I live in north Austin. My FFL, Central Texas Gunworks, is down south. Those who have lived, worked, or played in Austin know that going from north to south and back north again is a frustrating exercise at the best of times. And it’s rises to the level of self flagellation during rush hour. But I like CenTex. They’re fast, inexpensive, and friendly. But they pulled a fast one on me. I’m expecting a very accurate rifle from a certain Italian conglomerate that I’ve wanted going on eight years. So when CenTex called to say I had a rifle to pick up, I texted my family to tell them that my big day had finally come. What’s all that have to do with a multi-caliber survival rifle? Great question . . .
I confidently strode into CenTex, slapped down my DL and CHL, and said, “I’m here to pick up a rifle” with a touch of smug satisfaction. The nice lady behind the counter handed me a 4473 and headed toward the back to pick it up. As I double-checked my yes and no answers, she came back and set down a cardboard box not big enough to hold an Italian rifle with Chiappa written on the side. From her expression, I could tell she knew something was wrong.
“Is this the gun you were expecting?”
“No. Not one bit”
And then, like a great fog lifting, I remembered a series of emails from Dan requesting my FFL in regards to a Chiappa rifle coming from our friends at the Kentucky Gun Company. I’d sent the info and promptly forgotten about it.
“Well what is it?” my FFL asked.
“A survival rifle of sorts, I guess,” I replied.
“What’s this heavy pouch for?” she wondered.
Turns out that pouch holds the caliber inserts. Eight of them. Eight inches long. They allow the 12 gauge barrel to shoot nine other pistol and shotgun calibers. Which is a fine thing when you need to shoot something, anything, out of a single gun.
On the way, home, my dad called to ask about my new Italian rifle. When I told him about the X-Caliber, he demanded pictures. Surely no such rifle could exist in the wild. And then he asked what I thought about it and two things came to mind.
The first was a scene from the 1995 box office flop, “The Quick and the Dead”. In the movie, Russell Crowe’s character gets only one bullet in his revolver, but his adversary survives the first shot. Russell finds himself outgunned and dodging bullets in a very literal sense. Here’s the whole sequence, though the scene I had in mind starts at 2:12.
Since my dad had never seen the movie, I had to describe the scene as a blind boy frantically searches for the right cartridge, Russell frantically avoids getting shot. The boy tosses him the right cartridge, he loads it, and kills his adversary. But precious seconds were wasted. I explained further that had Russell been armed with the X-Caliber, he could have told the boy, “Throw me the first cartridge you can. I’ll figure out the rest!” My dad laughed, and pointed out that it was a pistol duel, and that the X-Caliber wouldn’t have been allowed in the first place. I agree, but stand by my assertion.
He then went on to ask what I thought of it outside the context of Hollywood westerns. And I had to begrudgingly admit that while it is horrifically ugly, it seems to be well thought out. The triggers are pleasant. I measured them last night when I got home and was pleased to find that the .22LR barrel trigger breaks at a very crispy three pounds. The shotgun barrel trigger has a touch of creep, but still breaks at a nice four pounds. The peep sights are really quite fantastic, too, thanks to the bright red fiber optic front sight. And even though the stock is made of polystyrene, it actually shoulders nicely and feels pretty good in my hands.
Earlier, I mentioned that the X-Calbier reminded me of two things. The first was that iconic movie scene. The second was a new kid in class. A particularly weird new kid. Definitely weird. And you know that talking to that new kid or being seen with him could tank any chance of popularity you may have, but there’s just something about that kid.
The X-Caliber is no different. It’s thoroughly weird. And ugly. And I don’t know if it even shoots well. But I can’t stop thinking about it. So far, all I know is that it will shoot something like 12 different types of ammo, the triggers and sights are nice, the ergonomics pleasant enough, and the stock is made of styrofoam. It makes a GLOCK look svelte, but I can’t remember the last time I’ve been this excited to go shoot something. Stay tuned for more updates on this weird kid.