Condensing long guns into smaller packages used to be a fairly esoteric practice, limited to talented gunsmiths turning out expensive custom rifles modified from factory originals, or military experiments in shortening barrels and hinging buttstocks to fold for paratrooper use. The U.S. Military also pursued folding rifle/shotgun combination guns during the Cold War as “foragers” for aircrews downed in remote country.
Today, due to increased interest in preparedness, manufacturers are taking a new look at reducing long arms to packable – and surreptitious – size. Here are two of the latest.
Ruger introduced their Takedown 10/22 a few years ago as a model that shrinks to nearly half its 34″ length, with the barrel/forearm separating from the receiver/buttstock into two units. While centerfire calibers need an interrupted thread arrangement due to their higher operating pressures, Ruger’s slip fit, twist & lock system works for lower pressure cartridges like the .22 Long Rifle.
Building on Ruger’s concept, Magpul recently created the X-22 Backpacker stock that permits the two Takedown halves to clip together, rather than dropping separately into Ruger’s custom bag, making it an integral, one-handed package that fits in a common daypack. The chamber end of the barrel slides into a protective rubber-lined hole in the buttstock, and the forearm locks firmly into the buttstock’s recess. Squeezing serrated buttons on the forearm releases the halves. A second significant improvement is the fact the X-22 buttstock opens at the comb to store three 10-round magazines, and the hollow pistol grip is a waterproof storage space. The buttstock accepts Magpul QD swivels on either side at the heel and at the receiver front. The X22 takes down to 19½”.
While one may argue that a handgun might substitute for a takedown rimfire rifle, the same isn’t true of a shotgun. Yes, there are .45 Colt handguns that chamber .410 shot shells, but the barrels on these are necessarily rifled to comply with federal NFA regulations. Rifling, of course, causes the shot wad to spin, subsequently throwing shot outward in a donut pattern and reducing effective range to mere feet. Intended for across-the-table combat handgun distance, such “pocket shotguns” are of limited usefulness in a survival role. We need full-length, unrifled barrels for anything much beyond arm’s length.
Though they won’t fit into pockets, Iver Johnson shotguns fold to fit very small spaces in vehicles, boats and cupboards, as well as in backpacks. The full choke, 18½”-barreled IJ700 presented here is a youth model in .410 that accepts 3″ shells; 20 ga., 12 ga. and adult sizes are also available, and they all work the same. Lockup occurs as with any break-action shotgun when the action is snapped shut. To unlock, pull the trigger guard backward about ¼”; the front of the guard is concaved for this purpose. A word of advice: Keep your middle finger clear of the screw behind the guard to avoid a pinching as the guard slides backward. Opening the action activates the extractor. To fold, simply continue pulling the muzzle downward until the trigger guard contacts the bottom of the recess in the forearm; pivot pin friction holds the shotgun folded in place.
The IJ700’s synthetic stock sports molded-in checkering laid out with some tasteful forethought to the shotgun’s overall lines. The comb has a cheek piece on both left and right sides, making it truly ambidextrous. The front sling swivel is metal, the rear, synthetic.
The barrel and receiver have a matte black finish. For use with slugs, the front sight is a ramped blade style; the top of the receiver has a slight groove that serves very effectively to keep the front sight and the eye centered. Thumb cocking the hammer is a separate action; un-cocked, the hammer blocks view of the front sight. When folded, the 33-inch IJ700 spans only 20 inches.
If you have a need to downsize long arms, the X22 and Iver Johnson are worth a close look.
The X-22 Backpacker 10/22 is available exclusively from Davidson’s for $539 (Item # 21182): www.galleryofguns.com
The X-22 Backpacker stock alone is available from Magpul for$110: https://www.magpul.com/products/x-22-backpacker-stock-ruger-10-22-takedown
The Iver Johnson folders retail for $165-$180, depending upon features; a soft case to fit the folded shotgun is $27. http://iverjohnsonarms.com/store/c5/Single_Barrel.html