For quite some time both readers and customers have been asking me what I knew about the Chiappa Rhino. Quite honestly, I didn't know very much. I viewed the Rhino, with it's barrel aligned with the bottom chamber of the cylinder, as a gimmick. I figured that it was going to be a passing fad and would soon fade from memory. Then the Rhino turned up as the weapon of choice in the film series "Divergent". I chalked it up to Hollywood just looking for an unusual looking handgun for this futuristic thriller. I mean after all, in the future no one would really be using a revolver would they?
Anyway, not too long ago a used specimen came into the shop in great condition at a fair price so I took a long look at it. This was a two inch barreled revolver in brushed electroless nickel with a textured black rubber grips. The first two thing I noticed were the trigger pull and the ergonomics. The trigger pull was smooth and perhaps the best pull I had ever encountered on a revolver. The original owner swore to me that the trigger pull was stock, out-of-the box goodness. "Besides" he said, "Who do you know that does Rhino trigger jobs". That was a point well taken. The ergonomics are outstanding. The un-traditional grip felt good and the grip's shape gives you a high hold that provides you with a very stable grip and, for lack of a better word, the upswept beavertail also helps control muzzle flip. More on that later.
If you are wondering why Chiappa named it the Rhino just look at the side and front barrel profile.
Sure looks like a charging Rhino to me and I love the large fiber optic front sight!
I always wondered if the reduction in recoil promised by the barrel firing from the bottom chamber of the cylinder really lived up to it's hype. Therefore, my trip to the range was more of function test than it was a test of the Rhino's accuracy. After firing it with .38 Special, .38 Special +P and .357 Magnum ammunition (all 125 grain rounds produced by SIG) my opinion is that the hype has been understated and the Rhino exceeded my hopes. Between the bullet exiting from the bottom of the cylinder and the contour of the grip there is almost no muzzle flip and this allows for much faster follow-up shots. All of the recoil energy comes straight back without your arm's alignment being corrupted by the muzzle flip. The .38 Special recoil was nothing. If someone is recoil sensitive the Rhino with non-+P ammo would be their ticket to a soft shooting handgun in an effective caliber.
The above target was fired with the SIG .38 Special ammo at 30 feet.
The +P load was a little stronger but still a creampuff compared to recoil produced by traditionally designed revolvers.
The above target was fired using SIG +P ammo at 30 feet.
The .357 Magnum was noticeably stronger but not unpleasant. I could easily see an extended range session with .357 Magnum ammo, which is not something I would normally do with a traditional revolver.
The above target was fired with the SIG .357 Magnum 125 grain hollow-point ammunition at 30 feet. I was very happy with the with this group. Clearly the Rhino preferred the .357 Magnum load.
The Rhino contains some interesting features. The hammer is internal and what looks like the hammer is actually a cocking lever and rear sight. This cocking lever does not move when the trigger is pulled.
Right in front of the cocking lever is a hole which contains a red polymer post. When the post is raised and protruding from the frame you know that the revolver is cocked and in the single action mode of fire. To the left of the cocking lever is a black lever mounted on the frame which serves as the cylinder release.
The 2 inch Rhino weighs in at 24 ounces which is 7 ounces less than a comparable Smith & Wesson K frame model 19 with a 2.5 inch barrel.
Another interesting feature is the six-sided, non-fluted cylinder. There is supposedly some weight savings here but I have no specifics so please don't hold me it it.
The Rhino 200DS comes with a leather holster and two speed loaders. All in all it is a great package and it is my new favorite revolver. I want the three and four inch models now!