Rossi 357 Lever Action Review

Matt Johnson
Matt JohnsonPublished: September 17, 2023
Rossi 357 Lever Action Review

There are many different hunting rifles on the market, with various models, designs, and brands catering to different needs and preferences. Among these, lever-action rifles hold a special place due to their historical significance and unique blend of form and function. Specifically, the Rossi R92 lever-action rifle has garnered considerable attention among enthusiasts and practical users, so we've compiled this comprehensive Rossi 357 lever-action review.

The Rossi R92 is known for its robust performance, user-friendly design, and affordability. Despite the pistol caliber .357, The R92 is a compelling choice for hunting, target shooting, or even just casual plinking. But how does it fare when compared directly to other popular lever-action rifles? 

We've got all of the details of this iconic firearm.

What we look for in a lever action rifle.

Before we get our hands dirty with the Rossi 357 lever-action rifle, we want to cover the criteria we use when evaluating lever-action firearms.

  • Size and weight. The length and weight of the rifle can impact its maneuverability and ease of carrying, which is especially important if you'll be using it for hunting or long periods.
  • Capacity. You might need a larger or smaller magazine capacity depending on your rifle use. 
  • Action smoothness. A smooth action is crucial for quick follow-up shots and overall shooting enjoyment. Some lever-action rifles are known for having smoother actions than others.
  • Sights. The type of sights can significantly affect target acquisition and accuracy. Of course, these can always be upgraded later as well.
  • Build quality. The materials used in the construction of the rifle, such as the type of metal for the barrel and action and the type of wood or synthetic material for the stock, can impact the rifle's durability and longevity.

As we jump into our Rossi 357 lever-action rifle review, those factors are a good starting point. We'll want to keep our eye on these things as we test the rifle.

Breaking down the features of the Rossi 357.

The Rossi 357 lever action rifle, specifically the Rossi R92 model, which we're using, comes with a range of features that make it a popular choice among enthusiasts. 

Here's a comprehensive list of everything the Rossi R92 brings to the table—

  • Caliber. The rifle uses 357 MAG / 38 SPECIAL +P calibers, making it versatile for different types of ammunition. Sure, you can find the Rossi R92 with the .44 Magnum, .454 Casull, .45 Colt, and .22 LR, to name a few, but we're using the .357 Magnum in our review.
  • Capacity. Depending on the specific model, it can hold 8 to 10 rounds. The Rossi R92 we're using has an 8-round capacity. Like old-school carbines, the R92 has a tub magazine nestled under the barrel with a side loading gate.
  • Sights. The front brass bead sight is drift adjustable, and the rear sight is an adjustable buckhorn. Ours came with a Picatinny rail mounted on top so we could add red dot sights if necessary.
  • Barrel. Some models feature a classic octagon barrel profile for increased accuracy and balance. Different models have varying barrel lengths, with some having a 20" barrel, but we opted for the 16.5" on our Rossi R92.
  • Weight and length. The overall length is around 33.7 inches, which makes it a short and stocky firearm but surprisingly light at around 6 lbs.
  • Smooth action. The action of the Rossi is very smooth, even compared to the original Winchester carbines. 

Overall, the features of the Rossi R92 outshine most other lever guns on the market. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the quality of the Rossi 357 is better than we expected. It's well-constructed and made with good materials overall.

Rossi R92 Side Load and Lever

Rossi R92 lever action performance.

We couldn't wait to load up eight rounds and head out to the range with our Rossi R92 357 lever action rifle. After a few boxes of ammunition, here's what we found—


The Rossi R92 Lever Action in 357 Magnum is a notably accurate firearm. We were blown away by how accurate this old-school-style rifle can be.

The accuracy of any firearm depends on several factors, including the design, the ammunition used, and the shooter's skill. However, the R92 consistently delivered tight groupings at various ranges. 

At 50 yards, we were pegging the bullseye regularly, and even at 100 yards, the performance remains impressive. 

The rear and front sight that come standard on the R92 are simple but effective for quick target acquisition; however, with that Picatinny rail, it's easy to upgrade the sights if needed. We'll upgrade ours to get some more range out of the rifle.

Recoil reduction.

One of the most appreciated aspects of the Rossi R92 in the 357 Magnum caliber is its manageable recoil. 

The weight and design of the rifle, combined with the relatively mild recoil of the 357 Magnum round, make this firearm comfortable to shoot. We can't say that for the other calibers as we didn't try them, but for a .357, it's not too bad. 

This reduced recoil and smooth trigger pull also allow quicker follow-up shots, an advantage for hunting and target shooting. Even after running a few boxes of test rounds through the rifle, the R92 doesn't leave you feeling battered or fatigued, which speaks volumes about its user-friendly design.

Reloading and action smoothness.

Reloading the Rossi R92 is straightforward, thanks to its tube-loading design. 

The side loading gate on the right side of the receiver allows for easy and quick reloading of the magazine tube. 

While the action might feel a bit stiff when new (we literally pulled the Rossi R92 out of the box and loaded it up), it tends to smooth out considerably with use, this is common with any lever action gun, not just the Rossi.

Working the lever is a satisfying experience, adding to the overall appeal of shooting this rifle. It's a retro feel with modern performance. That's a fun combination.

The smooth lever action, convenient reloading, and the rifle's overall balance made this one of the best lever rifles we've shot.

Handling and maneuverability.

The Rossi R92 shines when it comes to handling and maneuverability. 

Its compact size and surprisingly light weight make it an excellent choice for those needing a rifle for brush hunting or carrying over long distances. Heck, it's small enough to be a truck gun for the ranch.

The balance point of the R92 is just ahead of the receiver, which we found makes it easy to carry and quick to shoulder. Of course, this might change if we opted for a longer barrel.

This nimbleness doesn't compromise stability, as the rifle remains steady when aiming, contributing to its overall accuracy.

Rossi R92 Picatinny Rail and Buckhorn Rear Sight

Comparing the Rossi 357 to other level action rifles.

If you head over to your local gun shop, you're going to find an assortment of lever actions. So, we figured we would compare the Rossi 357 to some of the other popular lever action rifles on the market. To keep these apples to apples, we only looked at other pistol calibers.

Rossi R92 vs. Henry Big Boy Brass Side Gate Polished Hardened Brass Lever Action Rifle.

The Henry Big Boy Brass Side Gate is a solid contender in lever-action rifles, known for its classic American craftsmanship and beautiful brass finish. 

However, a few differences become apparent when compared to the Rossi R92. The Rossi R92 has a more practical design, which some shooters might prefer over the polished aesthetics of the Henry Big Boy. 

The R92 is lighter, making it easier to handle and carry over long periods. While both rifles offer smooth lever actions and excellent accuracy, the Rossi R92 typically comes with a more affordable price tag, offering similar performance without the premium cost.

Sure, the Henry Big Boy is a gorgeous lever gun, but the Rossi is simply a better performer.

Rossi R92 vs. Winchester 1873 Sporter Octagon Blued Walnut Lever Action Rifle.

The Winchester 1873 Sporter Octagon is a recreation of the "Gun that Won the West," boasting a rich history and high-quality construction. 

Despite that, the Rossi R92 holds its own against this historic competitor. 

The R92's action, while not as smooth as the Winchester 1873 out of the box, tends to improve with use and can match the Winchester's performance over time. We tend to see this performance improvement at around 100-200 rounds through the barrel.

The R92's compact size and lighter weight make it more maneuverable. This is especially true in tight spaces or thick brush. 

It boils down to cost. The Rossi R92 provides a more budget-friendly option, delivering reliable performance without the price tag.

Rossi R92 vs. Uberti 1873 Special Sporting Lever Action Rifle

The Uberti 1873 Special Sporting Rifle is another high-quality reproduction of a classic, noted for its attention to detail and superb accuracy. These beautiful lever guns are something else.

The Rossi R92, on the other hand, proves it's more than just an economical alternative. 

Like the Uberti, the R92 offers excellent accuracy and a satisfying shooting experience, but it stands out in practicality. The Rossi R92 is built for rugged use, with a more durable design that can withstand harsh conditions better than the Uberti's more delicate finishes. 

The R92's lighter weight and compactness make it a more practical choice for hunters or shooters who need to carry their rifles over long distances.

Ready to buy the last lever gun you'll ever need?

The Rossi R92 lever-action rifle, particularly in the .357 Magnum variant we used, presents an outstanding combination of performance, practicality, and affordability. 

Coming in at around $600-$700 for a base model, its user-friendly design, manageable recoil, smooth action, and exceptional maneuverability make it a reliable companion for hunting, target shooting, or plinking. 

While it competes with other lever-action rifles that have a more polished aesthetic or historical significance, the Rossi R92 stands out as a wonderfully practical tool for any shooter's arsenal. 

The R92's ability to rival the performance of its competitors without the premium cost solidifies its place as a top contender in the lever-action rifle market.

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Master Outdoorsman

Matt is a seasoned outdoorsman with expertise in fishing, hunting, and wildlife. With a Master's degree in Wildlife Science, he combines his passion for nature with conservation efforts, sharing his knowledge through his writing for Fish and Game Report.

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