The Chiappa LA322 still spat out bulged cases and had one soft primer hit in a box of 50 rounds, even after it was repaired.
In the February 2022 issue, we tested three lever-action 22 LR rifles head to head and found we had a lot of fun plinking with the low-recoil lever guns. We also discovered the Chiappa LA322 in the test was ejecting bulging 22 LR cases. The LA322 is an Italian-made version of the iconic Marlin Model 39 and Model 39A takedown rimfire. Externally, the LA322 looks similar, but internally it is a totally different gun than the Marlin.
During the test, things started to go sideways with the Chiappa LA322. We had a few failures to feed (FTF) jams and a few soft primer hits, which we could not attribute to a specific ammo brand. When we examined the ejected cases, the cases bulged at the base, which told us the cartridge was either not fully supported in the chamber or the head spacing was off. We decided to send the rifle back to Chiappa to fix the problem.
We went to ChiappaFirearms.com and created an account, then created a repair request where we explained about the jams and bulged cases. We were told to ship the rifle back, and they would look into it, which we did. Then we waited. No response from Chiappa that they received our rifle. After two weeks, we called and were told they had received the rifle and the turnaround was averaging six to eight weeks. We sighed and resigned ourselves to more waiting.
In six weeks we received the rifle, and the no-charge invoice packaged with the rifle indicated that the work performed consisted of “Modified firing pin group. Tested with Federal 22LR.” The rifle was nicely cleaned and packaged.
At the range, we ran CCI Stangers, CCI Blazers, and Remington Thunderbolts through the rifle, just like in the original test. We found we still liked the little lever action. It still grouped nicely, and ejected cases still bulged. We had one soft primer hit in a box of 50 rounds.
Do we still like the LA322? We sure do, but we are disappointed that the cases still bulge and don’t know if that will lead to more trouble with future use. We also have the expectation of more soft primer hits, which does not give us confidence in the rifle.
We are not really sure what Chiappa did with the rifle because the problems we complained about still exist. Could this just be one bad apple in a bunch of good rifles? It’s possible, but we’re standing firm with the original grade D. If you own this rifle, please let us know your experiences with it, good or bad, in the comments section below.