Charter Arms “Chic Lady” DAO in 38 special


Review of Charter Arms “Chic Lady” DAO in 38 special

-Roger Pettit, PC Shooting

Charter Arms is a 100% American owned company that uses 100% American parts that has an excellent reputation for customer service. I cannot attest to this personally as I have yet to have to send anything back but I scoured the web trying to find a legitimate complaint and couldn’t- that says something. In the numerous times I have called, I have never been put on hold or had to be called back.

The Charter Arms line of revolvers cries out “blue collar”. They aren’t fancy or elegant but they are sturdy and reliable. The revolver feels better in the hand than it looks in the box. There are no useless safeties that we all ignore and no bore brush that we will never use. If beauty is as beauty does then they are prom queens.

The revolver is definitely geared towards the female market. There were three former Marines testing her over several days, one being Hunter Elliott of, and the comments and teasing were profuse. That was from the men…the ladies loved her. As you can see from the pictures she is pink. The gun comes in many different color combinations: pink, red, black, silver, gold, shamrock, teal, camo… Well, you get the idea. If you cannot find a revolver that suits your tastes then you need to consider a custom finish. Here is a link to their product page:



The “Chic Lady” is a five shot, snub-nosed revolver chambered in .38 special. The revolver weighs fourteen ounces but feels a bit lighter.


This revolver comes with a faux alligator, lockable aluminum case complete with “James Bond” wheel locks.


Our model is double action only (no exposed hammer) and the trigger pull measured out at a smooth ten lbs. The trigger was actually a little stagey at first but smoothed out after the first few cylinders.


You can actually stage the trigger easily if so inclined (if time and circumstances permits) but overall I would rate the trigger 8/10.


The Range

We shot the Chic Lady over four days and put over eight boxes of ammo through her, both factory and reloads.



On the last day, the NC weather turned cloudy so the front sight was painted orange to provide better contrast. The front sight is large and visible and while I prefer more daylight on either side this is a personal preference it in no way detracted from proper sight alignment. After 400+ rounds (over 50 +P rated) there was no perceptible cylinder shake or play.



This gun is built with an ingenious crane assembly that allows three points of lockup and the cylinder lock button is serrated for a positive grip. This gun is solid and as a long time instructor I’ll bet my last dollar these guns will spend the vast majority of their life riding in a holster or hiding in a purse. This gun will last a lifetime.


The revolver was put through the paces from three to ten yards. This is not a target gun and was never intended to be. As with any snub-nosed, lightweight revolver, the combination of DAO and fixed sights make any group over ten yards a challenge. When the gun is used as it was designed it really shines. The trigger feels smooth and much lighter than the measured ten lbs. and there is a natural point of aim. At seven yards we were all easily able to keep five rounds in four inch groups and several groups actually hovered around two inches. The gun was fed a variety of factory ammo: Hydra shocks, XTPs, Silvertips, Gold Dots, and generic Remington HPs. While the hotter rounds were “snappy” the Lady was controllable, if not well mannered. The reloads were 158gr SWC with 3.0gr Red Dot @825 fps and my carry load of 125 gr Gold Dot with 3.5 gr of red Dot. The revolver really seemed to love this load. She was controllable and very mild mannered.


The rubber grips were soft and serrated which aided in purchase and helping tame the recoil


The Chic Lady is light, attractive, and reliable. She makes a statement with her bold colors and I think will do very well with her intended audience. She is simple and effective and considering the price a real bargain. If you are in the market for a snub-nosed revolver you may want to give Charter Arms a look. The quality is a good as any production revolver I have seen in the last few years and the price is very reasonable. I carry a Charter Arms off Duty (in Black) in my front pocket, sheathed in an Uncle Mike’s inside the pants holster, and it has served me well. She may not be the type of girl you meet on a casino floor but she is the type of girl you end up marrying. As my great grandfather used to say,” That girl has good breeding hips!”

In the spirit of full disclosure I need to tell everyone I have an affinity for Charter Arms. Between me and staff we have purchased eleven of their small frame revolvers and in every NC CCH class each student receives one of their brochures in their course material. My first .38 special was a Charter Arm’s Off Duty over thirty years ago. I have a very good relationship with the staff and am on a first name basis with several of them. They are some of the friendliest and good natured people you will ever meet so it is difficult not to develop an affinity towards them. That being said, this will in no way prejudice my review of their product.



53839 Chic Lady

Model: 53839
Finish: Pink & Hi-Polish Stainless
Frame: 7075 Aluminum
Grip: Compact
Barrel length: 2″
Capacity: 5-shot
Caliber: .38 Special
Hammer: Standard
Weight: 12 oz.
Sugg Retail: $468

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