Times are either getting rougher or more people are catching on as gun sales are through the roof. Ammo is getting difficult to find in any quantity, and people who were either on the fence or not too far from the other side of the fence are arming themselves.
We know that the background checks for firearms are setting constant records and repeatedly, I hear from local and even not-so-local reports from gun sales (insert your gender-neutral pronoun of choice [IGNPOC]) that many of the people are not only first-time gun buyers but are from what one would normally view as NON-GUN PEOPLE. Funny how even someone who is prominently against the second amendment takes full advantage of it when they feel threatened.
Politics aside we run into the problem of helping people to become gun people. Even in such a limited capacity of owning a single gun for home protection. Any gun guy, gal, or IGNPOC knows that half the gun guru gig is giving advice to people newer to the field of study. So, I’m always on the look for guns that, while they may not be the ticket for me, may work well for someone else. For example…I have large hands but that doesn’t mean I ignore small guns that don’t fit me.
I ran across just such a gun the other day.
While it’s not even close to ideal or even fitting with what I am normally interested in, it did such a good job of checking off the boxes for several people I know. It’s the Chiappa 1873 SAA 22-10, a single action 10 shot 22 LR BUDGET revolver. I IMMEDIATELY had the thought that this could be a hell of a recommendation for a person on a tight budget who isn’t normally a gun person so they could have a gun at home.
I know, I know …it sounds odd. In a day and age of 18-round semi-automatic lightweight polymer handguns with laser sights, compensators, flashlights, and red dot, which comes in 9mm +P with hollow point or even modern cavitating ammo that does an amazing and consistent job, I am recommending a single action revolver design from almost 150 years ago, except its chambered in the smallest caliber and it’s a budget build. None of those things sound like what we are used to thinking of as good and effective as a firearm.
Let’s take a closer look.
Where to Find a Chiappa 1873 For Sale
1. It’s a design from 1873.
This argument cuts both ways. While the base design is from 150 years ago it’s a design still in production by the company that originated the design—Colt. The 1873 Single Action Army is a timeless handgun. It has the allure of the Old West and is reproduced by about ten different companies around the world. Chiappa is one of those firms at it is the smallest of the Chiappa SAA 1873 series. You can say it is old design, but with the SAA all I can hear is PROVEN. It’s also one of the most natural pointing guns on the planet. Much more so for me than any semiauto and better than most, if not all, double-action revolvers. At least that is my personal experience.
2. It’s a revolver.
We will cover the other “downsides” of a revolver later but let’s hit on the upside here. Revolvers are not prone to limp-wristing or positional issues. Added there is no slide to rack. They also have an immediate fail-to-fire fix of simply firing it again. That’s less to teach someone to do under stress.
3. It’s a single action revolver!
I had an old cowboy—a real horseback riding cowboy—once explain to me that he preferred a single-action revolver to a double-action because it was safe until you drew the hammer back. He explained that while working a horse and dealing with a wounded or angry critter, or even an angry wounded critter, he rarely had two hands on the gun and he felt the single-action revolver he had was completely safe until he decided to pull the hammer back. Any arguments that a single action is ineffective are rendered null and void by history and by the hundreds, if not thousands, of members of the Single Action Shooting Society (SASS).
4. A huge benefit to learning to run a single-action revolver is you can now run a double-action/ single-action revolver.
I know several people who can’t pull a double-action trigger due to low hand strength from medical conditions. All of them can thumb back the hammer and line up the sights before touching off a single action trigger with ease.
5. The Chiappa is a full-sized copy of an SAA.
Most people want a smaller gun and often that’s the wrong answer. Smaller means less contact with the gun. Which means fewer control surfaces. Which means less control. A full-sized gun is more ideal for a new user. Smaller is most often synonymous with more difficult in the gun world, at least in the context of gun size. And I’m not recommending this as a concealed carry gun. I’m saying it is not a bad idea for the least amount of gun to have a gun that you can make work on a budget. Plus, it fits holsters made for the SAA and the Ruger Vaquero (38/357).
6. It’s a 22 LR.
Ammo is available, even if limited, and it is still cheaper than any other caliber. Recoil and report are lower. Recoil and report are two of the major factors we have to deal with when it comes to teaching new shooters. With a 22 LR it’s less of a factor.
I know I know….22 LR is not effective when it comes to stopping a determined or doped-up attacker. It is more ideal for target practice. Yet recently in my area, two doped-up murderers armed with long guns attempted to shoot their way into a residence and were deterred by the armed homeowner returning fire through a window. The murderers fled instead of trying to take the house. Return fire is rarely gauged for caliber.
7. The firearm or a similar version is made in almost every caliber ever made.
9mm, 38/ 357, 40/10mm, 45 ACP/ 45 Colt, hell there is a single action revolver in 45-70. The point is should someone choose to buy a serious caliber version later the Chiappa makes for a great start. You already know how to make it go bang, how to load it, how to run it safely and effectively. Now you can go out and get one with more horsepower.
8. It is a ten round cowboy gun.
Seriously, I used to watch westerns where the cowboys shot all day without reloading.
My first handgun experience was with my dad giving my mom’s dad a High Standard Double 9 in 22 LR. My grandfather had arthritis so bad he was no longer able to shoot squirrels from the oak trees in his yard using his 22 rifle. My dad gave him the HS Double 9 Cowboy gun for Christmas and my grandfather shot squirrels for another year before he died. My dad had that gun until just before he died. When he passed it along to me, I was amazed to find out it is a DOUBLE ACTION. I never knew that it was DA/SA. I’d always seen it shot and shot it by pulling the hammer back. The Double 9 was fun because it held nine rounds. It was also smaller than an SAA.
The Chiappa holds ten rounds. Well, nine if you let the hammer down on an empty chamber. Certainly, it beats six.
9. It’s as much of a legislatively insulated gun as can be had. It’s a non-threatening cowboy gun in a plinking caliber.
Don’t get me wrong, they want to ban it all. They want to ban knives too. They also want to ban free speech. I’m just saying if they are banning, this is not the first one on the list. Also, if you think a liberal jury doesn’t look differently on this than it does say a 22 LR chambered AR-15 pistol… then you have lost your mind.
For right around $200 out the door, you aren’t going to find a gun more suited to the needs of new to guns/ former non-gun people. That’s the real kicker. It’s $200. Honestly, most of us spend that much on eating lunch at work every month.
Well, that’s my argument for it. Your mileage may vary. Good luck and good shooting.
More Jake’s Take
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