It’s funny: I just responded to Pelle Schultz’s comment last night about my Rhino review, and I mentioned the likely availability of a trigger upgrade. I said “The grapevine is whispering that Chiappa has developed a trigger upgrade, and I hope it’s true.” Well, it IS true. (Does that mean my magic lamp only has two more wishes?) The grapevine can shut up now, because Chiappa president Ron Norton confirms that trigger upgrades (called “Performance Kits”) will soon be available . . .

It sounds like Norton and his crew has listened carefully to us ‘beta testers’ in the gun world, and I hope these kits perform as planned. If a decent but not expert shooter like myself can obtain the results I got from a Rhino with a punishing 15-pound DA trigger, then a Rhino with a smoother 10 to 12 pound DA trigger will be a world-beater. Many fine revolvers (including our reference S&W 686) have 12-pound DA triggers; the difference is all in the smoothness, not the weight.

No matter what miracles Chiappa can work with the trigger pull, I doubt I’ll ever be a good enough shooter to replicate the 1.5 second, 2″ group that Norton demonstrated in his video clip above.

I didn’t spend decades as a police officer and member of the Army Marksmanship Unit, but my rainy afternoon with a stock Rhino (getting 2.0 second, 6″ groups) has me wondering just how close I can get. Being able to fire a gun so powerful so quickly, makes me feel like I’ve just sat down at a cathedral organ (where I can barely pick out a few simple chords) and played a note-perfect Toccata and Fugue in A Minor.

Just like a new Callaway titanium driver, a new Z06 Corvette, or a new Gibson Les Paul Custom Gold-Top, the Rhino is an implement that can really raise your game to a new level. When it shoots for you like it shot for me, you’ll feel like a rock star.

But back to reality. These ‘performance kits’ sound like just what the doctor ordered to cure a bad case of triggerisimus gravis, so why not offer them as preventive medicine instead?

An otherwise-phenomenal pistol with a harsh trigger is like a Ferrari, equipped with a 6″ lift kit and knobby tires so it won’t bottom out on logging roads. It may sound pragmatic, but it ruins one critical and outstanding performance characteristic in favor of an operational characteristic you don’t need and will probably never use. How many times have you seen a Ferrari on a dirt road? And no, the gravel driveway to Robin Masters’ Oahu estate doesn’t count.

So let’s hope that Chiappa ships USA-bound Rhinos with the ‘Stage 1’ trigger as standard equipment, and makes the other triggers available to gunsmiths or by special order. The ‘stock’ trigger can be OEM for deliveries to other countries, and it might be chosen by American handloading artillery hobbyists who use Small Rifle Magnum primers in their depleted uranium .357 handloads.

The extra-light ‘Stage 2’ and ‘Stage 3’ triggers might be ordered by other handloaders who tailor their ammunition (with softer primers) to fit their guns, or by competitive shooters who shoot one load of ammunition exclusively and test it for reliable ignition. The ‘Stage 1’ trigger would be for you and me; recreational shooters and CCW holders, and even for police and armed security as well.

If this gun ships from the factory with a good trigger, it could change everything. I hope it does.

4 Responses to TTAG Responds to Chiappa’s Response to Rhino Review

  1. Is there a reason a revolver must have such a heavy trigger pull? Why can’t they come with a 4lb or 6lb pull like an auto-loader?

    • Bob,

      Revolvers require heavier trigger pulls because of the extra effort required to rotate and index the cylinder AND cock the hammer. They're also heavy because, on a revolver, the long heavy trigger pull is the only real 'safety' mechanism on the gun. (Action locks and little Taurus keys are fine for secure storage, but they are positively dangerous to use while carrying.)

      The single-action trigger pull on the Rhino (once you cock the external hammer, which is extremely stiff) is smooth, crisp, and short. In a word, excellent. IIRC, my gunsmith measured it at about 4.5 pounds. This is comparable to the pull on a well-tuned single-action automatic pistol, such as a 1911.

      The Rhino, as I said, has an exemplary single-action trigger pull. This helps it achieve its remarkable accuracy in single-action fire. It's the double-action pull that Chiappa has apparently been working to improve.

  2. Thank you for the information. I have only fired perhaps a dozen rounds from various (other people's) revolvers in the last 20 years. I never considered buying one because of what I considered an abusive trigger pull. Now at least I know why.

  3. Thanks Chris (and Ron) for all of the info. I admit it–it was me who hinted that TTAG were being Chiappa Rhino "fanboys." But to be honest, it's been apparent for the last few years (since the rumor mill kicked into high gear) that the Rhino design was a potential huge evolutionary leap in a field that hasn't seen much change in, well, our lifetimes (the development of higher power cartridges for hunting and impressing/deafening colleagues at the pistol range notwithstanding).

    Assuming the design and engineering of the Rhino are sound, the performance kits are exactly what's needed. Chris, I agree with you 100% that the stage 1 version should be the default. I can understand why the uberheavy DA trigger you tested might be the default, probably for legal reasons. But put something in the Rhino equivalent to the 686 SSR trigger I mentioned earlier and you have a superior product (and probably at the same or lower price point). Otherwise this remains even more of a niche product.

    There are more than a few of us who grew up shooting Dad's .38 special and never lost our love for wheel guns. Put the right trigger in it, and we will come…

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