Rossi Firearms, a Brazilian firm once known for its inexpensive revolver line, no longer makes handguns for the American market. Today, it makes rifles and shotguns, including its line of R92 lever-action rifles, which are modernized versions of the legendary Winchester 1892 lever-action carbine.
Currently, there are 19 versions of the R92 in calibers .357 Magnum/.38 Special, .45 Colt, .44 Magnum and .454 Casull. There is also a brand-new, scaled-down version in .22 LR. I thought the most fun and useful version would be the 16-inch-barreled R92 chambered in .357 Magnum/.38 Special.
About the 16-Inch-Barreled Rossi R92 .357
The R92 is a superbly balanced and fast-handling carbine. It is easily carried and pointed with just one hand. Upon further inspection, it’s a beautiful little carbine with excellent workmanship. The brightly polished “black oxide” (aka blued) finish is beautifully executed and applied to all the steel surfaces, including the barrel bands.
The forend and the buttstock are made of traditional hardwood, though not the plain, figureless piece I would often think of as hardwood. The wood on the R92 is nicely figured and appears to be very close to actual walnut. The steel buttplate is curved and blued.
The sights are traditional adjustable irons. The rear sight is a traditional buckhorn with a ladder elevation adjustment. The front sight is a post on which there is a brass bead and thankfully not a fiber optic. For a historically styled rifle of this type — which excels at “snap shooting” — it doesn’t get much better than that.
The R92 utilizes a manual safety in addition to a half-cock notch. The safety is an inconspicuous bolt-mounted rotating lever that rotates to activate/deactivate the blocking mechanism. The R92 will cycle with the safety on or off, and the safety can only be rotated when the hammer is in half- or full-cock position. The Rossi safety is a great addition to the 1892 design.
You load the R92 through the side-loading gate. This means live rounds can only be unloaded by cycling them through the action. It’s very important to have the safety applied during the unloading process.
The trigger pull of the R92 is quite crisp. It measures a very reasonable 4.1 pounds with no slack. Just right for a rifle of this type.
R92 at the Range
The R92’s magazine has an 8+1 round capacity. I tested Double Tap DT Tactical .357 Magnum ammo loaded with 110-grain Barnes TAC-XP hollow-point bullets loaded to 1,645 feet per second and SIG Sauer .38 Special 125-grain ELITE Practice ammo loaded to 900 feet per second with a friend at his range.
From 50 yards in a kneeling position, I rapid-fired six rounds of Double Tap .357s on the B-27E Silhouette’s X-ring. Though I had aimed dead center, I was surprised to find the rounds landed in the upper chest near the neck. I checked the rear sight, and the ladder had been set up two positions from its lowest setting. I returned the sight to its lowest position and moved to 25 yards, loaded up with more .357s and achieved different results.
Six rounds from an unsupported standing position all dropped dead center into the orange X-ring. The group measured 1 ¾ inches. Cycling of all rounds was smooth and flawless, and recoil was light despite the power of the .357 Magnum.
We fired the SIG Sauer .38 Special Practice loads on the steel silhouette. The SIG .38 Special rounds are much shorter that the .357 Magnums due to the cartridge case and the shorter length of solid lead 125-grain bullet. Because of this shorter length, the .38s loaded easier than the .357s.
Be Sure to Use the Right Ammo
While we were able to strike the center of the silhouette with ease, some of the live .38s kept popping out the top of the action as it was cycled instead of chambering. This is pretty standard on dual-caliber lever guns and easily addressed by using ammo of the right length. After the range, I tried cycling the R92 with longer .38 Special rounds. Eight rounds of Magtech 158-grain RNL .38s, which feature a much longer bullet than the 125-grain SIG .38s, loaded smoothly and cycled flawlessly.
I also measured the velocity of both test rounds across the chronograph during our range time. The .38 Special 125-grain load increased its velocity to 1,085 feet per second from the 16-inch barrel, while the .357 Magnum ended up screaming out it at 2,092 feet per second. That nearly equals the power of the .30 U.S. carbine cartridge.
Rossi R92 Worth a Purchase?
This is simply a superb western carbine with a lot of utility. While an 8+1-round capacity certainly isn’t high, it should be sufficient for the vast majority of tasks that it could be called upon to do. Rossi’s R92 would be very handy when carried in a scabbard on an ATV or on horseback. With an overall length of 33.7 inches, its flat profile and a weight of just 5.7 pounds, it is easy to pack and carry.