Rossi R92 magnum 357 lever action rifle title

Rossi R92 .357 magnum lever action rifle – hands on review

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Look at this gun. What a thing of beauty, eh? How could you drag this thing through briars and brambles on your way to your deer stand? Polished stainless steel, close-grained hardwood stock… this rifle is built to not only harvest deer (or whatever you use it for) – it’s meant to look good while doing that. I like Rossi lever action rifles. I owned one in .45 Colt for a good while, and took deer with it. I swapped it to a good friend, a contractor, in exchange for work on our house. He, in turn, took deer with it as well with my handloads. It has proven its worth. It was a plain-jane model – wood stock with blued metal. The thing shot well, though, and handled my 260-grain cast flat point bullet handloads with ease. It tended to put most of those bullets in a pretty small circle at 50 yards. It held 10 cartridges, and was easy to tote around and shoot.

That brings us to our rifle-of-the-day… the Rossi R92 in .357. Available in either blue or stainless in calibers .357 to .454 Casull, the breakdown is as follows…

  • Five models in .357 Magnum, in polished black or stainless. Octagonal barrel available.
  • Six models in .44 Magnum in the same finishes.
  • Four models in .45 Colt in the same finishes.
  • One model in .454 Casull, polished stainless.

There are also two models in .22 LR. I have reviewed them – check out that review for an overview of that Rossi gun, in two finishes. That makes 18 different lever guns made by our Brazilian maker. But, what is Rossi? Let’s look at what I said about the company in that review…

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A Bit Of History

Rossi has been making guns since 1889, when Amadeo Rossi founded the company. Located now in Sao Leopoldo, Brazil, the company has been building guns for 132 years and is a large maker of lever action rifles. In 1997, BrazTech International was created in order to be the exclusive importer of Rossi guns in North America. Before that, their guns were distributed by Interarms, located in Alexandria, Virginia. Rossi is now owned by Taurus, and distribution is handled by the parent company. The Rossi company is still run by family members and is dedicated to producing the best firearms it can.

I’ve also owned a couple of Rossi revolvers – a snub-nosed .357 and one with a six-inch barrel. They both had highly-polished metal areas and rubber grips. The longer one was a tack driver. It’s too bad that Rossi doesn’t make handguns any more. They were a good buy for the money. The company has shown, in my opinion, a marked increase in production quality since Taurus bought them. Mating edges are straighter, finishes more even, metal-to-metal fit is very nice… I like the newer product a lot. You get a lot of gun for your money with the R92.

Overall Length:42.5"
Weight:6 lbs., 2 oz. (weighed on my digital scale)
Barrel Length:20"
Finish:Stainless Steel
Capacity:12 Rounds
Action Type:Lever Action
Trigger Pull:3 lbs., 12 oz. (average of 10 pulls)
Caliber: 357 MAG / 38 SPECIAL +P
Safety: Receiver-mounted safety
"Real-World" Price:$650

Rossi R92 357 Magnum Lever Action Rifle - receiver top

If you must have a safety, at least make it unobtrusive. This one works well.

Rossi R92 357 Magnum Lever Action Rifle - receiver right

Rossi R92 357 Magnum Lever Action Rifle - rear sight

Traditional buckhorn rear sight

Stainless barrel band

The brass-beaded front sight post

Rossi R92 357 Magnum Lever Action Rifle buttstock

Rossi R92 357 Magnum Lever Action Rifle base plate

Rossi R92 357 Magnum Lever Action Rifle barrel engraving

Rossi R92 357 Magnum Lever Action Rifle action open

Range Time with the R92

Rossi R92 357 Magnum Lever Action Rifle target factory 125-grain JHP

Factory 125-grain JHP … not sure what happened here!

Rossi R92 357 Magnum Lever Action Rifle target handload

Handload: 160-grain cast SWC over 7.1 grains of Long Shot

I ventured out to my backyard range on a blustery, cold day recently with the shiny R92. I set up a few targets at about 45 yards and went back to my bench. I managed to put some holes in the targets, but did nothing really notable. It wasn’t the gun, for sure – I owned another Rossi R92 that was more than accurate enough, and (as I described above) had taken deer. But, the ammo shortage put a definite crimp on the shooting activities. I just didn’t have enough factory .357 (or even .38 Special) on hand to give the gun a fair trial. It is fairly obvious that more exploration would need to be done in order to find a load that was accurate enough to hunt deer or other similar-sized game with. That would entail trying several different factory loads. But, with ammo in such short supply these days, I resorted to shooting just two loads – first, the only factory .357 load I had – a Fiocchi 125-grain JHP load and my tried-and-true handload listed above. I knew from the get-go that I was probably not going to shoot stellar groups with the small amount of ammo that I had. I also would probably not have readers (after looking at my wonderful, one-hole-targets) run to their cars to head out to buy this rifle simply because of its accuracy that I so proficiently demonstrated. Truth be told, I just wanted to shoot this rifle for two reasons: first, to see if all that “shiny-ness” might put me off my aim, and also to compare it to the other R92 I owned in .45 Colt. It did very well in both categories.

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Suitable Loads

Let’s talk for just a moment about using the .357 to hunt deer-sized game. Some folks say that the .357 is not enough for whitetails, while others may read those comments about the .357 not being enough as they pull deer steaks out to grill that they harvested with that “inadequate” .357. I would agree that the round is marginal at best when using a revolver, but the round out of a rifle barrel becomes a different beast. You would need to use a heavy-bullet-heavy-load combination in order for the round to be at its best on deer-sized game. Once you found that load for this rifle, I wouldn’t hesitate to take it afield during deer firearms season. (I might have second thoughts, though, about taking this beautifully-finished stainless wonder into the scratchy, briar-y woods). 

At any rate, this 92 is but one of many variations on the traditional lever rifle theme, the gun that has probably taken more deer than any other action type. I have no doubt that, once you’ve found the proper load, you should have much success on the hunt. One factor that will help you in the field is the gun’s excellent, less-than-four-pound trigger… It was a joy to shoot.

Summing Up

If you are in the market for a lever rifle in a pistol caliber like .357 Magnum, you need to check this gun out. Whether you get this dressy version or the more subdued blued metal/hardwood stock, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. And, if you are one who likes manual safeties, this gun will comply. From its traditional stock to its polished stainless barrel band, the R92 will be one gun that will not disappoint. Another point – if you want to bring out your inner cowboy, this again is one rifle that will do that for you. Although the .357 Magnum wasn’t around when the Winchester 1892 first saw the light of day, that rifle was a very effective tool for cowboys, ranchers, law enforcement and other, less-savory, characters. Thanks to companies like Rossi, the old lever guns are going stronger than ever. I have two more lever rifles on my immediate review docket, a Mossberg and a Henry, and have already looked at Rossi’s new .22LR lever rifle. the Rio Bravo. All these guns are well worth a second look. 

When the current no-guns-or-ammo situation eases, do yourself a favor and take a look at this slick, lightweight powerhouse – I think you’ll be glad you did. As always, keep ‘em in the black and stay safe!

  1. Good review Mike. I too, have fired the .45 Colt version of Rossi’s Lever Action stable, and I agree, it’s a well designed and well made gun. Back when I still hunted, I often toyed with the idea of a .357 Mag/.38 Spec lever gun. What best to compliment the .357 Mag model 66 I carried as a sidearm. Just seems real logical IMO, and I imagine the old cowpokes felt the same way riding the range (though 44-40 and .45 LC were THE cartridges of that era).
    Never bought one though, and I dropped Deer season for Elk, and that required something that had a bit farther of a reach.
    I agree with you too, that it’s too bad Rossi dropped out of the handgun business. They put out a really good product at affordable pricing. Nothing fancy, just well made and reliable.

    1. Bemused, sounds like we have a lot in common where these lever guns are concerned. I really enjoyed shooting mine when I owned it, and it really did a number on deer under 100 yards. As usual, I appreciate your comments!

    1. I have wanted one in 357 for some time now! The last time i was in my local gun shop i saw two Marlin’s in 357 for 599.99 and i did want one! my problem is i walked in with 1200.00 in my pocket and saw a 9mm Carbine i also wanted and as you know these new pistol caliber ARs aint cheap! And i wanted one of those for even longer then the lever in 357 so i bought it.I went back a couple of weeks later to buy one of the lever guns and they were both gone :>( So since i have walked into that same store ,every friday since in hopes they had one come in? Hasnt happened yet and no matter how much i pray and hope, im not seeing any new ones show up? :>/ I already have a 38Spcl handgun and of course i wanted to get a level gun in 357 because i could shoot the 38 in it as well. But i ended up with a Marlin chambered in 45/70 and man…… its a cannon! LOL i just love it and want one in 357 even more now??? LOL

      1. Michael, yeah, the .357 rifle makes a great companion gun to (with?) a revolver. Shooting .38 Spl out of both of them makes sense. The old .38, out of a rifle barrel, pushed .357 velocities out of a handgun. Hopefully you’ll be able to find one soon. Thanks for writing! (P.S. – I agree with you about the 9mm AR – I have one and they are fun!!)

      2. I just bought my today .Rossi 357/38 stainless still. From the,
        Lever Action Hunter. Very nice young man, knolagable on the lever action rifles. I am waiting for pick up.
        He is from TX.
        I paid total shipping and insurance ,949 . You think it is a fair price?
        Thanks John

  2. Hi Mike; I have this exact rifle and enjoy it tremendously. It did break the little steel cylinder that holds the extractor, but I found a less brittle aftermarket part from, and it was easily replaced.
    Real world price for me in 2Q2020 was about $800, because availability was very poor at the time.
    Being a clone of the Winchester, it’s a bit finicky to disassemble and reassemble, but there are good instructional vids on YouTube for that.
    I love it. It’s much lighter and handier than my Marlin 336 in 30-30 (also SS). It is also kinda cool that it’s effectively a PCC, and I can carry my S&W R8 together with it and only need one ammo.
    That said, it has been a long time since I shot it because of the ridiculous price for .38 Special and .357 Magnum. However, I still pull it out of the safe every now and then, and in the words of my wife “fondle it” and action the lever with dummy rounds!

    1. Marc, I get it on the lack of ammo but you make a good point – two guns, one ammo source. That was not lost on the pioneers out west in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Thanks for writing!

  3. O/A, well written. Is the capacity based on .38SPL or .357MAG? Seems out of place compared to a 24″ BBL. And, please use a different, if not “darker” text/font; your articles are difficult to read as printed. THX! J

    1. John J, I think that’s based on the magnum-length cases. I’ll pass on the text color issue – thanks for writing!

  4. Shoots as good (bad) as the Marlin 1894C I got rid of. Switched to a Ruger 77/357 that would have put ALL shots in the red. That Ruger bolt gun is just dead nuts accurate; in fact it will shoot six different loads to same POI with no adjustments (in .357). 38 Spl is a different story, shoots low and left, but can be compensated for if I wanted to. The Rossi Rio Bravo .22LR that I have is a great shooter; really like that gun. My Ruger 77/357 is matte stainless’ I think that Rossi should offer that finish for the R92. Way too shiny for me.

    1. Just Me, those Ruger 77s in pistol calibers were great guns. Friend Duane has, in his shop, a camo one in .44 Mag now – nice deer rifle. Appreciate you writing again!

  5. Really liked hearing about the “pistol” caliber lever action rifles. I bought my first one, a carbine, from a J.C. Penney’s store 1969. I have a revolver in the same caliber. They are a sweet pair. With the new hornady lever action bullets in 44 magnum and 357 magnum there are new receipes for reloading. The 44 can reach out further, effectively.

  6. I have had a number Marlin’s and Rossi’s 357’s. Marlin wins hands down. Fit, Finish, Action, Accuracy, Safety all better on a Marlin. The only thing the Rossi’s have going for them, once they are tuned right, is that they are have the 92 cowboy action.

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