Review: Chiappa Rhino & 5 Fire Star Firearms


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Cinci
September 27, 2011, 10:17 PM
In the Case: Inside the case was an unfired, Chiappa Rhino 200DS in matte black. Along with it was a user's manual and one of the more sturdy leather holsters I am proud to own. Chiappa recognizes there is a niche market for Rhino accessories--see 5 Star Firearm's outstanding Rhino speed loaders below--and chose to include a leather pancake holster from Italian manufacturer, Radar. The holster can be worn vertical or with a slight forward cant. After wearing it for some time in daily use and in backcountry use, it is a fine holster and a sign of good faith from a manufacturer who realizes most consumers don't want to wait months for a nice custom leather holster to be fabricated.

The Grips: The grips are made of a black Neoprene type of material that is not only comfortable, shock absorbing, and remarkably well angled for true to point shots, but it also doesn't rub and snag on clothing--another carefully tailored detail to make the Rhino a great CCW contender. However, I ended up going for the small olive wood grips after I fired it the first time--the recoil and muzzle flip reduction mean you can enjoy shooting it with a good wood grip.

The Sights: The Rhino came stock with a black iron front sight, and the rear cocking lever serves double duty as the rear sight window as well. For a mere $15.34 USD, the Rhino (200DS snubbie only) can be equipped with a red fiber optic front sight (Parts Number 770.515). Some folks have complained about the rear sight/cocking lever-internal hammer combo, but I find it just another example of how Chiappa chose to maximize functionality in the Rhino. Additionally, folks have taken issue with decocking the Rhino using the rear sight while squeezing the trigger--it's easy, and provided you have thumbs and a chance to practice it on the range, you will agree with me.

The Cylinder: The cylinder unlocks by pulling a small lever down which is located behind the cylinder. It's hexagonal design truly lets you conceal the gun better than a traditional round cylindered revolver. It is much lower profile, and if you ever carry the gun in your back pocket, you will truly appreciate the Rhino's ability to lay flat.

The Show: Wow. Recoil and muzzle flip are no longer mandatory in the .357 arena. When I decided I wanted a Rhino it was for three reasons: concealability, fast follow up shots, and pointability (given that crimson trace has yet to undertake a Rhino grip). The Rhino's lowered barrel truly allows the gun to point as if the shooter was holding his or her pointer finger at the target. The lowered barrel also drastically reduces felt recoil and muzzle flip. .38 special truly feels like shooting .22 rimfire. I had read this in other reviews, and just couldn't believe it until I tried it. I was used to shooting .38 special out of an air weight S&W, and the difference is something you have to try to appreciate. Full house CorBon 125 gr. JHP .357 and Buffalo Bore 158 gr. tactical short barrel magnum rounds felt like the .38 special I was used to, and the reduction in muzzle flip allows the shooter to rapidly and accurately place 6 shots of .357 magnum as if it was .38 special. For those who carry a .357 and shoot .38 special +P out of it: you must, absolutely must, try the Rhino. For those who carry a .357 with full house rounds in it: you will truly benefit from the lowered barrel--more enjoyable range sessions, better and more frequent practice, and ultimately, a .357 you can easily make precise follow up shots with--the Rhino is a top shelf CCW choice for snub nose .357.

Customer Service: I chose to write this review in large part because other reviews I read tend to bash Chiappa's customer service and call into question the reliability of the Rhino, given it's unique design and the increased possibility that it may need to be serviced. My Rhino had a failure to extract one particular round each time I shot full house .357. In fact, I noticed a slight dimple in the cylinder next to the wall, and figured this was the likely culprit, the cylinder being slightly obstructed by the deformation. I took a photo of the dimple, used Chiappa's online form to contact them, and within 2 days, Chiappa had arranged for the firearm to be serviced at no cost to me. That is the exact same quality of customer service a have experienced from Ruger, S&W, and Kahr Arms when I've had to send in those manufacturer's firearms for repairs. The reviews that cast negative light on Chiappa's customer service tend to sound like they were written by people who shout at airline ticket takers when a flight is delayed; if you make it difficult to work with you, don't expect quality customer service. You want a good firearm, they want to sell a good firearm--meet them in the middle with some respect and patience, and any problems you might have encountered will be taken care of accordingly. If you are lucky enough to have never owned a firearm that has had some malfunction, I'd recommend playing the lottery, and don't bother paying your insurance premiums this month, you won't need it.

5 Star Firearms Speed Loaders: First off, I'd love to compare 5 Star's products to another, but as it stands, they are the only custom Rhino speed loader manufacturer! However, this doesn't mean those fine folks in Chicago took it easy on their design--the speed loaders are simply the some of the nicest, well-made, sturdy, light, and dare I say *inexpensive* custom speed loaders I've ever owned. They maintained the hexagonal shape of the cylinder, and with a short flick of the wrist, the well seated 6 rounds of 38 special or 357 magnum drop right into place. I also purchased the bed side stand, and was able to get a look at the new loaders in black chrome, which I must say, look incredible. At a little over $20 a pop, you just have to remember that these are essentially your magazines, and if I could get top shelf mags at $20 a piece, I would have a lot more money left over to spend on ammo!

All in all, the Rhino with 5 Star Firearms speed loaders is a great combo that I would recommend to anyone, whether you are adding it to your collection or making it your first revolver.

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Owen Sparks
September 27, 2011, 10:22 PM
Can you get one with a longer barrel?

Cinci
September 27, 2011, 10:29 PM
Yup, they come in 4" and 6" barrels--more pics attached.

zoom6zoom
September 27, 2011, 10:41 PM
There's a five incher as well. From what I've been able to find out, the longer barrel guns don't come with a holster, though.

scramasax
September 27, 2011, 11:24 PM
I have a pair of 5" rhinos Very neat guns to shoot. Getting bowie blades made for both and Sharktac holsters as soon as I can get the blades mounted.

Cheers,

ts

Cinci
September 28, 2011, 02:27 PM
What is a Bowie blade and how would it work on a rhino??

Brasso
September 28, 2011, 08:55 PM
You stated that the grip felt great. But I gotta be honest. It looks like it would be awful.

Cinci
September 28, 2011, 10:32 PM
If you tried shooting it, I'd bet anything you'd agree with me.

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