Like many in our generation of hunters, I grew up on the lever-action rifle, and many hunters in northern New England still use lever rifles for hunting deer where the ranges are short and the woods are thick. Recently, a Rossi Model 92 came to my office, and it impressed me as a no-nonsense, all-weather hunting tool for the elusive whitetail in appropriate calibers—or for spending time at the range for Cowboy Action or just recreational shooting in cases like the .45 Colt-chambered rifle I tested.
Rossi offers 17 types of lever actions—large loops, blued guns, color case-hardened guns, octagon barrels, plain barrels. This particular lever action has a stainless 16-inch barrel, polished to a satin finish.
The right-side loading port is a bit on the small size, and I would suggest they make this a little bigger—especially on guns chambered for the bulkier .44 caliber and larger cartridges.
Topside you have the traditional twin locking bolts, followed by a safety lever forward of the hammer and basically between these lugs. Simply rotate the lever either way to place the gun on Safe or Fire. Future versions of the 92 will not feature this safety lever, but those currently on dealer shelves do have it.
Additionally, you have a half-cock hammer position, which to me is a great way to carry the gun in the woods—one in the chamber, hammer on half-cock.
For additional safety at home, Rossi has installed the Taurus Security System—which Rossi uses under license from Taurus—on the rear of the hammer. Inserting the supplied special tool allows you to turn this mechanism, allowing a small stud to back out and prevent the hammer from being cocked. Turning it back the other way makes it go back into the hammer, allowing the hammer to operate normally.
The lever opening is large enough for three fingers of the shooting hand, the action is smooth for a gun in its price range, and it’s quick to respond to your hand. There is a bit of resistance at the end of the throw, letting you know the receiver locking lugs are in place and the bolt is fully forward. Trigger pull on the gun is 4.5 pounds with no creep or take-up before the sear releases—about average for a gun of this type.
Just forward of the receiver is a buckhorn leaf sight with a notch that most shooters—even the veterans—will be comfortable with. Up front is a blade sight complete with a gold bead. The front sight is adjustable for windage via drift, the rear for elevation via a traditional notched sliding ramp. There is a barrel band just short of the muzzle, and a stainless fore-end band is located just inches from fore-end tip.
The woodwork is nothing fancy. It has a businesslike appearance, with the walnut fore-end and buttstock stained in a period color. Both stock components are decently fitted. The work around the tang, a difficult area, was especially good, but the curved buttplate could use a little more careful inletting and would make a difference here. On the fore-end, though, Rossi showed its mettle by carefully inletting the wood along the barrel and receiver, and I give the workers high marks for a precise wood-to-metal fit.
Length of pull is only 12.75 inches. It’s a little short, but then again, depending on how you’ll be using the rifle, this won’t be a problem. For example, with a heavy hunting or winter range jacket, this length will probably satisfy the majority of shooters. It’s a straight stock—no pistol grip—and there likewise is no checkering. It’s finished in a satin patina.
The gun comes without sling swivels, but for many lever-gun fans the accepted practice is to just grab the rifle by the receiver and have at it. The nicely proportioned receiver on this Rossi has about a six-inch girth, making it perfect for this. Besides, guns like my sample are going to spend their time at the range rather than in the field, and sling swivels aren’t a big deal.
I found the gun fun to shoot, and the only fault was loading the gun through the cartridge gate. As I mentioned, I think Rossi could make it just a little larger—as well as smoothing off the edges. Then you really would have something.
Ejection was excellent, though, and spent cartridges went straight up into the air. Group averages were right up where I would expect from a short-barreled, open-sighted gun at 25 yards.
I find the Rossi Model 92 a blast to have in the field and shoot. It has a reasonable price point, makes a nice appearance at your side and can take you back to the days when men were winning the West and the lever action was the gun to have.