Shooting and Discussing the Chiappa Rhino .357 Magnum

Hickok 45. You reckon a cowboy was ever shot by one of these back in the 1800s? It’s going to happen today.

Oh yeah, I kind of doubt it, really. I don’t think a cowboy, a real cowboy, could have tolerated being killed by such an ugly gun, even a propane.

It’s the Chiappa Rhino here, the 40DS 4-inch barrel, believe it or not. Have you ever seen a firearm this ugly? I mean, I ask you, really. Have you ever seen a firearm – not just a handgun, any gun – that ugly? I know I’ve offended some of you because many of you don’t really think it’s that ugly.

You’ll have to humor me because I’m an old guy and I have had revolvers my entire life, and none of them look like this creature. They look more like that one, the model 19 Smith & Wesson, just for contrast. Look at that. Yeah, this is going to be a gun-bashing video. Nah, it’s not really going to be a gun-bashing video.

You guys have been requesting that I get my hands on one of these for a few years. The first few requests I got, I thought you were kidding, I really did. By that time, you knew some of the beautiful revolvers that I owned and dearly loved – Colt single actions and Smith & Wesson double actions, vintage Smiths and everything. I just thought you were joking, really. Someone would say, “Hickok, you really need to review the Chiappa Rhino, you need to get one of those.” Yeah, really, don’t I? Aren’t they gorgeous?

Over the years, I have realized people are serious about it. You have been very serious. It’s been a surprise to me. We all learn, we’re never too old to learn, especially when you got so much gap up there where you can’t go the other way. You can get more knowledge, maybe, but you can’t lose a lot because there’s not a lot up there.

Really, I have learned something that this firearm is not really repulsive to everybody, as it was to me when I first saw them. And the second time I saw them, and the third time, and almost every time I see them, they’re just a little bit repulsive. I’ll have to say, though, since we’ve had it here at the compound and shooting it, looking it over, cleaning it and messing with it, my impression has changed some. I’m calmed down. It’s still ugly, but it does function. As an old Glock guy, ugly is as ugly does. If you’ve got something that functions well, I can live with it.

We’re going to look at it and I’ll let you know what I think of it. I’ve already told you a little bit about that, haven’t I? I’m going to be objective, there’s no reason not to be. We appreciate the ammo from Federal, and this is an actual firearm sent by Bud’s. I don’t know why they’d send such an ugly gun to me. No, we requested it and I’m glad to have it. We’re going to enjoy shooting it some more. I’ve been shooting it quite a bit, and we’re going to shoot it for you, let you know how works if you don’t already know that.

This is kind of a T&E gun. We’ve gotten several guns, as you know, from Bud’s, they are a sponsor of ours. To make it easier to get guns and almost any gun we want from them, we’ve decided to just treat most of the guns we get from Bud’s as T&E guns, which means test and evaluation. We’re going to send them back to them.

This gun is going back, and they’re going to auction some of these off – or all of them that we send back, they’re going to put them in their auctions. That’s kind of the thing. How they do that, I don’t know. That’s whatever they make, they make, that’s their business. The only thing that we have specified is that 10 percent of whatever it sells for in any gun that we get from them that we send back, goes to the Second Harvest Food Bank here in Middle Tennessee, the food bank charity, my favorite charity. You can watch for those – I don’t know when they go up exactly or any of that, but you can go to their site and watch for those. This one will be up there.
 Chiappa Rhino. Does it look a little bit like a rhinoceros to you? I think it does, doesn’t it? I guess it’s pretty easy to see why it’s named that. I’ll shoot her some more here, but what I’m going to do is I’m going to use these speed loaders a little bit. That’s kind of unusual. I don’t know if I’m aware of any other .357 magnums that actually take a speed loader, but you get three of those with the firearm. I used one out there. I guess I knocked it out on the ground there, we’ll find it. I’ll probably step on it and ruin it, or did I stick it in my pocket? Moon clips like this are very fragile, they’re very easy to bend and warp out, and they don’t work too well. Be careful with those if you have them.

You got your cylinder here with the flat sides to it. That’s one of the advantages of the revolver, it keeps it a little more slim. If you’ve got the carry – this could be a carry-size model, I guess, or the 2, 2 ½ inch, whatever it is. It’s really a carry snub gun, you’ve got a flatter firearm there in .357 than you might have with Smith. With the Smith here, you don’t have a flat cylinder, of course. Actually, I haven’t measured them, they may not be all that different, but you have a flat one.

Negatives, let me go through some more of the negatives. I don’t like that latch; opening the cylinder is kind of weird. Part of it is the traditionalist in me, I guess, but it’s just kind of weird. Neither John nor I like that too much. It seems okay, I guess it’s pretty positive it works, but I’m not crazy about that.
I’ve been hammering it. Let me tell you some things that I do like about it. The fact that it’s going away. Just kidding. I do like the grip. If you’ve ever held one of these, even if right now you’re about to regurgitate – people in Kentucky, that means throw up – if you’re about to throw up just from seeing it, even in my hand, let me tell, you might want to grab one sometime. It feels great in the hand; it fits really well. The double action on it is not bad. It’s a little stiff, but it’s not bad at all, even a single action.

It’s got a stiff hammer. The single action is not great, not like a Smith, but it’s not all that bad either. This is the kind of revolver that you pick up – again, my bias is it’s a little bit like the Russian Nagant revolver, which is kind of a contraption in a way. You pick it up, and it takes three men and a boy to pull the trigger. You expect it to be like that, but it’s really not. It’s a lot smoother, and it’s much better built than you would expect – it just is, surprisingly.

If you search around the forums on the web, you really do see mostly positive things about these characters. It’s a gun you want to hate. It’s a gun I wanted to hate, and I really have hated the looks of it. Once you get it in your hand, there is an element of pleasant surprise. The front sights, you’ve got your fiber optic, you’ve got an adjustable rear sight. You get a pretty good sight picture on this particular model. 

I think some of the smaller ones – they have a lot of different configurations – have maybe no rear sight like that, the sight is actually even on the hammer, a groove cut into the hammer. This one, I requested a 4-inch, I just wanted a midsized piece. They’re all ugly. The short ones are even uglier, I think. The hammer is kind of stiff, but the sights – and I have shot it several times – the sights are pretty much right on to the best I can tell. It’s not hung up on us. John has shot it, I’ve fired it. 

The claim to fame is, you notice where the barrel is. It’s down here along the bottom of that, if you didn’t know that, if you wondered about these strange-looking animals. It fires from the bottom of the cylinder, so the round in the bottom of the cylinder is the one that’s being fired. You’ve got a hammer down here. This is really just a hammer to cock the hammer, it’s not the real hammer.

You’re firing down here so you’ve got a straight line on the bore axis, so it’s coming straight back into your hand. I don’t know of any firearm that does that as well. All of the recoil comes straight back. The thing you read about these all the time is they have no recoil, low recoil, all that. What they really mean is you don’t get the muzzle flip. You can’t shoot pistols – if you fire a hot .357 or a weak .357 or a weak .38, it has a certain impulse. It’s going somewhere. It’s just that with this gun, it’s coming straight back up your arm. You really feel like you can just hold that thing right on it.

Let’s try it again and see if it will shoot. The most important thing I didn’t share with you yet – I don’t want to forget that, because a lot of people are not aware that John Browning actually designed this thing, and he put all the stats, all the design drawings in an envelope and he sent them to Smith & Wesson with a sign not to be opened until 2009. Voila. I think they must’ve opened it, and then they just got rid of it and threw it somewhere, and I guess Chiappa found it. Can you believe that? I know, get your act to the comedy club, not at the compound, right?

We’ll shoot some hot rounds, .357, 158 grain. Well, I say hot, the .357 is hot enough, it doesn’t have to be +P, or +P+, or ++PP+++, does it? .357 is a healthy little round, so we’ll fit one of these here. These are going to be a little warmer. Before we forget, let’s, again, as we do this, Kentucky is still alive. Somebody told me I pick on Kentucky a little bit, so a little bit of a tribute to Kentucky with our remaining blue 2-liters.

Let’s do that for Kentucky.

That was double action on, well, all of that. Let’s do cowboy again.

It’s not a bad pull, it’s really not too bad. It does come back at you. That’s the thing, you can feel it right there. While it’s true it does not rise as much as, say, that gun would with the same ammo as far as the muzzle flip, you’re still getting the same energy back at you into your hand, you can feel it. In fact, in some ways it hurts a little more. Smith, though, is kind of famous in these double action revolvers for them coming back into your hand as well.

This one with your barrel – we’ve got new shooters, we’ve got people who aren’t even familiar with guns, so let’s not assume too much here. Your barrel is up here at the top of the cylinder, generally. The round is recoiling against the top of the recoil shield up here, the barrel and everything in line here. Your recoil, that round is pushing against up here about the top of the hammer there. When you fire it, it comes up a little bit.

The difference with this one, as I showed you, the barrel is down here so it’s coming straight back into your hand. The bore axis is even actually below the top of your hand, so it’s really coming straight back. If you had a .44 magnum, do they make a .44 mag in this thing? I’m thinking they may not. Maybe they do. If you put a really hot .44 magnum in a light handgun like this and fired it, it would hurt. I would really rather it come up some, to tell you the truth. It doesn’t hurt with a .357; most of us can handle a .357 without too much trouble. That’s mainly why I had that out here.

Then too, if some of you just get a little nauseous after looking at it, you can just kind of take a look at that when it’s on the camera and feel a bit better.

These are .38s here, jacketed hollow points. Let’s put a couple on that target, what the heck. I’ve been trying these speed loaders, they work okay. I dropped one on the ground and put it in my pocket. The sights seem to be on pretty well. I’ll actually cock it and do a little bit of single action. Now, I haven’t really tried any pinpoint accuracy. I’ve tried 2-liter accuracy. I’ll just hold in the middle, kind of try to see where they go. Wherever they go is where they go.

Single action. That is a stiff hammer.
I can’t really see where they’re going, so I’m just going to hold in the middle. Try to hold in the middle. I didn’t mean to fire that. It’s got a fairly light trigger, it’s not bad. I like a light trigger. That surprised me a little bit. What else about this stupid thing? It’s lighter than, say, a traditional revolver, because all of the sight up here and all this construction up here doesn’t have to be heavy machined steel, does it? Your barrel is down here, and see it’s open so it’s safe. You’ve got a sleeve there and everything. They’ve been able to make a lot of it out of alloy, and then steel where it needs to be steel. It looks like your recoil shield and all that is steel, your barrel, your cylinder, and then you have alloy in other places. It’s not very heavy. This is the kind of thing that could be really heavy when you look at it, look at all that construction there.

It seems solidly built. I’m trying to be nice to it. The hammer is really stiff. You’ll notice that when it’s cocked, there’s a little red plunger that comes up and lets you know. When you fire it, it’s down. When you cock it, notice the hammer is really just to cock the mechanism down here. There’s a firing pin and a hammer right down there, so that just falls back forward. If you look at the back of it, is it cocked? Yeah, you’ve got your red plunger to tell you it’s cocked.

One thing I discovered, in fact, before we started here, I put three rounds in it and I was just going to take three shots at something before we even started again. It went click. I went, “What?” I knew the cylinder turned clockwise. I did, I put three rounds in there and click. Uh-oh, delayed reaction. What’s going on? We found our first problem with the gun.

The only problem was up here, I’d forgotten. I aligned it so the next round would come up here under the hammer. No, dummy, that’s not where you need to do it. You need to align it so the next round, when you turn the cylinder, is going to be down here on the lower part. I never claimed to be smart. That’s where the barrel is, that’s where all the action is down there.

Let’s try something really light, like these little .38s. As I usually point out, these are wonderful little rounds like this. Just plain light target .38 special for somebody learning to shoot. Oh man, if you’re teaching somebody to shoot on one of these, I guess that’s okay. It works. Let’s try one on – there’s a 2-liter left.

There’s a pot.

Pretty nice. Tell you what, it hits where you’re aiming, it really does. It hits where the sights are when you pull the trigger. John and I were noticing there’s something about it, too, and I’m trying to come up with some positives. When you pull the trigger double action, it kind of wants to stay on target, it doesn’t want to pull left when you pull fast, just the contour, the geometry of the grip and everything. Somebody did their research, and it feels pretty good.

We haven’t shot across the hill yet, have we? If it’s not gong-worthy it’s totally useless, so we’ll be throwing it in a ditch if we can’t hit the gong with it. Revolvers are fun. Even though I have the speed loaders, I don’t use them that often. It’s just shooting around, I enjoy taking my time. I’ll go ahead and cock it, see if it’s gong-worthy. Ah, the sweet sound. Better put another one on it, make sure. It might even be red plate worthy, let’s try that left red plate. I’m not sure where to hold, but we’ll try it.

It’s probably low.

Little bit high, actually.

I’m not sure where it’s going. Let’s try a pig here on the left. I can see my misses a little better on the pig.

Yeah, I’m a little high. I think that was it. When you miss some of those red plates, it goes into just a tire. Tires don’t stir up much dust or show where the bullet is hitting, actually. When you shoot at one of those animals, you can sometimes see where it’s missed. If you miss, right? Some of you never miss, but I do.

That’s just something to keep in mind. If you’re learning to shoot or you’re trying to see where a firearm hits, that’s one of the first things I do. I bring it out here, and I can shoot one of those animals. Even though they’re far away, if I feel like I got a pretty nice trigger break and everything, I might still miss it, but it shouldn’t be like 2 feet away or anything. It tells me something about the sights. It seemed like it was going high. Let me try that pig again, I’ll hold down on his toes.

Looks like that’s where it went.

There we go.

Feels pretty good. Okay, who’s next? Mr. Cowboy over here. 

We’ve got two cowboys, you notice now. Lots of desperados out there. Okay, anything I’ve forgotten that I knew about it? They’re not cheap. That’s one of the things that’s been perplexing to me is I have seen them over the last whatever few years. I thought, “Well, you know, that is a really ugly gun. Who would want that thing? Maybe it’s really cheap. Maybe it’s $150 gun.” No, it’s whatever, $800 gun or $900. They’re not cheap.

The fact remains, they’re apparently really well made. They’re accurate from all accounts; I’ve read several reviews on them. People find them accurate, they find them well-made, reliable. There’s always the exception, but generally speaking, the ugly things just work. If it’s not ugly to you, you might want to consider it.

Let’s put some hot stuff in here, I think I have more in the speed loader there, .357 magnum. We have some items here that have not been addressed. Look at that poor little bird.
Sorry, birdie. I’ll bet this will knock a limb around on that tree.

If you hit it.
Oh, man.

Boy, I think I didn’t have one of my ears in tight. Tell you what, a .357 magnum, if you have never fired it, it’s not a wimp round. We tend to think bigger number like .44 or .45, those are the big powerful babies. .357 magnum is hot. It’s got some velocity, it’s got some punch. You can feel it on your hand. That’s the beauty of the .357 revolver, you can shoot a lighter load in it or the hot loads. 

Anyway, a lot of you have been wanting to know what I think about these crazy things. That’s kind of it. That’s the best I can tell you. I’m sorry, it’s never going to be pretty to me, it’s just not. It’s not a design I’ve grown up with. I’m trying to look at it objectively, but I have to say, it is a good shooter. It’s kind of fun to shoot. 

I think one of the real appeals of this gun is when you shoot it, and the feel, where it does come straight back. It’s almost like something is holding down the muzzle. It’s a very interesting feeling. If you’re shooting light loads, it’s just strange. It’s strange, but it’s a positive feeling. It’s pretty unique. 

It does make it quicker and easier to re-acquire your sight picture if you like to shoot fast, you want to shoot one in competition or something, your gun is not going to move a lot. You’re going to catch it in your arm, but that sight is not going to be bouncing up and down much on you. Anyway, if you can get past the looks, it seems like a good little revolver. It’s been fun trying it out. Life is good.