Review: Rossi Plinker .22

By Dave Dolbee published on in Firearms, Reviews

If there is a more welcome addition to anyone’s shooting battery than a good quality 22 caliber kit gun, I do not know what it could be. This class of light revolver, chambered for the .22 rimfire cartridge, is a fun gun, a good trainer, and even a small game handgun. There are few handguns that will see more use in a family setting than a .22 revolver.

Rossi Plinker revolver with two boxes of ammunition

The Rossi handles any type of .22 rimfire ammunition.

The simplicity of double-action revolvers makes them ideal as a first gun. While there are plenty of larger .22 caliber revolvers—that may be more accurate in the practical sense—the Rossi Plinker is light enough to be carried when hiking and fishing, and will not frighten youngsters learning to shoot. The aptly named Plinker is chambered for the .22 rimfire cartridge. While self-loaders generally demand the .22 caliber High Velocity loading, the Rossi Plinker will accept .22 Short, Long, Long Rifle, and shot cartridges.

CCI offers the CCI CB cap as a quiet practice loading. Shot loads using #12 shot are useful for rodents and snakes at close range. My 8-shot Rossi Plinker revolver is equipped with a two-inch barrel. I have seen a few four-inch barrel revolvers, and a six-inch barrel version is also available. The two-inch barrel just seems right for me. It fits in the back pocket or hangs comfortably on the belt. (If any handgun is carried for personal defense a proper holster is mandatory. For plinking the rules are less stringent.)

The Rossi Plinker features a steel frame, barrel, and cylinder. A stainless steel version might be ideal for outdoors use, but I like blue revolvers. These revolvers are built by Taurus Firearms. They purchased Rossi a few years ago, and the less expensive revolvers are now branded Rossi. Quality is higher than the previous Rossi production—on a level with Taurus revolvers.

Rear blade sight on a revolver

The Rossi is adjustable for both windage and elevation.

The Plinker may be regarded as a less expensive version of the Taurus Tracker. Both serve a purpose; the Plinker is lighter and less expensive than the Tracker. The Plinker features the reliable double-action lockwork shared with other Taurus revolvers. A transfer bar system allows the cylinder to be fully loaded, and the revolver carried safely. Fit and finish are good.

A problem with many maker’s .22 caliber ‘kit guns’ has been the skinny grips. These revolvers are often fitted with the same grips found on snub nose .38 revolvers. There isn’t a lot to hang onto and practical accuracy suffers. The Plinker features a well-designed rubber grip with a surface that Rossi calls the Ribber grip. I like this a lot. The grip allows a shooter to properly hang onto the revolver, and even with the two-inch barrel, good shooting may be done.

The Plinker features a red, fiber optic front sight. This offers an excellent aiming point. The rear sight is fully adjustable. When sighting in the revolver, I discovered it fired high as delivered. It was no problem to lower the rear sight into its lowest position, properly sighting the revolver for 15 yards. The screw was pretty stiff toward the end of its travel but the rear sight properly bottomed out and I was able to sight the revolver for 40-grain loads. The hammer and trigger are wide and designed for deliberate target shooting, but also allow good double-action practice. With a two-inch barrel, the Plinker weighs but 25 ounces.

Counter shrunk barrel crown

The Rossi .22 features a counter shrunk barrel crown, a nice touch in an inexpensive revolver.

When firing a .22 caliber revolver—and particularly one this light—it is important to properly grip the handgun. You cannot loosen the grip simply because the revolver is a light kicking .22. With the proper grip, sight picture, sight alignment and attention to the trigger press, good accuracy was obtained. I used several loads, primarily the affordable CCI Blazer loading. I also used the CCI Velociter and CCI Quiet load.

I fired several two-inch groups at 15 yards. There were a couple of five-shot groups that were smaller. Accuracy potential is high for a lightweight handgun. I ran the loads over the chronograph and was pleasantly surprised. Even from the two-inch barrel, the CCI Velociter clocked some 950 fps. I fired a few Mini Mags and had another surprise—the Mini Mags were just a few feet per second short of 1,000 fps. That is plenty of velocity from a two-inch barrel!

The Mini Mags, incidentally, are about 100 fps slower than the Velociter when fired from a rifle barrel. I fired the CCI Quiet load as well. This is a true subsonic round at 480 fps. This load is useful for short-range practice and would do for pests at close range. Range is limited.

Fiber optic front sight on a short barrel revolver

The fiber optic front sight is ideal for use in all light conditions.

Since many of us use a light .22 for personal defense practice as an understudy to a heavier caliber revolver, I fired a number of rapid fire drills, emptying the cylinder as quickly as possible. The Rossi is controllable, the action is smooth, and results were excellent. I cannot recommend a .22 caliber handgun for personal defense, but a reliable revolver that is easy to use well; accurate, and reliable just may serve.

There are some pretty ridiculous theories and stories concerning the .22 and its bouncing around in the body, even that it can travel in a vein to the heart. Please consider the science and reality involved. A .22 is actually faster than many revolver cartridges and has something that is an aid in wound potential—penetration. It doesn’t have frontal mass or bullet weight, but it does have adequate penetration. Most .22 caliber 40-grain bullets will penetrate 12-14 inches of ballistic gelatin. That is respectable if not ideal. I would prefer a bullet that penetrates straight to the vitals to one that bounced.

When skinning small game, I have never noted a tendency of the .22 to bounce, although rabbits, squirrels and even raccoons are pretty small. In investigating a number of .22 caliber shootings as a peace officer, I was surprised by the through and through chest wounds observed in average-sized individuals. No bouncing was apparent. While I regard the Rossi Plinker as a fun gun, it does have a certain utility as a personal defense handgun if properly handled. Peace of mind for those that cannot handle a .38 is priceless. As for my example, it is going to be used a lot. It is too much fun to leave at home when I head to the range.

Have you shot the Rossi Plinker? When would you use a .22 revolver? Share your answers in the comment section.

SLRule

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

View all articles by Bob Campbell

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Comments (18)

  • Hide Behind

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    I am a die hard 22 fan for over 60 years, and have owned quite a few no longer in production 22 rimfire variants.
    The 22 rounds today sre marvelous creations, with many variations.
    Do not favor lead but like jacketed.
    Any one ever kill anything larger than a spider
    with 22shotshell. I once hit a medium size rattl
    er from about gifteen feet and it didn’t flich and 5 rounds later it was still writhing around biting itself.
    I knowRossi has improved its quality over past years as the old models were junk.
    I know their new rifles are great and fun plinkers.
    Many a snob gun owner would be surprised if they found out Taurus has been making precision parts for years for many different brand weapons; Revolvers, rifles, and srmiauto pistols.
    Prefer at least 4″ barrels, and contrary to author even the dubsonics will take rabbits and porcupines and coons or possum up close.
    Nevrr favored snubbys except as hide outs, and this by authors said to be accurate at, who the hell plinks at only 15’?

    Reply

  • steve salkeld

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    I am glad you included trigger pull in the comments. But I also think a msrp or street price should be included in the reviews also. Other than that, great article

    Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

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      Steve,
      We’ll make a note of that and do our best to ensure it is included in the future. ~Dave Dolbee

      Reply

  • Bob M

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    Any comments about the cause of shortage or lack of availability of this gun?

    Reply

  • Bob M

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    You misread my comment! I did not imply that Bob got the gun under the table or any other negative inference. Just that some writers stretch their stories for a deal !

    Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

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      Bob M,
      Now that… I will agree with you wholeheartedly! That is why Bob includes load data and performance statistics in so many of his articles. Not much in the way of reloading for a rimfire .22 of course, and given the short barrel, I am not sure shooting for group size at any distance would have made much sense. However, Bob Campbell did include the trigger pull statistics in another comment.

      Another note (general) about the article title. A review is just that, a review. A Range Report includes load data/group size, trigger pull weights etc.—more inline with the data you were referencing.

      Sorry if I came off a little harsh, but I am protective of my writers and The Shooter’s Log as a whole. Our skin is thick and we are far from perfect. Feel free to question my editing skills, their writing or any of our conclusions/facts. We don’t walk on water and sharp-eyed readers keep us on our toes. In fact, I’ll bet Bob standardly includes trigger pull in his next review article!

      Thank you for reading and commenting. ~Dave Dolbee

      Reply

    • Sid H

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      Mr. Dolbee and ALL authors,
      Thank you for you efforts to advance our collective knowledge of weapons, ammunition, tactics and political developments.
      As for the slight omissions, errors and grammatical blunders… In a way they add to the discussion. So much fun to hear from the rest of us experts about them.
      Uh oh… I see that I have a grammatical error… In solidarity I’ll leave it.
      Once again THANK YOU one and all for your efforts on our behalf.

      Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

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      Sid,
      That was worth a good belly laugh. Thank you! ~Dave Dolbee

      Reply

  • Bob M

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    Also comment should be made as to how and where the tested sample was acquired .. Some guns are made special for testing

    Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

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      I know Bob personally. He hunts every local gun and pawn shop for miles—haggles, trades, and uses whatever money his wife allows. He also does a fair bit of gunsmithing. I have received multiple calls from Bob while at a pawn shop asking if I would be interested in a story before he buys the gun. The same is true when a gun comes in for repair and the owner allows him to borrow it for a few days. If the gun warrants Bob’s interest, and mine, I commission the story. Your assertion is not only off base, it is without merit and unwarranted.

      BTW, I have been writing in the hunting and shooting industry for 20 years. I have yet to receive a gun that was “made special for testing.” ~Dave Dolbee

      Reply

    • Bob Campbell

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      Dave,
      You are the best editor and absolutely on the money my friend!

      Funny I am presently doing a trigger job on a good 1911, a new 10mm.
      Robb, an editor, received one for testing with a 4.75 lb trigger. Steve, another writer, received one with a five pound pull. Mine breaks clean but heavy at 7.0 pounds! Maybe it was ‘special’ for me— as I can fix it. All it took was an hour or two!

      Almost all of my guns are purchased retail or at a fair price in the used market. To be frank some makers actually try to dodge some of us for various reasons!

      Keep reading, Bob M,

      Bob Campbell

      BTW– consider the economics of a ‘gun made special. It isn’t feasible

      If you want a gun made special it is Wilson Combat or Ed Brown.

      Reply

  • Bob M

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    I concur with the comment about trigger pull !

    Reply

  • DrMark

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    Any review of a revolver should include thorough discussion of the trigger pull, in terms of both DA & SA pull quality and DA & SA pull weight. Without that, the review is incomplete.

    Reply

    • Bob Campbell

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      Trigger pull, double action, is smooth but heavy at 16 pounds
      Single action is crisp enough at 6 lbs.

      the problem with the .22 is this- if you lighten the trigger action the rim fire cartridge doesn’t take a hard enough smack from the hammer. So- a light trigger equals poor ignition reliability. For the price the Rossi is good. It should smooth up with some use.

      As for availability, it goes in cycles. Few makers make the same gun year round, they make certain runs of different guns. The Plinker comes and goes on the shelf.

      Hope this was helpful.

      Reply

    • DrMark

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      Yes Bob, helpful — thanks.

      Yeah, I know .22 revolvers in general have heavy DA pulls. Glad to hear DA is smooth and SA reasonably crisp. Not all low-cost guns provide that.

      Reply

  • Doug

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    How come there aren’t hot links to the manufacturer in the article? It would allow us to check out what is discussed.

    Reply

  • Bob M

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    Try to find one! Nobody has any stock!!

    Reply

    • Dave Dolbee

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      I noticed. We had them when I assigned the story, out we are out as well. ~Dave Dolbee

      Reply

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