.

If I were looking for a highly accurate concealed-carry or home-defense handgun, didn’t care about caliber, or plan to fire thousands of rounds 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?

This Charter Arms revolver is a meat-and-potatoes revolver from your 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?

SPECIFICATIONS: Charter Arms Undercover Revolver

Model: 73820

Finish: Stainless (black nitride is 63820)
Grip: Full Black Rubber (rubber grips)
Barrel Length: 2-inch (stainless steel)
Capacity: 5-shot
Rifling: 8 grooves
Action: Single Action/Double Action (the hammerless 73811 is DAO)
Frame: 1-Piece Stainless Steel Design
Cylinder: 3-Point Lock
Ejector Rod: Shrouded
Sights: Fixed
Caliber: .38 Special +P loads (38 spl)
Hammer: Standard
Weight: 16 oz.
Manufactured: USA
Suggested Retail: $407

Other revolvers from Charter Arms: Pathfinder, Undercover, Undercover Lite, Chic Lady, Southpaw, Undercoverette, Bulldog, Pitbull, Mag Pug, On Duty, Off Duty

RATINGS: (out of five stars):

Style * * * *
Special revolver? Classic snubbie, but stainless, not blued.

Ergonomics * * *
Feels right. Star deducted for ever-so-slightly cranky cylinder. Another removed for the lousy trigger pull, a result of the transfer-bar-to-firing-pin ignition setup. 

Reliability * *
The Charter Arms 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, my FFL would make sure the gun went straight back to the factory.

Customize This *
Crimson Trace Lasergrips for it were out of stock at the time of this writing.

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


More from The Truth About Guns:

World’s First Rimless Revolver (Or Not): Charter Arms Pit Bull
Charter Arms to Introduce Son of Son of Sam Bulldog 44
Charter Arms Introduces New Chic Lady and Chic Lady Off Duty .38s
Gun Review: Charter Arms .357 Magnum Target Mag Pug Revolver
Gun Review: Colt King Cobra .357 Magnum Revolver
Cobra Gunskins Pink Lady Gun Holster: Is Pink the New Black?
Ruger LCR Talo: Glock Ugly?

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  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.

    • You guys dont understand how a Charter is designed, unlike a Smith, Colt and their copies, the crane does not hold the cylender in alignment on a charter, the front and rear locks do. The cranes only purpose on a Charter is to swing the cylender out, you could cut the crane in half, snap it in and the gun would work the same.

  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.

    • I still have CA in the box .38 Special Off Duty from 1979! Do I need to have it checked out before using?

  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.

      • What do the gunsmiths say? I met a guy who told me his Bulldog needed a proprietary tool that no one had- it was an earlier version of CHARCO? so- not much help from them.

        It it proprietary tooling, materials or what?

    • 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

  34. is there any way to lighten the trigger pull of my 38 liteweight ? And shorten the length of pull or reset ? Thanks for any reply.

    • 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 .

  35. “…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.

  36. 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……

  37. 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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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!!

  40. 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.

  41. 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

  42. 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.

  43. 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.

  44. 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.

  45. 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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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.

  48. Just to keep this thread moving, I feel compelled to add my own observations on Charter Arms. Bought a six shot Undercover thirty-five years or more ago when doing outside collections and real estate inspections in the inner city. Other than a gun dealer selling me +Ps for it (and I only put a box or two of +Ps through the gun), it has always been fed good ole .38 Specials. It has always been reliable and in one or two cases, was probably the reason I didn’t end up beaten, robbed, or worse. As I rarely carry anymore, my Charter resides comfortably on a shelf in the attic, but I expect that it still shoots doggone good for a two inch barrel and still locks up tighter than a bank vault. One of these days, I’ll take it out of retirement and see how well it still shoots. I put plenty of rounds through it in practice over the years (none in anger) and, as I said, locks up tighter than a bank vault. Never once worried that a barrel would fall off or the weapon explode. If I had to do over again and buy an entry level revolver, I’d certainly look at Charter products.

    • Just an update. Took my god daughter’s son shooting a couple weeks ago and we took the Charter with us. Shoots just as well as it did years ago when I carried it and shot it regularly. Other than a little holster wear and a little pitting from having been carried,it still looks pretty good AND locks up good and tight. I expect this hand gun will serve my son and his offspring as well.

      • There is no reason it shouldn’t. These are guns meant to be carried a lot and shot just a little. They do best with standard velocity loads. A Bridgeport made Charter Arms (CA) pistol given a diet of 100 or so rounds a year (properly cleaned now and then of course) should last a few centuries. I have an early B dog .44 made in the second year of production (bought new, unfired, in box from the original owner) I picked up a decade ago. It is my go cut fire wood in the forest pistol. Light to carry, but with enough punch to drop any bear or deer or wolf I might meet. Perfect. I would expect my grand kids to feel the same way about it. The CA Undercover I bought 4 decades ago when I did dangerous things (legally) and made enemies still sits loaded nearby. It was perfect because bad people who saw it saw only that it was not a Smith or a Colt and therefore (in their puny minds) I wasn’t a legal threat because all government agents (in their belief system back then) were only allowed to only carry S&Ws or Colts.. I put a dehorned hammer on the Undercover. Once upon a time CA offered them as a drop in option. A Tyler T grip improved the grip without the bulk of pachmyer type grips. Yellow nail polish on the front sight makes acquisition really fast. I qualified PPC (back in the days of 25 yards and real ammunition, not wax bullets and screens) with the Undercover several times over the years. It has never failed me. Eventually it became semi retired when the world went 9mm and .40, but I still trust the Undercover explicitly and fully which is why it sits nearby loaded and waiting to be called upon again.

  49. I concur. I carried a CA Undercover as a back up pistol for over two decades. Not a durn thing wrong with it. It still sits near me as I type this. I also have a first year of production CA Bulldog 44 which usually comes with me when I go out in the woods to chain saw firewood. Both are very nice pistols. Do I own Rugers, Colts and S&Ws? Sure. But I like my CAs.

  50. I have blown apart a Smith & Wesson K frame. I did not run out and sell all my Smith & Wessons. I have blown a Colt Police Positive up too, and again, I am not selling off all my Colts. The new Charter Arms stuff is actually pretty impressive, especially the Pitbull line. I have even reamed the Undercoverette .32 H&R out to fire .327 Fed Mag, and never had a problem, despite having blown up an older model .357 Magnum Charter Arms Pug. Put them all in a bag, Ruger, Smith, Colt, Charter Arms, and maybe even a Taurus, shake it up and pull one out. At the average distance for defense shootings, an old shot out Rossi with no rifling left will probably suffice, therefor the others should be fine. The fact David Berkowicz & Mark David Chapman chose a Charter Arms has little to do with anything. The big gun companies managed to sucker Tedward hicup Kennedy, who’s brother was killed with an Iver Johnson to go after the “budget gun” manufacturers. The fact Smith & Wesson has recently been selling a pistol with a $500 MSRP for $230 after rebate, eludes to the high markup these established companies enjoy. I still have my dad’s $30 1950s H&R Camper’s Special, 9 shot .22 LR . It works like a champ, and H&R sold millions of those low cost revolvers. H&R also made the Reising Machine Guns, M1 Garands, and even a few 1911s. The H&R 1911 is even rarer than the Singer. H&R failed some part of the quality test, which was not solely based upon quality, but a company also had to meet regular production deadlines, and retain a set level of quality. Singer failed more on the quantity level. H&R more on the quality level. H&R made some mean-a** prototype military weapons in the mid 1950s. They made a wicked cool 45-70 Govt. Buffalo Gun, and a neat .58 cal muzzle loader, that was known to blow a couple shooter’s faces off. (More of an operator error issue, in you don’t break the action on a converted shotgun on a hangfire. When it does go bang, the breech plug comes out the back and, well, right back into the shooter’s face.) It’s still a neat muzzle loader, just follow some common sense instructions. H&R comes across as as much of or more of a “budget gun” than Charter Arms, in my book, and they weren’t too awfully terrible. Davis comes to mind when I think of slamfiring, exploding, or just malfunctioning at the worst possible time, guns. Charter Arms’ quality varied from era to era, throughout their history. In the late 1960s to the early 1970s they made an incredibly accurate, reliable, and affordable little revolver. By the 80s the tooling seemed to be getting sloppy. Lately, they are better than ever. IMHO! I have blown chunks out of Airweight .357s. I’d rather have a stainless S&W. The .357 Lady Smith is a nice revolver. I have blown the frame of a Diamondback in half, one of Colt’s flagship small frame .38s. Most recently blown up was a 1930s Police Positive “SP&S Railway Detective” revolver chambered in .38 S&W. May have been a friend’s reload, who knows. The gun is salvageable.

  51. It is always irritating to see guys like this review guns because so many people will consider him an expert. the video and statements about cylinder wobble clearly indicates he does not understand this design, unlike a Smith or Colt the crane is not what holds the cylinder securely in a CA, the FRAME does. When closed the cylinder is securely engaged to the frame front and back.

  52. I have a CA stainless undercover 38 model/serial number 71277, “CHARTER 2000” made in Shelton, Conn. I bought it new but, can’t remember exactly when. I haven’t used it for years. It hasn’t been shot much at all. I bought it for an ankle gun and just never used it much. It seems to shoot ok but after reading this thread I decided to get it out and check it for cylendar wobble. It has a very, very slight movement when locked into the frame of, I’d say less than 64th of an inch if I try to turn the cylendar when locked in the frame. Is this normal for this gun? Also, can anyone tell me when this gun was made and any pertinent info on this particular model would be greatly appreciated. I carry a 9mm most of the time and only recently decided I might start carrying the 38 sometimes. Anyone knowledgable about this particular revolver have any info they’d like to share with me about this gun? Thanks,

  53. Someone wanted more info on exploding revolvers, I have it except this time it’s the Chic Lady, which has an aluminum frame. I’ve had two of them, both were flame cut almost all the way through the top strap. The first was sent back because the recoil plate came loose. They replaced the plate and sent it back. I worked up a .38 load, firing roughly 150 rounds that were 0.1 to 0.3 grains above starting loads and at least half a grain below max for standard pressure .38sp. The rest of the workup, all the way up to max load, went through my steel Undercover and a GP100 with no issues. The Chic Lady did not survive, when I cleaned it up I saw the top strap was almost gone.
    I sent the CL back *again*, it was replaced. I shot 100 rounds through the replacement that were loaded to a higher pressure but still well under max for 38sp. All went well, a good inspection revealed no damage. I put 100 rounds of the lower pressure ammo through it and it, too, suffered from flame cutting and the frame was cracked. I ran some ammo from that same batch through the steel Undercover with zero issues. The CL is once again back at the factory, I told them DO NOT send me another aluminum gun.
    Now let’s talk about the old steel Undercover. It was sent back the first time for timing and light strikes. They claimed it never failed to ignite any primers when they tested it, and so left that problem unfixed. To this day it refuses to reliably ignite CCI or Remington primers, it loves Winchester WSP’s.
    That same gun was sent back to be re *blued* to address rust issues. Thirty days and $150 later it came back *parkerized* and after a week of concealed carry it was absolutely covered in rust. Charter’s solution was a Fobus paddle holster and to recommend some very expensive gun wipes. The Fobus is *not* tuckable as they had told me it was, but the Fobus line is decent for the price.
    I still have the steel Undercover, it’s rust free now but it’s never carried anymore. Even the closest inspection shows no damage at all to it, and I intend to keep it that way.
    As for the Chic Lady, I have no idea what I will do with the “replacement” Charter sends. I found a suitable replacement on my own: a Ruger SP 101 in .357 magnum.
    I will NEVER buy or recommend a Charter to anyone, in fact, I have two that may soon be for sale to cover the cost of a quality revolver.
    By the way, the Chic Lady is +P rated even with the aluminum frame. Why they are coming apart under starting loads is completely beyond me.

  54. Purchased a .40 Bulldog revolver in Black Nitride. Took it to the range and shot 100 rounds through it. On two or three occasions reloading, the cylinder wouldn’t open. After fooling with the cylinder and the cylinder release latch, I was able to open the cylinder. While at the range, I noticed that the barrel with the front sight was twisted off to the right by approximately 5 to 10 degrees (no wonder I wasn’t able to place shots where I needed them to go on the target). It wasn’t like that when I purchased it. Contacted Charter Arms about my situation and was instructed to send the gun to them for repair. Did that. After calling several times to find out about the gun (the folks at Charter Arms will not call OR “e” mail you back letting you know what they intend to do to resolve your situation. I asked them to do so and they didn’t). When I FINALLY got in touch with someone, I was told that the gun was defective and that they were going to send me a replacement gun, ANOTHER .40 Bulldog. I told Customer Service that I didn’t want another .40 Bulldog and that I would like a .38 SPL Undercover Black Nitride revolver instead, they complied and sent me one. However, they didn’t send a copy of their FFL with the replacement gun thus causing a delay in getting the gun from my local gun dealer. After “e” mailing the company and letting them know about my Customer Service experience, I get a call from the Charter Arms C.E.O. Nick. Long story short, he asked me not to purchase any more of their products. Do yourself a favor and avoid this company and their products. They are so “hit and miss” that the experience isn’t worth your time. Pay the extra $100 or $200 and get a Smith & Wesson revolver.

      • The problem is people on low income cannot afford Colt, S&W or Ruger. I have two Ruger revolvers I bought in the mid 1990’s for less than $300 each new but that was then. Back when gas, in NC at least, was still less than a dollar a gallon. Hasn’t been that price and Ruger new has not been that price for a long time either. The 2A is meant for everybody otherwise not permitted due to criminal or mental issues. It’s not restricted for those fortunate to have the extra funds to afford Colt, S&W or Ruger. By the way the reason back then I bought Ruger was I could not then afford Colt or S&W. Was I as a law abiding, tax paying, hard working citizen less deserving of firearms ownership and exercising my 2A rights because of my lower income bracket?

        Last summer I bought a CA Undercover from a female coworker who was the first owner. She is 5’7″ and small framed. Felt the recoil was too much and did not care for the DA pull.Test cartridge is dated 1/31/08. Barrel scroll “CA/ Shelton Conn” on one side and “Undercover/ 38 SPL” on the other side. By the way the ’38’ was not fully impressed but that has nothing to with function. I noticed after seeing the video that when the cylinder is out there is similar but no where as extreme wobble. I have fired over 100 basic FMJ rounds through it. No metal shaving, lock up tight. DA trigger pull was very heavy but after firing and dry firing it is less. Is the finish as fine as my older Rugers? No. But it is what it is, a drawer gun in the house with Hornady JHP’s in it (once I get some) and CCI #9 snake shot for outside in warm weather (again once I get some).

        To other points made. I will never shoot +P through it. But then again, I have never shot +P or +P+ through any of my pistols (Springfield 1911, Browning HP, Beretta 92FS, reproduction Luger) or my Rugers.

  55. My Charter Undercover is one of the first to come out of the factory in the ’60’s. Bought it used from our Motor Sergeant in the early 80’s. It’s been shot may thousands of times with everything from speer plastic bullets to +P 38’s and similar Reloads. Recently rebarreled it (wanted to spruce it up a bit) with a stainless 3″. Still shoots better than I can hold and goes bang every time we pull the trigger. Wife has had her UC for going on 10 years.

    • Charter Arms is all about which production run(?) and from which factory(?). The early Bridgeport and Stratford pistols when properly maintained work quite well. <Occasionally one finds one of the early guns still NIB for sale on gun broker (oh happy day!). Then the ownership changed. Then the factory changed locations, and the owners changed again and again. It is like Colt. The Colts made prior to WW2 were great guns. The ones made post war and before 1962 were also great guns. Then Colt laid off the old timers (many with 30 or more years of expertise) to avoid paying pensions and 'modernized' the plant and quality suffered. Colt quality has been spotty ever since.

  56. purchased a CA .38 Undercover with a high-polish finish last year – it is quite accurate and reliable… i did have to send a new CA Pitbull 9mm back due to bad timing, and the same revolver lost its cylinder latch at a range session… CA revolvers are simplistic, which is good and bad… good in that you can easily taken ’em down and clean them, but bad that you must locktite the crane screw, the cylinder latch release screw, and the cylinder latch retaining screw – if you do this, you’ll have a reliable weapon – oh, and unlike other manufacturers, Charter Arms has released three videos on the ‘tube showing exactly how to completely service your revovler

    • Hope I’m getting ny comment in the right place. Just looked at the video showing cylinder wobble. Never tested a revolver that way. Not suggesting there is anything wrong with that test (I plan to add it to my bag of tricks), but I learned a different test for cylinder lock up.

      Two steps. First, pull the hamner halfway back and hold with your thumb. With your other hand, try to move the cylinder. Virtually no movement, good thing; ideally, no movement. Then fully cock the hammer and check the cyljnder. Any movement, not a good thing.

      — George Albany

      • That test very much depends on the breed of the gun. Some revolvers are timed so that no cylinder lock up occurs until the hammer is at full cock position. It is necessary for the cylinder to rotate up to the next chamber before the trigger is pulled. The point at which this occurs and a cylinder bolt or hand firmly grasps the cylinder to lock it in place varies from revolver type to revolver type.

  57. I have a current model Charter Bulldog in .44 and it is a 100% reliable revolver. The main reason I like it is the big bore cartridge, three point lock-up, and clockwise cylinder rotation. It feels great in the hand and shoots the big .44 softly with it’s rubber grips. My Charter .44 is the last gun I would ever sell.

  58. I purchased a charter undercover see #618*** I found out it was made sometime between 1978 n1980 it’s a Bridgeport Connecticut. Model it’s new cond. Never fired I paid$150 for it which is a steal I think I bought from a friend’s father’s friend whom recently has gone blind I’ve owned several charter arms and owned one of the fist 44spl. Bulldog pugs that’s the one with the ejection sleeve rod protector my wife bought me for Christmas in 1989 that’s when there became charcoal and after about 200 rounds or so the aluminum sleeve began separating off my barrel sent it back in two weeks had it back repaired then after another 100rounds or so happened again sent back had repaired and sold it..I haven’t fired my new old stock undercover yet but I don’t expect any problems because I’ve owned several charter arms and with the exception of my bulldog our all the rest were of Bridgeport or Stratford Conn. Manufacturer and they have always functioned as well as any of my Colt or S&W revolvers and I actually prefer a old charter arms over a colt or S&W my friends father wasn’t sure what brand his friends gun was n I could tell he wasn’t familiar with charter arms so when he brought it for me to look at n told me it’s a old but never fired charter arms I was in heaven I haven’t had a original one since around 1990 which was an off duty that I let my father talk me out of SEO I opened it and took a glance at it little did he know he had just brought me one of my bucket list guns and for an old stock brand-new I’d of paid him $300 maybe$350 even needless to say It made my week I now have it registered in my name and am happy as could be.

  59. I got a charter arms 38 over 25 yrs stainless.After one day at the range, I sold my mod. 36 S&W Love my Charter Arms.

  60. Having just acquired a current production Undercover five-shot .38 snubbie in stainless steel, here’s my two cents:

    First, I also have a basis of comparison. I own both a S&W and a Taurus revolver. I used to own a Ruger but I sold it.

    I’ve only had my Undercover for a short while (just 150 rounds through this it thus far as of this writing) so I can’t speak to long term durability. My initial impressions follow.

    Cons –

    – Finish is not up to the standard of other major revolver manufacturers. Found tooling marks on the right side of the recoil shield behind the cylinder, and a bit on the left side of the barrel, that I doubt would appear on a Colt, S&W, Ruger, or Taurus. No impact on the functionality of the weapon but does not impress.
    – Trigger guard and grip frame are plastic. I know it saves weight and cost, doesn’t really affect the performance, and plastics are used extensively on many semiautomatic pistols. But aesthetically, I wish they had used aluminum. Still looks chintzy.
    – When ejecting spent shell casings, one always seems to get hung up on the top of the left rubber grip panel. This is a nuisance. I could probably address this by switching to some smaller grips, but that would probably negate the positives of these grips (see below).
    – Cylinder release mechanism is sticky. Requires some effort at times to get it open. Also a nuisance.

    Pros –

    – Barrel is very good. Nice muzzle crown provides a good gas seal, plus CA cuts more rifling grooves into their .38 snubbie barrels than other manufacturers. Helps with velocity and accuracy; gets the most out of whatever ammo you are running, for a .38 snubbie.
    – Sights are basic but effective. On my example, they were pretty much dead on from the factory. No need for “Kentucky windage”; point of aim is point of impact.
    – Trigger is very good. Double action is almost as good as my S&W and better than my Taurus. Single action is awesome, as good as or better than that of any other revolver I have fired.
    – Supplied rubber grips are very comfortable and soak up recoil nicely. Despite light overall weight of the gun (16 oz), the grips make even my Underwood 125 grain P JHPs – among the most powerful commercially available .38 Special factory loads – perfectly manageable. Standard pressure .38 Special FMJ range ammo is a joy to shoot from this revolver.

    (A heads-up to Robert Farago: They must’ve listened to you or I just got one made on a good day at the factory, but I don’t have that cylinder wobble problem at all. Mine is steady even when open. No timing issues, either.)

    Overall, I would say, based on my personal experience, that CA revolvers are a good value in terms of performance where it counts for the money. For anyone looking for a solid, easy to shoot, easy to carry .38 snubbie that may not be pretty, but goes when you pull the trigger and hits what you aim at, a CA revolver is a decent choice.

  61. It is pretty obvious from the two replies above that the early Charter Arms pistols are totally different from the latest models. I guess I am fortunate as both my .38 and my .44 specimens are early guns.
    Robman describes one really major change, the substitution of plastic for the previously aluminum frame and trigger guard. Changing the hammer to a reduced profile hammer was one of my earliest gunsmithing exercises and on that long ago day I completely disassembled my Undercover and if memory serves the only plastic in it is a little friction washer under the cylinder latch button.
    Me. Clarkson’s comment also highlights a change many manufacturers have jumped on. A sleeve over the barrel. My bulldog is an early blued one without the extra mass of an ejector rod shrould so the barrel is not sleeved. The change to a sleeved barrel came after the time frame of producing CA guns in stainless steel. Because I have a spare stainless CA Bulldog .44 barrel I found on Ebay, I know the stainless not sleeved .44 barrels not intended to shroud the ejector rod do exist. Yes bending an ejector rod is a bad thing. However in normal holstered carry with proper use, that doesn’t happen.
    I carried my Undercover .38 as a 2nd (backup) revolver for about 10 years. The ejector rod never got bent (and still isn’t). The use of P ammunition was on mine specifically prohibited in the owners manual. However because I do have a spare cylinder and am familiar with the general shape of failures when pressure is exceeded, I confess to occasionally shooting P SWCHP ammo in it. Serious running groundhog medicine, if you can hit him before it goes into it’s hole. But if you want accuracy and less recoil while still leaving a bloody hole, standard velocity wadcutters work well in it.
    The oversize rubber grips of today’s production obviously soak up recoil better than the old thin grips intended in the days when concealment was of higher priority. Id Mr. Clarkson’s pistol was mine I would trash the rubber grips and replace them with the old thin type but also add a Tyler T grip of the J frame size. I find that combination gives both concealability and a greater ability to control the recoil of stiff loads. Without the T grip giving your fingers some purchase having the slim grips simply spin out of your hand when a P is fired is a real possibility.
    I have to emphasize caution with .38 loads. Back in the day when the DoJ mandated that all US owned .38 revolvers used by law enforcement had to use the new P Treasury ammunition I had occasion to participate in one agencies testing of various brands of pistols with the new ammunition. Both every model of Colt and Charter Arms .38 failed the tests by having their cylinder split and or the frame stretching or bend, etc. In the case of the Colts designed 3 or 5 decades earlier that wasn’t too much of a surprise. We even saw some brands of .357 fail. Simply put the CA Undercovers will not withstand a cylinder full of P without a possibly explosive failure. If that is what you decided to use, buy a 2.5″ S&W M19 instead. If however you are content with standard velocity SWC or Wadcutter ammunition then I would definitely endorse an early Undercover revolver in good condition.
    Similarly my .44 Bulldog has much thinner cylinder walls than does my DA Ruger .44 revolver and there are some handloads I shoot through my Ruger that I am pretty sure would quickly turn my Bulldog into just so much shrapnel. Of course that extra strength means there is a huge weight difference. For myself if I am hunting from a tree stand I will probably be wearing a Ruger loaded with type Z (for Zowie) ammunition. But if I am just cutting firewood or mowing it is probably the CA Bulldog, loaded with standard velicity ammunition on my hip.

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