Chiappa Rhino Kaboom

The Chiappa Rhino may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it sure is unique. It’s odd look comes from the fact that it fires from the bottom chamber to help reduce felt recoil. Earlier this year fellow TFB writer James Reeves reviewed the Chiappa Rhino 200D chambered in .357 magnum and .38 special with a 2 inch barrel. In the review it seemed to do pretty well, that said no gun is without it’s occasional problems. A¬†catastrophic failure, or a kaboom, is quite the problem as you can see in the picture above.

I stumbled upon the above pic on r/guns where a poster shared a picture from a friend of a friend who had their Chiappa Rhino 200DS blow up in their hands from a suspected squib load. Apparently the gun was brand new and they only put 70 rounds down range when it happened. The shooter was injured and had the tip of their finger blown off.

We’ve shared quite a few kaboom pics over the years here at TFB. There was that epic RG-31 .38 revolver kaboom last month.¬†There was also that Palmetto State Armory AR-15 that blew up in Southern California because the owner tried to pound a live round out of the chamber with a cleaning rod. Stay safe out there kids.

Ray I.

Long time gun enthusiast, archery noob, Mazda fan, Sci-Fi nerd, Whiskey drinker, online marketer and blogger. My daily firearms musings can be found over at my gun blog and Instagram.

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  • Vitsaus

    I’m surprised that we don’t see more of these. When I worked for a retailer that sold them, we had quite a few come back with various internal problems, and the overall quality of the materials was considerably inferior to that of the S&W’s, Rugers, and even Taurus revolvers we carried.

    • Giolli Joker

      This was apparently caused by a squib load.
      An undetected squib followed by a proper load kills crappy guns as much as top quality ones.
      The various internal problems that may affect the Rhino have no relation to this kaboom and while they may make the gun unusable, they don’t make it inerently unsafe.

      • Anomanom

        A squib load? What was loaded in the next round, high explosive?

        • Gary Kirk

          Pistol exploding incendiary

      • LG

        The TOTAL frame failure with intact cylinder suggests, IMHO, an insufficiently robust frame. A failure yes but to that extent?

        • 360_AD

          Insufficient to the force that caused the failure. Either a load that was too powerful or like the story says (if you read it) a squib round. Also, the Rhino’s frame is Aluminum, not steel (which the cylinder and bore are).

        • Amplified Heat

          The closest analog competitor would be one of the S&W Scandium-Aluminum alloy guns, which frankly are not significantly beefier (in fact, they appear thinner overall than the burly Rhino). If a mistimed bullet hit and split the forcing cone, I’m not sure anything could withstand the impact better than we see here.

          That said, some makers have a better track record on timing mechanisms

      • Martin M

        I dunno about that squib theory. With just a two inch barrel, that is a fishy story. I’ve seen .38 squibs bush a bullet nearly two inches.

        Besides, it s a friend of a friend story and the squib was just a theory on the reddit post. I was looking for more pictures, but no luck.

        • Given the position of the firing pin strikes on the primers in the box, I’ve seen it suggested that it was a timing/alignment issue. When projectiles hit the forcing cone off center enough times, something is going give.

          • Martin M

            That’s always my first thoughts with a revolver KB. That’s why I went looking for photos.

          • Giolli Joker

            It might be, and indeed the forces involved would be fairly similar to a squib stuck in the forcing cone.

          • Amplified Heat

            I can’t help but wonder if the “squib” was a lion’s share of powder gases being vented through a crack in the forcing cone & frame causing reduced recoil or even a stuck bullet…and then the next shot was fired with the gun already cut in half

      • John

        I don’t think they are the same. High quality guns actually take into account the possibility of a squib and, much like a fail-safe, they are designed to die without killing the owner. I have seen many AR and similar rifle squib deaths that only hurt the rifle. Of the few revolver KBs I have seen from squibs, the high end guns fail in the spots that don’t cause the shooter irreparable damage. Maybe I have just seen lucky people.

        • Giolli Joker

          High quality guns (please define the term) blow up as much as lower quality guns.
          Indeed we saw a S&W X-Frame blow up under normal use for no apparent reason.
          .454 Casull Freedom Arms were blowing up because of lead build-up caused by repeated use of 45LC.
          European guns are proof tested, therefore they’re designed to hold up more pressure than they should ever be subjected to during use.
          We’ve seen several KBs and some of them ended well, others didn’t.
          Fail safe features in the gun may help, but the engineers design based on normal use, not exceptional cases.
          I don’t think that a “scandium” framed revolver would do much better under such stress… surely one entirely made of steel would resist more to “detonation”.

          • John

            So you’re saying, given the choice, you would rather take on a squib in a Charter Arms than a Smith and Wesson.


          • Giolli Joker

            No, I’m not.
            But if you want to believe so, suit yourself.

        • Mystick

          The owner did survive.

  • Arie Heath

    It’s terrible that the guy lost a finger, but that kaboom looks like it could of hurt him a lot more than it did.

  • LG

    The picture is interesting. The cylinder does not show a rupture. The frame, top and bottom are pealed and torn asunder. I suspect insufficient strength in the frame. i do not believe that a forged S&W or post WW2 double action pony gun would have failed so completely.

    • 360_AD

      With the Rhino just about everything but the cylinder and bore are Aluminum. Story claims squib round as the cause. The frame being of a less durable material, explains the extent of the damage.

      • corsicaMAUPI .

        I can assure you that even if the frame was in steel if you have sprayed some lubricant and you have shooted immediately without cleaning the barrel the accident has happened in the same way. With something in the barrel like a lubricant you can reach a pressure where none metal can resist.

    • Giolli Joker

      As 360_AD said, the culinder is steel, the frame aluminum. All European guns are proof tested at 130% the peak pressure of their caliber (.357Mag in this case).

  • Bugbugbug

    Look at the fired rounds in the box kids. If you see your firing pin striking that far off center, STOP and bring the gun to a qualified gunsmith. Revolvers get out of time, it’s a fact of life, don’t let it go thinking that it will work itself out.

    • 360_AD

      Well, yeah, but how many people look at every fired round subsequent to each pull of the trigger? Do you?

      Hind-sight is 20/20 for a reason.

      • Bugbugbug

        And ignorance is bliss, until you blow your hand up. I hope you kids live and learn, but with attitudes like the above I doubt it.

      • Swarf

        No, but I would certainly notice something that off kilter.

        But maybe they were new shooters, which would make the story even worse.

        • Dan

          A friend of mine has a taurus revolver (yeah i know) i noticed his primer strikes were off but after looking it was hitting high instead of left/right. My first thought was cylinder timing but turned out not to be the case.

      • Nashvone

        It shouldn’t take an in depth study to realize something isn’t right if you put every fired casing back in the box. Maybe if they were new shooters and didn’t know that timing is critical to revolvers they might have missed that.

    • Dan

      Also educate yourself about the weapon you are using. I am sure a lot of first time revolver owners have no idea what cylinder timing is or that they can go out of time.

    • Mystick

      Not after only 70 rounds…. that’s a manufacturing defect, there.

      • Bugbugbug

        Yup … keep your eyes open kids. Don’t assume that the high school dropout on drugs that put your gun together knew what they were doing.

      • CountryBoy

        Yes, the timing shouldn’t shift on a new gun, but a squib load (which is what the article stated) can appear anywhere in a box of ammo. You have no way to determine that.

        I wonder if the guy was a reloader? If so, this may have been his own doing.

    • Voice_of_Reason

      good point

  • Will

    Factory ammo or reloads?

    • ChuckTaylor

      Factory – Ruag ammunition

  • Gary Kirk

    Wasn’t a squib load.. They were shooting too close to a reflective surface. That thing took one look at itself, realized how ugly it was and ended it..

  • Kivaari

    What are the frames made from? Steel, aluminum, zinc or z-max?

    • ostiariusalpha

      Frames are aluminum.

      • Kivaari


    • Amplified Heat

      Zamak, if you consider the Aluminum-Zinc alloy 7075-T6 to be pot metal

      • Kivaari

        Actually if you notice, I was asking what it was made of, since I didn’t have a clue as to what it was.

  • Kivaari

    That’s another reason to buy S&W or ugly but tough Ruger revolvers.

    • iksnilol

      Or Taurus revolvers.

    • uisconfruzed

      Some of the hotter 44mag commercial ammo says not to use in S&W’s. Colt & Ruger are good to go.

  • Tom Currie

    That’s still an awfully strange looking kaboom. Regardless of whether it was a squib or simply badly out of time, I’ve rarely seen any revolver catastrophic failure that didn’t damage the cylinder! Equally rare would be any sort of revolver kaboom that primarily blows the grip to pieces. I don’t know what did happen, but Gary Kirk’s joking suggestion makes at least as much sense as any of the other explanations I see here.

    • Giolli Joker

      Path of least resistance… steel cylinder, aluminum frame.

    • Mystick

      The cylinder is the strongest part of that gun… even the barrel, apparently.

      • Tom Currie

        Catastrophic failures are not JUST a matter of inherent material strength, material shape and thickness are major factors but even more important factors are the location and direction of the force causing the failure.
        From the comments, it has been clear that most of us are not very familiar with the Chiappa Rhino – I know that I wasn’t familiar enough to be able to pick out the stress points and accurately reassemble those broken pieces in my head, so I found a good photo of the Rhino online. Look at the photo and consider that the force would have been applied in line with the bottom chamber of the cylinder. Consider the multiple simultaneous failure points, including forcibly blowing off the sideplate (not shown in the photos).

        Something very strange happened to this gun.

        • Amplified Heat

          My suspicion is cylinder timing was badly off, and caused the forcing cone to split –which is bad ju-ju for a lightweight revolver frame no matter who makes it or out of what material. The multiple failure points don’t seem too unreasonable, so long as the forcing cone let go while pressure was still high. Can’t help but wonder if the ‘squib’ was the barrel & frame splitting before another off-center atom-bomb was rammed through it.

          Should’ve stuck with the rear-face timing system like the Mateba had…

  • Anonymoose

    Welp, there goes my plan to have one of the .40S&W ones bored out for 10mm…I’ll keep my fingers instead.

    • JamesWWIII

      Didn’t sound like the wisest plan to begin with.

  • Paul O.

    I had a S&W 686 have some failure to fires after about 1500 rounds. Looking at the cartridges, there were primer strikes on the case outside the primer. My snap caps showed the same pattern. The gun was repaired by the manufacturer, no charge.

    I’m a bit smarter now about revolver timing. Two lessons: there’s sometimes luck protecting you and anything made by man can fail.

    • Kivaari

      There was a recall on the 586/686 series early on. The firing pin bushing needed to be replaced. A special kit was provided servicing gunsmiths for doing the job correctly.

  • john huscio

    Bad news for Harley Quinn.

  • James R.

    I would have given it two thumbs up, but it blew the other thumb off before the review was finished.


  • missourisam

    A quality gun saves a lot of dumb people, me included. I had loaded some 125 grain .357 several years ago. The loads were warm, but nowhere hot. I had carried them in a briefcase in a car, in a glove box of a car and truck in an old Remington factory box with a plastic stand type shell holder. After ten years I decided that the rounds would probably be degraded enough that they should be replaced, so decided to shoot then and reuse the cases. My .357 is an N frame Smith, and it took me three rounds to realize that there was something wrong. Instead of being weaker than normal as I expected these loads were HOT. I opened the cylinder and had to rap the ejector rod with a rawhide mallet to eject the three cases I had fired. The primers were pierced, and had flowed back into the firing pin hole. I checked the head space and it had opened up by eleven thousands. I contacted S&W and told them what had happened. They paid shipping both ways, and repaired the gun, including magna fluxing, set the barrel back, replaced the hand, the indexing star and all the springs for $23.00 after the shipping cost were figured in. This was on a gun that was forty three years old. That my friends is service.

    The cause of the high pressure loads was the break down of the powder. I had used unique powder, and the combination of the way the shells jiggled in the cartridge holder of the box, and all the years of being carried in a vibrating environment had broken the powder down to the consistency of talcum powder. I found this when I pulled the bullets from the remaining loads. After pulling the bullets I poured the powder out on a concrete pad to burn it off. It flashed like black powder and flash burned my hand in the process. I have now stopped carrying ammo for long periods of time, and any loads that are suspect I pull the bullets instead of shooting up. I fully believe that if I had fired those rounds in any but the N frame Smith or a Ruger Blackhawk, I would have had a kaboom.

    • Chrome Dragon

      To their credit, Ruger makes a lot of small steel hammers that launch large lead projectiles. The SP-101 and GP-100 probably would survive, as well.

  • John Roberts

    I’ve never liked the Rhino, its heavy DA trigger, it’s design or its price. For about the same amount I could get a new stainless S&W Combat Magnum. Any design that solves one problem by replacing it with several others needs more work. It also lacks the beauty and the class of a S&W or Ruger-designed pistol. It’s also one of the worst kaboom pictures I’ve seen. It looks as if the entire gun exploded. And the shooter had his or her finger tip blown off! It doesn’t appear to be a great design.

  • Nicholas Trueblood

    yeah seen their xcalibers fall apart on people also.