Testing new firearms occasionally brings about a gun that is a pleasant surprise. The Rossi Brawler .410/.45 Colt single-shot utility handgun met advertised expectations during testing, proving to be not just a reliable tool but also an immensely enjoyable one.
About the Rossi Brawler .410/.45
The Rossi Brawler is a single-shot, single-action .410 gauge/.45 Colt handgun. Its classification as a handgun rather than a shotgun is due to its rifled barrel, distinguishing it from traditional smoothbore designs.
The Brawler is built around a traditional break-open shotgun action. There is a lever just to the right of the hammer spur that opens the action for loading and unloading when depressed. Initially, I found the action was a bit difficult to open. Whether intentional or not, the tightness provides an additional measure of child safety without interfering with the overall operation.
The shell ejector is very positive and launches the fired rounds over the shooter’s shoulder. There is a plain black post front sight with a small fixed square notch rear sight built into the Picatinny rail strip for basic sighting. It would be nice to have a fiber optic front sight for those who don’t want to add a red dot scope.
The hammer is easily cocked since the long spur provides plenty of leverage, and the trigger pull is surprisingly crisp. Below the barrel latch on the frame is a recessed crossbolt safety that moves from right to left through the frame and shows a red ring on the left side when the safety is off. When the crossbolt safety is in the on position, the hammer is locked and cannot be cocked. However, the action can still be opened for loading and clearing.
The crossbolt safety can also lock a cocked hammer at the rear. If you try to pull the trigger, the hammer moves forward slightly to a half-cock type setting. However, I would carry the Brawler with a round in the chamber, hammer forward (down) and safety on to keep things operationally simple and safe.
Brawler Handgun Specifications
Chambering: 2 ½ to 3-inch .410 Shotgun Shells and .45 Long (Colt) Revolver Cartridges
Barrel length: 9 inches
Overall length: 14 inches
Weight: 36.8 ounces
Trigger pull weight: 5 pounds, 8.3 ounces
Frame material: Matte black polymer
Barrel material: Matte black alloy steel
Firing the Brawler 410
Though I’m not often a fan of red-dot optics, the strip of factory-installed Picatinny railing on the Brawler practically screamed for an optic. I opted for my 2006 vintage Aimpoint Comp 2, which provides a wild field of view, has nice flip-up lens caps and the quickest, most positive mounting system available. It popped right on the rail strip and locked into place with a couple of clicks.
The additional weight of the Comp 2 enhanced the Brawler’s balance. Shooting the Brawler with a variety of .410 loads showcased its versatility. Testing started with the Winchester Super X 000 2 ½ inch Buckshot from 30 feet at an OPOTC Law Enforcement Qualification Silhouette target. Recoil was mild, the boom satisfying and the Aimpoint seemed perfectly zeroed for the Brawler. The three 000 pellets landed in a tight cluster at the center of the target.
Transitioning to a self-defense load from Lightfield — the 410 Nova-DR 2 ½-inch blank round — produced the same amount of perceived sound as a live .410 round. No projectile left the barrel, but these blank rounds could be useful for animal control when no harm is intended.
The diameter of .45 Colt and .410 rounds are the same despite the difference in stated number. As such, .45 Colt ammunition can be shot from rifled (not smoothbore with choke) .410 barrels. The Buffalo Bore 225-grain Hard Cast self-defense lead wadcutters, loaded to a velocity of 1,050 feet per second, are fairly hot when compared to a standard velocity .45 Colt load, which usually travels at 850 feet per second. Fired from the Brawler, the Buffalo Bore rounds felt similar to .38 Special 148-grain wadcutters. The .45 Colt loads also shot right to the point of aim.
The advantage of using a .410 chambered handgun for self-defense shooting becomes quite apparent when you send modern .410 self-defense loads downrange. While three .36 caliber diameter pellets of 000 buckshot from traditional .410 loads are ok for self-defense, the newer formulations are far more potent.
Using the Rossi Single-Shot for Self-Defense
The Winchester PDX1 load delivers three copper-plated defense disc projectiles ahead of 12 copper-plated BB projectiles at 750 feet per second each time the trigger is pulled. You can feel the increased weight when you pick up the round. At 20 feet, I fired a single round into the center of a HALO Reactive X-RAY Target. The three discs were clustered into what amounted to a single hole in the center of the spine just below the rib cage. Nine BB pellets struck the silhouette landing around the disc holes with three pellets landing just outside the silhouette, but still on the paper.
The Rossi Brawler is not just a utility handgun. It’s a source of fun and excitement. With its affordable MSRP of $239.99, this firearm is not only an excellent choice for seasoned shooters but also a perfect introductory centerfire handgun for newcomers. Whether it’s for outdoor adventures, backpacking, boating or camping, the Brawler, especially when paired with a red-dot sight, is ready to meet the demands of any situation.