It might look like a toy but this no-nonsense rimfire is accurate and easy to shoot — Bruce Potts hasn’t had this much fun in a long while
This month’s rifle was not quite what I was expecting and at first glance it might be construed as an odd choice for a review. However, the Chiappa Little Badger is quite appealing. Falling into the category of ‘survival rifle’, the Little Badger, like its namesake, is adept at handling harsh wilderness and provides a nasty bite, too.
Not every shooter goes in for the latest high-flying gizmos or high-grade walnut quality, and to many a rimfire is simply a tool. If it shoots straight and true, it is more than good enough for vermin duties around the pens or the farm. That is clearly the ethos Chiappa channelled when it created the Little Badger.
As the firm is known for high-quality rifles, it was interesting to see how this single-shot, folding .22 LR performed on pest control duties — .22 WMR and .17 HMR are also available.
It looks very handy and can be folded from 31in to 17.5in. Weighing 2.92lb unscoped, it is no burden at all.
The quad fitment of Picatinny rails that form the fore-end is clever as it doubles as a scope mount. The skeletonised stock, although a tad short, runs dual duties at saving weight and doubling as a carriage system for spare rounds. Quite ingenious. It makes a pleasant change to test something that little bit different and it might just be the perfect gamekeeper’s gun, ideal for shooting from the truck or a tight spot in a barn.
Need to know
- Manufacturer Chiappa Italy
- Type Single shot
- Action Folding break barrel
- Calibre .22 LR (tested), .22 WMR and .17 HMR
- Barrel length 16.5in and ½in UNEF threaded
- Trigger Single
- Stock Metal tube and polymer
- Sights None, but four sided Picatinny rails for scope attachment
- Weight 2.92lb
- Length 31in
- Finish Blued
- Price £245
- Importer Raytrade Ltd 01635 253344
I’ve tested many rimfires in my time, including several survival-type ones. They are always intriguing because they are made specifically to be functional firearms rather than flashy showpieces. As Chiappa has such a good reputation, it is no surprise that the Little Badger feels very sturdy despite its diminutive size. A flimsy rifle would not inspire confident shooting.
With a fully ambidextrous design, this super lightweight rifle is surprisingly well made, with a comfortable and effortless hold. The skeletonised design saves weight and is formed by two steel wires that are bent into a crude stock shape with a polymer recoil pad attached. At 13in, the stock is a little shorter than I would like.
I do, however, like the twin bank of six rimfire cartridge holders that straddle the rear of the stock. This feature is very typical of this kind of rifle and allows you to carry spare ammunition such as subs, reduced loads or high-velocity rounds.
There’s no pistol grip as such, but there is a Picatinny rail to grasp and a wood-stocked deluxe version is available. The fore-end is clever too, as it is essentially four 4in Picatinny rails fixed around the barrel shroud, offering grip, support and scope attachment options. It really is a one-size-fits-all solution.
Folding rifles have always brought to mind clandestine forays by poachers but this break-barrel system is very practical. The rifle has a short lever in front of the trigger-guard to break the action and collapse the rifle. The action is aluminium with pressure-bearing parts made from steel. It is cocked using a neat ambidextrous cocking hammer with extended spur to right and left. This is really handy when a scope is fitted. There isn’t a half-cock for safety but with the hammer back you know it’s loaded.
The trigger was a surprise too — it’s very light with no creep. It breaks at 2.55lb and thus contributes to the impressive accuracy. The barrel also plays a part in the Little Badger’s performance, at 16½in with a ½in UNEF threaded muzzle. Ejection and extraction are manually operated — it’s simple but it works every time.
The Chiappa Little Badger is more than capable in the field. It’s a rugged no-nonsense rimfire that gets the job done with good accuracy. If you miss the appeal of a wooden stock, go for the deluxe version (£295). Likewise, if you want a 9mm smoothbore, try the Little Squirrel option. I haven’t had this much fun in a long while.
- Accuracy Surprisingly good for this type of rifle 17/20
- Handling Lightweight but a tad short for Bruce 16/20
- Trigger Nice trigger with no creep 16/10
- Stock It may be short but manoeuvrability is its best asset 15/20
- Value Cheap as chips and just as tasty 17/20
- Overall Score A very useful and affordable tool 81/100
Quirky rifles are always great fun to shoot and this Chiappa Little Badger was no exception — I soon had a large grin on my face. It makes you focus on your technique and trigger-pull more acutely than usual. I fitted a scope and an A-Tec Wave moderator to mute the report. It made for a very stealthy rimfire and I had three rabbits on the first evening with it.
I ran the usual suspects of subsonic loads from Eley, CCI, RWS and Winchester. The Eley subs achieved 0.75in five-shot groups and 1,015fps for 87ft/lb at 30 yards. They would make a great all-round load.
Upping the weight and the CCI suppressor load with 45-gr hollowpoint was nearly as accurate. I managed 0.85in groups and generated real clout at 968fps and 94ft/lb.
The RWS High Velocity 40-gr loads shot really well as always. Grouping just under 1in, with velocities running 1,204fps and 129ft/lb, they are ideal for close-range foxes.
Funnily enough, I tried some Winchester 42-gr Max subs at the last minute and they shot 0.65in groups at 30 yards so, zeroed in, I headed to the grass field for another spot of rabbit reduction. The Little Badger is novel to shoot but it really does perform well as I had more than a dozen rabbits — and a rat — over two evenings. The trigger was very good, accuracy was spot on at sensible ranges and it was so easy to shoot well. Don’t dismiss this rifle as a toy.