Charter Arms

Charter Arms

Charter Arms Co. is an American manufacturer of revolvers that are relatively inexpensive yet serviceable handguns. The original Charter Arms produced revolvers chambered in calibers .22 Long Rifle, .32 Long and Magnum, .357 Magnum, .38 Special and .44 Special. The most famous revolvers manufactured by Charter Arms are the .44 Special Bulldog and .38 Special Bulldog Pug.


Douglas McClenahan, a young gun designer who had previously worked for Colt, High Standard, and Sturm, Ruger founded Charter Arms in 1964 to produce affordable high-quality, reliable handguns. His first pistol was a lightweight, five-shot revolver called "The Undercover" chambered for .38 Special. McClenahan's innovation was to avoid using the side plate designs manufactured by other revolver makers for a one-piece frame, giving the new revolver a strength that allowed it to safely shoot hot loads. McClenahan also reduced the number of moving parts used in the gun and created a safety device for the firing pin.

At just 16 ounces, the new gun was the smallest, lightest steel-framed revolver in the world with the fewest moving parts. A unique hammer block system gave gun owners protection against unintentional discharges. The Undercover's high quality, light weight, and reasonable price made it popular with gun enthusiasts and law officers.

The company went bankrupt in the 1990s, but the Charter design and mark was resurrected for the 21st Century by Charter 2000, which was founded by the Ecker family. The new company capitalized on the fame of the old Charter Arms revolvers, which had fewer critical moving parts and a simpler design.

Basing their new line of weapons on the basic Charter Arms design, the new company has made a few improvements such as the use of a one-piece barrel and front sight. The one-piece barrels of the new models are machined with eight groves instead of six for higher velocity, flatter trajectory and better accuracy. The new models feature a completely blocked hammer system so that the gun cannot fire unless the trigger is held in full rear position.

In addition to reintroducing the .38 Special Undercover and the .44 Special Bulldog, Charter 2000 produces revolvers chambered for .22 Long Rifle/.22 Magnum (the Pathfinder), .357 magnum (the Mag Pug) and .38 Special (the Off-Duty and the Police Bulldog).

In 2005, Charter 2000 announced that it would be filing for bankruptcy, blaming the costs associated with nuisance lawsuits for their financial trouble.

In September 2005, MKS Supply entered into an agreement with Charter Arms where MKS Supply would handle the sales, marketing and distribution for Charter Arms.


The Bulldog - .44 Special
The Undercover - .38 Special
The Undercoverette - .32 H&R Magnum
The Mag Pug - .357 Magnum
The Pathfinder - .22 LR and .22 Magnum
The Off Duty - .38 Special (similar to the Undercover but with a bobbed hammer and weighing 12oz {340g))
The Dixie Derringer - .22 LR and .22 Magnum

In the media

  • The .44 Bulldog revolver gained notoriety after it was used by Son of Sam serial killer David Berkowitz in his murder spree.
  • Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of using a Charter Arms .38 Special revolver in the 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner.
  • Mark David Chapman used a Charter Arms .38 Special Charter Arms Off Duty snub-nosed revolver to murder musician and former Beatle John Lennon.
  • Arthur Bremer attempted to assassinate Presidential Candidate and Governor of Alabama George Wallace, Jr. with a .38 Special Charter Arms Off Duty snub-nosed revolver.


External links

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