The Short-Barreled Rifle

An ATF SBR Tax Stamp Turns Your “Ranch Hand”
Into A Short, Handy “Trapper.”

By Dave Anderson

I found the Rossi to be well made, accurate, reliable, and a lot of fun to shoot. So much so, in fact, I decided to try .38/.357 Ranch Hand, the handgun version of the 92. While my 92 carbine has a 16-inch barrel, the Ranch Hand has a 12-inch barrel and shortened stock, which makes it a handgun under US regulations.

As with the carbine, the Ranch Hand proved to be well made, reliable and accurate. Shooting from a supported position, for example with the forearm on a sandbag rest, the accuracy potential is certainly there.

The only problem is, I can’t find a comfortable and stable way to hold onto the thing while shooting offhand. Working the lever to chamber a fresh cartridge requires a strong grip on the forearm, since there is no shoulder contact to help keep the Ranch Hand level.

Dave’s Rossi Ranch Hand (left, a handgun in the USA), with a 12-inch barrel
now sports a Boyd’s rifle stock and forearm in Nutmeg laminate. His Rossi 92
carbine with 16-inch barrel (above, right) is shown for comparison, and both
are in .38 Sp/.357 Magnum. Adding a full-length buttstock is legal in Canada
where this Ranch Hand is located with no paperwork required. Under US law,
you must first apply for and receive a tax stamp from the BATF to make a
short-barreled rifle (SBR) before purchasing the buttstock.

The SBR Approach

One solution, albeit a rather time-consuming and expensive one, is to apply for a tax stamp to make a short-barreled rifle (SBR). Information on how to go about the process can be found on the ATF website. I don’t have space to cover the process here. It is similar to the process for acquiring a suppressor and involves completing the application form, submitting it to ATF along with the fee of $200 and waiting for approval.

I’ll only add: Do not even think about starting the conversion, or even acquiring a full-length buttstock, until you have the ATF tax stamp in your possession! Even if the Ranch Hand is locked away in your gun safe, and the full-length stock on a shelf out in the garage, the fact you have both items in your possession without the tax stamp is enough to demonstrate intent to assemble an illegal firearm. Follow the legal process meticulously.

Oddly enough, the Ranch Hand has become fairly popular in Canada with those who spend time in wilderness country, fishing, hiking, or working in wilderness areas. They may want some means of defense against predators such as bears or wolves, or to hunt for food in case of an emergency.

Apparently the reason is while handguns can be owned in Canada, they can only be fired on approved ranges, which doesn’t help much if you are fly-fishing on a remote Yukon stream. You don’t have to go very far north to find bears and wolves. It may sound clever in your New York penthouse to say bears and wolves seldom attack humans. Not so much from a tent in the backcountry.

Unlike in the US, the Ranch Hand in Canada is classed as a non-restricted hunting rifle, meaning it can be used wherever it would be legal to use any regular hunting rifle or shotgun. Adding a full-length buttstock requires no forms or fees.

At present I divide my time between residences in the US and Canada. The Ranch Hand shown is one I keep on the farm in Canada where I was raised, and which has two things I value highly—privacy and whitetail deer.

Boyd’s Gun Stocks make both forearms and buttstocks to fit the Rossi 92, including the rifles, carbines, and the Ranch Hand. Boyd’s stocks are amazingly good values. The standard buttstock, in walnut finished hardwood, is $65, and a matching forearm is $46. In both cases these are finished, inletted, and ready to install.

Aesthetically, my one objection to the 92 carbine and the Ranch Hand was the very plain wood. I decided to upgrade to one of the many laminated patterns offered, choosing the “Nutmeg” version. This added $15 to the cost of each item.

I also upgraded (for $30) from the standard plastic buttplate to the Pachmayr Decelerator pad. This is not due to the negligible recoil, but so the pad sticks to my shoulder while the action is being cycled.

The Boyd’s website advises the stock and forearm are inletted to fit an example of the Rossi 92 they have on hand. It notes there can be minor differences in dimensions from one rifle to another so some fitting may be necessary.

Fitting the Boyd’s stock and forearm on the Ranch Hand took a little work with sandpaper, and with a sanding drum on a Dremel tool. By “a little” I mean maybe 15 minutes of work by someone who is by no means an experienced woodworker.

Overall I found the materials and workmanship to be exceptionally good. I like the appearance of laminated wood, and in my view the “Nutmeg” style looks terrific. Laminated wood is extremely strong, another benefit if the rifle is going to be transported in rough country, say on a snowmobile, ATV or canoe.

The Ranch Hand with the Boyd’s stock changes the firearm from a fun but hard-to-shoot novelty into a very practical, compact and useful little carbine. It measures just under 30 inches overall, weighs 5-1/2 pounds, is easy to store, transport, and shoot accurately.

The Rossi Ranch Hand is well made with good intrinsic accuracy, fun to shoot,
but not easy to shoot accurately offhand. This one is chambered for .38 Spl./.357
Magnum cartridges. It is also offered in .44 Magnum and .45 Colt.

The Triple K 130 scabbard is very well made of heavy leather, tightly stitched,
with an attractive rich dark finish and brass buckles. Quality of workmanship is
excellent. This model is made for carbines with up to 20-inch barrels, such as
this ’50’s era 94 .30-30. It would look right at home attached to a saddle but
also works nicely with modern transportation such as pickups, UTV’s, and snowmobiles.

The Case For A Carbine

So do I recommend you go through the SBR/tax stamp process? Well, as a free American, if you want something, it’s legal and have the means to buy it, you can do as you please without having to account for your reasons.

Personally I’d have to say it is not worth it when you can just buy a Rossi 92 carbine with a 16-inch barrel. Not only does the SBR process cost $200 and take some time, you may find yourself restricted on where you can transport the SBR, and it will likely be harder to sell. Seems a high price to save 4 inches in barrel and overall length.

But if I have reservations about the SBR process, I have none whatever about the Boyd’s stock and forearm. Not only do they look terrific compared to the plain factory wood, the laminated versions are much stronger, and the moderate price just can’t be beat. I am going to replace the wood on my 92 carbine (I just have to decide on which laminate pattern).

A leather scabbard attached to the saddle is the traditional way to carry a carbine on horseback. Well, we sold our last horse some time back, but I can still put a scabbard to good use.

Today our outdoor travel is mainly by pickup truck or UTV, and a scabbard is still a useful means of carrying a rifle or carbine. Of course many types of hard or soft cases are fine to protect the gun during transport. The advantage of a scabbard is providing both protection and fast access to the rifle.

The scabbard shown here is one I recently purchased. It is the Model 130 from Triple K Manufacturing, made for iron-sighted rifles and carbines. This one is for 20-inch barrels, versions for 22-, 24- and 26-inch barrels are also offered.

The scabbard appears very well made, with very good workmanship and materials. I like the rich, dark leather finish, and the brass buckles on the straps are another nice touch.

Although the scabbard and a Winchester 94 carbine go together like duck and peas, I’ve also used it with several other iron-sighted carbines, including a CZ 527 in 7.62×39, Ruger Gunsite Scout .308, Browning BL-22 and even a Lee-Enfield No. 5. Not always a perfect fit of course, especially with the bolt-actions, but it does work.

Triple K also has this scabbard in a lined version (Model 120), as well as several scabbards for scoped rifles. Currently they list the Model 130 at $133. An accessory hood is available for if you want to protect your firearm against rain or snow.

Just a note, while I love the appearance of leather and the protection it gives a rifle “on the job” I don’t use leather cases for long-term storage. I fret about moisture or possibly tanning agent residue damaging the finish, especially of a carbon-steel firearm. Also as you pile up the miles jouncing around rough terrain, the rifle jiggling in the scabbard might lead to blue wear. Honest wear on a gun’s finish doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but I certainly understand some owners like to keep their prized firearms in pristine condition.

Boyds
25376 403rd Ave.
Mitchell, SD 57301
(605) 996-5011
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/boyds-gunstock-industries-inc/

Rossi USA
16175 NW 49 Avenue
Miami Lakes, FL 33014
(305) 474-0401
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/rossi/

Triple K Manufacturing Co.
2222 Commercial St.
San Diego, CA 92113
(619) 232-2066
http://gunsmagazine.com/company/triple-k-mfg-co/

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