Chiappa Rhino Part 3
By Dennis Adler
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.