I've been wanting to try out the Double Badger ever since I first saw it at SHOT Show 2013. The Double Badger is the first 22 Rifle/410 Shotgun folding combo since the demise of the Springfield M6 Scout. The M6 was the civilian version of the Airforce's original M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon, and was discontinued by Springfield in 2008.
The Airforce M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon (photo credit: C+RESENAL Historical Firearms Information Site)
The M6 AirCrew Weapon, chambered in 22 Hornet/410, was meant to allow downed pilots to forage for food while awaiting rescue in the wilderness. The Air Force decided to go with a rifle/shotgun combo because it allows a wider variety of game to be harvested than a single-barreled rifle.
Within 25 yards the 410 is effective on birds or other small game. The 22 Hornet is powerful enough for larger game such as antelope or small deer at up to 50 yards. This flexibility is what made the M6 extremely versatile, yet still lightweight.
Original scan of M6 Aircrew Weapon manual, showing maximum effective range for each cartridge (photo credit: www.milesfortis.com):
As mentioned, the Double Badger is unique because it folds in half for easy storage. This is accomplished by pulling down on the rear of the trigger guard and then folding the gun in half:
(click to enlarge)
Photo credit: Monica Tymcio/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft
The folded Double Badger is small enough to fit inside my tiny Kelty Daypack:
You also fold the Double Badger to load and unload it:
The Double Badger includes a manual extractor, which tends to be more reliable than an ejector system.
The Double Badger comes with a Williams high-visibility fiber-optic front bead sight, and an adjustable high-visibility ghost-ring rear sight:
The Double Badger is equipped with sling swivels:
The Double Badger weighs in at 5 pounds 12 ounces:
This is on the heavy side for a survival rifle, and is due to the Double Badger's Walnut stock. The Walnut stock is very nice, and it makes the Double Badger feel more balanced when holding it, but for a survival gun, weight (or lack of) is king. Out of curiosity, I decided to compare it to the weight of Rossi's popular Youth 22LR/410 "Matched Pair" Combo Gun:
The Rossi weighed in at 5 pounds 4 ounces. This makes the Double Badger's weight more reasonable by comparison, especially considering that the Rossi is a smaller youth model with a synthetic stock, but the Double Badger could still benefit from a reduction in weight. With a synthetic stock, my guess is that it would weigh a pound to a pound and half less.
22 Magnum Rifle/410 Shotgun Barrel
The 410 barrel has a fixed Improved Cylinder Choke and is chambered for either 2.5" or 3" shells. It will safely shoot slugs, buckshot, or birdshot. Both the rifle and shotgun barrels are 19" in length.
For this review, I chose the .22 Magnum model, because it is closest to the original M6 Aircrew Weapon's 22 Hornet/410 Configuration.
From left to right: 22 Hornet, 22 Magnum, 22 Long Rifle
22 Magnum vs 22 Long Rifle for Survival
Although the .22 Magnum is less powerful than the 22 Hornet, when shot from a rifle barrel, it is roughly 2 1/2 times more powerful than the .22 Long Rifle, having nearly the same energy as a 9mm Pistol Round. This increase in power comes in a package that weighs just a fraction more than the Long Rifle, yet gives the Magnum the ability to take larger, tougher game such as turkey, geese, or even small deer in a survival situation.
To illustrate this power increase, I tested Winchester's full metal jacket Super-X .22 Magnum 40 grain round against a 7" pine log from the Double Badger. The full metal jacket 22 Magnum round was able to blast completely through it. That is some serious penetration from a small rimfire round.
There are three ways around this limitation. One is to carry lower powered ammunition such as .22 WRF (Winchester Rimfire). Winchester Rimfire has roughly the same energy as a .22 Long Rifle high velocity round, yet is safe to shoot in any .22 Magnum rifle. Another is to use a 22LR to 22 Magnum Adapter so you can shoot 22LR ammo. The third option is to carry Full Metal Jacket 22 Magnum loads, which are less destructive than hollow point ammunition.
The downside to .22 Long Rifle Adapters and .22 WRF ammunition is that they are not as accurate at longer ranges as 22 Magnum loads. However, they are accurate enough for small game targets within 20-25 yards (check out the accuracy results in the field testing section). Full Metal Jacket .22 Magnum rounds don't have these accuracy limitations, so they are better for 25 yard+ shots without worrying about destroying too much edible meat.
A mix of .22 Magnum Hollow Points, .22 Magnum Full Metal Jackets, and either .22 WFR ammo or a .22 Long Rifle Adapter along with some .22LR rounds would give you a nicely rounded, highly flexible selection of ammo for wilderness survival purposes in the Double Badger's .22 Magnum barrel.
I wanted to field test the Double Badger with the M6 Aircrew Weapon in mind-- 25 yards for the 410, and up to 50 yards for 22 Magnum. Open sights only.
Photo credit: Monica Tymcio/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft
The first task was to get the Double Badger sighted in. From the factory, the rear sight was off a bit, as both barrels shot several inches to the left of where the sights were aimed. As shown in the photo below, I had to adjust the rear sight right by a good margin to shoot to point of aim. Once I got it adjusted, I used medium Loctite threadlocker to keep it in place, and the Double Badger shot true to aim with both barrels for the rest of field test.
(click to enlarge)
22 Magnum Testing
For the 22 Magnum tests, I wanted to find out how accurate the Double Badger would be shooting at close range and at 50 yards. Per my earlier discussion about the problem with using hollow points at less than 50 yards on small game, I wanted to test full metal jacket rounds at squirrel targets at close range. I also wanted to see what kind of accuracy I could get at 50 Yards using standard hollow point hunting ammo. I figured if it was accurate in both of these tests, the Double Badger would have the kind of well-rounded accuracy needed in a survival situation.
15 Yards, kneeling position- CCI Maxi-Mag Total Metal Jacket 40 grain:
15 Yards, kneeling position- Winchester Super-X Full Metal Jacket 40gr:
.22 Winchester Rimfire (WFR) Testing
15 Yards (45 Feet) freestanding. These did not hit to the same point of aim as the .22 Magnum ammo, but still grouped tightly at this distance:
45 Yards using a tree branch as a rest. With a bit of practice, I could probably keep all the .22 WRF rounds in the target, but at this distance, the Magnum rounds are far superior in accuracy.
MCA Sports 22 Long Rifle to 22 Magnum Adapter
15 Yards freestanding using Remington 36 Grain Hollow Point Golden Bullets:
25 Yards freestanding using CCI 40 grain Velocitors. As you can see in the photo below, at 25 yards, the groups start to really open up, and it becomes difficult to hit small targets with any consistency. Up to 20 yards, however, the adapter performed well, and would be great for taking small game without destroying edible meat as you would with a Magnum round. For shots past 20 yards, I'd use .22 WRF or a .22 Magnum Full Metal Jacket round, but this is certainly a great option either way.
410 Shotgun Testing
20 Yard Birdshot Pattern testing
Remington 2.5" 410 #6 Game Load, 20 Yards:
Winchester 2.5" 410 #6 Game Load, 20 Yards:
Estate 2.5" #7.5 Shot, a high value\low cost shotgun ammo made by Federal, 20 Yards:
3" Birdshot Shells
The Double Badger did however like 3" Federal Game-Shok 11/16th ounce using #7.5 Shot:
25 Yard Testing
Winchester 2.5" 410 #6 Game Load, 25 Yards:
Remington 2.5" 410 #6 Game Load, 25 Yards:
Estate 2.5" #7.5 Shot, 25 Yards:
3" Birdshot Shells
Remington 3" 410 #5 Shot, 25 Yards:
The Remington 3" #5 shell definitely performed well at 25 yards, but Winchester's 3" #4 Shot, and Federal's 3" 7.5 Shot seemed to put consistently more lead into the targets at this distance. The Federal #7.5 Shot load in particular was outstanding, and would be a great all-purpose bird and small game round in the Double Badger.
Champion Turkey Target pattern at 25 yards using Winchester's 3" High Brass #6 ammo, a popular 410 turkey hunting load:
The Double Badger would have definitely been effective at this range:
Federal 3" #4 Buckshot
Federal 3" #4 Buckshot, 15 Yards, freestanding:
Winchester 3" 000 Buckshot
15 Yards freestanding (NOTE: the mark without the hole is where the wad hit the target and bounced off):
25 Yards Freestanding. The pattern is still tight enough at this distance to take a deer:
50 Yards with open sights shooting from a kneeling position:
I was pleasantly surprised to see this kind of accuracy out of a smoothbore shotgun barrel:
So what is my impression of the Double Badger after spending 6 months in the field with it? Outstanding. After putting a 1000+ rounds of mixed ammunition through it without a hitch, and seeing how effective it was shooting a variety of rifle and shotgun ammunition, I'm happy to report that the Double Badger turned out to be a very competent wilderness gun.
Due to its weight, it won't be replacing the ultra-light Springfield M6 rifle any time soon. However, the Double Badger just might be what fans of the defunct but highly popular Savage Model 24 22/410 Camper's Companion have been looking for. Fans of the Camper's Companion should feel right at home with the Double Badger, since both guns weigh virtually the same (5.75lbs), have wooden stocks, and have a similar barrel arrangement and overall length. Where the Double Badger improves upon the Camper's Companion however, is that it has an easier to use double trigger system, high visibility sights, and the ability to fold in half with just the squeeze of a lever.
Of course, it will take many years to see if the Double Badger has the long term durability of the Savage, but considering the amount of rounds I fired without any issues, I'd say the Double Badger is off to a very promising start.
Improvements? Yes. The Double Badger could really benefit from a synthetic stock to trim some of its weight (are you listening Choate Stocks?). The Double Badger is also screaming for a soft case to keep it protected while carrying it folded out in the field. Also, maybe my test gun was a fluke, but based on my experience with having to adjust the rear sight to get the gun to shoot to point of aim, I'd like to see better a factory sight-in test before the Double Badger is shipped.
On a side note, the Double Badger is able to shoot both barrels at the same time. Shooting both barrels of the Double Badger isn't quite like shooting both barrels of a 12 Gauge Double Barrel Shotgun, but try shooting 3" 000 Magnum Buckshot and a 22 Magnum out of this relatively light gun at the same time, and it will give you one serious grin!
Even shooting the barrels one at a time, the Double Badger was truly a fun gun to use throughout testing. It was especially fun to shoot the 410 barrel right after dusk, when targets were more difficult to see. The high visibility sights made it a cinch to consistently blast small soup cans into the air at 25 yards even in the waning light.
I think what makes the Double Badger such a great wilderness gun is its flexibility. With it's 22 Magnum barrel, and shooting a combination of Magnum rounds mixed with lower powered ammo such as .22 Winchester Rimfire or using a .22 Long Rifle Adapter, you have the potential to take the smallest of game all the way up to turkeys and even small deer.
With the 410, loaded with Brenneke slugs, the Double Badger could serve as a big game hunting rifle out to 50 yards. With 3" 000 Buckshot, you could defend against dangerous predators. Loaded with birdshot, the Double Badger could be used to bag birds out to 25 yards, and small game all the way out to 45 yards using larger #4 Birdshot.
This awesome flexibility is what makes the Double Badger shine, and would make it a great survival weapon to carry on ATVs, pack horses, 4x4s, and bush planes. With a street price of between $300 and $350, I would buy this gun for the shotgun alone. The rifle barrel is just a bonus.
4 out of 5 Stars (Highly Recommended)
APRIL 15th, 2016- UPDATE- Chiappa to release Double Badger in 20 Gauge
APRIL 26th, 2016- LONG TERM UPDATE- Chiappa Double Badger Folding .22 Magnum/410 Shotgun
About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ hotmail.com (without spaces)