Pathfinder .22 Long Rifle & .22 Magnum from Charter 2000
by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

September 17th, 2003

 

 

 

The Charter Pathfinder .22 has long held a special place in my heart. Back when I was just a kid, I remember reading an article by Mr. Hal Swiggett in which he described and pictured a neat little Pathfinder that he used for squirrel hunting. It had mounted atop the frame a Hutson one-power scope, that was proportioned to the little sixgun. It was one dandy little package! I have searched for one of those little scopes ever since, to no avail. The original Pathfinder had a three inch barrel and adjustable rear sight, but was also offered with a six inch barrel. The little sixgun endeared itself to many a hunter, fisherman, and woodsman. It was compact, lightweight, affordable, and accurate. It would ride all day in a pocket without being noticed until needed. I go to many gun shows, but it is very rare to spot an old Pathfinder for sale. Those who have them tend to hang on to them.

Charter 2000 has now brought back the Pathfinder in both .22 Long Rifle and .22 Magnum chamberings. Like the originals, these are compact little sixguns that are built of steel, but weigh just over 19 ounces.  The new Pathfinders that I received for testing are all-stainless and wear two-inch barrels and have fixed sights.  Later, Charter has plans to offer the Pathfinders with four inch barrels and an adjustable rear sight.

The Pathfinder comes packaged in a hard plastic case with a trigger lock and instruction manual.  The finish is a matte stainless, and the grips are checkered walnut. I like walnut for grip panels. Most revolvers are supplied with either synthetic or another type of wood these days, but it is good to see real walnut used for grip panels. The design of the Charter revolver has fewer parts than most other designs. The parts are robust and durable. The barrel, front sight, and ejector rod shroud are all made from one piece of steel. The Charter revolvers have no removable side plate. It is a simple, compact design, and it works well. The sights on the two-inch guns are fixed, and consist of a square ramp front sight and a square notch rear sight. Both sights are large enough to see well in most any lighting condition.  The Pathfinder has an internal transfer bar safety, to preclude the gun firing unless the trigger is held to the rear. The two guns tested are identical, except for the chambering.

Shooting the Pathfinders was a real joy. Lately, I have been shooting some heavy loads in a couple of big magnum revolvers, along with testing a lightweight .45 autoloader using full power combat ammunition, and shooting these little Pathfinders was a welcome relief from heavy recoil. Whether Magnum or Long Rifle, the twenty-twos are some of my favorite cartridges. The recoil and noise are light, yet the killing power of the little rimfires is much greater than their diminutive size would suggest.  After shooting the Pathfinders at paper targets, which proved the little guns to be more accurate than I would have thought, I spent a great deal of time just plinking at targets of opportunity such as small rocks and twigs.  The double action trigger pulls on the Long Rifle and the Magnum measured nine pounds and one ounce, and just over eleven pounds, respectively. The single action pulls measured a crisp four pounds. Cocking the hammer before each shot, hitting the targets seemed almost too easy, despite the short sight radius of the two-inch barrels. Twenty-five yard rested groups were in the two and one-half to three inch range, which is about as good as I can shoot a snub-nosed revolver. With each gunís favorite ammo, they grouped right at two inches, when I did my part. Sometimes I forget just how much fun a little twenty-two can be.

While a twenty-two is not my first choice for a defensive handgun, there are special circumstances where they can fill that role. There are many people who, for whatever reason, cannot handle the recoil of a larger caliber. The little Pathfinder chambered for the .22 Magnum could serve well to defend against an attacker, if needed. The little magnum penetrates very well, and when using any handgun for defense, penetration is vital. The .22 Magnum, I have found, penetrates much better than many .38 Special bullets, and does so with minimal recoil.

For a handgun to carry for protection in snake country, I have found that a small twenty-two revolver works well. Using CCI shot cartridges, I prefer either of the twenty-twos to the larger cartridges.  All of the center fire CCI shot cartridges that I have tested have patterned poorly, with donut-shaped patterns containing a large void in the center. However, the rimfire shot cartridges, while containing fewer pellets, patterned much better. Either of the CCI rimfire shot loads, and especially the .22 Magnum, have plenty of power to cleanly dispatch a venomous reptile intent on ruining your day. Unless you intend to load your own shot loads, the twenty-two is the best way to go, and the little Pathfinder carries very well in either a belt holster or jeans pocket.

I am glad to see the return of the Pathfinder to the Charter 2000 line of handguns. They are light, accurate, durable, and affordable little revolvers.  Suggested retail is only $265 in the USA.

Check out the entire Charter 2000 line on the web at:  www.charterfirearms.com.

Jeff Quinn

(Ed. Note: see Jeff's article on loading for self-defense against snakes at Snake Stopper - Boge)


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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Charter 2000's Pathfinder .22s are lightweight and handy, perfectly-suited for use as a "woods gun" or for limited self-defense applications.

 

 

The Charter 2000 Pathfinder .22s are identical except for their chamberings. They are available either in .22 LR or .22 Magnum.

 

 

The Pathfinders utilize Charter 2000's tried-and-true transfer bar safety system.