Rossi's Model 92, 24" 1/2 Octagonal .45 Rifle
By: Tuolumne Lawman, SASS# 6127
If you real study Western History you will soon
find that the "gun that won the west" was not, in fact,
the Colt Single Action Army or Peacemaker. It was
really the Winchester repeating rifle! Beginning with
the spread westward of Oliver Winchester's original "Henry"
lever actions during and just after the Civil War, and continuing
with his improved 1866 model (which finally carried his
name), the early settlers started carving out the wilderness
with these rifles. Winchester later upgraded
the line with the steel framed 1873 in the more powerful
44-40 and 38-40, then with the 1876 and 1886 in the then
popular, and very powerful 45-70 (and a few less popular
The Winchester that most of us are most familiar
with in the context of "Cowboys and the Old West", however,
really did very little in the "Winning of the West"!
It's that ever present model 92 that was toted by the Duke,
and virtually every other Western Hero that we watched in
the movies and TV. Virtually every "Cowboy movie"
made prior to ten years ago featured Winchester 92's.
Original specimens, while not really too hard to find, are
generally in poor shape. They have not been made for
many years (except for some small runs by Browning).
The really good ones were rechambered to .44 Magnum years
ago. The ones generally seen now are old movie guns,
their bores are usually rough as a cob, suffering from too
many rounds of black powder 5 in 1 blanks, and not enough
A number of years ago, the Brazilian firm of Amadeo
Rossi began making their "Puma", a identical copy of the
1892 Winchester, in .357 magnum. Early ones had a
very tacky Puma head embossed on the receiver.
Fortunately, this ornament has now been deleted.
Rossi was one of the first firearms manufacturers
to bend over backwards to cater to the Cowboy Action Shooter.
Very early on they expanded their line of 92 to include
.357, .44 Mag/Spcl., 44-40, and .45 Colt. They now
have 16", 20", and 24" barrel lengths, and a choice of blued
or stainless steel in several models.
Another way that Rossi has stayed on top of the market
is availability and affordability. All variations
are readily available, and they currently retail for $300
to $375, less than ANY of their competitors. I have
seen them as low as $275 to $295 N.I.B. at gun shows!
The Rossi 92 variation that I'm concentrating on
in this article is one of their more recent offerings.
It is their new rifle variation, with a 24" 1/2 round, 1/2
octagonal barrel. It is currently offered only in
blued steel, and in only .45 Colt.
Most of the Rossi's are the 16" or 20" carbine variations,
and have the typical carbine furniture with the barrel band
that holds the forestock on, and a carbine buttstock with
a curved flat steel buttplate. This 24" Rossi has
the appropriate "bandless" rifle forestock with a blued
steel end cap, and a strictly rifle buttstock with a real
nicely machined crescent steel buttplate. The barrel
is, as you might assume, 24", with the front half round,
and the rear half octagonal. In the only non-original
feature, the muzzle end has a carbine type barrel band that
houses a really nice removable brass front blade sight,
a feature found only on the 24" rifle model.
The overall finish on my example is excellent, with
a very smooth, dark bluing over all the metal surfaces.
The action on this sample is also very smooth, in fact much
smoother than the early 44-40 that I started with a number
of years ago. Out of the box, my specimen did not
require the polishing to smooth the action out like my 44-40
did. The trigger is an excellent 5 lbs, with no creep or
grit. I don't know whether Rossi is doing an
extra special finishing job on the rifles as opposed
to the carbines, or if their quality control has improved
on all of their rifles.
The wood to metal fit on mine is also very good.
The forearm is 100%, and the butt stock is about 98%, certainly
as good as most (and better than some) of the Winchesters
and Marlins I have seen. The furniture is some
very dense, rather dark hardwood, that has a very dark (almost
black) finish applied to it. I stripped this finish
off with WD-40 and fine steel wool, and it revealed some
really nicely figured wood underneath. Bittercreek
O'Hara added a touch of reddish-brown stain, and a light
over spray of verathane to present a really gorgeous looking
stock. Personally, though, I think it would look better
with a good old fashion True-Oil finish.
The only negative item I could find is that it has
the standard Rossi stamped rear sight. This sight
actually works VERY well for our Cowboy shooting, but is
still ugly! I put a semi-buckhorn rear sight that
Marble makes as a replacement specifically for the 92 Rossi.
The adjustable center piece has both broad and fine notches,
and a white diamond, or if you turn it over, SASS
legal plain black. The Marble sight really improved
accuracy, but the standard Rossi sight made for quicker
off hand shooting.
Well, you say, how does it shoot? First off,
I found it VERY tolerant of different loads, bullet configurations
and over-all length. Between the 500-600 rounds of
different loads O'Hara and I put through it (200 RN, 230
RN, 255 SWC, 250 RNFP), we had zero malfunctions!
It ate everything we fed it flawlessly. As to accuracy,
it was fairly consistent. Most loads would shoot less
than 2" at 50 yards, some down to about an inch. My
pet load of 6.6 grns. WW231, WLP Winchester primer, and
a 250 grn. molly-lubed Bear Creek Supply bullet shot at
around 1" to 1 1/2" at 50 yards. I use the fine notch
on the Marble sight, due
to the rifles long sight radius. As for off- hand
shooting with this load and the 24" Rossi, I can bounce
a pop can, 14 times out of 14 shots at 50 yards with it.
As to over all balance and pointability, the 24"
Rossi is great. I think It is very well balanced,
and for me is a natural "throw up to the shoulder and point
shoot" type rifle. The last match I shot, I used a
Navy Arms 1866 in .45 Colt. I had a heck of a time
adjusting to it after using the Rossi. It just didn't
"throw up to the shoulder" as well for me. I've since
gone back to the 24" Rossi!
In closing, I give the Rossi Model 92, 24"
1/2 round, 1/2 octagonal .45 Rifle my "BEST BUY FOR THE
BUCK AWARD". For just a few dollars more than the
standard Rossi 92, you can have an accurate, distinctive
looking piece of Cowboy Firepower, that won't break the
bank. It will, however, take care of the "Ruffians"
you run into at the match.