This week’s entry in Weapon Trivia Wednesday is not an antique relic we scrounged from a barn in Jackpot, Nevada, nor some trinket we nabbed in another far-flung corner of the globe while under the influence of cosmoline and Thai Cobra Whiskey.
This is a more modern revolver than we usually write about and was one of our carry guns on our TrailsFound outing in 2016. We originally envisioned ourselves with a brace of Colts, a Winchester 1887 12 Gauge and a Winchester Model 94 in our journey through the Southwest. Unfortunately, we got word that the cartel dumped a body in our AO, so we went with a Smith & Wesson M&P, Sionics AR-15, and a .22 Beretta 71 with a Gemtech can. And because it was the West, we had to bring a few wheel guns. In this case, it was an NAA Pug and a Chiappa Rhino.
I still would have felt better with the Uzi in tow, but damn those ATF Forms when you need to cross state lines!
I hated Chiappa’s Rhino when I first saw it a year earlier. There were no sleek lines of a classic S&W or Colt Single Action Army. The cylinder had no curves, the barrel was on the bottom, it just looked like everything a classic revolver was not.
That all changed after we took the Chiappa Rhino 200DS model, in .357 Magnum out to the range. It made .357s feel like .38s and .38s pattern like a laser. It occurred to us that this was probably the most significant redesign of a revolver since the 19th century.
Sure, superior metals came to the table as well as advances in barrel making and larger and more powerful calibers, but if you look at an S&W Model 500 at its essence, how much has it changed in its manual of arms or line drawings from a .32 S&W Hand Ejector made in the 1920s?
Chiappa changed just about everything.
The grips, which were rubber and ugly, absorb the brunt of the recoil, and the look started to grow on us so much that we actually looked for something similar for another of our revolvers.
Opening the cylinder is perhaps the most unique method we’ve seen. Push down like a paddle release instead of in like Ruger, back like Colt, or forward like Smith & Wesson.
Whoever at Chiappa decided to drop the barrel down to give a much lower bore axis was a genius. This relocation of a few inches allows the revolver to transfer the recoil into the center of the shooter’s hand, more in line with the muscles of the shooter’s forearm. This cuts felt recoil by a huge margin.
Our only real area of concern is the polygonally shaped cylinder. It goes back to our thought process on round shapes being inherently stronger, and polygons adding stress points. A ruptured cylinder could be a complete disaster on one of these. Time will tell if it’s an issue, but to date, we have never heard of a Chiappa turning into a grenade.
Chiappa’s intent with the squared-off cylinder was to eliminate the biggest problem with revolvers for concealed carry: the cylinder profile. This was an effort to slim it down or trim it up, and it’s effective in this regard.
The secondary concern would be the same one we have for all revolvers when it comes time to fix something in the internals. They remind us of watches, and our ape-like hands don’t do well with small moving parts that require fitting.
If you’re a revolver geek, the hammer and firing pin will give you agita. We were checking the action while dry firing and noticed the hammer is in the expected position for a revolver, but you have to know to look for the firing pin in the bottom half of the cylinder as opposed to the top.
What is cool is that you can cock the hammer as if you were going to fire single action and it returns to the “down” position, leaving the firing pin cocked and giving about a 3.5-pound trigger pull. A red pop-up indicator lets you know if the hammer is “cocked”.
On the trail, the Rhino mostly rode cross side for us as it is one of the easiest ways for us to retrieve a pistol on horseback.
It may not have the classic lines of an old Colt or S&W, but she has all the qualities that matter in a fighting handgun of any era.
This Post is part of our Trails Found Series. What is Trails Found? Members of BreachBangClear and some other badass media outlets assembled together this last September to train with one of the last of what has been called the “old Border Breed”, in the desert of Arizona. That man they were training with was no other than the legendary Jim Grasky. In 1965 Jim Grasky was a young Special Forces soldier in Vietnam, then in 1970 he was a the squad leader for a team of smoke-jumpers parachuting in to fight remote wildfires. For about a quarter century after that, he was a Border Patrolman, and literally named BORTAC. Though Grasky is a man of many talents, one of his specialties is man tracking–which is why he developed programs specifically for USSOCOM and has taught the world over. Through your various social media outlets, you can track other articles and photos related to Trails Found by searching for #TrailsFound16 and #GoodGearMatters.
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