Just Arrived: Chiappa X-Caliber

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I live in north Austin. My FFL, Central Texas Gunworks, is down south. Those who have lived, worked, or played in Austin know that going from north to south and back north again is a frustrating exercise at the best of times. And it’s rises to the level of self flagellation during rush hour. But I like CenTex. They’re fast, inexpensive, and friendly. But they pulled a fast one on me. I’m expecting a very accurate rifle from a certain Italian conglomerate that I’ve wanted going on eight years. So when CenTex called to say I had a rifle to pick up, I texted my family to tell them that my big day had finally come. What’s all that have to do with a multi-caliber survival rifle? Great question . . .

I confidently strode into CenTex, slapped down my DL and CHL, and said, “I’m here to pick up a rifle” with a touch of smug satisfaction. The nice lady behind the counter handed me a 4473 and headed toward the back to pick it up. As I double-checked my yes and no answers, she came back and set down a cardboard box not big enough to hold an Italian rifle with Chiappa written on the side. From her expression, I could tell she knew something was wrong.

“Is this the gun you were expecting?”

“No. Not one bit”

And then, like a great fog lifting, I remembered a series of emails from Dan requesting my FFL in regards to a Chiappa rifle coming from our friends at the Kentucky Gun Company. I’d sent the info and promptly forgotten about it.

“Well what is it?” my FFL asked.

“A survival rifle of sorts, I guess,” I replied.

“What’s this heavy pouch for?” she wondered.

Turns out that pouch holds the caliber inserts. Eight of them. Eight inches long. They allow the 12 gauge barrel to shoot nine other pistol and shotgun calibers. Which is a fine thing when you need to shoot something, anything, out of a single gun.
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On the way, home, my dad called to ask about my new Italian rifle. When I told him about the X-Caliber, he demanded pictures. Surely no such rifle could exist in the wild. And then he asked what I thought about it and two things came to mind.

The first was a scene from the 1995 box office flop, “The Quick and the Dead”. In the movie, Russell Crowe’s character gets only one bullet in his revolver, but his adversary survives the first shot. Russell finds himself outgunned and dodging bullets in a very literal sense. Here’s the whole sequence, though the scene I had in mind starts at 2:12.

Since my dad had never seen the movie, I had to describe the scene as a blind boy frantically searches for the right cartridge, Russell frantically avoids getting shot. The boy tosses him the right cartridge, he loads it, and kills his adversary. But precious seconds were wasted. I explained further that had Russell been armed with the X-Caliber, he could have told the boy, “Throw me the first cartridge you can. I’ll figure out the rest!” My dad laughed, and pointed out that it was a pistol duel, and that the X-Caliber wouldn’t have been allowed in the first place. I agree, but stand by my assertion.

He then went on to ask what I thought of it outside the context of Hollywood westerns. And I had to begrudgingly admit that while it is horrifically ugly, it seems to be well thought out. The triggers are pleasant. I measured them last night when I got home and was pleased to find that the .22LR barrel trigger breaks at a very crispy three pounds. The shotgun barrel trigger has a touch of creep, but still breaks at a nice four pounds. The peep sights are really quite fantastic, too, thanks to the bright red fiber optic front sight. And even though the stock is made of polystyrene, it actually shoulders nicely and feels pretty good in my hands.

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Earlier, I mentioned that the X-Calbier reminded me of two things. The first was that iconic movie scene. The second was a new kid in class. A particularly weird new kid. Definitely weird. And you know that talking to that new kid or being seen with him could tank any chance of popularity you may have, but there’s just something about that kid.

The X-Caliber is no different. It’s thoroughly weird. And ugly. And I don’t know if it even shoots well. But I can’t stop thinking about it. So far, all I know is that it will shoot something like 12 different types of ammo, the triggers and sights are nice, the ergonomics pleasant enough, and the stock is made of styrofoam. It makes a GLOCK look svelte, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited to go shoot something. Stay tuned for more updates on this weird kid.

Comments

  1. Tom in Oregon

    Hmmm.
    My interest is piqued. At first blush, I like it.

  2. FoRealz?

    It’s got rails, I like it lol.

    I was interested in something like those inserts too. Someone makes a pack of them for 12 gauge and 20 gauge I think. Can’t remember the name.

      1. bontai Joe

        If the inserts cost $450 a set, what does the rifle cost?

        1. Tyler Kee

          Sticker on the box said ~$650.

    1. Swarf

      FoRailz

      1. Carry.45

        That was appreciated!

    2. Another Robert

      @ ForRealz: Are you thinking of Short Lane?

  3. JackinAlabama

    Neat concept – I’m curious about carrying all the inserts. It would be cool in a gun-geeky sort of way if they all tucked into the stock, so whatever round you scrounged could be shot by switching to the proper insert which you ALWAYS had with you. Definitely looking forward to your review, TK!

  4. JasonM

    If Russell Crowe had that rifle, it would have been a scene from a much better Western:

    “When a man with a .45 meets a man with a rifle, the man with a pistol will be a dead man.”

  5. Those come with free Chiappa RFID chips?

    I think I’ll pass.

    1. Geoff PR

      Near-field HV / RF can fry RFID quite nicely…

  6. Curtis in IL

    That’s one fine-looking firearm, compared to a Hi-Point carbine.

    Still, it’s a solution in search of a problem. I mean, if you can only have one gun with you, then the only ammunition you have ought to be whatever caliber that gun shoots.

    Don’cha think?

    As for the movie – Who the hell would keep a pile of assorted (nickel plated) ammo in a desk drawer?

    1. Texas Anomaly

      Curtis, Curtis, Curtis… your thinking too practically. This is the perfect post apocalyptic gun. When all you have is a 12 gauge and a .45, how are you going to kill a 3 ton cockroach when all you have is two .9mm you found in a burnout cop car?

      Do these come with a .9 mm insert?

      1. jwm

        *Snicker* He said .9mm and insert in the same comment.

        1. Texas Anomaly

          You have a dirty, dirty mind. I like that. 🙂

  7. preston

    hikock45 had one of these, i was not impressed.

  8. J in Ga

    What’s the deal with the magazine tube if it is only a single shot?

    1. Tyler Kee

      That’s the .22 LR barrel

  9. KCK

    As a kid,buddy once had a .22/410 over under.
    Who made that?
    Half way there to this one.
    Perfect for rabbit hunting. .22 for when they were squatting, 410 if the started running

    1. Another Robert

      Savage/Stevens made them I think. Had .22/.410 and .22/20ga versions IIRC.

      1. Jordan

        They still do. I have a pre-68 wood stock version (was my first rifle), but I have seen advertisements in American Rifleman magazine for a polymer verison not to long ago (on the order of months).

        1. int19h

          The new Savage is .22/.410 only, which IMO is not a very useful combo. The old ones in .22/12ga and .22/20ga were that much more interesting. And you can still buy them used on GunBroker.

    2. DJ9

      Savage, or Savage/Stevens, probably.

      I had a Savage .22/20 gauge combo gun when I was a 20-something. One year, just for kicks, I did all my hunting with it; rabbits, squirrels, partridge, grouse, pheasants, ducks, geese (this was before steel shot requirements), dove, a handful of varmint species, and a few furbearers. It actually forced me to concentrate a bit more, knowing a quick backup shot wasn’t in the cards. I managed to shoot a limit of doves with the highest shot-to-kill average I’ve ever accomplished.

      Memories…

      EDIT: Again, I’m beat to the punch by a faster keyboarder. You win this round, Another Robert, but wait until next time… 😉

      1. Tom in Oregon

        Model 24 if memory serves me.
        It had a switch on the exposed hammer to select which barrel.

        1. Another Robert

          Yep–I actually saw one at one of the now-defunct gun shops here, was really tempted to buy it.

      2. Another Robert

        DJ9–it was pure luck, I can tell you… 😉

    3. Jeff

      You might be thinking of the Savage Model 24. Had two barrels that you could get if a multitude of calibers.

  10. Hannibal

    I kinda like the looks. I wonder about the accuracy though.

    Seems like it could be useful as a rifle for someone who mostly owns pistols. Given the weight of the caliber inserts I don’t see it as all that great of a mobile platform except maybe as a trunk gun.

  11. Ralph

    I went to school with a weird kid. He’s now an internationally renowned physicist and a close friend and collaborator of Stephen Hawking. Go figure.

    1. Geoff PR

      He seems to think you were the weird kid, Ralph…

      😉

      I embrace my weirdness…

  12. Tex300BLK

    Alright, I’ll bite, whats this Italian rifle you speak of?

    1. Swarf

      Right? Don’t be coy, Tyler, you little minx.

  13. DaveL

    Sounds like a good thing to have around, in the unlikely event you end up stranded in the wild with a big box of mismatched cartridges.

  14. RT

    Judging by the material used to make the stock, its probably hard to claim losing that one in a boating accident.

    1. Geoff PR

      What the Hell is that anyways?

      Shredded tires?

  15. Texas Anomaly

    I’m really eager to see the review. I would love to get my grubby hands on one if its up to snuff.

  16. Retired LEO

    Bought a single shot h&r 12ga. 20ga, 22lr, .410 & .45lc inserts at gun show in November for $170. $90 was for the H&R wood stock. Did well w/shot gun caliber. Accurate enough @ 40-50 yards for rabbits & squirrels. The inserts made locally by a local guy he put a 6inch stainless rifled tube on the .22 & .45lc inserts, makes others but had sold out. .30 cal & .308 are next for me. Inserts are strictly survival. If you already have a 12 or 20ga single shot Amazon.com has inserts listed for $30-40 each.

    Check Backwoods magazine guy from AK usually has an ad makes chamber inserts for large caliber.

  17. Jeff the Griz

    With Styrofoam inserts does it float? I have been thinking about the little badger in .17 hmr, single shot folding rifle for $219 at bud’s gunshop online.

  18. Scout Dan

    It’s a resurrected Springfield M6. Don’t you people do your research? Or does anything with a rail on it make you get all zombie-aroused?

    1. DJ9

      It’s actually about as different from a Springfield M6 as another over/under rifle/shotgun survival gun could be.

      – Two separate triggers (one for each barrel) vs one humongous squeeze-lever-upward trigger on the M6.

      – Two separate internal hammers vs one external hammer on the M6.

      – Hammers automatically cock on opening vs manual cocking required on the M6.

      – Fast, easy-to-reach tang safety vs. leave-hammer-uncocked-until-ready-to-shoot safety on the M6.

      – Two shots can be fired before reloading/recocking (one from each barrel) vs a single shot for the M6.

      (Insert snide comment here about SOMEBODY ELSE not doing his research)

  19. Cameron B

    neat, i’ve been looking at those for a little while. i can’t wait for the full review.

  20. Charlie

    Springfield Armory M6 Scout. I have one in .22 Hornet / .410 (the original USAF Ithaca M6 survival rifle calibers). They’re conversational and pretty cool, and somewhat valuable these days. If I still lived on a farm (and it were less valuable) I’d probably keep it under the seat of the truck.

    I never found an application for the M6. Maybe it’s the aforesaid truck gun. Or something you keep in the hidden safe of your remote cabin. But I have better tools (unless I run out of .22 LR / 9mm / .308 /12 ga).

  21. jwm

    I would like to have a combo gun just for shirts and giggles. But I don’t need all those inserts and the Chiappa price.

      1. jwm

        I’ve actually had hands on the Savage. It had a cheap feel to it. If I see one of the Badgers at a gun shop I’ll check it out. 3-4 bills ain’t squat for a fun gun.

        1. Stinkeye

          The one thing I did like about the Savage I toyed with at Cabela’s was the single trigger firing mechanism. I’ve never liked the separate-trigger-for-each-barrel setup. I found the stock surprisingly comfortable, but yeah, it’s an inexpensive gun and it feels like it. If they made one in 20 gauge instead of .410, I’d probably get one just for plinking and general dicking around.

        2. lolinski

          I know Baikal also makes decent combo guns for a not too bad price. I don’t know who imports them in the US though. I know that they are well liked here in Norway (except by those people who buy a Merkel or something for the price of a good used car).

  22. Stinkeye

    “…it will shoot something like 12 different types of ammo…”

    Man, that’s gonna be an expensive review…

  23. lolinski

    How is the accuracy? As in do you have to rezero between each insert?

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