Charter Arms Company - Maker of American-Made, Affordable Firearms in Shelton, CT
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|Charter Arms is a US firearms company specializing in revolvers. With 100% American made products, Charter Arms has introduced many handgun innovations to the industry over the past five decades. The following profile was compiled following an interview of David Ecker, the President of Charter Arms by the GunsForSale.com team.|
Located in the heart of New England’s Gun Valley, Charter Arms has been producing high quality revolvers at affordable prices for more than almost 50 years. Founded in 1964, Charter Arms was the creation of Douglas McClennahan, a former employee of Colt and Ruger.
Later, the company passed into the hands of McClennahan’s partner, David Ecker. The company remains in the Ecker family today.
From the outset, the Charter Arms mission has been to produce high-quality, reliable handguns that are also highly affordable. But Charter Arms is also known for innovation, creating both the hammer block safety and the rimless revolver.
The Charter Arms story started with The Undercover. The Undercover is a small frame, five shot .38 Special revolver. Even though it is made with a steel frame, the gun still weighs only 16 ounces.
The Undercover introduced the industry to the hammer block safety to help prevent accidental discharges. This technology was freely shared with other manufacturers to give the public a greater degree of safety no matter what revolver they might choose.
Another Charter Arms innovation is the Southpaw revolver. Available in the Undercover Lite line, Charter makes a left-handed revolver. Completely reverse engineered, the revolver has the cylinder release on the right side of the frame and the cylinder swings out to the right.
Charter Arms continues to produce high-quality revolvers in a wide range of calibers and colors, all backed with a lifetime warranty.
Guns of Charter Arms
Charter Arms may have started with a .38, but they may be most famously known for their .44 Special Bulldog revolvers. These steel framed revolvers throw big chunks of lead down range, yet still maintain a relatively small size making them very popular for concealed carry.
The .44 Special is the forerunner to the .44 Magnum, using the same big bore bullets, but loaded at much lighter pressures. This gives the Bulldog shooter a comfortable load for target shooting and self defense at power levels akin to the .45 ACP.
With the lack of sideplate on Charter Arms revolvers, the Bulldog is able to keep weight reasonable, around 20 ounces, while still providing a relatively small package of .44 caliber manstoppers.
Charter Arms manufactures the Bulldgog with blued and stainless steel finishes. Crimson Trace Lasergrips are a factory option.
Modern Bulldog revolvers are made with a 2.5” barrel, while older models were produced with a 3” barrel. For 2011, Charter Arms is making a limited run of 1000 Bulldog revolvers in carbon steel with a 3” barrel. These retro handguns will be introduced at the 2011 NRA Show.
Although the Bulldog is almost 40 years old, Charter Arms president Nick Ecker said the Bulldog is being carried by US troops overseas in Afghanistan and Iraq today.
One of the biggest buzzes in the past several years has been the talk around the latest Charter Arms innovation: the rimless revolver. Virtually every revolver made requires the use of a rimmed cartridge like the .38 Special or .44 Special. Rimless cartridges, like the 9mm and .45 ACP, can only be used in a revolver with cumbersome moonclips. But Charter Arms is changing that.
The Charter Arms Rimless Revolver allows the use of rimless cartridges without moon clips. Expect to see the CARR in 9mm and .40 S&W, but a .45 ACP is not out of the question either.
According to Ecker, the 9mm CARR will be based on the small revolver frame, while the .40 S&W will be on the medium frame. Ecker stated the revolvers should begin shipping in 2011.
The .327 Federal Magnum is cartridge designed for self defense and small game hunting. Charter Arms designed the Patriot line of revolvers to meet both of those functions.
The Charter Arms Patriot with a 2.2” barrel is ideally suited for self defense and concealed carry duties. It features fixed sights and concealability while packing six rounds of the potent .327 Magnum in the cylinder.
Charter also makes the Patriot with a 4” barrel for target shooting and small game hunting. In addition to the longer sight radius, the 4” barrel Patriot has adjustable target sights allowing for precise shooting.
While developing high quality guns for self defense is serious business, the folks at Charter Arms understand that customers like to express their individuality. Charter offers their revolvers with many different color options. Color options include pink, lavender, bronze, crimson, OD green, tiger stripe camo and more.
At the 2011 IWA in Nuremberg, Germany, Ecker told GunsForSale.com staff that the pink finished Undercoverette revolver, aka the “Pink Lady”, is one of their most popular color finishes.
Ecker said the high polished, pink framed Chic Lady came about when one of his employees requested a Pink Lady for his girlfriend. The requesting employee polished the stainless steel fished portions of the revolver to a high shine, and the other women working in the factory virtually swooned over the combination said Ecker. The Chic Lady was immediately added to the Charter Arms line-up.
In addition to influencing the gun industry, Charter Arms also had an impact on popular culture and science fiction with the Hero Gun. The Hero Gun was the pistol used by Harrison Ford in the movie Blade Runner.
Based on a Bulldog .44 Special with a 4” barrel, the Hero Gun was heavily modified with the addition of a Steyr bolt-action receiver, magazine, double trigger and a lot more cosmetic alterations. The Hero Gun sold for more than $258,000 at auction in 2009, and is reportedly still able to fire .44 cartridges.
- Rimless Revolver (CARR)
- Undercover Lite
- Mag Pug
- Dixie Derringer