|Industry||Small Arms Manufacturing|
|Headquarters||Shelton, Connecticut, United States|
Charter Arms Co. is an American manufacturer of revolvers. The original Charter Arms produced revolvers chambered in calibers .22 Long Rifle, .22 Winchester Magnum, .32 Long, .32 H&R Magnum, .327 Federal 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 handguns. His first pistol was a 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 high loads. McClenahan also reduced the number of moving parts used in the gun and created a safety device for the firing pin.
The company, then located in Stratford, Connecticut, went bankrupt in the 1990s, but the Charter design and mark were resurrected by Charter 2000, which was founded by the Ecker family. The new company capitalized on the fame of the old Charter Arms revolvers. Operations were moved to Shelton, Connecticut.
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 grooves 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.
In 2008, Charter Arms brought the new Patriot revolvers to the market. The Patriot revolvers were chambered for the .327 Federal Magnum, and were available in 2.2" or 4" stainless steel models. The Charter Arms web site as of August 2011 no longer lists this model under the products category.
Also in 2008, Charter Arms announced a new revolver: the Charter Arms Rimless Revolver. The new revolver would be able to load and fire rimless cartridges such as the 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP without the need for moon clips. Initially, the revolver was to ship in early spring, however, reported problems with the patents delayed the introduction. Charter Arms set a release date of April 2009 for the CARR. However, Charter Arms missed this deadline, and company representatives have suggested the release date may not be until "late July" of 2009. The CARR which was subsequently called the Pitbull finally reached production in August 2011 and the first Pitbull models had a 2.3" barrel and were chambered for the .40 S&W cartridge as this is the most popular U.S. law enforcement round and would enable the Pitbull to be used as a back-up gun to the .40 service pistol.
In October 2010 MKS discontinued the sales and marketing of Charter Arms. Charter now has taken over the sales and marketing function.
- The Bulldog: .44 Special
- The Target Bulldog: .357 Magnum
- The Undercover: .38 Special
- The Undercoverette: .32 H&R Magnum
- The Mag Pug: .357 Magnum
- The Patriot: .327 Federal Magnum
- The Pathfinder: .22 LR and .22 Magnum
- The Off Duty: .38 Special (similar to the Undercover but with a bobbed hammer and weighing 12 oz (340 g))
- The Dixie Derringer: .22 LR and .22 Magnum
- The Pitbull: .40 S&W and 9mm (same frame as Bulldog and Pug)
- The Southpaw: .38 Special (the first and only revolver made for left-handed shooters)
Historical and cultural significance
- The .44 Bulldog revolver gained notoriety after it was used by Son of Sam serial killer David Berkowitz in his murder spree.
- Mark David Chapman used a Charter Arms .38 Special Undercover 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 Undercover snub-nosed revolver.
- Mumia Abu-Jamal was convicted of using a .38 Special to kill police officer Daniel Faulkner.
- The .44 Bulldog revolver was one of the real firearms used by prop master Terry Lewis to create Rick Deckard's 2019 Detective Special in the 1982 film Blade Runner.