As I read current firearms periodicals, it is hard to ignore the resurgence of snub nose revolvers. Many people argue that the interest never went away, but no one can deny they are getting more attention now then ever. It makes sense, snubbys are small, light and easy to operate. They make great pocket guns and are very easy to conceal in a belt holster.
So now you are convinced and want to add a snub nose to your collection. What do you buy, there common brands, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Colt and Taurus. I was having this conversation with someone and I brought up one of my favorite guns, A Charter Arms Bulldog 44 Special Snub nose. The gentleman I was speaking with never heard of them. He was more surprised when I mentioned they were made in Connecticut. After we finished up, I decided to look up Charter Arms and see what they were all about. I checked their website, www.charterfirearms.com and found it very informative, full of specs and pictures and even MSRP’s, which is always useful. Once I looked at the contact information, I noticed their facility was in Shelton. I knew they were in Connecticut, but I had no idea they were so close. I picked up the phone and spoke with Nick Ecker, the owner of Charter Arms, and arranged a tour of his facility and interview to find out more.
When I arrived at Charter Arms facility, I was greeted by Nick himself. Nick was very low key and soft spoken. He was very informative and willing to spend some time with me. We started out with a quick walk around his shop. He showed me the assembly line, taking time to explain each step of the process and pointing out what makes Charter Arms revolvers different from their competitors. The thing that stood out the most was their unique frame design. The cylinder yoke is locked into place in the frame, which adds durability not found in other revolvers. In addition to the many new revolvers being assembled, there were a few very old revolvers being refurbished. It was quite interesting seeing old and new on the same bench and it reassured me that they are willing to stand by their products.
- At one point, Nick took the time to explain their “points of superiority”. Smallest, lightest one-piece frame -stronger than screw-on side plate designs.
- Fewest critical moving parts for simplicity of design and trouble free operation.
- All barrels, machined with eight groves instead of six for higher velocity, flatter trajectory and better accuracy.
- All barrels shroud the ejector rod. Completely blocked hammer system cannot fire unless trigger is held in full rear position - safest revolver design in the world. In fact, Charter Arms invented the hammer block transfer bar safety system, which is used by almost every revolver manufacturer!
- Shortest hammer throw, fastest lock time.
- Wide trigger and hammer spur.
- Cylinder lock up is in three places instead of two: cylinder stop and ejector rod collar for additional safety, strength and cylinder-to- barrel lock up.
- No stud to hold cylinder in place when open--only US manufacturer to feature.
- 100% American Made. 100% American Parts. 100% American Owned
After the tour we went into Nick’s office, where I got the rundown on Charter Arms.
Charter Arms was founded in 1963. After years of manufacturing firearms, Charter Arms fell on tough times limiting volume causing the future of Charter Arms to become grim. In 2005, Charter Arms entered into a partnership with MKS Supply, a marketing company well known for its work with High Point Firearms. This strategic move allowed Nick to focus on manufacturing high quality, great value revolvers as well as develop some new models. Charter Arms now produces 27 different models and manufactures 350 revolvers a week in Shelton.
With 27 different models to choose from, I had pick three I would write about. The ones I saw most appropriate for concealed carry are the Undercover Lite, The Off Duty and the Southpaw. These are all small frame 38 specials. They are lightweight aluminum, each weighing around 12 oz. The frames are 25% smaller then the competition, making them some of the smallest and lightest 38 special snub nose revolvers on the market. The Undercover Lite is the standard light-weight snub nose. It is available in different finishes and with a standard hammer or a bobbed hammer to avoid snags when drawing. This is a small, slick carry gun. Next up is the Southpaw, this gun is the first left handed revolver ever made. It is basically an Undercover Lite with left hand controls. As Nick explained 15% of the world’s population is left handed, but no one ever produced a lefty revolver. I must admit as I listened to Nick, I had one of those moments where you slap your forehead and wonder why you didn’t think of it first, Kudos Nick! The third gun is my personal favorite, the Off Duty. This revolver is a concealed hammer design, small, light and makes a perfect pocket gun.
One question I posed to Nick was the about holster availability. Nick walked me over to a rack with many different leather, kydex and nylon holster. They were all well made and had excellent fit and finish, and reasonably priced.
As we concluded, Nick offered a hint that there may be a left hand version of their legendary Bulldog Pug, a larger frame 44 special. Nick also added that in addition to their rugged design, Charter Arms are covered by a repair policy where if your post 2000 Charter Arms revolver needs repair, it will be fixed and back in your hands within 20 days! Charter Arms also assembles Chaparral Arms firearms, which are high end cowboy style carbines and single action revolvers. With the growing interest in Cowboy Action Shooting Sports, it will be interesting to see how this market does.
In conclusion, Charter Arms has a lot to offer. Their models are small, lightweight, available in 22 LR and Magnum, 32 H&R, 38 special, 357 magnums and 44 special. They are strong, well constructed and offer tremendous value. They also give you a change to support a local firearms company. I am not telling you to run to the gun store and blindly purchase a new Charter Arms, but next time you are in the market for a new gun, I would recommend adding them to the list to research. You will end up with a great gun and may end up saving yourself a couple hundred bucks!