Tips, Tricks and Traps of the Charter Arms .38 Special in High Polish StainlessI like Charter Arms. That's right. I'll say it again: I like Charter Arms. This review is for a new addition to my pocket pistol stable - a Charter Arms Undercover .38 Special in a high-polish stainless steel. My other Charter is a Pathfinder in .22 magnum; that pistol is extremely accurate for a snubby and has run perfectly for more than 300 rounds so far.
I have a number of other revolvers, such as an early Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless from the early 1900s, a Smith & Wesson .38 Special snubby from the 1950s, and one of the later Smith & Wesson kit guns, the Model 317, version 3.
Why do I like Charter Arms? Here are a few reasons:
- sturdy frame design
- inexpensive parts and accessories
- easy to work on and fix
- mostly stainless parts (aluminum ejector rod, etc.)
- good accuracy
- single/double action (can change to double-action only by installation of a $25 spurless hammer)
- made in the U.S.A.
- good, friendly customer service
Please note that I'm talking about today's Charter Arms, not yesterday or 10 years ago. From what I've read, I understand some folks have had problems with revolvers from previous iterations of the brand.
The Undercover ModelCharter offers multiple variants of the Undercover model in .38 Special, both standard weight and lightweight alloy. I really wanted a .327 model, but couldn't pull the trigger on a model named 'Undercoverette.' Charter currently lists the following Undercover models, all 5-round with the exception of the Police Undercover:
13811 Undercover, Blue DAO $ 352.00 (blue colored)
13820 Undercover, Blue Standard $ 346.00
13825 Undercover Tiger, Tiger & Black Standard $ 404.00 (striped)
23830 The Gator $ 424.00 (patterned)
23872 The Old Glory $ 462.00 (red, white and blue-themed)
63820 Undercover, Blacknitride™, $379 (nitride coated)
73811 Undercover, Stainless DAO, $364 (bead blasted)
73820 Undercover, Stainless Std, $358
73824 Crimson Undercover $ 577.00 (red colored)
73840 Police Undercover $ 390.00 (bead blasted, 6-round)
However, my Charter, in highly polished stainless is:
73829 Undercover, Stainless, High-Polish $379
Note that most of the revolvers fall under four Franklins. This is a good deal. But what don't you get?
- tight fit (close tolerance) and finish
- polished surfaces
- hand-finished parts
- an insipid internal lock
- a high price tag
A Closer Look at the High-Polish Undercover
The polish covers all of the exposed parts of the revolver, such as the outward face of the crane, trigger, strap, slide latch, and screws:
The polishing is most evident on the right side of the revolver, with its bare expanse of metal. But when you look closely, you'll see that although highly polished, the polishing did not remove all manufacturing marks. This is evident all over the revolver and quite frankly, I expected as much considering this revolver's price point - but it still looks great!
Of course, one of the first things I did was paint the front sight with a daub or two from my Wally World lime-green acrylic pen (you can get 'em in the fabric section):
And the 2" barrel, where you can see the bit of metal not entirely polished. I didn't find it to be objectionable, and it's really not that noticeable:
Finally, the trigger, which is much like the trigger of my .22 magnum Pathfinder, but with a nice polish. The frame, unlike the polymer frame of the Pathfinder, or the alloy frame of the other Undercover models, is of polished stainless steel - this is a bonus in my opinion:
Range Report for the High-Polish Charter Arms UndercoverTook my new high-polish pocket revolver out to the range and ran a box of .38 Special FMJ FN. The first target was single-action at 12 feet. The initial cylinder determined that the revolver was shooting low, so this target was with the sight picture at the top of bullseye:
I think I'm pretty happy with the results. It is possible that the revolver may shoot higher with more powerful loads, but I like the ammo I'm using - reloads from a couple guys at Hyperion Munitions (support your local munitions makers!).
Next, I tried some double-action, but a yard closer:
I think this revolver's a keeper!