It has now been just over four years ago that I
wrote about the return of the Charter
Pathfinder .22 rimfire revolver. At that time, I also
told about the old Pathfinder that I had read about in my youth
that belonged to the famous gun writer Hal Swiggett. I
always loved reading Mr. Swiggett’s writings. He wrote tales
of hunting squirrels and groundhogs and such. I could relate to
that stuff. Most writers at that time wrote mostly of hunting in
far away exotic places, but Mr. Swiggett’s writings I could
better understand, for squirrels and groundhogs were plentiful
around here, and the little rimfires that he used were similar
to my own. However, I tried for years to obtain a Pathfinder
like he had, along with one of the little Hutson scopes
which topped Mr. Swiggett’s little revolver. None were to be
found. A couple of years ago, I received word that Mr.
Swiggett was selling off a few of his guns, so I contacted the
shop that was handling the dealings for him. The little
Pathfinder was not on the list, but I asked about it anyway.
The dealer told me that the gun was there, and that Mr. Swiggett
would sell it, but that it was missing part of the ejector rod.
I bought the little sixgun, and Charter had the missing part in
stock. Not only did I finally have a Pathfinder like Mr.
Swiggett’s, but I had his actual gun! That little revolver
means a lot to me. I still have the old magazine in which Mr.
Swiggett told of hunting with the little sixgun. It was one of
the earliest Pathfinders, and is marked "Pocket
Target", which is what they were called before the name was
changed to "Pathfinder". No matter what the
name, those old guns are sweet little shooters, and can rarely
be found for sale on the used gun market.
Also in my article of 2003, I mentioned that
Charter 2000 had plans to make the Pathfinder with a four inch
barrel and adjustable rear sight. The original Pathfinders had
either three or six inch barrels, and the four would be a
welcome compromise. After four years of making the Pathfinders
with two inch barrels and fixed sights, which make for dandy
little pocket guns, Charter has started producing the Pathfinder
with a four inch barrel and adjustable rear sight.
The sample gun sent to me for review is
chambered for the popular .22 Long Rifle cartridge, and
hopefully Charter will also offer the Pathfinder chambered for
the .22 magnum cartridge, as they do with their two-inch guns.
The new Pathfinder wears a medium-heavy barrel
that has a full underlug and a slight rib on top. The barrel
diameter measures .663 inch, and the underlug serves as a shroud
for the ejector rod. The barrel has an integral ramp front
sight. The blued steel rear sight is adjustable for both windage
and elevation, and has a square notch blade for a good, precise
sight picture. The front sight is matte stainless like the rest
of the gun, but if a shooter prefers, a bit of black or red
enamel along the ramp can change the sight picture if the
conditions warrant a different color.
The cylinder holds six shots of .22 Short, Long,
or Long Rifle ammunition. A compact revolver such as the
Pathfinder offers a lot of versatility, firing quiet CB caps for
small pest control, shot cartridges for use in poisonous snake
country, or full power hollowpoints for hunting and social work.
Some folks sneer at the .22 Long Rifle for personal protection
from human type predators, but a lot of people can’t handle
the recoil of hard-kicking cartridges, and a cylinder full of CCI
Stingers properly placed will do the job if needed.
The Pathfinder comes with a very comfortable set
of black finger-groove synthetic rubber grips which allow a good
hold on the revolver. They have molded-in checkering, and are
not too sticky, like some grips of the type.
The double action trigger pull on the Pathfinder
was heavy, and measured just over twelve pounds, which is pretty
typical for a small rimfire revolver. The single action pull
measured 5.6 pounds, and released crisply. The Pathfinder weighs
24.6 ounces, which is light enough for comfortable holster carry
on the hip, and heavy enough to aid in holding steadily for a
shot at small game. The barrel/cylinder gap measured just three
one-thousandths (.003) of an inch, which is pretty darn good
these days for a rimfire revolver. Many guns out there have a
gap that is twice as large, or more. Three one-thousandths is
about right for me. I don’t like huge barrel/cylinder gaps.
They spit powder, and serve no useful purpose at all, except to
make fitting easier on the manufacturer. Charter got the fit
right on the Pathfinder. The Pathfinder cylinder locks up front
and rear for good chamber alignment with the barrel. Many
potential buyers pick up a Charter revolver, wiggle the
cylinder, and pronounce it "loose". That is a mistake.
True, by design the Charter cylinder does move with the hammer
in the rested position before firing. However, when the gun
fires, the cylinder is tightly locked with absolutely no
movement at all, and that contributes to the accuracy of these
Shooting the new Pathfinder proved the gun was
very reliable with a variety of ammunition, as expected. There
were no failures to fire with any ammo tested. Extraction
was sticky with some brands of ammo, and very easy with others.
Accuracy testing at twenty-five yards showed that, as with all
twenty-two handguns, it pays to experiment a bit to find the
best ammunition for a particular gun. The Pathfinder was mounted
in a Ransom Rest, and fired
for accuracy with six different types of Long Rifle ammunition.
The accuracy results are listed in the table below. Bullet
weight is listed in grains. HP is hollowpoint. Group size is
listed in inches.
|Federal Bulk Hollowpoint
|CCI Mini-Mag Solid
|Winchester Wildcat Solid
As can be seen in the chart, accuracy varied
from average to outstanding for a small revolver, especially one
as affordable as the Pathfinder. The little gun performed
best with the inexpensive bulk pack Federal Hollowpoint
ammo that you can buy for under ten bucks for a box of 550 at Wal
Mart. That ammo, and the inexpensive Winchester
Wildcat, performed much better than any of the more expensive
ammunition. It always pays to try as many brands and types of
ammunition as you can, and it is a real bonus when the gun does
so well with the cheap stuff.
I have always liked Charter revolvers. There was
a time in my life when a Charter .38 stuck down in my boot was
my only protection from some criminal types who would have been
just as happy seeing me floating in the Tennessee river. The
little Charter was comforting to have along. Charter
firearms are not expensive. They never have been. I’ve never
seen one that was engraved and gold inlayed. However, I have
owned several, and they have always worked and served me well.
This newest Charter Pathfinder is also a dandy little durable,
no frills, accurate trail gun. The .22 rimfire is our most
versatile cartridge. It can do more with less than any other
cartridge in existence.. As a trail gun, a good .22 revolver is
awfully hard to beat, and I am glad to see Charter making the
Pathfinder into a trail gun once again. They are reliable,
accurate, affordable, and American made.
Check them out online at www.charterfirearms.com.
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