CHARTER ARMS HAS ADDED A BLACKNITRIDE FINISH TO THE PITBULL, AND ONE IS A 9MM WONDER
Charter Arms has added a Blacknitride finish to the Pitbull, and one is a 9mm wonder.
With the continuing “resurgence” of revolvers for concealed carry, Charter Arms has added an attractive and rugged Blacknitride finish to its lineup of wheelguns, among them a slick 9mm Pitbull that has a real bite.
Chambering revolvers for semi-auto cartridges is nothing new. As far back as World War I, Colt and Smith & Wesson offered large frame double-action revolvers for the .45 ACP cartridge. The combination proved itself in battle, and lots of those guns are still in circulation.
Charter developed a mechanism that eliminates the need for moon clips, and it honestly works like a champ. I found that out a while back and when Charter added the Blacknitride finish to the Pitbull series, it seemed prudent to have a close look. It was not disappointing.
Charter Arms owner Nick Ecker is pleased with the reception these guns currently enjoy, and when we checked on availability, it looks like the company is selling every black gun it can produce. At the time of this writing, Charter was offering the finish on the Pitbull and some other models, including the Bulldog and Undercover.
Pitbull revolvers also come in a stainless finish, but these black guns; well, there’s just something about that Blacknitride that gets my juices flowing a bit.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Charter has earned a good reputation over the past several years under Ecker’s ownership. His father owned it years ago and Nick worked in every facet as a young man. The company went out of business under different management and Ecker bought the assets, determined to produce quality revolvers at competitive prices.
The company chugged along, and then something remarkable happened. Charter introduced a pink finish in 2006 and it caught fire. Thanks to the advice of his female employees, Ecker went with a “hot pink” finish as opposed to what he called “Pepto Bismol” pink. At the various shows, women began asking for other colors, including lavender and turquois, he recalled. The Chic Lady line was born, with highly polished components rather than Charter’s traditional bead-blasted finish.
And now comes the Blacknitride finish. It certainly stood up to the Pacific Northwest environment, which means it will handle just about anything, anywhere. While I didn’t abuse the test gun, I didn’t cut it any slack, either. Let’s say it got a shower, Washington-style! It’s not just the finish that is tough. Charter Arms revolvers have established a foothold in the handgun market because they work. That’s important to the armed citizen whose life may depend on the gun they are carrying. Someone who owns a handgun that is not dependable is not likely to be carrying it when it is needed.
STRENGTH OF DESIGN
Two things about Charter Arms revolvers should be pointed out. They have a one-piece frame. There is no sideplate and the action comes out the bottom.
The crane, which is that arm on which the cylinder actually swings out of the frame, does not mount on the lower front of the frame, but actually locks
inside the frame when the cylinder is closed.
Ecker recalled that one store in Texas wondered about the durability of a Charter Arms revolver. They ran 5,000 rounds through a gun without a single malfunction.
I didn’t have 5,000 rounds to burn up in my test gun, but I did have enough ammunition to really put the revolver through its paces. Included in my cartridge selection were loads from Remington, Black Hills, Sig Sauer, Armscor, American Eagle (Federal) and Browning. I fired enough rounds to work up a blister on my trigger finger, if that means anything.
One thing I discovered almost immediately is that the cylinder release latch on the left side of the frame must be pressed all the way forward to allow the cylinder to pivot out of the frame. This is a plus in my opinion, because it means that cylinder is not going to suddenly pop out under recoil or in the unlikely event something should unintentionally press the latch slightly forward.
My test gun had a textured rubber grip that really sucked up the recoil. Let’s be honest, the 9mm is no pipsqueak cartridge, and in a small handgun it can pack a surprising wallop to the hand.
The Pitbull 9mm has slightly larger dimensions than a J-frame Smith & Wesson. I tried it in a couple of holsters for a J-frame, and the revolver
would not fit. That’s not a bad thing, of course. Overall, the 9mm Pitbull measures just under 7½ inches and weighs 22 ounces empty. The barrel measures 2.2 inches and it has a fixed low-profile blade front sight. The rear sight is a traditional square notch at the upper rear of the frame.
It has a grooved trigger and hammer spur with a transfer bar system and the firing pin is in the frame. My only complaint about the trigger on my sample gun was that it comes down to a rather narrow edge that bit my trigger finger a couple of times during recoil.
ON THE RANGE
What the 9mm Pitbull did on the range is proof positive that it will perform in an emergency on the street. After all, a defensive handgun is a piece of emergency survival equipment, and loaded with 9mm hollowpoints, or even typical 124-grain FMJs,
“WHAT THE 9MM PITBULL DID ON THE RANGE IS PROOF POSITIVE THAT IT WILL PERFORM IN AN EMERGENCY ON THE STREET.”
the Pitbull has a bite.
Due to the fixed sights, it is imperative for a shooter to sample different loads and choose the one that works best. I discovered that the Black Hills 124-grain JHP delivered surprising accuracy at 10 yards. While I was not able to fire a full five round string of any the loads I sampled without at least one flyer, three or four rounds in a decent cluster is nothing to whine about in a defensive sidearm.
Ecker does not recommend +P am-
“MY TEST GUN HAD A TEXTURED RUBBER GRIP THAT REALLY SUCKED UP THE RECOIL.”
munition, but not for the reason one might think. The gun can handle such loads, but in Ecker’s opinion, it’s a lot of muzzle flash with very little benefit. Average shooters might find the recoil makes the muzzle jump too much, and because of the barrel length, one doesn’t get the full force of a +P round because the powder won’t completely burn before the bullet leaves the muzzle.
My test gun tended to shoot high with whatever load I used, and that might have been partly due to the low-profile front sight. Once I started holding at 6 o’clock, groups came in closer to the 10-ring.
Is the Pitbull up to street duty? You bet. Find a good holster, whether leather, nylon or Kydex, and you will be well prepared for an emergency.
Top Right: Front sight is a low-profile blade type and Workman thinks it might be a little higher to naturally bring down the muzzle because his test piece shot a bit high. Bottom: Charter designs the Pitbull with a transfer bar mechanism.
Left: Author Workman liked the textured rubber grip that comes standard on the Pitbull. It won’t slip when wet.
Bottom: One thing Workman discovered is that the cylinder release latch must be pressed all the way forward in order for the cylinder to be rotated out of the frame.