More on Chiappa’s gun RFID plans

In July I reported that Italian gun maker Chiappa was adding RFID chips to all their firearms. This was supposedly just for inventory control. I was very critical of this move. It did not sit well with me and I knew it would not sit well with the American public either. The latest issue of the European gun magazine Gun Trade World quotes Chiappa’s Cinzia Pinzoni saying “The information on the microchip can be rewritten several times” and “the chip is very difficult to removeaccompanies the weapon forever providing all the information gathered regarding its production … and the registration of the gun and the owners details.”. Scary, very scary!

Clipping from Gun Trade World, September 2011, Page 14. Red highlighting added.

Chris Dumm at TTAG contacted a Chiappa representative about the Gun Trade World article and he responded by saying …

Since our project is still in a phase of development – our goal was to implement the RFID system in spring 2012 – we still have plenty of time to develop a similar system, but employing a removable label instead of a chip inlet inside the receiver. This label made of plastic material can be applied to the trigger guard of the weapon, follow throughout the production cycle and be removed prior to marketing or by the customer.

The US consumer can rest assured that Chiappa Firearms is placing the customer’s interest first and foremost, while developing the most efficient method of firearm manufacturing possible.

To echo Chris’ statement, the moment the first US consumer finds a hidden RFID chip in a gun, a firestorm will erupt. I hope European gun enthusiasts put pressure on the company to abandon their plans in the Europe as well. Nobody needs rewritable RFID chips that record owner information.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • ch.trapp

    Ever since this came up I felt compelled to spread the word about these:


    Favourite quote:
    “The RFID-Zapper might cause you to feel armed against companies or governments trying to compromise your privacy. You might even experience euphoria, especially when destroying RFID-Tags. This could lead to dangerous behavior, like speaking your mind, using freedom of speech, fighting for your rights, all of which are bound to ultimately lead to the communist world revolution ;-)”

  • Eric

    They’re hard to remove, sure, but they’re not that hard to disable. You just need to expose them to a large enough electromagnetic field. Hackaday posted a build on doing just that not that long ago:

  • Matt

    “To echo Chris’ statement, the moment the first US consumer finds a hidden RFID chip in a gun, a firestorm will erupt.”

    US consumers have already found hidden RFID chips in their H&K handguns, no firestorm yet.
    H&K, because you suck and we hate you.

  • So… do I need to dig out my copy of “Conspiracy Theory” and polish up the tinfoil hat now?

  • MarkM

    Who programs the chip with the ownership data? Most FFL’s I’ve met won’t buy into a read/write transponder to do it for just one gun maker.

    On the other hand, Randall Knives and other custom makers HAVE been using RFID chips in their product to identify it as being authentic.

    Another consideration is that weapons serial numbers are often removed from stolen firearms, why would this be any less vulnerable? If the common CB radio can be damaged from high watt reception from nearby modified units, what’s to stop a knowledgeable geek from frying the RFID? It’s highly likely that tech already exists and is used by some to steal from their employer. If the stuff won’t key the detector at the employee entrance, they walk out with it.

    Frankly, Chiappa can get the same inventory control with bar codes, you have to wonder why they need to go the extra mile with RFID – or are their employees the real problem?

  • Evan

    How is it any different than a serial number?

  • Jay

    Just as I said it would be used in my previous post about the RFID. It is no surprise! They say one thing to appease you and they do another when you are not looking. From what I have heard, there has been a plan to slowly phase in RFID into firearms and if possible tracking of ammunition.

    You cannot trust manufactures; especially when they are doing things the governments of the world want them to do.

    You should NOT accept any RFID on a firearm when it is delivered to you. If they need to use them during manufacturing it should be removed before sale.

  • schadavi

    We Germans allready got Anschutz to end their work with Armatix (offers and promotes gun blocking systems, they tried to use the shooting of Winnenden to get a law passed that made you install their control system).

    They now work with GSG to build a “safe gun”. Consider that, if you plan to buy a GSG-5 or GSG-47 or GSG 1911. They all come from the house that plays into gun control’s hands.

    Ending this was only possible because a lot of German gun owners wrote letters and emails to the manufacturers and demanded them to stop cooperating with Armatix. (H&K did so, and Carl Walther stopped in the beginning. Sig Sauer never did anything with Armatix)

    So start now, if you just sit around and tell yourself how unfair life is nothing changes.

  • SomeGuy

    So much for those tinfoil hats huh?

  • jaekelopterus

    I saw the photos; it didn`t look difficult to remove or destroy to me. Just remove the stock, pry or dremel the darn thing out. I am no more worried by this thing than the serial numbers rolled onto my parts, anyway.

  • dogon13

    It’s nothing 10 seconds in a microwave oven won’t fix.

  • Derek

    My biggest fear where my firearms are concerned is that they get stolen if my house got robbed. This chip would make that less of a concern.
    If you carry a cell phone, you can be found any time. A RFID chip in something that I take to the range or hunt with is not a concern.

  • B

    Guess Chiappa’s days of issuing statements on the fears of tinfoil wearing paranoid conspiracy theorists are over.

  • 543

    Steve, thank you for your continued investigative journalism into this subject! Any U.S. gunowner(myself included) who purchases Chiappa firearms once this very intrusive RFID chip is build into every firearm is playing with his/her privacy and security. Nothing good can come out of this except for having a firearm that thru a few simple lines of software code can turn most commercial RFID readers into scanners of your ID, gunmake and gun serial where ever a RFID reader is installed/programmed to read this info. Imagine the implication of criminals using this for their gain, local and federal government agencies violating your civil rights in the name of “homeland security” or you announcing unintentionally to any one with a RFID reader programmed to read such information if your lawfully concealed carrying a handgun. In that extreme case you could be playing with your life.

  • Pete

    Ahhhh, more “tinfoil hats” are needed, perhaps “tinfoil holsters” too.

    I work in a business with a warehouse that uses RFID technology, anyone involved with RFID technology can tell you how easy it is to create a cheap and efficient surveillance network designed to track down gun owners.

    Beware the “1984”, it is said that some of Orwell’s works came out of nowhere and that a little bird whispered things into his ear…same for Aldous Huxley and his “Brave New World”.

  • Lance

    Have someone tracking your guns every where you go no thank you.

  • Duncan

    I can see where both sides are coming from. I, as a consumer, personally don’t like the idea of having something that gives off a signal embedded in a gun I purchase. It would be great if Chiappa could find a more efficient way to keep inventory, this means cheaper goods. However, if they do decide to go with hidden chips and one of them is found, I’d bet my bottom dollar that there would be hell to pay.

  • slak

    “The information on the microchip can be rewritten several times over the years if necessary”

    Nice. So if a chipped firearm is stolen, the information on the chip can just be re-written or wiped, rendering that anti-theft feature useless.

    If I’m a legal gun owner that doesn’t wish to be tracked I can just rewrite the chip to some gibberish string of numbers which would not identify it as a firearm, right?

    I would love further information on this if I am incorrect. I have always been under the impression that RFID was generally weak security-wise.

  • JMD

    Personally, I don’t care where they put the chip, or how easy they make it to remove them. I will never trust Chiappa now since they proved they have the motivation and mindset required to do it once. The world view and underlying philosophy that would lead the decision-makers in a company to implement that sort of program even briefly is deeply disturbing, and not the kind of thing that just goes away. Frankly, given the available knowledge of just how sneaky and underhanded Chiappa has turned out to be, I’m a little surprised they didn’t just hide the chips somewhere in the gun that’s totally inaccessible and then simply choose not to inform the public that their firearms have chips in the first place.

    They have lost this firearm owner’s trust forever, and there’s not a thing in the world they can do to ever earn it back.

  • Royi

    I fear European gun enthusiasts will not be putting pressure on Chiappa. First of all, let’s start out by saying that fear for RFID is, in Europe, a rather ‘leftist-hippie’ thing.
    Second of all, even if there would be pressure, it would be waved away by simply stating stuff like “consumer protection”, “EU manufacturer warranty”, “quality control standards” and the likes. By wich, of course, they actually have a point.

    It would not surprise me if they are trying to create an industry standard. For instance, imagine you having a problem with an extractor of your priced FN Browning Skeet shotgun. Your local gunsmith simply scans the gun with an RFID-reader, and then on his computer a message pops up: “Ah, we had some more issues reported with said extractor. Within our 2 year warranty, we’ll send you a new set free of charge. Also, remind the customer that you will need to give the triggermechanism (especially the hammer springs) an overhaul within a year”.
    Everybody happy.
    The gunsmith: Because he knows what the problem is, and will be able to tell the customer that he should return this year for a checkup (and returning customers are his favourite customers).
    The owner: Because his problem is solved quickly and cheaply and also adores customer service such as a call for a checkup.
    The manufacturer of said information-system: Because they make tons of money just by pushing around bits and bytes.

  • Dave H

    As we say in the software business: “If you can’t fix it, feature it.”

  • Komrad

    I personally wouldn’t care TOO much if there was an RFID in my gun, but knowing that other people would and their response to the criticism was a very poor decision on their part.

  • JW

    I work for the NAVY/USMC, I have delt with RFID and Unique Identification (UID) tags. I am no expert, but if they are really talking about RFID, it could be worse. RFID tags are “active” vs UID tags which are “passive”. what this means is that a UID tag is nothing more than a sophisticated barcode. you may have seen UID tags on products in the store, it looks like a funky checkerboard square barcode. it was created over the old timey bar code because it can hold a ton of data. it is passive in that you have to run a scanner over it to “read it”. The RFID could be much more in that it gives off a active signal, meaning that someone with the correct reader could just be in the same vicinity of the RFID tag and “detect” it. both tags have been used to manage and account for inventory. I have heard rumor that the badguys in the desert captured some of the readers and were using them on us to see what we were shipping or to know when we got close. I think you would have to have a larger size RFID tag to give off enough signal to detect it from a distance. the ones I saw a few years ago were the size of quarters. the UID tags and get almost to tiny to see.

  • Sian

    It looks like Chiappa isn’t considering the hidden, internal, permanent chip for US export, which is fine. Europe can keep their nannystate ways as long as they stay over there.

  • 543

    @ Matt

    Heckler & Koch does not place RFID chips into their firearms unless a Military or LE agency specifically requests it. I own a HK P2000 and HK45C and neither came with one. Both have a spot to place a RFID chip into the grip when the back strap in removed however to repeat myself again HK does not place RFID chips into Civilian guns period. This subject has been covered on other forums at length over and over again. The picture of the HK P2000 you posted is a Dept. of Homeland Security P2000 sidearm which the Feds specifically requested HK to put the RFID chip into the firearm for better tracking.

  • JvD

    I am afraid that the hope that European gun enthusiasts will put pressure on Chiappa to stop this chip-scheme is unfounded. In Europe gunlaws are so strict that introduction of these chips might actually be applauded for saving money on registration and control. There is no right to carry in Europe and generally there is no right to own (let’s face it, they do not even have the right to self-defense). Every spree-shooting we have (like the one in Alphen this spring, which may result in a total ban on semi-autos) results in more restrictions on the already very limited possibilities to own a firearm. Chips will hardly make that worse so there will be no justification for putting any effort into that.

    Chiappa is setting a dangerous standard but it is a standard that is promoted by the United Nations as a means to prevent legally owned guns being diverted for illegal purposes (yeah, right….).

    The United Nations Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime makes for interesting reading.

    European lawmakers are following that lead claiming that it makes administration easier for overburdened governments. They claim that the only alternative may be a TOTAL ban (like in England). Chiappa is just a private company that anticipates on these developments. Preventing them from doing that will not make it go away. Political action is needed for that (but I agree, Chiappa should not continue on this road until it is made mandatory). Here in Holland we have seen too much of that kind of anticipating action by private parties and it is a real problem.

    Note that there are many more developments happening along this same route: chemical marking of powder and explosives, marking of bullets (no, not cartridges, bullets themselves), automatic marking of cases during firing, banning of sabot ammo, banning of caseless ammo for civilians, chips in ALL essential parts of guns, ID systems in guns so that only the legal owner can fire them etc etc etc.

    We are way beyond 1984 but most people seem to think we are living in a brave new world. We may end up in a Kafkaesque kind of trial.

    Scary stuff, but all too real.

  • schadavi

    @ Steve:

    It’s not dead yet, but we are going to finish it off by boycotting every manufacturer cooperating with them.

  • howlingcoyote

    It sounds like something that the evil UN and the gun banning groups are pushing. The usual “this is for your own good , and it will stop all crime”. Yeah, right. They must think that we are all stupid and will believe anything they say.
    Several writers have talked about people making scanners and picking up RFID from people walking by.
    The Sportsmans Guide now sells a stainless steel wallet to stop RFID scanners in stores and other places from picking up your credit cards and drivers license.

  • davethegreat

    See, I actually WANT to buy guns with these chips in them.

    I don’t think anyone should be forced to, I don’t think they should be hidden, I don’t think the market should be set up so the only option is RFID-chipped guns, but me, personally, I want them.

    It just sounds cool.

    A lot of people argue about firearm technology (saying nobody needs, say, semiauto guns and should all be stuck with flintlocks in the name of “safety”) but I’m a collector. I like my plastic high-tech laser-sighted doo-dads as much as I like my 18th century black powder pieces. I buy them because they are cool and I like having the option to buy both.

    Computer chip gun? Cool.

    (my hunting guns and defense guns are pretty boring by comparison, but I don’t mind getting a crappy old Marlin muddy).

    • Tom

      Hi davethegreat, I’m just sitting up reading anything and everything… Came across your comment here. When you have some time check out the web-site Snagg offers a do-it-yourself kit to RFID chip anything of value. Its the same kind of chip used in pet recovery nation wide. We are installing them in everything from our kids band instrument to firearms to chain saws. Visit out facebook page if you ‘like’. And get back to me if you have any questions. Thanks for your time.

  • GM

    Removing, destroying, or erasing the chip would not be difficult. That said, using such technology to track people who don’t wish to be tracked poses certain difficulties. If the individual removes the tag, it can’t be tracked. If the tag is replaced or re-written, the individual cannot be positively located. A tag can be reproduced multiple times, creating decoys to confuse tracking.

    Technology is a two edged sword. This kind of thing was built for inventory management. I think the possibility of illicit tracking is a legitimate threat, but it is one that can easily be turned into a tool of misinformation.

  • I must be a bad gun owner. I don’t engage in pointless paranoia over an inventory control item, I don’t think communists are trying to control my mind or much of anything else, and I don’t think that the UN is coming for my personal firearm collection.

    To the people wondering “Why oh why can’t people see the things I do?”, I know why.

  • natty

    dont see why a soldering iron couldnt fix this problem