The BUY USED GUNS Team review the Rossi BIG LOOP Lever Action Carbine chambered in 357 MAGNUM
We can not deny our fascination and love for lever action rifles stemmed from watching cowboy shows in our younger days. It is almost impossible to watch a show such as 'The Rifleman' and not want a lever action rifle of your own (despite the fact the rifle from 'The Rifleman' had unsafe modifications to make it fire that fast). We have included 'The Rifleman' intro video below for those of you who aren't aware of the show.
Of course if you fired that fast from the hip we doubt you could actually hit anything but it still portrays lever action rifles as pretty cool.
The prices and availability of Rossi Lever Actions tends to vary in Australia. We have seen Rossi rifles on special for as little as $500 new and sometimes advertised well over $1000. We wanted to review the big loop carbine model so we specifically imported this rifle after not finding any for sale in Australia.
We received our Rossi in a cardboard box with the usual manual, something shooters have come to expect from budget or 'cheaper' rifles. You will notice our rifle differs slightly from the usual crop of lever action rifles, namely due to the 'Large Loop' lever and saddle ring attached to the receiver. Whilst we had no use for the saddle ring we found the large loop comfortable to use and almost a necessity if you find yourself shooting with large thick gloves, plus we thought it looked pretty cool.
We chose the 357 Magnum calibre due to the ability to use 38 Special rounds as well for cheap plinking and practice. The action was tight and smooth right out of the box which has of course has smoothed out even more after hundreds of rounds. We imagine only fussy shooters would go about making modifications to slick it up even more. It is certainly smoother then many Marlin lever actions we have used. Winchester and Uberti actions are no doubt slicker but you might find their prices hard to swallow at two or even three times the price of a Rossi.
SHOOTING THE ROSSI 357 CARBINE
We spent many hours shooting targets and steel with the Rossi and every shot always brought a smile to our faces. The light weight and short barrel together with the ability to shoot the cheaper and less powerful 38 Special makes for awesome plinking sessions at the range or on private property. Our rifle weighed in at 5.5 pounds with a overall length of 846mm which is interesting as Rossi list the rifle has having a weight of 4.8 pounds.
We are unsure of the cost to reload 38 Special but factory rounds can be purchased for under 50 cents a shot if you shop around. 38 Special produces almost no recoil in this rifle and would be great for younger or recoil shy shooters. If we had to compare the recoil we would say it would be on par with shooting a rimfire rifle chambered in 22 Magnum. Obviously stepping up to 357 Magnum increases the recoil and would be much more suitable when shooting pests for obvious ballistic reasons.
The lever action can be racked relatively fast despite the long throw (the lever must be brought down to the vertical position to eject a round and cock the hammer). We were certainly able to fire the Rossi quicker then a bolt action which also added to the fun factor of the rifle. You might not be shooting as fast as 'The Rifleman' but you will be having just as much fun!
Factory sights consist of a front blade with a small brass bead and a rear leaf sight. Both sights are adjustable - front sight for windage, rear sight for elevation. We found the sights easy to use and target acquisition was quick. Lining up targets with in the large U was great for close targets whilst more precise shooting was achieved by lining up the front sight bead with the small cutout at the bottom of the rear sight.
The brass bead on the front sight was difficult to see at times and would be improved with a coloured fibre optic sight. There are aftermarket options available for mounting optics if you so desire.
The 16 inch barrel carbine comes equipped with an eight shot magazine. Obviously the longer the barrel the larger the magazine capacity, for example the 20 inch barreled model chambered in 357 Magnum will hold 10 rounds. You could load nine rounds if you are comfortable with handling the rifle with a round chambered. We don't condone this however as we believe the best safety in the world in no round in the chamber.
Loading rounds was surprisingly smooth right out of the box and unsurprisingly it became easier and easier the more it was used. The last couple rounds are still tight to load however and a day shooting and loading the Rossi will certainly result in some sore thumbs. We did not experience any jams or misfeeds caused by the magazine. The factory magazine follower is yellow and plastic making it easy to see when your rifle is empty.
We shot a variety or 38 Special and 357 Magnum loads through our rifle from a bench rest to achieve the best accuracy. We averaged two inch groups at 50 metres with most loads, as usual the more expensive 'premium' ammunition tendered to be more accurate. We found the accuracy to be more then acceptable for this rifles intended use, we couldn't imagine trying to shoot live game at more than 100 metres with this rifle and with accuracy at about four inches at 100 metres you probably wouldn't want to.
We imagine most buyers of this rifle would be looking for a quick shooting close range rifle for medium game. The Rossi carbine would be great for throwing on the front of your quad when out and about or on the dash of your vehicle for those times when you stumble across a mob of feral pigs or goats. The carbine model also comes chambered in larger calibres for those shooters wanting a bit more knock down power.
We loved the factory trigger and didn't attempt to modify it in any way. We measured a consistent trigger pull of 3.5 pounds with only a small amount of creep. There are options however for lightening the trigger if you so desire, basically this involves modifying/polishing the internals.
The Rossi carbine comes equipped with two safety features. The first and most obvious being a receiver mounted lever safety. Simple and easy to use with a big red F for fire and green S for safe. The hammer will still release if the trigger is pulled and the safety is on, it will just stop short of striking the firing pin.
The second safety is what Rossi calls a 'Taurus Security System'. This basically consists of a small screw below the hammer which is screwed out to prevent use of the rifle (basically the hammer can't be pulled back rendering the firearm useless). We liked this extra safety feature and also the fact if you don't intend to use it you won't even notice it is there!
We have heard and read some horror stories in relation to the quality of Rossi rifles. Whilst they may not be in the same league quality wise as say a Winchester or Uberti we found our rifle to be excellent. We did not experience any quality related issues, well we didn't experience any issues at all actually. We did not find any unsightly machining marks and the steel to timber fit was excellent, no gaps or dodgy fittings. The timber was nice with a smooth finish. We did notice some minor wearing of the bluing in places where the steel parts rub against each other, namely the hammer and the top of the lever. This is to be expected however after running through hundreds of rounds.
We would not hesitate to purchase another Rossi rifle and although we have heard some negative feedback from Rossi owners its only far that we mention we have also heard alot of positive feedback from Rossi owners.
Of course we couldn't help ourselves and did a few minor upgrades to our rifle. We had heard stories from other Rossi owners in relation to the magazine spring being prone to rust. We also weren't overly fussed with the plastic magazine follower so we purchased and installed a new stainless steel magazine spring and magazine follower which can be seen in the below photo. Whilst it didn't improve the performance of our rifle we are confident it will help to ensure its reliability over time.
We also purchased a couple metres of paracord and wrapped the lever. This made racking the lever a little easier on our fingers and we think it looks pretty good! You could achieve a more traditional look by using leather instead.
We thoroughly enjoyed reviewing the Rossi lever action carbine. If you are chasing a short and light weight rifle for carrying around or even just plinking away at the range or on a property the Rossi would serve you well. The ability to chamber two different cartridges is also a big plus and has many obvious benefits. Younger or inexperienced shooters would have no issues handling and shooting the Rossi, especially when using 38 Special loads.
We found the quality to be excellent along with reliability, fit and finish. We experienced no misfeeds, fail to ejects or jams of any kind with any of the factory rounds we used, 357 Magnum and 38 Special. The accuracy is certainly not outstanding but this can be partly attributed to the fact 357 Magnum and 38 Special are pistol rounds and not known for long range accuracy. If you are chasing a lever action rifle with longer range and better accuracy you really need to be looking at the 30-30 Winchester or even a lever action rifle that doesn't use a tubular magazine.
We hope you enjoyed reading our review and if you are looking at a lever action rifle for your next purchase make sure you give Rossi a consideration.
You can check out the full range of Rossi firearms at the following link;
- Quality, reliability, fit and finish all excellent
- Ability to use 357 Magnum and 38 Special
- Aftermarket parts and upgrades available
- Cheaper than a Winchester or Uberti and just as fun to shoot
- Bluing has worn in some places - but thats it!
Model: M92 Carbine LARGE LOOP
Calibre: 357/38 (also available in 44 MAG, 45 Colt, 44-40 Win and 454 Casull)
Barrel Length: 16 inches
Weight: 4.8 pounds (5.5 pounds as measured by us)
Overall Length: 846mm