A Series Of Surprises.
Okay, let’s admit at the start that it looks weird. Still, as grandmothers used to say, “Pretty is as pretty does,” and the Rhino revolver does extremely well. The bottom-chamber, lower-barrel system changes everything, and it’s all for the good. The background story of this design is interesting.
In the summer of 2000, Emilio Ghisoni sold his Mateba auto-revolver design to another company. (It featured the lower-barrel placement, but otherwise was entirely different.) He decided to apply that most prominent feature to a “non-automatic” revolver, and so the Rhino was born.
In 2006, Signor Ghisoni and his partner Antonio Cudazzo made the first test models. Tragically, Emilio Ghisoni died April 24th, 2008. But the project continued, and prototypes were shown at the IWA Show in Nuremberg in 2009. Signor Cudazzo took the idea to Rino Chiappa; now the Rhino is in production.
The Rhino .357/.38 revolver exhibits some unusual characteristics, from
a hidden hammer to a barrel lined with the lower chamber of the cylinder!
First, let’s look at the barrel placement. As any gun person will be aware, the top-chamber arrangement of a conventional revolver puts the main recoil force well above the shooter’s hand. Predictably, this intensifies the felt recoil, and causes considerable muzzle-whip, especially noticeable with Magnum loads. With the bottom-chamber, lower-barrel arrangement of the Rhino, this effect is greatly modified. There is still felt recoil of course, but it comes straight back into the web of the hand and the arm. In firing the Rhino, I found full-house .357 Magnum loads felt like I was using regular .38 Special cartridges.
The unusual barrel placement is not the only good design feature. The 6-chamber cylinder is hexagonal in shape, with flat planes protruding far less than a conventional rounded type. The pivoting crane latch is perfectly located at upper rear on the left side, and it’s pushed downward for release. At the front, the crane has a secondary lock, a vertical plunger and spring. The ejector has ample travel for full-case ejection.
At upper rear center, there is what appears to be an external hammer, but it’s not. It is a cocking lever for the internal hammer, which is of course, far down in the frame. The lever is used to cock the hammer for single-action fire, and can also safely lower a cocked hammer. The top of the lever is cut to be a good square-picture rear sight. At the top-left rear of the frame, beside the sight channel, a small, orange pin emerges when the hammer is cocked.
The trigger is wide and well shaped, and I’m glad to report it has no annoying serrations. The double-action trigger pull is smooth and very quick. The single-action pull on my test gun was a clean, crisp 3.5 pounds. The front sight is a nice, non-snagging ramp; retained by two cross-pins, it could be changed for height adjustment.
Due to the Rhino’s unusual shape, MKS offers a specially fitted holster of good quality.
The shape of the rubber grip may look strange, but when taken in the hand it’s perfect. There’s ample room at the front for all three fingers of the average hand, and the upper curve of the backstrap nestles nicely into the thumb-web. The grip is a 1-piece unit, retained at the butt by a single Allen screw.
The Rhino will be offered in barrel lengths of 4″, 5″ and 6″ in addition to the 2″ version I tried out. At the range, with a variety of loads, the accuracy was surprising. As regular readers will know, I often use the Champion VisiColor 110-yard sight-in target, because its 8″ black center is much the same as the center-of-mass area on a combat silhouette.
At 7 yards, with a 2-hand hold, double-action, the Rhino delivered a nice group all in the black and measuring 2×4″. This was with a .38 Special load, well centered, just a little low. With the .357 Magnum rounds, single-action, one group was dead center, and the measurement was 2″. For a 2″ barrel and fixed sights, outstandingly good, especially in my, shall we say, senior hands!
Because of the unusual shape, the US importer is offering a nice optional holster. For those who want the numbers, the weight is 25 ounces empty. The overall length is 6.5″, height is 4.75″ and width is 1.25″. Suggested retail price is $739, a reasonable amount, for this level of quality and performance.
For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/mks-supply
The hexagonal cylinder may look strange, but actually allows a higher level of concealment.