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Old October 31, 2012, 09:30 AM   #1
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.357 Lever action

I am looking for a .357 lever action rifle. I have read mixed reviews about the Rossi's. Marlins seem to be good rifles from what I have read. I have never owned one though.

What brand do you recommend?
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Old October 31, 2012, 10:52 AM   #2
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From my ten or so over thirty years I can generally recommend Rossi highly. I say generally as some of the more recent can be hit or miss cosmetically--signs of cost cutting as the accountants get to the assembly line, IMO, and I've never been a fan of the fukakata little safety switch Legacy (LSI) introduced in the 1990s when they took over from Interarms as Rossis largest distributor. (There is a "fix"). In 2006 EMF, which has some nicer-trimmed Rossis they call "Hartford 1892"--they've marketed since the 90s, succumbed as well to the lawyers for the safety switch, but they still represent a nicer Rossi. Navy Arms imported their 1892 for several years, but in limited numbers so they're scarce used. They also represented a nicer-trimmed Rossi and supposedly were the only Rossi importers to ever actually sport real walnut. Some of the oder Rossis could be a but stiff at first (some a lot better than others, usually solved with a lot of dry (empty) leverings or just shooting over time--or there are smiths out there that have specialized in slicking the 92s. Steve Young (aka Nate Kiowa Jones) one of the better known among them. In 2000 or so Rossi retooled and the action "out of the box" smoothed up.

LSI left Rossi in 2009 or so to market Italian Chiappa 92's (LSI confusingly retaining its "Puma" name from the Rossi years), and now Rossi itself (under Taurus/Braztech ownership) alone is importing its 92s.

Rossis are still supposed to be nice guns functionally, but their furniture lacks IMO (very plain stained no-name wood, no "life" (sheen), abruptly sawn/truncated forends). Fixable though with some finishing or relacement walnut stocks etc, for an otherwise light and handy firearm with strong and smooth action. The '92 action, from the Winchester design, is one of the very strongest around.

If looking at Marlins, consider an older one (70s-00s) for better fit and finish and reliability. IMO Henrys are overweight for the cartridges they shoot. Chiappa and Winchester both build 92s (1892s) and are gorgeous guns, but pricier. The Chiappa is the only current maker--under its Armi Sport "Puma" line--to build a 92 that is close to the original design, since Winchester itself, excellent guns made in Miroku, Japan, has a lawyer-induced safety add-ons not found on the original. Good to some, not to others, and to purists not flattering to the original form and function. However, they're built in the same plant--to the same levels of fit and finish it appears--as the vaunted Browning 92 (B-92) built in limited numbers in the 1980s.

Older (70s-00s) Winchester 94s are another option, but the 94 action was not designed for the short pistol round to begin with, and the .357 has not been known to be one of the better "pistol" chamberings (.44 being better), though some will inevitably chime in with positive things to say about theirs.

Finally, you'll see "Puma" a lot. Over the years, like 'Coke' for any cola, "Puma" for a lot of folks has become synonymous with any 92 or 1892, almost regardless of distributor or even manufacturer (except perhaps Winchester 'cause it's the 92 originator),...but technically it's just.a marketing name Interarms used in the 1980s-90s for their Rossis, then LSI beyond for both their Rossis, then their Chiappa/Armi Sport models. IOW, you won't find find "Puma" actually emblazoned on most if any of the guns (I don't recall whether Legacy/LSI's did or not). Cimarron and Taylor's also offer the Chiappa/AS 1892s, of course not using the "Puma" name.

Last edited by gak; October 31, 2012 at 02:09 PM.
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Old October 31, 2012, 01:22 PM   #3
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I own a Rossi Model 92 in 357 mag/38 special. I got the model with the 16 inch barrel. I love that little rifle. The only thing I don't like about it is the safety which is just goofy looking but functional.

gak is right on with the plain jane furniture observation. I haven't looked into changing the stock or refinishing the wood but I may look at doing that in the next year or so. Nothing wrong with the furniture but it isn't "pretty" like the marlins or winchesters.

The action on mine was a little rough out of the box but a thorough cleaning, some white lithium grease on the action, and several rounds later and the action feels great. Very easy to shoot and I have had no failures with this firearm.
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Old October 31, 2012, 04:20 PM   #4
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I also own a Rossi 92 but mine has 20" barrel. Removed safety and replaced with peep sight. Quite accurate with both .357 & .38 sp although different aiming points. Using Buffalo Bore 180gr hard cast, 1" at 60 yards. 1900 fps velocity. Very deadly on deer up to 100 yards or to be used as home security. Fun gun to own.

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Old October 31, 2012, 05:05 PM   #5
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I'd recommend two

1. A Browning B92 in 357 mag or

2. A marlin. marlin's are good because you can take them down easily and clean from the breech rather then the muzzle end. I've heard you also want the JM stamped ones indicating that they were made before Remington took over
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Old October 31, 2012, 10:23 PM   #6
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I have a Marlin, which is a very good gun.
I too have Henry's which I like (other then the tube fill).
Rossi's have the top eject like the Winchesters.... I have to scope my rifles...
So, I do not like the Rossi's. But they do look nice!
Marlins are good rifles even the new ones (despite what many people say).

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Old October 31, 2012, 10:57 PM   #7
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Marlin for me

I've got a pre safety Marlin and it is one of my favorites.

You won't go wrong with a .357 lever carbine.
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Old November 1, 2012, 10:14 AM   #8
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I really like my Henry. The action is smoother than any other lever gun I've tried or handled.
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Old November 1, 2012, 12:41 PM   #9
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A guy I work with has let me borrow his Rossi .357 for the price of a good cleaning. It appears to be an earlier model without the safety that everyone talks about. I hope to take it out this weekend and work on a coyote. The action seems to be fairly smooth. I think a good cleaning will help it more than anything.
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Old November 1, 2012, 12:56 PM   #10
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Love the Henry in 44. I'm sure the 357 is great. Folks don't like the weight. I love it, clean, crisp and light recoil. Very accurate. Pretty too!
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Old November 1, 2012, 04:30 PM   #11
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I bought a Henry 357 Mag and was very well pleased. I did learn that 38 specials do not hit where the 357's did. And I did have to drift the rear sight over a little bit when new out of the box. Apart from that, regarding pistol cartridges in a rifle. The 357 Ruger I had shot pretty well but the magazine didn't operate as expected. I replaced that with a 44 Ruger carbine, and that really works well. Not much experience with 357 and 44 mags in very many other brands.
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Old November 1, 2012, 08:08 PM   #12
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My recommendations, in order:

Uberti (Winchester replica) 1873
Uberti (Winchester replica) 1866 (available in .38 Spl, not .357)
Marlin (pre-Remington)
1892 replica (preferably pre-worked by Nate Kiowa Jones)
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Old November 2, 2012, 06:14 AM   #13
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I have a Henry 22 and my next one will be another Henry in 357 mag.
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Old November 2, 2012, 12:10 PM   #14
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A really awsome rifle (to me) is the Henry in 30-30 cal.
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Old November 2, 2012, 07:28 PM   #15
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I chose a pair of Miroku made Winchester's for my pair of 1892's (carbine and short rifle) and have been superbly pleased with them. The Japanese made guns have a very nice fit and finish and both worked flawlessly out of the box with .357mag loads. Neither will reliably feed .38spl though (at least not the few times I tried some different .38spl loads), but I don't really care about that anyway so it does not detract from them to my mind. I pretty much only shoot 158gr JSP .357mag in them and that is what they are now sighted in for. I know purists get bent out of shape over the tang safety and rebounding hammer, but neither seems very obtrusive to me nor has been any cause of problems or issues with mine.

Next on my list is an 1873, maybe a Cimarron?
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Old November 4, 2012, 01:31 AM   #16
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When it comes to Marlins, you want pre-2005. That was when the place went up for sale...

Around 2005 a lot of small errors crept in...folks who ain't sure the job's going to be there aren't as careful...

Given time, the new NY & KY plants will eventually get to pre-2000 Marlin quality...
folks don't invest 50 billion in retooling two factories to new CNC equipment for the fun of it...
they expect results & profits...and us Marlin fans expect quality firearms at decent prices...

Things are looking up...the Marlins since July have been MUCH better than the previous year's offerings...
Rome wasn't built in a day...

Think back to when Henry's Management change came about...they were in the dumper, dang near forgotten about...
new Equipment, new management, new people...all took a little while to create what is going on now at Henry!!
Be patient...Marlin will get long as they go at it just like Henry did and have Quality as Job #1!!
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Old November 4, 2012, 03:17 AM   #17
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What serial range equates to pre-2005? Or are there visual features to indicate it?
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Old November 4, 2012, 08:15 AM   #18
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Visual features would include furniture that actually fits, rifling that isn't missing at the muzzle and/or no chatter marks, front sight that doesn't feel loose, and maybe more?

I just picked up a 1894 in 44 mag, and had 2 of the problems above. Wood doesn't fit as good as it should and the front sight was loose (and then fell off after tightening it up... Crappy screws broke). After fixing the sight though, it shoots great.
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Old November 4, 2012, 08:37 AM   #19
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Take a look at Henry's. We had a 45LC, 44 mag and a 357 at the store, 357 sold first. Nice guns. The Henry 357 is on my short list.
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Old November 4, 2012, 09:59 AM   #20
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For me, this is where my search for a new lever action would start and end.
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Old November 4, 2012, 10:21 AM   #21
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I recently decided to end the same .357 hunt by ordering a Rossi M92 from Steve Young. It's the blued 20 inch version.

You pay several hundred dollars more for whatever extra parts you order and his work. He was very helpful and straightforward in our discussions, and I am confident that I will be happy with the rifle . . .

When I get it. It won't be until March. That's the major disadvantage.

I will start a thread when it comes.
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Old November 5, 2012, 01:10 AM   #22
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Serial range 95xxxx-89xxxx, which removes the 2005-2011 ones...
With the New 2012 ones, simply make sure its a NEW in last five months,
then check it over like you SHOULD any new firearm...intently!!

Gotta say that the last five months production has looked WAY better than the first six months of 2012...
so it looks like there's some serious work going on at Marlin since they stopped & retrained the lever line...then restarted it...

I'm actually looking forward to the 2013 models

Don't let 'em get by with SQUAT!! We want Marlin operating as heavy on QC as Henry, where Quality is #1!!
But Marlin can't fix what they don't know about!!!

Granted Henry uses some craptastic plastic parts sometimes...but hey, its their choice. H003 slide grip...BLEAH!!
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Old November 5, 2012, 01:49 AM   #23
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I am very pleased with the Marlin 1894C I bought 5, or so, years ago. It has not caused me any problems in that time. I put a Simmons red dot scope on it and use it for Coyote hunting out to about 125 yards.

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Old November 5, 2012, 07:53 AM   #24
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I have had the 16 inch Rossi for maybe fifteen years or so. Nice gun. For some reason, I shoot it well standing. Don't know why that is the case....the little carbine comes right up to my eye and shoulder like it was fitted for me. I shoot it better offhand than any other rifle with iron sights out to 75 yards or so.
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Last edited by darkgael; November 5, 2012 at 10:18 AM.
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Old November 7, 2012, 12:54 AM   #25
David R. Svatos
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I've had a Browning BL 92 for almost 20 years and it shoots and handles GREAT! it shows a little age on the outside ( as we all do), but is still real pretty on the inside where it counts
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