Without question, the Chiappa Rhino is the most original double action revolver to hit the market in the last 100 years. Manufactured in Italy by KIMAR, the Rhino incorporates a number of unique qualities; however, the most notable is the fact that the barrel aligns with the cylinder at the 6 o’clock position rather than 12 o’clock. This feature puts the axis of the bore closer in line with the long bones of the shooting arm, effectively reducing muzzle flip.
The frame of the Rhino is rendered from aluminum alloy, while the cylinder and barrel are crafted of steel. Chambered for the .357 Magnum, the Rhino is available in barrel lengths of 2-, 4-, 5- and 6 inches. Slightly smaller than the familiar Smith & Wesson K-frame, the Rhino’s profile is unlike any other revolver. In the 2-inch snub configuration, the Rhino weighs 25 ounces.
Despite the fact that its synthetic one-piece stock is fairly small, it provides a good gripping surface and does not adhere to clothing like rubber. Sights consist of a ramp front and fixed notch rear, typical of many defensive revolvers. The six shot cylinder is flat sided to reduce width and aid concealment. To open the cylinder, one must pull down on the cylinder release latch located on left side of the frame adjacent to the cocking lever.
The trigger action is also very different. The double action stroke is much shorter than Colt, Smith & Wesson and Ruger revolvers with a slight stacking near the end. Another unique quality is the two piece hammer. What we might ordinarily term the hammer spur is actually a cocking piece. To place the Rhino in the single action mode, one must pull back on the cocking piece to set the internal hammer. Once the internal hammer is cocked the cocking piece returns to the down position against the frame. A red indicator flag on the rear of the frame then becomes visible alerting the user that the hammer is cocked.
Felt recoil and muzzle flip are far less than when firing a more traditional DA revolver. Recoil is straight back into the hand without the “can-opener” effect evident in other light weight revolvers. Full power .357 magnum loads could easily be mistaken for light .38 Special loads. Due to the Rhino’s unique geometry, the user will also be able to achieve a higher grip, pretty much in line with barrel. This further reduces muzzle flip and recovery time for subsequent shots.
The Rhino is much more than a novelty and boasts a number of desirable features for the defensive-minded shooter. Its manual of arms is a bit different than other DA revolvers, however one could make the adjustment and get comfortable with it by investing in a little practice time. Time will tell if the Rhino is a viable alternative to more conventional revolvers or just another interesting footnote in the evolution of handguns. – Chiappa Rhino material graciously supplied by Mike Boyle