Chiappa 9mm Kalashnikov Pistol Review

We first reported on the Chiappa 9x19mm NATO Kalashnikov Pistol last year on TFB, promising a review. This review will consist of the Chiappa Pistol with both Glock and CZ magazine inserts.

Because the firearm has just been imported into the United States, it didn’t come with a standard box or case specifically outfitted to it. I’m sure this will change once the pistol is available to the public and starts shipping to gun stores.

Built on a Romanian 7.62x39mm Kalashnikov receiver, Chiappa added a specially designed handguard that also serves as the magazine well holder for the magazine inserts. These inserts are interchangeable with each other, the two I tested being the CZ75 magazine insert, and the Glock 9x19mm double stack magazine insert (17,19,26). The design of the handguard/magazine well is ridiculously simple and rugged for disassembly and reassembly. This handguard latches onto two rivets that Chiappa added to the receiver and clicks into the standard magazine well of the Kalashnikov receiver. It locks into the rivets like a slotted “L”, pushing out and down to take down, and then up and back to become locked. Coming with the pistol is a small picatinny mounted hand-stop, mounted at the furtherest position on the six o’clock rail section.

However, my largest problem with it is that it uses the existing magazine release as is. For those not overly familiar with Kalashnikov platforms, this can easily lead to accidentally going for the traditional magazine release on the receiver, instead of the Chiappa magazine release on the left side of the handgard/magazine well. After several tries, the issue went away, but I don’t like something like disassembling the entire handguard/magazine well should be left up to a simple lever on the original magazine release. Instead there should be an extra step such as a plunger, or pin that is required to take the handguard off the pistol.

Above the handguard is the “Krinkov” style captive and folding link that the receiver cover is attached to. This portion has replaced the standard gas tube and rear sight with the swinging link and two picatinny rail sections located at the three and nine o’clock positions Because the Chiappa pistol is blowback operated, there isn’t a need for a functioning gas tube and instead it is really just used to help keep the now redundant operating arm of the bolt on track while going through the operating cycle. On top of the receiver cover is a section of picatinny rail. Supplied with the rifle is a standard AK picatinny mounted rear sight, mounted closest to the shooter on the rail. The receiver cover itself has been ordered for a pistol version of the Kalashnikov as evidenced by the shortened ejection port. There is no muzzle brake or compensator. Safety has an extended tab to aid with pushing it on or off safe.

At the rear of the Chiappa pistol is a sling mount that can swivel in either direction. Supplied with a cloth sling that is connected via a plastic latch. Honestly this is one of the poorer points of the design. First of all, the sling swivel itself appears to be poorly made and not rugged at all. Second, the plastic piece on the sling that is attached to it isn’t too much better off, and third, the sling isn’t long enough for an average sized person (five to six feet) to effectively extend the pistol out to a reasonable enough length to engage targets. I honestly think the swivel and sling combination should either be completely axed or should be replaced with a quality sling and reliable swivel.

Mounted to the top of the receiver cover is a picatinny rail in which optics can be placed. Attached to it is a simple picatinny mounted Kalashnikov sight height rear sight that cannot be adjusted for elevation or windage. This is done with the front sight and can be completed with a front sight adjustment tool.

At the heart of the Chiappa pistol is the magazine interchangeability. This was mentioned earlier in describing the handguard dimensions at the beginning of the review. Once the handguard is removed, the magazine well can be popped out from below. The fit is very tight and rightfully so because securing that magazine well is essential to smooth operation of the firearm. On hand we only had the CZ75 and Glock 9mm so I can’t report on the reliability of other magazine well adaptors. But from what we had, the CZ75 outperformed the Glock adaptor by a far margin. We couldn’t get through a Glock magazine within a FTF wherein the bolt would cycle to the rear, and it would somehow lock back behind the next round in the magazine. We did only use one Glock magazine for the test, not counting on the unreliability of it, and really should have brought more out. When looking at the magazine well of the Glock magazine it appears that the leaf spring that holds the magazine release button in place doesn’t have enough tension on it as the CZ one does. In addition it appears that the handguard portion where the magazine well is inserted is much tighter than the Glock magazine. The combination of these factors might have lead to the FTFs, or it could have been something else entirely.

However with the CZ75 magazine, the pistol worked flawlessly. The only issue we noticed was that when the bolt was either locked back (it can lock back only with the CZ75 mags, but will spring forward when the magazine is released) on an empty magazine, or if it cycled over the follower when empty, it seemed to slightly dig into the follower itself and take some of the plastic off of it. The two CZ75 magazines we received for the review were brand new and didn’t have these cuts on them beforehand. Over time, I suspect that either this digging of the CZ magazines will continue to a point where they will begin operating smoothly because the dimensions have been worn in, or it will be detrimental and cut the follower to bits over several hundred cyclings and lock backs on an empty magazine. What is more likely the cause of the problem is the bolt actually being stopped by the follower when empty. If Chiappa could somehow find that sweet spot where the CZ magazine well will allow the magazine to be inserted without locking back the bolt on the last round, this would easily solve this issue.

Ammunition used was Freedom Munitions reloads, Aguila, and Sellier & Bellot for all the testing. All were 124 Gr and loaded with FMJs. We only used Aguila for accuracy testing at 10 yards, producing better groups than I would have expected from a Kalashnikov 9x19mm at 10 yards, off-hand and standing. During shooting at steel plates, the pistol was fairly accurate and consistent in clanging steel, as long as I did my part, and compensated for the front sight’s settings. If I were to own the pistol, I’d certainly adjust the front sight to be point of aim/point of impact at 15 yards, but since it was a review gun, compensation was much easier. Apart from the accuracy, actually shooting the Chiappa was very simple, placing the sights on target much simpler compared to a standard handgun. However while in rapid fire, whatever hand is holding the pistol grip becomes fatigued very quickly, especially in the web of the hand.

When it comes to pistol caliber Kalashnikovs on the market, there are a wide variety out there at a number of price ranges and with a huge variety of options. What it really comes down to is what a purchaser is intending the pistol for. For a personal defense aspect with a high capacity 30 round CZ magazine, with a much more improved sling and sling swivel, I can easily see the Chiappa finding a welcome position as a vehicle firearm or even a bedside weapon with a light attached to the side picatinny rails. Why a person would want a pistol Kalashnikov as opposed to a typical slide operated semi-automatic handgun or revolver could possibly be because of similarity in weapon systems, or just an affection of working with the Kalashnikov action, and safety selector. We can’t see the Chiappa being used in many pistol caliber carbine matches and it certainly wouldn’t fit very well in any IDPA or USPSA competition. As a recreational “fun gun” it certainly does maintain a place for sure.

One thing that does need to be stated is that the Chiappa is probably one of the lowest price points MSRP ($425) for any pistol caliber Kalashnikov handgun on the market today. If one can look past the low quality sling swivel/sling and the Glock magazine issues, the firearm is a very reliable product for the what Chiappa is offering it for.

These are uploads of myself putting the Chiappa through its paces-

This is a video of the Glock magazine with a FTF-



Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • koolhed

    Pretty neat concept. Let me know when it’s finished.

  • A.WChuck

    Nyet. Chiappa is not fine.

    • Jimmy Chimichanga

      The PAK9 is made in Romania by Nova & imported by Chiappa.

  • Green Hell

    Better wait for a propper Saiga-9 or it’s clone.

  • SPQR9

    I felt a disturbance in The Force, as if a thousand bins of rusty sheet metal cried out as once……

    • Cory C

      Hahahaha

  • Moonman45

    folding stock, threaded barrel.

  • billyoblivion

    I really don’t see the utility in this, unless you’re going to SBR it.

    A pistol in 5.56 or 7.62×39 I get because you can get more bang per trigger pull in a smaller package.

    A pistol caliber carbine I get because you get little longer reach, slightly better ballistics and better accuracy using the same round as your rifle.

    But a pistol caliber pistol in a carbine receiver doesn’t seem to fit that sort of niche. You’re not getting *better* ballistics by much, you’re not getting better accuracy. Because of the weight and ergonomics you’re limiting your ability to shoot while moving. You’re not getting bang per pull etc.

    Edited to add:

    Put a stock on it and that all changes though.

    • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

      Even SBR’ed the barrel is TOO short in my opinion. 8-10″ would be ideal (Again, in my opinion).

      • iksnilol

        That long a barrel and you might as well go with 7.62×39.

        • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

          TIL 8-10″ of barrel is “long”.

          • iksnilol

            For a pistolit is.

      • Wow!

        Subcalibers get to essentially full velocity in barrels around 5-6″. Any extra barrel length is a waste IMO.

    • Stephen Paraski

      And the 3rd pin.

  • Stephen Cornell

    So how are you supposed to SBR it with the sling swivel directly attached to the back like that? Isn’t that the whole point of these things?

    • Alexandru Ianu

      Remove the flat pistol rear trunnion and replace it with some other.

    • Vhyrus

      If you’re lazy you cut that swivel off, drill two holes in the back, and bolt a pignose to it.

    • int19h

      Yeah, if you can’t easily SBR this contraption out of the box, it’s not worth even half of what they’re asking for it.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    A rifle you cant shoulder combined with a pistol you cant use with one hand…. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/a9a206d66e9869b44550330928f3cedad348a6b95c07a8376cca3b42a00e76d9.gif

    • Don Ward

      Pretty much. See the awkward shooting stance Miles has to use in order to shoot this travesty?

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        It pisses me off just thinking about it.

      • iksnilol

        That’s a normal stance for slung weapons without a stock.

        • Don Ward

          And stupid as hell.

          • iksnilol

            CAlled the SAS method, they used it a lot with stockless MP5s. Probably still do.

            It works for what it’s intended for.

          • It’s like any other method, it takes practice to master, and in this case is actually a stance that’s been in regular professional use for several decades. With a strap that short the whole thing could be reasonably well concealed under a suitcoat and completely vanish under winter gear.

            A proper stock would still be better in most cases, though.

          • TheNotoriousIUD

            Id prefer an MP7 with a PDW stock.

    • Calavera

      Plus, it chews down on mag followers like a wolverine on a pork chop and has reliability issues. At $425, that’s one helluva’ paper weight.

    • Jimmy Chimichanga

      never heard of pistol braces?

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        Yeah.
        I heard theyre annoying as sh-t.

        • Concerned Third Party

          Not as annoying as $200 tax to exercise a right, along with 8-9 months of drag-ass bureaucracy, engraving the receiver with your name and never being able to leave the state without a permission slip from the feds.

  • 11b

    Finally, the AK is perfected: it takes Glock mags.

    • Jared Vynn

      But it isn’t 10mm.

      • K.J. Pierson

        That’s why it is perfected.

    • iksnilol

      IT IS AN ABOMINATION UNTO GOD!

      SOMEBODY MUST PAY IN BLOOD FOR THIS HERESY!

      • Just say’n

        Not to mention the words “NATO” and “Kalashnikov” are adjacent to one another in the same sentence!

  • Mickey

    This may be the only legitimate place for a California spec AK bullet-button. You could use it to prevent the magazine well from being ejected accidentally.

  • Devil_Doc

    Furtherest? Really..? Does Miles understand what it means when red lines appear under things he types?

  • c4v3man

    Can you ask the manufacturer what the recommended parts list is for 922r compliance to SBR this thing?

    • kalashnikev

      LOL

  • Bigbigpoopi

    Just put one of the Cali magblockers so you can’t accidentally use the AK release

  • baserock love

    Life is too short for cheap junky guns. I think i’ll get a scorpion evo3 instead.

  • Ben

    You aren’t supposed to be able to fully extend your arms with that type of sling. It is meant to be used with your elbows bent, arms providing tension against the sling. The Israelis made that method famous when using it with stockless MP5s, and it still works well today.

  • Bob

    BS, Meh!

  • Andrew Benton

    Agh… Gunbortion!

  • Excellent photography; the lighting and depth of field are just perfect to show off the mechanical details without being too sharp and visually overwhelming.

    This thing has roughly zero practical use as is– it would need to be SBR’d first– but boy howdy it sure does look fun as all get-out, and the price point is well within the fun gun budget of a lot of shooters.

    Couldn’t the issue with the mag release/takedown lever be solved by wedging a piece of plastic or a small binder clip or something into the gap? A reusable zip tie looped through the trigger guard might also work, and wouldn’t interfere with normal function. Also, if you have loading/ejection problems running Glock mags through a nonGlock, try mags that have stiffer aftermarket springs installed and see if that helps; I’ve found that Glock’s mostly-adequate factory magsprings are the source of a lot of FTFups if a gun is a finicky eater.

    I’m short on bandwidth for Youtube– did you check its accuracy holding it like a big honkin’ handgun instead of a stockless SBR? All that weight forward seems like it would help a lot with long range accuracy with a standard Isosceles stance, even with a big chunk of blowback bolt flying around.

  • Jim B

    Wow, it’s a 9mm brick. I’d rather have my glock.

  • El Duderino

    It should come with a pad under the forend so you don’t scratch up your car door.

  • Jeff Heeszel

    The last Chiappa I bought was their M1-9. It is the last Chiappa I will buy.

  • Klaus Von Schmitto

    This is an honest question. What can you accomplish with this that you can’t with the CZ you just took the magazine out of?

    • Wow!

      Much cheaper, and readily available magazines. The issue holding everyone back is reliability concerns. Personally the CZ is super overrated in my opinion for a blowback subcaliber. Lots of cheaper and better options available.

  • ozzallos .

    The size of an AK pistol.
    The weight of an AK pistol.
    The effective caliber of— Oh.

    This is my disappointed face.

  • LGonDISQUS

    Hideous, but effective.

    Like a brick $#it house.

  • Fox Hunter

    Cool, now all you need is a pistol brace, they should come out with 40 S&W and 45 acp next.

  • Wow!

    If this thing functions well, I would be totally on board for this, especially at that price point. The stock furniture is ugly as sin, that will have to go first. AK building is mostly dead at this point due to the lack of cheap parts kits, so this looks like a fun gun to work on.

  • Paladin

    Is Chiappa owned by Remington?!?!?!

  • may know more than you

    poor review thumbs down ??
    should fire this guy or do something else he may be good at

  • kalashnikev

    I’d like to see them extend the barrel to Draco length and thread it 1/2×28, shorten the receiver, add normal handguards, and offer it with aluminum mag wells that retain the swappability and run 100%.

  • Mike Betts

    Kinda reminds me of this gal I got set up with on a blind date once. She was big and ugly, too. What does this thing do that any 9 mm semi-automatic pistol won’t do?

    • Concerned Third Party

      Probably hurts a lot more when you throw it at someone

      • Mike Betts

        If you’ve stuck a Glock magazine in it that may be the wisest thing to do.

  • Andrew Foss

    I’d be all for this if it had helical mags. Because “PP-19 Bizon”. Unfortunately, they’re rarer than hen teeth here in the US. A 64 round mag would make this something better than the CZ-75 or Glock in terms of capacity. And it’d obviate the need for the front handguard, the magwell inserts and the resulting “Damn you muscle memory!” issue.

  • AbsintheMakesMyHeartGrowFonder

    This would be waaay more interesting if it took cheap UZI magazines…Or even not so cheap MP5 magazines.

  • MIstwalker

    Nearly any wondernine would be in every way superior to this abortion of a firearm. There are no benefits to this design. This is made of bad ideas and shame.

  • rambo jones

    What a stupid concept. What is the point of this thing? Like an 8 year old designed it.