Are Rossi Rifles Worth the Money? (Actually, Much More!)

I grew up a fan of cowboy guns — single-action revolvers and lever-action rifles. In those days, if you wanted a cowboy lever-action rifle, you had two choices: Winchester or Marlin. The primary visual difference was in the stock. The Winchesters had a straight stock, and the Marlins featured a pistol grip stock.

The rifles wielded by all my cowboy heroes had a straight stock, so it was a Winchester for me. Did I have one? No. Could I afford one? No. One of my relatives had a Winchester 92 in .32-20 with the barrel so worn I couldn’t hit a 5-gallon pail from 40 feet away. However, it was a Winchester… so, it was fun to take to the woods even if I couldn’t hit anything with it.

Rossi R92 lever-action rifle with wood furniture, right profile
This Rossi R92 combines a traditional hardwood stock with a blued finish to deliver a big-bore rifle suitable for the backwoods or the back forty.

By the time I was grown up (and could finally buy myself a lever-action rifle), the clones had entered the market. Thank the Heavens for clones. Winchesters were out of my price range, but I was able to buy two rifles made by Rossi. One is a Model 92 in .44 Magnum. That’s my go-to rifle for anytime you younger guys would grab your AR (you know, backpacking through bear country or checking out strange noises in the house at night).

The other Rossi rifle is my .30-30 deer rifle. It was called a Rio Grande when I bought it. In today’s Rossi lineup, it would be the Model 95. I’m a part-time rifle user, not a died-in-the-wool outdoorsman because I live in the city now. The Rossis’ suit me fine.

I bought a Winchester lever-action once. It was a collector’s edition Model 1887 — 1 of 200. I was afraid to take it out, scared I’d scratch it. I do have a couple of handguns in my collection that are worth more if they have never been shot, but I’m basically just not that kind of collector. So, I sold my Winchester to a genuine collector.

Three Brazilian companies — Braztech, Taurus, and Rossi — have done so many deals together over the years, it’s sometimes hard not to think of them as one company. As I write this, Rossi makes its own rifles, but Taurus employees operating Rossi equipment are making Rossi revolvers. The rifles currently being made by Rossi employees are still clones of the Winchesters or Marlins, but they have been modernized, i.e., made with better parts on better equipment, but still affordable.

The Model 92

Let’s start with the Model 92. When I bought mine, it went by the name El Jefe. It’s stainless steel with wood furniture and a 20-inch barrel. And, while I don’t venture into bear country, I have sons and grandsons who are much more adventurous than me. They know that they’re welcome to take El Jefe on their adventures.

Rossi R92 lever-action rifle triple black, right profile
The 16-inch barrel R92 Triple Black carbine is designed to resist the worst of elements. The stock and forend are wood painted with a durable all-weather black on black splatter paint. All metal parts are coated with black Cerakote finish for extreme durability.

We shoot .44 Special in it when we’re shooting for fun but load it up with 10 rounds of .44 Magnum when we might have to do some serious shooting. The Rossi Model 92 is a well-built replica of the Winchester 92.

Rossi now offers the R92 in .357 Magnum/.38 Special +P, .44Magnum/.44 Special, .454 Casull, or .45 Colt in finishes of hardwood and black, hardwood and polished stainless steel, black wood and black Cerakote, and black oxide and gold. Barrel lengths are available in either 16.5, 18, 20, or 24 inches, round or octagonal.

Rossi R95 and Rio Grande

Instead of the Rio Grande, Rossi’s new .30-30 deer rifle is called the R95. It’s available in polished black oxide with either a 16.5- or 20-inch barrel. The R95 is based on the Marlin 336. The Rimfire lever-action is called the Rio Bravo with .22 LR versions available with polymer or wood furniture in polished black or gold plus a Cerakote and gold finish.

Rossi R95 lever-action rifle with Walnut wood furniture, topped with a scope, right quartering-away profile
It’s .30-30 time with the Rossi R95 and its walnut finish, 5+1 capacity, and the fact that it’s compatible with rails and handguards that work with the Marlin 336.

My Rossi rifles have smooth actions, the fit and finish are excellent. They are accurate. In short, they are everything you expect a lever-action rifle to be. Both rifles were equipped with adjustable, buckhorn rear sights and a large blade front sight. I replaced one of the buckhorns with a Skinner peep sight.

In addition to lever-actions, rimfire rifles are available in bolt-action and pump models. The bolt-actions all have polymer stocks in a variety of colors with 16-inch barrels. The same is true of the semi-automatics. There is a WMR version of both the bolt-action and semi-automatic. These have 21-inch barrels.

The Gallery Gun

Next up is one of my favorites, the gallery gun. These come in two models, one with polymer stock and the other with a wood stock. Both have 18-inch barrels. I don’t know if you know the history of gallery guns or not, but they are small bore, single-shot or pump-action rifles, typically chambered in .22 Short. One of the more popular of these guns is the Winchester Model 62.

Rossi Rio Bravo lever-action .22 LR rifle, black with wood furniture
The Rossi Rio Bravo is a .22 LR based on the company’s popular line of R92 lever-action firearms.

I have a Marlin gallery gun with patent marks listed as 1892, 1895, and 1904. There is no model number printed on the gun, but I have found pictures of a Model 20A that looks like it. These guns were initially used in home shooting parlors. Sadly, home galleries began to decline in the early 20th century. However, gallery guns went on to be used in shooting galleries in carnivals, fairs, and amusement parks.

Gallery guns are still manufactured, although these days they are primarily used for plinking and small game hunting. Rossi has recreated the gallery gun in a nice $400 model that handles .22 Short, Long, and Long Rifle cartridges. Believe me when a say that it is a delight to shoot.

Circuit Judge

This brings us to a firearm that is unique to Rossi, though based on a Taurus design. I’m talking about the Circuit Judge. The Circuit Judge is a combination rifle and shotgun with a revolving cylinder. The heart of the gun is the Taurus Judge revolver, only this one has a rifle stock and an 18-inch barrel.

Chambered for both .45 Colt and .410 Bore shotshells up to 3-inch Magnum, the Circuit Judge has a single-action/double-action trigger system that allows for rapid fire or precision shooting. The number of different types of .410 ammo on the market these days makes it a formidable defensive weapon. We have ours deployed by the backdoor where it is ready to take on four-legged varmints in the form of coyotes or bobcats, or two-legged home invaders.

Rossi Circuit Judge with the loaded cylinder open atop multiple boxes of .410 shotshells
Chambered for both .45 Colt and .410 bore shotshells up to 3-inch Magnum, the Circuit Judge is a diverse hybrid rifle inspired by the heralded Taurus Judge revolver.

It is a perfect self-defense weapon which can be easily handled by a man or woman. Recoil is practically nothing and easily managed. The Circuit Judge has bright fiber-optic sights — a single orange sight in front and two green ones in the rear. There is also a rail for mounting a scope or red dot sight if desired.

There is one more on Rossi’s list of rifles you may find a need for. The Rossi single-shot survival rifle is a .45 Colt/.410 Bore that can be taken down small enough to pack in your backpack. I see it as a rifle/shotgun that you can pack away in your Jeep, four-wheeler, pickup, or boat to have handy in case you’re in the outback and find yourself in survival mode.

Rossi firearms provide excellent service for shooters looking for a good value. What do you think of Rossi rifles? What’s your favorite model? Share your thoughts in the Comment section.

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