Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 7

No real losers

By Dennis Adler

Six impressive new guns from 2020 cover the range from the 1870s to the 21st century. With that level of diversity among pellet cartridge revolvers, a belt fed pellet semi-auto, and two blowback action BB pistols, the comparisons are stretched to the limits but the underlying qualities of each gun, as well as their shortcomings, will ultimately lead to a best choice for 2020’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year.

In the past few years it has been a clear process of elimination that has made the annual top gun choice comparatively straightforward as one gun always rose to the top. Not so in 2020 with three guns tied at 49 points and two at 48 points. Even the gun that comes in last, the Chiappa Rhino, has 47 points and at the beginning was the one gun I thought had the best shot at 2020’s title being the only totally new CO2 air pistol of year.  The remaining five are all improvements or upgrades to existing models and every one of the six models reviewed for Replica Air Pistol of the Year fell short of 50 points (some even with bonus points added to their total) for one reason or another. read more


2020 Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 2

2020 Replica Air Pistol of the Year Part 2

Hexagonal wheels

By Dennis Adler

The combination of the black frame, nickel cylinder and crane, hammer and trigger with the blue grey saw handle composite grip adds to the Charging Rhino’s unique otherworldly looks. If Deckard had pulled this gun in Blade Runner you wouldn’t have been surprised.

It was a given that the new Chiappa Rhino would be a serious contender for 2020’s Replica Air Pistol of the Year. How serious? About as serious as an African Rhino charging in your direction! Now, I don’t know what that is like but I had a friend back in my Guns & Ammo days who had just such an experience and as many years later as it was when he told me the story the experience was indelibly etched in his memory right down to the smallest detail. It was a photo safari and he told the photographer not to use the motor drive Nikon (they were very noisy back then). But he did, the Rhino heard it, eyesight is awful but hearing is off the charts, and the beast turned in their direction, saw some blurry objects and charged them. Fortunately they were far enough away that the Rhino lost interest after the first 100 feet or so. A close call just the same, so, yeah, the Chiappa Charging Rhino is a serious contender for this year’s top gun title. It might not win but it could come awful close! read more


Chiappa Rhino Postscript

Chiappa Rhino Postscript

Living with a heavy trigger pull

By Dennis Adler

Here’s an interesting set of facts; the double action trigger pull on a Walther PPK is 13.4 pounds, an S&W Model 29 is 12 pounds average, 13 pounds for a Beretta M9, a Heckler & Koch USP averages 10 pounds. So, a long, heavy double action trigger pull is not unusual for DAO and DA/SA semi-autos or revolvers. In fact, a long, heavy, double action trigger pull was intended as a safety measure, Webley made this so from the start with its double action/single action military revolvers like the MK VI. The wisdom of a very heavy double action trigger, like most things pertaining to handguns, is debatable and particularly so in law enforcement where some departments and agencies require DAO or heavier than standard DA/SA triggers for duty guns. An 11 pound, 11 ounce double action trigger pull, like the Chiappa Rhino, is about average. In fact, compared to Walther PPK and PPK/S models, the Rhino is on the light end for a double action. What becomes an issue is when the single action trigger pull is also 11 pounds, 11 ounces, which is contrary to the logic of a single action trigger, a PPK for example, which can have a double action trigger pull as heavy as 16 pounds, is a genteel 5 pounds, 4.5 ounces single action. But for the sake of the CO2 Chiappa Rhino and its unusual DA/SA system with an internal hammer (based on the centerfire gun, not just the air pistol version), the question arises, “Can accurately shooting the Rhino in single action be achieved over time?” The answer is yes, just as one learns to shoot any DAO or DA/SA pistol double action, heavy trigger pull and all. read more


Chiappa Rhino Part 4

Chiappa Rhino Part 4

Trigger points

By Dennis Adler

Dueling Rhinos, the Charging Rhino (needs no explanation) feels and shoots exactly the same as the Limited Edition 50DS. I was hoping for a lighter single action trigger pull, but that seems to be how the guns are made.

As a cloud of despair settles around the triggerguard of the Rhino I am reminded of so many revolvers and DAO semi-autos that have heavy trigger pulls. Yes, but the Rhino is a DA/SA not a DAO, yet it has no actual hammer to cock, just a cocking lever that looks like a hammer, and when used depresses an internal lever that manually presets the internal hammer and rotates the cylinder to the next round, the same action as the first stage of firing the Rhino double action. Having said that, the tension on the CO2 model’s trigger seems to be accentuated rather than relieved from that of firing double action, the reverse of what is supposed to happen, and does happen with the centerfire Chiappa. Is this a deal breaker? Could be for some but look back at earlier tests with revolvers that shot better double action than single action; the first that comes to mind is the Umarex S&W 327 TRR8, which has a decent SA trigger pull but runs much smoother when fired double action. Why? Because the pull through of the trigger stages the hammer as the cylinder rotates into battery. Staging the hammer is an asset on revolvers (mixed opinions on this but I find more in agreement with staging the hammer when you have a moment to pause before firing). I have even demonstrated practicing with staging the hammer on revolvers in past Airgun Experience articles, and have done the same in handgun articles for magazines. Of course, you had the option to cock the hammer and lessen the trigger pull travel and resistance on those guns. With the Rhino, cocking the internal hammer only lessens the trigger pull travel but not the resistance. read more


Chiappa Rhino Part 3

Chiappa Rhino Part 3

Air Rhino

By Dennis Adler

One lesson learned over the past few years with BB cartridge loading revolvers, (and lever action rifles), is that even a smoothbore can shoot pellet cartridges. The Chiappa Rhino is marked for both BBs and pellets and can use readily available Dan Wesson Model 715 pellet shells.

The Chiappa Rhino has two promises, one that it is the most unusual CO2 air pistol to come along, and two that it has already been approved by Chiappa for use with BBs and pellets (by changing to pellet cartridges). As I noted in Part 2, Chiappa also wisely built the CO2 models to use existing pellet loading cartridges readily available from ASG that are used in the Dan Wesson Model 715 pellet models. Same for the DW speed loader. The fact is there’s nothing left to ask of Chiappa except some different barrel lengths. The gun is done right from the get go with one little exception. read more


Chiappa Rhino Part 2

Chiappa Rhino Part 2

Rhino v. Rhino

By Dennis Adler

Centerfire Chiappa Rhino models come in a variety of barrel lengths, calibers and finishes. Shown are standard barrel lengths and black or nickel finishes. Two of the CO2 models are based on the 5-inch 50DS black (second gun down left column) and 50DS nickel (third gun down right column).

Authenticity of design is pretty straightforward. It either is or isn’t authentic. A Colt SAA isn’t a Colt unless Colt builds it, or at least licenses their name and emblem (the Rampant Colt) to the builder. Case in point being the Umarex Colt CO2 models and other Colt designs licensed to Umarex. It’s the same for Umarex S&W models, and for ASG and their Dan Wesson and CZ pistols. Until very recently only Sig Sauer and Webley built copies of their own guns (albeit at factories in Taiwan), sold under their own names. Now we can add Italian armsmaker Chiappa to the list with the Rhino series of CO2 revolvers, also built in Taiwan but to the original manufacturer’s specifications, and again sold by the manufacturer under their own name. There is very distinct difference between that and a gun sold by another company, say Umarex or ASG, that is licensed by the company to build and sell under the brand name. Even the superb CZ-75 SP-01 Shadow and new Shadow 2 are sold as ASG models. The Rhino, on the other hand, is a Chiappa from the start and is sold as a Chiappa and comes in a Chiappa hard plastic case. That alone adds value to the gun right out of the box. But, what exactly is the Rhino and how authentic are the CO2 versions? read more


Chiappa Rhino Part 1

Chiappa Rhino Part 1

Once Upon a Time in Italy

By Dennis Adler

The Limited Edition 50DS is one of four CO2 models from Chiappa. Based on their centerfire Rhino pistols, Chiappa has the parts for the gun, copied from the centerfire pistol blueprints, manufactured in Taiwan by Wingun, and then shipped to Brescia, Italy for assembly at the Chiappa Firearms factory. The Limited Edition 50DS is distinguished by fiber optic sights and distinctive two-tone finish and grey/black synthetic wood finish grips. The gun comes in a fitted Chiappa hard case.

This is a year when new CO2 models are in short supply, so any new gun is welcome, but when something as unique and attention-grabbing as the Chiappa Rhino arrives as a CO2 model, you know that things are about to start looking up! There are roughly 55 different centerfire Rhino variations combining barrel lengths, finishes and calibers, so it is no surprise that the company would begin with four CO2 models representing two standard finishes and two custom models, including the Limited Edition 50DS shown (1 of 500). read more