Wheelgun Wednesday: Chiappa Rhino – It’s Dangerous Being A Bottom

    Revolvers are pretty straight forward firearms. They are “simpler” to use and are all mechanical wonders. However, there are some that buck the norms of conventionality like the Chiappa Rhino. Shooting a Rhino is not completely different than your average revolver but you do have to be careful with them. It can be dangerous being a bottom cylinder revolver like the Rhino.

    Watch Your Thumbs, This Power Bottom Bites Back

    Photo from TFB Garand thumb article.

    You may be familiar with the dreaded “Garand thumb”. No not the guy on YouTube. I’m talking about the act of hurting your thumb while loading an M1 Garand. Check out our old article where Oelund sacrificed his thumbs for science.

    But you did not click on this week’s Wheelgun Wednesday to read about Garand thumb. It is pertinent to this week’s Wheelgun Wednesday though. I present to you: Chiappa Thumb!!

    Crom USA did not heed my caution about watching his thumb when shooting my Rhino.


    Why the cautionary tale of shooting the Chiappa Rhino? The design, as I said earlier, is unconventional and I am not talking about the aesthetics. The barrel is in line with the bottom of the cylinder.

    dangerous being a bottom

    Chiappa Rhino barrel position

    Traditional revolver with the barrel at 12 o’clock


    See the two pictures above? They are both 6″ .357 magnum revolvers. But the Chiappa Rhino has the barrel positioned at 6 o’clock. But why is this concerning? It has to do with the cylinder gap. What is cylinder gap? It is the gap between the cylinder and the barrel. There has to be a gap so the cylinder can spin freely but the gap cannot be too large otherwise all the gas and pressure will leak out the gap and not push the bullet forward.

    Take a look at the photo below. If you position your support hand in a “thumbs forward” style grip like for use with a semi-auto, then your support thumb is closer to the front of the cylinder.

    When the Rhino is fired, where is the cylinder gap? Right next to your thumb.

    For a regular .357 Magnum with the barrel at the top of the cylinder, this could result in your thumb being covered in some carbon and gun powder. If it is a bigger caliber then you could need emergency services. See what happened to some guy’s thumb when he shot a .460 revolver.

    Going back to the Chiappa Rhino. Why would they design the revolver to shoot from the bottom of the cylinder? For better recoil management. Take a look at the photos below. The traditional revolver has the barrel above my hand. The gun will flip when fired.

    Now take a look at the Rhino below. The barrel is far down below and more inline with my arm. It does not flip nearly as much. It just pushes straight back.

    Now watch how a Rhino should be run when you don’t put your thumb in harm’s way.

    Here is a video clip of my friend Greg, who regularly competes with a revolver, test firing the Rhino. You can really see the low bore axis working for the Rhino.


    If you are going to shoot someone else’s Chiappa Rhino, heed their warnings about keeping your thumb away from the cylinder. It is dangerous being a bottom for the Rhino. It is the only gun I will tell people it is OK to wrap your thumb over your firing hand just for the sake of keeping it out of the way. Fortunately, Rob of CROM USA was not seriously hurt. Just embarrassed and recorded for posterity sake.

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]