Review: Chiappa Rhino 60DS Bottom Barrel Revolver
I’ve never been much of a revolver fan, with the exception of the finally crafted (and very heavy and hard hitting) Colt Python. I had a Python when I was younger and never really appreciated it for what it was, and now that the prices have gone up and the availability has gone down, I wish I had another one. I’ve tried to replace my special place in my heart for the Python time and time again with 5 and 6 shot revolvers from other manufacturers in .38, .357, .45LC and even .500 Express. None of them every made me feel good about owning them, so I gave up on revolvers all together.
A few months back, I was at the range and one of my friends had a Chiappa Rhino. I saw it from a few stalls down and thought, “What is this? It looks like a an ugly futuristic revolver.” That, my friends, is about as accurate of a description as I can give to this day. Relatively light weight for it’s 6″ size and with a bottom cylinder barrel, this .357 magnum is incredibly accurate and reliable. At first glance, it’s also the ugliest piece of hardware I’ve seen in a while. I let my buddy take my PX4 Storm out for the day and I put round after round through his Rhino. The grip is small, but it fits my hand better than any revolver I’ve tried before, including the Python. The .357, not a light load by any stretch of the word, kicks with the power of a .32 or maybe a low grain .40. The bottom cylinder configuration puts all of the recoil into your forearm, not your wrist, which keeps muzzle flip to a minimum. While the top rail was kind of offputting at first, I began appreciating it the more I shot it.
Over the course of the an hour I had the Rhino, I was coming around to see the beauty in the beast. While my original thought was “man, that’s an ugly gun”, I started to come to terms with the fact that it’s not really ugly, just different. Those differences actually add to it’s functionality and, ultimately, it’s charm. The Rhino’s unusual look has caught the attention of Hollywood as well. The gun was featured in both the 2014 movie Divergent and also throughout the 2012 remake of Total Recall. The front sight, the horn of the rhino, is just the right size and shape for the rear sights. The green on red fixed sights were easy to see both in shade and in direct light. While the gun comes with top and bottom piccatinny rails, I fired it bare and without accessories and found it to be accurate and easy to group at 20 yards and even 50 yards. I was enamored with it’s manners and reliability to the point that I went online the next weekend and bought the same model, the 60DS. While they come in both silver (White Rhino) and black (Black Rhino), I went with the same black setup that my friend is running.
Trigger pull is also butter smooth. I’ve read reviews that describe the trigger as gritty or clunky, but both of the Rhinos I’ve now fired have exhibited nothing but silky operation. The draw isn’t particularly long, but it does have a reassuring mid point right before engagement that is definite and easy to find. There’s a slight indention behind the trigger and in front of the wood grip that guide your fingers to the trigger and keep your pull clean and in line. It’s the kind of craftsmanship that you would expect from an Italian firearm, in the same way that you would expect it from an Italian sportscar.
While I was very impressed with the Rhino as a performer, I was not impressed with the price tag. I got a nearly perfect blemished model from Kentucky Gun Company for $750. That’s at the low end of what the Rhinos cost, with the White Rhinos often topping $1200+. What do you get with a $750 rhino? For me, it was the revolver itself, a speed loader, a hard case and a warranty card. Once I got it, immediately started playing with adding optics to see if the capable stock sights could be improved on. Using a Weaver Classic Silver Handgun Scope (2×28) that I had around from my Python, I strapped it on and sighted it in. It takes the already capable stock sights and gives you some “reach out and touch someone” range. I scooped up 100 rounds of mixed .357 ammo (50 rounds GECO .357 MAGNUM 158GR FMJ, 50 Rounds LAX Ammunition New 357 MAG 158Gr. and 50 Rounds Armscor USA 357 MAG 158 gr FMJ) and headed out to the pistol range.
With the scope on, I had similar groupings at 20 yards that I did with the stock sights. At 50 yards, the groupings were a lot better. Using two hands and taking my time, I was consistently hitting 3″ to 4″ groups at 50 yards using the scope, and 8″ or so groupings without it. After 100 rounds, I had zero misfires and zero odd shots. Everything I put down range found paper, though some shots were better than others. Since I was firing standing up and in the hot Florida sun, I eventually did get tired of holding up the 6″ barrel. Over time, even though this is a light weight gun for it’s size, the long barrel does begin to cause fatigue. What seemed remarkable to me was that even after firing 150 rounds, which would normally cause all kinds of wrist pain for me the next day, I got none of that from the Rhino. The combination of the bottom barrel, upper rail support and long snout kept the jarring and snapping to a minimum. I could even fire one handed with relatively good accuracy for the first 20 minutes and 30 rounds I had fired. That’s something I could never expect out of another .357 powered gun and is noteworthy.
After the range time, I decided to take out the Rhino as my sidearm to go pig hunting. The idea was that if my 6.8SPC got a hit but didn’t down the hog, I would roll in with the Rhino and finish the job. Lots of crack shots that day with the rifle and not a single hit, so alas I never got to try the Rhino at game hunting. None the less, fitting in a large chest holster all day was no problem for the rhino. Though it’s large (and the end of the barrel sticks several inches out of a holster made for a 1911), it never hurt my shoulder or neck to lug it around and it always stayed firm and where I needed it, so I would have no problems drawing from it if I needed to.
Would I carry the Rhino as my daily carry gun? Definitely not. Only having 6 shots, being large and hard to conceal and being an overall pricey piece makes it impractical for daily carry. That said, the Rhino really isn’t for that. It’s one of those “love it or hate it guns”, and I’m most certainly in the “love it” category for it’s accuracy, ease to shoot and overall unusual design. While my initial thought was over how ugly it was, I’ve grown very fond of it’s strange form and it’s undeniable accuracy. It will always have a place on my range bench and in my gun vault.