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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Charter Arms Southpaw: A Special Revolver Gun Designed for Left-Handers

Charter Arms generic revolver image. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Charter Arms generic revolver image. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

It came to my attention following the article titled “‘Fire!’: Meet The 5 Best Guns For Southpaws,” that there are, in fact, wheelguns out there designed for left-handed shooters.

Four readers pointed out that frontier-style *single-action* (SA) revolvers – citing specific examples such as the Ruger Blackhawk, Uberti, and Sammy Colt’s original 1836 invention – were lefty-friendly due to having the loading gate on the right side of the frame.

As for more present-day practical (from a self-defense standpoint that is) double-action (DA) revolvers, there is the Charter Arms Southpaw line of revolvers.

Watch That Left Hook! Specifications of the Southpaw

Charter Arms has been around since 1964, and though they’re not nearly as well known as America’s Big Three wheelgun makers – Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Sturm, Ruger – they’ve stuck around for nearly 60 years thanks to the decent reputation of their compact revolvers such as their .38 Special Bulldog Pug and .44 Special Bulldog.

As far as I can ascertain, they debuted their Southpaw in 2010, which gives one a sense of historical perspective on just how long the left-handed DA revolver shooters’ market had been neglected. 

The manufacturer’s official info page states this about their Southpaw line: “Charter led the way in developing the first truly left-handed revolver. The Southpaw is identical to the Undercover Lite, but completely reverse-engineered. The cylinder releases and opens to the right side for your lefty convenience. This five-shot, .38 Special revolver is also available in a two-tone Pink Lady finish.” 

Specifications include a weight of a mere 12 ounces — thanks to the aluminum frame and finish – a barrel length of 2 inches, an overall length of 6.5 inches, a width of 1.25 inches, and a height of 6.75 inches. The aforementioned 5-round cylinder puts it on the same capacity footing as the S&W Chief’s Special and the Ruger SP-101

A Professional’s Range Report

Charter Arms’ Southpaws have been nigh on impossible to find at any of my local rental ranges so in order to obtain a live-fire range evaluation, we turn to the staff of NRA American Rifleman Magazine and their March 2010 range report:

“Fit and finish were reasonably good, and all controls worked smoothly. The double-action trigger pull produced no discernible stacking, coming in at 10 pounds. The single-action pull broke at an average of 4 pounds, with a slight amount of creep … During the course of testing, there were no malfunctions. Recoil was stout in the lightweight Southpaw, particularly with the one +P load tested. Considering the intended purpose of the Southpaw and its rudimentary sights, we evaluated accuracy at 15 yards. It showed a definite preference for the Federal 125-grain Nyclad load … For lefties looking for a small, light and handy defensive-style revolver well suited to them, the Charter Arms Southpaw should make for an excellent choice.”

A Friend’s Observations

My buddy Cope Reynolds, owner of Southwest Shooting Authority of Arizona, shared this with me:

“I think I bought 7 of those Southpaws when they first came out. I figured they’d sell like hotcakes, they’d all be gone in the first week or so. I sold ONE! The others sat there with absolutely no interest shown to them at all. I sent the remainder back to the distributor.”

Want Your Own?

MSRP is advertised at $427.00 USD, whilst True Gun Value states that “A CHARTER ARMS SOUTHPAW pistol is currently worth an average price of $402.22 new. The 12-month average price is $390.77 new;” interestingly, that site does list an average priced for used specimens like it typically does for damn near any other gun you enter into their search engine. 

Sportsman’s Warehouse is currently selling one for $399.99. Meanwhile, Bud’s Gun Shop has six Bulldogs listed, at a price range of $383.99 to $405.49, depending on finish and features 

Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011. 

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).