I’m reviewing something unusual for me: a Chiappa 1886 lever-action takedown rifle chambered in .45-70 Government.

As soon as I saw this pop up on the Guns.com Certified Used list, I knew I had to try it. I mean, look at it! It’s just beautiful. With its color-case-hardened finish and wood furniture, it just screams “classic rifle.” And who doesn’t like to work a lever gun?

But does it perform as good as it looks? Let’s dive into it.
 

Table of Contents

Video
History
Chiappa
Improvements
Specs
Performance
Pros & Cons
Conclusion

Video
 

 

History

 

Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
Chiappa's 1886 is a reproduction of the classic Winchester 1886. The furniture gets its shine from hand-oiling in Italy. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)


The Chiappa 1886 is a modern interpretation of the original Winchester 1886, designed by the venerable John Moses Browning. Yes, the guy that designed the 1911 and many other classic firearms.
 

The .45-70 Gov't cartridge, far right, compared to (from left) 9mm, .45, .223, and .308 rounds. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)


John Moses Browning had a long relationship with Winchester and helped build the 1886 as a beefed-up lever action capable of handling some of the most powerful cartridges of the day, including the .45-70.  
 

Chiappa

 

Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
This 1886 is a takedown model, making it easy to stow and transport. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)


The Chiappa 1886 is made in Italy and imported to the United States by Taylor’s and Co. It is a fairly accurate reproduction and keeps most of the original design.

Chiappa produces a variety of models of the 1886, all chambered in .45-70. This is a takedown variant with a 16.5-inch barrel that is partially octagonal and a color-case-hardened finish. It features a traditional side loading gate and a tube magazine that holds four rounds. The wood furniture is not varnished but hand-oiled in Italy.
 

Improvements

 

Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
An enlarged lever leaves plenty of room for operationg the 1886 with gloved hands. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)


Some of the improvements over the original include an enlarged lever that’s good for gloved hands and a re-profiled, triangular forend with a flat bottom for a more comfortable grip.
 

Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
The updated 1886 features a revamped forend with triangular grip texturing and a flat bottom. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)
Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
The front fiber-optic sight stands out nicely. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)


New production Chiappa rifles come with a Skinner peep rear sight that is windage and elevation-adjustable, and a fiber-optic front sight. The former owner of this rifle removed the rear sight to make room for a 2.5X scout-style scope mounted on the factory-standard Picatinny rail.

 
Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
And a threaded barrel is ready for a muzzle device. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)


This model comes with a threaded barrel to allow for a muzzle device or a suppressor and has two sling stud points. 

My favorite safety feature is the half-cock position for the hammer. The half-cock position is meant to be used when carrying the rifle with a round in the chamber. When the hammer is all the way down, it is touching the firing pin. Thus, a drop might cause the hammer to accidentally hit the pin and set the round off. The half-cock keeps the trigger inactive, but also keeps the hammer away from the firing pin, making the rifle safer.
 

Specs

 

Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
Note the QD sling stud and mag tube that holds four rounds of .45-70 Gov't. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)
  • Caliber: .45-70 Gov’t
  • Capacity: 4 rounds
  • Barrel: 16.5 inches
  • Length of Pull: 14.25 inches
  • Weight: 9 pounds
  • Sights: Skinner Sights rear peep with fiber-optic front
  • Trigger: Single action, 4 pounds
     

Performance

 

Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
I enjoyed shooting this rifle and found recoil manageable. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)


Shooting this rifle is fantastic. The .45-70 round is a very fun and satisfying round to shoot. The recoil is stout but totally manageable. I’d say it’s less than a shooting a shotgun slug. 
 

.45-70 Government ammo
The stout .45-70 rounds require a stout gun, and the 1886 delivers. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)


And there is nothing better than cycling a lever action. I wouldn’t say it’s buttery smooth, but it feels very solid, and it’s easy to run fast.
 

Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
Running that action is just plain fun. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)
Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
Another look at the lever and single-action trigger. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)


The single-action trigger is quite good. There is no pre-travel – there is just a crisp wall that breaks at a little over 4 pounds. Then there is a little bit of over-travel.

Accuracy was about what I would expect. It’s certainly good enough for a 150-yard big game hunting rifle, which is its original purpose. You should be able to take anything in North America at under 250 yards with this hard-hitting rifle.
 

Pros & Cons

My biggest issue with this rifle is the sharp loading port. It’s not razor sharp, but you can cut yourself on it if you are loading quickly. If this were my rifle, I would file it down immediately. For a rifle at this price point, I would have expected more.
 

Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
I was lucky not to cut myself on the sharp edge of the loading port – watch out! (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)


It’s not an inexpensive gun, as prices vary from $1,600 to over $2,000 for certain models. But the lever action market is not for budget-oriented shooters. I don’t think there are many less expensive options for a big-bore lever-action rifle.

If you want a smaller, pistol-caliber lever action, there are more choices available. Chiappa produces the pistol-caliber 1892 – also a John Moses Browning design – for slightly less money. 
 

Chiappa 1886 lever action takedown rifle
While length of pull felt a tad long for me, I had a great time with the 1886. (Photo: Don Summers/Guns.com)

Pros:

  • Improvements like large lever, Pic rail, Skinner peep sight, and threaded barrel
  • Variety of models available
  • Half-cock hammer safety feature
  • Takedown option
  • Classic good looks 
  • Competitive price for big-bore lever action

Cons:

  • Sharp loading port can cut your fingers
  • Length of pull a bit long for my taste
  • Heavy
     

Conclusion


In conclusion, if you are seriously considering this rifle, I don’t think you are looking for a modern, practical gun. I think you are looking for a time machine that can bring you back to simpler times when wood and steel ruled the day. If that is the case, the Chiappa 1886 might fit the bill.

revolver barrel loading graphic

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