Charter Arms Undercover Revolver Value Please.

Discussion in 'The Ask the Pros & What's It Worth? Forum' started by USNative, Jan 9, 2012.

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  1. USNative

    USNative New Member

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    I have my wife's First Generation Charter Arms Undercover in 38 Special 3" Barrel model and it's very good to excellent shape. All Original grips with the Scroll Tags & no dings at all in the grips and the bluing is all intact other than a little fading with age. No rust or pitting anywhere on this one. Serial # 250XXX range which from my estimate would be around 1967. Inside the barrel is very good and shiny. Everything functions great on this revolver.

    Barrel is marked "CHARTER ARMS CORP BRIDGEPORT CONN" on the right side and "UNDERCOVER .38 SPL" on the left side.

    I hear that the First Generations are about the best made of the Charter Arms Revolvers and this one is a good example of a nice & clean Undercover model. Very few wear marks other than a little wear where the wheel has cycled. This gun has been fired very little. The pictures should give a good example of the condition.

    I would like some opinions on value, date of manufacture & any other information the experts here may have on this gun, Thanks a lot for looking and here are a dozen pics to evaluate:

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    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  2. USNative

    USNative New Member

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    And four more:

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  3. USNative

    USNative New Member

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    And the last ones:

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  4. Bill DeShivs

    Bill DeShivs Well-Known Member

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    The 3" models are fairly scarce.
    jesse likes this.
  5. USNative

    USNative New Member

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    Yeah, that's what I have heard. And we are happy to have this one. My wife has had it since the 70's and said she has fired it and really likes it. She hasn't fired it much and I can tell that by the looks of the bore, it is in really nice shape. I haven't fired it yet but I sure like the looks of it and it has a pretty good feel to it.

    We are wanting to get a value on it as we are adding it to our insurance so if anyone out there can give us a value and any other information including date of manufacture I would appreciate it very much.

    Jim Hauff , you there? , or anyone else with some knowledge on this please give me some input on this piece !!! :confused: Much appreciated. :D
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  6. StoneChimney

    StoneChimney New Member

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    Charter Arms is not heavily collected, so value is more shooter than collector. $250 or so at full retail.
  7. USNative

    USNative New Member

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    Thanks StoneChimney, I was thinking the value would be around what you stated but would it being a 3" barrel model maybe bring it up $50 or so? These are a little harder to find I have found and thought maybe it may increase value some.

    And I also would like to know if this pistol was made in 1967 like I am thinking. I know that it's a First Generation but not sure if I have the date of manufacture correct, I cant seem to find anything corresponding to a date on it and I have looked everywhere online that I can think of. Again, Serial # is 2508XX range.

    And would this one be considered one of the better made Charter Arms Revolvers? Hope I am not asking too much here but I am really curious, any more added opinions and info is appreciated, Thank You. :)
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2012
  8. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    USNative,
    I've been collecting and researching the 1st Generation CHARTER ARMS, INC. revolvers for the past 7 years. My data base indicates your UNDERCOVER was made in the Spring of 1973. I've purchased 26 CAs of different models during those years and have been keeping tabs on the RETAIL pricing. Stone Chimney has give you, what I feel, is the correct full RETAIL value, maybe 10 to 20 bucks higher on a good day in the right place.
    The 3" barrel UCs are much more scarce than the 2" pieces and do command a bit more in price.

    Here's a copy of my current research (rough) notes based upon around 2000 data points.
    IF anyone has a 1st or 2nd (CHARCO) revolver, I would appreciate hearing from you with serial number, model and barrel length and any documentation of date of purchase, etc. to help fill in my research. I intend to rewrite the Charter Arms, Inc. section for the "BLUE BOOK", hopefully next year, but need much more data.

    The very first Charter Arms Corporation production began in 1965 in BRIDGEPORT CONN - earliest pieces - mostly Undercover model will have either NO address on the right side of the barrel or will have BRIDGEPORT CONN
    Around 1974, address was changed to STRATFORD CONN - all pieces made after mid 1974 will be marked with that address on the right side of the barrel and all will have CHARTER ARMS CORP. as the first line. Sometime in 1991, Charter Arms Corp. ceased operations. This was the end of the FIRST GENERATION.
    Around mid 1991 (may be as early as 1988????), the company was re-organized under new leadership and became known as Charter Arms Company - CHARCO, and was located in ANSONIA CONN. All second generation pieces will be marked on the right side of the barrel with that name and address in two lines. This is the SECOND generation and apparently the period which caused the most damage to the Charter name and reputation.
    In 2000, the company was again reorganized as CHARTER 2000 and relocated to SHELTON CONN. All pieces made during this THIRD generation will be marked with the SHELTON address. Early production of this generation seems to have been spotty and reputation still lagged. About a year and a half ago, the company re-reorganized under the direction of MKS Marketing and seems now to be if not flourishing at least it is progressing in quality and market share.
    From the limited data set that I have been able to assemble so far the following serialization seems to be valid: (NOTE: model name and caliber will be stamped on left side of barrel on all pieces)

    FIRST GENERATION
    0001 - <13500 1964 - ? CHARTER ARMS CORP. right side of barrel marking only, no address
    ~13500 - <315,000 ? - ~1965 CHARTER ARMS CORP. over BRIDGEPORT CONN .marking
    ~315,000 - <1,088,000 - ~1974 to 1991 - CHARTER ARMS CORP. over STRATFORD CONN. marking

    SECOND GENERATION
    >1,090,000 - ??? 1991 - 2000? CHARCO over ANSONIA CONN- marking

    THIRD GENERATION
    000001 - to date 2000 - 2011 CHARTER ARMS 2000 over SHELTON CONN marking.

    This is the updated (6/11) serial number info that I have - based upon around 950 data points
    The earliest 1st Gen - ~0 to ~13,500 have NO barrel ADDRESS and s/n is on lower right corner on right side of frame. CA company founded in 1964, first production pieces of the Undercover model produced in 1965
    Bridgeport CONN address - ~13,500 to ~315,000 1967 - 1974
    Stratford CONN address - ~315,000 to ~1,090,000 1974 - ~1991
    All marked as Charter Arms Corporation

    2nd Generation - CHARCO, Ansonia Conn address - 1,090,000 to ??? ~1991 - 1996?

    3rd Generation - CHARTER 2000 - Shelton Conn - 0 to where ever they are today. 2007 Charter Arms/ MKS

    From the 26 pieces in my collection (all 1st Gen) and from dozens more that I've had the opportunity to observe and handle, I'd say that around s/n 600,000 the finish was made a lot finer - although the integrals (lock work, action) was at least as good as the earlier ones. I have or have read magazine articles that cover pretty much of the production life of the 1st Generation, and during that period (around late 1980, early 1981) it seems that CA attempted to capture more of the market by doing so, also in April of 1981, they introduced Stainless Steel revolvers into the mix, for the first time. Some of the articles lamented that the earlier pieces, although rough finish, were rather inexpensive (~60-65% of S&W) and when CA began their "modernization" process, the finishes got better but the prices increased to about 85 to 90% of the S&W line for comparable models.
    During the 2nd Generation, the CHARCO (Charter Arms COMPANY), under new management and reorganized, the quality was definitely more spotty and haphazard. I've seen CHARCO produced guns with Stratford marked barrels, obviously using up old stock.
    The earliest CHARTER 2000 pieces I had the opportunity to handle (some fairly early 4 digits s/ns - were uniformly, poorly fitted and finished and had some horrendous and gritty actions. That seems to have been rectified under MKS's (circa 2007) new leadership and the most recent pieces I've handled - s/n's in the high 100,000 range have been "decent" but not as fine in finish and action as the mid years of the 1st Generation. This is simply my studied opinion based upon experience.


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  9. USNative

    USNative New Member

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    Wow Jim, what a wealth of information you gave me here and Thank You Sir! :thumbsup:

    I can see where I goofed up on my estimate of year of manufacture. Our particular gun has a higher 6 digit serial up towards the end of the run for First Gen which brings the date up considerably from the lower numbers & 1973 seems about right based upon your data, but I am still pleased that we have the earlier First Gen model.

    I think I can pretty much get a good idea of where we are with this revolver by the great information provided very kindly on your part (and StoneChimney's) and I thank you again sir for posting this.

    I do not have a CHARCO version of this gun personally as this is the only Charter Arms gun we have, But if I run across anyone with one in first or second gen of that particular gun I will bend over backwards to help you out with the information you seek.

    I hope maybe someone may stumble onto my thread here and help you with what you need Jim, thanks again for your help! :D
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  10. fleetwood1976

    fleetwood1976 Active Member

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    I think it would be wise to put back nib and nicer early charter arms. they are getting scarce in nice shape and will become collectable. the 22 pathfinders are already hard to find in mint condition. I can remember when no one Wanted H&R revolvers and now they are pretty collectable.

    I myself love the early charters. I am a fan of american made and the underdog guns. I get kind of sick of hearing how great smith and colt are when my charter shoots just as good a patern for hundreds less $.

    Don't get me wrong, I love smiths and colts. I just think people unfairly judge charters.
  11. Jim Hauff

    Jim Hauff New Member

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    USNative,
    You are welcome, Sir. Glad to help out.
    I entered your UC into my data base.
    ANYBODY ELSE got some CA into??? Pile on!

    fleetwood1976 - I'm in full agreement with you on the CA revolvers. The more I study them the more interesting they become. Not everybody hates or 'disrespects' the CA guns. I've gotten quite a few favorable postings.
    I've got two POLICE (6 shot) BULLDOGS chambered for .32 Magnum. One's NIB and I don't have the heart to shoot it.

    IMG_2922.jpg
  12. USNative

    USNative New Member

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    From what I see of our Charter Arms Revolver I have to agree with what you said. I like the looks of it and the feel of it and overall it is a very well made little revolver IMO. I don't see much difference in it and any other brands of the old revolvers, they really all have the same basic simple function and look similar. I would think like you, that they will be a collector someday. We sure like ours. ;)

    Thanks.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  13. USNative

    USNative New Member

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    I can't blame you there Jim, if it were mine I wouldn't shoot it either. :D

    It seems to me that as hard as it is to get info on these guns that they are getting more rare or people who own them aren't coming forward with any information on them. I will keep my ears open for any owners of these guns and share what I can when I can (with owners permission of course). I wonder why it's so hard to get info on these? It seems to me that there were plenty of them made throughout the years.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2012
  14. DesertRose

    DesertRose New Member

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    I have a first generation 5 shot Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 spl. 3" barrel. Bought it brand new in the mid 70s. I wanted a larger caliber than .38spl and was very happy the company offered it. But replaced the wood grips with the slimmer Packmyers shortly afterwards. ( I think I may still have the original wood grips somewhere).
  15. USNative

    USNative New Member

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    Sounds like a nice one DesertRose, If you don't mind my asking, I would like to know about what you paid for it back then? Just curious. Thanks ;)
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