Chiappa Rhino Revolver 200DS in .357 Magnum ~ Review

By Mike Searson
Chiappa Rhino Revolver Review; My first thought was “That’s stupid”.

Chiappa Rhino 200DS in .357 Magnum - right
Chiappa Rhino 200DS in .357 Magnum – right
Mike Searson
Mike Searson

United States -(AmmoLand.com)- Sometimes a new firearm comes out that just makes you want to hate it.

Whether it's a 16″ bolt gun in 223 with Safari type sights (for taking down a charging jack rabbit, obviously) or a five shot revolver rifle chambered in 410 shotgun (in case you get attacked by a flock of wild pigeons).

We typically have a live and let live philosophy when it comes to firearms. It may not be the one for me, but someone else can get some enjoyment or use out of it. That is (or was) until we saw pictures of the Chiappa Rhino.

The oldest piece in our firearms collection is a Smith & Wesson Model 1 tip-up revolver dated to the 1860s. We own revolvers that belonged to famous lawmen and still carry a wheel gun on occasion. They may lack the capacity of a modern semiautomatic, but they usually make up for it in style.

We hated Chiappa's Rhino on sight. Gone were the sleek curves of a classic S&W J-frame or Colt Single Action Army. It was square for the love of all things holy and the barrel and firing pin are upside down compared to a traditional revolver.

They might as well adorn it with Picatinny rails for the mall ninja circuit and make Sam Colt turn in his grave faster than a rotisserie chicken at Costco.

The other red flag we had on these revolvers was that everyone we know who owned one, liked it, but traded it off after a year or two for something else. That is never a good sign for guns or cars.

Our point of view reversed dramatically after we gave it a chance on the range. This was the Chiappa Rhino Revolver , 200DS model, in 357 Magnum and intended as a concealed carry piece.

Chiappa Rhino Revolver The Good

Chiappa Rhino 200DS in .357 Magnum - open rear
Chiappa Rhino 200DS in .357 Magnum – open rear

The designer at Chiappa knew what he was doing when he went to the drawing board with the Rhino. Dropping the barrel down gives a much lower bore axis and transmits the recoil into the center of the shooting hand in line with the muscles of the shooter's forearm.

What we considered an ugly rubber grip actually absorbs the brunt of the recoil to make for a very pleasant shooter. There are cutouts on either side of the rear of the trigger guard for aesthetics.

Opening the cylinder is perhaps the most unique method we have seen to date. Push down like a paddle release instead of, in like Ruger, back like Colt, or forward like Smith & Wesson. The gun is also Speedloader compatible.

With 148 grain hollow based wadcutters we shot a nice string with all rounds touching through the ten ring at 25 feet and breaking into the 9 ring. We bumped up to a 125 grain JHP load and a few 180 grain JHPs that were loaded fairly stout.

Felt recoil was just slightly more than that of the 38 Special, but alas the group was not as tight and we moved to the 8 ring.

Chiappa Rhino Revolver The Bad

Chiappa Rhino Revolver 200DS in .357 Magnum - right
Chiappa Rhino Revolver 200DS in .357 Magnum – right

Aside from its unconventional looks, we found very little wrong with the operation and workmanship of the Rhino.

Holster selection seems limited and thankfully we received a holster with the test revolver. Then again this is not like a Ruger or Smith & Wesson revolver that has a huge aftermarket of accessories and support.

Chiappa Rhino Revolver The Reality

Chiappa Rhino Revolver 200DS in .357 Magnum - firing pin bottom
Chiappa Rhino Revolver 200DS in .357 Magnum – firing pin bottom

Looks aside, we will shoot an ugly gun all day if it performs on the range, but after a few shooting sessions, the Rhino was starting to grow on us.

We think our initial prejudice may have been formed by how much of a departure this revolver was from the rest of the crowd. Let's face it, apart from materials and cosmetic changes how different is the Ruger SP-101 from the Colt New Service?

Chiappa’s Rhino has a squared off cylinder to eliminate the biggest problem with revolvers for concealed carry, the profile of the cylinder. This was an effort to slim it down or trim it up and it is effective in this regard.

I guess if you are building an upside down gun, you don’t just think outside the box, you throw the box away.

Chiappa Rhino Revolver 200DS in .357 Magnum - open side
Chiappa Rhino Revolver 200DS in .357 Magnum – open side

If you are a revolver geek, the hammer and firing pin will give you Agita. We were checking the action while dry firing and noticed the hammer is in the expected position for a revolver, but you have to know to look for the firing pin in the bottom half of the cylinder as opposed to the top.

What is cool is that you can cock the hammer as if you were going to fire single action and it returns to the “down” position, leaving the firing pin cocked and giving about a 3.5 pound trigger pull.

We can see this being popular for the ultra-modern concept of a revolver and are glad that seeing one work in action brought us from the brink of the precipice of shouting “That’s stupid”.

Chiappa Rhino Revolver 200DS in .357 Magnum - left
Chiappa Rhino Revolver 200DS in .357 Magnum – left

The Chiappa Rhino Revolver is unconventional, for sure, but it works very well. As it was intended.

Chiappa Rhino Revolver Resources:

About Mike Searson:

Mike Searson’s career as a shooter began as a Marine Rifleman at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire adult life as a Gunsmith, Ballistician, Consultant, Salesman, Author and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1989.

Mike has written over 2000 articles for a number of magazines, websites and newsletters including Blade, RECOIL, OFF-GRID, Tactical Officer, SWAT, Tactical World, Gun Digest, Examiner.com and the US Concealed Carry Association as well as AmmoLand Shooting Sports News.

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    RegT
    Guest
    RegT

    “What is cool is that you can cock the hammer as if you were going to fire single action and it returns to the “down” position, leaving the firing pin cocked and giving about a 3.5 pound trigger pull.” I have an issue with this, Mike. If you are target shooting, or are in a self-defense incident, and you have cocked the hammer for an accurate shot (bad guy behind cover), need a headshot due to body armor on the bad guy), but don’t take the shot, you may not remember, due to the hammer being back down as opposed… Read more »

    Gary Leroux
    Guest
    Gary Leroux

    There is a bright red cocked indicator next to the hammer. When ever the hammer is cocked it will pop up.

    Gary

    Larry Brickey
    Guest
    Larry Brickey

    I have a Sticky holster for my Chiappa and it works fine. No printing.

    Wayne
    Guest
    Wayne

    Does it come in chrome with imitation mother of pearl grips? lol. Awesome hand gun! Want me one of them.

    j wolf
    Guest
    j wolf

    Who cares if it looks good its not a Beauty Pageant! ITS A GUN! ACCURACY & FUNCTIONALLY most important!
    IT WORKS! THE WOLF X13

    Andrè M. Pietroschek
    Guest
    Andrè M. Pietroschek

    Greetings, very informative article on a strangely looking device considered a revolver. I am happy to read that the design is functional, and not just a fashion or sales trick. Thank you for your efforts, your work is appreciated. Beyond that let me offer a minor help on “A five shot revolver rifle chambered in 410 shotgun (in case you get attacked by a flock of wild pigeons)”. I am in Germany, and German citizen. Given our much more drastic weapons ban the criminals are always in the better position, because they ignore the laws. When I, age above 40,… Read more »

    jack
    Guest
    jack

    How to improve this revolver’s looks : 1) Square-off the barrel end to 90degrees perpendicular. 2) Straighten-up the gun’s top lines by aligning rear sight to front sight, integrating Picatinny rail along its entire length. 3) Align barrel vent hole edges in a straight line on 5-6 inch models. 4) Create Picatinny rail along entire length of barrel bottom. 5) Re-profile grip shape along tapering Colt M1911 lines and/or derringer-shaped grip w/ middle finger separator bumps. 6) Tone down that glaring markings by using plain metal engraving Too much diagonal lines and curves are applied to the present shape of… Read more »

    Sc
    Guest
    Sc

    I believe you are not taking into account one of the flaws that is inherent to this design. Having the sights so far from the barrel causes zeroing issues. I believe they are trying to limit that as much as possible. Perhaps a 6 inch barrel version cld take into account your ideas.

    Jeff Hunker
    Guest
    Jeff Hunker

    I’m not sure if I like the looks of this firearm. I am however interested in how the angle of the grip to the barrel would be comfortable; and the affects of the recoil from a defensive load in a .357 Mag.

    Jeff

    kevin357
    Guest
    kevin357

    Hi please tell me if a recoil sensitive Person with weak hands can use it with .357 without getting Hurt and if recoil Is inexistant with .38 like some people said.Also tell me if the hammer pull in s.a and d.a is smooth.Thanx for helping me

    Yasser
    Guest
    Yasser

    2,000 + rounds on my 200DS. That’s all true. No recoil with 38 and minimum recoil with 357. The Rhino is a placer to shoot and carry.

    Kevin
    Guest
    Kevin

    Thank You.Does it have the same recoil than a Glock 9 mm with low recoil .357 ammo??

    Count Zoran
    Guest
    Count Zoran

    Outstanding design: the best balanced revolver ever. Too bad it has no red laser.
    The red-green difference is the unnecessary price. iIn the dark I slightly prefer the green (mostly because attackers can see it much less), BUT having two semi pistols in full day light, at 6 yards, I can see clearly the red spot, while I could not find the $300+ flashing green spot .That’s why in the future I will buy only red lasers.

    Don
    Guest
    Don

    I recently purchased the Rhino 200D and currently have around 600 rounds through it … Absolutely love it so far … Accurate as can be and no signs of any problems so far. Seems people either love them or hate them! 🙂
    I figure to each his own … I wanted a 357 Mag snub revolver for conceal carry and this has proven to be much more controllable than the standard revolver.
    Hopefully when I hit 2,000 rounds through it I still feel the same.

    Have fun and be safe out there. 🙂

    REM1875
    Guest
    REM1875

    This is a revolver that has a learning curve. Finger placement is important and firing single action is risky business to get the hang of.
    Works well but feels different and needs oil and some shooting to smooth it out.
    Not an out of the box revolver shooters revolver.
    I do like my 40DS in 40 S&W though and I like it lot.

    Tom C.
    Guest
    Tom C.

    Why?
    There is already companies making excellent revolvers in the U.S.A.
    BUY AMERICAN YOUR JOB MAY DEPEND ON IT

    John
    Guest
    John

    Uh huh. Definitely. Your job will DEFINITELY at some point depend on whether or not you once bought one Italian revolver. Get real.

    Bob Sadtler
    Guest
    Bob Sadtler

    DID break my kneecap! Typo!

    Bob Sadtler
    Guest
    Bob Sadtler

    One EXTREMELY important “Good” missed: EXCEPTIONAL customer service! These folks REALLY stand behind their product!

    In March of 2012, I was in a car accident on the way to a monthly meeting. Not only didn’t I break a kneecap on the dashboard, my Rhino got bent! Nothing visible, just enough to lock the cylinder shut. I sent it in for repair, and they fixed it good as new, AND DIDN’T CHARGE ME A PENNY!

    Hard to look at, true. DAMNED easy to swear by!

    Ray Miller
    Guest
    Ray Miller

    I have a Rino and I love it. I had a holster made for my gun. It is a pleasure to shoot and is accurate enough for its intended use, concealed carry. I fell in love at first site, and just had to have one. My only wish is that they would have built in a laser in the upper part above the bbl.

    Wild Bill
    Guest
    Wild Bill

    @Ray Miller, you write, “… and accurate enough for its intended use…” So, it is not very accurate or am i misunderstanding?

    MrApple
    Guest
    MrApple

    It looks like a Glock revolver.

    Glen M
    Guest
    Glen M

    it’s a High point

    Steve K
    Guest
    Steve K

    I’m glad they’re willing to try NEW techniques. If you must have a revolver for carry, this is a good choice. Some find it STRANGELY attractive.

    Bill Holliday
    Guest
    Bill Holliday

    Sorry, but I cannot get over the lack of visual appeal. This is one ugly gun.

    KO
    Guest
    KO

    Firearms are like women: they all look the same in the dark… which is when you’re most likely to use one, too. I’d also rather have a reliable and capable woman in the dark rather than arm candy.

    Function trumps form any day of the week.

    Richard
    Guest
    Richard

    Enjoyed your comment! I remember when people thought Glocks were ugly…. Niw there are many Glock clones in the market. Too bad Kimber didn’t make something like the Chiappa instead of another S&W, Colt or Ruger….

    oldvet
    Guest
    oldvet

    @BH…Have to agree that is polosi ugly !

    Richard Dilorenzo
    Guest
    Richard Dilorenzo

    I don’t like her politics…she’s 78 years old…. when Nancy was a young woman she was Miss Lube 1955, a very good looking young lady…

    Jorge Norberto Pedace
    Guest
    Jorge Norberto Pedace

    MI IMPRESIÓN ES QUE AUNQUE SEA UN ARMA DE FUEGO,NO TIENE PORQUÉ DEJAR LA ESTÉTICA DE LADO
    EN TODO CASO,DEBERÁ DECIRSE DE ELLAS ” ES UNA BELLEZA LETAL”

    Dan
    Guest
    Dan

    Buen respuesta