Chiappa Rhino

You know, when the Chiappa Rhino was first announced, I wasn’t really enthusiastic.  We haven’t seen the

Chiappa Rhino

revolver advance significantly in terms of function for 150 years, and I honestly couldn’t see how the Rhino was going to change that.  Then at SHOT SHOW Media Day, I actually shot one and all of a sudden bells went off in my head.  The lower bore axis really does reduce, and by a lot.  Because of the way the gun is set up, the bore axis is actually lower than the top of the shooter’s hand.  Unlike a traditional revolver like my 686, that means that the majority of the recoil impulse is driven straight back, instead of torquing the mass of the cylinder and barrel back and up.

The trigger on the Rhino I shot was actually pretty nice; I understand from speaking to the Rhino guys that it was their competition trigger, and was set up for lighter work.  According to Mr. Chiappa himself, the Rhino will also be available soon in a .40 S&W chambering that uses moonclips.  I immediately thought “USPSA” when I heard that, and here at Gun Nuts we’re going to be trying to get one of the .40 S&W Rhinos as well as a standard .38 Special Rhino as soon as possible.  Actually shooting the gun at SHOT took me from skeptical to curious, and I’d like to spend some serious trigger time on a Rhino and see how it shakes out vs. my traditional revolvers.


  1. Glad to see I wasn’t the only one who thought the Rhino has some interesting possibilities for applications in competition shooting.

    What did you think about the way the gun cocks?

    (Also, is there a way I could have typed that sentence without it sounding dirty…)

    1. Honestly, I never shot it single action. I have exactly zero use for the SA feature on a DA revolver. I did try the cocking mechanism in the booth, and it seemed pretty straightforward. Pull the “hammer” back, let it go and you’re ready to party.

      1. Caleb, someone really needs to take you out hunting, you would learn to appreciate the finer accuracy of using SA on a DA revolver!

        Especially one that has a “lay the weight of your finger on it and BOOM!” SA trigger pull.

        Come over to the Dark Side………

  2. This thing was already on my radar simply for the odd factor but oh dead god make one that shoots 9mm with moon clips and I will buy one the second it is available. I keep putting off buying a revolver because 9mm is my primary caliber and I don’t want to stock another.

    1. I’ve got plenty of revolvers but I’ll buy more if I can have them in 9mm.

  3. Interesting. What reloaders are available? HKS etc.
    It has possibilities if they can improve the trigger on the out of box revolvers.

  4. I agree that the trigger was the only thing to dislike about the Rhino. Between Media Day and their booth at the show I probably sampled about eight Rhinos. Their competition trigger was pretty nice but a few of the other guns had issues. One had greatly varying trigger pulls between different chambers which is not good at all. If ironed out before full production though, the Rhino is definitely a great shooting pistol. With mixed .357 Mag and .38 Special in the cylinder, the difference in target reacquisition was negligible and video I took shows VERY little muzzle flip…it looks more like 22LR than 357 Mag!

  5. How is the accuracy? Is it affected by having the sights so far above the bore?

    1. Some Russian firm (Margolin, maybe) made a great target pistol back in the 60’s for ISSF rapid fire. It had the same bore axis. Was very accurate, but then again, they did calibrate it for 25meters EXACTLY.

      Smith 41 and 622 family all have a bore far below the sites and they seem to work…

      1. I’ve read from a “gun writer” I respect that Smiths with shrouded barrels shoot a bit low, in his experience. That’s precisely why I asked the question. Of course, there is *some* sight offset no matter what.

        I wasn’t trying to bad-mouth the gun. But I am interested in how that works out.

        On the other hand, a CT grip would seem to be closer to the bore axis than on most guns. And that rail underneath could also hold a laser that would be very close to the bore axis.

        1. See, I’ve always found that fixed sight Smith & Wessons shoot to point of aim (although I’ve only specifically compared it in the 21 – 50 foot range), when you use the load they are calibrated for.

          I did find that when I switched from 158 grain .357 Magnum loads to something like a 125 grain CorBon load, they shot low — likewise, when I did an accuracy comparison of .38 Special revolvers, shooting 110 grain “Treasury” style loads, it shot low. But I only noticed it at 50 feet or so (that being the max distance of the indoor range I used to do all of my “known distance” handgun shooting on), as the difference at 21 feet or so wasn’t that big.

          When I worked at the funstore way back when, we would spend a lot of time on the indoor range shooting up either employee-discount ammo or the “Odds & Sods” box of ammo customers would leave behind or drop off with with a gun they sold us. Either one of the clerks at a time when the store was dead, or all of us at once when the doors were locked and the only thing left to do was the final sweep of the range.

          I was totally mystified, and was wondering out loud as to why this would happen (having more rifle experience than handgun experience at the time, I would have expected higher velocity stuff to hit HIGHER).

          That’s when my partner of the educated me about the term “jump”, and how properly regulated sights are set so that the muzzle flip (or “jump” – the actual technical term for muzzle flip or muzzle rise) that occurs before the bullet exits the barrel is compensated for. Subsitute a load with similar recoil, but a significantly faster bullet, and the bullet is exiting just a hair sooner, thus the gun is actually aimed just a skosh lower when the bullet goes into free flight.

          They don’t teach this to basic trainees anymore, but older military manuals for basic rifle marksmanship (like the WWII Brit manuals for privates) often cover it in detail, and I believe the US also covered it in basic at least until WWII.

          1. I should have said, “the actual technical term for the displacement of the sights caused by muzzle flip or muzzle rise”

            If you don’t correct for jump, your point of impact will ALWAYS be higher than your point of aim, even if you mathematically calculated the exact angle of the sights to make the trajectory match the point of aim at the desired distance. If you take a perfectly zeroed rifle, and firmly bolt it so it cannot recoil or rise, you will consistantly hit low.

            Of course, if your sights are readily zeroed for elevation (like typical US military sights have been for decades), and you always use ammo with similar interior ballistics, then you (the individual shooter) will automatically adjust the jump offset, simply by twiddling the sights until your group is centered at point of aim at the desired distance. It is really only an issue for guns with fixed elevation sights (most military bolt action rifles, all fixed sight guns) or people who zero with one load, and shoot a significantly diferent one.

            At typical handgun defensive ranges, the error caused by a jump error is almost certainly much smaller than your shooter’s error in rapid fire (especially under the stress of an actual fight). Unless you are one of the Great Ones like Jerry Miculik.

  6. Grant Cunningham has the most in-depth writeup you’ll ever see on the Rhino over at his blog

    I’m very excited if they’ve worked out some of the trigger issues. The general consensus I’ve picked up from reviews is that the accuracy is great with .357 magnum and the odd design does work very well to reduce muzzle flip and felt recoil. The downsides were a very poor DA trigger feel and a cocking mechanism for the SA trigger that is almost impossible to use because it is so stiff.

  7. I’d like to get one in 44mag myself, I don’t have a problem with the recoil, but have you ever shot 44mag in a SAA?
    It is not a good thing.
    I used to have a 10 inch Dan Wesson (that I was incredibly stupid to part with) that didn’t jump much, mabey 30 degrees at most, it mostly just pushed backwards a bit. A 44mag Rhino with a 8 inch or better barrel would make a wonderful hunting gun.

    My only question is how durable is the action?
    Will the gun stand up to 5000 or more rounds?
    Has anyone heard of any ‘torture tests” of the gun yet?
    It is an entirely new design, has it been ‘proven’ yet?

    1. Really? I thought it looked kind of neat and sci-fi as a stubby. The long barrel just makes it look a bit over-done. Although I think all of the extra holes and edges along the barrel may have something to do with that.

      1. Reminds me of an old Episode of The Simpsons when homer is putting “speed holes” in the hood of his car with a pick axe. Haha.

        Given how unorthodox the gun as a whole is, all the speed holes, for lack of a better term, fit quite well.

        1. I suspect the “speed holes” are to keep the weight down while still giving the front sight and rail something stable.

  8. Caleb,

    I just fired 150 rounds through this thing and I still think it is ugly but the recoil reduction is phenomenal!

    357 180 grain loads feel like 110 +P .38 Spl. loads from a snubby but these is still less muzzle rise. My six seconds strings with the Rhino were a full second faster than with a 4 inch S&W.

  9. I just received a response from the Importer Valacorp in Dayton about the availability of longer barreled versions. She said……………….

    “i do not have an arrival date, they were just set up- probably weeks, thanks Roberta.

    At least she didn’t say- Months!

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