Tuesday, April 26, 2016

LONG TERM UPDATE: Chiappa Double Badger Folding .22 Magnum/410 Shotgun

(Photo credit: Monica Tymcio/Rocky Mountain Bushcraft, ©2014)

Pelican Storm Case, Uncle Mike's Sling/Buttstock Holder, New Ammo Tested, and more

Hey friends, I wanted to give you an update on the Chiappa Double Badger Folding .22 Magnum/410 Shotgun I reviewed back in July of 2014. After nearly 2 years, the Double Badger is still going strong. I have taken a number of rabbits and squirrels for the dinner table with it, and just as when I first reviewed it, I still really enjoy shooting it. In the last two years, I have received quite a number of questions about the Double Badger, so here goes.....

Issues/Questions on the choke, shooting slugs, scope mounts, and more

QUESTION #1- THE CHOKE- One of our readers left a comment on the original Double Badger review, saying they believed it had an Extra Full Choke, not a standard Full Choke as specified by Chiappa. I contacted Chiappa about this and they were adamant that the Double Badger had a Full Choke, not Extra Full. It is possible that the Double Badger, being an Italian-made gun, has a full choke that is tighter than a standard American full choke.

QUESTION #2- SIGHTS- Several readers emailed me expressing concern over the fragility of the Double Badger's Williams' manufactured fiber-optic front sight. Some consider it a potential weak spot for survival and bushcraft use. I was also a bit curious about this, so I removed the fiber optic insert and shot the gun at both 25 yards and 50 yards.

Even with the fiber optic sight removed, the remaining steel housing of the sight functioned well, allowing me to maintain a decent sight picture. The shotgun's accuracy stayed virtually the same with both slugs and birdshot, and the rimfire barrel was only slightly less accurate, even out to 50 yards.

This proved that losing or damaging the fiber optic sight in a survival situation would be at worst a minor inconvenience. This is good to know, since many rifles and shotguns today use these types of sights. 

One way to improve the sight picture if you were to lose the fiber optic insert would be to carve a small piece of green wood and insert it into the sight holder. This would fill the hole and allow a more precise sight picture.

QUESTION #3- SHOOTING BRENNEKE SLUGS THROUGH THE DOUBLE BADGER- Several readers expressed concern that shooting Brenneke slugs through the Double Badger's full choke could damage the barrel.

The best answer to this question comes directly from Brenneke's FAQ page:

Why do Brenneke USA slugs have the ribs on the outside diameter of their slugs?

ANSWER: The purpose of the ribs on the outside diameter of the slug..........allows them, unlike most competitors slugs, to be used with any choke. As the slug passes through the three constricted areas, inside of the barrel, the Forcing Cone, Inside Bore, and then the Choke, the excess lead is squeezed into the gaps between the ribs with no damage to the barrel. Somewhat better accuracy may be noted when using a more open choke."

QUESTION #4- BRENNEKE SLUGS SHOOT HIGH THROUGH THE DOUBLE BADGER- Another concern some have are Brenneke slugs shooting high in their Double Badgers. Brenneke also addresses this issue on their FAQ page:

QUESTION: When the slug leaves the barrel does it have a different flight path other than a straight plane?

ANSWER: Yes, once the slugs leaves the muzzle of the shotgun it will rise - - flying somewhat like an arrow. Depending on the slug it may be as much as 1.3 inches high at 50 yards and then at 75 yards the law of gravity begins to take place and the slug will start to drop. Please refer to the ballistics information for each slug found in the individual Product Sheets.

QUESTION #5- MOUNTING A SCOPE ON THE DOUBLE BADGER- Early Double Badgers were drilled and tapped on their barrels for a scope base. The problem was that no one made a scope base that fit. You would either have to pay a gunsmith to make one, or just go without a scope. Some people have apparently resorted to epoxying a close fitting base on the barrel in order to get a scope mounted.

The good news is that newer Double Badgers have a standard grooved dovetail receiver which will allow standard rimfire scope rings to be used. I haven't seen one of these newer Double Badgers in person, so maybe someone can post a photo in the comments section showing a scope successfully mounted on one.

QUESTION #6- I THINK THE FIBER OPTIC FRONT SITE ON THE DOUBLE BADGER IS TOO BIG/BLOCKS  THE SIGHT PICTURE FOR SMALL GAME HUNTING. WHAT DO YOU THINK? The Double Badger's Williams Fiber Optic front sight, which is great for close range shotgun shooting due to it's high visibility, does limit longer range rifle accuracy due to its larger diameter when compared to a typical thin-bladed front sight, such as those used on the Ruger 10/22 and Marlin 795/Papoose .22 Rifles. Of course for small game targets a thin front sight blade is best to ensure pinpoint accuracy for humane kills.

Having the ability to mount a scope would fix the problem. Chiappa was going for a compromise when they decided to put a Williams sight system on the Double Badger because of it having a .410 shotgun barrel. Now that they added a grooved receiver to accept scope rings, hopefully this will no longer be an issue for people wanting to reach out farther for small game.

QUESTION #7- MY DOUBLE BADGER IS VERY TIGHT WHEN I FOLD/UNFOLD IT- ANY SUGGESTIONS?- Yes- just loosen the main hinge screws with a screwdriver and it will be easier to fold and unfold:

It will also loosen up on its own over time as you use the gun.

More Buckshot Testing

For the update. I thought I would test a couple of popular 410 self-defense rounds for people who might carry their Double Badger for "two-legged critter" protection on the trail, while camping, or at their homestead.

The two loads I tested were Winchester's popular PDX1 410 Defender Load, which shoots 3 Copper plated lead discs and 12 copper plated lead BBs, and Remington's new Ultimate Home Defense 410 000 Buckshot load, which has three .36 caliber lead balls in it.

As you can see below, the Double Badger performed well with both loads:

 15 Yards- Winchester PDX1 Defender 410 

Winchester says that the PDX1 can also be used for pest and varmint control. Based on the pattern above, I'd say their description was pretty accurate. This could make the PDX1 a flexible 410 ammo for rural/off-the-grid use, especially if you frequently have to deal with predators attacking your livestock, etc.

15 Yards- Remington "Ultimate Home Defense" 410 2.5" 000 Buckshot

The Remington buckshot load shot slightly to the right at 15 yards, but nothing too extreme. It would certainly be very effective.

Winchester Super X .22 Magnum Lead-Free Ammo

After bumping into the Winchester folks at SHOT Show last year, they kindly offered to send me a test sample of their environmentally friendly, lead-free Super X .22 Magnum to try.  I thought this ammo would be of special interest to our California readers who will have to comply with a total ban on lead hunting ammo in their state within the next three years.

Winchester's Lead-Free Super X .22 Magnum consists of a 28 grain, copper jacketed, tin-alloy bullet. This bullet zings along at a sizzling 2200FPS.

Below are the test results using open sights in a seated position at 50 yards, using a Champion squirrel target:

(click to enlarge)

As mentioned in the question and answer section above, the large, fiber optic sight on the Double Badger makes longer range shots a little more difficult, so I consider this to be good, practical accuracy considering the limitations of the sight and not using a rest. Using a scope would have undoubtedly cut this group in half.

Shooting Winchester's .22 WRF (Winchester Rimfire) in the Double Badger

As you may recall from my original review, I got a chance to test CCI's .22 WRF Winchester Rimfire in the Double Badger. What's great about .22 WRF ammo is that it has roughly the same energy as a hot .22 Long Rifle round (169 foot pounds), yet is perfectly safe to shoot in any .22 Magnum rifle. This makes it excellent for small game hunting at close range without destroying too much of the edible meat.

I had wanted to try Winchester's version of the .22 WRF in the Double Badger, but at the time of the review, I was unable to find any in my area.

Recently, I got lucky and managed to score some in a trade at a local gun store, so thought I would test it and post the results.

Here are the results at 25 yards using open sights: 

The Double Badger really seemed to like this ammo. Unfortunately, Winchester only makes it once every 1-2 years, so it can be a bit hard to find. It can be found pretty regularly at online gun auctions, albeit at a slight premium.

Luckily, since the Double Badger is a slow loading single shot, even just 1-2 boxes go a long way. With the rising popularity of .22 Magnum survival rifles, hopefully Winchester will resume making .22 WRF as a regular item.

Champion Target Holder Stand

I'd like to thank Champion Targets for sending me one of their portable Target Holder Stands. I like to travel to different areas in the mountains to test gear, so I am always on the move. The Champion target holder was lightweight and convenient because of its ease of setup and take down. 

Uncle Mike Sling and Buttstock Holder

While rummaging around the gear section of a local gun shop, I happened across a used Uncle Mike's Ultra Padded Cartridge Sling that fit the Double Badger perfectly. It has padding for comfort and holds six rounds of 410 ammo:

Unfortunately, these slings were discontinued recently, but there are other excellent options out there, such as Specialty Outdoor's Ultimate Rifle Sling, which I started using on my one of my other survival guns recently with great success.

I also added an Uncle Mike's buttstock rifle shell holder, to the Double Badger, which conveniently holds nine rounds of 410 at my fingertips:

In order to carry a small cache of .22 Magnum ammo with the gun, I picked up a couple of penny-sized coin tubes that I bought from a local coin shop and made them into improvised ammo holders. 

There is just enough room on the other side of the Uncle Mike Buttstock Shell Holder to securely hold these tubes:

As it is installed now, the Uncle Mike's Buttstock Holder tends to move around on the stock. I plan to punch a hole in it and reinstall it over the sling swivel stud to make it more secure.

Pelican Storm Case IM2700

I wanted to find a good, sturdy, waterproof case to protect the Double Badger during my rough and tumble trips into the mountains, so I contacted Pelican Products Inc. out in Torrance, California.

Pelican cases are widely used by the military, law enforcement and professionals in TV, film and journalism to keep equipment safe from damage while in the field. They are mil-spec, water resistant, dustproof, crushproof, and 100% made in the USA. These qualities make them a great choice for keeping survival rifles protected under the harshest conditions.

Pelican recommended their IM2700 case, which is not only waterproof, but also able to float, a great plus if you plan to take this case on boating or canoe trips. They were nice enough to send me one to try with the Double Badger (click any image to enlarge):

Not only did the IM2700 case fit the Double Badger, but it also had enough room to include other survival goodies, such as extra ammo, a survival knife (yes, that is the Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Pro Survival Knife I reviewed back 2013!), a multi-tool, and an IOSSO cleaning kit

The multi-tool I chose to keep with the Double Badger is a SOG Powerlock, which has a driver set that fits the Double Badgers' odd sized screws. I have several multi-tools from different makers, but the SOG's driver set fit the best.

I've used this case since last year to haul the Double Badger into the mountains during my gear test outings, and it has worked like a champ. I have left it out during driving rainstorms at my camp, and have never seen even a drop of water inside.



Own a Double Badger? Share your thoughts and experiences below

About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft, a blog that features articles, news stories, outdoor tips and product reviews written from a bushcraft and wilderness survival perspective. Schwartz 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. Jason has also written for the 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)

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