I’ve always loved the reliable old lever action rifle. Of course back in those days what kid didn’t? Our heroes were a very young Clint Eastwood in Rawhide and of course John Wayne and all of his westerns. There were others of course like Chuck Connors in the Rifleman. One thing John Wayne and Chuck Connors had in common was they both carried Winchester model 92’s.
When I was old enough my dad presented me with a Marlin 39 for my 11th birthday. How I loved that rifle. From that day on I was really hooked on the lever action rifle. Now here I am all these years later and I enjoy them as much now as I ever have.
Why are lever action actions still so popular? Well it could be a childhood watching them used on TV and in the golden age of western movies. There are many others who have different reasons for liking them and keeping at least one lever action around even for home protection. Then there are those who own rifles handed down to them by a family member that have a special place in the owners’ heart.
The model 92 came along back in 1892 of course since they gave a model number based on the year the gun was released. The 92 was a big step forward from the 1873 being a much stronger action, lighter to carry and lasting a long time even under hard use. They were and are a very simple mechanism and easily repaired, in most cases, by the owner.
After reviewing an 1873 single action awhile back I recently decided we should review a model 92. I chose the Rossi for several reasons. The price is very reasonable as well as many configurations being available. They also have a fair number of aftermarket enhancements that don’t take away from the original rifle. My test rifle is in 45 Colt.
One gentleman who specializes in the Rossi 92 is Steve Young in Lampasas, Tx. He is the owner of Steve’s Gunz .Steve not only does action jobs and makes them ready for SASS competition he also has many period original tang sights and others like the original full buckhorn sight. He does basic polishing and action jobs for the regular shooter as well.
We started a review recently that got off to a bumpy start. The writer who received the rifle originally posted a non-review without shooting the gun. I had the rifle sent to me so I could shoot and review it.
The Rossi arrived a couple of weeks ago. The first thing I did was disassemble it down to the last pin. I cleaned out all the rather heavy lube that was used and applied some Spartan Systems oil in the appropriate areas. Before assembling it I removed the manual safety, which has no place on a lever action rifle. That’s just my opinion. Actually this safety is easily removed without disassembly. It does leave a hole in the top rear of the receiver but Steve has a plug to fill that hole. He also makes a peep sight that fits into that hole should the shooter prefer that.
After everything was back together I spent some time just working the action and found it very smooth. My original Winchester 92 is smoother but then it’s been used for decades.
Model: R92-57008 Status: Available Construction: Wood
Caliber: .45 COLT Capacity: 8 + 1 Shot Barrel Length: 16″
Action: Lever Action Finish: Blue UPC: 6-62205-98276-7
MSRP: $559.00 Weight: 4.8 LBS
After a couple of days of lousy weather I took the 92 out to the range for some practice and a check of function. I had some handloads of 230 grain lead semi-wadcutter with 8 grains of Power Pistol. These were loaded for my single action but I wanted to see if the Rossi would feed semi-wadcutters. I also used some Hornady Critical Defense 185 grain 45 Colt with the FTX bullet. I also had a few 250 grain lead round nose cowboy loads.
I started out at 15 yards just to see if the buckhorn sights were on which they were. I used the last of my cowboy loads for this. It performed fine with no malfunctions. The lever was smooth as was the rest of the action.
After moving back to 35 yards I did some shooting for accuracy. My handloads performed the best with groups of 5 rounds averaging a hair less than 2 inches. I fired 50 rounds at this distance all with the 5 rounds per targeted area. The Hornady rounds shot well also but the groups opened up to 2 ¾ inches.
I wanted to step back a bit and shot my wadcutters at 50 yards. I had 50 rounds of the wadcutters and fired them all. I had two rounds that hung up as they started into the chamber. That didn’t surprise me since wadcutters aren’t supposed to be used in a lever action. Other than the two wadcutters I had no malfunctions of any kind. The rifle was fairly dirty by this time but still cycled smoothly.
I’ve been pleased with the performance of the Rossi after several more trips to the range. I fired a total of 300 rounds so far. Most were my handloads. I did load 250 grain round nose lead bullets for the remaining range sessions.
I like this little rifle and plan on purchasing it.I’m going to put a loop lever on it to replace the standard model. I may or may not send it off to Steve for some polishing but at this point I don’t think it would help enough to warrant the expense. I did notice when I had it disassembled there were some rough tooling marks. None of these were in areas that would affect function. They are also internal so you can’t see them anyway. The exterior finish was well done. The wood was good and appeared to be unvarnished walnut. I do wish the gun companies would start putting the old time lacquer finish on every gun with wood furniture.
Even though the 92 comes in many finishes, barrel lengths and calibers. It’s very fast to maneuver with the 16” carbine barrel. This rifles weight is 4 and ½ pounds. You can carry this rifle all day and not notice it. It would certainly make a good brush gun.
As far as caliber I just like the 45 Colt and don’t plan on hunting with it very much. If I was hunting with it all the time I would select either the 357 magnum or 44 magnum. It’s also available in .454 Casull if you need a “what if” bear rifle.
If I wanted to purchase a model for it’s looks I’d have to pick the 24 “ octagon barrel with color case hardening. This is one good-looking rifle.
One last note that most of you are aware of and that’s the MSRP and actual street price varies sometimes by a good deal. The MSRP is $559 with a street price closer too $413 on Gun Broker.