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Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 Black Rhino: a civilian Personal Defense Weapon for the 21st Century, from Italy

The CBR-9 “Black Rhino” made its official debut on the international market at the 2019 edition of IWA in Nuremberg (Germany). Engineered by Antonio Cudazzo – known for assisting the late Emilio Ghisoni of MA.TE.BA. fame in the development of what would later become Chiappa’s own Rhino line of revolvers – the design had already been displayed in 2016 at ENFORCE TAC (a side event of IWA dedicated to military and law enforcement products) as a full-automatic prototype dubbed the Tanfoglio TCMP (“Tanfoglio Compact Machine Pistol”).

As the European specialized press would later come to know, an agreement had been struck between Mr. Cudazzo and both Tanfoglio and Chiappa Firearms, under which the latter would acquire the rights to develop, manufacture and market the design in its semi-automatic version for both commercial and professional sales, while Tanfoglio – which, unlike Chiappa Firearms, is licensed by the Italian government to manufacture full-automatic firearms – would retain the rights to develop and produce a select-fire variant.

The Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino” is a semi-automatic, high-capacity 9mm personal defense weapon conceived for civilians, private security entities, and law enforcement

Today the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” is in full-scale production, being distributed on several civilian markets and offered to law enforcement customers; and yet, as of today, the feeling is that a combination of factors is conjuring to prevent the “Black Rhino” from enjoying the attention it actually deserves. As much as many of its unique and proprietary features may be considered deal breakers by some, the CBR-9 is probably the most innovative firearm to have been seen in its category for quite a few years now.

Chiappa Firearms manufactures the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” in 9mm Luger and 9×21 IMI – a caliber mostly unique to Italy. 9mm Luger had been banned from civilian ownership in Italy for decades; the ban was first relaxed in 2011 – when 9mm Luger was legalized for long guns – and finally completely lifted by a new law passed in December 2021. So far, the 9×21 version is still in production

Upside down

The Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino” with its stock extended, seen from the right side

…and left side

The Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino” can be considered fairly conventional in terms of working system – in that, it is a straight blowback design like the vast majority of pistols, carbines, and PDWs currently available on the global market and chambered in 9mm Luger. But that is essentially where all similarities with other previous designs end.

The architecture of the Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino” is not unique per se: a polymer lower receiver and handguard, a black hard-anodized, machined 7075-T6 lightweight aluminum alloy upper, a two-positions collapsible stock with two metal struts and a polymer buttpad.

The unique features of the design become evident as soon as the CBR-9 is stripped.

Like many other designs nowadays, the Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino” is conceived to be modular, but more often than not modularity clashes with limitations posed by law provisions and regulatory agencies in some countries.

In order to make it as modular as possible for potential future developments, the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” has been built in such a way that the upper receiver can be legally considered as the weapon per se. This has been achieved by integrating all moving components in the upper receiver.

All key components of the “Black Rhino” – including the trigger group – are located on the upper receiver; the lower is a black polymer mold that hosts only the magazine well and the fixed ejector. The hammer is hinged on top of the receiver, and a reinforced red polymer spacer makes sure that it doesn’t make contact with the machined alloy upper when it returns to the cocked position

This means that not just the barrel, but also the entire trigger group of the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” is installed on the upper receiver. Most peculiarly, the hammer hinges to the upper and is particularly heavy and energetic in its percussion – so much so that a red polymer insert is secured to the upper receiver ceiling at the rearward end of its travel, in order to cushion its impact against the aluminum alloy.

By contrast, the machined steel bolt is particularly light, and travels on two guide rods. A captive, double recoil spring assembly – once again, with a red synthetic cushioning insert at its ending – is assembled to the upper ceiling and easily removed during field-strip. The contrast between a relatively light bolt and a heavy, strong hammer ensures a constantly energetic percussion and reliable operation with any and all types of ammunition, including particularly light loads.

The unique breech-block of the “Black Rhino” – somehow asymmetric in design, to match with the proprietary magazine. The double return spring assembly is separate, and features a solid red synthetic recoil pad on the back

The Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino” offers three safety features: a Glock-style trigger safety; an automatic safety integrated within the trigger group; and a manual safety, located on the left side of the upper receiver, at thumb reach for relatively large-handed, right-handed shooters. The switch is not reversible for ambidextrous operations – for now – and while it appears to have three positions, only the central position indicated by a white dot (safety) and the rear position indicated by a red dot (fire) can be accessed.

The author’s own Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino”, field-stripped. Further disassembly includes the removal of the non-captive front pivot pin to detach the polymer lower receiver. The rear takedown pin is kept in place by a latch, and features a rear sling eyelet; it can be installed to the left or the right of the gun

An additional safety mechanism can be accessed upon field-strip, and consists of a small slot screw located at the front end of the upper receiver, right beside the barrel. That screw allows the shooter to adjust the trigger weight, albeit ever so slightly. The author has found that if the screw is tightened all the way down, the trigger will be come impossible to pull.

The molded polymer handguard assembly of the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” can be removed to initiate the field-strip procedure or just to adjust the trigger weight or to remove the cocking handle assembly, which then may be reinstalled in an inverted position, thus easily adapting the charging handle to left-handed or right-handed shooters

This safety feature allows owners to make their gun inert for long-term storage or transportation; unlike similar features found on some handguns, this doesn’t require an easily lost proprietary key and is not accessible externally, so that anyone who will access the gun without being familiar with it will hardly be able to unlock it.

No, it doesn’t take Glock magazines

With all key components being integral to the upper receiver, the lower (or should we say, the frame) of the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” is nothing but a black reinforced polymer mold hosting the checkered, slip-proof pistol grip; the flared magazine well and high-profile magazine release button; the trigger guard; and the ejector. The lower also hosts the retractable stock, which rides through guides on both sides and can be released by a flat spring lever located within the lower rear portion of the frame itself

The Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino” comes from factory with double-stack, translucent proprietary polymer magazines holding 15 or 18 rounds of 9mm Luger. 10-rounds compliant magazines for restrictive jurisdictions; and extended 32-rounds magazines are also available, both in black and in translucent polymer. A loading tool is also provided. The unique unique asymmetrical feed lips design ensures total feeding reliability even should one of the feed lips break or be sheared off

The Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino” feeds through full-polymer magazines available in two sizes – short and long. The flush-fit, short magazines come in a translucent version only, with a capacity of 10, 15 or 18 rounds depending from local laws and regulations. Long magazines host up to 30 rounds and are available in translucent or black polymer.

The “Black Rhino” magazines are proprietary, featuring a double-stack, single-feed design based on a slant follower and a set of asymmetrical feed lips. This means that, no, the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” does not take Glock magazines, but also that it will feed reliably in all conditions, from all shooting positions, and even should one of the feed lips be cracked, broken, or sheared off.

Future compatibility with other types of magazines is however not ruled out at this moment, and could be explored in the future: according to the manufacturer, it would be as easy as changing the molds for the polymer frame.

The concentration of the magazine and trigger group weight around the grip area puts the entire weight of the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” (approximately 2,2 kilograms when empty) in a perfectly balanced position at the center of the gun, where the shooter’s strong hand is going to be. Combined with the peculiar shape of the stock and the low barrel axis – the lowest all-round in this category of firearms – makes the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” an almost laser-accurate, soft-recoiling weapon, perfect for delivering rapid fire downrange in tight groups when the situation becomes critical.

The peculiar technical layout of the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” makes this firearm incredibly controllable in rapid fire even with the hottest loads

The barrel itself is 225 mm long, is fixed to the upper, features a conventional rifling pattern with a 1:12” twist rate, and is threaded just behind a set of radial ports cut right at the muzzle. The threads are provided for the installation of the proprietary, cylindrical flash hider that comes with the “Black Rhino”; the flash hider is also ported, and when installed, its ports are offset from those of the barrel itself. This makes it extremely effective in extinguishing the muzzle blast, so much so that it becomes almost imperceptible even when the gun is fired indoors in low-light conditions.

The venting holes on the flash hider of the “Black Rhino” are offset from the open ports of the barrel when the muzzle device is installed; this simple solution proves to be very effective in extinguishing the muzzle flash, so much so that even when the CBR-9 is fired indoors in low or no light conditions, there is close to no muzzle flash to speak of

Field-strip takes place first by extending the stock and pushing the latch that allows the rear takedown pin to be removed. The pin is not captive, as it features an eyelet for a rear-mounted single-point sling and can be installed either on the right or left side.

Designed to minimize encumbrance and provide a natural point of aim, the stock of the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” can be extended in two positions. It is also remarkably simple, consisting in two metal struts and a small black rigid polymer buttpad

Second, the shooter needs to remove the muzzle brake by pushing on its spring-loaded latch and unscrewing it from the barrel. This allows the entire handguard assembly – which integrates an under-folding foregrip – to be removed and the upper to pivot open.

The forward-mounted charging handle will slide away with the handguard; it can then be removed and reinstalled in a reverse position to adapt to left-handed or right-handed shooters alike.

The hold open release lever is ambidextrous on the “Black Rhino”, located just in front of the trigger guard, at easy and quick thumb reach with the weak hand for both right-handed and left-handed shooters. A manual hold-open lever is also provided, in form of a separate lever on the right side

The only other control – the manual hold-open release catch – is ambidextrous, and located underneath the handguard in form of a flat lever, easy to reach and operate by thumb with your weak hand. A separate lever, located only on the right side, dubs as a manual hold-open device.

The grip of the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” is well textured, and comes from factory with a  right-hand magazine release configuration. Two finger grooves are molded at the sides of the magazine well so that the floorplate may be pinched to pull the magazine away should it ever get stuck for whatever reason

Emergency sights

The polymer handguard also features Picatinny rail portions for tactical accessories on both sides, and integrates the front portion of the full-length top Picatinny rail that provides the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” with a solid and accurate interface for optics.

A two-parts Picatinny rail is screwed on top of the receiver, providing a full-length platform for optics, back-up iron sights, and more

The “Black Rhino” comes from factory with three green fiber-optic inserts on the top rail. The “Black Rhino” is meant to be used with the shooter’s choice of optics or aftermarket sights; the fiber-optic inserts are to be used as emergency sights only

Despite being advertised as featuring “emergency sights” from factory, the CBR-9 should be considered as having just that – emergency sights. The three high-visibility, but extremely low-profile green fiber-optic inserts built-in on the top Picatinny rail are by no means to be intended as your primary sights. The “Black Rhino” is intended to be equipped with the user’s choice of flip-up sights and/or optics before it is put to use.

This may be considered one of the two truly serious drawbacks of the design – the other being the fact that the front pivot pin is not captive and can be somewhat of a pain in the neck to put back in place if removed to separate the polymer frame from the upper, which is however not strictly necessary for cleaning and maintenance.

All the other possible “deal breakers” consisting of the Black Rhino’s proprietary features are actually anything but. Some of them may be modified in the near future, but in the meanwhile, the CBR-9 “Black Rhino” is definitely an excellent product – far from the undeserved fame for lackluster quality that the Chiappa Firearms brand appears to be tantamount to within the US shooters’ community – whose proprietary architecture makes easy to clean and maintain, and very efficient downrange, be it for sport shooting, casual plinking, personal defense, home and property protection, or for law enforcement and private security purposes – these by the way being the main markets it aims at.

As of today, the Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino” is available in two calibers: 9mm Luger, and 9×21 IMI. The CBR-9 is classified as a handgun in Italy, but while with the long-standing ban on 9mm Luger handguns in Italy has been lifted by a law that went into effect in early January 2022, as of today the 9×21 IMI version is still in production. 9×21 is quite popular in Italy, so it’s likely that shooters in the Bel Paese may want to take advantage of the extra power factor and longer barrel to squeeze that extra performance.

The “Black Rhino” comes from factory with three green fiber-optic inserts on the top rail. The “Black Rhino” is meant to be used with the shooter’s choice of optics or aftermarket sights; the fiber-optic inserts are to be used as emergency sights only

In Poland, the CBR-9 is sold in a configuration with the original 225 mm barrel, collapsible buttstock, and under-folding foregrip. The same configuration is sold on the civilian market in Italy and other Countries, and offered to international law enforcement customers.

The version sold on the US civilian market does without the foregrip and ditches the stock in favor of a collapsible arm-brace to comply with local laws and regulations.


The “Black Rhino” comes from factory with three green fiber-optic inserts on the top rail. The “Black Rhino” is meant to be used with the shooter’s choice of optics or aftermarket sights; the fiber-optic inserts are to be used as emergency sights only

A carbine version dubbed the CBR-9R – featuring a fixed stock and a 472 mm barrel shrouded in a fake silencer – has been announced but not made available so far. A variant with a fixed stock and the original 225 mm barrel is currently sold on the civilian market in France.

The Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino” with its standard 9” barrel and a fixed stock, as sold on the civilian market in France

The CBR-9 “Black Rhino” is a fully ambidextrous platform, remarkably versatile and adaptable to a wide array of needs, from personal defense and home/property protection to sport shooting competitions and professional applications

At the time of writing, the Chiappa Firearms CBR-9 “Black Rhino” is sold in Poland by AstroClassic, at a price of 6 800,00 zł.

Technical Specifications

Manufacturer Chiappa Firearms S.r.l., Via Milano 9, 25020 – Azzano Mella (BS), Italy
Distributor AstroClassic, ul. Skłodowskiej-Curie 7 – 39-400 Tarnobrzeg

ul. Grunwaldzka 31c – 60-783 Poznań

Model CBR-9 “Black Rhino”
Type Semi-automatic personal defense weapon (pistol / short-barrel rifle)
Caliber and twist rate 9×19mm, 9×21 IMI (1:12”)
Action Semi-automatic, blowback-operated
Trigger system Single action, semi-automatic
Safety Manual safety on upper receiver, trigger safety
Capacity 15, 17 or 30 rounds in double-stack magazines
Sight systems Full-length top MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail for optics; emergency, high-visibility built-in fiber-optic sights
Barrel length 225 mm
Total length 430 mm with stock collapsed; 630 mm with stock extended
Weight (empty) 2,2 kg
Materials Machined 7075-T6 aluminum alloy upper receiver; high-strength polymer lower receiver and handguard; steel barrel
Finishes Matte black
Price 6 800,00zł

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