Saturday, March 30, 2019

Review: Charter Arms Mag Pug High Polish 3" .357 Magnum Revolver

Initial Impressions of the high-polish Mag Pug

This past month I've splurged on a couple new Charter Arms revolvers: a new and unique no-moon-clip Pitbull in .380ACP, a nice complement to my Sig Sauer We The People P238, and now a high-polish Mag Pug in .357 with a 3-inch barrel and adjustable rear sight for elevation and windage.

I like stainless revolvers, and a polished stainless revolver is especially appealing to me. I know some folks don't like the fingerprints, but i just wipe mine down. I don't worry about scratches or dings or dents - I think those things just add character. But it's nice to know that with a Charter you're not handling a shelf queen - these revolvers are meant to be used and used hard!

I took mine right out to the range after purchase, but first gave it a thorough check-out and cleaning.

Loading up with some reman .38SPL 125gr FMJ, I first tried 5 yards:

 The revolver was shooting high, so I consulted the included manual regarding elevation adjustment:

The top of the rear sight's blade has a large 'E' with an arrow pointing counterclockwise. Most other sights use the word 'UP,' but I guess this was done to save letter space? Anyhow, I'm going to assume the 'E' stands for 'E'levation. Anyhow I gave the screw a few turns that way and tried again, this time at 7 yards:
Since this was my first 50 rounds through the revolver, I think I'll need a couple more range sessions to get it dialed in. There is little recoil when using .38SPL.

On its second outing, I adjusted the elevation - unfortunately it's still shooting high even with the rear sight raised all the way, so my sight picture has the tip of front sight at the bottom of the rear sight - not a real problem, but maybe i'll buy some spare rear sights and modify a few to lower the picture. Anyhow, I'm still happy with the wheelgun after another range session:

I'm pretty happy with my new Mag Pug and look forward to many more range sessions!

Grip Change?

Note that the grip is unlike others I've seen on Charters. They are not the small wooden ones used on the smaller frame, nor the nice rubber ones used on most large-frame Charters (and AFAIK, there are only two frames sizes for Charter's revolvers: small and large). While these grips work OK for .38SPL, I'm not sure I'd want to use them when shooting .357mag - I'll give them a try anyway some time in the future.

Cleaning Observations

I must add that when I got home and did a more thorough cleaning I found the inside of the gun absolutely filthy, and also found a number of nooks and crannies on the exterior that still contained polishing grit. It doesn't look like Charter does any ultrasonic cleaning of its revolvers before leaving the factory.

Some General Cautions about Charter Revolvers

I also found a splotch of red threadlock in the extractor rod channel. Threadlock is applied to the crane screw, cylinder latch release screw, cylinder latch screw, and hammer screw on these revolvers, and you would be wise to pay attention to at the the latch release and cylinder latch screws. If the former backs out or in too far, you won't be able to unlatch the cylinder, and if the latter backs out, you risk the loss of the entire cylinder latch assembly: plunger, spring, washer, cover washer, latch and screw - which happened to me after I had a Pitbull 9mm come back from the factory - but a quick email to Charter and I got the replacement parts free of charge in the mail.

I'm much wiser about these issues now, and trust these revolvers implicitly when they are properly serviced - by me, of course.

Charter Maintenance Videos

Unlike other gun manufacturers, Charter Arms has been kind enough to release three videos on its revolver maintenance. These three videos cover just about everything you need to know to keep your revolver in tip-top shape:

Charter Arms Revolver Latch Assembly

Charter Arms Revolver Cylinder Assembly

Charter Arms Revolver Cleaning

You would be wise to download these videos and keep them on separate media. I find them infinitely helpful, and Charter is to be commended for producing and releasing them.


  1. Thanks for the initial impressions of this weapon. I own five Charter Arms revolvers (.44 Bulldog, .38 Special Ultra-Lite, .327 Federal Magnum Patriot, .41 Magnum Mag Pug, and .45 Colt Bulldog), and just ordered this .357 Magnum Mag Pug with the 3" barrel in highly polished stainless steel. No, the trigger action on the CA is not as smooth and crisp as Smith & Wesson revolvers, and Charters are certainly not as ruggedly constructed as Rugers (I own numerous revolvers of both those brands), but Charter Arms revolvers work, and are backed with a lifetime warranty from Nick Ecker and his colleagues in Shelton, CT. Additionally, these handguns are much less expensive, especially in the magnum iterations, than revolvers from either S&W or Ruger. Overall, I always considered them a good value for the money. I ordered the .357 Mag Pug for the following reasons: 3" barrel (most Charters have a 2" or 2.5" barrel), and high polish stainless finish (virtually all are matte stainless). Also, Charter is now offering a $25 rebate on their revolvers until 8/31/19. Those factors, along with a reasonable purchase price, sealed the deal for me, even though I own a half dozen .357 mag revolvers already. I'm looking forward to receiving the revolver and taking it to the range. I already ordered rosewood checkered grips from Altamont to replace the standard factory grips (which are now rubber).

    1. you're welcome... yes, i like my Charters, and as far as the high-polish .357 Mag Pug, well, i'd like it more, but honestly my Ruger SP101 .357 shoots just as well... anyhow, this Mag Pug is a nice companion piece to my Charter high-polish Undercover .38 (which has an amazingly smooth trigger, and arrived that way out of the box)... none of my wheelguns get left behind on the shelf for long - they're all fun to shoot!