Another +1 for the 20" carbine. I've had/have several 20 inchers and one 24 - in .44 Mag (relative to this thread)...same difference for your purposes. The long gun is fun but if I could only have one, it'd be the 20" carbine. They get 5x the field time the 24" does. You'll really enjoy that .45 in the 92 same as I have my .44's. Eight or nine 92s (.44-40, 44 Mag and .357) over 35 years or so, few problems with any.
I disagree that you have to move up to a Chiappa (Cimarron or Taylors) to get a good running 92. If yours is a bit stiff out of the box--some are, some aren't--a couple hundred dry leverings watching a movie or game on TV can help smooth things out a bit (and nothing beats shooting them either)....and then there's the DVD mentioned earlier many have had great success for a DIY tune job. Mine are all older pre-safety 92s and have not been an issue on most in the stiffness department. A few have needed "extra help.". I can't speak for the newer "Rossi" imported "Rossis" (since Braztech/Taurus ownership). To a degree, you do get what you pay for versus the Chiappa, but the latter gun has not been entirely without their critics either regarding some of the small bits at times. They're beautiful and frankly I want one (at least!) as they're cosmetically the closest to the originals (w/o the otherwise excellent current Miroku production of Winchester's own lawyer ba********* of the gun), but the Rossi will do yeoman's duty for fun, SD or hunting for a very long time.
While I don't prefer them, some do (for their steadying weight out front, especially for CAS'ers) - you might look at the 20" octagonal "short rifle" as a compromise to your needs. same look/features as the 24",just shorter barrel. I still like the extra "wieldability" and packability of the lighter round barreled 20" carbine, with very little sacrifice of accuracy (for me) to the heavier brreled guns...not to mention the carbine's more gently curved buttplate (vs the sharper "rifle" aka "antique" crescent butt of both the short rifle and 24"). Regardless of which 20", same number of rounds in the tube (10) versus 12 IIRC on the 24". Nice thing is there's something for everybody.
I didn't recall mention of finish, but if in a moist climate you might consider stainless. Not my problem being in Aridzona so all mine are my preferred blue, but something to consider.
To the question of HD/SD, while no AR or M1 Carbine in the rapid reloading department, the lever format does permit loading "on the run"--as you're shooting. Something other repeating rifle types can't do. Again, not as a comparison to the autoloaders, but an indication these old style levers aren't totally useless in the HD role, esecially if you're leaning in that direction anyway.
Last edited by gak; November 25, 2012 at 05:55 PM.