The Charter 2000 Four-Inch Pathfinder .22 Revolver


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

October 26th, 2007




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 little sixguns.

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.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Group Size
Winchester Dynapoint 40 3.25"
PMC Match  40 2.50"
Federal Bulk Hollowpoint  36 1.00"
CCI Mini-Mag Solid 40 2.61"
Wolf Match 40 2.75"
Winchester Wildcat  Solid  40 1.25"

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

Jeff Quinn

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Click pictures for a larger version.


Charter 2000's new 4" Pathfinder 22 revolver.





Sights consist of integral ramp front (top) and fully-adjustable rear (center & bottom).





Transfer bar safety prevents firing unless trigger is pulled.





The Pathfinder sports a well-designed set of rubber finger-groove grips.





New Pathfinder (top) compared to author's beloved old three-inch-barreled gun (bottom).





Cylinder locks into frame at front & rear.





Coil mainspring is used for reliability.



The most accurate ammo tried in the Pathfinder was also the least expensive: Federal's bulk-pack hollowpoint.