Rossi R92 .454
Casull Lever Gun

Big-Time Performance In A Rifleman's Rifle
; .

The Rossi R92 .454 Casull makes a wonderful companion gun to the Ruger Bisley
.454 Casull. Shown with a Bill Snow blade, brass match case and Barranti Leather cartridge carrier.

As American as Chevy’s 454 big-block engine, the lever gun has been around since before the Civil War. Nothing stirs the spirit of a rifleman more than a lever. All true riflemen have at least one, with most having several stowed away. I know I do!

Picking one up, sheer instinct takes over, making you work the lever no matter how hard you resist. Doing so magically transforms you to bygone days when all kids wanted to be a cowboy, trapper or dog-musher, carrying his faithful and reliable lever gun.

John Wayne — “The Duke” — carried one, as did perhaps the most iconic of all lever gun loonies, Chuck Connors, in his portrayal of Lucas McCain in The Rifleman TV series. Connors kept the popularity of the lever gun going with his snappy show opening scene, walking down Main Street, shooting a dozen cartridges from the hip as fast as he could work the lever. It was mesmerizing for kids of all ages!

The common thread? Both men carried Winchester model 92s, both being chambered in .44-40, or .44 WCF, whatever your preference.


Close-up of the “Lawyer” safety and serrated hammer of the stainless R92.
The safety isn’t much of a problem while the craftsmanship is apparent.


The Winchester Model ’92 was designed by John Moses Browning and manufactured by Winchester from 1892-1945 with just over 1 million made. A smaller, trimmer version of the 1886, and chambered in shorter pistol calibers, the ’92 was favored by horsemen, farmers and ranchers for its convenient size and ability to shoot cartridges the same as their sidearm.

Today, these rifles are out of reach from most mortal men pricewise but luckily we have companies like Rossi making renditions of their own version of the ’92.


The lever at full cock displays the locking lugs giving the R92 its strength.

A Bigger Bore

But how about a lever gun chambered in .454 Casull? Rossi has been making blued R92s for over 25 years in .454 Casull but what if the gun was made with stainless steel, making it immune to the environment? This is exactly what Rossi has done with their new R92 stainless-steel .454 Casull lever gun.

Able to drive 300-grain bullets in excess of 2,000 FPS, this small dynamic package has better ballistics than factory-loaded .45-70 cartridges, in a more compact package. Being chambered in .454 Casull, it also has the ability to shoot .45 Colt rounds, making it both versatile for hunting and cheaper to practice with. Being designed to cycle the longer .454 Casull cartridge, the R92 cycles .45 Colt loads like corn through a goose.

Test ammo was from Hornady, Buffalo Bore and Underwood,
as well as a few handloads from Tank.

Cartridge History

Dick Casull, along with Jack Fullmer, worked on developing the .454 Casull cartridge since the 1950s. After years of experimentation, the .454 was put into production in 1983 and was first available in the Freedom Arms Model 83 revolver. The .454 Casull case is slightly longer, thicker, stronger than the .45 Colt case and uses a Small Rifle Primer for better ignition and adding strength to the cartridge head.


The brass bead dovetailed front sight is traditional and well executed,
as is the knurling on the removable magazine tube.

Here’s the magazine tube removed alongside the loading port,
if you don’t want to load from the side port.


I was pleasantly surprised pulling the Rossi R92 out of its cardboard shipping box. The stainless-steel rifle was beautifully finished with tight wood to metal fitting.

The action was smooth when working the lever and the trigger was crisp, creep-free and smooth, breaking at 3.5 lbs. What was going on here? It was beginning to look like love at first sight after the precursory handling/fondling.

The compact stainless R92 carbine comes with a Brazilian hardwood stock. My sample had a touch of figure, with a smooth, even, attractive finish. The black rubber buttpad was nicely fitted to the stock and appreciated for taming the recoil generated by stout .454 loads. Overall length is 38.5″ and length of pull is just over 13″.

Eight rounds can be loaded from either the side loading gate or by removing the magazine tube. This is done by unscrewing the knurled knob of the magazine tube and lifting it out, inserting cartridges into the port and screwing the tube back in. It also allows you to unload your rifle without having to cycle the rounds out by working the lever. It’s a nice feature.

Newer Rossi R92s have a safety on the bolt, which is obviously something to keep the attorneys happy. It can only be activated when the gun is cocked but its position makes flicking it with your thumb quite easy. The hammer is nicely serrated, providing positive purchase for thumb-cocking.

Sights consist of blued buckhorn rear with stepped-wedge adjustment and the front sight consists of a traditional brass bead. Both sights are securely dovetailed, contrasting nicely with the stainless-steel barrel.

Rossi cold-hammer-forges the 20″ barrel and uses magnaflux testing on every one. Magnafluxing is an advanced procedure using strong magnetic fields to test structural integrity of metals. Assembled guns are then proof-tested before leaving the factory.


As these 1" groups at 50 yards attest, the R92 is accurate.


For test ammo, I had three different loads of .454 Casull, two .45 Colt loads from Buffalo Bore and two handloads of my favorite .45 Colt and .454 Casull loads. I used the factory open sights.

My .45 Colt handload consist of a LEE 255-grain radiused flat-nose slug loaded over 8 grains of 231. This load generates around 900 FPS from pistols but broke 1,150 FPS from the Rossi. Accuracy was good, running about 1.5″ at 50 yards for five shots. My 454 Casull load consisted of a 320-grain LBT LFNGC bullet loaded over 30 grains of H110. Velocity runs just under 1,600 FPS from most pistols but went 1,910 FPS from the Rossi. Accuracy was exceptional, running just over an inch at 50 yards.

The factory .45 Colt loads from Buffalo Bore consisted of their 45 Colt +P Outdoorsman, a 325-grain hard-cast LBT-LFN which runs 1,325 from a handgun and broke 1,630 FPS from the Rossi, shooting just under 2″ at 50 yards. The Heavy .45 Colt +P load consisting of a 260-grain JHP bullet runs 1,450 from a handgun and went 1,750 out of the Rossi. Accuracy was 1.5″ at 50 yards.

The Hornady 454 Casull loads contained XTP bullets weighing in at 240 and 300 grains. The 240 version clocks out at 1,900 FPS from a handgun, while going over 2,200 FPS from the Rossi. The 300-grain slug goes 1,650 from a handgun and broke 2,000 FPS from the Rossi. Both loads shot under 2″ at 50 yards.

Last Word

The Rossi R92 454 Casull is a great gun for those wanting a Model 92 but either don’t want, or can’t afford, a true Winchester. Rossi did an excellent job building these guns and I didn’t have a single malfunction. The gun shot as accurate as I could hold.

A true truck gun if there ever was one, you won’t mind getting it scratched or dinged, as your new faithful companion gains a few character marks by always traveling with you. But that’s what makes it so charming! Since you won’t mind the wear marks, you’ll be more prone to have it with you, no matter the conditions, weather or terrain.

And, since it’s loaded with nine .454 Casull cartridges, you’ve got the firepower to take care of most anything in a slim, trim ready-to-go package. The stainless-steel Rossi R92 in .454 Casull is a great gun for guys who don’t baby their rifles.
MSRP: $896

Subscribe To GUNS Magazine

Purchase A PDF Download Of The GUNS Magazine April 2021 Issue Now!