Charter Arms is known for their line of self-defense revolvers.
While Charter is not known for pretty, shiny guns, our .327 had a good looking, uniform matte finish. Besides, I like affordable guns for serious use, and who wants to scuff up a pretty revolver? But when it comes to launching bullets, Charters work! Uniquely, Charter Arms has a lifetime warranty and they mean it, too. A couple of years ago some knucklehead bought private reloads (double-charged) at a gun show and blew his second-owner Charter to pieces. He sent it in to the factory, admitted what he did, and they still replaced the revolver. Nuff said!
The new .327 Federal Magnum cartridge is a collaboration between Ruger and Federal Cartridge Company. Charter was second to Ruger to introduce guns in this caliber, and Charter is the only company to make the .327 available in a 2-inch barrel snubby—our test gun. Charter’s .327 is named the Patriot, and it’s fitting since Charters are all American-made. We also learned that about 70 percent of Patriots sold are the snubby version.
Our Charter actually has a 2.2-inch barrel, and for a high-impulse, high velocity round launching a light bullet intended for self defense, it seems really right. The cool part about this caliber is this same revolver will also fire most of the .32 caliber family of rimmed ammunition, including the .32 H&R Magnum, .32 S&W Long, and .32 S&W. These rounds are generally available world wide and make the Charter Arms .327 Patriot excellent for consideration as a quick reaction, self defense gun for the world traveler.
Real self defense is not an extended gun fight where the target will be switching out 14-round magazines. Anyone who gets into that kind of trouble without a submachine gun is in the wrong gun fight. Self defense is like a safety belt in a passenger car compared to a 6-point harness, helmet, roll cage, and HANS (head and neck support) device in a race car. All of that extra-duty stuff is nifty, but not practical in a passenger car, any more than packing an over
done or too big handgun is for concealed-carry self defense. A concealed-carry self-defense gun is there to get your butt out of trouble really fast, and if you don’t have to fire it, much the better.
Revolvers for Fast Reaction
Revolvers are excellent for fast reaction self defense, as they are easy to use and reliable; just point and fire. Bullet types can be reliably mixed for first impressions and other loads for lasting impressions. Revolvers look like real guns in any light condition and it’s easy for the bad guy to see the loaded cylinder. That alone may help to prevent having to fire or to convince him to leave. I quote from Charter Arm’s website, “…The bad guy wants either you and/or your money and must get close to get either.”
The Patriot is built on the robust .44 Special Bulldog frame and weighs 22.5 ounces. The high pressure of the .327 Magnum round (about 30 percent higher than even a .357 Magnum) requires a heavy duty stretch-resistant frame and cylinder. The use of the larger Bulldog frame also makes enough room for six rounds, if one more shot is that important.
As in most revolvers, the double action trigger pull was fairly stout at 12.2 pounds, but the pull was smooth. Regardless, in an adrenalin-packed gunfight the shooter won’t notice any gun’s pull, and revolvers are safer than a semi-auto with light-touch accidental-discharge potential. In single action mode (hammer back) our test gun released at 4.14 pounds. Opening and closing the cylinder are typical Charter and feel slightly rough, but when the hammer hits the firing pin the cylinder is locked up high-dollar gun tight, and that’s what matters.
Muzzle blast wise it isn’t quiet, well no surprise there. Recoil wise the hottest loads feel about like a 158 grain .38 Special +P load—except at the bad guy’s receiving end; then it is just above a 158 grain .357 Magnum on the Oh hell, that hurts index. Generally, most firearm recoil is a function of bullet weight, and the heaviest .327 we had was 115 grain.
The New Cartridge
This new cartridge really is a killer. Ripping a hot, low-recoiling .32 caliber 100–115 grain bullet at 1,200 to 1,400 feet per second even from a 2.2-inch barrel is serious stuff. The 2.2 inch barrel velocity generally runs about 35–50 feet per second slower than the 4-inch barrel, but any bad guy who objects to the lower velocity—well is asking for another shot. Practice and plinking with some wussy 98 grain .32 S&W long wad cutters was just plain fun. But when it came time to kick it up a notch, the .327 Magnum rounds were flat out hot, yet handling is easy and the recoil is much lower than with a .357 Magnum.
Charter’s 2.2-inch snub barrel comes only with a sight groove and a tall front ramp sight. Their 4-inch barrel Patriot has adjustable rear sights and sells for the same price; who knows? With a short sight radius at genuine self-defense ranges, if the shooter gets the target in the groove and sees the front sight pretty much anywhere, he will get hits. The Patriot is available with a Crimson Trace laser unit too, just more money.
Charter Arms exclusively uses 8-groove button-rifled barrels for a tad more accuracy and certainly better gas sealing over 4- and 6-groove barrels. Solid side plates (no screws) and an exclusive three-point cylinder lockup mean more frame strength. Drop safety is through a hammer block that Charter actually invented years ago and gave to the gun industry for the safety of all shooters.
We tested accuracy at a realistic self-defense range of 10 yards. Firing was from out of our hands resting on a shooting mat rest. With .327 Magnum rounds we got 1 3/4 to 2 1/4-in. groups with American Eagle 110-grain SP; Speer Gold Dot 115- grain HP rounds gave groups 2 to 2 5/8 inches. The comparatively anemic but still effective .32 S & W long 98-grain wad cutters gave up 2 1/8 to 2 3/4-inch groups, about 1/2 inch greater than the hot stuff.
Firing six center of mass shots as fast as possible (1 1/2–2 seconds) gave up 4–4 1/2-in. groups. For fun we tried some 50-yard shooting at a simple sheet of white paper (no aiming point). All rounds stayed in the kill zone of an average guy’s chest, the only trick being to have good enough eyes to keep the front sight on target at that range with the short barrel.
The price of Charter’s .327 means if it is lost in Panga Panga you won’t cry your eyes out. For a quick reaction double-action only revolver, the hammer can be cut (bob) off; the filings must be kept out of the mechanism. The full wrap factory rubber stocks do an excellent job of filling one’s hands and lowering recoil shock.
It Slices, It Dices
But wait, there’s more! It slices; it dices. Each Charter Arms Patriot also comes with a cool operating 2 1/2-inch blade Kershaw Scallion fast opening folding knife with “Charter .327” engraved in the aluminum handle. Valued at
$50, it is part of the deal along with the foam-lined carry box and a trigger lock.
We feel Charter’s Patriot is an excellent choice for concealed carry or back up, and thanks to the fit of a slick Kramer holster it can even be worn in plain view and not be easily seen. Charter’s Patriot is priced right at $425.00 suggested retail (who pays retail?). We found Charter Arms’ Patriot to be a serious self defense gun.
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Adjusting Fixed Sights (any)We heard from others, and also found that our Charter Arms Patriot was grouping about 6 inches low at 10 yards; good—then they can be adjusted! Generally the first thing to do if a fixed-sight gun shoots low is to test with other ammo. Ours stayed consistently low. Lowering a front sight raises bullet impact. So out came the file. At the range we carefully freehand filed away some front sight, fired a shot, checked impact point, and repeated this for four shots until it was grouping just below our aiming point (the lower point of the diamond). The trick is for one to take time and keep the file square on the sight. Overall we figure we removed almost 1/8” of metal. This kind of filing would be criminal with a high dollar purtty gun!