This is a guest post by JSW and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.
Not really sure why, but I do like ‘little’ bullets. My fave is the .22. Most likely because it was the first gun I owned. Or shot. My favorite ‘big-little’ bullet is the .357/38. Possibly because it’s the closest I could get to my first deer rifle, a Marlin 32-20, with an easy-to-find bullet. Of course, being able to shoot two different bullets in the same weapon doesn’t hurt, either. .38 Special is the parent of its big child, the .357 Magnum, and .38 will shoot in the magnum caliber weapons. Not really a ‘plus’ for those who want to save money since cost is nearly the same, it’s just convenient if one wants a lower recoil round in a larger weapon.
Newest to my brood of .357’s is a Taurus made Rossi clone of the Winchester ‘92 (1892), son of the Winchester ‘86 (1886), and grandson to the Winchester ‘73 (1873). And a creation of John Moses Browning. Hmmm… 1911, anyone?
For most of us, first impressions are a deciding factor in our selection of almost anything. Since Al Gore invented the internet (snicker), we can make a better decision for our first impression. A little Google-Fu encouraged my decision to get the Taurus rather than a more spendy Marlin, and a very much more spendy Winchester. Cost was $380-v-$800-v-$1200… Ummm… being the po’boy I is…
Rossi Firearms had garnered a poor reputation for quality control, which reputation improved when Taurus mfg. bought the company and initiated its brand of quality control, which, I will say, pleases me. But I get ahead of myself.
In the rifle racks at my local gun shop, this rifle stood out from a distance. Immediately apparent as being a ’Winchester’, it wasn’t until reading the barrel brand that I realized I was holding a clone. I grabbed it off the rack, worked the action and dropped the hammer (purposely on my thumb) and commented, ’This has a great trigger!’ At which time I noticed the top of the bolt safety and this began a thorough inspection.
At 37 inches long and less than six pounds, this is a light rifle. Very light. Light enough to be fired with one hand. (Of course, recoil is another issue… smirk.) Not as smooth as my well-used Marlin, the action was smooth with just two hints of roughness: at the beginning and end of the stroke. Reason: the twin bolt retaining bars have to pull away from or engage the bolt slots. (Incidentally, the strongest lever bolt conceived.) Tearing into the action didn’t resolve this, so I’ve concluded it’s a design issue more than maker’s fault. Living with a slight hesitation, unnoticed in use, is no problem.
But that dang safety… pivots to lock the firing pin.
Bluing is typical for the majority of today’s weapons. More black than blue, uniform throughout the weapon. The hammer was painted black and showed machine marks (that greatly disturbed me for a while- until I polished it with a stone… again, ahead of myself).
Wood to metal fit is OK. Not custom good but no worse than any other makes, either. Certainly not N.E.F. proud. Oil finished, it looks soft and satin and more akin to 1880 and not so offensive- but possibly less durable- than the high gloss finishes on most wood these days.
Sights are reminiscent of the 1800s as well. Typical buckhorn rear with slide elevation adjustment and bead post front. For those who want to add a scope, the barrel is pre-drilled and tapped for a scout-type long-eye relief scope. Use of which entails removing the rear sight, so pack it away safely (aside: I drill a one inch hole about four inches deep into the stock beneath the recoil pad in which to store an extra firing pin, carrier and other small tidbits, and a good way to not lose the sight if removed; wrap them in a sandwich baggie to prevent rattle and moisture problems). I won’t be putting a scope on this rifle, wanting to keep it ‘era’.
Shooting the Clone…
When it came to Zero Hour, it was a trip out back. The factory bore-sighting was right on at 100 yards for my style of shooting. Was it just good fortune? Probably.
One problem I have with the Marlin is barrel temperature. After half a dozen shots, the barrel begins to warp and the POI begins to rise. Not a lot, but six inches at a hundred yards. That isn’t a real problem when hunting. One or two shots at most, unless you’re a really bad shot- but then you shouldn’t be hunting anyway. So the problem doesn’t bother me much until it comes to a string of ten or more shots at targets like clays.
Thinking of this, I speed fired a tube (10 rounds) through the ’92, then settled the barrel across the GHB and fired two shots. Less than a quarter inch separated them at 50 yards. No heat problems today, though I will try again on a 90 degree day later this summer.
One other problem I have with the Marlin I am curious about is what I call the ‘Roll Test’.
The ’Roll’ is something we see very often in Western movies when there’s a wild bunch of desperados attacking the hero. Lucas McCain, the Rifleman, does it more than most. Too, there’s usually a war movie that has the hero doing the Roll. And I’ve had the misfortune of wanting to attempt it.
To do the Roll, lie on the ground, chamber a round, aim at the target and start rolling across the ground and fire multiple shots at the target. Of course, you’re trying to score hits.
With my semi-auto BR (Battle Rifle) or semi-auto pistols, doing the Roll is no problem. Everything happens so fast with a semi there’s little time for extraneous problems to arise. Not so with a lever action, bolt, or, I suspect, with a pump. Several attempts created the same dilemma I have with the Marlin and bolt actions.
The cartridge won’t feed upside down or at severe angles beyond 100 degrees of TDC (Top Dead Center). That’s slightly more than a right angle.
Little Brother was with me and thought I was crazy doing this kind of test, but it doesn’t seem so to me. Any time one is hunting, there’s always the possibility of needing to do a fast shot from any imaginable position, so it pays to practice them. If one is in a combat situation, there’s even more possibility when taking in-coming fire and needing to get a shot on target from any position. Again, it pays to practice the odd-ball positions as well as standing. (Aside: I also introduced Bro to shooting on the move, which he thought was fun and a little more practical.)
Overall, I will say I am happy with this little rifle and feel it will serve its purpose well. Of course, longevity is still to be discovered. Reports from across the web give this rifle high marks, especially by Cowboy/SASS shooters who put thousands of rounds through their weapons yearly.
Fit and finish is adequate and appeals to the historical side of my personality. Accuracy is perhaps a bit better than I get with the Marlin and what I’ve come to expect for such large bore pistol cartridges. MOA it isn’t, especially with my old eyes and open sights. It is Minute of Deer or Minute of Bad Guy, as I explained to Bro- he’d never heard the expressions. (Dunno why, he’s around me enough!)
Being a .357, it’s on the extreme low end of a 30-30’s power curve, and about twice what a .357 handgun will deliver. (The rifle is also available in .44 Magnum, which would nearly double the power, maybe even eclipsing the 30-30 with double the shoulder punishment.) As a self defense weapon, it’s short enough to be maneuverable indoors, hallways and small rooms, though not as handy as a handgun.
The 18 inch barrel is longer than an AR, but not really noticeable when handling. Balance is right in front of the lever, and it’s certainly quick handling as any ‘brush’ gun should be.
A leather sling, always a good addition to any weapon, held in place with Uncle Mike’s lever action barrel band swivel will keep the rifle out of the way when hiking or transitioning to handgun.
Being a short range round, a two or four power scope would be a good choice if one wanted or needed optics. (I don’t think I’d go variable, but that’s me. YMMV.) Red dots, or other style of ’dot’ sight, are becoming popular with some adapting their lever guns for urban combat, are one way to go. Again, the rear sight needs removal and safe storage.
Would I recommend this rifle to others? I do, and have. Again- everything hinges on what perceived needs are. For a short range, fast handling, accurate, smooth acting, small and medium game and self defense carbine to match your sidearm, I think one could do a lot worse. In the words of Little Brother, “This is one nice little rifle!”
Oh- I did put my SASS moniker and Wolf logo on the stock and I will be eliminating that firing pin safety and go with the half-cock safety only. But that’s me. YMMV depending on how much you like lawyers (no, Sis- I ain‘t talking about you!).
This is an entry in our nonfiction writing contest – This contest will end on June 29 2013 – prizes include:
- First Place winner will receive – A $250 dollar gift certificate courtesy of LPC Survival that is good for $250 off anything on their site, A WonderMill Electric Grain Mill courtesy of Kitchen Kneads, and a $150 gift card for Winchester Ammo from LuckyGunner.
- Second Place winner will receive – Two Emergency Seed Banks (stored in military ammo cans) with over 33 varieties of non-hybrid garden seed courtesy of The Survivalist Blog.net from M.D. Creekmore’s personal seed stash. A $260 value.
- Third Place winner will receive – a one year subscription to Personal VPN service courtesy of unspyable and a copy of my book 31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness.
- The Prepper's Guide to Surviving the End of the World, as We Know It: Gear, Skills, and Related Know-How
- The Prepared Prepper's Cookbook: Over 170 Pages of Food Storage Tips, and Recipes From Preppers All Over America!
- Dirt-Cheap Survival Retreat: One Man's Solution
- 31 Days to Survival: A Complete Plan for Emergency Preparedness