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.

The ASG Dan Wesson pellet shells come 25 to a box for $39.95. Add a couple of Dan Wesson speed loaders or use .38 caliber speed strips and reloading the Rhino is short work.

Here are the factory specs on the currently available Rhino 50DS Limited Edition 1 of 500 model:

Construction: Metal body, metal barrel

Barrel:            5.08 inches (internal length)

OA Length:    9.75 inches

Sights:             Fiber optic front (from RS) adjustable fiber optic rear (from RS)

Capacity:        6 BB or pellet cartridges

Caliber:          .177 steel BBs and 4.5mm pellet compatible

Velocity:         328 fps

Action:            Single and double action

Safety:            Manual lock behind hammer, active safety flag (works like the real one; SA the flag is raised, DA each time the trigger tail is pressed, the flag is raised) arming by active pedal (internal hammer), active barrel lock pedal (like the real one)

Grips:             Imitation wood grip exclusive dark grey with integrated CO2 key

Packaging:     Chiappa Firearms hardcore with pre-cut foam liner

MSRP:           $229.95 (discounted price $199.95)  

Compared to other contemporary DA/SA revolvers the Rhino is like parking a Humvee in a lot full of Jeep Wranglers, it’s not hard tell it from the others. This is also true of the CO2 models which have the same distinctive large upper frame and oversize vent ribs, each progressively larger in size from the rear to the muzzle. The 5-inch barrels have three vents, the 6-inch have four, and every model, except the 2-inch snub nose Rhino, has a Picatinny accessory rail on the shroud surrounding the barrel. 

The cast alloy frame for the Rhino is exceptionally well made. Notice that the CO2 chamber is almost vertical rather than angled for the shape of the grips like most CO2 revolvers, Peacemaker, Dan Wesson, and others. The gun gets about 48 shots on one 12 gr. CO2. I know that doesn’t sound like a lot but keep reading.

Handling

As a CO2 pistol the Rhino (regardless of model) has a 5-inch barrel (thus far), and a very straightforward CO2 loading design with a removable right hand panel containing a built-in seating wrench (much like the Umarex Colt Peacemakers). What is distinctive is the absolutely vertical CO2 channel in the otherwise gently curved grip frame.

For a large frame revolver the Rhino is pretty well balanced and the long curved grip, combined with the undercut triggerguard, allows the gun to fit the hand with a firm grasp. The weight of the gun is also low and forward of the triggerguard, which makes it a little front heavy but well suited to a two-handed hold.

The left side of the Rhino frame has the stampings for BBs and pellets clearly indicating the dual ammo capability. With adjustable fiber optic sights, you might as well make the very most of this air pistol and for my money; I’d rather shoot pellets than BBs even with a smoothbore like the Rhino.

Everything up to this point has been a solid plus for the CO2 model however, the trigger, hammer and how the gun fires DA and SA play a more troublesome role in firing this gun. Let’s begin with average trigger pull fired double action. Each pull of the trigger cocks the internal hammer and rotates the cylinder. This is accomplished in two distinct stages, the first half of the trigger pull rotates the cylinder and stages the internal hammer, and you can easily feel this step, just as you would with an S&W revolver as the hammer comes back and you feel that point where the cylinder has rotated and the hammer is staged to pull through and fire. Only with the Rhino the hammer never moves, the red flag rises instead and you feel and hear the cylinder solidly lock into place. Then you pull though to break the shot. The entire DA trigger pull averages 11 pounds, 11 ounces (about a pound more than the centerfire model). The resistance to the first stage makes up 6 pounds, 12.5 ounces average of the total pull and 11 pounds, 11 ounces is still in the ballpark for a double action revolver fired double action. The action on the Chiappa is very consistent from shot to shot and with that much weight, the wide trigger really helps. Where the surprise comes, is in manually cocking the action to shoot single action. This eliminates the first stage but leaves you with a short and heavy trigger pull that averages 12 pounds! In other words, there is no advantage and actually a disadvantage to firing the Rhino CO2 model single action. This is not the case with the centerfire models and while the air pistol is authentic in operation it is decidedly a better DAO than a DA/SA. This is the only disappointment I have experienced with the Rhino. I have a second gun coming for Saturday’s conclusion and I will compare triggers to see if this is a constant with the CO2 design.

The gun has a very long sight radius and low bore axis. With the fiber optic sights dialed in, the Rhino could be a tack driver.
The only disappointment with the Rhino thus far is firing the gun single action. Trigger pull actually increases in single action. Fired double action the average pull measured 11 pounds, 11 ounces, which is a little above average for a double action revolver. The two-stage trigger pull first rotates the cylinder and cocks the internal hammer, which is very distinct and can be heard and felt; the pull through is heavy but very consistent from shot to shot.

Velocity and BBs vs. pellets

To wrap up today, I am chronographing Umarex steel BBs with the shells that came with the Rhino and then six ASG Dan Wesson pellet shells loaded with H&N Sport Match Green 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters. I am going with alloy pellets to achieve maximum velocity. In the conclusion I will test with both lead and alloy wadcutters and steel BBs.

BB shells and pellet shells are interchangeable. These are the shells that come with the Rhino, but they are identical to the Dan Wesson pellet shells except for markings. The DW shells are marked “cal .177 (4.5mm)” with a pellet outline on the rim, but comparing them with the original Rhino shells I can find no difference in the rubber seating rings.

The average velocity with BBs was 393 fps which is considerably higher than the 328 fps listed for the gun, and a very impressive 415 fps with the 5.25 gr. H&N alloy pellets. So, as a pellet pistol, albeit a smoothbore, the 5-inch barrel Rhino can deliver the velocity to put pellets downrange at over 400 fps. With the sights left as they were out of the case, the gun hit a little high and left and with compensating POA (I’ll do sight adjustments in Part 4) the majority of test shots fired through the chronograph hit within 1.5 inches. With some fine tuning the Rhino is likely going to deliver 1-inch or better groups from 21 feet. We’ll find out Saturday.

Today’s chronograph tests were done with the BB shells that come with the Rhino and six ASG Dan Wesson pellet shells which are virtually identical to those that come with the gun. Average velocity with Umarex steel BBs was 393 fps and 415 fps with H&N Sport Match Green 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters.

5 thoughts on “Chiappa Rhino Part 3

  1. If looks (only) could kill… I admit feeling already disappointed regardless of any accuracy potential. An excellent design but finally just a product to keep the Taiwanese manufacturer busy.


    • Bill:

      Not at all. I think we’re jumping the gun here (pun intended) because if this was a DAO pistol this conversation wouldn’t even be taking place, and honestly in practical use the Rhino is a DAO because the hammer isn’t a hammer, it is a manual cocking device. The actual hammer is internal and this gun is effectively a DAO. Yes, the single action trigger pull is a disappointment, but the double action will prove itself to be quite good in the next series of tests. Don’t let one feature negate all the others. As a DAO the Rhino shoots quite well.

      Dennis


  2. The higher velocity may be due to listing for detuned outside US markets. This design albeit interesting, shows the enemy of good is better. Over engineering to give a heavier sa pull could kill the interest in this revolver.


    • I don’t think so. This is one of those guns that feels better shooting double action. I would have liked a light SA trigger, but there have been other CO2 DA/SA pistols that performed better fired double action. This is just another one. As the remaining articles will dhow, the Rhino fired double action is both an unusual and accurate pistol to shoot.



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