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



FAS 6004 Part 1

FAS 6004 Part 1

Chiappa’s Single Shot Pneumatic Target Pistol

By Dennis Adler

The combining of FAS design with Chiappa’s high-tech manufacturing has produced an entry-level 10 Meter single shot pneumatic competition pistol at a price that is competitive with models like the Weihrauch HW75 and Beeman P1. The FAS 6004 has an MSRP of $470.

Chiappa is best known for manufacturing some of the finest Old West rifles and shotguns in the world, including stunningly authentic reproductions of famous 19th century Winchester lever action models like the 1892 rifle and 1887 shotgun. What few people recognize Chiappa for is building some excellent air pistols as well, including the FAS 6004. This is a mid-priced, single shot pneumatic target pistol that falls into the entry-level 10 meter competition pistol classification.

A little Chiappa back story

Over the last 20 years I have had a working relationship with Chiappa as a gun writer and on occasion as a design consultant for some of their western shotguns and 1892 lever action models. Chiappa also builds early 19th century percussion lock, single shot pistols like the Napoleon Le Page, one of their most famous black powder models. That’s the gun that introduced me to Armi Sport Chiappa back in 1997 when I visited the factory in Brescia, Italy, to see how the Le Page and other Chiappa models were manufactured. This was for a book I was writing on black powder pistols for Blue Book Publications, and that visit was the beginning of a long relationship with Rino Chiappa and his wife Susanna.

The cut down Winchester Model 1892s used for the TV series “Wanted Dead or Alive” were original 1892 Winchesters modified by famed artist, knife and gunmaker Kenny Von Dutch Howard, at a cost of $1,100 for the first gun used in 1958, when Josh Randall (Steve McQueen) first appeared on the TV series “Trackdown” (1957-1959) starring Robert Culp as Texas Ranger Hoby Gilman. The episode was titled, “The Bounty Hunter,” (aired on March 7, 1958), and introduced McQueen’s character. It was so well received by TV audiences that CBS decided to spin off another series with McQueen the following September. The rest is television history. Von Dutch built three different versions of the “Mare’s Laig” the third with an octagonal barrel. This is the model I worked on with Chiappa researching the design. Introduced in 2016, it is the most accurately reproduced copy of McQueen’s guns. This is the version he used in promotional photos, but it was never seen in the show.  

Since the late 1980s they have been running the family business, founded in 1958 by Rino’s father Oscar, (who also made air pistols). While not one of the largest armsmakers in Italy, Chiappa is renowned for its quality, particularly in the manufacturing of historic 19th century black powder rifles and pistols, and centerfire Sharps, Spencer, and Winchester-based longarms. Like everything Rino does (including designing his own unique revolvers, named the Rhino), the FAS 6004 is precision-built.

The elegant styling of the FAS pistol shows in the tapered and grooved slide. The anti-glare matte black finish is smooth and speaks to the quality of the Chiappa model’s construction.

The FAS 6004 back story

Aside from airguns made by his father in the 1950s, Rino Chiappa began building pellet-firing air pistols and air rifles about a decade ago and the company currently offers the precharged pneumatic FAS AR611 Sporter air rifle in 4.5mm and 5.5mm (.177 and .22 caliber) and a 10-meter competition version; their Beretta 92-style pellet model with rotary pellet magazine and twin 12 gr. CO2 power magazine, and three variations of the FAS 6004, with ambidextrous walnut pistol grip (shown), and right hand or left hand Match walnut competition grips.

The standard model has an ambidextrous walnut competition grip that is well contoured for the average hand with an integral palm rest, finger grip stippling, thumb rest and beavertail support.

FAS, the abbreviation for Fabbrica Armi Sportive is a well-established Italian manufacturer of both competition pistols (.22 rimfire) and airguns dating back to the 1970s. Established in Milan, by Massimo Mencarelli, the company gained fame with precharged pneumatic competition air pistols like the FAS 609 (introduced in 1997), as well as Olympic championship winning .22 rimfire models. The single stroke pneumatic FAS 6004, built by Chiappa, evolved from the FAS 400 and 604 Standard and 604 Match pistols, which were almost entirely hand made at FAS.

The FAS 6004 uses a quick release for opening the action, pressing the lever inward allows the slide to be pulled open and rotated upward. The rear sight is fully adjustable for elevation and windage.

Chiappa was brought in about four years ago to put the FAS Domino AS 604 design into mass production (as the 6004), while retaining the quality characteristics of the original FAS models. The Chiappa FAS 6004 offers the most features in its price and entry-level competition class of any comparable air pistol. (Chiappa also manufactures the FAS 6007 semi-auto .22 Long Rifle competition model designed for ISSF Standard and Automatic Pistol competitions).

From the right side the perfectly ambidextrous contours of the walnut pistol grip can be seen. The design of the slide is stylishly tapered to give the pistol the same look as the FAS Domino AS 604. The 6004 is also built with left-hand or right-hand adjustable competition grips.

The 6004’s construction is almost entirely carbon steel, thus it has significant weight in the hand at 33.5 ounces, with a 7.5 inch barrel that is precision button rifled in the Chiappa manufacturing tradition. The stainless steel pneumatic air piston used in the 6004 is charged by an over-lever action (the slide) which uses a very easy locking and release mechanism on the left side. One of the most impressive features of the FAS design is the amount of effort required to close the slide and charge the piston; less than any other single stroke pneumatic in its class. It is also the only pistol of this design to have the opening of the air valve located perfectly in line with the barrel, and this means that “barrel time” (the travel time of the pellet in the barrel), is reduced to a minimum, while the yield of air pressure is maximized. The result is 400 fps (factory rated) with a shorter time to load and fire (less effort = less time).

The effort to charge the piston is lighter than any other single stroke pneumatic in the Chiappa’s class, which makes loading faster. The FAS 6004 is factory rated at 400 fps. For the European market that is about 7 Joules of muzzle energy (you sometimes see this on a gummed label attached to the frame or slide on imported air pistols). The threshold which distinguishes “low-powered” airguns from “high-powered” airguns is 7.5 Joules, above which in most European countries licenses and permits are required for “high-powered” air pistol ownership.

The FAS 6004’s factory set two-stage trigger (which is fully adjustable for trigger position, pivot point, pull weight and break between first and second stages) is feather light, felt recoil is non existent and the noise level very low. The Chiappa FAS 6004 gives shooters custom adjustments, no distractions and absolute handling ease. And here is one more little point to make this air pistol all the more desirable; the FAS 6004 is the platform for Sig Sauer’s new Super Target model, which will also be built by Chiappa.

The barrel breech is well exposed by the contours of the FAS 6004 slide making it easier to insert the 4.5mm pellet (shown inserted into the barrel).

In Part 2 we will look at the fine details of the FAS 6004’s construction, ambidextrous grip design, ease of loading, and take a closer look at the adjustable trigger design.