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Guns of PDTV: Chiappa Rhino

by Scott E. Mayer   |  June 8th, 2011 52

The most unique gun George is using this season is the “Rhino” revolver from Chiappa. That’s an Italian word, pronounced “Key-yop-ah.”


This six-shot 357 Magnum revolver is different from ordinary revolvers in that the Rhino fires from the bottom chamber instead of the top. That arrangement results in straight-back recoil, and the namesake rhino-like profile.



This is a layered image consisting of three photos from finger on the trigger, to full recoil, to follow through illustrating the minimal muzzle rise from the Chiappa Rhino.




One precaution when shooting the Rhino is that you can't use the popular "high, forward thumbs" grip or you'll roast the tip of your thumb from the cylinder gap blast.



Deep cut-outs on both sides of the frame help guide the trigger finger to the broad, smooth trigger whether shooting right- or left-handed, and you can fire the Rhino either double-action or single-action.



What looks like a hammer is actually a cocking lever. When the gun is cocked, the cocking lever goes back down and a red indicator sticks out from the topstrap. If you want to decock the Rhino, simply point the gun downrange, thumb the cocking lever back, and hold it while you pull the trigger. Then slowly lower the cocking lever.



The Rhino’s slab-sided cylinder trims down the width of the Rhino for easier concealed carry.



At the time of our filming there were no speed loaders readily adaptable to the Rhino but speed strips worked very well and the cylinder flats helped George line up the speed strips for loading two chambers at a time.


Chiappa’s Rhino. It’s a survival tool unique in many ways but one that offers the dependability of a double-action revolver, modern styling improved recoil management and potent chambering.

  • Ted

    Damn! That is one UGLY handgun! Think I'll buy one!

  • chiro1989


    Any substantial difference in how it feels to draw the gun from a holster compared to a conventional snub nosed reveolver? Did you have to do anything radically different in your draw?

    • smayer

      Not really. The shape of the stock is a little different from what you're used to. But other than that, whip it out and blast away.

  • Six-Gun

    I've wanted one of these for a while now, it's just so difficult to get a hold of one. I'm also quite tempted to wait for the stainless/wood version.

    • Richard Moore

      I want 1 also I live in Maryland so I Experct a loooong Wait

  • nn

    Grip issue is a serious concern

  • SirGeorgeKillian

    I'm with nn on the grip issue. I know you have seen the pictures of the fella with 500S&W who let his fingers get near that gap!

  • PFD

    Scott, what is the lever on the left side of the hammer?

    • smayer

      Cylinder latch

  • robert38-55

    A rather unique design I think…… Ugly but functional!!!

  • victor mills

    yes its ulgy and does feel wierd i got to handle 1 @ NRA convention in pittsburg pa. Once i can afford to buy 1 i will

  • Bart Hege

    Nice article Scott. I've ben hearing a lot about that not so little handgun and appreciate hearing from someone who actually pulled the trigger on it.

  • big tom

    too many internal parts is it a nightmare to repair

    • Scott Mayer

      Don't know that I'd agree, big tom. The Rhino owner's manual shows a total of 70 parts. The Gun Digest Book of Exploded Firearms Drawings, 2nd Edition shows a total of 78 parts for a S&W Model 66.

  • P. J. Nebergall

    What does it cost? Who is importing it into the USA? And how much more does it weigh than a snubby Smith?

    • Scott Mayer

      Importer is:

      Chiappa Firearms – 6785 W 3rd St, Dayton, OH‎

      Rhino weight is ~ 24 ounces. A S&W Model 60 in .357 weighs ~23 ounces (keep in mind the Rhino is 6-shot and the Model 60 is 5). I've seen reported MSRP of the Rhino as $749 and that includes a leather holster

  • Anthiny S. Burkett

    What is the current price of this very unique handgun…and what is it's current availability?? And last but not least …to whom may I an inquirey on it for the opportunity of personal inspection?

  • Anthiny S. Burkett

    Opps…I meant to ask: To whom may I MAKE an inquirey… ? :-)

  • Anthiny S. Burkett

    It's ugly! But absolutley delightfully so!!! ;-)

  • Anthiny S. Burkett

    Sorry! Just noticed that the majority of my ??s have been previously answered already… Thanks Scott!

    • Scott Mayer

      NP. I answer them as they come.

  • Gene Smith

    I've seen these advertised in several gun publications and read some about them but this is the first time I've seen one fired..pretty impressive and doesn't seem to be much recoil…

  • James W.

    Think I'd like to see a full-size revolver of the same design.

    • Scott Mayer

      They have 2, 4, 5, and 6-inch models. You can see a 6-inch being shot in the first video above

  • Bruce Brunstad

    The first thing that comes to my mind is how nice it would be have a laser sight just above the muzzle as opposed to beside the muzzle as on many revolvers (minimizing parallax). Chiappa could even provide a machined area for this (Chiappa-option) laser sight sometime in the future – making holstering very easy. A supplied plug could be sold with the revolver that could cover the cut-out for the laser if the laser weren't installed.

    • Scott Mayer

      Brilliant! Plenty of room there and they could have alignment adjustment screws solidly in from the top and side of the rib.

      • Verlyn Baer

        Perhaps a removable front sight that is replaced by the lasar module.

  • Steve Durham

    RADICAL! I'd like to see Jerry Miculek put it to the test.

  • Verlyn Baer

    I think I'd like to see the rear of the grip extended a wee bit. Perhaps rounded out into somewhat of a parrot bill. Front of grip is fine, perhaps a little stipling. Just think the rear needs extention. A parrot bill would do that without compromising much concealability. Had a friend who fried his index finger laying it alongside the cylinder of one of those small .22 WRM revolvers while pressing the trigger with his middle finger, trying to compensate for the small grip.

  • Bones

    I like it! Could possibly be my next gun purchase too!

  • Los

    According to my watching the video, the recoils is not substantially less than my 45 ACP Government issue — I was expecting 6 shots in 2–3 seconds and noticeably very little recoil — Looks the same to me

  • Paul

    This seems to be an italian copy of a gun that I recall being imported from ? south africa? or somewhere else…. I've seen the "bottom barrel" approach before, but can't remember the name? Any help out there for the name?

    • tom


      I believe both the Mateba and Rhino were designed by Emilio Ghisoni. The big difference being that the Mateba was a semi-auto revolver. Probably had no recoil at all.

  • britt Adams

    I have a 6" model and yes the grip is very strange but once you shoot it you will forget it. The felt recoil is very different a hot .357 feels like a mild 38 special and the accuracy is unbelievable.

  • Leroy

    Bought one for my wife about two months ago. She loves it. Less recoil from the unique design. Comfortable to hold. Shoot accurate.

  • Martin Hobbs

    How much do the items cost?? Gun, holster. ammo etc

    I bought a short barrel 357 magnum and returned it. Too much recoil and WAY too much noise.

  • Karl

    I think the pistol you might be thinking of was called the 'Mamba"-never did get to see one in person.

  • Jim Finley

    I'm thinking about getting one – thanks for the tip about the cylinder gap vs. thumb danger. If I do buy one, I'll practice with snap caps for a while until a safe grip position becomes muscle memory.

  • Rob

    Ballpark price?

  • Rudy Duda

    what is the base metal made from cast alloy zinc? tthe 22 1911 version is cast from a zinc alloy I believe.

  • Bigslug

    I think they could become hugely popular if the same layout were applied to a 5-shot gun designed for the police backup or maximum concealment market, or if they went they other way with .41's and .44's for the handgun hunting crowd. I feel they may have erred in starting with a full-framed .357: while a perfectly valid defensive tool for those seeking simple operation, the day where that type of weapon was popular for primary carry is pretty much over.

  • Charlie

    I've read they have trigger problems. I'm waiting for them to fix and then I will buy one.

  • bigphil54

    i think it looks sick- in a good way

  • http://yahoo terry

    ulgy or not its only as good as the person shooting


    I actually designed a revolver of this concept many years ago. That big glob of metal above the barrel is an ugly waste. Why not put a laser sight in there?

  • Doug

    I think it's a very cool design. I like the low recoil. I also like that it looks like it's straight out a scifi movie like Blade Runner.

  • tom

    Have some concerns about forgetting to decock and inadvertantly carrying the revolver in battery.

  • Scott

    I'm going to ask about the elephant in the room. That is the offset between the barrel axis and the sight line.

    I've shot revolvers with rail mounted reflex sights and scopes and have found that as the offset increases so does the convergence between the sight line and barrel axis. The result is a handgun that can be distinctly sensitive to distance. Sight them in for 25 yards or so and you have a gun that shoots low at close range. Sight them in for close range and the result is long range shots clearing a 12 inch target by 2 inches or more.

    While a defensive gun that shoots 2 or 3 inches low at close range really isn't something for concern, if that Rhino is sighted in for 15 yards or less it will shoot high enough at long range to matter.

    So, what distance is it sighted for and what are the effect of that sight offset and 5, 10, 20, and 40 yards?

  • Eric

    I didn't even think about that. Same thing as a laser on a semi auto.

  • Chris

    I want to start by saying I am a total gun novice. I have recently purchased the 2” Rhino. I just took it to the range for the first time. Being a novice made the design easy for me to get comfortable with because I have no real preconceived notions on shooting form. I also own a model 19 Smith. I really noticed a difference in the felt recoil between the two guns. I fired from 7 yards and accuracy was not a problem. I am not a great shot but had no problem hitting the target. I did have a major problem however, after putting about 80 rounds through the gun it just wouldn’t fire. When I pulled the trigger the pin just would not strike the round. The cylinder would rotate but the gun just would not fire. I took it back to the store and they are sending it back to the factory for repairs. I just wanted to one, let people know this gun may have reliability issues and two, see if anyone else had the same type of problem.

  • Steve O

    Sure is ULGY, I need to get me one.

  • Lance

    I was lucky enough to buy one used and then ditch it! All the talk about less recoil, muzzle flip is all advertising in my opinion. Trying to pull the "hammer" back for a single action shot took two hands! There is an old Texas saying that I thnk applies here, "it's all hat and no cattle"!

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