New from Chiappa: Triple Barreled Shotgun

What’s better than one barrel? Two, of course. So naturally, the next evolution would be adding a third barrel. Because, you know, why not? The contraption combines all the height-over-bore issues of an under/over with all of the sight picture issues of a side by side, and all for a gun that I can’t quite figure out why anyone would ever want. Other than saying you have one, that is. In order to make this thing work the trigger is a little funky, with the top barrel firing first after an extraordinarily stiff trigger pull followed by the lower barrels at reduced trigger pull weights. It looks good and it feels good to hold, but meh.


About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

47 Responses to New from Chiappa: Triple Barreled Shotgun

  1. avatarAccur81 says:

    If it was a heat-seeking triple barrel Uzi shotgun, then you’d really have something.

    It certainly looks cool.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      The Chiappa guys seem to exist in this fantastical zone between two worlds where they alternately create firearms that become iconic in tier-1 FPS games, and draw on ideas from tier-1 FPS games to make actual freaking guns that actually exist.

      Supporting evidence: I recently mowed down a wave of homicidal, leather-masked midgets using a triple-barreled shotgun not unlike this one in Borderlands 2…

      • avatarGyufygy says:


        • avatarAlphaGeek says:

          Heh. My personal favorite funny surprise dialogue moment happened this past weekend. I had thrown down my sentry turret and we were in the middle of an intense firefight when my guy started doing an Oprah impression. Paraphrasing from memory:

          “Oh, look what we have here! Bullets! You get a bullet! And YOU get a bullet! And YOU get a bullet! Bullets for everyone!”

          I was laughing so hard my character almost got killed.

      • avatarRalph says:

        I recently mowed down a wave of homicidal, leather-masked midgets

        You should have mowed them down before they voted for the New York gun ban.

    • avatarLogan P says:

      Isn’t that in a song by Da Yoopers?

  2. avatarChuck in IL says:

    Another answer to a question nobody asked.

    • avatarJohn Boch says:

      Does it come with a RFID chip nobody asked for too?

    • avatarJ- says:

      Oh yeah!? Not two weeks ago some IL Dems were pushing for a gun ban that would have included our tactical pump guns. Had that passed, trust me, this would have been at the top of my list of new guns to buy.

  3. avatarThe Guy 09 says:

    I want to know what a ballistic gelatin block would look like if you could fire off all three barrels at the same time. Maybe load the top barrel with a slug and the bottom two with double 00 buck. Would be fun to experiment with that.

  4. avatarSwarf says:

    Chiappa can suck my POS 1911-22.

  5. avatarVSN says:

    Shouldn’t they try making a reliable revolver first? And having decent customer service?

  6. avatarHT$ says:

    God, I want to SBS that thing, but the price is so very wrong for such an average build quality…

  7. avatarChris says:

    Perfect for NY market.

  8. avatar40&2000 says:

    If the third barrel was a rifle caliber/barrel, basically a modern cheap drilling, I’d be interested.

    • avatarJack the Stripper says:

      Now THAT would be an interesting gun. Have the top in a .30 cal chambering, and the bottom two in 12/20.

      • avatarAlphaGeek says:

        Now you’re on to something. You could significantly lighten it by chambering the shotgun bores for 20ga, then chamber the rifle barrel for a seriously hot .30 load since you wouldn’t shoot it enough to worry about burning out the barrel.

        Do it right, and you could get the whole thing down to the weight of a heavy 12ga side-by-side. Wouldn’t be hard to make a speed-loader for the 3-round load, either.

        I’m not at ALL clear what you would use such a beast for, but it would be fun to take to the range. I’d want a video camera running to record people’s faces when I started firing 3-shot strings. Boom… Boom… BLAM… WTF?

    • avatarjwm says:

      It’s my understanding that you can’t have a cheap drilling because of all the hand fitting and tweaking that goes with regulating the barrels so they shoot accurately. Dyseptic Gunsmith should be along soon to clear this up for us.

      • avatarRalph says:

        The entire gun community is getting a rather expensive and painful drilling right now.

      • avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        The issue is that there’s only one set of sights on the barrel(s) and you have to regulate[*] all two or three barrels to put their shots to the same point of aim at a particular range, and not look like crap while you do this.

        If you look closely at a classic double barrel shotgun (as a starting point), you obviously see that there are two barrels, yes? But there’s that piece of “wedge” metal between the barrels on both sides – this is called “the rib.” On a double barrel shotgun, (whether SxS or O/U), there are obviously two ribs. When you’re regulating a double barrel shotgun, it’s pretty straightforward to set up the barrels in a fixture to get the regulation “close” (simply by sighting down each of the barrels at a point across the room) and then sweat on the ribs.

        The ribs are attached with solder, sometimes with a higher temp silver-based solder. To get the required heat, I like using an acetylene plumber’s torch. Oxy-Acetylene is too hot, propane is too diffuse. MAP gas is too expensive. You want a soft flame, so if the steel gets too hot, you don’t start burning into the steel.

        The barrels have to be polished into the white, fluxed, tinned along the path of the rib, then the rib needs to be cleaned/fluxed/tinned. The tinning must be wiped down so that there is no excess at all – just a paper-thin layer of solder on each side. Then we set up a series of clamps or wire twists along the length of the rib to hold it in place while we solder on the rib. Once this is done, we get rid of any excess solder on top of the joint, flip the barrels over and repeat on the other side.

        Getting bored yet? We’re now into a double gun by about, at least two hours. If there was anything wrong, any pitting in the barrels or rib, any imperfections in the fit-up between the rib and the barrels, the time spent starts going up, up, up.

        Total cost if you came into a double gun smith’s shop and needed both of your double-barrel shotgun’s ribs lifted and re-soldered is probably between $650 and $900 in time and materials. Part of that will be a new rust blueing job, because you can’t hot salt blue the barrels. Before the blueing can commence, all the excess solder must be polished off the barrels and the ribs. Rust blueing takes a couple hours at least.

        This is not a job for the type of ‘smith who just wants to change parts. This is old-world craftsmanship, and it takes time. Lots of it. At $65 to $75/hour, it adds up.

        OK, so that’s two barrels. But on a three barrel drilling (let’s say two shotgun barrels and one rifle barrel), you now have three ribs, with three barrels to regulate – and one of them is a rifle barrel. You’d like the shotty barrels to sort of overlap at about 40 to 50 yards, but you want the rifle barrel to be dead-on out to 100 yards.

        Complexity and time start escalating rapidly – because, again, you want all the barrels to shoot the the same point of aim, and you want the end result to look perfect when you’re done. The ribs can’t be twisted, the barrels should be polished to at least 320 when you’re done, there should be no solder visible except looking straight into the joint, which should be only a hairline crack from outside observation, which means that the ribs had to match the contours of the barrel when they were fitted (ie, before soldering).

        [*] “regulate” is a word that’s been used by gunmakers and gunsmiths for centuries to mean “hit what you’re aiming at.” The word is used in this context in the Second Amendment – a “well regulated militia” is one that has trained so that they can hit what they’re aiming at.

        All we’ve talked about so far is working on an existing set of barrels that needs the ribs re-laid.

        Now, you want to talk about making a double gun or drilling?

        Heh. Back up the Brinks truck, baby, because now we’re into making monoblocks and a whole lot of hand fitting. Here’s an example of a drilling:

        Look at picture 23/23. See the ever-so-faint line on the barrel? That’s where I think the shotgun barrels go into the monoblock. I don’t know for certain whether this is a monoblock or not, but it would be how I’d go about making a drilling.

        Look at picture 15/23. See the doll’s head that’s really the rear end of the sight rib? Yea, that’s all got to be smoke-fitted into the action. Those barrels are supposed to close up tight on the face of the action. With the foreend off, there should be no play in the barrels on the hinge pin.

        Even with CNC machines, this is all hand-fit stuff. CNC machining gets you close. Fitting with files, polishing paper and smoke lamps is what gets you the final fit-up of the barrels on the hinge pin, the breeches against the face of the receiver, a “light-tight” fit that closes like a bank vault.

        There’s absolutely nothing high-tech about this. It requires skill, patience and time to make it right.

      • avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        Oh, yes, one more thing:

        If, despite your best efforts, you lay the ribs well and true, but you take it out to the range and find that it’s still not regulated, guess what?

        You get to pull up the ribs and start again.

        Is your wallet on fire yet?

        • avatarAlphaGeek says:

          That was a fantastic read. Tell me again why you don’t have your own blog? Because I would totally read your stuff daily and tell my shooting friends to do the same.

        • avatarLC Judas says:

          That right there was enough education to further inspire my dreams of gunsmithing. Not because I want to build such a borderline useless monstrosity but because such science and talent exists to create it.

          Awesome information. No, I only have a dim understanding after reading it twice but it makes sense about the Point of Aim idea, which makes or breaks the gun (that bears concern on why it is being made to begin with) and that is likely the whole reason people are asking.

        • avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          I don’t have my own blog because:

          a) I have lots of other things to do. Formatting a blog, doing all the programming, tracking, security, etc… takes time away from working on guns. My hat’s off to the gentlemen running this blog – it takes time, and a lot of it that the subscribers/users don’t see. Unless you’ve run a blog (and I know some people who do), you don’t realize what a time sink it is until you get into it – and then you have to make a decision to either run the blog or run your business.

          b) People would inevitably ask me “Can you tell me what’s wrong with my gun?” And my answer is: “Without holding it in my hands, looking at it carefully, experimenting… often I can’t.” Sometimes I can, but the really interesting problems are ones where I need to hold it in my hands.

          Gunsmithing is a very tactile thing, especially as you get older and your sight fades.

          c) I’m just not that important.

        • avatar40&2000 says:

          Thanks for the great write up. And for $hitting all over my hopes an dreams. I have serious respect for real old school gunsmiths. Lots of serious and diverse skills needed. I’ve met a bunch of “gunsmiths” that were just part swappers.

    • avatarSwarf says:

      Off topic, sorry.

      I’ve got one of those (16ga.x2 over 8mm rimmed beautiful workmanship) that I inherited from my grandfather and i am having a hell of a time finding any info on it.

      Anyone know of websites with info on German dreilling guns? Possibly made in 1932 if I’m reading the proofs right.

      • avatarGregolas says:

        Guns&Ammo had articles on drillings in the 80′s or 90′s. You might try the back issues online.

      • avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        These gentlemen have been of some help in the past on such questions:

        Be prepared to answer questions about proof marks, serial numbers, symbols found under the barrels, etc. European gun makers put all manner of proof/provenance/steel/date/maker symbols all over their guns in various locations. The proofing marks will typically be on the barrels, on the bottom where they’d be hidden by the action when closed.

        • avatarSwarf says:

          Thanks for that, I’ll try them in the morning. Your post above was fascinating, too.

          European gun makers put all manner of proof/provenance/steel/date/maker symbols all over their guns in various locations.

          Don’t I know it. There are rows of them, each slightly different. Not only maker’s marks, but also a lot of them have to do with Grandpa getting it out of Germany, if I understand correctly.

  9. avatarJesse Nelson says:

    Well I wouldn’t mind one if it could be had for a reasonable price. After all it’s kinda neat.

    • avatarJesse Nelson says:

      Oh good GOD man… I just looked it up… they want like $1,600 for that shotgun!

      • avatarAlphaGeek says:

        Thank you for saving me the trouble of making a snarky comment about your definition of “reasonable price”. :)

        Keep in mind that the high price is because there’s no high-volume production line cranking these things out. At best there will be a line of CNC mills and lathes spending part of their time making these, then they have to be fitted by a production gunsmith.

      • avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        For a three-barrel shotgun, break action?

        That’s dirt cheap. Dirt, dirt, dirt cheap. Almost “Saturday Night Special” cheap.

        Makes me immediately suspicious of the quality of the work.

  10. avatarWilliam says:


  11. avatarGyufygy says:

    I really wish the Rhino would work out. Brilliant idea, and it looks cool.

  12. avatarPhilthegardner says:

    Didn’t Will Smith hold one of these monsters in MIB???

  13. avatarduke nukem says:

    that thing looks sexy as hell but it must kick like a 3000 ton bull

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      Actually, no. The barrels fire individually, and the heavier the shotgun the less felt recoil you have.

  14. avatarEvan says:

    Well it’ll be a nice option when ” high capacity” means one round.

  15. avatarOld Ben turning in grave says:

    If y0u could touch off all three at once, that would be fun. Painful, but fun. Also, imagine how intimidating it would be to break into a house and stare down the business end.

  16. avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    This looks to be a monoblock style setup. Thanks for taking a really detailed photo.

    The differing trigger pulls is old-school. Young shooters (like < 80 years old) are most likely unfamiliar with such things unless they're double-gun aficionados.

    The idea is sound. I'd really like to see an American company attempt a drilling, but I think the price I'd expect to see on a drilling would scare off most people in the market. I'd price a drilling with two 20's and a (eg) 7mm08 at about $5K as a starting point. It should have nice (I mean really nice) walnut for the furniture, be rust blued and have a full/modified fixed choke setup. I'd want it to come in at about 8lbs, with barrels 24" long.

    For hunting in the northeast US or even the upper midwest, a drilling would be the cat's pajamas. Upland or big game, grab one gun and go into the field. For ducks and geese, you get out the long barrels semi-autos that can handle 3" shells.

    • avatarAlphaGeek says:

      Would you secretly be horrified if a philistine customer (eg myself) asked for it to be bored and threaded for Benelli-spec choke tubes?

      • avatarDyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        Well, maybe not horrified. It’s the customer’s gun, after all.

        But… If doing something like that to a gun would create a situation where there would be a radical decrease in the valuation of the piece by performing the work, I will call in the customer for a heart-to-heart chat and ‘splain the situation to them. I’m not going to have a customer be surprised (and mad as heck) if I do a job and he takes it down the road a year or two from now and has a collector say “Really nice gun. Shame that you had XYZ done to it – that halved (or worse) what the gun was worth…”

        These situations are very difficult to project on a new production gun. A generation down the road, who knows what becomes highly valued? But for existing guns of some age (like a German drilling worth thousands to 10′s of thousands), it’s as simple as making a few calls to various auction houses, looking in collector’s books, etc and we can start coming up with a projected “cost” of making a mod.

        Take the situation of a customer who has Grandad’s old 1911 from WWII… and all it says on the slide is “S. Mfg. Co. Elizabeth, N.J. U.S.A.”. The pistol is in excellent condition, with most all the blue still there, the wood grip panels are in great shape, etc.

        Let’s say this customer is one who thinks one 1911 is just as good as the next if they don’t have the prancing pony on the side, and he inherited said pistol. He comes into a ‘smith’s shop and says “Put a set of night sights on it, please…”

        The responsible gunsmith would look at said 1911, NB the serial numbers, make sure it’s not a fraud or counterfeit, pour himself a shot of whiskey, call his insurance agent to up his coverage, then he’d call said customer “You do know that some Singer 1911′s have recently fetched over $100K at auction, right? And slapping a set of night sights on this where I cut new dovetails into the slide isn’t going to make that number go up on this pistol, right?”

        But if you brought in that same Singer 1911 into a smith’s shop in the late 50′s or early 60′s and asked for it to be tricked up, I have to say that most smith’s would probably have just done the work. One WWII-era 1911 was like the next one. They were plentiful.

        Another example: Today, people collect Colt SAA’s at very handsome prices. In the 20′s through the 40′s, Elmer Keith blew up several SAA’s in pursuit of his hot loads and .44 Magnum idea. Back then, I seriously doubt a second-generation SAA, used, cost you more than $5 to $10 in that area of the US.

        How much would those SAA’s be worth today? Thousands to over $10K. One that you could prove was shot by Elmer? Thousands more. Enough that they shouldn’t be used as mules to test hot loads…

  17. avatarJim says:

    Im thinkin these guys will build anything if they get enough requests. I always wanted a blunderbuss so could everybody help a giy put and fire off an email or two? More I look at it, they could probably solder on a coupla more barrels and have a halfway decent imitation of a volley gun. A six barrel .410 shotgun? C’mon you all know you want one.

  18. avatarIn Memphis says:

    That would be pretty bad @&& to fire some dragons breath from

  19. avatarCrunkleross says:

    I won’t be surprised if some enterprising gunsmiths will be sleeving the top barrel to fire a rifle round if these ever hit the market in numbers.

    Po people version will be a slip in chamber adapter.

  20. avatarCrunkleross says:

    This version looks more interesting for use around the home.

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