The Chi­appa Lit­tle Bad­ger, for Apoc­a­lypse Gro­ceries

RECOIL OFFGRID - - Pocket Preps - By Dave Mer­rill

Ever since the aptly named Lit­tle Bad­ger was re­leased by Chi­appa, it’s been highly re­garded as a field, youth, and sur­vival ri­fle. And it isn’t hard to see why. Re­gard­ing the end of the world as we know it — no, you won’t beat back to­tal­i­tar­ian gov­ern­ments, nor hoards of zom­bies, with a wee sin­gle-shot . 22LR. But when it comes to the back­woods it’s right at home.

At un­der 3 pounds with a street price south of $200, the Chi­appa Lit­tle Bad­ger is an ap­peal­ing choice. It comes equipped with mil­i­tary-style peep sights that any ser­vice­man will be in­ti­mately fa­mil­iar with, and a rather de­cent (but not great) trig­ger. While we found the fac­tory sights to be more than ad­e­quate for our pur­poses, many have taken it upon them­selves to file the front sight thin­ner to ob­tain a more re­fined aim­ing point.

There are four re­mov­able Pi­catinny rails that serve as a hand­guard and a place to mount a small op­tic, if one so de­sires. Note that the pan­els them­selves are poly­mer and there­fore un­likely to hold any sort of hard zero with an op­tic.

The skele­tonized butt­stock features an in­te­gral round holder for those who wish to uti­lize it (we didn’t). And there are a num­ber of fac­tory ac­ces­sories avail­able, such as ham­mer ex­ten­ders, butt­stock pouches, pis­tol grips, and car­ry­ing cases. But we did things a lit­tle dif fer­ently. As op­posed to try­ing to cob­ble to­gether an all-around sur­vival ri­fle as so many have done, out­fit­ting their Lit­tle Badgers with all man­ner of fish­ing gear, para­cord, fire sup­plies, and com­passes, we took a spe­cific ap­proach. Our Chi­appa Lit­tle Bad­ger would be a ded­i­cated small game get­ter. A din­ner maker or gro­cery shop­per, if you will.

Stock­ing Up

Be­cause we set up our Lit­tle Bad­ger as a ded­i­cated small game get­ter, we wanted ev­ery­thing to be in a sin­gle pack­age. The in­te­gral shell holder not only ex­poses am­mu­ni­tion to the el­e­ments, it’s not very ef­fi­cient. A pouch would be a bet­ter choice for us.

Chi­appa has its own butt­stock pouch, but we found it clunky. Many peo­ple mount pouches on the stock (sur­plus pis­tol mag­a­zine pouches are pop­u­lar), and we did the same. An M16 clean­ing kit bag we scored for $3 at a lo­cal sur­plus store would be the base.

As it is, the clean­ing kit pouch was longer than we liked, so we broke out the nee­dle and thread, along with an eye­let punch.

Af­ter we short­ened the pouch and pounded the eye­lets in place, we mounted our new stock pouch with zip ties. That pro­vided a ded­i­cated place to hold a con­sid­er­able amount of am­mu­ni­tion.

A Wil­mont Knives K23 small fixed blade was also at­tached to the stock in the same man­ner, al­low­ing us to gut and skin game im­me­di­ately if need be.

Mak­ing it Smaller

Though the Lit­tle Bad­ger al­ready has a small foot­print when folded, mak­ing roughly a 17x8-inch base tri­an­gle, we wanted to re­duce it even fur­ther. The first thing we did was re­move the lower Pi­catinny rail from the bar­rel. Not only were we not us­ing it, but the re­moval al­lows the Lit­tle Bad­ger to fold slightly smaller.

But we weren’t to­tally sat­is­fied by this and wanted to go smaller still.

To ac­com­plish this, we broke the Bad­ger down into two sep­a­rate pieces rather than sim­ply fold­ing it. The fac­tory screw it­self is easy to re­move, but we wanted some­thing even eas­ier. Ini­tially we in­stalled a thumb­screw in place of the fac­tory bolt, but not only was it a bit cum­ber­some, it also added an ad­di­tional part to pos­si­bly lose.

A 1-inch, 5⁄ 16 di­am­e­ter hitch pin is a per­fect fit. Not only can the ri­fle be bro­ken down or as­sem­bled very quickly, the split ring on the end can be dummy corded to the ri­fle. While ours is still in the white, a spray or two of Kry­lon would quickly change that.

Of course, now that the Lit­tle Bad­ger was in two pieces, we needed an ef­fi­cient way to pack­age the bar­rel and ac­tion to­gether. We re­moved one screw from the rear right of the re­ceiver to in­stall our cus­tom bar­rel bracket.

Stay­ing true to our cheap and read­ily avail­able theme, a ½-inch ca­ble run­ner from the hard­ware store worked very well for this pur­pose. We took the ad­di­tional steps of hit­ting it with heat gun to make it pli­able to al­low the bar­rel to fit a scootch more snugly. A wrap of elec­tri­cal tape around the bar­rel of the Bad­ger helped to in­crease the fric­tion fit, but wasn't strictly nec­es­sary.

The com­bi­na­tion of the bar­rel holder and a thick rub­ber band — one of those cause bracelets — makes for a small pack­age in­deed (that’s what she said?). How small? Damn small. Just around 17 inches long and a mere 4.5 inches in width at the widest point.

Hav­ing the Lit­tle Bad­ger in two pieces does make it slower to em­ploy, but this isn’t a de­fen­sive ri­fle — it’s an aug­ment.

Shoot­ing Fast

Since the Bad­ger is a sin­gle-shot break ac­tion, you won't set any record split times, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be as ef­fi­cient as pos­si­ble. The sheer na­ture of a sin­gle-shot ri­fle means that you need to be as ac­cu­rate as pos­si­ble, but we’re all hu­man. While the Lit­tle Bad­ger has a round car­rier on the butt­stock, it isn’t su­per fast to reload from, nor does it do any­thing to pro­tect your ammo from the el­e­ments.

Steal­ing a con­cept from pre­ci­sion ri­fle com­pe­ti­tions, we made our own quick-load point. Us­ing elas­tic, a small piece of web­bing, Vel­cro, and a nee­dle and thread, we made a re­mov­able three-round holder. We placed it di­rectly next to the ac­tion for the fastest-load­ing pos­si­ble (left side for right-han­ders, and the re­verse for the sta­tis­ti­cally in­signif­i­cant left-handed crowd). It was im­por­tant to place it on the trig­ger por­tion of the Lit­tle Bad­ger rather than on the swing­ing-bar­rel por­tion to en­sure reloads would be as fast as pos­si­ble.

Ide­ally, the first shot would be loaded from am­mu­ni­tion stor­age, giv­ing you four rounds on tap as you track down din­ner.

Quiet Time

Full power .22LR isn’t ter­ri­bly loud, and sub­sonic is qui­eter. To be very quiet, CB Caps can be used. These only use the power of the primer to pro­pel the round. And of course, there are al­ways si­lencers.

The Chi­appa Lit­tle Bad­ger comes threaded in ½x28mm, though you have to re­move the glued-on plas­tic muz­zle pro­tec­tor to get to it. A mul­ti­tool made quick work of it, and a quick brush with some ace­tone re­moved the ad­he­sive.

For a tiny si­lencer, we turned to Bow­ers and their new Bitty. The Bitty is only 2.8 inches long, weigh­ing a pal­try 2.6 ounces. Nor­mally we’d just set it and for­get it, but even though it’s small, we wanted to keep the pack size of our Bad­ger to a min­i­mum. To that end, a Gemtech 22QDA was in­stalled, al­low­ing the Bitty to be at­tached or re­moved in mere sec­onds.

The com­bi­na­tion of the closed ac­tion of the Bad­ger, Gemtech sub­sonic am­mu­ni­tion, and the Bow­ers Bitty re­sulted in a ri­fle so quiet it caused gig­gles the en­tire first day we used it. The round hit­ting the brush be­hind our tar­gets 100 yards away was sig­nif­i­cantly louder than the re­port of the ri­fle it­self.

On the Range

Re­coil is noth­ing to speak of, nor is the re­port of the ri­fle (es­pe­cially sup­pressed). While group­ings at 100 yards were more of the “pie plate” va­ri­ety, within 25 or 30 yards this is a damn near “can’t miss” ri­fle for small game. Squir­rels, rats, and other crit­ters a bit larger will quickly all lay dead at your feet, pro­vided you’ve even a mod­icum of ex­pe­ri­ence shoot­ing a ri­fle.

Loose Rounds

It’s in­cum­bent upon us to say that you should ab­so­lutely not dry-fire the Lit­tle Bad­ger. While that’s good ad­vice for damn near any .22LR weapon, dry-fir­ing this ri­fle makes rounds very hard or im­pos­si­ble to ex­tract due to cham­ber de­for­ma­tion. Thank­fully, this is an easy fix if you have ac­cess to a round file, but is best avoided en­tirely.

As pre­vi­ously men­tioned, we feel the Chi­appa Lit­tle Bad­ger should be an aug­ment to your main fight­ing guns rather than a re­place­ment. Keep your AR or AK de­fend­ing against hu­man threats, but that Lit­tle Bad­ger will ex­cel at keep­ing your stom­ach full.

Above: Be­lieve it or not, there's a method be­hind this hodge­podgemadness.

Be­low: This is the ac­tual size of the Chi­appa folded up.

Above: With the QDA at­tached, the Bitty pops on and off in sec­onds.

Be­low: Re­moval of the bot­tom rail al­lows the Lit­tle Bad­ger to fold a bit smaller.

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