Now, for something a little bit different. I believe, rightfully so, that most of us like eye candy, when it comes to firearms. If they have eye appeal, then that's half the battle. And, a gun has to feel good in my hand, if it doesn't, then I don't have much use for. Additionally, a gun has to be a good shooter - if a gun doesn't hit where I'm aiming, what good is it to me? A gun also has to be reliable - without a gun that 100% reliable, it won't be in my stable or be carried.
I received the new Chiappa "Rhino" .357 Magnum revolver for test and evaluation from the nice folks at MKS Supply a few months ago - I was a bit surprised when I got the sample, as I hadn't requested it, or for that matter, even knew the gun existed. Of course, always getting a new toy to test brings a smile to my face. Um, wait a minute, my face didn't exactly break into a smile when I opened the box at my local gun shop. If anything, there was more of a "what the heck is this" look on my face.
They say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What one person thinks is beautiful, another may think just the opposite - it's just the nature of human beings, I believe. To say that the Chiappa Rhino revolver is "different" (in many ways) is putting it mildly. What we have with the Rhino is a very strange-looking, six-shot, .357 Magnum revolver. For starters, the entire set-up just looks more than a little funky to my way of thinking - it just doesn't look like the typical revolver. Oh sure, it has a six-shot cylinder, and a 2" barrel, and a double-action/single action trigger. It's got all those familiar things you'd expect on any revolver, but they are "different" on the Rhino.
The first thing many people said at the gun shop, while I was examining my new sample was "what is that?" or "what happened to that gun?" You see, the Rhino has a squared-off "cylinder" - instead of being totally rounded, the cylinder is squared to a certain extent. Also, one readily notices, that the barrel is on the lower portion of the gun - it's not on top of the barrel shroud, it's below it. Huh? Yeah, that's what I said, too! The Rhino shoots from the 6:00 o'clock position, instead of the 12 o'clock position.
Then we have the grip frame - again, it looks more than a little strange. The grips themselves are made out of black rubber. The sights on the Rhino are very good - quick and easy to pick-up. The trigger pull was outstanding in both double action (DA) and single action (SA) modes. The gun never failed to fire when the trigger was pulled. the cylinder release - of course, it wouldn't be in the usual place - on the left side plate - nope, on the Rhino, it's on the upper left portion of the grip frame - near the trigger - made for very fast opening of the cylinder. Obviously a lot of thought went into the Rhino.
So, what do we have here in the Chiappa, that would make anyone want to buy one - especially with the suggested retail price of $749? Well, for starters, the gun is very well made, it ran like a Rolex watch - the high quality is there, no doubt about it. The gun felt really good in the hand, and I mean really good! Accurate? You bet! Probably one of the most accurate .357 Magnums I've ever shot. Perhaps the only thing that could beat it would be a Colt Python - which now comes from the custom shop at Colt, or some other custom revolver. The gun seemed like it had radar - point it at the target, and the bullets found mark!
Okay, but the gun shoots from the 6 o'clock position - why? Well, on the MKS web site, they claim that by firing from the lower position, the felt recoil is less - much less! Man, were they right! With full-powered .357 Mag loads, the gun felt more like it was shooting +P .38 Special loads - that's a substantial reduction in recoil. It also allows you to more rapidly get back on target for follow-up shots, too. The black rubber grips - I'm not exactly sure what they are made out of - other than "rubber" - but they did a great job of absorbing what little recoil there was.
I dearly wanted to take the Chiappa Rhino apart, to see what the inner workings were like - but I feared I'd find something that would dumb found me, so I let it be. I know when to leave well enough alone! The Rhino only weighs in at 24 ounces, due to the alloys used in the frame.
To be sure, the Rhino has a lot going for it. It's accurate - super accurate, if you ask me. It's light weight and totally reliable, too. The gun can be hand with a 2" barrel, 4" barrel or 6" barrel. There is even a new stainless version out. The Rhino is made in Italy, by the Chiappa Family, who have been making guns for over 50 years.
Another thing I liked was that, MKS Supply went the extra mile and they had holsters made (in Italy, of course) for the Chiappa. As I've mentioned before in SurvivalBlog, one thing that bothers me is that when most new handguns come on the market, holster makers have a "wait and see" attitude. They wait and see if the gun is going to be a hot seller, before committing to making holsters. So, more often than not, you have to use some kind of generic ballistic nylon holster - which fits many different sized guns - but none exactly. So, you can get a nice leather holster from MKS Supply for your Chiappa, and you're ready to go.
I've got to admit, that the overall looks of the Rhino still don't appeal to me - there's no eye candy or a "wow" effect there. However, when a handgun shoots this well, feels this good and is totally reliable, it's hard to not like the gun. (Even if most folks find it rather ugly.) Once again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Don't pass on a Rhino simply because you don't like the way it looks. Appearances can be deceiving, and in the case of the Rhino, very deceiving! If a new .357 Magnum /.38 Special revolver is in your future, it's worth taking a close look at the Rhino. When you find a Rhino at you local gun shop - don't just look at the gun - close your eyes and handle it - you'll see what I'm talking about. Looks aren't everything.