Charter Arms Off Duty Hammerless vs. S&W 642

This is a discussion on Charter Arms Off Duty Hammerless vs. S&W 642 within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'm in the market for a new or slightly used lightweight 5-shot stainless steel revolver. Kinda had my heart set on a Smith&Wesson but they ...

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Thread: Charter Arms Off Duty Hammerless vs. S&W 642

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    Member Array 1gunsnowbird's Avatar
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    Charter Arms Off Duty Hammerless vs. S&W 642

    I'm in the market for a new or slightly used lightweight 5-shot stainless steel revolver. Kinda had my heart set on a Smith&Wesson but they are relatively hard to come by in my market (both 642s and 638s) so I started looking at reviews of the Charter Arms Off Duty Hammerless (53811). The reviews were very positive about this particular gun and Charter Arms' products in general.

    Does anyone have experience with the Charter product? Perhaps both products? What are your thoughts? They are slightly cheaper than the Smiths, but apparently the sights are easier to acquire and the grip absorbs recoil a bit better. Like all the DAOs, there are complaints about the trigger pull, but that's never been a big concern of mine.

    Thanks for your responses.
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    Member Array Gav1230's Avatar
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    From what I've heard the Charter will definitely get the job done, but keep in mind that they are considered "Shoot little, carry often" guns. Heavy use will wear out the Charter but the Smith will last forever.

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    Distinguished Member Array GunGeezer's Avatar
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    I don't know how much the Charter Arms pistols cost, but the Ruger LCR is less expensive than the S&W. I would take it over a Smith any day. Their new cam trigger is so smooth.

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    Member Array DaveInEdmonds's Avatar
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    That's kind of like saying "I'm considering a new Mercedes, but the reviews of the Hyundai's are great." Seriously, that's comparing apples to pine cones.

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    Senior Member Array nontechguy's Avatar
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    I carried a Smith 36 for a number of years. Never had an issue.
    I have had a Charter in 44SPL for many years. Although I hardly ever carry it, I have never had any issues with it, either.
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    Senior Member Array patri0t's Avatar
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    I like the Ruger LCRs for .38+P, with emphasis on their oversized trigger-guards, but don't understand why they made a .357Mag with a 1.85 inch bbl... the powder does not have time to burn, so it throws a 3 ft flame behind the bullet.

    However, I carried a Charter Arms 357Mag "Pug" snubbie for 12 years as an off-duty & plainclothes sidearm, loaded with .38+P JHPs. I fired it almost daily and wore it out pretty well in those 12 years, but it was still working after 20k rounds.

    Now I have a Ch Arms "On Duty" in SS, 5 shot, +P rated, full 2in bbl, with 'shrouded hammer' for a snagless draw and single action use, at 13 ounces & $350.
    I have owned the S&W 36, 5 shot, blue snubbie and it was typical S&W quality, 100%.
    Also, I have a Taurus P-85, 38+P, 'Titanium', that my great-grandkids will be using, but it has an exposed hammer.
    In my 40 years experience, S&W has ruled the revolver world, but there are many great 2nd & even 3rd options.

    Most J frame revolvers will last a lifetime if maintained as they just don't get a huge amount of range time with 2 inch barrels.

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    Member Array 1gunsnowbird's Avatar
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    Thanks for your observations and experiences. I realize the difference in perceived quality is a potential problem, so that is most definitely a factor in my decision making process. The reviews on the Charter Arms are almost all written by men who have been carrying S&W J frames for many years and they are just about unanimous in putting the Smith in the safe and carrying the Charter Arms ... better sight picture, grips seem to absorb recoil better and the lighter weight by three ounces is just about 20% lighter, which is HUGE in pocket carry.

    It was nice to learn the that On Duty Charter is just one ounce heavier. That opens up more options. Thanks for that Patriot.
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    I look at it from this perspective.

    What will you spend on the Charter, or other pistol?___________

    What will you spend on the S&W or comparable pistol?_________

    If someone offered you a Cadillac instead of a Chevy Aveo for the difference in price between the pistols, ($100-$150) would you take the Cadillac?

    OF course you would.
    I don't understand why people wouldn't, for the sake of $100-200 buy the better firearm.
    It isn't like we're talking a spread of $350-600 between guns right?
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    Member Array 1gunsnowbird's Avatar
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    Oneshot - Thanks for your observation. Yes, I see your point.

    Now, I've been asking myself if the Chevy Aveo was 20% more comfortable and more likely to be carried and if I could park the Aveo much better (i.e. shoot the Charter Arms better due to quicker sight acquisition), would the price be the deciding factor? Or would performance?

    Neither gun would get shot that much, except for some IDPA BUG matches and maybe a dozen rounds here and there: freestyle, strong hand and weak hand from a draw at targets within 10 yards and a few out at about 20 yards. I've got a son who provides me with videos of close contact defense shooting and I study them in great detail because the 'rule of threes' seems to dominate my thought process at the age of 62. (Three shots, three seconds, three feet --- the average shooting parameters according to statistics).

    We all conjure up different scenarios for self defense based upon our life's experiences to this point and where we plan on going in the future. In terms of reliability, I have read absolutely nothing on any forum today mentioning anything other than flawless operation for the Charter Arms revolver (which is more than I can say for the dozen or so pocket semi-autos that I've tried in the last 6-7 years).

    Your points are well taken and will be considered in the final purchase decision. If I save $100, that money will be invested in ammunition and IDPA match fees; you can trust me on that.
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    Senior Member Array Haywood's Avatar
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    If I couldn't find a Smith I could live with a Charter. I like them.

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    I've been considering a S&W 642/442 also. Tried one side by side with a Ruger LCR the other day, and liked the trigger on the Ruger better. I'm still trying to decide which one to buy.
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    Senior Member Array 1911er's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oneshot View Post
    If someone offered you a Cadillac instead of a Chevy Aveo for the difference in price between the pistols, ($100-$150) would you take the Cadillac?

    Of course you would.
    Your analogy fails when the caliber is different, say the .44SPL.

    The CA 53811 Undercover .38SPL goes for $300. The S&W 642NIL goes for $400. Get the S&W. But if it's the S&W 649, which has the 2" barrel, the price is over twice the CA., ~$660.

    While the CA may be the Aveo, the Cadillac is probably the N frame S&W 629 .44MAG or the X frame S&W500 .500. Now the difference is 2.5x - 3x, just as the Caddy will likely cost 2.5x - 3x more than the Aveo.

    So, which would you rather have a 38SPL +P or the .44SPL? If you come from the 1911 world you're probably more interested in the .44SPL, if you come from a .40 swmi you're probably like the .357, and if you come from the 9mm semi you're probably like the 38SPL. Generalizations, of course; but if I'm used to firing sub sonic 230g bullets it's only a small step down to the .44DSPL 200g sub sonic bullet; just as if you're used to firing hyper sonic .40s you shouldn't have problems shooting supersonic .357s.

    1gsb,

    You do know that you can order the S&W directly from the factory, right? Yes, chances are that you'll end up paying list price. The other option is to hit the gun shows and call your local gun stores once a week. Your local GS should be able to order the piece. Then there's Davidson's... www.galleryofguns.com - Our retailers all over the country will offer you the best price for all the top brand guns

  14. #13
    Member Array ev239's Avatar
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    I daily pocket carry my Charter Arms and it's very easy to conceal. Now I did have to send mine back to Charter over a year ago because it started giving me light strikes. They fixed it promptly at no charge and I've had zero issues since. It's one gun I don't mind getting banged around. With any snubbie you'll need to practice with it often, because they aren't easy to shoot well.
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    Member Array wondering's Avatar
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    Are there any Ruger SP101's available or are they too heavy? They are a less-expensive but very reliable alternative to the Smith.

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    Member Array tet4's Avatar
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    I like the Ruger LCRs for .38+P, with emphasis on their oversized trigger-guards, but don't understand why they made a .357Mag with a 1.85 inch bbl... the powder does not have time to burn, so it throws a 3 ft flame behind the bullet.
    It's because you get 5 shots and 5 flashbangs in one. And, if the attacker is close enough, even if the bullet misses, the fireball will get him.

    But if you think the LCR357 is mad (and I agree with you), think about the Ruger Alaskan in 454 casull.

    I hardly ever see Charters in pawn shops, so either people refuse to but them, or the buy them and keep them.

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