Charter Arms Target Pathfinder Revolver

Charter Arms Target Pathfinder Revolver

While Charter Arms may not carry the same level of brand recognition as Smith & Wesson, Colt or Remington, they do have the distinction of being an American firearms manufacturer dedicated solely to the production of revolvers in the age of the pistol.  With that in mind, lets take a look at their offering to the 22 market, the Target Pathfinder.

Contents

The firearm comes in a functional if basic case. Nothing fancy or form fit, but it does the job well enough.  Beneath the foam lining you’ll find a sticker, manual, and some promotional materials as well as the brass casing from the factory proof-firing.

Specs

Like the case and contents, the gun itself is a fairly basic stainless steel, six-shot revolver with a full underlug.  Pretty light on bells and whistles, it’s on the small side, measuring in at about 10″ long overall and weighing just under 24oz.  Although the manufacturer states the barrel is 4.2″ (the minimum limit for restricted class firearms in Canada) by my measurements it’s more like 4.3″.  It also features a fixed, one-piece front sight and adjustable rear sight.

  • Caliber – 22LR
  • Capacity – 6
  • Action – Single/Double
  • Rifling – 1:14
  • Barrel Length – 4.3″
  • Overall Length – 9.5″
  • Weight – 24oz
  • Finish – Matte Stainless
  • Classification – Restricted

Lets go over some of what this revolver does well.

Pros

The first thing you’re likely to notice about the Target Pathfinder is the fit.  Everything feels surprisingly solid for a budget-priced revolver, with smooth mechanics and very little play.  The hammer is rigid without being too tight, and operates with a very clean, no nonsense feel to it.  The trigger is very similar in that while not as smooth as some of the other revolvers I’ve handled, it leaves no doubt where it will break.  Cylinder-lockup is solid, with no movement or play, not to mention one of the narrowest cylinder gaps I’ve ever seen in a 22.  As a stainless steel gun, maintenance is obviously a breeze, some light oil for lubrication, and regular efforts to keep the barrel free of lead deposits are about all you’ll need to worry about here.

Aside from the obvious features, there are a couple other nice things I really like about this gun.  First among them is the size; the fact is there just aren’t many small revolvers out there, particularly in Canada with the barrel length restrictions we have in place.  I’m not a big guy, so for me the Target Pathfinder represents a welcome change of pace from some of my other hand-cannons.  New or new-to-revolver shooters will find that makes this gun a good choice for a beginner’s wheelgun.  That actually brings me to another nifty fact about this firearm; it’s virtually identical in size and weight to it’s big-bore twin brother, the Target Bulldog, which comes chambered in .44 magnum.  The fact that these two guns are virtually identical makes the Target Pathfinder an excellent trainer, allowing you to practice with cheap 22LR.  By that same token, when you’re ready to move up to a larger caliber, you’ll feel right at home shaking hands with the Target Bulldog.  Lastly the price on this thing is excellent.  I hate to quote dollar values as they get dated so quickly, but the Target Pathfinder rings in at less than half the price of a Smith & Wesson 617, making it a very affordable choice, particularly for a stainless steel gun.  Couple that with the fact that the cylinder takes just six rounds at a time and you’ve also got a gun that can provide several hours of entertainment for the cost of one bulk pack of 22 ammunition.

With the pros covered lets talk about a few of the cons of this gun.

Cons

My biggest complaint by far is the single-action trigger position.  I love revolvers, and I’ve owned quite a few over the years, and I can tell you without a doubt I’ve never see one with so little single-action trigger-travel.  When fully cocked the trigger is literally almost flush with the back of the trigger guard, which I am not a fan of, especially because I do a lot of single-action shooting.  I have yet to have one fire unexpectedly as a result of this, but the trigger pull itself just feels unnatural.  The second thing that I don’t care for with this firearm is the extractor; it feels a bit stiffer than I’m accustomed to.  I do however suspect that’s something that will improve with use as the gun gets broken in.  Another complaint I have about this gun is the finish; it’s not terrible by any stretch of the imagination, but it does seem a bit rough.  It’s true there aren’t any burrs or sharp edges, but cosmetically I’m left unimpressed.  I own several other ‘matte stainless’ guns and this one is by far the most ‘matte’ I’ve come across.  My last point is more something I’ve heard rather than experienced personally, and that’s the grip size being too small.  Although it fits me like a glove, the finger notches are pretty small and I can definitely see where a larger shooter would find the grip on this gun uncomfortable.  I imagine that’s why you see so many ‘generic’ flat or rounded grips on revolvers rather than finger-moulded.  If you’ve got some meaty ham-fists, it’s something to consider.

Conclusion

Love it or hate it, the Target Pathfinder represents a marriage between value-for-dollar, and made-in-America quality, in an entry level revolver.  That’s not surprising since the original Charter Arms made their name on duty and carry ‘working guns’, rather than 4-figure show-pieces.  Although it isn’t the prettiest wheel-gun I’ve ever seen, at less than half the price of a Smith & Wesson, it’s not hard to justify owning.

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