Chiappa’s Radical Rhino .357

It Looks Odd, But The Design Is Truly Functional

Inspired by the underbarrel Mateba pistol, the Chiappa (pronounced key-YAH-pah) Rhino debuted in 2010, and like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, it’s an ugly little thing that wins the hearts of those who get to know it. The low-slung barrel drives recoil straight back into the hand, reducing muzzle rise, and absorbs that rearward impact with a super-cushy, saw-handle grip whose radical angle almost forces a locked grip.

The result for shooting is hot .38 Specials feel like mild target rounds, and a full-power .357 Magnum feels like you’re shooting hot .38 Special. A downward press of the lever mounted on the left side of the frame opens the hexagonal cylinder (how’s that for an oxymoron?). I discovered by trial and error the speedloader, which fit it best, was the 3A size from HKS, designed originally for the Ruger Security Six and the Colt Mark III.

What looks like a hammer, isn’t; it’s a leverage device that, when brought to the rear, cocks an “underhammer” hidden inside the mechanism. The hammer-lookin’-non-hammer then comes forward, even though a short, relatively light trigger pull will still fire the gun. A red-tipped projection on the top left of the frame rises up in line of sight to remind you the gun is cocked, even though it doesn’t look that way.

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