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Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Rossi's 'Little Big Gun': The 92 Carbine in .45 Colt

Rossi's copy of the 1892 Winchester has a long and successful history with US shooters and the 'Cowboy Action' craze insured that the little lever actions would stay popular here. Rossi has continued to improve them and the current guns are pretty darn good. They have excellent metallurgy that optimizes the strength inherent in the 92's design and the finish, on the examples I've handled, puts many US makers to shame.

I picked this one up at the annual 'Apple Fest Junk Sale' from a fella who had it on his table. It's a 16" Rossi 92 in .45 Colt, barely a year old and with nary a mark on it. The spot on the stock is a bug that lit there to get in the family album.

I didn't buy this right off because he wanted four bills for it, but when I priced around they were bringing well over that now (plus FFL & shipping, etc.) and this one came with a Steve Young spring, follower, safety plug & DVD, case, sling & swivels, barrel-mounted peep & original sights, box of ammo, 50 230 FMJ bullets, etc. Given the condition and all the extras, I don't feel like I got beat up too bad. Besides, it'll make a nice stablemate for the Old Vaquero depicted next to it.

Plinking off the hood of the pickup yesterday revealed that the gun's good for an inch at 50 yards, if I don't screw up too bad. Real 'accuracy work' will wait for the trigger to be cleaned up a tad. This carbine also feeds any bullet style slick as a whistle, from 240 grain Sierra JHC's to 325 grain Keith Semi-Wadcutters.

Does it have warts? Like all short-stocked guns this one boots me harder, with heavy loads, than it ought to. This makes me feel like a sissy when the same loads I shoot with impunity through my sixgun, get my attention when shot through this trapper. What I really need is something to slip or lace onto it to lengthen the pull and keep that slick little buttplate from sliding all over my shoulder. Much as I like the Mini 14 and 10-22, I always hated their OEM buttplates. While a pad seems ridiculous on a poodle shooter, I find the 580+ Minis far easier to shoot well simply because they stay put when shouldered. I watched Peggi shoot it with standard 255 RNL's and she was draining the magazine like it was a .22 rifle. I gave her a couple of 1100 fps (from a sixgun) SWC's to try and they didn't bother her none either. The gun just fits her.

I also understand these have an odd-sized dovetail. As it stands, I can use the issue sights but I had to yank the elevator plumb out of the back sight to get it in on at 50 yards. I'll probably just undercut the elevator to work at it's lowest setting and zero the next couple of steps up from there, for say 200 & 300 yards, with a specific hunting load.

And the little gun will hunt. I loaded a few 335 Keiths over what we'll call 'over 20 grains' of Winchester 296 and they produced 1364 fps from the Rossi's 16 1/8” barrel. I would expect a wound profile in game not unlike the old Trapdoor carbine load, which was known for shooting through several feet of horses & men. For lighter game, a Sierra 240 JHP can easily be driven to 1550 fps and I have seen that bullet is plenty for deer at 1300 fps. The sedate factory duplication load of 7.2 of W231 produced 950 fps from this carbine and insignificant recoil. John Linebaugh's 'working load' (Ruger only) of 13.0 of HS6 and a 255 SWC ran 1232 from the Rossi; and in reality you don't need much more for the anything but biggest of game.

It's been ages since I had a rifle & pistol that shared ammo, but I have to admit it's nice to load some ammo knowing that it'll feed two guns. Being able to load them on carbide dies and roll crimp when seating, makes it even nicer. My .45 Colts aren't long-range affairs, but I've got rifles with some reach for when the need arises. The old cartridge does so many other things so well, I can sure live that small compromise.


Anonymous Fred H said...

I have a 45 Colt like yours but with the 20" barrel and have found what you did. The heaviest load I have is a 360 Keith over 18.5 of H110 for 1350 fps, solid but not bad recoil. Mine seems to need bullets in the 453/454 area to shoot accurately. Great gun.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011 12:49:00 AM  
Anonymous 1892 said...

Sarge--another great article about a Rossi levergun. I've heard that a .45 Colt can be a very good deer rifle. Again, thanks for the need to write more.

Friday, October 03, 2014 1:15:00 AM  

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