My first outing with the Chiappa Rhino was a glimpse into the future. My trip to the shooting quarry with the upside-down revolver felt like a trip in Marty McFly’s time-traveling DeLorean. It took me, briefly, to a future where magnum-caliber snubnoses kicked like rimfires and hit like field artillery. Reliability was perfect, accuracy was surprisingly good, and the only Biff in the ointment was a trigger so heavy that it would have felt at home on a caulking gun from Home Depot. So we complained . . .
Chiappa Prez Ron Norton took command of he situation. He upgraded the trigger and sent the gun back to TTAG for a follow-up review. The new trigger is much smoother than the notchy, stagey original, and much lighter. My gunsmith measured the DA pull at 8 pounds, and the SA pull at a very crisp 3 pounds, 8 ounces. I hopeed that the lighter, smoother trigger would let the Rhino deliver the practical accuracy it promised.
Unfortunately, the light trigger pull seems to come at the expense of very light primer strikes. With the exception of the first cylinder we fired (180 grain Winchester Black Talons, shown above), ignition was so poor that the Rhino could seldom fire three shots in a row without a misfire. Some primers had to be struck four times before they ignited, and other fired primers were struck so gently that only the slightest indentation was visible.
When a gun starts experiencing numerous misfires I immediately suspect the ammunition, but the 180-grain Black Talons fired flawlessly and accurately through my reference gun, a Smith & Wesson model 686 that left deep and convincing dents in all the Black Talon’s primers.
After confirming that the ammo was not at fault, we halted testing for safety reasons. When a semi-automatic pistol misfires, I keep it pointed downrange for thirty seconds or so and then quickly eject the unfired round. This drill doesn’t work for a revolver, though. A misfired cartridge can be deadly (if it ignited belatedly) as long as it is confined in a firing chamber, and there’s no simple way to clear a revolver without pointing either the front or the back of the cylinder at some portion of your body.
So I’m shipping the Rhino back to Chiappa for more work. I hope it works better the next time I see it, and despite all of its teething problems, I really do want to see it again. If they can get it right, it can change everything we thought we knew about revolvers. If not, not.