Exclusive: Charter Arms Off Duty Back to the Factory

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I don’t always announce when a test & evaluation gun or loaner gun is bound for its home, but when I do, there’s good reason. More on that in a minute.

This gun, a Charter Arms Off Duty .38, has been carried, shot, cleaned, carried, shot, cleaned, and carried some more. It fired every round, proved accurate for close-range duty, and, at only 12 oz. in weight, never was a burden. The Off Duty (and other Charter Arms revolvers) shares virtually the same dimensions as other popular snub-nosed revolvers, so holsters and accessories abound. And retailing for only $419, it’s an excellent value.

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So this Charter Arms Off Duty has been on duty but is about to go off duty — as in, back to the factory. That’s right: I’m saying “goodbye” to this 2” barreled, 5-round .38 Special.

When I carried it, I used several different holsters but many days settled on an outside the waistband belt slide holster such as the DeSantis Mini Scabbard you see here. And in cooler weather when I would be wearing more covering garments, I’d carry it at 3 o’clock and occasionally at 1 o’clock (i.e. “appendix carry”). The reason for OWB appendix carry? Because I could. And, in that location, it’s very comfortable and very fast on the draw.

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Not much else to add at this point. Off Duty is just a lightweight, reliable gun suitable for concealed carry, backup, and more. I should mention the rubber stocks feel great and the cylinder release offers a familiar mechanism. And the trench rear sight and fixed front blade are adequate for the gun’s intended purpose.

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Now, about the reason for announcing this gun’s return to the factory: When I know the time has come to send it back, and when I’ve written up an article like this, I start to second guess myself and wonder if I should just buy it an add it to my concealed carry rotation… After all, I have good reason to.

— Mark Kakkuri

18 thoughts on “Exclusive: Charter Arms Off Duty Back to the Factory

  1. John Knight

    Why not buy it? Now you know that it fits you and is reliable. You could always easily sell it later.

  2. HankB

    Should have kept it – even if you paid full MSRP, you could probably have sold it later at a profit since, as a gun the factory provided to a gun writer, it’s virtually certain that it received a little tender loving care at the factory during manufacture which wouldn’t be lavished on what’s normally available over the counter.

  3. Chuck Haggard

    I’m glad your Charter worked, that’s actually rare in my experience.

    I once wrecked an Off-Duty by having the audacity to fire exactly 47 rounds of Federal 125gr JHPs through the gun. It quit firing completely. Gunsmith check advised the frame had stretched so far the firing pin couldn’t reach the primers reliably anymore.

    I’ll pass on anything they make.

    1. Miles

      I’ve had a Charter snubby for close to 20 years and have never had a problem with it. Sorry your did not work out.

  4. TENWOLVES

    Charter Arms puts out a good gun for the money paid, and for the DeSantis Mini Scabbard, I have several , and they are fantastic holsters and hold your gun close in to your body, my new back up gun is the new Kimber K6S Revolver, pretty much the same size as this Charter snubby, but at more than twice the price, but I love it, for the money Charter is a great deal for a close quarter fighting gun…IMHO…

    1. Ronald Sallow

      Although I do not own any Charter Arms products in the past I have owned the gun you reference in this note. I have always found it to be reliable and very easy to carry.
      Although I have reviewed the note I can not locate the reason you have returned your gun to the factory. Could you point me to the location that describes the reason.

      1. Gary B

        Gun writers don’t need no stinking reason! But it was alluded to having plenty of guns in his carry rotation already. I would imagine his closet and bureau drawer were full (Gun writers don’t use safes)

        1. mark Post author

          Thanks for your comment, Gary B. Just wanted to address one point you made about gun’riters not using safes. Actually, we do. Well, all the ones that I know sure do.

  5. David Peontek

    I have a Charter Arms 2″ 5 shot with a bobbed hammer and love it. I have carried it most of the last 25+ years and surprised myself how fast my point shooting is on steel and humanoid threat targets. I have a set of Hip-Grips on it usually carry it stuck in my waistband or hanging in my pocket on the hooked grip or just stuffed down in my pocket. Love this gun. Loaded with Hornady Personal Defense. Half or ore of the blueing is worn off from daily use. The bobbed hammer allows me to catch the hammer with my thumb when pulling the trigger slightly, then cocking the hammer for single action aimed shots– accurate at self-defense ranges. I have NEVER had a failure to fire or hang up of any kind. Col Jeff Cooper didn’t openly approve of the .38 but I carried it anyway.

  6. Mike

    Back in the late1980’s I had a Charter Arms Undercover .38 special. It worked well at the range for a few months. Then one day I realized that my accuracy had suddenly dropped dramatically. I discovered that the front sight, which had been soldered on, was no longer there and was lost in the gravel of the shooting bay.

    I sent it back to Charter Arms for a warranty repair and never saw it again. I contacted them after a couple of months and was informed that the company was in bankruptcy. The person on the phone thought that perhaps my revolver had accidentally been sent to someone else. Unfortunately, there was no way to track it down at that point. It was a cheap gun and I just wrote it off to experience.

    Haven’t been willing to consider a Charter Arms product since then.

  7. Randy Jones

    I carry a Charter Arms .44 Spl. Bulldog almost every day. Charters are wonderful carry guns and especially for what they cost! I am a S&W guy, but my Bulldog rides in a Sticky holster in the small of the back position most of the time, even driving. Love it!

  8. Richard W. Hughes

    Hey! He liked the gun! He just didn’t want to add it to his “concealed carry rotation”. There is such a thing as having too many guns to rely on when time gets intense. And maybe, this close to Christmas, he wanted to spend the money on something else? Whatever.

    He used a journalistic technique that got us to read his review all the way to the end! We were expecting some flaw in the Charter Arms product…and there was none. I’m a S&W guy, but after reading this review, if I was concerned about price, I would feel a lot better about checking out the Off Duty.

    Well done, Mark.

    1. mark Post author

      Thanks, Richard! Grateful for your well-written insight into my article. For the record, it’s a Christmas-time choice to simply send it back and use the money to buy something for someone else, yes. There will be other guns for other days. The Charter Arms is a great self-defense gun, as many have noted. It just wasn’t for me today. But I trust my words provided a little more info about the gun.

  9. Phillip

    I have a Southpaw 38 Spl from Charter Arms. Have had it for nearly 12 years. Although I haven’t carried it very much I Have not had anything go wrong with it. Just looked at it and it needs a good cleaning.

  10. Rick McC.

    I own one now that my mother carried for many years, though it isn’t a lightweight.

    The bluing is well worn, but it still functions perfectly.

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