Charter 2000 "Off Duty" .38 Special Revolver


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

June 28, 2006




I was waiting under a bridge that crossed the Cumberland river, looking down the rough dirt road for the headlights of my uniformed contact with the department. We met once per week, always at some desolate, remote location to exchange information, cash, and drugs. I was working deep undercover for the Volunteer state, and my contact was the only officer in the state who knew who I really was. That was good. The fewer people that knew, the better my chances of living to be old and fat. I made it. Back then, wearing a gun on your hip was like wearing a badge; it was a dead giveaway that you were a cop, with the emphasis on "dead". I carried a thirty-eight in my boot, but that was my only weapon. Sometimes, it seemed like a long reach down to that left boot. The thirty-eight that I trusted back then was a Charter Undercover. It was stainless steel, which kept it from rusting in the humid Tennessee Valley. I had bobbed the hammer and removed the front sight, to make it as snag-free as possible, knowing that when I needed it, it would be quick and up close.

That was a long time ago, and I still have that Undercover, and would still carry it today, except that now we have lighter weight thirty-eight revolvers that have concealed hammers, which is much better than a bobbed hammer. I like the closed top of concealed hammer snub guns. It serves well to keep dust, dirt, sand, and pocket lint out of the action of a revolver. My daily carry gun is a lightweight Smith & Wesson 342PD. It goes with me everywhere. I have also carried a few of the miniature pocket autos available. They are good weapons, but I prefer a revolver for a pocket gun. Could just be an old habit, but they work well when needed, and tolerate a bit of neglect.

Charter revolvers have always been good, affordable weapons, but being made mostly of stainless steel, were several ounces heavier than the lightest snub guns from Smith & Wesson. Now, Charter 2000 has introduced  their Off Duty model that has an aluminum alloy frame, and also a concealed hammer. I’ve been carefully evaluating  (playing with) one of these Off Duty revolvers for a few weeks now, and remain impressed with its light weight and reliability. The Off Duty wears a two-inch barrel, that has the front sight and ejector rod shroud integral to its construction. The barrel, cylinder, crane, trigger, and other small parts are stainless steel. The cylinder frame and grip frame are aluminum alloy, and the grip panels are of a black synthetic semi-hard rubber. The grip panels have two finger grooves, and a section of molded-in checkering on each side. They feel good in my hand, and offer good weapon control, without being too tacky, as are some rubber grips.  The Off Duty is about as snag-free as any revolver can be, with its concealed hammer and ramped front sight. The rear sight is a large square notch that is easy to use, offering a quick sight picture. The five-shot cylinder makes for a relatively thin profile, so the weapon does not print excessively when carried in a front pants pocket. The Off Duty weighed in at 13.4 ounces unloaded, which is a full four ounces lighter than my old Undercover. A third of a pound makes a big difference when carried in a pocket. The fit and finish on the Off Duty is very good. The barrel/cylinder gap measured a tight .002 of an inch, and cylinder lockup at firing is very tight, with no discernible lateral or rotational movement. The trigger pull is smooth, but measured just over ten pounds. I prefer a bit lighter pull, but in a pocket gun that must fire every time, reliability comes before anything else, and the Off Duty fires every time.

While I like to carry these lightweight revolvers in my pocket, I borrowed a dandy little belt holster from my brother Boge and packed the little Charter around in it for awhile. It is the Silver Dollar Pancake model from Simply Rugged Holsters. Rob Leahy crafts some very practical and handy holsters at his Alaskan shop, and I have featured them here before on Gunblast. The Silver Dollar Pancake offers an excellent way to carry a snub gun on the belt, providing good protection and retention, along with excellent concealability. Rob also offers as an option, two straps that attach to the Silver Dollar, making it into an inside-the-pants holster for even better concealment of the weapon. It is a great little holster, and Rob sells them for not much more than the price of a good pizza.

I fired the Off Duty using a variety of hollowpoint ammo, but mostly using Plus P Glaser ammunition, as it is the best ammo to carry in a snub-nose thirty-eight for social purposes, in my opinion. The Off Duty was easy to control rapid fire, keeping all shots within the kill zone of a standard human silhouette target at twenty-five yards. At fifteen yards, it was easy to keep the Glasers in the face area of the silhouette, offhand rapid fire.

The Off Duty from Charter 2000 is a good, sturdy, reliable, and lightweight revolver to carry for social situations of the most serious nature; the protection of yourself and  your loved ones.  There are some gun shop commandos who would have you to believe that a .38 Special revolver is not enough gun. If I knew that I was headed for a fight, I wouldn’t choose any handgun as my main weapon. However, a good, reliable, five-shot thirty-eight can be your constant companion, always with you. It is not the weapon of choice to carry to a fight, but will serve you well when the fight comes to you. That is the beauty of these little jewels; they are always there, always ready. The Charter Undercover was a good choice twenty-five years ago, and the Off Duty is an even better choice now. Like all Charter revolvers, they are built in the United States, are reliable, and are priced under their competition.

Check out the Off Duty and other Charter revolvers online at:

To order one of Rob Leahy’s Simply Rugged holsters, go to:

For a look at the line of Glaser Safety Slug ammunition, go to:

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Charter 2000 "Off Duty" .38 Special Revolver





Many years have passed since Jeff regularly trusted his life to his Charter Undercover (top). Today's Off Duty (bottom) is an even better choice.





The Charter Off Duty (bottom) compares favorably to Jeff's daily carry gun, the much more expensive S&W 342PD.





For belt carry, one would be hard pressed to find a better choice than the versatile Simply Rugged Silver Dollar pancake holster.





In the author's opinion, there has never been a better choice for .38 Special defensive ammo than the Glaser "Safety Slug". The 80-grain bullet clocked at 1381 fps.