"...the .357 is a
whole new creature in a rifle.." - Paco Kelly - LEVERGUNS, page 77
The Model 1892 Winchester was designed as a successor to the
Model 1873 Winchester. As an improvement on the 1873's design it was stronger
and had many features that were not found on the '73. Basically a scaled-down
1886, the action was sleek, short and smooth. It was well made, functioned very
well, was well-balanced and pleasing to the eye. In short, it was a winner! Even
though other models were introduced in more powerful calibers the Model 92 hung
on right up until WW II.
Produced from 1892 until 1941, well over a million were churned
out from the Winchester plant in various configurations and calibers with
.32-20, .38-40, .44-40 being the most popular. A few were made in .25-20 and
some rare ones in .218 Bee.
In Spain in 1929 , the company of Gárate y Anitúa made a copy of
the Model 92 Winchester in .44-40 called "El Tigre". These were a very close (if
not exact) copy of the Model 92.
Apparently made by the thousands, these were available in the US
in the 1950's and 60's for relatively little money. Chuck Conners carried one in
his scabbard on the show "The Rifleman" ... it was used as the saddle gun and
for scenes where the gun may get banged around a bit .... saving the more
valuable Winchester '92 for the close-up scenes.
There is a very good article on the El Tigre
... if you read
Spanish ... at
Amadeus Rossi, SA manufactures its classic rifles in San Leopoldo, Brazil. I find it interesting that they also chose a cat for their
copy of the Winchester 92, calling it the "Puma". What checking I did revealed
no connection between Rossi and Gárate y Anitúa ... though someone may have more
historical insight than I concerning this.
Rossi started manufacturing their copy of the Winchester Model
92 some years ago, importing it through Interarms. There have been some changes
since the late 1990's ... From Rossi's FAQ on their website -"There
is a new company, BrazTech, authorized to distribute Rossi firearms in North
America. BrazTech was formed by the partnership of Rossi and Taurus
International Manufacturing, Inc. and is headquartered in Miami, Florida.
Previously, Rossi was distributed by Interarms of Alexandria, Virginia." (authors
note - this now seems to have been removed from their site)
The guns produced since BrazTech took over feature a safety on
top of the bolt. This safety is a firing pin block and allows the action to be
cycled with the safety on.
Available in a variety of calibers the Rossi's have filled a
niche in Cowboy Action Shooting. The old Winchesters command a pretty good price
these days, even in poor condition. In addition, many of the Winchesters are
"soft" ... with it being nearly impossible to get a Rockwell Hardness reading on
them. The Rossi's on the other hand "Rockwell" pretty decently. The ones tested
by Regan Nonneman recently (http://www.leveractions.com/)
averaged out at a Rockwell Hardness of 20.
I have close friends who have Rossi's in .44 Magnum and .45 Colt
and I have used the guns in those calibers. They are well-made, accurate and
powerful. However when friend Mike Harmon bought one in .357 Magnum I was
impressed with the gun/caliber combination. A few factory loads as well as some
handloads are at the lower end of the .30-30 realm of power! (The first factory
.30-30 loads were a 165 gr. softpoint at an advertised 1960 fps)
Easy to shoot without a lot of noise, fire, and recoil, sporting
a flat trajectory to 150 yards, this is an ideal deer gun for the woods of
Missouri. I watched Mike shoot a good-sized (for our area) buck with his one
deer season. Mike shot the deer at about 30 yards. It ran for maybe 30 feet and
piled up. A Black Hills factory 158 gr. JHP did the job.
There is something about the Model 92 that I like. I am not sure
just what it is about them, but no other leveraction stirs me like the Model
92. I have Marlin leveractions and they are fine guns. They may even be better
than the Model 92 ... I am sure someone can make that argument. But I prefer
the Winchester design.
I know some people who are absolutely goofy-eyed over the Model
73's. Others prefer some other type, not even liking the leverguns. It's what
makes the world go around. This would be a pretty boring sport/hobby if we all
had the same tastes, no?
Another of my preferences is to not get hammered by the
gun. That did not seem to be as high a priority when I was younger, but these
days I prefer a light-recoiling rifle. So when the chance came to pick up a
Rossi 92 in .357 Magnum I jumped on it.
When the Rossi 92 "Puma" was delivered the first thing that
stood out was the wood. It was covered with a black "finish" of some type. It
was hard to tell what it was. The second thing that was obvious was the safety
on top of the breech bolt with it's pretty red and green
F and S.
One look and it was apparent - these would have to go! The magazine follower
stood out also. It was an ugly yellow plastic thing, nothing like the Model 92
After running about 150 rounds through the Rossi ... some .38
Specials and some .357 Magnums ... I could see this little carbine had lots of
potential. As with any new gun it was going to have to be used some. There were
some changes that were going to be made to it - that was a given - but it was
decided to take my own advice and shoot it first, then work on it later.
By the time over 500 rounds had gone through it the conclusion
was reached that it was time to make some changes. The gun was accurate but the
trigger pull was awful. It had no creep but was extremely heavy. The action had
some stiffness in it and it tended to give a couple problems feeding short .38
Special ammo from time to time.
It seemed to shoot well with both .38's and .357's ... the point
of impact changed about 3 to 4 inches in elevation when switching from one to
the other but groups were equally tight. Group sizes were comparable with both
types of ammo - a good sign. Some of the handloads shot a ragged one-hole at 25
yards with "Cowboy" type loads in .38 Special cases.
Tearing It Down
The first time I took the gun down I spent a little time
figuring what was where and how. It had been 40 years since I had one apart and
somehow I seemed to have forgotten a lot. The "exploded view" and a little
reading in the "NRA Guide to Firearms Assembly" as well as emailing John Killebrew and ... wow ... it was harder than I remembered! But here it is:
Note yellow plastic shim
under the trigger spring
Trigger and Hammer Springs
The first thing done was to lighten the trigger pull and the
hammer spring. Several coils were removed from the hammer spring during 3
different tear-downs. I prefer to go slow and take too little off rather than
too much. If you elect to do any of this I would caution you to do the same.
The trigger pull was lightened by inserting a shim under the spring, between the
spring and the tang. A piece of plastic cut to the proper width and with a hole
punched into it for the retaining screw to go through was used for the shim. The
thickness of the shim was doubled later on and this made the trigger perfect for
me. Again, go in stages is my recommendation.
Butt Stock and Forend
The stock was replaced with a crescent stock from a .45 Rossi. A friend had
an extra and gave it to me. I prefer the classic look of the crescent stock and
while it is more punishing on you with a hard-kicking gun, the .357 does not
present that problem.
The original "finish" was stripped off the stock and forend
using StrypEze and steel wool. Once down to bare wood the stock and forend were
cleaned and dried and then an oil finish was rubbed in. To my eye an oil finish
is much nicer. Using a fine wood rasp and sandpaper all the edges of the forend
were rounded. For some reason the Rossi comes with sharp edges on the wood. With
a little rounding the gun begins to more closely resemble what it was copied
do not recommend the following. I am only sharing what I did. The
removal of any safety devices invalidates the warranty as well as having
The safety was removed from the top of the bolt and the bottom
was ground off it with a bench grinder. Enough metal was removed so that even if
it got turned somehow it could no longer block the firing pin.
Next, metal was removed off the top of the "plug" until it was
down close to same height as the top surface of the breech bolt. It was then
polished, reblued, and reinstalled.
Using a small pick the pretty red and green paint was taken off
of the "S" and "F" on the breech bolt and these were reblued also.
All in all it does not look too bad. A tight fitting plug that
is better finished will be made in the future.
Again, if you elect to do this you are on your own.
Over the next week and a half a thousand rounds were run through
the carbine, most of them light .38 Special Cowboy-type
The ideas was to smooth up the action so the gun was taken apart often
during this time and changes were made to
it. Slow and easy was the plan. Better to do too little at a time than too much.
After quite a bit of shooting the gun was cleaned and then
looked at carefully - especially all the places where the different parts
"interface" .... where they rub together. On the non-critical parts (the sides
of the lever, the sides of the hammer, parts of the breech bolt etc.) any burrs
were stoned away with a fine stone. I tried not to remove much metal. The idea
was to just remove any burrs and polish the surface.
The cartridge stop would stick - from time to time - in the
"open" position. This allowed a cartridge to snap back from the magazine onto
the carrier under the cartridge that was already there. This caused the top
cartridge to pop up out of the gun, sometimes completely. It did not happen all
the time and it took some detective work to figure out what was going on, but I
finally found it. A little work with a file, some "cut and try" time and soon it
was working like it was designed to work.
To make the action smoother the carrier was removed and the
detent on the side of it was taken apart. One coil was cut off the spring and it
was reassembled. This smoothed up the opening stroke of the lever a lot.
To further add to the operation 1 coil was cut from the ejector
spring. This lightened the force needed to close the bolt completely by quite a
bit. During this time it was found that the collar that holds the ejector spring
was binding on the ejector shaft at the point where the shaft changed sizes. You
could see the chatter marks with the naked eye.
The ejector shaft was stoned with a fine stone until the size
transition was smooth. Then a slight bevel was reamed into the face of the
collar. This aided the smoothness of closing the bolt by quite a lot.
A note here.. not all
Rossi's examined have the problem with the the collar binding on the
ejector shaft. Mine did.
By chance I found a website where Model 92 parts could be
purchased and I ordered a steel magazine follower to replace the ugly yellow
plastic thing that comes in the Rossi's.
Bob Knapp .. "Winchester Bob"
http://winchesterbob.com/ has a neat
supply of parts for the Winchester Model 92's ... many of which will fit the
Rossi 92's. We found that on the .38/357 Rossi the magazine follower for the
.25-20/.32-20 Winchester Model 92 is just right.
It is the same diameter and
length as the plastic thing the Rossi's use. It is a tad smaller on the inside,
but I was able to easily "thread" the magazine spring into it. It works fine and
looks so much better than what the Rossi factory used.
Winchester Bob is compiling a list of Winchester parts that will
interchange with the Rossi, so those of you with Rossi leverguns will want to
bookmark his website.
For those of you who have original Winchesters, Bob is an
excellent source for hard-to-find parts.
The loading gate was pretty stiff making it easy to get "tired
thumb" when shooting and loading the magazine a number of times during one
shooting session. When the gun was torn down about the 3rd time I removed the
loading gate and spring and "de-tensioned" the spring. DO
THIS IN EASY STAGES! It is a flat spring and you can easily over-bend it
the wrong way. A little goes a long way here.
With careful work the force required to open the
loading gate was changed to where it has about half the tension that it came
with, making loading the magazine a much easier chore.
The above modifications did not make the Rossi any more
accurate, but did aid in running the gun fairly fast. Practicing throwing it up,
putting the front sight on target and levering it as fast as I can, learning to
make hits at the same time has been fun, but it has kept me busy handloading. I
think I have loaded more ammo in the last month than I did all last year! The
UPS man has been kept busy delivering heavy packages to the door. One shipment
of bullets weighed 72 pounds!
While I have fired Magnum loads through the gun I have mostly
concentrated on shooting Cowboy loads .. lighter loads in the 800 to 900 fps
357 Rossi 92
Velocities recorded at 10 ft. from muzzle to first screen.
Cor-Bon .357 Magnum
Black Hills .357 Magnum
200 gr. hardcast LBT-type (advertised @ 1200 fps) - 1376
125 gr. JHP - 2020 fps
140 gr. JHP (advertised @ 1325 fps) - 1741 fps
Handloads - .357 Magnum
125 gr. JHP (advertised @ 1450 fps) - 2062 fps
CCI Small Pistol Primers
110 gr. JHP (advertised @ 1500 fps) - 2183 fps
140 gr. Speer JHP 8 gr. Unique - 1463 fps
.38 Special Handloads
158 gr. Speer Gold Dot - 18.5 gr. H-110 - 1731 fps
148 gr. HBWC (seated flush with end of case) 3.0 gr. 700X
- 942 fps
160 gr. LBT LFN 17 gr. WC820 - 1830 fps
115 gr. 9mm SWC 3.0 gr. 700X - 908 fps
180 gr. LBT LFN 13 gr. WC820 - 1511 fps
158 gr. RNFP 3.0 gr. 700X - 1006 fps
160 gr. SAECO SWC 14.5 gr. 2400 - 1640 fps
Cor-Bon Black Powder loads
Black Powder Handloads
158 gr. flat round-nose - 864 fps .... these are a HOOT!
feed nice too.
357 Magnum case – 21 gr. DuPont FFg – 158 gr. RNFP – 1049
38 Special case – 18.8 gr. DuPont FFg – 158 gr. RNFP –
Most of the shooting has been with the hollow-base wadcutter ...
fed single shot. These are as quiet as a .22 and absolutely great for practicing
throwing the gun up, acquiring the target and hitting it fairly quickly. The
only problem, as previously stated, has been in keeping up with the reloading.
It is really easy to run through 700 to a thousand rounds a week.
Lock, Stock, & Barrel 158 gr.
158 gr. RN by Eric
Mid-Kansas 158 gr. RN Cowboy
Dry Creek 147 gr. RN
Dry Creek DC 38-147-RN
Bullet by Eric - 158 gr. RN
Lock,Sock & Barrel
158 gr. RNFP
Mid-Kansas 158 gr.
RN Cowboy Action Bullet
with SPG Lube
The bullets used in the Rossi are from several sources: Dry
Creek Bullet Works,
Lock, Stock & Barrel,
Mid-Kansas Cast Bullets, and some from one of
the readers of the website, Eric Hudson.
All targets - loads were in .38 Special case with
CCI#400 Small Rifle primers / 4.5 gr. of Unique. 3 shots .. 25 yards.
I traded a bullet mould to Eric for a thousand of his round-nose
158 gr. bullets. I told him I would try them out and if I liked them I would
mention him in an article. He had plans of making bullets for a hobby/part-time
income, offering them to shooters around the country through the internet and by
All his plans have
been put on hold. As of Aug. 12th he was recalled to Active Duty to
help Operation Enduring Freedom.
Keep Eric in your thoughts and prayers ... along with all the other men
and women who serve our country.
When he gets back ... if he still wants to make bullets, I will do what
I can to help promote them. He is one of the good guys.
Lynn Halstead of Dry Creek Bullet Works questioned me as to the
use of the "pointed" bullets in the magazine tube of the levergun. While I am
not recommending that anyone use them, I have had no problem with them setting
off the cartridge ahead ... though the chance does exist that they may do so.
I ran some tests to see if I could get one to fire a primer and
so far have not been able to do so. That does not mean it cannot be done.
So far my reloads with these bullets low-velocity loads only
which means low recoil. So far they are working OK. If you try it and blow the
magazine off your gun ... possibly with parts of your anatomy .. please do not
come around trying to say I said it was OK to do so.
The use of anything but
flat-nose bullets in a leveraction magazine is NOT encouraged. The RNFP
(round-nose flat-point) bullets are THE ONLY bullets recognized as safe to
use in leveraction rifles.
Accuracy even with the short .38 Special cases has been
excellent. I am impressed with the barrel on the Rossi. Almost anything I have
fired through it has shot very well for me.
So far all I have used the Rossi on is a running coyote at about
15 yards. I had the levergun loaded with 140 gr. Cor-Bon JHP's and it was no
contest. The coyote lost.
So what do I think of the Rossi after having run lots of ammo
It dang sure fits what I was looking for.... a light
fast-handling little carbine that can be used for plinking, Cowboy Action,
varmint shooting, big game hunting or as an Urban Stop-Assault Rifle.
I don't think a person can go wrong with one ...
whatever caliber you choose.