Chiappa Rhino Revolver

Description

The Chiappa Rhino Revolver is chambered in .357 Mag. and available in either a medium or large frame. The Rhino has an untraditional design because its barrel aligns with the bottom chamber of the cylinder instead of the top, but the design isn’t original. It was introduced in 1997 with a revolver called the Mateba, which never took off, but the design did in fact reduce recoil. Since the Rhino has such a low barrel, Chiappa suggests a specific two-handed grip style when shooting it—place the action hand around the grip, wrap the passive hand around the action hand, and keep all passive fingers together.

Features include a flat cylinder intended for comfort and concealment, a lightweight aluminum alloy frame and, for most models, a double-action/single-action trigger. Chiappa recommends the Rhino for self-defense and open or concealed carry.

chiappa_rhino_grip0112111 chiappa_rhino_short0112111 chiapp_rhino6_0112111 chiappa-rhino-small-steel0112111 chiappa_rhino4a_0112111 chiappa_rhino5_0112111

Specifications

2 inch
Caliber:.357 Mag.
Grip:Black rubber
Wood
Capacity:6
Sights:Fixed
Features:Barrel aligns with bottom chamber; and flat cylinder
Action:Revolver
Material/Finish:Aluminum alloy/black
Aluminum alloy/steel finish
Size:
Medium
Trigger:Double-action/single-action
Single-action only
Website:http://www.chiappafi…
Weight:1.54 pounds
Barrel Length:"
2"
Twist:1 in 18"
Length:"
6.5"
4 inch
Caliber:.357 Mag.
Grip:Wood
Capacity:6
Sights:Fixed
Features:Barrel aligns with bottom chamber; and flat cylinder
Action:Revolver
Material/Finish:Aluminum alloy/black
Size:Large
Trigger:Double-action/single-action
Single-action only
Website:http://www.chiappafi…
Barrel Length:4"
Twist:1 in 18"
Length:8.5"
5 inch
Caliber:
.357 Mag.
Grip:Wood
Capacity:6
Sights:Fixed
Features:Barrel aligns with bottom chamber; and flat cylinder
Action:Revolver
Material/Finish:Aluminum alloy/black
Size:Large
Trigger:Double-action/single-action
Single-action only
Website:http://www.chiappafi…
Barrel Length:5"
Twist:1 in 18"
Length:9.5"
6 inch
Caliber:.357 Mag.
Grip:Wood
Capacity:6
Sights:Fixed
Features:Barrel aligns with bottom chamber; and flat cylinder
Action:Revolver
Material/Finish:Aluminum alloy/black
Size:Large
Trigger:Double-action/single-action
Single-action only
Website:http://www.chiappafi…
Barrel Length:6"
Twist:1 in 18"
Length:10.5"
MSRP$750.00

Editor Review

It's as Ugly as a Rhino

I took a road trip down to lower Alabama a few weeks back to help my uncle cut hay.  He’s in his 80s and still runs a rather sizable herd of cattle.  His grandson Wilfred was there, too.  This kid can look at a tractor from across a field and tell you what’s wrong with it.  And then he can fix it.  He was fixing lawnmowers when he was 12—and diesel trucks when he was 18.

I’m a college professor.  I’m not terribly gifted mechanically.  Wilfred doesn’t give a damn about poetry.  So we were making some rather tedious small talk, just catching up, when I mentioned that I’d been doing a lot of shooting lately—testing out guns and such.  “Well,” he said walking over to his tool box.  “Check this out!”

Now these just might be my favorite words—they usually mean I’m about to be impressed. 

But he pulled what had to be the ugliest gun I’d ever seen.  I’m not talking about a gun that should have been pretty, like what Sig Sauer did to the 1911.  This gun was a beast.   

The Rhino.


Why do Italians name their guns after animals?  The Rhino.  An apt name for this bizarre pistol.  The front sight even looks a bit like a horn.  I suspect the name has more to do with the CEO, Rino Chiappa.  Regardless, the Rhino is an intimidating animal and Chiappa’s Rhino is almost as ugly as the African animal.

There are so many .38s and .357s that a relatively obscure gun company, like Chiappa, might have a difficult time cutting out there share of the market.  The Rhino exists because it is different. 

The folks at Chiappa reinvented the wheel—gun.  The wheel-gun.  Ok, it’s a lame joke, but it has a point.  A traditional revolver’s barrel is level with the top of your wrist.  This is actually true for almost all handguns, but the Rhino’s barrel is fed from the bottom of the cylinder, so the barrel cuts through the bottom of the mass of metal on the front of the gun, not the top.  This puts the line of fire in line with your arm.



Why? 

There are at least two ideas at work in this new design.  Besides being different, the lower barrel forces the recoil straight into your arm, instead of into the joint of your wrist.  This keeps muzzle flip down.  Muzzle flip is a serious detriment to the accuracy of successive shots, as you have to aim all over again.  And it hurts.  Shoot a few .357s from a traditional revolver and you’ll feel it in your wrist.  Shooting a Rhino has more in common with shooting a rifle.  It isn’t that the recoil is gone, but the energy is carried in a different direction.

The Rhino’s other benefit may be even more important, though it is harder to prove.  The centerline design supposedly improves the offhanded aim needed when shooting impulsively.  Think of a cowboy shooting from the hip.  In actual self-defense situations, shooters may pull the trigger without using the gun’s sights.  The Rhino will, if only moderately, improve the accuracy of adrenalin fueled shooting. 

So how does it shoot?

Ugly as it was, I wasn’t going to leave until we had a chance to shoot the thing.  So I drove into town and picked up a mess of .38 and .357 rounds and some targets and headed back out to the farm.

Wilfred’s Rhino is a 60DS—it has a 6” barrel. 


If you are already comfortable shooting a traditional revolver, than there will be a learning curve with the Rhino, but it isn’t steep.  From the backside of the gun, there is no noticeable difference.  The barrel is simply an inch lower than it would be otherwise.



The Rhino provided very typical groupings for a long barreled revolver.  At 25 feet, I could keep the pattern grouped about the size of a silver dollar.  I found I was shooting a bit low, but after a few rounds I figured it out. 

At 25 yards with .38s, 50 rounds, all on the target, but that should be standard for any long barreled revolver.

I couldn’t tell if the lower barrel position hampers or improves my accuracy with the gun, but I’m astounded by the low muzzle flip. The more I shot, the more curious I became in seeing the design innovations at work. Needless to say, I ran through the next box of ammo fast.  This is a gun that begs to be fired repeatedly in rapid succession—and I did so accurately, and at twice as fast as I could with my traditional .357—a gun I have shot for 20 years!

I ran through another box of .38s, shooting two handed, double-action.  From the first six shots, I kept two on the target.  Of the next six, I hit four.  This was just about as good as I could do, though.  We were shooting standard pistol targets, though.  I think I would have done even better with silhouettes.



I had a harder time with the .357s, but not by much.  I shot a whole box, mixing it up between shooting slowly in single-action and shooting fast in double-action.  I never did better than three of six on the rapid shoots.



Ergonomics

While I am not a fan of the Rhino’s lines, or the ergonomics, I really like the way it functions.  The trigger pull is a bit stiff, but it works.  The snub nosed version of the gun is reasonably concealable, and the .357 round is a beast.  While the gun isn’t cheap, it’s not prohibitively expensive.  If I were in the market for a snub-nosed .357, I think I would choose the Rhino.   

But still.  The big Rhino is so made-for-T.V.  It looks like something that Mad Max might carry.  In a dystopian, postapocalyptic wasteland, I might like to carry a Rhino.  But I’m going to have to get some more tattoos.  Maybe pierce something. 

My cousin is no Mad Max.  So I had to ask why, of all the guns out there, why he felt compelled to tote a Rhino. 

“Easy,” he said.  “This thing looks ugly.” 

This makes sense.  When Wilfred’s not taking apart the old Alice Chalmers, he does maintenance for road crews.  He’s often out all night, in dubious parts of town, sometimes alone, trying to fix heavy machinery.  He takes his tools with him.  He has had, as he says, “problems.”

I’m not sure that the Rhino solves problems, exactly, but it sure might scare one or two away.  And it isn’t a prop.  The thing hits harder than an actual rhino.