July 24, 2023
With all the new innovations in modern sporting rifles—from ultra-light bolt actions to modular chassis rifles—there’s something to be said for the classic look and feel of a good lever gun. In recent years, some would say that lever-action rifles have struggled a bit and are being phased out of production. Since the early 2000s, many traditional models have been shelved for more modern-style rifles.
Rossi stands proud as they continue to offer a wide selection of great repeating rifles, with no intentions of slowing down production. When I had the opportunity to give the R92 a spin, I jumped at the chance. I hadn’t owned a lever gun since the late 90s, when I was a teenager. After killing my first dozen or so whitetails with a .30-30, I, like many other hunters, progressed up to a more powerful bolt-action rifle. The Rossi gave me the opportunity to get back to my roots with this modern take on a classic design.
Rossi’s R92 is offered in a host of different model configurations, from a traditional hardwood with a black-oxide octagon barrel that looks like it should be in a Civil War reenactment to a Triple Black with matching Cerakote that could help you hold your own in case of a zombie apocalypse. It also has the option of three different barrel lengths: 16, 22 or 24 inches, and is available in four different caliber selections: from .357 Mag/.38 Special +P, .45 Colt, .44 Mag, and .454 Casull.
My first impressions once unboxing the R92 was this offering from Rossi is quite the looker. I opted for a version chambered in .357 Mag, with the thought of making this the perfect “truck gun” with some class. The beautiful Brazilian hardwood stock is finished in a rich red stain that resembles mahogany with elegant grain throughout. Beautifully polished, the stainless-steel barrel is nice and compact at only 16 inches long with a 1:30 twist rate.
The iron sights are of the traditional variety with a full buckhorn-style rear sight and small brass bead sitting atop a half-inch high post at the front. The tubular magazine that runs below the barrel will hold eight rounds and loads through the port on the right side of the receiver.
The R92 has the traditional hammer but adds a safety lever on the back of the receiver that will block the firing pin. This safety lever cannot be moved when the hammer is forward, but once the hammer is half-cocked the safety will move in either direction. When in the off or fire position, a small red dot is revealed.
At my local range, I was equipped with Hornady’s Handgun Hunter ammunition. This ammo tipped with a 130-grain MonoFlex bullet was the perfect load to test out of the Rossi rifle. For the test, I wanted to shoot it both freehand and on a rest at 50 yards, taking individual shots, as well as shooting rapid-fire where I could really work to cycle the lever-action rifle fully.
First things first was to shoot it at 25 yards to get a good feel for ergonomics and break of the trigger. The gun is so compact with the curved buttstock and steel buttplate it felt at home as I shouldered it. The trigger has a crisp pull and produces little felt recoil for a gun weighing in at less than 6 pounds. Firing a handful of shots at the 25 yard mark, I noticed the ease of target acquisition and ability to reacquire the front bead after working the lever. It made me remember the fun of having a lever gun in my hand for plinking.
Next up was to take it out to 50 yards and really put some rounds through it. I loaded it up with six rounds at a time and shot it offhand. I was able to consistently shoot decent groups during this course of fire. When shooting rapidly, groups opened up a bit more – as expected, but not once did I have any issues with feeding new rounds or ejecting spent casings. The R92 cycles like a dream and I found it truly a gem to shoot.
When I moved to the bench, I could really get an excellent overall feel of the rifle’s capabilities. Shooting individual shots, I never had a group larger than 2 inches at 50 yards. After putting nearly two boxes of ammo through this gun on a warm summer’s day here in Montana, it continued to cycle without any malfunctions whatsoever. A true testament to why the lever-action rifle was king so many years ago and why it continues to find favor with many hunters and shooters who love the traditional look and feel of a lever gun.
- Manufacturer – Rossi USA
- Model – R92 Hardwood, 357 MAG/38 SPECIAL +P, Polished Stainless, 16in.
- Action Type – Lever Action
- Capacity – 8 Rounds
- Weight – 93.9 oz
- Length – 33.2 in
- Price - $887