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Thread: My lever action defensive rife or "Cowboy assault rifle" if you will...

  1. #1
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    My lever action defensive rife or "Cowboy assault rifle" if you will...

    First off, I love lever guns. They have an old school John Wayne type coolness that is absolutely undeniable. True, they are outclassed by today's AR when it comes to being the modern self defense rifle, but they are still functional, and very fun. I depend on my .300 Blackout SBR as my home defense, gun, my SHTF gun, and I'd like take it everywhere, but being an SBR it comes with a bunch of pesky federal rules... the most PITA is having to get a permission slip to travel across state lines with it, so I will be building a pistol lower for it in the future, but there are some places where every AR is frowned upon.

    Enter the good old cowboy lever gun. It was designed as a fighting gun. No reason to think they couldn't still function as one. I do like them, and most idiot liberals aren't so scared of them that they are as yet being vilified in the press. I decided I needed to build one up that could serve as a defensive weapon. I call it the "Cowboy assault rifle" sometimes just to **** off the liberals. Of course, this is not intended to do any "assaulting" on any others rights. I may do some hunting with it, but it will primarily be a self defense gun against any man or beast that intends me or mine harm. It will be a travel gun that I will have with me in the Jeep for my camping (overlanding) trips, because it should be much less hassle in more restrictive states, and in Canada. Being purely defensive in nature, I only need a close range, but powerful weapon, so I chose a Rossi 92 in .44 mag.

    I wanted the accuracy (and cool factor) of a heavy octagon barrel, however I wanted a short little carbine, but nobody made a carbine with the octagon barrel. The 24" barrel was way too long for a defensive weapon, and you'd have to hand load to get the best use out of that barrel anyway with a pistol cartridge.

    I ended up starting with a 24" rifle (in order to get the heavy octagon barrel) then had it shortened to 17" by a gunsmith I met through an online forum in my state, who also replaced the front sight with a white bead sight that's much easier to pick up for my tired old eyes. It still holds 9 rounds, and ballistics is very good out of this length. Side note: I got lucky, and it balances very well.

    The action was very smooth on the Rossi, but the lever was a finger crusher, and the stupid curved metal butplate hurt my shoulder, so I didn't shoot it very often. By then, my gunsmith lost interest in my project, (he started concentrating on 1911s) and I had to find another gunsmith.

    Once I found a new guy, a larger loop from Steve's guns was put on, and no more crushed fingers. I'm not a fan of buckhorn sights, so I went with Steve's guns again for their rear peep sight that replaces the stupid bolt safety. It matches up well with a white bead sight I had put on the front. The dovetail in the barrel from the old rear sight was filled, and a section of picatinny from an AR rail system was mounted on the flat portion of the barrel over it for a Sig Romeo 5 red dot sight. I really love red dot sights. Being right handed, yet left eye dominant, a red dot is the fastest most accurate way I can engage a target. Now, I can see the rail in the bottom of the peep if I take off the red dot, but I can still get a good sight picture, and they are still useable as back up. I keep the allen key to it under the leather ammo cuff made by a guy I met on a lever gun facebook page. That stupid curved metal butstock was that last thing to go. It was cut straight, and a Hogue recoil pad added, making this gun shoot much nicer to an old retired cripple.

    Overall I am very happy with the resulting gun. There were problems. First I couldn't find what I wanted in a factory gun. Then things had to be changed, finger lever too small, curved butplates suck, I hate buckhorn sights, barrel too long, I want a red dot... It was not as easy to piece together as an AR, but it came together.

    Now that it's done, I love it. It shoots point of aim, (with Hornady Leverevolution) and does so very quickly.

    I think that a lever gun is still a viable self defense gun even today. There are drawbacks... A big one is how complicated they are to tear down in comparison to a more modern gun like an AR or an AK where you can break them down in a few seconds without tools, but if you maintain them, they are really reliable guns. And no, it doesn't mount a light, or have a 30 round magazine, but it is legal in every municipality I can think of, and has a cool factor all its own... Hey, I'll always be an AR guy. It's hard to undo a lifetime of living with one, but short of going up against the kind of stuff I did while deployed overseas, I would not feel undergunned with this little Rossi as my back up.













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  2. #2
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    Very nice! Nothing wrong with a lever gun! They will get the job done in style!

  3. #3
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    I like it.

  4. #4
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    Nice. That will solve most shooting problems within its range capabilities.

  5. #5
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    I have stainless Rossi trappers in 357 and 44 Mag. Both have received a Steve Young action job. I have about a doEn other lever guns and Rossi’s are the cheapest of the bunch, but also favorites. They sure shoot better groups than their more expensive cousins from Browning and Marlin, especially the 44.

    I am a huge fan of anything 44 caliber, but would choose a 357 for a defensive, do it all, levergun.

  6. #6
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by gaijin View Post
    Nice. That will solve most shooting problems within its range capabilities.
    You’re the second person I’ve seen put such thoughts in writing recently, and it has me reevaluating what firearms I truly “need” vs. being just nice to own.

    You make an excellent point.

  7. #7
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    Very nice!

    I'm a big fan of the "cowboy assault rifle" concept. A few years ago, I had JM 336w worked over and shortened to 16" to serve in that capacity. Despite some Marlin quirks, it's a handy little blaster.

  8. #8
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    I'd like to do this too.

    Unfortunately I'd end having nearly $2K in a lever rifle.

    $500 for gun minimum, plus work to shorten the stock and add a buttpad, (LOP is too long) more work to shorten the barrel, possibly the mag tube, then crown, re install front sight, thread, and refinish. Then it needs a rail mount to add an optic. Probably up to $1200 now.

    Ideally, I'd want to add a suppressor to shoot heavy subsonic bullets with zero action/port noise. Add another $800 for that to happen and we're at $2000.

    I do like your rifle!

  9. #9
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    Nice looking piece.
    I just sent my 30-30 Glenfield (Marlin 336) to be threaded.
    It’s not as nice looking as yours!

  10. #10
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    Glad you finally got what you wanted out of the Rossi.

    I have a Marlin 1894; has a 'normal' butt plate. Field stripping is really simple by comparison. Enough that cleaning from the breech is not such a chore as might be for a '92 or a '73.

    Pistol bullets coming out of the longer barrel take on a different character; hollowpoints usually become much more explosive, penetrate less.

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