Rifles > Lever-Action

Rossi Ranch Hand Review

Rossi has introduced a lever-action handgun built around the iconic mare’s leg from "Wanted: Dead or Alive."

10/12/2011

There was a time when the word “rifle” almost exclusively meant a lever-action. The lever-action rifle is an iconic part of America and as much a symbol of the Old West as a worn-out pair of cowboy boots or a set of spurs. Its fame is not just celebrated in the dust of the West, though, as eastern deer hunters have long relied on the lever-action. For the lever-action enthusiast, Rossi offers multiple models, including the unconventional.

Founded in 1889 by Amadeo Rossi, his namesake company is a leading manufacturer of single-shot rifles, muzzleloaders and shotguns; however, Rossi offers a diverse selection of lever-action rifles built around the famed Winchester Model 92 action, too. It has also unveiled a lever-action rifle similar to the Marlin Model 336. Rossi’s lever guns are unusual, but the one covered here is not a rifle at all.

Rossi Ranch Hand
Every now and again a movie gun will capture viewers’ imaginations. Perhaps the best example is the Smith & Wesson Model 29 used by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry flicks. The Model 92, which has also been referred to as the Randall Special or Winchester Randall, was a cut-down lever-action rifle used by Steve McQueen in the series “Wanted: Dead or Alive.” For Western television buffs familiar with the series, this might be the most recognizable movie gun of all.

The original gun was a Winchester Model 1892 rifle with a shortened stock and barrel. Under today’s legal restrictions, gunsmithing one requires BATFE approval and a $200 fee. Because the Ranch Hand is produced at the factory as handgun, it is free from such requirements.

The Ranch Hand is available in .357 Mag./.38 Spl., .44 Mag./.44 Spl., and .45 Colt. The test gun was the .44 Mag./.44 Spl. variant. The investment-cast action is a replication of the famous Winchester Model 92 with the addition of a safety. On the bolt, just in front of the hammer, there is a small, “L”- shaped lever that can be toggled between fire and safe to lock the firing pin.

Like the Rio Grande, the Ranch Hand is fitted with a walnut-stained hardwood buttstock and fore-end. It has two barrel bands: one at the front of the fore-end and another 1/2-inch rearward of the muzzle. There is no means to attach a sling; however, there is a big-loop lever, and the butt of the stock has a thick, flat steel plate. On the left side of the action is the classic saddle ring with a leather tie. The handgun is equipped with a semi-buckhorn rear sight that is adjustable for elevation and windage, and the front sight is a tall, thin blade topped with a 0.090-inch brass bead.

The Ranch Hand was accurate and operated without a hitch. There are some shootability issues with the design—more on that shortly—but the only real problem with the firearm was the sights. They could not be adjusted to match point of aim with point of impact.

At 25 yards all of the loads tested impacted about a foot above the point of aim, even with the rear sight bottomed out. This leaves the user with three options: Install a taller front sight; cut the notch in the rear sight deeper; or aim low. This all might seem detrimental to the performance of this handgun, but let’s be realistic—it’s more for novelty than practicality.

The reason I believe so is that it’s not the easiest firearm to shoot. The stock is too short to shoot it like a rifle, and the pistol grip is almost too straight to shoot it like a traditional handgun. One can employ a sort of push/pull hold and bring the gun up like it has an imaginary stock. While this is not the most stable shooting position, I was consistently able to get hits on 16-inch steel plates out to 50 yards. With practice this might be the best option for accurately shooting a Ranch Hand off-hand.

For me, the most fun way to shoot the Ranch Hand was like it was most often used on-screen: Brace the buttstock against the hip, hold the fore-end down with the off-side hand, pull the trigger and rack the big loop lever. The faster you do this the more fun it is. Using this method I could ventilate a silhouette target at 7 yards at the pace of about one hole per second. The problem here is that you are point shooting, and that takes practice, too.

Shooting the Ranch Hand from the bench was comfortable when using the .44 Spl. loads, but when stoked with DoubleTap’s .44 Mag. loads, it got uncomfortable. It was like I actually had a hold of a horse’s leg—more specifically, one that did not want me holding it. This experience did demonstrate the only practical use I’ve found for the big-loop lever—it allowed a two-hand grip around the wrist of the stock similar to the way a shooter would hold any other big-bore handgun. Still, DoubleTap’s 240-grain Keith bullet at almost 1,700 fps was a handful. After firing the requisite 25 shots—five consecutive, five-shot groups—I wanted no more.

This did, however, show that the Ranch Hand could be fired with a two-hand grip like that used with a traditional handgun. I tried this from the standing, off-hand position and accuracy was fair. Again, this is something you would need to practice. Regardless, if you plan to shoot full-power .44 Mag. loads you might want to start building up your grip and forearm strength now.

Of course the real appeal of the Ranch Hand is more nostalgic than practical. Sure, it could be used as a defensive firearm. It could also be used around a ranch, I suppose, if ranges were kept modest and if the sights were regulated. Mostly, it’s just a lot of fun to shoot, especially with .44 Spl. loads. Based on my experiences testing the Ranch Hand in .44 Mag., I believe one chambered for the .357 Mag./.38 Spl. would be as comfortable to fire as it would be fun.

The lever-action rifle might be the most iconic American firearm of all time. It has a coast-to-coast heritage and has been trusted for more than a century. Just when you thought that everything new had to be built on an AR-15 platform, these two new guns from Rossi offer a new and an old twist to the lever-action, rounding out its line of lever guns with a shotgun and a handgun.

Now, if you will excuse me, I think I’ll put on my cowboy hat and boots and go to the range.

Importer: Rossi; (306) 474-0401; www.rossiusa.com
Model: Ranch Hand
Action: repeating lever-action, center-fire handgun
Caliber: .44 Mag./.44 Spl. (tested), .357 Mag./.38 Spl.
Capacity: six
Receiver: investment-cast 4140 carbon steel; blued
Stock: oil-finished deluxe hardwood
Barrel: 12"; button-rifled; six-groove, RH, 1:30" twist
Sights: buckhorn rear; post front
Trigger Pull Weight: 4 lbs., 4 ozs.
Overall Length: 233⁄4"
Weight: 4 lbs., 9 ozs.
Suggested Retail Price: $536

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43 Responses to Rossi Ranch Hand Review

M. Stafford wrote:
April 15, 2014

I already own a Henry lever-action 45 rifle and a Colt 45 revolver so this seemed a natural expansion of my 'set.' The action is stiff, requiring a more aggressive activation of the lever. A lighter touch can result in a jammed round. Scoring on the brass indicates the need for some 'rounding and polishing' as others have indicated. It is clearly not a 'primary weapon' as it has serious drawbacks in terms of accuracy but for target practice at the range, it is an entertaining piece; one that attracts attention and always elicits discussion. Much cheaper than its Henry counterpart, it is probably worth exactly what I paid for it.

Rossi Ranch Hand wrote:
November 21, 2013

Bought a Rossi Ranch Hand May, 2013 and It did have a few problems. Fed all 38 special ammo but didn't like any wadcutters semi jacketed wadcutters, or flat tip bullets in 357 but would feed the jacketed round nose 158 gr reliably. Also shaved lead on the sharp edges of the loading port and the chamber. Disassembled the 'thing' and lightly rounded and polished the chamber opening, rounded the edges of the feed port , the plastic follower had mold flashing left on it so cleaned that and reassembled the thing. It now feeds 38 and 357 rounds reliably. it holds 8-38 Special and 7- 357 mag. Mine shoots dead on with 38s and +p and 4'high with 357 mag. I shot a practice round for metallic silhouette this weekend and the 357s are pushing a 50 pound ram straight back off the rail at 200 meters. Better than my 10' TC contender 30/30. Shooting standing and creedmoore it is very accurate out to 200 meters. I have a single point sling attached to the ring and it carry's well and using a forward push with the sling around my shoulder it offers a very stable standing position. It's short,quick and fun to shoot. I think it would make an excellent home defense weapon with frangible 38 spl loads and I know it will be a good hog gun. will find out how it handles deer in a few days.

howard w. hughes wrote:
September 29, 2013

Got a call from my gunsmith with good news so back to story of my two ranch hands 38 spl. round nose lead ok will cycle and fire some full jacketed 357 and some semi wad cutter lead 357 but no semi jacketed soft points and that will depend on the speed of the levering of the gun If you lever too slow it will jam but it works but not a reliable weapon

Howard W. Hughes wrote:
September 27, 2013

Just got word back from my gunsmith on my 2 Rossi Ranch Hands it's confirmed they are 100[%] junk they can not be made to cycle 357 mag. ammo but it will cycle one brand of 38 spl. but will not fire it. so the continuing story of the two ranch hands

Howard W. Hughes wrote:
September 25, 2013

I own two of the ranch hands in 357 mag.I purchased them a year ago and put them away. I had full leather rigs made for them so it was time to take them out. I found both of them would not function they could not cycle rounds from magazine into the chamber. If you work the action and pull the trigger wiyhout any rounds in it. The weapon work fine put a round in the chamber one at time hammer back didn't fire called Rossi They told me that the warranty was up because they only has a year warranty now this is a firearm I never fired it was stored . So I have them a gunsmith to see if they can be repair and Rossi told me I can not buy parts from them

Chris wrote:
August 20, 2013

Great gun,45.colt,acurate at 100 yards, 6 foot huskey compresser easy target. Only problem is the safety lock on the hammer doesn't serve any purpose on my weapon. Doesn't lock the hammer, Mabey a manufacturer defect, no luck , CANADA!

Stephen L. Hoffman wrote:
August 20, 2013

I bought a ROSSI Ranch Hand in .38 / .357 this past Friday and fired 100 .357 magnum rounds at the indoor range. I shot a bit high @ 15 yards, but afterward found out that I needed to aim the bead-sight at the notch of the gun-sight. I came back the next day and shot 50 more rounds @ 15 yards against a target silhouette. Pretty much on target, I just got to work on my breathing & trigger pull. I do recommend the push-pull method with a cheek-weld. I haven't had a chance to fire outside yet, but I think the Ranch Hand will be good enough out to 25 yards.

Jeff wrote:
July 30, 2013

Not a big fan of these. Handled some today when I was browsing in the pawn shop and I drifted towards the 16 inch barreled Rossi lever guns. The design looks good and functions good. It just feels more comfortable for me to shoulder a rifle and have it hit where I want it rather than shooting a half rifle with one hand.

Al wrote:
June 23, 2013

I bought one in .38/.357 Mag. Is it practical ? Nope. Is it fun ? Yep. Am I glad I bought it ? Oh hell yeah !! I Tru-Oiled the stocks to "finish" it; it appears the norm now with manufacturers is to have the stocks dull. Now it looks "right" with the Tru-Oil satin finish. I also replaced the front sight with a taller one and replaced the yellow plastic mag follower with a stainless steel one. Get one, you won't be disappointed.

Adam H. wrote:
June 09, 2013

I bought one of these in .44 Magnum. Like stated in the review with full power .44 magnum loads it does have some kick. First thing I did was work the action a bunch of times with Lucas gun oil, and got the action to smooth out. Then I test fired it with Blazer Aluminum 240gr JHP. With those rounds I really had to work the action fast to get the rounds to load smoothly. I ran the next 6 shots with Federal Fusion 240gr jacketed lead nose. Those rounds really shot like a cannon out of the ranch hand. This gun is in my collection as a "fun" gun. I don't plan on carrying it, or using it for hunting. Although it could be used in those roles if push came to shove.

Jim Harter wrote:
May 27, 2013

OK I was partially wrong they fixed the cartridge guide issue it works great but the gun still shoots high so I bought a higher front sight which I have not tried yet but should take care of the problem. Here is the deal on why I thought the sight issue was fixed for shooting high. Then sent a target that was right on. But what I was told they do is clamp the gun down so it cannot move meaning it will not rise on recoil like if a person was shooting it not clamped down. That might show them the accuracy of the gun but it does not show the shooting high issue if a customer has that issue. Other than the sight issue I have no complaints. I like it and it is accurate if you do get the sights regulated.

Fred wrote:
May 24, 2013

Negative remarks are not new. When Rossi chambered their 92 in 454 Casull there literally tons of negative remarks. I'm not sure why. Maybe because many look down at Rossi and/or because their favorite manufacturer didn't come out with first. Luckily that same type of mentality didn't stop Winchester, Smith & Wesson, Colt, Browning, Remington or Eugene Stoner from their work. Just think if we listened to these negative people we'd still be using sticks and stones to survive.

Two Gun Mojo wrote:
May 24, 2013

I bought a model in 45 colt. It does shoot high, but that's my only complaint. Considering I learned to compensate my aim at a young age, I've gotten accurate with it. 45 colt is a great beefy round. This is very unconventional, very out of the ordinary. But that's why I like it.

Miles wrote:
April 30, 2013

I have the .45 colt version and love it, I have had not FTE or FTC problems with mine and it is just as accurate as any other handgun I have. And to the first commenter 'Q' exactly what about this makes it anymore dangerous than any other handgun on the market? Quit randomly complaining about things you are obviously uneducated about.

Jim Harter wrote:
April 22, 2013

Mike Rowzee your WRONG. I had to send my Ranch Hand back for cartridge guide issue they fixed it sent back the old parts to show they fixed it. They also took care of the shooting high problem for me and sent back a test target to prove that also. Rossi/Taurus paid for the shipping both ways it cost me nothing to ship it to the factory to get taken care of and I had it back in a months time. They said it could be 6 weeks but it was a month. I thought there customer service was good.

Mike Rowzee wrote:
February 28, 2013

My Rossi came with a manufacturers defective firing pin. Rossi won't sell replacement parts. If I want it fixed, I need to ship the rifle and pay almost as much as a brand new rifle costs. I WILL NEVER BUY ANOTHER ROSSI!!!!!

C.wulf wrote:
February 22, 2013

I have owned a lot of guns in my time and fired plenty more ( I was a cavalry scout in the Army). This is hands down my favorite gun. Yeah it isn't a sniper rifle, but I don't need it to be. I own a small 5 acre farm with chickens, and turkeys and I can hit anything on the property with it from anywhere as long as I can see it. The one negative thing I've noticed is it doesn't like every brand of ammo, so if you have trouble with rounds catching try a different type. It worked for me.

randy n wrote:
February 12, 2013

CANT PLEASE EVERYONE. my wife bought me one for my birthday last year i took it out and shot it. was different, its pretty well made for the price. but if you want an extremely well made gun to show off to your friends then go ahead and pay more. but dont criticize it just because its different. if you dont like it than thats your problem, let everyone else have fun.

JoG wrote:
January 30, 2013

Bought the .38/357 model!! Probably put less than 100 rounds through it before it started jamming. Called Rossi and after giving them the SN# I was informed that the particular model I have is NOT under warranty. What a crock!! So now I'm stuck with a piece of junk!! Think twice before you spend your hard earned dollar!! Or be sure you get the right one if you must have it!! Oh, they did give me a name and phone number of someone who might be able to repair it but when I called the message stated he was to busy to answer the phone and to send an email and he would get back to me!! I figured his customer service would be as good as rossi's!! Nonexistent!!

PB McGeough wrote:
November 19, 2012

I own a 45 colt version of the ranch hand and have sent it back to Rossi to get the sites set right.With a 6 oclock hold it hits paper at the top of the target. It is not classed as a handgun in Canada and can be carried on your Quad here, handgun hunting is not allowed here, so the ranchhand will fit the bill when it shots straight.I also own a Chiappa M92 rep in 357 and it shoots to point of aim and feeds 38 special like a trooper all day!!( yes, a Canadian member of the NRA!!)

karen brown wrote:
November 13, 2012

just shot my 357 ranch hand and it also shoots way high. I do not recommend on filing down the back site but raising the front site but Rossi should make it right instead of the gun owner making alterations. Has anyone contacted Rossi. I am a good shot and could not believe how far off the gun was and at 40 yards I did not even touch the paper. Even if I removed the back site it still would not be right on. I want to use this gun to pack out for deer season and use it for close range out of a tree stand. I have a 357 handgun and love it and I have killed a deer with it.

western lover wrote:
November 09, 2012

Rossi got me---Biggest piece of junk I ever bought. I have it above my mantle next to my henry rifle and dont know why!!! The only reason is because I am not made of money!! The best thing for a person to do like myself is purchase a good old or modern replica reliable rife and cut it down yourself!! They have just taken advantge of the cowboy/western lovers in the world!!! Signed ---Chapped cowboy !!!

Chet Phillips wrote:
October 18, 2012

I plan on getting one soon, not everything has to be practical people....or have a specific use,what's wrong with having something just for fun?i work hard and I deserve to have a toy to play with .

Aric Lewis wrote:
October 10, 2012

I have had my ranch hand in 44mag for about a year now. I love it. Yeah it shoots a little high. But i have had absolutly no problems out of it. It is to me a fun gun. But i could see using it for a home deffence gun if the need arises. I have other guns for that purpose though. Everyone i jave let shoot it wants one now. I really dont see where the first commentor thinks its unsafe and dangerous. Its just as safe as the full size rifle. I can shoot kinda accurate off the hip but the push/pull method works best for me. And the 44mag is not too much. I can and have shot 100 rounds at a time with no ill affects. But everyones tollerances are different. Look at it for what it is, a novelty...but a really fun plinking gun. Many guns are made just for the purpose of plinking. If you dont own one or have not at least shot one i dont see where you can have an opinion on what it can and cant be used for. If i were only able to choose one gun to have no i wouldnt choose this. But since i have a job and spend a little bit wisley i can enjoy this gun and the many others that i own. Thanks

Tom wrote:
September 16, 2012

Okay I'll admit that I originally thought this gun would be kind of silly but then I subconsciously starting convincing myself of its' uses. As a trappers gun in .38/.357 it would come in handy and have more than enough power and would fit in a pack. As a backpacking and camping gun again it would stash in a pack plus you could actually leave the gun with a loaded magazine and empty chamber next to you safely in a tent or bedroll. I know some would say you can do the same with a revolver or auto but with a revolver you have to have an empty chamber and cycle the gun twice with an auto you have to rack the slide. Most relatively affordable autos are nowhere near as powerful. Think of it as a modern mountain mans' "blanket gun". Having shot .44 and .357 mag carbines and handguns and .45 Colt handguns I would stay with the .357 or .45 Colt. The few reports I've read on accuracy have stated that although you may have to raise the front sight most people were getting 6 shot one hole groups at 25 yards. Some people gripe that the big hoop levers are hard or harder to use. They are unless you're wearing gloves. I have had too many occasions, when I lived in western Nebraska, of carrying a handgun while walking dogs or doing chores in the winter where gloves just got in the way of shooting. We had coyotes and badger to worry about all year long and rattlesnakes for 6 months (the snakes were EVERYWHERE!). Using a cavalry carbine sling in the saddle ring would work perfectly although it might get in the way if working on fence. That 12 inch barrel would make it alot easier in .357 to reach out and hit a coyote. Hmmm Ranch Hand just took on new meaning!

Bill from Boomhower, Texas wrote:
August 23, 2012

I just saw this gun advertized in the paper at Cabelas @ 479.99. I've been shooting. 45 plus years too, but I believe it best fills a defensive roll poorly, based on posted feed/cycling problems. That's not to say it couldn't be polished and fired/dry-fired enough to function somewhat reliablly. The impression I get after seeing it in the paper an hour ago for the first time, then googling it and winding up here with you all, is that it is a novelty gun. I love all the calibers it comes in, but you shouldn't have to deal with the kind of posted problems after spending almost 500.00 for any gun, much less a home defense gun. However, if they'd improve quality control, and offer it in cyl. bore 12ga Parkerized, I could see myself with at least one to have for the bedroom. I know guns are outragously priced anymore, but for what it is, that's not a practical price......just my opinon.

Clay Allison wrote:
July 09, 2012

If you aprouch the Ranch Hand like it was A conventional weapon, forget it. If you use it as a close combat piece, then you are on target. For get about the sites. Pointsnd just use the front site as you would a handgun in a tight situation. If you want to target shoot. Use a long gun it a pistol suited for that. I really love the Ranch Hand for what it is. Been shooting for over 40 years.

KDude wrote:
July 08, 2012

William, adding a stock would make it an SBR and require a tax stamp.

Mark Ingram wrote:
July 07, 2012

I have owned a Rossi for months now and have the same issue as most, cycling rounds. Jamming, failure to eject etc is common. I tore the apart did some filing and polishing and cleaning and plan on giving it a go tomorrow at the Hartford Gun Club. Hoping I don't blow myself up!

william wrote:
July 06, 2012

if you put a stock on the rifle does it make it more accurate?

Jeff Segal wrote:
July 04, 2012

I got a Rossi Ranch Hand about 3 months ago. I got one in. 45colt. You do need to find out how to aim it. I found that at 15 yards I have to aim at 6 o'cock low about 6 in to hit the bull and 12 in at 25 yards to do the same. I shoot mine mostly bench restinsg. But I'm working on doing sight shooting out to 50 yards. When I feel good with shooting from the hip I'm planning to shoot it in Hunter Pistol Silhouette/ Cowboy Lever Action matches. I love the gun. When I have it out at the range peole are always asking me about it and what it is and what caliber it is. It's a great and strange gun to shoot.

Left Coast Chuck wrote:
June 21, 2012

I wish I could afford to waste the money this item costs. However, inasmuch as cash is scarce in this household, I would rather spend that money on a full sized rifle which could be fired in any of the modes described in the article plus being held against the should in a normal rifle position.

ArcticWolf 13 wrote:
February 28, 2012

I bought the Rossi Ranch Hand .44 Mag. At first firing I had a few problems with levering the ammo, ejecting wasn't a problem, however the feed hung up a few times. I found that the faster I levered the action the better it seemed to operate. I really enjoy this weapon, the more I fire it the better it operates, so initially I believe it was the operator's lack of experience that caused the initial problems.

Evan wrote:
February 11, 2012

I own a Ranch Hand in a 45 cal. What a perfect home defense and a sweetie to shoot. I hold it against my hip and was amazed how quickly I learned to point and shoot with enough accuracy to get the job done.

Tuckerjohn wrote:
February 05, 2012

When I first saw this gun in the 2012 Gun Digest I thought it looked really cool. When I went to the local gun store to check it out I was extremely disappointed. Very poor craftsmanship. It was like a cheap plastic toy gun. Henry makes a mare's leg that is similar but built well. I would love to see a Marlin version of this gun made with real wood, better designed cartridge and a real brass butt plate.

Doug A Hoal wrote:
January 23, 2012

I want one!

Sarge912 wrote:
December 29, 2011

BTW, I found that a Blackhawk size 11 holster fits my Ranch Hand nicely.

Sarge912 wrote:
December 29, 2011

I was surprised at the negative review of the Ranch Hand. I have a 38/357 and it is accurate and easy to shoot, especially with .38. Instead of holding it at arm's length, I hold it like I would a rifle, weak hand extended on the foregrip and the right arm bent at the elbow. http://www.medlong.com/rh1.jpg

Mike-Mi wrote:
November 18, 2011

More of a question than comment. Would this be a viable option to use for hunting in lower MI. Shotgun/Handgun only and I was wondering as far as handguns go would I rather go this route or a 6" S&W K/L frame? Just for kicks mainly, trying to venture out from just dropping deer with my slug gun.

Mark Huckendubler wrote:
October 24, 2011

AFTER 11 MONTHS I GOT MY RANCH HAND. I REPLACED THE FRONT SIGHT,WHAT THE COMANY SHOULD OF DONE. YOU MUST RAISE FRONT BEAD UP. AS FOR AS AMO. THE BEST I HAVE FOUND IS,HORNADY 140 LEVOLUTION,OR 125GR. BLACK HILLS. I CAN SHOOT A 2IN GROUP AT 50YARDS. THE 357MAG. IS A GREAT TRUCK GUN FOR YOUT HUNTING.

Raul Garza wrote:
October 23, 2011

I bought the 357 model and the rounds wont chamber they get hung up and when i load them one by one they wont eject. tried several brands of ammo JUNK dont waste your money too much work no fun. any suggestions

Mike Likpscomb wrote:
October 22, 2011

I agree that the Rossi Ranchhand may be trash, BUT what fun! I love to play with my firearms and reloading and shall be interested in playing with a Ranchhand! Particularly if she is female! Mike.

Q wrote:
October 17, 2011

What trash. When will people realze that movies are fake? A piece like The Ranch Hand is as dangerous as it is useless. Get a suitable rifle instead, use your extra cash to join the NRA>