Charter Arms was once an upstart that rocked the industry, now they are an established old-line maker. They offer good-quality revolvers at a fair price.
While they offer calibers from .22 LR to .45 ACP, as well as the .357 Magnum, the bread-and-butter revolver they made their reputation on is the Charter Arms Undercover, a five-shot swing-out cylinder double-action revolver.
The Undercover .38 Special was the first offering from this company.
When good handguns are hard to come by, those purchasing the traditional big names look elsewhere. In this case, they have found a reliable and useful revolver with good features.
The Undercover isn’t a cheap gun and never was, but it is affordable, a new type of handgun in the supply chain. At one time, there were either expensive guns or cheaply-made guns, but little in between.
The Charter Arms Undercover is a revolver made affordable by the use of the most modern manufacturing techniques.
Features & Specs
The Charter Arms Undercover doesn’t use a side plate. The revolver features a combination of steel and aluminum, utilizing a steel frame and a lot of aluminum to make for a light, but strong, revolver.
The Charter Arms revolver features a floating firing pin and a transfer-bar ignition system. This makes it more modern than any revolver of the same 1960’s generation.
While many revolvers use this system today, that wasn’t true when the Charter Arms revolvers were introduced during the Vietnam era. The revolver was chambered in the powerful .38 Special.
The only real complaint was that the grips were small — intended for deep concealment — and the revolver kicked more than its competitors. Later versions with hand-filling wood or synthetic grips solved that problem.
The Charter Arms .38 is a light, useful and concealable revolver. I practice enough with my snub-nose revolvers to maintain a degree of proficiency.
They are not fun to fire, but with proper practice loads and the occasional duty load for familiarization, they are not bears to fire either. The grips supplied with modern revolvers make a great deal of difference.
The Charter .38 Undercover revolver features broad rear sights and a front post that makes for fast shooting and good accuracy. The action is smooth and cycles quickly.
The exposed-hammer models allow single-action fire for precise accuracy, such as taking out a dangerous snake at a few paces or making a hit on a man-sized target to 20 yards or so.
There are also bobbed-hammer versions and even a concealed-hammer version. The humpback concealed-hammer version is among the few affordable revolvers of the type.
For practice, any lead wadcutter or RNL design is a good choice. Recoil is modest and the Charter Arms revolver is reliable with all ammunition I have tested.
A good personal-defense load is the Speer 135-grain Gold Dot. This load features a soft lead core surrounded by a thin copper jacket. The jacket eliminates leading the barrel.
The bullet is designed for optimum expansion at .38 Special velocity. This is also a particularly accurate loading. I find it controllable in double-action pairs in the Charter Arms revolver.
It strikes to the point of aim at seven yards. This loading gives the .38 Special a measure of authority. I have fired several five-shot groups with the modern Charter Arms revolver at 15 yards.
It isn’t difficult to exhibit a four-inch, five-shot group at this range, good enough for any reasonable chore the snub-nose Charter .38 will be called upon to answer.
A Good Holster Option
For concealed carry, Blackhawk! offers a leather inside-the-waistband holster that works well with the Charter .38 Undercover.
Using a strong belt clip, this holster makes for excellent all-around concealed carry. The leather is properly tanned and stitched, altogether a class act.
Conclusion: Charter .38 Undercover
The Charter Arms revolver has good features at a fair price. That is a real buy in today’s market.
Have you shot a Charter .38 Undercover? Tell us what you thought in the comments section below!