Sometimes, the nostalgia bug bites me, big time, and I can’t resist a gun at my local gun shop. Under review in this article is the Charter Arms www.charterfirearms.com Undercover .38 Spl revolver, the older model.
An “Old Time” Revolver
They guys at my local gun shop are all quite a bit younger than me. So, whenever they get in an “old time” revolver they are sure to draw it to my attention and put it in my hands. I’ve been a habitual gun trader all my life, for the simple fact that I can’t afford all the firearms I want. When I was much younger, I was always after the newest and coolest handguns I could find. I’ve had more than a few of those moments, when I regretted doing a trade right after I did it, too.
Undercover, I Carried Charter Arms Snubby Revolver
One of the first undercover ops I ever did, as a private investigator, was in a steel plant. An employee had been killed by a load of steel beams being “accidentally” released from an overhead crane right on top of him. So, I was hired to go in and check things out. The insurance company couldn’t duplicate the “accident” nor could the local police gather enough evidence against anyone in the plant to prove this was done on purpose.
Long story short, all the employees, to a man, on the swing shift were always high on drugs, always. I was constantly keeping a watchful eye on the overhead crane in the plant, for fear of a load of steel beams falling on me. It turned out that this one employee wanted nothing to do with drugs, and the others feared he would turn on them, so he was murdered. I turned my report over to my employer, and several employees were arrested. One was charged with murder with the others charged as accessories to murder.
During my month long stint working undercover in this plant, I carried a Charter Arms .38 Spl 2-in barrel snubby revolver, called the Undercover. It had a highly polished nickel finish on it. I also carried this same gun while doing other open-case investigations. It was comforting carrying that little revolver, too.
No Longer in Production
This particular Undercover model is no longer in production. Instead, it has been upgraded in several areas. But what Charter sells is still basically the same gun, except a nickel finish is no longer offered. You can have it in blue or stainless steel. My choice would be stainless steel.
Overview of Charter Arms Undercover Revolver
Depending on what you believe, the Charter Arms Undercover weighs in at 20-23 oz. I no longer have a postal scale, so I couldn’t weigh my sample. When the boys at my local gun shop pointed out this older model Undercover, they knew I couldn’t resist it. It came home with me that very day. This model had the thicker full-grips on it, not the skimpy and ultra-small grips that came on the original version, like I had back in the early 1970s. I could live with that. However a speed loader wouldn’t work with this grips, so I purchased a pair of rubber combat grips from Charter, and they worked great. But not so much so with an ankle holster, as they made the gun too bulky.
The Undercover is a pretty Plain Jane revolver. It has a fixed front sight, and the rear sight is milled into the top of the receiver. It was difficult for me to pick up the front sight in the rear dovetail sight, so I painted the front sight orange. This made a big difference. The lock-up on this “old” gun was tight, and the cylinder to barrel gap was extra tight. The double-cation worked great, with no hang-ups at all. Its single-action trigger pull was a bit heavy, coming in around 7-lbs, while the double-action pull was about 12-lbs. Then again, this wasn’t designed as a target revolver. It was designed as an up-close and personal self-defense 5-shot, .38 Spl revolver.
Snubby Revolvers Best Used Up Close and Personal
I know many cops back in Chicago, who worked plain clothes during that time period and carried nothing more than a five or six shot snubby revolver. No thanks. I wanted something that would be used offensively as well as defensively. I learned this lesson early one evening while clearing a trucking dock warehouse from a break-in and armed with a little .38 snubby. The next day I bought a Colt Trooper MKIII 4” Bbl .357 Mag revolver. I think these little snubby revolvers are best used for up close and personal self-defensive purposes, period!
One thing I’ve always liked about Charter Arms revolvers is that they are well-made. Maybe they’re not with the best finish or all areas of the gun not as nicely finished as more expensive guns, but they are functional, to say the least. And, if you look at them, they do not have a side plate that you remove to service the inside of the gun. Instead, they are contained inside the gun by several pins, making the guns much stronger than those that have a removable side plate. I also jumped on the Charter Arms .44 Spl revolver when it first came out. The only bad thing back then was that the only ammo available was 240-gr round nose lead loads. it was not the best man-stopper load. Today, there are all kinds of .44 Spl loads designed for defensive purposes.
Accuracy Testing With Ammo
Little 2-inch Bbl revolvers, like this Charter Arms Undercover, are best suited for accuracy testing at 15 yards.I used a rolled up sleeping bag over the hood of my Dodge Ram 1500 Sport pickup. From Black Hills Ammunition, I had their 125-gr JHP +P load and their fairly new 100-gr HoneyBadger load, which is not a hollow point. It is solid copper, with flutes milled into the nose of it. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their 158-gr soft lead SWC standard pressure short barrel load, which is also low flash, the 110-gr Barnes TAC-XP all-copper hollow point +P short barrel load, again low flash, and their 158-gr Outdoorsman Hard Cast +P load.
Needless to say, those +P loads let me know I had some extra power in my hands. The non-+P loads were a real pussycats to shoot in the little Undercover. All accuracy testing was done using the single-action mode of fire. The hands down winner was the HonnyBadger load from Black Hills. If I did my part, I was getting 3-inch groups, again at 15-yard. Hot on the heels on this load was the Buffalo Bore 158-gr Soft SWC load with just a fraction of an inch bigger groups. All other ammo gave decent combat accuracy, and you’d sure be able to get a head shot at 15-yards if you do your part.
Blackhawk Productsjust got in some of their new leather holsters, made in Italy, and they are a huge improvement over their older leather holsters. Their PR firm just happened to have two inside the waist holsters that would fit the Charter Arms Undercover, and in a couple of days I had one of the samples in hand. I’m not a huge fan of IWB holsters. I never have been. However, this one fit inside my cargo pants waist band nicely, and I could wear the Undercover all day long.
A Good “Old” Revolver Will Serve Your Self-Defense Needs Nicely
I don’t care what some gun experts claim, particularly that the day of the revolver is dead. I don’t think so. With the right ammo and a speed loader or two on hand for faster reloads, a good “old” revolver will serve your self-defense needs nicely these days, just as they did for the past 150 years. So, take a close look at the Charter Arms line-up. I betcha you’ll find something that catches your attention and at great prices, too.