Skip to main content

Charter Arms Police Under Cover

Charter Arms Police Under Cover


Charter Arms has always had a reputation for making light-duty guns--that is, treat them harsh and they'll quit on you.

HKS Model 10A speedloaders provide a quick reload if needed.


Excuse me, but who deliberately treats a firearm badly? A long time ago I owned a Ford Escort. A friend of mine owned a service station, and his experience was that Escorts lasted 60,000 miles. "Then they die, Pat." Mine? I traded it off at the 135,000-mile mark, still working fine. How? I changed the oil, washed it and did all the other normal maintenance things you do to a car.

And so it was with the Charter Arms revolvers I'd see as a gunsmith. The ones that came to me didn't work, and for the most part it was clear why: They'd been abused--dropped, filed-on abused. They were rusted, lint-packed and the oil was congealed in them. Most any revolver would have quit if treated that way.

What kept me from repairing them was the on-again, off-again existence of Charter Arms. When the company was not in operation, getting parts was impossible.

It is back in business--has been for a while--and is making the same well-constructed low-cost revolvers it did before. The company sent me a box 'o guns, and this Firing Line report is on the Police Undercover. It's a stainless steel, six-shot revolver chambered in .38 Special. Yes, all the wheelgun cognoscenti now carry snubbie .357s, in exotic titanium, scandium and unobtainium alloys. They also don't shoot them much with .357 Magnum ammo, as the recoil is downright painful.


The 20 ounces of the Police Undercover are not enough to make it heavy to carry but are enough to dampen the recoil of even .38 +Ps, which the Police Undercover is rated for.

The Police Undercover is a double-action revolver with a swing-out cylinder. You can quickly reload using an HKS Model 10A speedloader, the same one that your buddies use for their S&W K-frame revolvers.

The exposed hammer works like every other DA revolver out there. The various grip manufacturers make grips for it, so it isn't like you're buying an orphan when you buy a Charter Arms.


Charter Arms: Police Undercover

Manufacturer Charter Arms, 203/922-1652
Type double action revolver
Caliber .38 Special +P
Capacity 6
Barrel Length 2 in.
Weight 20 oz.
Sights fixed
Trigger double/single action
Grips hard rubber
Price $375

What you're getting is a product aimed at the "value for money" market. At an MSRP of $375 (less on your dealer's counter) the Police Undercover is going to cost you half what a stainless S&W or Ruger does. For someone who plans to put tens of thousands of rounds through a revolver in practice, the extra cost of the bigger brands means a smoother, more-refined wheelgun that will probably work longer. For someone who is looking for a basic carry gun and is going to shoot less than that, the Cha

rter line is certainly worth consideration. If you take care of it, your Charter will last a long time.

Out of the box, the Police Undercover inspired confidence. I gave it the usual inspection and then test-fired it, looking for reliable function, accuracy, velocity and handling quirks. I found a few edges that were a bit sharp and could do with a bit of de-horning, something easily done on a stainless gun.

The trigger pull wasn't heavy but neither was it particularly smooth. It is entirely useable, and once you get used to it, useful.

Like any two-inch barreled revolver, the ejector is slightly too short to completely eject empties.

The DA doesn't stack, but the lockup of the cylinder does come before the hammer falls, so if you want to shoot trigger-cocking style, you can. Me, I just use a straight-through pull and use the extra fraction of trigger pull as extra aiming time.

The trigger pull in single action is clean and light enough. Again, no one is going to select it over a Colt, S&W or Ruger for target shooting, but this is hardly a target-shooting kind of gun, now is it?

The two-inch barrel precludes a full-length ejector rod, so your empties will not be pushed completely out by a stroke of the ejector. You want them out, you have to slap the rod. This is not a detail exclusive to Charter Arms; any two-inch barreled revolver will have this problem. The solution is proper training and practice to get the empties out.

The accuracy is good, although the width of the front sight makes aiming a bit of work. The front sight is 0.150 wide, and it subtends 41â'„2 inches at 25 yards. A narrower front sight would make aiming easier, but I was still able to shoot four-inch groups at 25 yards with it. A group smaller than the apparent width of the front sight is entirely acceptable.

What was a real problem was that those groups were more than a foot below where I was aiming. I luckily found that out before doing the chronograph sessions or I might have shot my skyscreens.

For the ammo-crunching drills I did to test function, I simply aimed where I'd always aim and let the groups form at the bottom of the "A" zone on my USPSA targets.

ACCURACY RESULTS:
Police Underc over

.38 Special BULLET WEIGHT (gr.) AVG. VELOCITY (fps) AVG GROUP (in.)
Win. White Box FMJ 130 744 5.0
Blazer LRN 158 713 4.0
Magtech SJHP+P 125 804 5.0
Magtech SCHP+P 95 925 5.5
Speer Gold Dot 110 823 5.0
Extreme Shock Air Freedom 85 1,007 5.5
Black Hills JHP 125 755 3.0
American Eagle LRN 158 664 6.0
Corbon Performance 147 738 5.0
Remington JHP 95 948 5.5
Mighigan Ammo TMJ 585 158 5.0
Notes: Accuracy is the average of three five-shot groups, fired at 25 yards from a sandbag rest. Abbreviations: FMJ, full metal jacket; SJHP, semi-jacketed hollowpoint; SCHP, solid copper hollowpoint; LRN, lead roundnose; JHP, jacketed hollowpoint; TMJ, total metal jacket.

Once I'd churned through 600 rounds, I figured I'd let the Charter Arms warranty department have a go at it as every new Charter Arms product comes with a lifetime warranty. If your Charter Arms has a problem, send it in. This is for the new ones; repairs done to models made by previous iterations of Charter will have to be paid for.

So I sent the Police Undercover in with a letter explaining that it was hitting low. Three weeks later, a package arrived on my doorstep: the Police Undercover returned. I tossed it in the gun bag for the next range trip, and viola, it shoots to the sights.

So if you're looking for a solid, no-frills revolver that won't break the bank, Charter Arms is back. The money you save can be applied to practice ammo, making you a better shooter in the long run.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Federal Premium Punch Defensive Handgun Ammo: Reviewed & Tested

Federal Premium Punch Defensive Handgun Ammo: Reviewed & Tested

Handguns editor Scott Rupp fires some Federal Punch .380 defensive handgun ammo into ballistics gel the range for a performance test run.

Pistol Skills Drills - Hardball

Pistol Skills Drills - Hardball's Headache

The Hardball's Headache pistol drill is very similar to the El Presidente drill with a higher level of difficulty due to two added twists.

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

Dan Wesson Kodiak 1911 10mm

The Kodiak is a long slide 1911-style semi-auto complete with 6-inch bull barrels and chambered in 10mm.

Ruger Security 9 Compact

Ruger Security 9 Compact

This handgun lives up to what Ruger wanted to build: a solid, dependable, easy-racking carry/home defense pistol at a better-than-reasonable price.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Kahr Arms officially broke ground on their new headquarters in Blooming Grove Township, in PikeKahr Arms Breaks Ground on New Pennsylvania HQ Industry

Kahr Arms Breaks Ground on New Pennsylvania HQ

Handguns Online Staff - June 04, 2014

Kahr Arms officially broke ground on their new headquarters in Blooming Grove Township, in Pike

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all others will be judged.SIG P365 Review Compact

SIG P365 Review

James Tarr - October 31, 2018

The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all...

A look at eight optics-ready pistols for just about any application or budget, including offerings from CZ-USA, Springfield, Smith & Wesson and more.8 Great Red-Dot-Ready Pistols Sights

8 Great Red-Dot-Ready Pistols

Brad Fitzpatrick - July 01, 2020

A look at eight optics-ready pistols for just about any application or budget, including...

Do you remember the first time you fired a gun? If you're like most, you were somewhatPro Tips For Controlling Recoil Training

Pro Tips For Controlling Recoil

Richard Nance - April 11, 2017

Do you remember the first time you fired a gun? If you're like most, you were somewhat

See More Trending Articles

More Revolvers

The story of the 1917 revolver and .45 Auto Rim.History of the 1917 Revolver and .45 Auto Rim Revolvers

History of the 1917 Revolver and .45 Auto Rim

Bob Campbell - March 04, 2020

The story of the 1917 revolver and .45 Auto Rim.

Colt is introducing the all-new King Cobra in .357 Magnum.Colt Announces the All-New King Cobra Revolvers

Colt Announces the All-New King Cobra

Handguns Online Editors - January 08, 2019

Colt is introducing the all-new King Cobra in .357 Magnum.

With the help of a group of friends and fellow dreamers I now have my dream revolver.A Custom Revolver - Sometimes Dreams Come True Revolvers

A Custom Revolver - Sometimes Dreams Come True

Ed Head - March 04, 2019

With the help of a group of friends and fellow dreamers I now have my dream revolver.

The Ruger Wrangler is a good shooter, it's reasonably priced, and you can be sure it's going to deliver a lifetime of soda can-ventilating fun.Ruger Wrangler Review Revolvers

Ruger Wrangler Review

J. Scott Rupp - October 22, 2019

The Ruger Wrangler is a good shooter, it's reasonably priced, and you can be sure it's going...

See More Revolvers

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Handguns subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now