Tag Archives: Hornady Critical Defense

REVIEW: Charter Arms Professional

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This is a great all-around revolver for personal defense and field use — and also a fun gun to spend a day at the range with! READ MORE

Charter Arms Professional
The Charter Arms Professional is a clean design with much to recommend.

Bob Campbell

I have used Charter Arms revolvers for more than 40 years. Charter was introduced in the 1960s and armed many Americans at a time when truly good affordable guns were scarce. The Charter Arms design features a transfer bar ignition for safety, among the first revolvers to do so. The frame is steel also it is enclosed by aluminum to save weight. The revolvers have always been available with well designed grips. The sights are wide and easily picked up quickly. Quite simply you get your money’s worth with the Charter Arms, and perhaps then some. The Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldog is the most famous product but revolvers in .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, .32 Smith and Wesson Long, .38 Special, .357 Magnum and perhaps a few others have been offered. The revolver illustrated is among the most interesting.

Charter Arms Professional
While light the Charter Arms Professional proved easy to use well.

The Charter Arms Professional is a small frame revolver with a 3-inch barrel, hand filling grips, a double action/single action mechanism, good sights, and a nice finish. Open the cylinder by pushing the cylinder release forward and you will see a 7-shot cylinder chambered in .32 H&R Magnum. The pistol uses the classic Charter Arms steel frame but the finish is a modern black nitride. I cannot see any problem with the durability of this finish. The rear sight is wide and broad like all Charter Arms revolvers while the front sight is a fiber optic insert. This green insert is high visibility and easily acquired for speed shooting. Despite the light twenty two ounce weight the Charter Arms Professional has proven a light kicker with standard loads. The action is as smooth as any modern production double action revolver. In single action mode the trigger breaks at 4.5 pounds. I like the revolver a lot and after firing more than four hundred cartridges I have formed a good opinion of the revolver.

Charter Arms Professional
A heavy underlugged barrel provides good balance.
Charter Arms Professional
The fiber optic front post is a good option for all of us but especially aging eyes.
Charter Arms Professional
The rear sight is broad and easily acquired for fast shooting.

My primarily loading has been the Black Hills Ammunition cowboy load, a lead bullet with modest recoil and good accuracy. I have also used the 85 grain JHP at 1055 fps. The revolver is very easy to use well and to fire quickly. A trained shooter will find a neat group of cartridges on the target, well centered at 7 yards. The revolver tended to fire slightly low. I accommodated this by holding the front optic sight slightly higher than the rear sight, resulting in the bullets homing in on target. The revolver is more than accurate enough for filed and camp use, exhibiting five shot groups of 2-2.5 inches on paper at 15 yards when carefully bench-rested. Frankly I went overboard on both time and ammunition budget goals with this revolver. It is simply a fun gun to shoot. As for a comparison to .38 Special recoil, the .32 Magnum kicks much less than the .38 Special. I can place seven .32 Magnums into a man sized target in the same time, approximately, I can place five .38s into the target. The .32 H and R Magnum isnt as powerful as the .38 Special but then accuracy can often make up for power. The reverse is seldom true. The .32 H and R Magnum offers reasonable power for the light recoil. As an example the Hornady Critical defense at 1040 fps penetrated well past twelve inches in testing and expanded well.

Charter Arms Professional
The Professional proved reliable and accurate in extensive testing.

It is difficult to separate the cartridge from the handgun and a look at the .32 Magnum is wise. The .32 Magnum it seems was originally intended as a crackerjack field round. For small game the .32 is a hand loaders dream- economical, accurate, and effective on small game. For personal defense it is more problematical. As we grow older we are more sensitive to recoil, the skin is thinner, and the joints ache. A .38 Special revolver, particularly a lightweight version, stings and may just be too much for many shooters. The .32 Magnum is a reasonable alternative. Most 85 grain jacketed hollow point loads will clock 1000 to 1100 fps from the Charter Arms Professional’s three inch barrel. This is approximately .380 ACP class, perhaps a bit more energy, but less expanded diameter. The .32 revolver with standard loads offers light recoil. It is a trade off but a reasonable one. The .32 Smith & Wesson Long, as an example, pushes a 98 grain RNL bullet to a miserable 690 fps!

Charter Arms Professional
The .32 H and R Magnum, left, compared to the .38 Special, right.
Charter Arms Professional
A 5- and a 6-shot .38 Special compared to the 7 shot Charter Arms Professional .32 H and R Magnum, on right.

I liked the revolver enough to experiment with a couple of loads from Buffalo Bore. We are introducing extra recoil into a package that was designed to offer lighter recoil, but we are also increasing wound potential substantially. If carrying the revolver for defense against feral dogs or the big cats the Buffalo Bore loads change the equation. The 100 grain JHP is surprisingly fast — 1220 fps. The point of impact is raised and the revolver is dead on the money at 15 yards. This load is closer to the .38 Special in recoil but offers excellent penetration and expansion. The 130 grain flat point hard cast load breaks 1190 fps. This is a stout load that sometimes offers sticky extraction and should be used sparingly. Recoil is there with this load. Buffalo Bore designed this loading to penetrate the skull of a bear in a last ditch effort to save your life. It will penetrate forty inches of gelatin or more. These loads offer another option in the field for those wanting a lightweight but credible protection handgun.

Charter Arms Professional
With both lead and jacketed hollow point loads available the .32 H and R Magnum is relatively affordable.
Charter Arms Professional
The author fired a Critical Defense bullet into soft mud, left, into water jugs, center, and that is a 100 grain Hornady XTP fired into water, a Buffalo Bore loading.

Loaded with standard loads seniors or inexperienced shooters have a revolver they can use well. Accuracy can make up for power, the reverse is seldom true, and the Charter Arms Professional .32 H&R Magnum has plenty of power and accuracy.

Charter Arms Professional
Compared to the Colt Cobra, top, the Charter Arms Professional is lighter but has a longer barrel.

Read more HERE

 

EVALUATION: Which is Better For CCW, 9mm or .380?

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For the ultimate in concealment and also comfort, a small-framed handgun is great, but consider caliber selection carefully. Here are a few thoughts on a common debate…

Jeff Johnston, NRA Family

9mm vs .380

So, you want a gun for concealed carry, but you can’t decide between the venerable 9mm and the handy .380 Auto. While I’m not going to solve the debate for everyone, I will provide you with some facts and insights to make your choice easier. Before we get started, however, there are some points you should know:

Water capacity is the standard measurement for case capacity comparison, because powder volumes vary.

Due to the laws of physics, any given cartridge will produce less perceived recoil if fired from a heavier gun, while a lighter gun will result in more.

Less recoil, in general, means more accurate shooting and faster followup shots. Gun writers call this “shootability,” although it’s definitely a very subjective term.

9mm Luger
The 9mm Luger (aka 9mmX19, 9mm Parabellum) is likely America’s most popular handgun cartridge because it offers a balance of power, shootability, reliability and concealability. Because of these traits, the cartridge has become so popular that it has gained another advantage: options. If you choose 9mm, you are immediately granted myriad options in loads, handgun models and accessories for your new gun.

A 9mmx19 cartridge features a bullet that is 9mm, or .355 inches in diameter. Bullet weights range from 80 to 147 grains with 115- and 124-grain bullets being the most popular. Its case is .380 inches in diameter, 19mm long and can hold a maximum of 10 grains of water. A typical 9mm Luger load contains about 6 grains of powder used to propel a 115-grain bullet to 1,000 feet per second (fps) out of a 2.75-inch barrel. (Velocities increase along with barrel length.) This produces approximately 255 ft.-lbs. energy while generating 5.36 ft.-lbs. of recoil energy from a pistol weighing 1 pound.

Walther CCP
9mms are available that are just about as small in size as .380s, like this Walther CCP, but keep in mind that the smaller and lighter the gun, the harder it’s going to kick.

.380 ACP
Firearms chambered in .380 Automatic Colt Pistol (aka, .380 Auto, 9mmx17, .380 Browning Court, 9mm Short, .380 Corto) are continuing to grow in popularity. That’s because the cartridge, with its very short case, can be made to function safely and efficiently in extremely small-framed guns. Because the pressures produced by the little cartridge aren’t excessive, the guns don’t require pounds of steel reinforcement, like, for instance a .44 Magnum. Yet the cartridge is more powerful than other small-framed guns such as .22 LR, .25 ACP and .32 S&W. Yet even in a lightweight gun such as the 10-ounce Ruger LCP, recoil is mild thanks to the .380’s modest ballistic data. Consider the following specifications:

The .380 Auto features the same diameter bullet as the 9mm and the same diameter case, yet it is shorter at 17mm in case length. It can hold a maximum of 5.3 grains of water. A typical load carries roughly 3 grains of powder that propels a 95-grain bullet at 845 fps to produce 151 ft.-lbs. of energy from a 2.75-inch barrel. It produces about 2.76 ft.-lbs. recoil energy from a 1-pound firearm.

So, when compared to the 9mm Luger, the .380 is smaller, lighter in recoil but not as powerful when it strikes a target. Now let’s take a look at the numbers in more detail.

WALTHER PPK
The venerable Walther PPK is a well-proven and very concealable .380 that still maintains great shootability.

Head to Head
While 255 ft.-lbs. of bullet energy from the muzzle of a 9mm Luger is not a lot in the firearm world — consider that an average .30-06 deer rifle produces around 2,500 ft.-lbs. energy — a 9mm’s energy is far greater than a .22lr’s piddly 105 ft.-lbs. and many other smaller calibers. It has about 68 percent more energy than the .380 Auto. The question then: Is this extra power worth the 9mm’s extra weight and recoil?

If all things are equal, more velocity means greater penetration. A 9mm Luger typically out-penetrates .380 Auto bullets, but not as much as you might think. That may be due to the fact that the 9mm’s extra energy causes its bullets to expand to a slightly greater diameter, and expansion retards penetration due to greater surface area. But if two bullets penetrate the same distance, the one that has greatest surface area is best because it produces more tissue damage. No doubt, due to its advantage in velocity and energy, the 9mm Luger is the clear winner in terminal performance.

But for the same reasons, the .380 wins in shootability, with one caveat. Because the .380 has 94 percent less recoil (if fired from an equal-weight gun), it’s easier to shoot. But, you must consider that 9mms are typically a few ounces heavier than guns chambered in .380, and so the extra weight reduces that 94-percent figure considerably. Also, the smaller the gun, the smaller its grip and the more recoil it has. So a .380’s advantage in shootability is somewhat negated when fired from the smallest guns available in that chambering. You should also remember that “shootability” isn’t everything, or we’d all carry peashooters. Carry caliber choice, until the laws of physics are altered, boils down to finding a tradeoff between shootability, gun size, and power that works for you. It’s important to remember that the bigger gun you get, the tougher it is to conceal, but the easier it is to shoot.

Some of the smallest and most concealable guns made –which still maintain the prerequisite features for serious carry consideration — are chambered in .380 Auto due to the cartridge’s diminutive size. Examples are the 8.3-ounce Kel-Tec P3AT, the 9.97-ounce Kahr P380, and the 8.8-ounce Diamondback DB380. (All these guns weigh just under a pound when fully loaded.) On average, 9mm versions of these guns weigh 4 to 5 ounces more. Five ounces doesn’t seem like much, but for most people it’s the difference between a true pocket gun that you can wear in your front jeans or shorts pocket without it pulling down your pants, and a 20-ounce (fully loaded) gun for which you probably need a belt and a holster. In terms of pure concealability, the .380 is the clear winner.

For options and choices, the 9mm wins again. More gun models at all price ranges, holsters, ammo and accessories can be found for it than perhaps any handgun (with the possible exception of the 1911). One notable option here is ammunition. The 9mm, because of its larger case capacity, can be downloaded to a .380’s velocity if needed, or uploaded to +P status where it can produce velocities of 1,200 fps and energies nearing 400 ft.-lbs. if called for.

Lastly, while there is no discernible difference in reliability between the cartridges themselves, bear in mind that, in general, lighter-weight guns are less reliable than heavier guns of equal quality. So, if you choose a .380 in a 10-ounce gun, while it shouldn’t jam often, it will likely experience more malfunctions over time than a full-sized handgun would. That’s just how it is.

Hornady .380 ammo.
With a round as small as .380 ACP choose the ammo wisely. The newer breed of specialty loads such as the Hornady Critical Defense series adds some security to a decision to choose a smaller handgun for defense. See Midsouth offerings HERE.