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Gun Review: Chiappa Little Badger Survival Rifle

I am posting short gun reviews for “survival guns” that I own and use, from my own personal perspective. The views expressed are my own, and I will pull no punches… these are guns I own and shoot, and I will address them from a “prepping/survival perspective”.

Today’s review is of the Chiappa Little Badger survival rifle.

  

Model credit: Mrs. Salty

I bought the gun from a local gun shop (LGS), took it home, got it out to fire it and the rear sight just fell off. Whoever had assembled it had stripped the screw (there’s only ONE TINY SCREW holding the rear sight on), and it just fell off in the box. I returned it to my LGS who shipped it off the next day for repair. That one screw problem took two-and-a-half months to fix. Absolutely ridiculous (setting aside for the moment that the entire rear sight of the gun is held on by a tiny screw about the size of one scope mounting screw).

Next, when I got the gun back from the factory repair facility, it had a serious safety malfunction… they not only returned it to me broken, but broken in such a way that made the gun exceedingly unsafe to operate! More on this later.

This (obviously) colors my opinion on the company, and the quality of the gun. The question isn’t whether I am pleased with my experiences this gun overall (which I could only described as horrific), the question is “is the gun any good?”

Lets find out.

NOTE: I am reviewing the “regular” .22 version of the gun, there is also chambering of .22 WMR that is quite similar. It also comes in a 9MM Flobert rimfire, and I haven’t a CLUE about that chambering… I’ve never even seen one of those shells.

Philosophy Of Use (POU): On the surface, the POU for the Little Badger is as a survival/backpacking rifle. The gun in tiny, light weight, and exceedingly portable.

Compact? Check. Weird? Check.

Interestingly, it has a screw mount on the front of the barrel, to allow the installation of a suppressor… hmmm… that could be fun!

The obvious uses are for a backpacking/bug out bag (BOB)/get home bag (GHB) gun. People who own suppressors might come up with another POU, a hunting gun where you want to be as nimble and quiet as possible.

Tale Of The Tape:

Stock: Wire w/bullet holder
Capacity: 1
Finish: Blued
Barrel Length: 16.5”
Overall Length: 32”
Front Sight: Post (can be removed from barrel)
Rear Sight: Peep (held on by one itsy bitsy tiny screw)
Weight: 2.93 LBS empty

Ammunition: It will shoot any standard .22 ammo, LR, L or S, as well as bird shot.

Fit & Finish: In most respects, the gun looks like it is made with good quality… except the rear sight. There’s no excuse for a sight to be that flimsy. Finish? It’s actually pretty crude, about on a scale with a com-block gun.

Shooting & Action: This gun is very accurate to the standard range of the ammo. The rear sight presents a clear and reasonable sight picture for length of the gun. The wire stock (with a plastic butt-stock) is comfortable enough, since there is no recoil.

The gun is opened by activating a lever in front of the trigger. The single shot break-open action releases the shell ejector when opened, but the ejector is the “slow, methodical type” not the “throw the shell in your face” type. It works fine. There is a slot at the top of the barrel/chamber where the hammer-strike hits the rim of the round, meaning that dry firing won’t break the pin or dent up the back of the chamber. I have no idea why this is not a standard feature on all .22’s, but it’s not.

The trigger? Quite good, very smooth. Mine breaks right at about 3 pounds, it’s crisp and actually very pleasing to pull!

This gun has rails on all four sides of the “forearm” (the rails are removable if you don’t want them, you can save a couple of ounces by taking them off) plus one right behind the trigger. With the rail behind the trigger, you can attach a pistol grip if you so choose. Chiappa has a grip designed especially for this series of gun that also contains a cleaning kit.

The gun has a “shell holder” between the two rails, and it looks like a great idea. In practice, it sucks, the bullets fall out a lot, the holder is not nearly tight enough to keep the rounds in. IMHO it’s useless.

I like to call this the “device used to spread your ammo all around your feet”

Typical single-shot breech.

The stock can be adjusted by loosening one screw and then moving it in or out, that changes the length of pull.

When you are done with firing the gun and cleaning, the gun folds into a “V” pattern and it fits nicely into it’s padded bag (not pictured).

The Dangerous Malfunction:

After I got the gun back from the factory (i.e. shipping it to them at MY expense) they returned it with the sight stuck on the gun.

I took the gun out to the range, and started testing it. I fired about 15 rounds, loaded a fresh round in the gun, closed the breech and “BANG” the gun went off seemingly spontaneously. Startled the living tar at me. I follow the rules of gun safety scrupulously, so the barrel was pointed downrange at the ground about 50 feet in front of me in a completely safe direction, so the spontaneous fire hurt nothing but my nerves. 

After close examination of the gun, I found that the firing pin hadn’t retracted, so the act of closing the breech of the gun caused the firing pin sticking out to hit the rim primer of the .22LR round, causing it to fire.

I can’t begin to tell you how exceedingly dangerous this is.

Here’s a video I filmed of it right after it happened:

THE BOTTOM LINE:

I would never, ever trust my life to this gun The obvious safety malfunction that happened AFTER the gun came back from the repair shop… the fact that the rear sight, if bumped with any significant force, is going to fall off your gun, those are non-starters for me. if you own or choose to carry one of these, I would get an optic and keep it with the weapon, just in case, and also remember to rub my thumb over the firing pin area every single time to make sure I wasn’t going to get an unintentional discharge because my gun had broken. 

Other than the malfunctions/bad manufacturing/bad repairs, it shoots fine, it works fine, and is small and light.

This gun streets out at about $150 so you aren’t breaking the bank with it. Add another $60 for shipping to the factory a couple of times to get the dumb thing repaired, so total cost is about $210

My advise? Get a Ruger 10/22 Take Down instead. It’s heavier, but it’s 10,000 times the gun. Or… get a Henry AR-7 Survival Rifle (CLICKY for my review) 

I hope this information is helpful

Pro Tip: People are always confused how to properly pronounce the name of the company Chiappa. Some people say it’s correctly pronounced “Chee-oppa”, my own take on it is that the company name is formally pronounced “junk”. 

Salty

5 Comments

  1. I’m sometimes surprised that with the introduction of the Ruger 10/22 TD that some of the other “survival rifles” haven’t disappeared from the market.

    • Well… even though the 10/22 is a superior firearm to all other takedowns, it has disadvantanges as well. With a 25-round magazine, it’s over 5 pounds as opposed to this gun at just under 3 pounds. That two pounds is a huge deal. The Henry AR-7 comes in at about 3 1/2 pounds. The AR-7 packs up much, much smaller than the 10/22 and it also is waterproof & can float. You can put the 10/22 in a waterproof case, but again you are adding weight… and it won’t float.

      It’s good that there is choice on the market, I have a all three and only one goes in my get-home bag. That’s the Henry, it wins on weight, size and waterproofness. Were I bugging out “for good” I would probably go with the 10/22. The Chiappa? No thanks.

      • I agree the weight of the 10/22 TD is it’s biggest disadvantage. My point is there were not a lot of choices in the “survival gun” category prior to the 10/22 TD. The AR-7 was probably the best selling and best well known at that time and it has never sold in huge quantity. Once the 10/22 TD became available I would have expected some of the then existing choices to have disappeared from the market.

        I own a 10/22 TD. After reading your review, there isn’t any risk I’ll ever own a Chiappa. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the review, Salty. I had been eyeing the Badger as a possible pack gun. Guess I’ll cross it off the list. Your earlier review of the AR-7 has moved it up the list.

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