New Rhino .357 may look odd but tames recoil, functions well
by J. B. Wood
With its lower-placed barrel and flat-sided cylinder, the Rhino manufactured by Chiappa in Italy does have a strange lookespecially for those who are used to traditional revolver appearances. The barrel placement and unique cylinder are not cosmetic, thoughthey are brilliant design elements.
The barrel, for example: Putting it there, aligned with the lower chamber of the cylinder, puts the line of recoil force a full inch closer to the shooting hand. The force comes straight back into the hand, not above it. Result: No “muzzle-whip,” less felt-recoil, and quicker target realignment.
The other feature mentioned, the hexagonal cylinder, is another example of excellent design. Its flat sides make it less likely to “print” during concealed carrying. The cylinder holds a full six rounds of .357 Magnum, and the ejector has enough length for easy case ejection. There are other good cylinder features: Instead of the usual ratchet “teeth” for rotation, the Rhino cylinder has six rounded pins, minimizing the friction.
The cylinder/crane release is on the left side at upper rear, and it is pushed downward for release. Inside, up front, a plunger and spring bear on the top of the crane as a secondary latch. What appears to be a hammer at upper rear is actually a cocking lever for single-action firing. When the internal hammer is cocked, a small red-orange pin emerges at top left rear as an indicator. The top of the cocking lever has a square-picture rear sight notch.
The nicely-rounded trigger is a full half-inch wide, and it has no annoying serrations. The double-action pull is short, easy, and fast. On my Rhino, the Lyman Electronic Scale told me that the crisp single-action pull is 3.5 pounds. The ramped front sight is designed not to snag, and has a good square-picture. It is retained by two cross-pins, and thus could be changed to adjust for point-of-impact with different loads. The one-piece rubber grip is another feature that has an odd look, but when you take it in hand, it is perfect. The front has room for all three fingers of the average hand.
Before we get to the range-testing, a little history: Do you remember, a few years back, the Mateba? It was a true “automatic revolver,” with a recoiling top section that rotated the cylinder and re-cocked the hammer. The designer, Emilio Ghisoni, had sold the Mateba property to another firm early in 2000. Around the middle of that year, still using his trademark lower-barrel feature, he designed a “non-automatic” revolver, and it later became the Rhino.
The first prototypes were made in 2006, by Signor Ghisoni and Antonio Cudazzo, his business partner. The designer, alas, did not get to see the success of his design. Emilio Ghisoni died on April 24th, 2008. The project continued, though. Antonio Cudazzo took the design to Rino Chiappa, and production samples were introduced in 2009 at the IWA Show in Nuremberg. In 2011, it came to America.
At the range, I tried the Rhino with several loads, both .357 and .38 Special. Shooting was at seven yards, with a two-hand hold. With a .38 Special load, firing double-action, a well-centered group was a little low, but all in the black. Measurement was 4 by 2 inches. Firing single-action with .357 Magnum loads, one dead-center group was exactly 2 inches. This, with a 2-inch barrel and fixed sights! Amazing! As expected, the felt-recoil was minimal, and so was the muzzle-rise.
The Rhino will also be available in barrel lengths of 4, 5, and 6 inches. The 2-inch version used in our testing weighs 25 ounces empty. Length is 6.5 inches overall, height 4.75 inches, width 1.25 inches. The suggested retail price is $739quite reasonable, for what you’ll get.
The sales agency in the United States is MKS Supply, 8611-A North Dixie Dr., Dept. GWK, Dayton, OH 45414; phone: 877-425-4867; online: mkssupply.com.
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