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Why these revolvers look so unusual? What is so weird about their design?

Posted May 6, 2019

Back in 1836 Samuel Colt patented a new revolver mechanism, which pretty much was the beginning of the popularity of the modern day revolver. Handgun designs are quite asthetically pleasing, but they are mostly functional. Just like these modern revolvers you see in the image. But do you see anything particularly unusual about them? They are not exactly cowboy‘s revolvers.

Chiappa Rhino is not as simple as a more traditional revolver. Image credit: lifesizepotato via Wikimedia

Chiappa Firearms is a relatively young handgun manufacturer from Italy. Chiappa was founded in 1958. Italian firearms are actually quite famous for their quality and reliability and these Chiappa Rhinos from the picture are no exception. They are made from high-quality 7075 aluminium with steel insides. All the metal pieces are milled in computer-controlled processes and the quality is known to be perfect. This makes these handguns particularly reliable, accurate and fun to use. Rhino revolvers can be used as both single and double action.

Interestingly, that cocking mechanism you can barely see at the back of the handgun, is not the actual hammer. It is just a lever, which pulls the hammer and then falls back where it was. Emilio Ghisoni, the main designer of the gun, designed this part to provide the additional safety against bumping as well as to decrease the mass of the moving components. Ghisoni together with Antonio Cudazzo finished the Rhino design in 2009, which makes this handgun extremely young – it is pretty much brand new.

So what is so unusual about the design of the Chiappa Rhino? Well, if you take a closer look you will notice that its barrel is quite low. In fact, it is actually shooting from the bottom chamber of the cylinder, which is very unusual. Most revolvers shoot from the top chamber of the cylinder – we already got used to that, because it is the original way. But not for the Rhino.

Why such design was chosen? It is all about the recoil. Conventional revolvers have high-mounted barrels. Every time you shoot, the barrel is pushed back due to recoil. If it is mounted so high, the muzzle will climb up and away from the target. This means that you have to re-aim every shot. You will get used to it and with practice you can become both quick and accurate, but it is quite complicated and tiring.

Meanwhile the Chiappa Rhino has a barrel that is more in line with the user’s arm. This transfers the recoil energy directly along the arm, making controlling the gun that much easier. You can shoot faster, because the muzzle is not bouncing up so much away from the target line. And you hand does not get that tired.

Of course, there are negatives as well. This design requires and additional rail on the top so that the signs would be raised to an appropriate level. This does make the gun a little big heavier. And then there is a question of aesthetics – some people don’t like that blocky look. However, Rhino does pack very nicely due to the flatness of its side profile and aluminium construction.

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