Charter Arms Pathfinder .22 revolver


by AK Church

(Free permission to quote Church's articles is granted, as long as proper attribution is given. We request that if you use our work, you give us credit.)

Introduced in 1970 as the "Pocket Target" the Pathfinder was quickly renamed the "Pathfinder". Allegedly the earlier name violated a Colt copyright. 

The revolver was a compact 6 shot double action .22 LR chambered weapon. It came with click adjustable sights, and its swingout cylinder mechanics were based on the other Charter handguns. Sideplateless, chunky and the ejector unshrouded, it bore an immediate family resemblance to the Charter Undercover.


Original Specifications: 

Lifted from 1973 Shooter's Bible, the 1971 issue announcing the gun as the "Pocket Target" lacked full specs.  

Caliber .22 long rifle

Barrel length: 3 inches

Overall length: 7 3/8 inches

Weight: 18 1/4 ounces

Price, regular grips $87.50

Price, Bulldog grips $94.00


Pretty clearly this is treading on S&W Model 34 Kit Gun territory, the 4 inch barreled Smith being 4 1/4 ounces heavier, and in blue costing ('73) $105.50. The Smith is smoother and more nicely blued, but the much cheaper Pathfinder was and is certainly up to good work. It is also of interest to note that during the inflationary 1970s, the base model Pathfinder moved up to a MSRP of $120 by 1977.  

Variations were introduced over the years, including .22 WMR versions, 

6 inch barrels,

and stainless. Some were catalogued, but I've not seen, such as a 2 inch, an end of production shrouded ejector variant, and a 1971 cased anniversary Pocket Target. A 3-inch stainless .22 WMR I've seen, shot and shared a canoe with does not appear to have ever been catalogued. 

The stainless guns appear to have come out around 1983, and overall Pathfinder production ended in 1991.


Test Gun: 

The revolver pictured is a 3" stainless .22 LR, found new in box by a good friend approximately 6 years ago. It came with a bulky but wonderfully comfortable pair of Herrett grips, 

charterherrettgrip.JPG (187618 bytes)

a Charter thumbreak holster, 

charterthumbbreak.JPG (127838 bytes)

the original box, instructions, and warranty paper work. 

Like John Dunn's Ozark Arms Wildcat rifle, the firm backing the warranty folded before the gun was ever fired. Why someone went to the trouble of obtaining premium grips for the budget handgun, and then never fired it is unknown. I was later given a set of used Charter standard grips-the Herretts are a universe better. Gunshow cost was $140 plus assorted government inconveniences. It is interesting to compare this gun to the carriage trade Smith & Wesson M63.

Finish is decent and utilitarian-a very matte stainless possibly beadblasted. The underlying polish appears to have been decent. If there are any toolmarks, they’ve eluded me. 

I confess when I describe triggers, it is entirely subjective. I am too cheap to buy a trigger pull gauge. Single action, to my thinking, is nicely light. Double action is rougher, though it seems no heavier than my Model 10 Smith & Wesson. My approach to the trigger business has been to shoot and lubricate. 

It is a basic mechanical attribute of most of the Charter series that pulling forward on the ejector rod can open the cylinder. Presumably the underlugged guns eliminate this quirk-it hurts nothing, but has always bugged me. Anyway, the test Pathfinder does this.   

charterunpulled.JPG (163938 bytes)   charterpulled.JPG (147681 bytes)   charterpartswungout.JPG (144270 bytes)

miles' dad shows how to open the cylinder without using the latch

In terms of handling, the Charter seems superior to me. I am fond of the basic little revolver/big grip approach. The sights are very nicely visible, as well.  

chartersight2.JPG (45530 bytes)

Weight falls into that super subjective “just right” niche for the job. The one opportunity I had to play with a Smith and Wesson M43 Kit Gun Airweight (14.25 ounces), it somehow seemed too light to hold steady. The extra few ounces of the Charter make it feel more substantial to me, but still leave it convenient for minimalist pants belt carry.


Shooting Results 

Herewith reproduced are a couple of targets shot at 25 yards @ the JbarT Ranch shooting complex.   I think you'd find this adequate for bunnies & pest control. 

charterwinchesterammo.JPG (48621 bytes)      charterremingtonammo.jpg (84174 bytes)

                                                     WW SuperX                   Remington gold box


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NOTE: Author Church regrets that he is unqualified to do appraisal, and cannot establish a value on your gun.   

And he do get email folks! (miles)

Wonderful little article.  I just acquired a like-new, blued, 3" Pocket Target through for a paultry sum.

It's shoots wonderfully but the factory grips, while attractive and nostalgic, do not allow consistent hold from shot to shot.  Since you made note of the fact that this other fellow spent the bucks on custom grips for a budget gun, I had to comment.  I have been shooting Charter 3" revolvers in .44 Spl. (and 2" undercover .38s) for years and recently a 3" undercover too.  (The first 3" undrcover I have ever seen.)  I have always removed the factory stocks and put on Pachmyer "Compact" grips before even firing the guns.  The Pachmyer is still concealable, does not throw off the balance, preserves the factory wood and provides an excellent purchase on the revolver's grip.  Oh, and they are under $20 through Midsouth Shooter's Supply in Tennessee.  They also keep you from busting your knuckle on the trigger guard.  On the .44s, you've had enough after a box of 50 but you can shoot the .38 all day.  The .22 can be shot well into the night, of course.  In any event, having grown very familiar with, and fond of, these fine and unjustifiably disparaged revolvers, I would not hesitate to spend a few buck on custom stocks.  The price of the revolver does not reflect the quality of design an usefulness.  A bit like putting a $400 scope on a Remington 788.  The gun has the stuff even though it's price is not commensurate with its performance level. n I actually was thinking about a set of Herret's on my Pocket Target (ironic) after reading Briann Pearce's article in the latest Handloader.  Alas, the economy caught up with my employeer, I am sudddenly without work and I will settle for the Pachmyers for now. 


Jeff Hamilton

N.W. Ohio

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