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Old September 29, 2008, 05:16 AM   #1
dgludwig
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Charter Arms vs Smith & Wesson

I read a recent American Handgunner magazine article where they tested a couple of Charter Arms snubnose revolvers. What particularly caught my attention is the fact that the all steel "Undercover" model weighs only 16 ozs., the same weight as an alloy Smith "Airweight". The two revolvers are essentially the same size dimensionally so I'm wondering if anybody has any idea how Charter Arms accomplished that?
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Old September 29, 2008, 05:51 AM   #2
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...and a steel Bulldog Pug is only an ounce or so heavier than my alloy-and-titanium Model 296.

Steel is stronger than alloy. The Smith J-frames are built on a basic frame design that is over 100 years old, that had minor dimensional changes 50 and 15 years ago. In modern steel with a good heat treat, it is more than capable of standing up to .357 Magnum pressures. It is so overstrength for .38 Specials that no real revisions were needed to make it out of aluminum.

The small Charter revolvers are a design that is sixty-some-odd years newer and were designed to be as light as possible, taking advantage of the strength of steel. You could not just do a Charter Undercover in aluminum and expect it to hold up. So, even though the frame is made of heavier stuff, there's less frame there.
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Old September 29, 2008, 11:47 AM   #3
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I didn't realize the Charter Arms revolvers were that much smaller in size than their Smith counterparts. It is interesting to note that the Charter Arms "Undercover Ultra_Lite", is rated for Plus-Ps, is made with an aluminum (not "Scandium") frame and weighs 12 ounces. If it wasn't for Charter's checkered record for reliability/workmanship, I'd be more interested in their products. For now though, I'm very happy toting my little Colt Cobra-I like the fact that I've got 20% more ammo on board and still have a carry piece weighing under sixteen ounces.
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Old September 29, 2008, 11:59 AM   #4
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Charters use a steel frame and an aluminum grip frame (some heavier models use a steel GF.) That accounts for a lot of the weight savings.
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Old September 29, 2008, 12:06 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dgludwig
I didn't realize the Charter Arms revolvers were that much smaller in size than their Smith counterparts.
They're not, and I didn't mean to imply that they were.

A ping pong ball isn't any smaller than a golf ball, either. They're about the same size, but one uses a lot more materiel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dgludwig
If it wasn't for Charter's checkered record for reliability/workmanship...
I have not been impressed with the durability of Charter revolvers over the years.
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Old September 29, 2008, 01:08 PM   #6
dgludwig
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[QUOTE]Charters use a steel frame and an aluminum grip frame (some heavier models use a steel GF.) That accounts for a lot of the weight savings.

My original question was:
Quote:
the all steel "Undercover" model weighs only 16 ozs., the same weight as an alloy Smith "Airweight"
I was wondering how it is that an all steel revolver weighs no more than an aluminum framed revolver of equivalent size. Tamara's reponse makes some sense.
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Old September 29, 2008, 01:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
I have not been impressed with the durability of Charter revolvers over the years.
I have not been impressed with Charter Arms quality ever

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Old September 29, 2008, 04:45 PM   #8
Bill DeShivs
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The Charter frame is steel. Most Charters use an aluminum grip frame. This grip frame and the gun's frame are two separate parts. To my knowledge, the only Charters that use a steel grip frame are the stainless models.
The S&W guns grip and frame are one unit.
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Old September 29, 2008, 06:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildalaska
I have not been impressed with Charter Arms quality ever

Wildalthoughididownabulldog44onceknowwhy?Alaska ™
Did I ever tell you about the Bulldog Pug I owned? (It was, like, 1995 or 6. I didn't know any better.)

The thing stretched the frame, developed a frightening amount of endshake, and went so out of time I was scared to shoot it... ...in less than a case of ammo. I want to say it was ~300-400 rounds of mostly PMC 240gr JSP.

Oh, and all the electroless nickel plate flaked off the forcing cone area, the underside of the topstrap, and the portion of the frame around the barrel threads. And the cylinder latch screw would back out and the latch would fall off after two cylinders.

Nice piece. Only not.
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Old September 29, 2008, 06:54 PM   #10
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The early Charter guns were OK. Later ones, not so much.
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Old September 29, 2008, 10:02 PM   #11
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Bill DeShivs: The magazine article I referenced stated: "The Charter Arms Undercover .38 snubby was all stainless steel (like you said), yet it still only weighed-in at 16 oz. empty..." I just thought it notable that their all steel revolver weighed no more than Smith's alloy counter-part and wondered how they pulled it off. Tamara's theory that the Charter frame/grip must have less metal in it (if I'm understanding her correctly) makes sense if it's true (and it would seem that it must be true; else, how else?).
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Old September 30, 2008, 12:04 AM   #12
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Quote:
Did I ever tell you about the Bulldog Pug I owned? (It was, like, 1995 or 6. I didn't know any better.)
Come on Tam, search your knowledge base, why would a kid from NY with a strange sense of shock value BUY one of the Bulldog 44s.....

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Old September 30, 2008, 12:18 AM   #13
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Are we REALLY comparing Charter Arrms ANYTHING to a Smith & Wesson?

kinda like comparing a Chevy Chevette with a Ford GT-40, Dodge Viper, McLaren F-1 or Chevy Corvette, ain't it?

I owned a C.A. bulldog once... it was something a guy threw in to sweeten a deal on a trade he wanted to make...

I sold the POS before I ever put a round through it... it is one of two guns I have ever owned, that I have never fired a round through...
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Old September 30, 2008, 01:01 AM   #14
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Charter arms

I have a new production Bulldog Pug 2000 in 44 spl.If someone has a J-frame to measure I can give some measurements to do a comparison to it.Don't have a 38 though.My Bulldog shoots fine as long as I don't try to use it as a range gun.After about 25-35 shots it gets warm and the action gets very hard to work in both single and double action.Let it cool and it will shoot again just fine for the same number of shots.I love mine but you must bear in mind that it does have its short comings,in that it is designed as a close range self defence weapon and not an all day plinker.
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Old September 30, 2008, 01:33 AM   #15
Bill DeShivs
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OK. One more time. Maybe I can explain myself better.
The frame on the Charter is very small, and made of steel. The grip portion of the frame, which includes the trigger guard is made of aluminum. This "grip frame" is separate from the "frame."
This large piece of aluminum (grip frame) allows the guns to be lighter that if both parts were steel.
I just compared the 2 guns. They are almost exactly the same size and width, so I can't answer your question. The Charter does have steel, so I don't know why it weighs the same.
The S&W frame and grip frame are all one piece, unlike the Charter.
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Old September 30, 2008, 01:36 AM   #16
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Hemicuda
The original Charter Undercover was designed to directly compete with the "J" frame S&W .38s, so a comparison is valid. The original guns were not S&W quality, but were serviceable guns for a lot less money than the Smith.
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Old September 30, 2008, 04:10 AM   #17
dgludwig
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And one more time from me. I posed the question purely out of curiosity, that is, why does an all steel gun
Quote:
To my knowledge, the only Charters that use a steel grip frame are the stainless models.
and
Quote:
Undercover .38 snubby was all stainless steel (like you said), yet it still only weighed-in at 16 oz. empty..."
weigh the same as an equivalent gun made from aluminum and steel.

I used to own a 642 but I've never even handled the Charter Arms revolver in question nor do I plan on buying either firearm any time soon. Maybe the American Handgunner magazine got it wrong and the Undercover isn't made entirely of steel. I don't know. Anyhow, I've found the conversation interesting and appreciate all the inputs, especially those from Tamara and Bill DeShivs. But for me, the "why" of it is still kind of a mystery.
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Old September 30, 2008, 04:15 AM   #18
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Quote:
Come on Tam, search your knowledge base, why would a kid from NY with a strange sense of shock value BUY one of the Bulldog 44s.....

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Did you have a weird David Berkowitz streak of humor going? Did Harvey the dog talk to you too?
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Old September 30, 2008, 04:24 AM   #19
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Quote:
Come on Tam, search your knowledge base, why would a kid from NY with a strange sense of shock value BUY one of the Bulldog 44s.....
You trying to say you are the real son of Sam?
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Old September 30, 2008, 07:04 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wildalaska
Come on Tam, search your knowledge base...
Give me some credit, here! I just took it as a given, chuckled appropriately, and toddled on with my own godawful Charter horror stories. Like the .357 Bulldog belonging to a customer that launched most of its barrel downrange on its first cylinder. Lessee... 1,150 grains at 300 fps... does that make major?

Or the Charter 2000 Undercover that turned up stolen on the TICS check. When we had just rec'd it from the wholesaler. Turns out a Charter Arms Undercover of the exact same serial number had been reported stolen. In the early '80s.

That's why when someone announced that the last iteration of Charter X had gone belly up, I responded "Put a stake through its heart and bury it at a crossroads!"
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill DeShivs
I just compared the 2 guns. They are almost exactly the same size and width,
I'd be curious about the results of taking a mic to both guns at the topstrap, yoke, deepest part of the frame under the cylinder window, et cetera.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 458Winshooter
I have a new production Bulldog Pug 2000 in 44 spl.If someone has a J-frame to measure...
The Bulldog frame is more approximately K-frame sized...
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Old September 30, 2008, 10:36 AM   #21
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Quote:
Did you have a weird David Berkowitz streak of humor going? Did Harvey the dog talk to you too?
T shirt...email me with adress and size

Quote:
You trying to say you are the real son of Sam?
You too

Quote:
I just took it as a given, chuckled appropriately, and toddled on with my own godawful Charter horror stories.
OK T shirt for the chuckle....email with size and addy

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Old September 30, 2008, 01:04 PM   #22
Bill DeShivs
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Charter said their stainless guns weighed 16 oz., too. I think they are fibbing about that. The stainless grip frame is quite a bit heavier than the aluminum one.
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Old September 30, 2008, 01:33 PM   #23
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Charter Arms also have a south paw .38 too. Red, pink and gold anodized guns too.

OH MY...
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