Hello and welcome back to another edition of The Rimfire Report! This ongoing series is all about the rimfire firearm world and its various arms and ammunition. This week we’ve got a reader-submitted firearm that doesn’t often get a lot of attention in the United States, the 9mm Flobert smoothbore. 9mm Flobert is a rimfire shotshell cartridge most often found overseas in Europe and is generally used exclusively for light pest control at close ranges. TFB reader Craig S. let us take a look at his Chiappa 9mm Flobert smoothbore shotgun, the ammo it uses as well as some of the small pests he’s taken out with it.
Rimfire Smoothbore Guns and Shotshells @ TFB:
The Rimfire Report: The 9mm Flobert Smoothbore Garden Gun
Domestically, rimfire shooters and farmers are very familiar with the concept of a shotshell cartridge adapted for use within centerfire or rimfire rifled firearms. One good example is CCI’s pest control shotshell lineup that works within a large number of firearms including .22LR (my personal first exposure to them). When I was younger, I have distinct memories of using these tiny little rounds to kill mice and other small critters that were in our small Texas mobile home with our family-owned 10/22. Despite their quite anemic sound and alarmingly short range, there are quite effective at their stated task and even safe enough to use indoors if you don’t mind patching a few pin-sized divots in your walls.
The 9mm Flobert that Craig showed us was a Chiappa Model RC 92 which was Chiappa’s previous version of the Little Badger before they replaced it with the more modernized 22 caliber and .17 HMR versions we are familiar with today. The break-action Model RC 92 featured a 24″ smoothbore barrel and an extractor-equipped single round chamber.
The main reason why these types of firearms were so popular in Europe is that they faced little to no regulation even within the restrictive firearms environment of the European Union. The 9mm Flobert cannot be used with any other type of ammunition and the 9mm Flobert cartridges are practically harmless beyond 20 yards. This means that farmers and gardeners can safely remove snakes, squirrels, pest birds, and other critters without worrying about ricochets or blasting one of their wives’ flower pots to pieces.
Advantages over Standard Ammunition
Aside from the aforementioned regulatory advantages, 9mm Flobert offers those with pest control in mind a few distinct advantages over standard centerfire ammunition. First off, the Umarex-produced 9mm Flobert shotshells Craig uses are hearing safe when shot outdoors. While I’ve used everything from .22LR up to .357 Magnums to kill snakes, this always required hearing protection. The 9mm Flobert sends its payload of 1/4 ounce #8 shot out at only 600fps meaning there is virtually no recoil and a very quiet report.
Umarex 9mm Flobert ammunition can be found stateside sometimes and despite its obscurity, it usually only costs about 30 cents per round. Combined with its short-range, soft report, and negligible recoil, 9mm Flobert is essentially a farmer’s or gardener’s best friend for pest control. In northern Italy, 9mm Flobert is even used to hunt certain types of small birds that are used for culinary delicacies. Where a 410 bore or 20 gauge would completely eviscerate such a small bird, the 9mm Flobert can safely euthanize the bird and preserve most of its meat for preparation.
Use and Availability
At a distance of about 10 yards, the 9mm Flobert will produce a pattern that is about the size of an outstretched hand. In comparison to a 12-gauge shotgun, the pattern of the Flobert is about a quarter of the size further speaking to its focus on being a short-range pest control gun rather than a true hunting implement. Craig told us that he was able to kill everything from squirrels and snakes with his own gun and in the American Southwest where these types of animals are very common, this could be a lifesaver.
The American Southwest is home to a lot of dangerous snakes like copperheads, cottonmouths, sidewinders, and rattlesnakes, all of which could turn a relaxing weekend in the garden into a trip to the emergency room. The rifle itself only weighs 3.6 pounds, due to its alloy frame and this means it can be carried around much more easily than a comparable 410 shotgun.
If you’re planning on picking one up, you’ll be mildly disappointed that these guys are actually quite rare over here in the States. Craig was able to find his gun from an online retailer who sold it to him for $400 with 1,000 rounds of double charge 9mm Flobert shotshell ammunition. Chiappa still has the firearm listed on their website as the “Little Badger Deluxe Shotgun” but at the time of writing, it is not currently in stock. Chiappa lists the Little Badger Deluxe for a price of $258 and also lists a backpack made for the gun that is sold separately.
Odd But Useful
I’ve found that the rimfire world often contains a lot of odd gun designs which all have very specific uses. From the 9mm Flobert to the fun and games of the long-forgotten Wingo rimfire shooting galleries, rimfire has a lot to offer the firearms world no matter what type of shooting you’re into. Let us know down in the comments if you’ve come across any weird or rare rimfire cartridges and thanks as always for stopping by to read The Rimfire Report.
Photos courtesy of Nick C. and Craig S.