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Old 12-17-2010, 12:23 PM   #11
oberstlt's Avatar
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Richmond, VA
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Charged a Rhino

Originally Posted by dave
I might caution [sight unseen, just looking at your photos...] that when the revolver fires, it might have material and blast coming out between the cylinder gap and forcing cone much closer to your firing hands than with a conventional revolver. Something to trouble-shoot I think.

Great point Dave - I traditionally put both my thumbs on the same side of the gun and my off hand knuckle directly beneath the trigger on the guard. I would hate to have to learn a new system but those gas cuts are not nice. You have to be very careful on a J Frame if you have large hands!
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Old 12-17-2010, 08:11 PM   #12
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Charged a Rhino

Okay. I shot it (these pics are all from right after I shot it), but due to the 6" of snow over 4" of mud, I chose to shoot it for function only in an indoor range. Which I hate (in general, and this one - terrible ventilation, lighting, target system - in particular).

It was worth it. The Rhino was worth the money I paid.

I shot about 60 full-house .357 loads (mostly hot 158- and 180-grain handloads, but also some 158-grain factory ammo) and about 80 .38 Special loadings (mostly +P but some - THE LOAD, for those who remember it - definitely +P+ and a very few standard pressure) from 148- to 195-grain. The one undeniable full-house aspect of this shooting was the horrendous nightmare of flash and Last Trump blast that accompanied these loads firing from the 2" barrel in the dark, indoor range. But the recoil? You ever see a war movie with the MUTE button on? Lots of flash and action, but no sound? Shooting the Rhino felt as if I'd hit the MUTE button for the recoil.

Mas & Co. were totally right in the podcast. I have never shot a .357 Magnum with so little muzzle rise. This was remarkable to me - the recoil comes straight back into the palm (which is weird, but not unpleasant) and the muzzle rises almost not at all. The soft rubber grip (which one can peel back from the frame with one's thumb - this might could be a possible source of a hang-up during hard use) gobbles up what little punishment there would be to the palm. After a decent range session, my hand felt as if it had been doing work, but neither it nor my wrist were in any way sore or painful.

Soft rubber grip can be peeled back from top of gripframe stud

As the manual warns, one must keep one's support hand out from under the (minuscule) barrel cylinder gap (I haven't seen much triggerguard-bracing since late '80s IPSC matches - if you do a simple weak-hand-supports-the-strong-hand grip like most folks, you'll be fine), but this is the easiest shooting .357 I've shot. My trigger finger did get a soot mark from the blast, but it did not burn - the frame of the gun diverts the gases from the shooting hand.

Minuscule bbl/cyl gap - and note the diversion channel in the frame

Easier than a 6" Model 27. Easier than a 4" GP-100. Think about that for a second. I was ecstatic with how little the muzzle rose, and how easy this gun was to shoot. But it was only when I was putting it back into the case at the end of my range session that I realized, the Rhino has a smaller footprint than a Detective Special, and it weighs only 25-ounces. Great Googly Moogly - this is Italian engineering of the Da Vinci type, not the Carcano type. And that cylinder, by the way, is pretty neatt - cutting the flats the way Chiappa does gives you something with the outer diameter of a D-frame - very carry-able - but the inner diameter of a .357 Magnum L-frame. Nice!

Despite the concerns I mentioned based on my slo-mo ejection of loaded rounds, I had no real-world issues of the extractor star slipping over case rims. I had one case that was tough to extract . . . because the handloaded (brittle brass in this batch) case had split. A firm whack, and it popped right out - not a fault of the gun.

I only fired six rounds single action - when I get to my benched range (as opposed to standing in the monkeyhouse with doofuses on both sides of me hosing down zombie targets from only 2 meters' distance), I'll try more for accuracy. The smooth DA trigger proved to be just fine (bearing in mind that I've recently grown accustomed to Rugers), and to have a good length of reach for my hand.

A close-up of the false hammer and cocking indicator

As it was, I noted that some of the handloads that are very accurate in my GP-100 are not especially so in the Rhino. Others were more so, however. And, some of the factory ammo that the GP can't shoot to save its life could group inside a quarter at 7 yards from the Rhino. (Proving yet again that different guns like to eat different things - you have to find out what works in your gun.) The .38 Special rounds gave a bit more recoil-feel than one would expect from a .22 (although some of the hotter ones sure provided a lot of blast and noise) and were so easy to group rapidly on target that I felt like a competitive shooter. Except that - when I had this feeling - I was shooting 195-grain .38s at 875 fps - which is not exactly a powderpuff.

There was a comical moment when I partially loaded the clockwise-turning (from the shooter's perspective) cylinder with a few leftover rounds and pulled the trigger only to feel a click. Fearing a misfire and completely befuddled, I pulled open the cylinder - whereupon I remembered that this gun fires from the bottom chamber (and I'd loaded it - after a quarter-century of doing so - for the top chamber). Most amusing.

Upshot: this gun appears to offer a paradigm-shift - it is the most shootable, easily learned (it's a revolver) serious defensive handgun I've ever shot. If I had shot a Rhino 25 years ago, I don't think I would have very cared to own any of the (several) .357 Magnum revolvers I've owned in this time. I can see this gun being really useful in training new people to shoot. I can see it being really useful insofar as it instills the ability to deliver really powerful payloads quickly and accurately on target.

I have always been of the opinion that superlight .357s are foolish when loaded with the real Magnum loads, since you end up with something that delivers the power of a 9mm from a device that recoils worse than a .44 Magnum. The Rhino changes that thinking for me. I was shooting 180-grain full-house .357 Magnums rapidly into a small group. With a tiny 25-ounce gun! I will be carrying .357 Magnum hollowpoints in this gun, knowing that I can shoot them rapidly and accurately. And I might just carry the tiny thing hiking (every ounce counts) with solids on board . . .

Love it! :)
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Old 12-17-2010, 10:49 PM   #13
Join Date: Dec 2004
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Charged a Rhino

Wow! That was one glowing report!

I have to have one.

It sounds like it has every good point of revolvers with...maybe not none of the negatives, but minimized at least.

I won't waste my time standing in the snow by the mailbox for a package from NM.
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Old 12-18-2010, 08:38 AM   #14
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Charged a Rhino

Great write-up and report! Thanks! Wonderful photos. Very interesting indeed. Unconventional, but I was intrigued to hear your results. I think the cylinder chamber on the bottom firing might take some getting used to, as you describe.

Cheers, and Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and Happy New Year! :)
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Old 12-18-2010, 03:37 PM   #15
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Charged a Rhino


Aside from a few other folks around here, this is truly a wonderful report and I appreciate the the time and effort that you have put into sharing this "state of the art" revolver with us.

If I had the funds at this time (the Holiday piggy bank is growing slimmer and slimmer by the minute), I would buy the Rhino based on your great observations!


Proud member of the Horry County Tokarev Society.
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Old 12-18-2010, 05:42 PM   #16
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Charged a Rhino

Nice review.

Buy another wheel gun - no way. this really a wheel gun?? I guess I should get one.

Reviews can be so hard on my wallet!!!
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Old 12-18-2010, 07:53 PM   #17
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Thank you, amigos: Merry Christmas to you all!
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Old 12-19-2010, 04:32 PM   #18
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Charged a Rhino

I looked at one at my LGS yesterday and the DA trigger pull was way too heavy for me. I'll pass on the Rhino.
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Old 12-19-2010, 05:43 PM   #19
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Charged a Rhino

A brilliant report, Erich!

You didn't spare the revolver at all and shot it with all manner of loads, a realistic .357 Magnum work-out. You even used your 180 grain loads in it. I was most gratified to read your discussion of the results as I was really curious how the little revolver would behave with such loads.
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Old 12-28-2010, 11:18 AM   #20
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Charged a Rhino

Thank you for the review. I am really tempted to get one of these. Many years ago, I was looking at a revolver and thinking about a review I had read that mentioned a particular gun having a high grip to bore axis ratio (I hope I said that right) and wondering why they didn't offer a revolver that shot from the bottom of the cylinder. I thought the same about semi-auto pistols too. If the Rhino is a success then maybe somebody will try the same with an auto.
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