Chiappa X-Caliber Survival Rifle… Isn’t

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Since coming on-board TFB all those years ago, I’ve been pestering the editing staff to get a Chiappa X-Caliber rifle in for review. As an amateur “prepper” the concept of the gun was highly enticing, a combination of the two most popular survival calibers in one lightweight package. Considering the low cost to make the two calibers in a break-action, the MSRP of the weapon at $615 is reasonable considering import costs, etc.

Looking at it face value, its an interesting weapon. It comes with two built-in calibers and conversions for 8 pistol calibers (.380 , 9 mm , .357Mag/.38SP , .40 S & W, .44 Mag, .45 ACP , .410/.45colt). With sighting and accessory options via a Picatinny rail, the X-Caliber looks like a new and improved version of the old Air Force rifles.

However, the low cost seems that it may be due to poor construction. ReadyMan, a cadre of some former special forces and military members, got their hands on one of the rifles and found it wanting. The primary issue is the front sight, which fell off almost immediately. Considering the front sight of a “survival rifle” is critical to its success long-term (and in the case of the X-Caliber needed to support the two barrels), this is a fatal flaw.

Still, I’d like to get my hands on one for my own opinion, but ReadyMan’s experience will stay in my mind upon handling.

Enjoy the video below:



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • TheMaskedMan

    I guess “survival” refers to your enemy.

  • mike

    600 plus is not nearly cheap enough. You could buy a 10/22 takedown and a shotgun cheaper and not have to rely on a single weapon to malfunction. To me this needs to be in the sub 300 range.

    • John

      A 10/22 take-down with a folding stock practically fits in your back pocket!

      • iksnilol

        Especially if you SBR it so that the barrel isn’t longer than the receiver with the stock folded. That could almost fit in a wide enough lunch box 😛

  • Swarf

    Chiappa sucks poorly machined and blued balls.

  • Better option for the same mission – KT Sub-2000. TC Encore. A Mossberg 500. A Savage 93R17. CZ 527 Carbine… I could add guns to this list all day long.

  • Xanderbach

    A break barrel 12ga ($100) and a bunch of caliber adapters would be a better bet.

    • Paul Joly

      A “regular” firearm would be better.

  • Steve

    Msrp on the Savage model 42 is $500, and I like the lines better

    • VF 1777

      It’s really light, and locks up very tight. Fairly accurate. Has a quicker break open mechanism than the lever on the Chiappa….. Beware though, the sights are really bad and the trigger is very heavy (and plastic). You can get a rail for it though and slap a red dot on it. This is actually my PA Legal small game rifle.

      • VF 1777

        …it’s also not in the same category, as it doesn’t break down and is strictly 410/22

        • VF 1777

          Correction: they just released a takedown model in 2016

  • Bob

    I think I’ll stick with my Little Badger single shot. Only .22LR and the sight has to be all the way to the right to get zero, but light and accurate, and nothing has come off of it yet.

  • Julio

    My, that was tedious! I know, no one forced me to watch, but the 3 stooges act was pointless, and the principal presenter goofed twice, first with the reload and then by trying to shoot with the safety on. Also, the main point of interest with the X-Caliber has to do with the insert tubes, which weren’t featured. Criticism of Chiappa’s build quality is certainly low-hanging fruit, but before criticising anything I reckon you owe it to everyone to get your own part right.

    • Tassiebush

      I tend to agree. Only thing about the inserts, I don’t think there was much ability to test them once the sight fell off.

    • MarkVShaney

      Did you notice at 9:58 after his 2nd 20 GA shot that the front sight magically moved 2 inches forward… to the end of the barrel… almost as if they set it up to fly off on the next shot. Hummmmmmm.

      • Tassiebush

        Well spotted! We definitely don’t see it move up. It might be innocent though if they took any shots not included in the edit? I know with my IAC leveraction shotgun the forendwood is sandwiched between mag tube and barrel and recoil makes it come loose and slide towards the muzzle. A poorly attached barrel band and sight unit would be prone to that.

      • Something about the video doesn’t strike me as being right and that was part of it.

    • Actionable Mango

      Also the bald guy on the left said you could put the barrel in the stock. The M-6 never broke down in such a way that the barrel stored inside the stock. He’s confusing this with the AR-7.

      I also don’t like how the front sight moved by itself during a video cut.

  • Ian McCollum

    Looks like they are putting a reproduction M1 Carbine rear sight on it.

    • Tassiebush

      I think I read somewhere that they use a plastic m1 carbine style sight on their little badger model.

      • Ian McCollum

        Jeez, the only thing worse than an M1 Carbine rear sight would be a *plastic* M1 Carbine rear sight…

        • Tassiebush

          I’ll take your word for that. I have no experience with them being Australian and all but I reckon I narrowly escaped a very bad purchase.

        • Tassiebush

          Probably straight off this psuedo m1 carbine http://www.chiappafirearms.com/product/2679

      • Burt Maclin

        They Do. I own a Lil’ Badger and it was the first thing I yanked off of it. It is completely made of a cheap plastic and the sight ring doesn’t stay in place very well. Not only that, it is screwed into the receiver, not dovetailed like a real M1 sight, so you cant just get a steel one to replace it easily.

        Problem is, I haven’t found anything suitable to replace the rear sight with yet. Without having a gunsmith dovetail it for me the only other option is to put something on the rail, which sits farther forward than the original mount point.

        Red-dots seem silly as a decent one costs twice what the gun does. Finding a “back-up” iron sight that fits on a Pic Rail AND can align properly with the front blade is apparently as hard as finding unicorns. The only BUIS I can find are meant for ARs and they sit far too high to be of use. Hoping someone has solved this problem.

        • Nocternus

          Primary Arms makes quality red dots that don’t break the bank.

          • Ben Pottinger

            I second this recommendation. If it’s *truely* a survival weapon for you, sure buy an aimpoint (I picked mine up for 350$ on sale, so it’s possible to get one reasonably cheap). But if it’s just another gun in your collection your perfectly safe buying the primary arms red dot. I’ve had one for 4-5 years now that has held up quite well and I’m not alone in that regard.

  • Dr. Longfellow Buchenrad

    I must say a $615 MSRP isnt low cost. I mean its not particularly high, but it certainly doesnt deserve the title of “low cost” at least not for a single shot. The poor build quality (according to the review) definitely doesnt justify the cost. That and the cheaper Savage option is prettier

  • Tassiebush

    I got talked out of this and the other chiappa survival guns by my dealer due to quality issues. Once again his advice is vindicated.
    The review certainly concluded correctly that it wasn’t up to the job but I’m not sure the review would have assessed it adequately otherwise. I thought the steel plates were a bad choice for testing this gun. Too imprecise to give an impression of practical accuracy on small game. Groups on paper were needed. I hope that was what was intended.

  • VF 1777

    I wonder if they do actually outsource these?

    I have a Chiappa 1892 ‘Alaskan’ Take Down (16″, .357) and it’s of excellent quality/fit & finish. (I believe Taylor’s actually does the finish on these though in the US). I’ve never heard anyone say the Rhino is of poor quality. I don’t know a ton about Chiappa, but I can’t dismiss them as all sucking because they are made in Italy.

    Having said that, if the front site blew off my survival rifle, I’d be quickly sending it back then selling it. So I think they came to the right conclusion.

    • Tassiebush

      What I have heard is that they often look excellent and externally are very good but it’s the mechanical aspects that are more problem prone. Maybe that’s what happens if you have such a broad product range. You master the finish but not the mechanics?

  • Bill

    Completely OT: “As an amateur “prepare”…” Are there professional peppers? Are they the ones with the TV shows?

    • Mystick

      I would say there may be a distinction between those whom have a few weeks worth of food and ammo and those who build million-dollar complexes under their back yard or remote property…

  • Cesare Renzi

    It’s pronounced kiappa goddamn it.

    • ItalianAmerican

      Yes. And in Italian, it means ‘butt cheek’

  • Vizzini

    I was fortunate enough to get an M-6 Scout marine model many years ago when Springfield was still making them. Really fun, utilitarian little guns and I have no desire for the caliber conversion capability.

  • Yea you know I didn’t think a whole lot of the video they did. With that in mind I ordered one from Chiappa today and we will test it.

    • Tassiebush

      That’ll be cool. Which model? The one in the article or little badger?

      • Both if possible—–

        • Tassiebush

          It would be cool. There’s something really nifty about this type of firearm. Survivalist roles aside robust light, compact and versatile is a niche not well catered for. Often you just need a gun to take along when shooting or hunting isn’t the main task.

  • Tassiebush

    I just wish the marbles game getter was resurrected or something very close to it in style and design.

  • Captain Obvious

    These types of guns are little more than novelty items. No one actually ever uses “survival” guns for survival. The really have no practical purpose other than playing around with. If you really want a practical survival gun that can be used for just about anything, go find a used H&R/NEF single shot gun and buy a set of multi caliber chamber inserts.Cut a couple inches off each end and you have an inexpensive but good quality do everything long gun.

    • Vizzini

      Since my stainless (marine) M6 is virtually indestructible, small and light, it’s always the first gun I teach my kids on. It’s good for that. 🙂

      • Captain Obvious

        The M6 is cool gun but like I said, no one actually uses survival guns for survival. I taught my kids on an Ar7 and a Papoose. Fun little guns that are interesting but for survival one is likely to use a real gun not a novelty gun. My truck, grab and go, walk in the woods gun is a shortened 20 ga H&R break open single.

  • You know I was watching the video again and about the 9:20 mark the sight is on and they shoot it with no front sight problem—-

  • Jeff Heeszel

    Cheapo-a is the proper pronunciation.

  • Theodore Kennedy

    How come nobody ever thinks to just get a quality over/under 12 gauge and an X-Caliber conversion set, and be done with it?!

  • Curtis_15

    I’ll stick with my M 6 Scout made by CZ chambered with a 22 Hornet and 410.

    I adapted a flip down ammo pouch to the stock to give me more ammo choices in the 410. I carry 4 buckshot magnum, 4 flair, and 8 bird rounds in addition to the 22 hornet rounds in the stock. The wrapped para cord barrel increases the possible survival function of the rifle. When I travel to remote areas in my 4 X 4 it fits neatly in a Molle shotgun scabbard secured in the roll cage of my truck or strapped to the underside of the rear seat.
    Oh and the scabbard has a nice ammo carrying rifle sling should I need to hike out to survive the possible messes I could find myself in. And since is a Molle system scabbard my other survival tools can be pouched onto the scabbard. Such as my fishing gear and breakdown rod.

    Having been stuck in a life or death mountain survival situation as a teenager I never leave home for an 4 x 4 adventure outing without that trusty Scout as a backup.

    Surviving is about being prepared with both the necessary mental attitude and right tools to get you out.

    • Phil Hsueh

      4 pieces of flair is the minimum, do you want to do just the bare minimum, or . . . Like, Brian, who has 37 pieces of flair on. What do you think of a person that does just the bare minimum?