In the world of defensive handgun shooting, there are several guns that stand out as being very useful tools.¬† The ‚??hammerless‚?Ě revolvers are one of the constant favorites for many people.
The classic hammerless wheelgun is the Smith & Wesson 642.¬† Like many other people, I‚??ve got one on my person almost all of the time.¬† Working for my local police department, I‚??ve always got it strapped to my leg as a back up.¬† Off duty, it is generally riding in a pocket holster from DeSantis or RKBA Holsters.
I‚??ve had mine for years, and I don‚??t think I‚??d ever trade it.¬† But, I have come across another revolver that makes me consider leaving the Smith in the safe.¬† That gun?¬† The Charter Arms Off Duty.
The Off Duty is a classically styled snub-nosed revolver.¬† It is a hammerless design, meaning there is not an external hammer to cock for single action shooting.¬† Not having an exposed hammer means it can be carried in a pocket without fear of snagging during the draw.
The gun has a 2‚?Ě barrel with a fixed ramp front sight.¬† The rear sight is a notch at the rear of the top strap.¬† Compared to the 642, I found the Off Duty‚??s sights to be a little larger, and easier to pick up quickly.¬† Forget about replacing the factory sights unless you are handy with an angle grinder.
The frame is made of aluminum, while the cylinder and barrel are made of stainless steel.¬† The unloaded weight is only 12 ounces, which is slightly lighter than the 15 ounce Smith.
The trigger pull on the Off Duty started off, and stayed, fairly heavy.¬† The good news is after about 50 rounds, the trigger smoothed out and the heavy weight didn‚??t bother me a bit.
Initially, the trigger pull on the Charter Arms handgun was more than my 12 pound Lyman scale could measure.¬† After shooting, the pull lightened up to about 11 1/2 pounds.¬† All things considered, that isn‚??t too bad for a pocket gun.
The Off Duty is chambered for the ubiquitous .38 Special cartridge and the gun can handle +P pressures.¬† Capacity is five rounds.
For me, the little Charter Arms gun filled my hand much better than the Smith & Wesson ever has.¬† When shooting more than a few dozen rounds, the cylinder release on the 642 starts to eat into the top of my right thumb.¬† I never had that problem with the Off Duty.
The grips on the Off Duty seem to be slightly wider than the S&W, filling my hand in a way the 642 does not.¬† Combined with the lack of bite from the cylinder latch, the Off Duty is a much more pleasurable gun to shoot.¬† Let‚??s face it:¬† you are more likely to practice with a gun that is fun to shoot.
In a recent trip to the range, I ran six different loads through it, including some pretty hot +P loads.¬† All of them functioned fine with no hint of any problem whatsoever.
Probably the heaviest-recoiling load, the Winchester 158 grain +P SWC-HP was a stout round to touch off.¬† Yet, the round was controllable and proved to be very accurate.¬† I carried this load for years, and would gladly do so again.
My current carry load is the Speer Gold Dot 135 grain +P HP made for short barrel revolvers.¬† This load has a very good track record ‚??in the real world,‚?Ě and is the only .38 load my department authorizes for carry in backup guns.¬† I found this load to be slightly less accurate than the Winchester mentioned above, but I was still putting holes in an 8‚?Ě circle at 15 yards.
The easiest recoiling load I shot was the Federal Nyclad 125 grain HP.¬† These standard pressure rounds use a soft lead hollowpoint that is coated with a polymer.¬† The polymer keeps the bullets from leading up your barrel, but is soft enough to allow the relatively low pressure round to expand in tissue.¬† While not my first choice, the Nyclad would be a good choice for someone who was recoil sensitive, but otherwise liked the Off Duty revolver.
Overall, I really like this gun.¬† MSRP on the Off Duty is $411, and ‚??street‚?Ě prices tend to be a little under $400.¬† Considering I would trust my life to this gun, I‚??d call $400 a bargain.
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