More thoughts on the Tactical Lever Action

I’ve had many questions about why I picked the Rossi M92 over other rifles such as the Legacy Puma, the Marlin options, or Henry, or Uberti… etc.  My selection of the Rossi example is by no means disparaging the others.  They are all quite good Arms and if you have one, then it’s going to serve you well.  Before I made my choice, I studied the Level Action platform very carefully, to include going through history books and talking to old cowboys (we still actually have those around here) and talking to new cowboys – The Cowboy Action Shooters. (We have a lot more of those around here) What I didn’t do was search internet gun forums past 3 minutes… because most of those were “Well, I use this so this is the best… no, I’ve not even seen any others, but this is the best because I have it.”

I selected the 92 design because of two things.

A.  It’s light and compact platform… the form factor won me over here.  The 16 inch carbine still gives me 8+1 rounds in the gun.  That’s a good payload.  Especially when you are talking about a cartridge that’s as potent as a .44 Magnum.

B.  The 92′s action is very strong due to the dual locking lugs, yet it’s also very smooth.  These factors contribute to make the Winchester 92 type one of the most ideal candidates for a fighting lever action.

The Rossi example of the breed is a well made carbine… it has two advantages of it’s own.  The M92 is accessible with a lower cost point than others.  And they can be pretty easy to find (unless you want one in .357 right at the moment) in most well stocked Gun Stores.  The other thing is that under the rear sight, you will find that the M92 is drilled and tapped, ready to accept a scope base.     This makes the Rossi a clear winner for those wanting to get a fighting lever action rifle quick and easy.

Taking it all into consideration, the Rossi M92 is just a delightful little Carbine.  It’s so light and easy to handle… it’s amazing.  It flies to the shoulder and up onto target very quickly.

If the Rossi has any downsides to it, first and more importantly is stupid little safety switch on top of the bolt.  This needs to be removed or something.  The second is the sights.  I’d love to see these come with a simple Gold Bead on the front sight.  Mossberg lever actions come with them… and that’s about the only good point of the Mossberg that I’ve seen so far.  Gold Beads were the Trijicons of their day… and they still work today.

20 thoughts on “More thoughts on the Tactical Lever Action”

  1. Have to agree with you on all points.
    Big bore Rossi 92s are the smoothest lever guns right out of the box that this cowboy-action guy has handled, though I’ve never owned one. Went with a 1873 Italian in .45 Colt ( with a mind that I would go shoot “Classic Cowboy” class with it (IF I ever get a an exposed hammer side by side or Win 1897 lever shotgun to go with it, $$$)
    Do have a Marlin in .44 mag- it took a trip back to the factory just to make it functional out of the box, and many hours of smoothing to get it where I like it- thought the bores on Marlins reputedly run a bit big to help keep pressure down.
    Next one will be a Rossi ( or Henry, as they continue to improve the breed)

  2. What do you think of the Stainless Steel version vs. blue?

    Here in FL, semi-auto self-defense is pretty much banned by an “assault weapon” law voted by the people. Sigh.

    Geoff
    Whose gun money fund is flat at the moment…new life support system being paid off.

    1. I went blued… This is a Tactical gun… so I don’t need all that Stainless glittering in the dark. Blued is shiny enough. And hey, Blued and Wood looks awesome.

  3. The Mossberg lever action is such a disappointment. Being rough could be dealt with and it had some nice design features but they did bad things to the dog, and messed up the trigger pull, rebounding hammer, tang safety,..lawyer proofed beyond fooling with. I don’t mind a certain amount of elbow grease and shade tree gunsmithing but there are limits. If you are on a budget and don’t mind tinkering used Marlin 336′s can make a spiffy rifle. The cheapest route are those in .30-30. They develop feed problems and end up on the used market.
    http://marauder.homestead.com/files/TUNING_M_1894.htm
    Brownell’s carries a good aftermarket trigger for the Marlin. If you are not careful though you’ll end up spending more money fixing than you would have in buying a Rossi to start with.

  4. I can agree 100% on a repro 92 action – the first time I handled one it was an epiphany. I loved the idea of the .454 pumas – so much power, and I figured could always switch to .45colt for tamer/cheaper ammo (thus avoiding reloading). 44mag is a win too though, much more available and plenty of power. I never found the funds though…so many guns, so little $$$.

  5. Ogre,

    Agree on all points…form/lively handling, weight, strength. Only downside is the open-top receiver versus Marlin, if wet weather and dust are a worry.

    That gawdawful safety can be replaced with a peep sight.
    Two birds, one stone.
    Skinner Sights makes it (it’s similar to his “Low Pro” in look & operation), and Steve Young installs…but I bet you could get one from Skinner Sights, and have Joe install it.
    That’s what I’d have done if they were available when I got my .454.
    Not sure what the elevation adjustment is on it; whether that matters depends whether you’re shooting a range of loads vs. developing one and sticking with it.

      1. It’s just a blade, with a serrated black back face, and a brass / gold square inlaid at or just short of the top. Same general idea as what’s behind the XS front blade with the white inlaid vertical stripe, only a whole lot older. “Classic” even.

        It gives you the brightness of a bead, but you keep the crisp flat top for precise aiming, like you have with an AR-style post or a plain black blade with a square top. Not quite as fast as a big white or gold bead (depending on the width of the blade & inlay versus size of the bead), but much more precise for me outside of 50 yards.

        Best of both worlds, if you like that type of sight picture. This was for a hunting rifle in my case; for more, er, warlike purposes the speed may win out.

        The whole reason I looked into this is I have a heck of a time getting the elevation right with a round bead; ended up saying the heck with it and shooting with an occluded sight picture (POI = center of dot) for my Firesight/Williams combo instead of trying to figure out what’s tangent to the top of a fuzzy glowing circle…which of course changes according to lighting conditions. Worse, I’m totally hopeless with a bead + semi-buckhorn (like Marlin & Winny .30-30′s, and most .22′s, come with), so I went to a sourdough front / Skinner peep rear on my Marlin 336. YMMV, and your eyes may be good enough not to need it.

  6. Love the 92 and have had more than one, but my serious .44 mag levergun, all faults acknowledged, is the Marlin. One simple reason. I can get it apart and back together for maintenance a lot easier. XS sights by the way. Excellent set up.

  7. Well, I’ve always been a Marlin man when it comes to lever actions – ever since I bought my first one in the 1960s.
    But I’ve got to admit that the little 92 is a fine-looking gun; and I should probably own one in the ‘classic’ style one of these days. And the idea of a 454Casull/45Colt really does appeal to me.
    I guess I’d better start saving.

  8. I thought the Rossi M92 and the Legacy Puma were the same gun. My .357 Puma has the same safety atop the back of the receiver. The gun was a steal, about $350 or so at Sportsmans Warehouse a few years ago. It’s a frickin’ laser. It’s the 20″ version.

    1. They used to be, but the companies had a squabble and Rossi is now importing them themselves through Braztech and Legacy is now importing some new Italian made gun and calling it the Puma. They are nice enough, but Rossi has the well established track record. 6 years at the gun counter, sold hundreds of these suckers… and not ONE. Not One Single Rifle has come back with any mechanical problem or what not. One did come back because the guy dropped it and cracked a chip in the stock. I’ve had more S&W Revolvers come back than Rossi 92′s. More Glocks. More Kimbers. The track record is very good.

  9. Just out of curiosity if one were to cast there own hard lead bullets with a gas check for .44 magnum, what brand of sizer would you chose?

    1. I’d buy Hornady XTP’s and Winchester SJHP and call it good. I’m not yet ready to even think about casting my own.

  10. Don’t mind me I’ve just had a thing for large caliber hard cast bullets since I read about some of the results they were getting out of lever action .45-70′s. One African pro hunter did some penetration experimenting with Buffalo Bore bullets in .45-70 and he switched over to a lever action in that caliber. Apparently hard lead, in a large heavy bullet, with a large meplat is extremely nasty at short ranges. I just tend to be over fascinated with the do it your self and how cheap could I do it aspects.

  11. Toadold-
    Casting for lever guns is finicky. You have to watch your nose profile and COL just like you’re loading for a semi-auto handgun. I just stick with jacketed slugs in my levers and they run just fine. Your other 2 options are going with an ineffective RN design, or a feed/throat job on the rifle.

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