Three-Peater

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Chiappa’s Triple 20.

By Holt Bodinson

Chiappa Firearms likes to play with your mind. First, they introduce a revolver firing through the bottom chamber and sports a flat-sided cylinder for comfortable concealed-carry called the “Rhino.” Then they bring to the sporting marketplace, a mean-looking, 3-barreled shotgun with model names like “Triple Crown,” “Triple Threat” and “Triple Tom.”

Yet, I suppose it really shouldn’t surprise us because this same house of fine firearms has also brought us the miniature 1874 Sharps rifle, the Model 1860 Spencer carbine and rifle and the cut-down, holster carried, 12-gauge, 1887 lever-action Winchester shotgun marketed under the “Mares Leg” moniker.

Like Beretta, Chiappa is a family owned group of businesses with their corporate headquarters located in Brescia, Italy. The founder, Ezechiele, or better known as “Oscar” Chiappa, began his gunmaking career with the old Tanfoglio company in the early 1950’s, where he became production manager at the age of 22. Seven years later, Chiappa founded his own company, Armi Sport, in the basement workshop of his home. Working alone at first and then attracting a small workforce of true artisans, Armi Sport became internationally recognized for the manufacture and hand-fitting of high quality, reproduction, muzzleloading arms—a line of firearms which continues to this day.

In 1987, Chiappa’s son, Rino, assumed overall management of the company and nudged the company in the direction of modern production methods utilizing numerically controlled machine tools and CAD/CAM systems. By 2009, Chiappa had established a major North American presence in Dayton, Ohio, where the Chiappa Group currently carries out manufacturing, distribution, warranty service, repairs and custom shop work.

I was fully familiar with drillings, but before I walked up to the Chiappa booth at the 2013 Shot Show, I had never seen a 3-barrel shotgun other than in the literature. The Double Gun Journal once ran a picture of a 16-gauge, 3-barrel by Dickson in which the barrels were joined horizontally. I faintly remembered seeing a picture of a triple-barrel drilling made by Westley Richards for the 1911 Turin Exhibition, and I could imagine some entrepreneurial German or Austrian gunmaker turning out a drilling with three small-gauge shotgun barrels. What awaited me in the Chiappa booth was an utterly, eye-opening surprise.

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Interchangeable chokes give you many options for any hunting situation the Triple
(above) may be called on to handle. The set-firing sequence is, right—left—top. Below,
The sequence simply resets when the action is opened, no matter how many shots are left unfired.

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The Triple I examined in the Chiappa booth was their “Triple Threat” model. It was a 3-shot 12-gauge with short 18.5-inch barrels, weighing just over 8 pounds. It was novel all right, but it looked like a chunky coach gun, it handled like a chunky coach gun and with a price tag of $1,600, I didn’t think it would exactly be a barn-burner in the home-defense market. Nevertheless, I pursued it for review purposes with little result.

Fast forward to the 2014 Shot Show. There was a new face in the booth. There was hope. Jim Eubank had been appointed as Chiappa’s new National Sales and Marketing Director, and he rolled out for me a whole new family of Chiappa Triples. The “Triple Threat” was still in the line, but the line now consisted of six distinct models, five in 12-gauge and one in 20-gauge.

There was the Chiappa Triple Crown, a 28-inch barreled, 3-inch 12-gauge with a white receiver and walnut stock, weighing 8.7 pounds, the Triple Magnum, a 28-inch barreled 3-1/2-inch 12-gauge with a black receiver and black synthetic stock, weighing 8.6 pounds, another Triple Magnum model with an overall RealTree MAX-5 camouflage finish; the Triple Tom, a 24-inch barreled, 3-1/2-inch 12-gauge, decked out in RealTree Extra Green camouflage, weighing 8.3 pounds, and then there was the 3-inch 20-gauge, Triple Crown model with a 26-inch barrels, weighing only 7.6 pounds. That new Triple “20” sporter looked, balanced and swung well. As a Triple, it had some life in it. Eubank said he’d get us a loaner to wring out. Here are my thoughts.

First, the Triple Twenty, like the whole Triple family, is not made by Chiappa. The Triple was designed and currently manufactured by the Turkish firm, AKKAR Silah, located in Istanbul, Turkey. Chiappa is the importer and distributor.

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Point-of-aim was point-of-impact. The Triple is a superbly regulated shotgun
as these 3 shots at 15 yards attest (A). Patterns at 30 yards (B) were well
centered and very uniform. These patterns were shot with Improved Cylinder,
Modified (C) and Full (D).

The Turks have been coming on strong in the smoothbore world. They’re able to produce an attractive shotgun at a very modest price point, and depending upon the grade of the gun, their workmanship is impressive. While its matte-finished barrels are a bit austere, the Triple is nicely fitted-up, polished and finished. It’s not a gun you’re going to have to break in. The break-open action is smooth, and the lock-up is precise and tight.

Looking at the triple barrel configuration, I thought the gun would have a definite weight-forward bias. It doesn’t. The balance point of the Triple Twenty is right at the hinge pin, giving it a neutral and surprisingly manageable level of handling. On crossing shots though, there’s enough mass in those barrels that keeps your swing going and smoothes out your timing and release. It’s an easy gun to shoot, and I smoked clays with it.

The sighting plane is interesting. You’re basically holding a SxS in your hands, but you’re looking down a single barrel mounted with a 7mm ventilated rib terminating in a red fiber optic bead. It’s a great sight picture, particularly if the sight picture offered by traditional SxS’s is not your dish.

The single trigger is mechanical and well adjusted. With each pull, it fires the barrels in a set sequence: right—left—top. There’s no selector switch, no way to modify the firing pattern, and every time you open the action, the trigger sequence is reset. If you’ve thought out your choke selection, the automatic trigger reset really isn’t an issue. The Triple comes with five, steel approved, RemChoke-type tubes from IC through F. Picturing my set-up of the Triple Twenty as an upland gun, I fitted the right barrel with the IC, the left barrel with the Mod and the top barrel with the Full. That sequence worked out well on clays and would be equally effective in the field.

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Once switched to “Fire”, (above) the thumb safety does
not reset to “Safe” when the action is opened.

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The Triple handles like a SxS but offers a unique, single barrel sighting plane.
The gun has a single mechanical trigger. The length-of-pull is 14-1/2 inches
to the end of the thin rubber buttplate.

You could also take advantage of the firing sequence by buying a few extra choke tubes. Let’s say for pheasants, you might choose M-M-F, or for quail over point, IC-IC-M. It’s actually a flexible and useful system when you think of it.

The Triple sports a non-cycling, fast-firing action. It doesn’t depend on hand, gas or recoil energy to function. There are no reciprocating bolts or associated action parts involved, just three cocked firing pins waiting to be released. The Chiappa fires its three shells as fast as you can pull the trigger. That’s fast.

Before I shot my first flying targets with the Triple, I put it through a simple test to check whether its point-of-aim and point-of-impact coincided. Regulating two barrels fitted with choke tubes to the point-of-aim is tough enough so I was especially curious about the regulation of three barrels sporting choke tubes.

I placed a piece of white paper with a 3-inch, black bull’s-eye 15 feet in front of the bench, loaded the Triple with 7/8-ounce loads of 7.5 shot and let fly with the right, left and top. Frankly, I was surprised, pleasantly so, when all three shot loads landed virtually on top of one another. That’s superb regulation of a 3-barreled gun, and as you can see from the well-centered patterns the three barrels of the Triple delivered at 30 yards, that regulation held up at upland shooting distances.

The Triple has extractors, not ejectors, and in the field, that’s the way I want it. I like to recover and reload my cases, and the local gendarmes are more than happy to cite you if you leave your spent hulls spread across the landscape.

One feature of the Chiappa Triple you’ll either love or hate is its tang-mounted safety does not reset to “Safe” when the action is opened.

Another feature of the Triple, which is quite European and quite useful, is a permanently affixed sling stud under the barrels. I can’t count the times I’ve wished that I could sling my shotgun. Chiappa gives you the front stud, but you’ll have to install the rear stud if you want your shotgun sling compliant.

The Triple is well stocked in a plain grade of machine-checkered walnut with a length-of-pull of 14.5 inches over a thin, rubber, recoil pad. I have prominent cheekbones and felt the comb was just a tad high, but that is easily adjusted, and it does prompt you to get your face down on that stock where it should be. The forearm is a thin beaver tail facilitating that ideal hands-in-line, hand-to-barrel relationship so important to accurate and intuitive shotgunning.

Overall, I give the Chiappa Triple Twenty a thumbs-up. Yes, it’s unconventional, but that’s its charm. It does exactly what a good shotgun should do—handle well and place excellent patterns downrange. It does that in spades.

As I write this, there are 31 days left to the opening of the 2014 dove season. I can’t wait to see how well this unique 3-barrel Chiappa and the chap behind it will fill their limit. One box of 25? We’ll see!

Triple Twenty

Maker: AKKAR Silah
Istanbul, Turkey
Importer And Distributor
Chiappa Firearms
1415 Stanley Ave.
Dayton, OH 45404
(937) 835-5000
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/chiappa-firearms/

Action type: Break-open
Caliber: 20-gauge, 3-inch
Capacity: 3
Barrel length: 26 inches
Overall length: 43 inches
Choke tubes: C, IC, M, IM, FS
Weight: 7.6 pounds
Finish: Matt blue, white receiver
Sights: Red fiber optic front bead
Stock: Checkered walnut
Price: $1,649

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