Chiappa Rhino Part 4
By Dennis Adler
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.
Gun two, Charging Rhino
When I received the second test gun, the Charging Rhino, the first thing I did was test the trigger. Exactly the same as the 50DS Limited Edition, a smooth but stout DA pull that rotates the cylinder and cocks the internal hammer in the first stage, and then a moderate resistance, short pull to fire in the second. For combat shooting where it is unlikely that a weapon would be drawn and fired single action (unless it is a single action design, and even then the hammer or striker is cocked), the Rhino’s double action is very good. I have to keep stressing that because shooting this gun double action is the most efficient way. For target shooting, staging the internal hammer as you pull through the first stage gives the gun predictability; it doesn’t change from shot to shot, it’s very consistent, almost as if you were shooting single action. In point of fact, there is no practical reason to shoot the Rhino single action because it works better double action. Is this a design flaw in the CO2 model? According to Chiappa the gun is more or less intended to be fired double action, though it is not a DAO design. But here is a clue to why. The current centerfire Charging Rhino GEN II is a DAO revolver! The 2-inch snub nose 200D is also offered as a DAO. That still doesn’t explain why the CO2 model has the cocking lever to shoot single action when the trigger pull offers no advantage. If the gun shoots well double action, given the adjustable sights, high velocity, and use of pellet-loading shells, shooting single action might not be that important.
I am going to set up the sights on the 50DS for steel BBs at 21 feet and the sights on the Charging Rhino for H&N Sport Match Green 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters and ASG pellet cartridges. The comparison tests will all be shot double action from 21 feet. The pellet cartridges will also be tested from 10 yards with the Charging Rhino.
After adjusting the sights (18 rounds) the 50SD with steel BBs put six rounds in close pairs inside the 10 and X with a spread of 1.50 inches. Not a tack driver with BBs, but a fair enough group for a DA revolver with an 11 pound average trigger pull. And Chiappa also confirms that the average trigger pull for the CO2 model is about 11 pounds.
Moving on to the Charging Rhino loaded with ASG pellet shells and H&N Sport 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters, it took 10 rounds to sight in and the gun punched six shots from 21 feet into 1.75 inches, but some of that was me because I put one right in the bullseye and five tightly into the 9 and 10 rings at 1.0 inches, with a pair overlapping. I went back for another try at 21 feet correcting the rear sight a coupe of clicks and switching to a 10 meter pistol target. Holding just under the bullseye I came in high but put six rounds into 1.0 inches with five at 0.56 inches in the 8 and 9 rings at 11 o’clock. The Rhino is certainly a better shooter with pellet cartridges.
What about Single Action?
I was curious to see how well the gun shot single action. This is a 12 pound trigger pull, maybe 11 pounds, 15 ounces, heavy for a single action trigger. If you’ve got the trigger finger for it, the gun does shoot a hair more accurately, but it is wearing on your shooting hand unless you have fingers like Arnold Schwarzenegger. I put a best six shots from 21 feet into a group (and one pellet tore a piece of the target out so it looks a little odd) that measured 1.75 inches but that is only because I pulled the sixth shot high. The other five rounds, including the tear, were just under an inch and closely grouped.
Last test for the day I stayed with the Charging Rhino from 10 yards and put six rounds into the 10 meter pistol target measuring 1.75 inches, with three in the 9 and 10 (with one of them just clipping the bullseye). The other trio was spread around the 7 and 8 rings. Not that bad for a smoothbore at 30 feet.
At the end of the day I came away from a week with the Rhinos a little disappointed but not terribly so. It is a good air pistol with a unique design that is hard not to like. It isn’t as accurate as I thought it would be (but more trigger time, double and single action) might show an improvement. At 21 feet it is a “decent shooter.” At 10 yards it is hard to control off hand because of the 11 plus pound trigger pull. I’d like to say I’m done here, but this will remain a work in progress as I spend more time shooting the Rhino. This is one of those air pistols that will challenge you to do better. “I’ll be back.”