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.
My weekend with the Charging Rhino
I have been shooting double action revolvers for nearly 50 years and most are very manageable, even those with typically heavy DA triggers like the Colt Detective Special, (mine has an average pull of, ironically, 11 pounds, 11 ounces), and most S&W revolvers come in around 12 pounds. My favorite S&W is a Model 29 that was a limited production model only manufactured in 1987 (just 5,000 made) called the Classic Hunter. It has a factory double action trigger pull a hair over 12 pounds. Over the years I have learned to smoothly pull the double action triggers on S&W and other double action revolvers and semi-autos. Of course, the S&W Model 29’s excellent wide trigger shoe and precision action help. If you’re curious, the single action pull on that gun is 4 pounds, 6.4 ounces, but it shoots quite well double action.
One of the important characteristics of double action triggers is the width. Historically most triggers (especially early Single Action revolvers) are narrow, and with single actions this is not a problem. Add 10 pounds to the trigger pull and a narrow trigger is less accommodating. Look at the trigger on a Walther PPK, it is comparatively narrow and with a DA pull that can be up to 16 pounds, it is a hard gun to shoot double action (only for the first shot if you don’t cock the hammer, after that the semi-automatic operation puts the gun into single action with a much, much lighter trigger pull). Take an 11 to 12 pound trigger pull on a small DA revolver, like a Colt Detective Special, and the heavy trigger pull is again hard but more manageable than a gun with the same resistance and an even narrower trigger. Then look at a 12 plus pound trigger pull like the Model 29 has and how S&W helps mitigate that with a gracefully curved 0.43 inch wide trigger that makes the job much easier. The width and shape of a trigger is a very important component of a double action pistol, especially when it is an exceptionally heavy trigger.
So, this brings me back around to my weekend with the Chiappa Charging Rhino CO2 model. The heavy DA trigger pull is more than manageable, in part because of the trigger’s near half-inch width. The same resistance firing SA is also manageable once you get comfortable with it. There doesn’t seem to be a break-in period for the trigger but more of a break-in period for the shooter!
With the sights adjusted for H&N Sport Match Green 5.25 gr. alloy wadcutters shooting from 21 feet, and firing single action, I began finding just how much trigger finger was needed for the trigger press. This, of course, depends upon the size of the shooter’s fingers, but for me I found controlling the heavy SA trigger on the Charging Rhino required the entire first joint. With a two-handed hold I was able to keep the gun solidly on target and the short, heavy pull became more controllable with successive shooting sessions. By the end of the weekend I was shooting groups single action just as tight as my best double action targets and getting comfortable with the still heavy but consistent SA pull. The Chiappa was beginning to live up to its promise.
Shooting at a Birchwood Casey sighting target I ended my weekend with the Charging Rhino delivering 12 shots in the center diamond with a spread of 1.87 inches. One low flyer opened up the total group, which otherwise would have been 1.43 inches comprised of two six-shot groups, each averaging under an inch (even with the flyer in one group). It is not a precision target pistol but it is capable of keeping six rounds under an inch, and with even more trigger time I am certain that could improve further. This will not be the gun for everyone, but serious revolver shooters will find any of the Rhino models both a challenging and rewarding wheel gun, even if the wheel is a hexagon.
Thursday is Thanksgiving, and in terms of airguns, I am going to give thanks for a new CO2 semi-auto I never expected to see.