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Old August 16, 2011, 11:58 PM   #1
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SASS Levergun: Henry/Marlin/Rossi

I want a .357/.38 levergun for fun and (maybe one day) SASS.

Originally, I wanted a Henry or Marlin. The Henry is a little heavy but really smooth. The Marlin seems okay but impossible to find in-stock. The Rossi looks okay but scares me because of the Taurus affiliation.

Currently, I'm leaning toward the Henry because the weight doesn't bother me too much and because I've heard rumors about Marlin's quality control slipping lately.

What do you guys think? Experience? Other suggestions?
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Old August 17, 2011, 04:01 AM   #2
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Rossi all the way.
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Old August 17, 2011, 08:30 AM   #3
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Please tell me about your experience with them. I've heard they aren't so great put of the box and finicky with .38 ammo. Don't know if it's true or not.
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Old August 17, 2011, 08:59 AM   #4
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I've got a .357 Rossi. I shoot maybe twice or three times a year in local SASS matches.

Out of the box, the action was fine. Not great, not terrible, just fine. I could definitely feel some roughness - compared to a Henry's action, it was gritty. However, after a whole lot of cycling, the action smoothed out quite nicely. I probably could have taken it apart and achieved the same results with a stone, but I didn't mind sitting in front of the TV watching reruns of Gunsmoke and cycling the lever.

I have no problem feeding cast round nose .38s in the rifle. None at all. The only problems that I've heard of, feeding-wise, are with wadcutters, for obvious reasons.

I did replace the bright yellow plastic follower in the magazine tube with a darker metal one that I bought from I imagine that sooner or later, the plastic would break and it just looked funny in there.

As far as the Henry goes, I can't criticize it other than the weight. I have a Golden Boy and it's the heaviest .22 that I've ever held. One of my buddies has a Big Boy in .44 and it's definitely a tank. I know that you say that the weight doesn't bother you, but I think that you'd be surprised. I don't think that the smoothness of the action is worth the increase in weight, especially since the Rossi's action will smooth out (although nothing like the Henry's). Also, the .22-style loading port on the Henry just kind of weirds me out, but that's a matter of opinion.

For what it's worth, I also own a Taurus M66 and it's been a true-blue (in stainless steel) performer for me.

I've never shot or handled a Marlin centerfire levergun, so I can't opine on them.
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Old August 17, 2011, 09:23 AM   #5
Lee McNelly
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rossi vs

had a carbine in 45 lc for a few yrs not a lic of a problem w it it was as accurate as my marlin

if u thinging of getting one and come accross on dont hesitate
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Old August 17, 2011, 09:54 AM   #6
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The newer ones are supposed to be pretty smooth. Mine is an older one and I filled the action with white lithium grease and worked it a few hours. It's pretty slick now.
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Old August 17, 2011, 11:25 AM   #7
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My buddy just bought a new Rossi, & it would not extract... my retired smith buddy looked at it & had to make a new extractor, said it looked like they put a 44 extractor in the 38 gun... other than that it's worked "ok"

I was at the same place as the O.P. a couple months ago, & hearing about the Marlins newer quality, & having seen my buddy's Rossi... I was shopping on Gun Broker... I found an early fancy grade Rossi... looked unfired ??? but was fully engraved & had fancy grade wood... It's old enough that it doesn't have a safety ( if that dates it for anyone... actually I'd be curious when they started putting safetys on ??? )

anyway I paid about the same as a brand new Rossi, & got a much fancier grade... the action looked unfired, but the stock had a couple handling dings... the action is still a little stiff, but not what I'd call gritty... I'm sure it'll wear in quite nicely...

maybe look for a used Marlin or lightly used older Rossi... I have nothing against the Henry's everything I hear, they are great rifles... just too clunky to be competitive with... but if you'd only go to compete against your self... the Henry should be fine
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Old August 17, 2011, 11:33 AM   #8
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What Magnum Wheel Man wrote reminded me of something. The wood on my Rossi is...well, it's strange. It's some kind of mystery wood with a kind of dark stain. There's not really any grain in it. It looks good enough, but it definitely does not look quite like what you'd expect to see on, say, a Winchester '92. Oh, the shape is right and it's definitely wood. I guess it's from some kind of South American non-grained tree.

On the other hand, I didn't pay the Winchester '92 price, either, so that's something.
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Old August 17, 2011, 11:49 AM   #9
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I started CAS with a '92 Rossi in .38/.357. It has the full action job by Nate Kiowa Jones ( It's a very accurate rifle and cycles great. However, it's just not as fast as the '66 I later acquired, so it's relegated to back-up duties for now.

I also agree on the wood being "different." I suspect that it's some sort of South American tree.....and they don't seem to put a very pretty stain on it either. While that would be "all well and good," I was (and still am) more concerned with function than pretty. The price I got the '92 at was good and it's worth the price -- especially with the action job. It is very sweet as far as '92's go.

The '92 is OAL sensitive (which has been beaten to death here, but I guess I should reiterate a bit). They seem to like 1.50 or better to cycle cleanly and regularly. Also, I found that I needed to insure that I operated the lever fully (all the way forward and all the way back) or it would be prone to jamming. I sometimes got "quick" with it and short-stroked it causing a jam.

While I've not owned a Marlin, I shot one (borrowed) when we first started before I bought the '92. It was accurate and clean rifle. Do some research and you'll find that they also have some issues which need to be addressed (i.e. the dreaded "Marlin jam").

I've not owned or fired a Henry, so I cannot comment. If you're talking about a "Big Boy" (made by Henry and not necessarily a "Henry rifle"), then the biggest complaints I've heard normally conern them not being "period correct." They also are limited in the stuff you can do to them to make them cycle more quickly and reliably.

If you're talking about an 1860 Henry (made by Uberti or similar), then the biggest complaints I've heard are the (1) the weight, (2) the loading lever working it's way down the tube as you fire (your fingers get in the way) and (3) no foregrip which can be hot on your hand as you fire.

As far as I know (from hearing and experiencing myself), each of these rifles have pros and cons. Do your research before you buy. Shoot each of them if you can (lots of SASS pards will let you shoot theirs) and make up your own mind.

Good Luck!

Tanker6 a/k/a Chickahominy Charlie
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Old August 17, 2011, 11:52 AM   #10
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Cimarron 1892 "ElDorado"

I have the Cimarron 1892 "ElDorado" .38/.357

The rifle is very accurate and the action was silky smooth right out of the box.
I don't necessarily recommend the "large hoop" lever for speed, but it sure looks cool.

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Old August 17, 2011, 01:00 PM   #11
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I don't shoot CASS, nor do I own a Rossi or a Marlin, but I do own a Henry so I will offer my $0.02.

I've always thought well of Marlins, they just never appealed to me esthetically.

The Rossi guns have a reputation for being a little "rough" but by all reports can be made pretty slick with some work from Stevesguns. They are pretty inexpensive and come in some neat configurations. I intend to pick up a couple of them, but that has not yet worked its way to the top of the list.

My Henry "Big Boy" .357 is my favorite rifle! Bar none. It's accurate. I LOVE the looks and it is a BLAST to shoot at the range! Its also my favorite deer rifle for the woods. I've got plenty of rifles for sniping deer in open fields, but there is nothing as much fun as killing a deer "up close and personal". Like under 25 yards.

It IS a bit on the heavy side, but that does not bother me as I find it steadies my aim on offhand shots. But that is just me.

I like the Henry best, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Rossi so long as I had the cash to get it an action job if I felt it needed it. A Marlin? I just never liked the looks of them although I always thought they were good quality guns and I suggested them to many friends back in the '80s. But since the buyout by Remington/Cerberus/Freedom Group I have heard nothing good about the product they are turning out. I would not spend my hard earned money on a new Marlin. No way. That said, I sincerely hope they will sort out their current problems and recoup the EXCELLENT reputation they enjoyed for so many years.
Trying to figure out what my next gun is going to be...
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Old August 17, 2011, 09:49 PM   #12
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Stay away from new Marlins.. Do to constant QC problems they have shut down the line until they get a handle on it... Older Marlins are fine, but pricey...I really like my Uberti 73 in 44-40 I shoot in SASS matches but I also have 357 and 45 colt Marlin Cowboys... My gunsmith has always said that Rossi was bottom of the barrel, but they are cheaper... Your Mileage May Very...
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Old August 22, 2011, 10:12 PM   #13
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I shoot a Henry Big Boy in 45LC and haven't missed a shot all year. Great gun - smooth action and the weight really tames the recoil on the 45 (I shoot near factory loads). The only problem with it is that you can't short stroke it. I shoot for fun, not competition. So, a short stroke kit doesn't matter to me.

and to Byronw999 - I'm a Gopher - class of '64
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Old August 22, 2011, 10:25 PM   #14
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I have a Model 1873 Uberti in 45 LC imported by Cimmaron I have used is SASS competiton. I really like it.
Have a nice day at the range

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Old August 23, 2011, 09:20 AM   #15
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As previously stated, Remington ceased production of Marlin 1894's and 1895's effective August 12 and won't make any more at least for the duration of 2011. They will continue to make M39 .22's and the model 336. Find an older "pre-Remington", Marlin made 1894 or a Rossi 1892. Marlins are easy to take apart & clean, but don't attempt it with an 1892 without a video or detailed instructions & pictures. For CAS use, Winchester 1873 clones and Marlin 1894's are the norm, with 1866's running a close second along with the Marlins, then probably 1892's after that. My 17 yo daughter shoots an older "pre-safety" Rossi 1892 .357 SRC with .38's and has won her category at the state match two years running. She won her category and beat me by one place overall at this weekend's two day Territorial match with it too - I was running a Marlin .38 spl CBC.
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Old August 23, 2011, 07:45 PM   #16
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Nothing like a test drive. Find a SASS club near you and let them know you want to give it a try. In most clubs folks will let you try their guns and you can see how the different rifles feel and perform for you.

I knew exactly what I wanted before I stared. Luckily I didn't buy it before shooting a match. I was able to try out my "pick" along with four or five other makes. By lunchtime I realized that what I thought I wanted was my least favorite rifle after all. That saved me a bundle.

I won't tell you what it was. It's a good rifle but it just turned out not to be the best choice for me.

I ended up saving for a Uberti deluxe short rifle in .357. Its the most expensive firearm I've ever purchased and it's loads of fun to shoot.

Uberti made a Beretta-branded 1873 rifle called the Renegade. They didn't sell and Beretta started selling them at closeout prices. At one time you could get one for under $700 but they are harder to come by now, especially in .357.
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