Firearm History

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

Rossi R92 lever-action rifle, stainless with wood furniture, right profile

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.

  • Rossi Survival Rifle chambered in .410 and .45 Colt, black, left profile
  • Skinner Sights peep sight on aa Rossi 92 lever action rifle
  • Rossi Circuit Judge with the loaded cylinder open atop multiple boxes of .410 shotshells
  • David Freeman shooting a .30-30 lever-action rifle from a shooting bench
  • Rossi Rio Bravo lever-action .22 LR rifle, black with wood furniture
  • Rossi R92 lever-action rifle with wood furniture, right profile
  • Rossi R92 lever-action rifle, stainless with wood furniture, right profile
  • Rossi R92 lever-action rifle triple black, right profile
  • Rossi R95 lever-action rifle with Walnut wood furniture, topped with a scope, right quartering-away profile

About the Author:

David Freeman

David is an NRA Instructor in pistol, rifle and shotgun, a Chief Range Safety Officer and is certified by the State of Texas to teach the Texas License to Carry Course and the Hunter Education Course. He has also owned and operated a gun store. David's passion is to pass along knowledge and information to help shooters of all ages and experience levels enjoy shooting sports and have the confidence to protect their homes and persons. He flew medevac helicopters in Vietnam and worked for many years as a corporate pilot before becoming actively involved in the firearm industry.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (12)

  1. I recently purchased a Rossi 92 in .357, with 16.5 in barrel. They put in wrong spring in the tube and i could not load more than 4-5 bullets in .38, and loading the sidegate was painful and bloody. I have cut the spring twice to arrive at a workable load amount, about 9” off the tube spring.

    The rifle nowwill load 7-8 .38s. I think that is about right. All bullets cycle thru ok with a few double loading (grrrr) but if I cycle the lever quickly with the gun perfectly verticle, it works pretty well.
    There needs to be some serious work done on the gate as it is very sharp all around. As well, the spring on the eject is strong enough to launch a bullet nearly 20 feet. That needs corrected.

    The gun needs serious tuning even now. Grrrrrrrr!

  2. I have read good and bad about
    Rossi. Frankly, I must have got a good one, Rossi, 92, 44mag, 20 inch. After about 100 rounds…still no problem, and still on target.
    Now, I have heard , and know folks that shoot, and do not clean their weapons for a few outings.
    Me, on the other hand, clean after every outing. Just what I have been taught since I was a kid. I have taught my kids the same , and on to my grandkids.
    Takes time, but well invested for reliable weapons.
    Good shoots to al.

  3. At the risk of bringing the black choppers descending on my property I’ll post this…I have no permit to carry, but when I do its a little customized Rossi .38…many many rounds thru it for practice….had a .44 Spec.(M720)…traded it on a 696 S&W ( wanted the real deal, still have it ) ….they all do the same thing, smoke, flame,and make a big noise. I can live with a Rossi.

  4. I e had a few different Rossi guns in this mix a 92 model in 38/357 as well a pump 22 gallery gun, both guns served me well, were smooth shooters and did not break the bank! Most hate I see about Taurus Rossi or a lot of Spanish guns is from a few bad experiences, as well overblown stories told by owners of other Makes! Buy what ya like, I, will continue to buy and use both Taurus, Rossi and others as I know they work and I’ve tested them myself!

  5. We had a Circuit Judge about ten years ago. In .45 Colt, it had minute-of-barndoor accuracy at only 50 yards. The ex-wife has it, and she can keep it.

  6. I have a modest collection of Rossi rifles – a SS Model 92 in .357mag/.38 spc; a blued Model 92 in .44mag; and a Circuit Judge in .22LR/.22mag. Yes, the last one is correct – Rossi made a Circuit Judge in .22 caliber!
    All three rifles are great to shoot, with smooth actions and ample accuracy for my old, tired eyes!
    The only issue I have with any of these guns is with the Circuit Judge. The cylinder and forcing cone have a gap (maybe 1/8”) between them that allows a lot of hot gasses to escape. My grandson actually burned his forearm while learning how to shoot it! You can’t use a typical rifle hold with the Circuit Judge; you need to keep your left hand very close to the cylinder and form more of a crook with your arm. And, the forcing cone is HUGE. You can literally stick your little finger into the forcing cone! But, even with these issues, the Circuit Judge is accurate enough to take rabbits, squirrels and four-legged varmints at moderate ranges.

  7. My first firearm was a Rossi Model 37 Gallery pump action. Got it for Christmas in 1974. Very well made and very accurate. Still have it. Countless thousands of rounds through it. Love that gun!

  8. I bought a rossi pump 22.Worst purchase I’ve ever made.Worked fine for maybe 50 shots then will not feed or eject most of the time then the rear site fell off.I should have bought a Henry like I wanted but was thinking it should be fine it’s not and just sits in the closet.Never again will I purchase a Rossi,Taurus

  9. Rossi must have greatly improved their quality control! About 2010 tried several Rossi Lever Action rifles, in both 357 and 44 chamberings. Several of them wouldn’t cycle, right there in the gun store. Over the course of a few years, only to find that new Rossi Lever Action rifles would need to be “Tuned” right out of the box. Decided that I would buy a model 94 in 44 mag, instead, but they were no longer being built by then. Thank goodness for HENRY.

  10. I owned a Winchester model 94 in 30-30, I grew up watching the westerns so when I could afford (or maybe not really) I bought mine. Somewhere along the line it went away in a trade. Then I bought a model 9422. Beautiful rifle, perfect fit and finish, very accurate and smooth. It too went away in a trade. Flash forward and Winchester has become almost unobtainium. Still longing for a lever action in a pistol caliber that I already reload and know quite well I read and shopped around and broke down and bought a R92 in 357, blue steel, 20” barrel. Half the price of a Winchester. I read enough to know that it would be gravely and need some smoothing up. It’s very accurate and with 38 special sounds almost suppressed. Good for a possible bugout/truck gun without the evil black rifle stigma, 10 rounds of accurate fire, not so loud as to alert all the zombies in a five mile radius and light and handy. Lots of tlc and cycling the action with inert rounds has smoothed the action. Fit and finish is rough in some areas but good in the mechanicals, though again, needed a little stoning and polishing. I would recommend it. My friend has recently purchased one in 454 casull, stainless. It’s a newer production and it works reliably and it looks great.

  11. “The rifles wielded by all my cowboy heroes had a straight stock, so it was a Winchester for me.” Feeling the same way, and comparing the two choices at the time (the clones had not been invented yet), I walked out of the Firestone Hardware store, down the street into a pawn shop, and saw a very pretty, brand new, straight stock, hanging on the wall. I asked to see it. It was about $24 LESS than the Winchester and Marlins at the time, but the bluing was much better, and the wood stock looked like it was under glass. Working the lever, I saw the trigger also went with the lever (no pinching the trigger finger), and the total stroke of the lever was more like only 30 degrees, meaning one could keep the hand on the stock, and just flip the lever its full stroke just with the fingers. That is when I learned Browning (BL-22) had entered the mix. A quarter million rounds, and about 5 firing pins later, and it is still fun to shoot. While it is nice to see some of the clones, the Rossi’s, and the new Henry’s, something about that short throw lever on the BL-22, which is almost as fast as a semi-auto, is just hard to give up.

  12. I use to have a Marlin 1895 in 45-70 and wish I still had it. But I also had a Rossi pump action 22lr and it was fun to shoot.

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