View Full Version : New Cowboy action shooter

January 6, 2011, 12:48 PM
I'm just getting into Cowboy Action shooting and don't have a stitch of appropriate clothing or guns for that matter. I'm on a small budget for the time being and am considering my first gun, probably a rifle. Currently I have an opportunity to get one of the following two rifles:
Rossi R92 .357 blued, 16" barrel, brand new for $398.95 + tax
Winchester 94 AE .357 with saddle ring, private sale for $500

It seems the price is pretty good on the Rossi. But it seems the price for the Winchester is also good for a Winchester. Which one would you do and why?


January 6, 2011, 02:23 PM
Best thing is to go to SASS event and look and ask around. Generally they seem to like short stroke 1873 Urbertis. I would get the M92 for sure between the two. Look here for further info http://www.stevesgunz.com/index.htm

January 6, 2011, 02:26 PM
I've spoken with a few but, at the time money was so tight I didn't foresee any opportunity up coming and didn't want to dream about the impossible. But it has become possible sooner than expected so now I wish I had asked more questions. Anyway, the 1873 is ultimately what I want but it is out of my price range for now so I want to start somewhere. The 1873 is still in the future plans. Thanks.

January 6, 2011, 04:36 PM
Welcome (not only to this forum) but to SASS!!!

I'm a newbie shooter as well (just started last month along with my 13 y/o daughter). While each club is different, I would encourage you to go to the shoots at your local club and ask lots and lots of questions. Most members, in my experience, will let you shoot a variety of pistols, rifles and shotguns in order to help you make up your mind what works for you.

In my situation, I thought that purchasing pistols first was the way to go. It is far easier to borrow (and yes, my fellow club members literally line up to allow me and my daughter to borrow their stuff) a rifle and/or shotgun. So far, we've purchased 3 pistols. My daughter and I share one pistol, but I'm looking for a match for her (Thunderer). I will then probably purchase a shotgun and then a rifle which her and I will share until we each have our own set.

I do reload, so I show up with the appropriate ammo (what most of us would consider powderpuff rounds at 750-800 fps), but one member even gave us ammo to shoot on our first shoot (I didn't have any appropriate ammo). I'm sure there's a butt in the crowd somewhere, but so far, I've not met one. After a month of "getting into it," I've met some of the warmest, hospitable folks you could ever meet who care more about the growing of their sport more than who's gonna shoot top dog or whatever.

Oh yeah....I'm looking at the Rossi 92's as well. I don't think you can get a lever action any cheaper. My plan is to buy one of those first and then our "second" rifle can be a 73 or another typical variety if we so choose. If you get the 92 first, then you could probably trade and/or sell it to upgrade to the 73 you really want -- assuming that remains what you really want when the time comes.

Good Luck!

January 6, 2011, 08:41 PM
Between the two, I'd go with the '92. It's going to be a bit rough out of the box, but it can be smoothed up.

January 6, 2011, 08:59 PM
I just got a Rossi '92 in .44 mag today and after working the action a bit I think it's pretty good right out of the box. I imagine with time it will smooth out more on its own. I plan to shoot it a lot.

I have not decided to join SASS here at my club, but it's looking more and more like eventually I will give up and just throw in with them boys. I have the rifle and the pistol (Ruger Vaquero in .357/.38) -- I just lack a double barreled coach gun.

January 6, 2011, 09:38 PM
I have the rifle and the pistol (Ruger Vaquero in .357/.38)
You need two pistols.
I'd go with the Rossi. You run the risk of the Winchester having feeding problems since it's a long action designed for rifle cartridges.

January 6, 2011, 10:56 PM
Welcome to CAS/SASS. Be sure that Rossi holds 10 rounds; if not, let it go. Just about every stage requires 10 rifle shots and occasionally 11. The 16" barrel may not have a long enough magazine. The early "gamer gun" was the 92 Short Rifle. i.e. a 20" octagonal barrel. I have the '92 carbine (20" bbl) but if I had it to do over again I would get the short rifle as the heavier barrel holds steadier as you crank the lever. The 94s just are never used by the faster shooters. The 20" carbine would be OK for both you and the kid if sharing the rifle.

January 7, 2011, 10:29 AM
The 94 Winchester was never intended to handle the "pistol" length cartridges that we must by rule use in SASS.
A 92 with 10 round capacity would work for you. A Marlin would be better and the 1866-1873 Ubertis and the cream of the crop. That said, the current world speed record is held by a Marlin.
I wouldn't get too worked up about the clothes. A pair of jeans, a long sleeved shirt and leather shoes and you are completely within the requirements. Hat is not necessary nor are suspenders etc.
Go to a shoot, tell them you are new but interested and see how many people offer their guns for you to try.

January 7, 2011, 10:38 AM
I also have a Rossi 92. Mine's in .357. For the money, I think that it deserves high praise. I spent several evenings cycling the action over and over and it didn't take terribly long for it to smooth out nicely.

One of my buddies got the .44 mag at the same time that I got mine and he's just as happy with his as I am with mine. We shoot ours in pistol cartridge silhouette matches and they're the bees' knees. Speed isn't a big thing, but accuracy counts and with a tang sight (they're pre-drilled and tapped), both rifles are spot on the money.

The "case colors" look a little strange to me and the stocks are some kind of South American mystery wood, but, again, for the money, I don't know that you can beat the 92.

Oh, and I second the ask to borrow a gun at a CAS match suggestion. My wife and I went to one last summer. I didn't have any single action pistols and I'll bet that at least 10 folks kindly offered to let me use theirs. What a fun, friendly bunch of folks!

January 7, 2011, 11:29 AM
Thanks for all the replies. You have given me much to consider. I think the local club shoots tomorrow so I may have to check it out. I'm especially grateful for the mention about magazine capacity. This particular rifle only holds 8+1 rounds.

January 7, 2011, 01:35 PM
I am looking for a SASS in SE PA.


January 7, 2011, 01:38 PM
Go to sassnet.com. On the left side, click on "affiliated clubs". When the map comes up, click on your state. It will then list a bunch of clubs in that area.

It appears that there's 20 or so in Pennsylvania. Their contact info is listed with emails and phone numbers. Good Luck and Good Shootin'!

January 7, 2011, 04:10 PM
I just read up on all the gun requirements and restrictions and now realize I only have one handgun that would fit the bill. That means that unless I'm borrowing all the time, I need another handgun and holster, a 10 round '92 (mine is an 8 also) and a double or pump shotgun of the correct type.

That's a considerable investment in firearms just to shoot for fun.

January 7, 2011, 04:43 PM
That's a considerable investment in firearms just to shoot for fun.

On the bright side, it's a considerable amount of fun! Keep your eye on the used market. Deals do pop up.

January 7, 2011, 05:04 PM
Alden, you are correct. It is a considerable investment to get into SASS.


You can shoot with an organized safe group every weekend(in most places) with some of the best folks around. You will be astounded in the generosity and friendlyness of the SASS group. I've been doing it about 7 years now and have no desire to try anything else. I average about 3.5 shoots a month.

January 7, 2011, 05:20 PM
I have a Rossi '92 in .357, 20 inch round barrel. I bought it new in July and have no complaints. If you are on a budget I would definitely pick one up.

January 7, 2011, 05:59 PM
I just bought this one, so I'm tapped out for a while now.



I'm taking it out to the woods tomorrow if everything goes as planned.

January 7, 2011, 08:03 PM

Thanks for the info. Seems there are a couple nearby.


January 8, 2011, 03:55 PM
Turns out there was a gun show today so I grabbed some cash and headed out to the show this morning. I saw a Marlin for some amount more than I was willing to spend and kept looking. Found a Rossi for slightly more than I was hoping to spend but decided to keep looking. Then providence stepped in and I ran into a few of the guys I had met who belong to the local SASS club. Asked them and they unanimously declared I should get a Marlin over a Rossi because the Marlin can be made to cycle much more smoothly. I lamented I didn't think I could afford a Marlin but they declared it would be worth the extra money. As I reached the last table ( which coincidentally was the local SASS club's table) I was just about ready to walk out figuring I could wait until I found what I wanted. I decided to see if I could find both the Rossi and the Marlin I found earlier. But I couldn't remember exactly where I saw the Marlin. I headed the general direction, nearly all the way across the hall and walked right up to a table that I had passed earlier without seeing the Marlin that was on the table. It was exactly what I was looking for. A Marlin 1894 in .357 Magnum for $399. $75 less than the Rossi I had seen and right on the nose for the amount I was looking to spend. I told my sun to hold the rifle and not put it down. I went and got one of my CAS buddies who works on these rifles and he came and declared it was good and well worth the money. I am now the proud owner of my first gun that qualifies as a CAS gun.

January 8, 2011, 08:08 PM
I was just checking a few things out on the web about this Marlin 1894C that I bought today. The Marlin home page says the tubular magazine will only hold 9 rounds. Do any of you know if that is irrespective of whether it is loaded with .357 mag vs .38 spl or will it hold 10 rounds of .38 spl?

January 8, 2011, 09:36 PM
The Cowboy is supposed to hold 10. It may have problems feeding 38 SPCL rounds. Most SASS shooters use .357 cases with lighter loads. Beware the dreaded Marlin jam when firing it fast. IMHO the 92 would have been a better choice. If the 92 action is a lil rough just fill it with white lithium grease and work the lever for a couple of hours and it will be smooth as butter.

January 11, 2011, 10:18 AM
I would definatively go with the Rossi. I started with a Winchester 94 and had a lot of feeding problems. The 92 action was developed by John Browning for pistol calibers. The 94 was only good for the 30-30 that it was designed for. The Rossi's as they come are stiff but can be slicked up without much trouble and will smooth out over time. I have one now that is nice and smooth.

January 11, 2011, 10:21 AM
Unless you know what you're doing, or have an instructional DVD or somesuch, don't take it apart yourself - M92's are IMPOSSIBLE to reassemble unless you know a couple little tricks to doing it.

January 11, 2011, 10:22 AM
Just caught up to the fact that you got the Marlin. I had one of those for a while. The are good guns also.

January 11, 2011, 10:39 AM
The Marlin is extremely popular in the Cowboy Action game, and, unlike Hawg's observations, most CAS shooters I know using Marlins are shooting .38's with no problem, my two included. Just keep the overall length within specified parameters - 1.59" or longer, IIRC. The "Marlin Jam" is caused by wear on the carrier from the lever, as explained HERE (http://marauder.homestead.com/files/marlin94fix.html).

January 11, 2011, 11:53 AM
This is good to know. I had noticed the warning in the manual that when shooting .38 spl the OAL must be between a specific range. Also, it states that lead build-up will occur when shooting .38s and to clean with a wire brush. I'm glad to know the cause and fix for the "Marlin Jam". I have a buddy in the local CAS group who works on Marlin actions. I'll probably have him work it over.


January 11, 2011, 01:28 PM
I've shot the same Marlin and I've just made a deal for a 92. Both are great rifles.

A couple of things I'm learning about OAL on this however (which I'm still in the middle of testing). When I set out on this journey, I knew I was loading for me and my 13 y/o daughter. Therefore, for her sake, I decided to stick to .38 special (as opposed to 45 LC or one of the other rounds). Next, I was trying to keep the recoil down (again, for her sake). So, I've been loading .38's with 125 gn bullets. Next, the OAL thing reared its ugly head -- club members told me to keep it to at least 1.50 OAL in order to feed in the 92 (which I was borrowing up to this point). I had no feed problems when sticking to this advice.

However, a 125 gn bullet, seated that shallow does allow quite a bit of fouling and unburned powder. I'm using Titegroup for my loads (of the powders I tried, this provided the best "complete combustion" of the candidates). So, I'm in the midst of trying out some 158 gn bullets over the next week or two (I actually loaded the first batch of 50 last night to test). If she can handle the recoil (which I'm thinking she'll be ok), then I may use these instead because I can set a 158 gn bullet more deeply and still get a 1.50 OAL. This should allow result in less fouling in the pistols (where I'm experiencing the most issues).

For clarification, the fouling is building up on the barrel-end of the cylinder which is causing issues when cocking because of the cylinder gap (especially on my new 1871 Open Tops).

I just thought I'd share a little of this information in case someone else is heading down this same road and experiences some of the same issues.

BTW, my 125 gn cowboy loads at 1.50 OAL shoot great in the 92 I'm purchasing. I've not seen any leading issues, but I'm fairly certain that has more to do with muzzle velocity/bullet selection/etc. than the OAL. Although, now that I think about it, a greater OAL will probably produce a lower muzzle velocity.....but I digress....:rolleyes:

Happy Shooting!