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REVIEW: Rossi R92 Lever Action .45 Long Colt

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This is among the best go anywhere solve any problem rifles. READ MORE

rossi r92 45
Short, handy, light and powerful the Rossi .45 Colt carbine has much to recommend.

Robert Campbell

For most of my life I have kept a lever action rifle handy for all around use. I have taken more game with the lever action than with any other type. During my time as a peace officer I kept a Winchester Model 94 .30-30 WCF lever action rifle in the trunk on more than one occasion. Such a rifle is capable of solving most of the problems encountered. I have the greatest respect for the AR 15 rifle and enjoy firing and using my .223 rifles. Few rifles are as versatile, accurate, and reliable as a good AR 15. Few rifles may be used for varmints and deer by simply changing loads- and then fired in a competitive match that weekend! I simply like the lever action and value its simplicity and ruggedness. I have seen lever actions in the hands of outdoorsmen, scouts and working cowboys that were beaten, battered, and even muddy. These things happen after a decade or two of use. But the rifles always work. When the likely profile is that you may need only a shot or two but that the rifle needs to hit hard, a powerful lever action rifle is a viable choice.

rossi r92 45
The Rossi carbine is available in several versions. This is a stainless steel version with the standard lever. For hard use this is probably the preferred version.
rossi r92 45
The lever action Rossi is also available with long barrels and even octagon barrels.

Recently I was in the market for a short handy lever action rifle. I did not seriously consider a Trapper model in .30-30 but sought out a pistol caliber carbine. There are many reasons for this choice. First, it is easier to find a range that allows pistol caliber carbines and this is a real consideration in many areas. Second, I am an enthusiastic handloader. As long as the brass holds out and I am able to obtain lead, primers and powder I will be shooting. I don’t hoard ammunition; I simply keep a reasonable supply. Ammunition is for practice, training, hunting and personal defense. My retirement portfolio contains other choices! While I like the pistol caliber carbine I am not sold on the carbine and handgun combination. When carrying the Rossi lever action rifle I am as likely to be carrying a .357 Magnum revolver as a .45, and more likely to carry my everyday 1911 .45 automatic. A long gun and a handgun are for different duties and compromise is evident.

rossi r92 45
While the combination of a revolver and rifle chambered for the same cartridge has some merit the author feels that they are a compromise and chooses his long and short guns on their own merits.

The lever action carbine slips behind the seat of a truck easily. It is flat, light, and may be made ready by quickly working the lever action. Once ready it may be made safe by simply lowering the hammer. Accuracy isn’t the long suit of the short pistol caliber carbine but it is accurate enough for most chores to 100 yards. Versatility is the long suit. It is a bonus that a good example isn’t expensive. I somehow found myself in the possession of Winchester 95 and Savage 99 high power rifles and a good Henry .22 rifle but no short powerful carbine. I addressed this deficit in the battery by purchasing a Rossi 92 carbine. These rifles are available in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt and .454 Casull, and I have seen examples in .44-40 as well. The .357 is economical and the best choice for Cowboy Action. With Magnum loads it is a fine defense caliber and will do for deer. The .44 Magnum is a great caliber. I have used it to drop large boar hogs and it hits like Thor’s hammer. The .44-40 is a handloading proposition for real power. I happened along a .45 Colt example. The rifle looked good, with nice Brazilian wood and the popular large ring lever. Since I had plenty of .45 Colt brass the choice wasn’t difficult. I have reached that pleasant stage in life when every firearm doesn’t have to have a well defined mission to earn its keep, and where a specialized firearm that does a few things well is good to have. The Rossi was destined to serve as a go anywhere do anything rifle. For short range hunting, probably an opportunity rather than a planned hunt, to dispatch predators, pests and dangerous animals, and for personal defense on the road, the Rossi seemed a good fit.

rossi r92 45
The Rossi carbine has a very short lever throw. It is fast, very fast. The saddle ring serves little purpose for most of us. The thong needs to be ditched for serious use.

Despite my Scot blood I am not the cheapest guy in the world but the rifle set me back less than four hundred dollars and I like that. This is the first example I have owned in .45 Colt, but the particulars of the rifle are familiar to me. The sights are pretty basic. There is a front post with a small brass bead and an open sight in the rear. The front post is adjustable for windage — with the proper punch — and the rear sight may be adjusted for elevation by use of the sight ladder. You have to know how to use these sights. I have heard more than a little grumbling concerning the difficulty of sighting in similar rifles. The front post must be set in the bottom of the rear notch for the proper point of aim. You do not hold it in the upper part of the rear leaf or you will shoot impossibly high. A tubular under the barrel magazine holds eight rounds. The lever action rifle was once referred to as a bolt gun — period literature is hard to read sometimes but interesting. The bolt is locked by rear locking wedges. The rifle is unlocked by working the lever. As the lever travels downward, the bolt moves to the rear and the extractor pulls the spent case from the chamber. The fresh round is fed from the magazine into a shell carrier. As the lever is closed the carrier feeds a fresh round into the chamber. Rearward travel of the bolt cocks the hammer.

rossi r92 45
The bead front sight is surprisingly precise at moderate range.
rossi R92
The rear sight is a good example of lever action rifle gear, with a sliding bar or ladder for elevation adjustment.

This is a generally reliable and trouble free system. However, be certain you learn to properly use the lever action. The lever is pressed forward, not down, and a certain cadence of fire comes with practice. I have witnessed the occasional malfunction in which a cartridge jumps from the magazine and under the carrier. This is devilishly hard to clear. A pistol caliber carbine such as the Rossi 92 has more leverage than a .30-30 rifle and the action may be manipulated more quickly. If need be you may put out a lot of lead with the Rossi 92. If you keep extra rounds on the belt the Rossi may be topped off one round at a time. The rifle weighs about five pounds loaded. It is only about 34 inches long — that’s compact. With the 16 inch barrel this rifle handles quickly and tracks between targets well. It is no trick to keep steel gongs moving at 50 yards. To test the rifle, firing at the 50 yard line, I set up an Innovative Targets steel target. This target is a great training aid. Using the steel insert rated for pistol calibers I was able to ring the target on demand.

rossi r92 45
The hammer spur is nicely checkered and gives good purchase. Note the locking wedges and the controversial safety arrangement.

Ammo Options
As far as ammunition, the Rossi was fired for the most part with my personal handloads using a 255 grain cast SWC. With the .44 Magnum carbine I have had to crimp over the bullet shoulder in order to assure feed reliability- loads intended for use in a revolver sometimes did not feed correctly in the carbine. This wasn’t the case with the .45 Colt carbine. Most of these loads generate about 800 fps from a revolver. At 25 yards the handloads struck a bit right and low but this was easily adjusted. In factory ammunition there are several distinct classes of ammunition. These include cowboy action loads that are lighter than standard, standard pressure lead loads, and standard pressure personal defense loads. There are heavy hunting loads such as the ones offered by Buffalo Bore. I fired a representative sample of each class of load. I fired a quantity of the Winchester 225 gr. PDX JHP defense load and also the Speer 250 gr. Gold Dot JHP load. Each was mild to fire and accurate. The bonded bullets should be excellent for personal defense. I also fired a quantity of the Hornady Critical Defense. This 185 grain bullet struck below the point of aim but gave good feed reliability. It would have easy to adjust the sights if I wished to deploy this loading. I also fired a small quantity of the Buffalo Bore 225 grain all copper bullet. What struck me is that these loads are practically indistinguishable as far as recoil. Each was mild, with no more recoil than a .410 bore shotgun. Only the Buffalo Bore load was noticeably hotter. But you are getting serious horsepower.

rossi r92 45
The Rossi carbine is fully compatible with factory .45 Colt loads, from standard pressure to +P.

Here are a few velocity figures —
Winchester 225 grain PDX, 1090 fps
Hornady FTX 185 grain Critical Defense, 1180 fps
Buffalo Bore 225 grain Barnes, 1310 fps

rossi r92 45
The 255 grain SWC handload on the left will solve a lot of problems. The Hornady FTX, right, is accurate and mild shooting.

The .45 Colt was designed for black powder way back in 1873. As such it is sometimes smoky and not as efficient as more modern calibers when loaded with smokeless powder. However a good quantity of the Black Hills cowboy action load gave both good accuracy and a full powder burn. A tight chamber and 16 inch barrel increases ballistic efficiency. As an example the Black Hills cowboy action loading breaks about 780 fps from a 4 ¾ inch barrel revolver, but over 1,000 fps from the Rossi carbine. While the bullet doesn’t expand it will do whatever the .45 Colt has ever done. The cartridge enjoys an excellent reputation as a manstopper. As for the gain in velocity over a handgun when ammunition is fired in the carbine, the average is a 100 fps gain with standard loads while heavier loads may gain 140-160 fps. This is a useful increase in power over the revolver but the real advantage is in accuracy. It is much easier to quickly get a hit with a carbine than with the handgun.

The action of the Rossi is easily the smoothest lever action I have used including original Winchester carbines. Pistol caliber carbines have plenty of leverage. The action is both smooth and reliable. The wood to metal fit is good, if not flawless. A point of contention is the L shaped safety found on the bolt. I simply ignore it. I would not remove it, some may wish to use it. Another source of some discussion was the large loop lever. This large loop is a great addition for use with gloved hands, but otherwise it isn’t more efficient than the standard loop. It may be slower to use than a standard loop. Still, it is the same large loop that Lucas McCain and Josh Randall used in the cinema and some like the looks. It is fast enough but in the final analysis serves no useful purpose and makes the light and flat carbine more difficult to store. I would not have sought out a big ring carbine, it was simply what was on the shelf. I did not feel strongly enough about the large ring to let it interfere with my decision to purchase the rifle. The same goes for caliber. Much could be said for the .44 Magnum version. However, the .45 Colt is a proven defense loading. At moderate range it will take deer sized game cleanly. I had the ammo. As for the buckskin tong around the saddle ring, ditch it. It sometimes interferes with handling.

rossi r92 45
At 3 yards the shotshell pattern would do in a rodent or snake. The shot capsule cut through the paper.

Another option with the Rossi 92 is the availability of shot loads. I used a handful of Speer/CCI shot loads in the carbine with good results. I did not cycle the rounds in the action more than one at a time. I would load a single shot cartridge in the magazine, feed it into the chamber, then load another. You feel the cartridge crunch a little as it chambers. I have the impression that the shot capsule might crack and crumble in the magazine from the force of a metal cartridge head under spring pressure butting into the plastic shot carrier. You would have a mess! The shot pattern is useful to 5 yards or so in dealing with vermin and reptiles. I like the option in a go anywhere carbine.

rossi r92 45
This is a Barnes X bullet in the author’s handloads. The .45 Colt is a versatile number that works best inside 50 yards.

When the Rossi is taken as a whole it is a capable carbine for many situations. It isn’t particularly accurate but it is accurate enough. It is inexpensive and fires a proven cartridge, with a good reserve of ammunition. If saddle rings and the big lever appeal to you the Rossi has much to recommend. But it is also a good performer and this is an attractive combination. When you look past the cinema depiction of the rifleman you realize that Lucas McCain was pretty smart to deploy a rifle and it gave him an advantage.

rossi r92 45
The author and the Rossi carbine- this rifle is fun to fire! This may lead to more practice sessions.

rossi r92 45

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REVIEW: Charter Arms Professional

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This is a great all-around revolver for personal defense and field use — and also a fun gun to spend a day at the range with! READ MORE

Charter Arms Professional
The Charter Arms Professional is a clean design with much to recommend.

Bob Campbell

I have used Charter Arms revolvers for more than 40 years. Charter was introduced in the 1960s and armed many Americans at a time when truly good affordable guns were scarce. The Charter Arms design features a transfer bar ignition for safety, among the first revolvers to do so. The frame is steel also it is enclosed by aluminum to save weight. The revolvers have always been available with well designed grips. The sights are wide and easily picked up quickly. Quite simply you get your money’s worth with the Charter Arms, and perhaps then some. The Charter Arms .44 Special Bulldog is the most famous product but revolvers in .22 Long Rifle, .22 Magnum, .32 Smith and Wesson Long, .38 Special, .357 Magnum and perhaps a few others have been offered. The revolver illustrated is among the most interesting.

Charter Arms Professional
While light the Charter Arms Professional proved easy to use well.

The Charter Arms Professional is a small frame revolver with a 3-inch barrel, hand filling grips, a double action/single action mechanism, good sights, and a nice finish. Open the cylinder by pushing the cylinder release forward and you will see a 7-shot cylinder chambered in .32 H&R Magnum. The pistol uses the classic Charter Arms steel frame but the finish is a modern black nitride. I cannot see any problem with the durability of this finish. The rear sight is wide and broad like all Charter Arms revolvers while the front sight is a fiber optic insert. This green insert is high visibility and easily acquired for speed shooting. Despite the light twenty two ounce weight the Charter Arms Professional has proven a light kicker with standard loads. The action is as smooth as any modern production double action revolver. In single action mode the trigger breaks at 4.5 pounds. I like the revolver a lot and after firing more than four hundred cartridges I have formed a good opinion of the revolver.

Charter Arms Professional
A heavy underlugged barrel provides good balance.
Charter Arms Professional
The fiber optic front post is a good option for all of us but especially aging eyes.
Charter Arms Professional
The rear sight is broad and easily acquired for fast shooting.

My primarily loading has been the Black Hills Ammunition cowboy load, a lead bullet with modest recoil and good accuracy. I have also used the 85 grain JHP at 1055 fps. The revolver is very easy to use well and to fire quickly. A trained shooter will find a neat group of cartridges on the target, well centered at 7 yards. The revolver tended to fire slightly low. I accommodated this by holding the front optic sight slightly higher than the rear sight, resulting in the bullets homing in on target. The revolver is more than accurate enough for filed and camp use, exhibiting five shot groups of 2-2.5 inches on paper at 15 yards when carefully bench-rested. Frankly I went overboard on both time and ammunition budget goals with this revolver. It is simply a fun gun to shoot. As for a comparison to .38 Special recoil, the .32 Magnum kicks much less than the .38 Special. I can place seven .32 Magnums into a man sized target in the same time, approximately, I can place five .38s into the target. The .32 H and R Magnum isnt as powerful as the .38 Special but then accuracy can often make up for power. The reverse is seldom true. The .32 H and R Magnum offers reasonable power for the light recoil. As an example the Hornady Critical defense at 1040 fps penetrated well past twelve inches in testing and expanded well.

Charter Arms Professional
The Professional proved reliable and accurate in extensive testing.

It is difficult to separate the cartridge from the handgun and a look at the .32 Magnum is wise. The .32 Magnum it seems was originally intended as a crackerjack field round. For small game the .32 is a hand loaders dream- economical, accurate, and effective on small game. For personal defense it is more problematical. As we grow older we are more sensitive to recoil, the skin is thinner, and the joints ache. A .38 Special revolver, particularly a lightweight version, stings and may just be too much for many shooters. The .32 Magnum is a reasonable alternative. Most 85 grain jacketed hollow point loads will clock 1000 to 1100 fps from the Charter Arms Professional’s three inch barrel. This is approximately .380 ACP class, perhaps a bit more energy, but less expanded diameter. The .32 revolver with standard loads offers light recoil. It is a trade off but a reasonable one. The .32 Smith & Wesson Long, as an example, pushes a 98 grain RNL bullet to a miserable 690 fps!

Charter Arms Professional
The .32 H and R Magnum, left, compared to the .38 Special, right.
Charter Arms Professional
A 5- and a 6-shot .38 Special compared to the 7 shot Charter Arms Professional .32 H and R Magnum, on right.

I liked the revolver enough to experiment with a couple of loads from Buffalo Bore. We are introducing extra recoil into a package that was designed to offer lighter recoil, but we are also increasing wound potential substantially. If carrying the revolver for defense against feral dogs or the big cats the Buffalo Bore loads change the equation. The 100 grain JHP is surprisingly fast — 1220 fps. The point of impact is raised and the revolver is dead on the money at 15 yards. This load is closer to the .38 Special in recoil but offers excellent penetration and expansion. The 130 grain flat point hard cast load breaks 1190 fps. This is a stout load that sometimes offers sticky extraction and should be used sparingly. Recoil is there with this load. Buffalo Bore designed this loading to penetrate the skull of a bear in a last ditch effort to save your life. It will penetrate forty inches of gelatin or more. These loads offer another option in the field for those wanting a lightweight but credible protection handgun.

Charter Arms Professional
With both lead and jacketed hollow point loads available the .32 H and R Magnum is relatively affordable.
Charter Arms Professional
The author fired a Critical Defense bullet into soft mud, left, into water jugs, center, and that is a 100 grain Hornady XTP fired into water, a Buffalo Bore loading.

Loaded with standard loads seniors or inexperienced shooters have a revolver they can use well. Accuracy can make up for power, the reverse is seldom true, and the Charter Arms Professional .32 H&R Magnum has plenty of power and accuracy.

Charter Arms Professional
Compared to the Colt Cobra, top, the Charter Arms Professional is lighter but has a longer barrel.

Read more HERE

 

The Unequivocal Instrument: Snubnose Magnum Revolvers

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While the revolver is often looked down on as old technology, few handguns are as reliable and accurate as the short-barrel .357 Magnum revolver. KEEP READING

ruger sp101 357

Wilburn Roberts

With the great and growing abundance of concealed carry permits as Americans exercise their rights and commons sense, and with a present political climate that nurtures such progress, armed citizens are choosing to be responsible for their own safety. Choosing which handgun may be an easy enough choice for seasoned shooters, but quite a few of the new generation of handgunners are newcomers to one handgun in particular…

Many are steered toward a handgun that doesn’t fit their skill level. A semi-auto 9mm or .40 compact isn’t for everyone. However, the novice and very experienced shooter alike often choose a revolver. They are well armed when they do so.

snubnose revolvers
Short barrel revolvers are great personal defense firearms. Be certain to train well!

The snubnose .38 Special is a reasonable choice, however, the snubnose .38 is seen as less powerful than the 9mm pistol. (A “snubnose” is generally defined as having a barrel length 3 inches or less.) This is overcome by the power of the .357 Magnum revolver. When comparing the types, the advantages of the revolver have to be plain to make the short-barrel revolver an attractive choice.

Reliability is one advantage.

A further advantage of the revolver is that the revolver can be fired repeatedly even if it’s contacting an opponent. The semi-auto would jam after the first shot. It may also short cycle due to a less than perfect grip.

taurus 605
This Taurus 605 .357 Magnum revolver is carried in a 3Speed holster. This is a great deep concealment rig.

For a weapon to be used at conversational distance, the revolver’s reliability in this scenario is a big plus. A further advantage would be in a struggle for the gun — and this happens often — the gun grabber has little to hang onto in the case of a short-barreled revolver.

As said, an alternative to the .38 Special is the .357 Magnum. The .357 operates at almost three times the pressure level of the .38 Special. The Magnum operates at some 40,000 copper units of pressure compared to 18,000 for the .38 Special, and 20,000 for the .38 Special +P. This gives the magnum a great advantage in power, and the ability to use heavier bullets. There are .357 Magnum revolvers almost as compact as the snubnose .38, but often the Magnum will have a heavier frame and a heavier barrel which offers a better platform for the more powerful cartridge.

galco holster
Galco’s Carry Lite revolver holster is among the best for concealed carry. This inside the waistband holster is affordable and available.

These handguns also willingly chamber the .38 Special, providing a power level option in the same gun (that’s not available in a semi-auto). A .38 Special +P load is a good choice for the beginner for use in his or her .357 Magnum revolver. The shooter may move to the Magnum loadings after sufficient practice.

The obvious mechanical advantages of the revolver as related to reliability, the ability to use the weapon with a less-than-perfect grip and at point-blank range, are compelling sales features. However, in the end, the ballistics might be the best selling point. There has been a myth circulated for some time that the snubnose .357 Magnum is no more powerful than a .38 Special, as the Magnum loses velocity when fired in a short barrel. This is far from true. The Magnum does lose velocity when fired in a 2- to 3-inch barreled compact revolver, but it remains far more powerful than the snubnose .38 Special as the accompanying table shows. The .357 Magnum considerably outperforms the .38 Special by any measure.

With these revolvers, recoil could be grim to the uninitiated. Recoil energy approaches 12 pounds in some .357 Magnum revolvers, compared to 6 to 8 pounds in the 9mm and .40 caliber handguns, and a slight 4 pounds with .38 +P ammunition in a snubnose. This is a sharp jolt not to be underestimated. The person deploying this revolver must engage in practice and use the proper techniques to master this revolver.

sp101
The Ruger SP101 in .357 Magnum is among the strongest handguns — ounce for ounce — ever built.

Modern .357 Magnum revolvers such as the 5-shot Ruger SP 101 are designed with every advantage toward making the gun controllable. The factory grips on these revolvers are among the best ever designed. If you are able to find a Smith & Wesson K-frame revolver at a fair price, the 6-shot Smith & Wesson is even more controllable, albeit a bit larger.

Use a proper holster such as one of the Galco inside the waistband holsters and you will find the snubnose revolver very concealable. The revolver is simple to use — simply draw and fire. The Ruger and Smith & Wesson each have smooth double-action triggers that promote accuracy.

Another advantage of the revolver is superb accuracy. The Smith & Wesson Model 19 I often carry has been in service for four decades. A combination of excellent high-visibility sights and a smooth trigger make for fine accuracy. As just one example with the .38 Special Fiocchi 125-grain Extrema, this revolver has cut a 1.5-inch 25-yard group for 5 shots.

The .357 Magnum revolver isn’t for everyone, but for those who practice, one offers excellent accuracy, reliability, and proven power.

magnum specs

Check out Midsouth AMMO here.