Multi-Caliber Survival

Chiappa’s X-Caliber: The Ultimate Tool For Staying Alive

Chiappa X-Caliber Survival arrives with eight caliber adapter tubes for ultimate flexibility.

Too often “gun guys” analyze survival scenarios from a gear-centric point of view. The pros/cons of certain weapon systems are debated, along with questions concerning weight, flexibility and carrying extra ammo. The zombie craze was fun while it lasted, but we need to look past post-apocalyptic scenarios and focus on what really matters.

In the 1950’s the US Air Force approached the topic of a survival weapon for aircrews shot down in enemy territory from a different perspective. What they came up with after a long debate was the M6 Aircrew Survival Weapon shotgun/rifle combo. The Air Force found a shotgun, paired with a .22 caliber rifle, was more effective than a typical single-barreled rifle for personnel facing a wilderness survival situation. This is due to the shotgun giving a wider margin of marksmanship error when hunting birds or small game — and the rifle allowing more precise, longer-range shots.

The recently introduced Chiappa X-Caliber combo rifle is patterned off the Air Force M6 concept. It features an 18.5″, 12-gauge 3″ chambered shotgun barrel over a .22LR barrel. The M1-type rear sight is fully adjustable, and the front sight is a high-visibility fiber optic. The X-Caliber also has a Picatinny rail system for mounting optics or lights

The X-Caliber weighs less than 6 lbs., even though constructed of steel. This is thanks to a skeletonized metal buttstock filled with polypropylene foam. This foam lessens the weight and provides a place to store extra ammunition as well as a cleaning kit.
The X-Caliber is equipped with internal hammer and double trigger system. Should one of the triggers malfunction, the gun still has another hammer/trigger to shoot the remaining barrel — definitely a good feature to have in a worst-case survival scenario. The X-Caliber measures 34.5″ long, however the combo gun can be folded in half making for convenient storage in a backpack or other types of storage container.

The polypropylene foam in the skeletonized buttstock is similar to the kind found
in car bumpers. The foam lessens weight and provides a place to store extra ammunition
as well as a cleaning kit.

The Chiappa X-Caliber adapters are rifled and allow for the 12-gauge to accommodate
.380, 9mm, .357 Mag/.38S Spl, .40 S&W, .44 Mag/.44 Spl, .45 ACP and .410/.45 Colt.


One of the distinguishing features of the X-Caliber is its ability to fire 12 different calibers, thanks to the eight steel caliber adapters it arrives with. In effect, the 12-gauge barrel can be adapted to use .380, 9mm, .357Mag/.38spl, .40 S&W, .44 Mag/.44 spl, .45 ACP and .410/.45 Colt. This flexibility allows a user to take advantage of whatever is on hand or scrounged during a survival situation.

The shotgun has always been labeled a utilitarian weapon adaptable for multiple tasks. In fact, if someone asks for advice on a general purpose long arm, many offer up, the ubiquitous 12-gauge as the best option. This is based on simplicity, flexibility, reliability and lethality.

“General purpose” is a good way to describe survival-type situations we are likely to encounter — where our next meal or protection from four-legged predators are the main focus — not defending from marauding bands of two-legged opportunists. The .22LR is often at the top of the list for consideration in a survival kit. Hundreds of rounds can be carried in a compact container and the .22LR is more than capable of harvesting game as large as deer under controlled circumstances at close range.
When the topic of survival gear is discussed, there are always pluses and minuses for any piece of kit. Weight is often the first criteria to come up for gear we have to carry on our person. The mantra of “ounces become pounds and pounds become pain” is more than a cliché. If your kit is too heavy to hump over long distances, you will start to ditch things to lighten the load.

No mistaking the intimidation factor of a 12-gauge bore; especially with a .22LR
under it giving even more perspective.

Winchester PDX1 slug/buckshot combination shows potential of the X-Caliber.

A .22LR sits under a 12-gauge shell ready for the action to be closed
on the X-Caliber combo rifle.

A .44 Magnum tube adapter shown inserted into the 12-gauge upper barrel of the X-Caliber.


The X-Caliber combo can be broken down for ease of carry until you need it. The break-open design allows for the X-Caliber to be brought quickly into action by folding it shut since there is no operating action to complicate function. This lack of an action also assists in lowering overall dimensions while maintaining 18.5″ barrels. The X-Caliber was folded and unfolded dozens of times while at the range to ascertain if reliability issues could be induced or if it could be broken. This was not the case. It hammered out rounds all day long.

Accuracy was surprisingly good with the caliber adapters. Initial X-Caliber target sighting with multiple calibers took place at 10 yards with a focus on confirming similar points of aim. The rifled adapters generated more than acceptable accuracy out to 30 yards. The various 9mm loads tested easily maintained the ability to keep multiple rounds inside a silhouette IPSC target “A” zone out to 35 yards. As expected, recoil was non-existent with a pistol cartridge in a rifle. The same can’t be said of firing 12-gauge rounds out of a 6 lb. platform.

The lower .22LR barrel was more than capable out to 30 yards with the X-Caliber’s open sights. It is easy to imagine sniping a grouse, squirrel or rabbit with .22LR barrel saving the shotgun shells for other roles. The .22LR ammunition is much easier to pack in a survival situation and you can carry 50 rounds in the space one shotgun shell takes up. The much lower sound signature of the .22LR will not advertise your position as easily as touching off a shotgun round.

An innovative 12-gauge product worthy of consideration for use in a survival situation is the Winchester PDX1 load. It combines a 1-oz. slug and three 00-buck pellets. The PDX1 load harkens back to the “buck-n-ball” loads used by our forefathers in the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

Range testing of the Winchester PDX1 raised eyebrows with its performance combining the best of both worlds for the shotgun — 100-yard slug performance and 16″ buckshot patterns at 30 yards with one of the four holes being made by the 1-oz. slug! The Winchester PDX1 offers the same accuracy as dedicated slug loads — 3″ groups at 50 yards — with the added benefit of three 00 buckshot pellets.

Decision-making related to survival situations involves factors such as climate, geography and habitat. These factors determine what items are a must-have, and which are optional when it comes to basic survival scenarios. Without causing a collective gasp in the gun culture, weapon decision is not the priority in terms of survival planning. The foldable, easy-to-transport Chiappa X-Caliber with adapter inserts is a sure way to hedge your bets no matter the scenario. Its compact profile makes it likely to be on hand instead of sitting home in the safe. 

For More Info:

Taylor’s & Company

Chiappa Firearms

Echo Valley Training Center

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