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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Few Updates on the Rossi Puma Model 92… 

These are excellent little rifles which have just a few flaws. Left uncorrected, you are stuck with a neat little gun that will never shoot up to its potential. Here are a few that cropped up with this particular gun, along with the corrective measures that were taken. 

The factory sights on this ‘92 were worthless for anything but dinging tin outlaws at 40 feet, with mouse-fart loads. The front post was way too short and the rear notch was way too wide for any precision. The carbine shot a good 6” high at 25 yards, which was remedied to some degree by gritting my teeth and just bending the rear sight leaf down. This was a temporary fix at best. Until I got usable sights on this 16" .45 Colt, I was sending ammo downrange and getting more questions than answers for my trouble. 

These rifles have oddball sight dovetails of about 0.385” which eliminates the myriad of good 3/8 dovetail sights available for other rifles. So "usable sights" in this case meant the Marble Folding Sporting Rear Sight No. 95, Brownell's part # 579-000-082, and the Marbles 50W .500 tall front sight, with a 1/16" gold bead, which is Brownells part # 579-105-031. Both are made specifically to fit the Rossi dovetails.

After installing these sights, I fired 60-70 rounds of two.45 Colt reloads, which see a lot of use in my sixgun. They are listed below with the chrono'ed velocity from the Rossi-

*factory duplication load of a 250 RNFP over 7.2 of W231 at 950 fps
*John Linebaugh's 'working load' (Ruger only) of 13.0 of HS6 and a 255 SWC at 1232 fps 

Both the lead bullet loads zeroed easily at 100 yards with the Marble's sights, the Linebaugh load shooting a tad higher from the bench. Oddly, I see little difference between them when shooting offhand. With the RNFP load I couldn't miss an old teakettle, at either 50 or 100 yards. Three shots through it at 50 yards could have been covered with a folded dollar bill. It was sure nice to be able to hold a normal sight picture with this rifle- and actually HIT distant targets with it. Only one thing stood in the way of making it downright easy to hit with. 

The trigger on this rifle scaled at six pounds and ‘creepy’. On this light little carbine it was all the more noticeable and I decided I was going to fix that. Now there is a 92 ‘smith named Steve Young, who Cowboy shoots under the name of Nate Kiowa Jones and does business as Young is a specialist on these guns, has a wide following and he reportedly does fine work on them. He also offers some much needed parts for them like metal magazine followers and plugs for that ridiculous bolt-mounted safety. Young also offers sights and can vastly improve yours, particularly if you have the barrel-band mounted front sight. Additionally, he offers a DVD with tips on tuning the 92. 

In fact I have one of Mr. Young’s videos on the Rossi; it is worthwhile source of info on disassembling the 92’s . His method of working on them made my skin crawl. Watching Young stick springs and parts on a bench grinder, with the attendant big shower of sparks, flat gives me the heebie-jeebies- particularly when there are no references to minimum acceptable dimensions of those parts, ‘post bench-grinder’. No… I was going to find a way to do this without setting the shop on fire from grinder sparks. 

Mr. Young makes no mention of sear work in his video, but the interface of those parts is the sole source of 'trigger creep’. The full-cock notch on my 92’s hammer goes deep into the part and resembles a hacksawed notch, more than anything else. While it was not poorly finished, I still gave it a few strokes with a hard Arkansas stone, taking care not to change any angles. I also lowered the sear engagement shelf by maybe 0.005” while I was at it. 

The trigger sear was nicely finished. Here I applied an old 1911 trick, by breaking the release edge of the sear at a 45 degree angle. The amount removed is less than 0.002” but this chamfer prevents the sear edge from camming the hammer back, as it levers out of engagement with it. 

Finally, I took about 20 light file strokes off each side of the trigger return spring, tapering it toward its bearing surface against the return cam on the trigger. A file cut it nicely and I followed with an Arkansas stone, to smooth the edges. The resulting trigger breaks at 3 ¼ pounds per my RCBS Trigger Scale.  It is crisp and entirely reminiscent of the prewar 92’s and 94’s I’ve handled. 

Another little 92 Gremlin showed itself... While taking the gun apart, I noticed that the stock screw was loose. Since I hate loose screws on a gun, I naturally tightened it when I put it back together. Mistake. These guns are evidently quite sensitive about the spacing between the upper & lower tangs, which was evidenced by the cartridge carrier binding after I snugged that screw down. By shimming the stock, top & bottom, where both tangs seat I was able to tighten it without impeding function. At some point I'll drill the stock for an aluminum spacer tube, cut to length, which will just admit the stock screw while controlling upper & lower tang spacing. Once that is done, I'll Acraglas the works to get a good fit that'll stand hard-kickin' loads.

Today’s post comes on the heels of some back-40 range time with this 92 Trapper 45. With good sights and the trigger cleaned up to 3 pounds, I was able to consistently hit empty 12 gauge hulls at 25 yards, or put 2 of 3 in a 3" Target Dot at 50 yards, shooting standing unsupported. This was with the 255 grain factory-duplication load. Just for grins, I leveled one of the 335 Keith Howitzer loads at an old, expired can of chicken noodle soup, 50 yards distant; now I’ve got noodles scattered all over my backstop. We always have a few Robins that stay through the winter and I'm sure they will have a heyday with that. 

I hate a gun that won't zero and to tell the truth, this one was about ready to go down the road until it got usable sights. Of course my wife liked the Rossi all along, so it wasn't in too much danger of going off to market…

She also shot it pretty well. 12 rounds applied at a fairly rapid pace, from 15 yards, produced the results seen below.

I can see right now, that Missouri Bullets is going to get another order; and that I’m gonna have to get busy reloading again.