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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 calibers).

 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 cleaning.

 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.
 

 

 
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Kjell Heilevang aka Marshal Halloway, SASS #3411 Regulator
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