Not long ago I wrote an article about a folding survival shotgun and one of the commenters said something along the lines of, “Opinions on survival firearms are like assholes. Everybody has at least one.” He went on to elaborate about his choice of a takedown .22.
Well, he’s right. Lots of people praise this firearm or that one as a good survival gun. Like EDC handguns, it’s all about individual needs and personal opinions.
Luckily, we have a diverse capitalistic market that caters to those needs and opinions. One such provision is the Chiappa Firearms Little Badger.
The Chiappa Little Badger is a folding, breach-loading single-shot rifle very similar to that folding shotgun I reviewed. It looks like the creation of a post-apocalyptic gunsmith. It’s a series of tubes, if you will, with a hammer, some rails, and a set of sights.
This little carbine is a remarkably simple gun that’s lightweight and folds almost completely in half. It weighs only 2.9 pounds, has a 16.5-inch barrel length, an overall length of 31 inches, and is only 16.5 inches when folded.
The gun is a single shot design and comes in .22WMR , .17HMR, and .22LR. Mine is the .22LR variant.
The 16.5-inch barrel and is threaded to accept a suppressor or muzzle device. The threads are the very common 1/2 x 28 pitch. The wire buttstock provides zero cheek rest, but luckily .22LR is an ultra soft-shooting cartridge.
The stock contains a plastic fixture similar to a shotgun side saddle shell holder that allows you to hold 12 rounds of ammo, although the loops aren’t real loops and don’t wrap around the shell as a saddle shell carrier would. They pop in and out and ammo will likely pop out during transport or long walks. It isn’t a super-secure method of holding ammo. The stock has a rubber butt plate as well.
All The Rails
The forend of the foldable Little Badger is comprised of four Picatinny rails held extremely tightly to each other. The best way to install accessories to the gun is to remove the rail you wish to use and install the accessory. Then re-install the rail on the rifle.
The rails will allow for a flashlight or optic. A small red dot would seem an appropriate add-on for this weapon.
A red dot might be a good idea because the Little Badger’s sights aren’t so great. They want to be great, but fail in some ways.
The sights are M1-style and adjustable. You can adjust them quite a bit, and they could be awesome. However, they’re made of cheap plastic and easily deform. They won’t stand up to much use or abuse.
Somewhere along the way, my rear peep sight got twisted and now leans slightly to the right. A metal sight would be oh so much more impressive.
The sight’s peep hole is also painfully small. On a full-sized rifle like an M16A2, these super-small peep sights work. On a rifle like this one with a stupid-short length of pull and hardly anywhere to rest your face, they’re too small and difficult to really use. It’s downright uncomfortable for my 6’4″ frame to get behind.
That leads us to ergonomics which are on the meh side. That short LOP is forgivable because of what the Little Badger is trying to be. This is a light, packable gun for emergency use. Still, you the reader should be aware of the gun’s limitations.
You can adjust the stock slightly by loosening a bolt in the receiver and pulling the stock slightly outward. It doesn’t make a big difference, though.
The grip is also ridiculously small and short. It features a section of rail, however, where you can add a AR-15-style pistol grip, which Chiappa sells for $21. For $10 you can buy a tubular grip that houses a pocket cleaning kit as well.
The hammer is easy to reach, textured and easy to cock into place. If you were to add a variable scope, though, you’ll need a hammer extension to cock it. There’s no manual safety, but there is a half-cock position.
To open the breach you simply pull the lever in front of the trigger guard. This allows you to open and load the gun as well as fold it for easy storage or transport. There is an extractor, but shells need to be manually ejected.
Accuracy-wise the Little Badger is solid enough to be a small game getter. You can make headshots on squirrels and rabbits at rabbit and squirrel range. The trigger is stiff, but has a very short pull and there is hardly any take-up.
It’s a better trigger than you’d imagine. The Little Badger can be an accurate gun and my biggest difficulty was the odd stock and configuration, on top of the bent sight.
I drifted the rear sight a good ways to make up for it, and need to drift it even further to get a perfect zero. However, the adjustment screw seems stuck at this point, even though there’s certainly more room for it to drift.
I tried until I cut my thumb, so excuse the blood on the gun in some of the photos. I’m on target though!
The rear sight can be adjusted for elevation too, but far too easily. It can easily get bumped into one of several positions, but luckily they are numbered and it’s easy to remember where you were at.
I got on target though and produced some nice little groups on a small bullseye target at 20 yards. Soda cans are a much more fun target, though and I tore through some Orange Vanilla Coke cans for some nostalgic fun.
Moving back to 35 and 50 yards gets a little tougher with this little gun and that’s where a mini red dot would really shine. I can hit soda cans the majority of the time, but at those ranges, with a rifle, I should be able to hit them every time.
The Little Badger isn’t a big guy-friendly gun and feels very unwieldy for someone my size.
As you’d expect, the Little Badger produces very little recoil and is a soft shooter. .22 long rifle is one of the few rounds where a wire stock is both comfortable and adequate.
As you’d imagine reliability is top-notch. The hammer slams the firing pin home and with Federal Automatch .22LR it runs 100% of the time. While rimfire can be picky when it comes to ignition, I haven’t hit any failures to ignite yet in hundreds of rounds.
Best yet is the gun’s low price. I purchased mine for $150 bucks at a local gun store. It’s perfect for tossing in a bug-out bag and leaving it there along with a few hundred rounds of .22LR ammunition. That way, no matter what, you have a rifle.
The Little Badger would be an excellent kid’s gun, a perfect trainer for new shooters. It’s a fun gun that certainly has few flaws. But at this price point, I can’t be too upset.
Specifications: Chiappa Firearms Little Badger Rifle
Caliber – .22 long rifle
Capacity – 1
Barrel Length – 16.5 Inches
Overall Length – 31 Inches
Weight – 2.9 Pounds
Safety – Half Cock Position
MSRP – $216 (retail about $170)
Ratings (Out of Five Stars):
Accuracy * * * *
The gun has the ability to be very accurate, but its small size makes it difficult for me to get a good grip, cheek weld, and to assume a proper sight picture. Smaller shooters may have more luck than I.
Reliability * * * *
I’ve never had an issue with the gun firing, and in terms of firing reliability, it’s a 5-star rifle. I took a star off for the cheap and now bent rear sight.
Ergonomics * * *
The short LOP, wire stock, and small grip drag the Little Badger down in the ergonomics department. The hammer, trigger, and lightweight design are its successes.
Fit and Finish * * *
I love the post-apocalyptic look of the gun. Its Mad Max aesthetic gives it a cool look. The finish is generally good, but those plastic sights bend too easily.
Overall * * * 1/2
The Chiappa Little Badger is a cheap, single-shot, folding survival rifle. It certainly fills the SHTF bill well. Yes, it has some flaws in its design, but that’s to be expected with its ultra-affordable price tag. Chiappa also sells a variety of accessories like grips and a carry-bag.