Lever-action rifles are beautiful. Their classic look is instantly recognizable to anyone who has watched a John Wayne movie, “The Rifleman,” or any number of Western films. The lever-action rifle is part of the heritage of the United States, and it is a heritage that Rossi seeks to continue with their Rossi R92 in .357 Magnum.
Lever-action rifles go back to when hardwood and steel dominated firearm making in the United States. The Rossi R92 hits this aesthetic with flying colors but is the rifle a superb firearm or all hat and no cattle? Stick with us as we review the Rossi R92 and give your report on this lever-action rifle.
Rossi R92 16” Barrel, .357 Magnum Overview
The Rossi R92 is a good-looking rifle. The first thing I noticed when I took the rifle out of the box was its looks. The model of the R92 that I reviewed sported a polished, stainless steel receiver and barrel and was a real looker.
The rifle felt as good as it looked. The short barrel gave the rifle a very handy feel, and the wood stock and handguard were the right size and shape to make the rifle a pleasure to handle and carry.
The action on the Rossi R92 is smooth. Is it the smoothest lever action I have ever used? Probably not, but recency bias reigns supreme, and I really liked how well it functioned when I took it to the range.
The sights on the Rossi R92 are an adjustable buckhorn-style rear sight and a bead front sight. They are relatively basic but also functional and easy to use. As I get older, I sometimes have issues with picking out iron sights, but they were better than many sights I have used.
If I was going to change something about the R92 sights, I would opt for a fiber optic front sight, although that does take away from the classic feel of the rifle to some extent.
|Barrel Length||16 inches|
|Overall Length||34 inches|
|Sights||Adjustable buckhorn style rear and bead front sight|
Pros & Cons
- Smooth action
- Looks are a show stopper
- Versatile compact package
- Affordable price point
- Limited aftermarket support compared to bigger-name rifles
- Factory sights can be hard on old eyes
- .357 Magnum lacks power compared to rifle cartridges
Shooting the Rossi R92 is pretty straightforward. Cartridges are loaded via a side loading gate instead of removing and loading the tube magazine.
Reliability with the Rossi R92 was excellent. I experienced no issues loading the magazine, working the lever, chambering, or extracting a cartridge.
I shot over 100 rounds of ammo through the R92. It was a combination of .357 magnum and .38 special. Additionally, I did both rapid and slow fire and shot both sitting off of a rest and standing. The Rossi R92 handled all of it incredibly well.
The accuracy of the Rossi R92 was as good as most can expect, shooting a rifle with open sights.
Good results on paper at 50 and 100 yards. Rang the steel at 200 yards. With a quality scope, I feel like I could hit the steel targets at 300 yards, although at that distance, it would be pushing the .357 magnum’s legs a bit. Especially out of the 16” barrel the rifle I reviewed had.
The overall feel of the rifle was excellent. It was light and maneuverable. It fits very well in tight spaces and feels right in my hands. The rifle felt natural to use.
I shot both .357 Magnum and .38 Special out of the R92.
I didn’t notice a ton of difference between the two cartridges in terms of felt recoil, but there was some. The lack of a rubber butt pad on the R92 did make the .357 feel slightly snappier. This is definitely something you could look into changing.
I also shot the Rossi R92, both sitting, and standing. The range I went to, Trinity Armory in Cleveland, Texas, allows pistol caliber carbines to be rifles on the pistol range.
While .357 Magnum was excluded since it is a magnum cartridge, .38 Special was not. This allowed me to shoot the rifle while standing.
Comparing the two shooting experiences, shooting the R92 standing was definitely more fun. The Rossi R92 rang the steel, on the 50-yard targets, on the pistol range with ease.
Versatile Compact Design
The Rossi R92 is a versatile and compact rifle. The ability to shoot both .357 Magnum and .38 Special from the rifle allows you to practice with the lighter recoiling and nominally more affordable .38 Special and, at the same time, have the more effective .357 Magnum available if the need arises.
The small overall footprint of the R92, 34 inches for the 16-inch barreled version, and light weight make this rifle an excellent choice for a truck gun. It can also be carried for extended distances without too much fatigue.
The Rossi R92 is an excellent value. It comes in at a lower price point than its major competitors and has proven to be a reliable rifle.
Solid, Proven Design
The Rossi R92 has been sold in the United States for over 20 years.
Lever-action rifles have been available in the United States for well over 100 years. While Rossi might not have the name cache of companies like Winchester, Marlin, or Henry, they make solid, working firearms that will put a smile on your face and not leave your wallet so empty you can’t buy ammunition.
How We Tested
I took the Rossi R92 to Trinity Armory in Cleveland, Texas, to test it out. The ability to use the rifle on both the regular rifle range and the pistol range helped me put the R92 through its paces.
A special thanks to Hornady Ammunition for providing the ammunition used for the review of the Rossi R92.
They provided their American Gunner Ammunition in both .357 Magnum and .38 Special. I also had some Hornady Leverevolution sitting around I tried as well. All ammo types worked well with the R92, and I would definitely recommend them.
I fired over 100 rounds of ammunition, mainly from Hornady, but did through in some Remingington .38 Special +P.
I fed the R92 ammo. It ate everything I gave it.
The R92 was awesome for me in this regard. I could see how a larger shooter might want a larger rifle, but the 16-inch barrel version fits me like a glove.
Customization is where the Rossi R92 lags behind some of the bigger competitors in the lever-action market. There are options out there, but not as many as for some companies.
This rifle is a real looker. Definitely catches your eye.
You will be hard-pressed to find a better intersection of price and functionality in a lever-action rifle than the Rossi R92.
One of the few areas where I think you could immediately improve the R92’s function is the front sight. A fiber optic sight would help to bring the lever-action rifle into the 21st century, even if it means losing a bit of the 19th-century romance.
Similar to the Dawson fiber optic, adding a rail to your Rossi R92 would go a long way to making the rifle more functional in a 21st-century world. If you want a scope or even a red dot, a Picatinny rail is the best way.
A leather wrap kit is a great way to enhance the aesthetics of your Rossi R92. Quality leather is made to go with a quality firearm. The hardwood and stainless steel or blued metal of a Rossi R92 look great when combined with the quality leather wraps from LeverWrap.
Henry is one of the “big boys” in the world of lever-action firearms.
The Henry Big Boy is a rifle known for its accuracy, reliability, and build quality. Available with several different looks, if you are looking to get a lever-action rifle, then the Henry Big Boy needs to be on your list of rifles to check out.
The Winchester Model 1892 carbine carries the Winchester name. One of the pioneering companies in lever-action rifle production during the 19th century, Winchester is still manufacturing quality rifles. The Winchester 1892 is the original rifle, after all, that the Rossi R92 is based upon.
Chiappa makes several replica lever-action rifles that are designed to mimic the classic designs of the 19th century and, at the same time, benefit from firearms building technology.
If you want to get a rifle that is high quality from a high-quality manufacturer, then the Chiappa 1892 is another rifle you should consider.
The Rossi R92 is definitely not a rifle that is all hat and no cattle. The lightweight rifle was able to carry its weight at the range, and I have no doubt it would be able to carry its weight around a working range, on a farm, or out hunting.
It features good accuracy and smooth operations. The feel of the rifle in your hands is excellent. Add the fact the rifle is very easy on the eyes, and you have a lever-action rifle that anyone should be happy to take home. The Rossi R92 is a worthy modern iteration of the timeless lever-action design.
Are you looking to get a lever-action rifle but want something more modern? Check out our article on the best tactical lever-action rifles.
Do you already own a Rossi R92? Leave us a comment below and let us know what you like and dislike about the rifle.