Long, long ago, in those frivolous carefree days when Americans had the money to pursue their dreams and hobbies with reckless abandon, the sport of cowboy action shooting burst upon the American firearms scene.
The sport required participants to dress in period costume and participate in shooting events using original or reproduction firearms of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Typically, cowboy action shooters needed two single-action pistols, a rifle, and a shotgun.
This desire for multiple guns spawned demand for reproduction firearms like the Rossi M92 Puma carbine. Since many original nineteenth century firearms were no longer up to the rigors of regular shooting, shooters felt safer shooting a reproduction firearm that incorporated modern materials and safety features. In addition, to simplify logistics, cowboy action shooters often sought firearms that all shot the same caliber of ammunition. The Rossi Puma Lever-Action Carbine can be bought in several different calibers. For example, I chose .45 Colt so that I could use the same ammunition for my rifle and my Ruger Vaquero.
The Puma carbine is a convenient size for defending the old homestead or for trail drives down to the typical suburban shooting range. My Rossi M92 Puma has a 20-inch barrel and an overall length of 37 and 1/2 inches. Like the classic 1892 Winchester Rifle that it emulates, the Rossi Puma just handles well and seems like a natural fit for almost any shooter. Like many Brazilian-made firearms, the guns remain timeless while the importers change. You may find this classic cowboy carbine sold today as the Legacy M92 Puma. According to the Guns and Ammo 2009 Buyers guide, the Legacy M92 Carbine comes in .357 Magnum/.38 Special, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, .454 Casull, and .480 Ruger and in barrel lengths from 16 to 24 inches.
Competitors and home defenders will be gratified to find that the under slung tubular magazine runs the full-length of the barrel and provides plenty of ammunition capacity. The Rossi M92 Carbine has a reasonably light single-action trigger and good iron sights. At typical 25-yard indoor ranges, it delivers excellent accuracy with tight groups on the Bulls eye. When I last shot my Ross Puma and my Ruger Vaquero revolver during the same shooting session, I was struck by how much more accurate I was with the carbine.
The craftsmanship and materials used in this Brazilian import are quite good. My Rossi M92 is all stainless steel except for the iron sights. The stock is made of an attractive Brazilian hardwood. For authenticity, the Rossi Puma has a saddle ring on the left hand side of the action. For home defense, the ring should be removed so that you don’t go clink in the night. However, I’d be cautious about using it for home defense because the Rossi M92 Carbine is single-action and can be difficult to de-cock and unload safely outside of a shooting facility. As a reproduction firearm, the butt plate is stainless steel. Fortunately, recoil is mild with factory .45 Colt ammunition.
There is one potentially serious problem to point out with the Rossi M92 Puma Carbine and the current day Legacy Puma Carbine. My carbine developed a small crack on the very front of the wooden fore stock. I originally suspected that this damage may have been the result of me carelessly firing from a wooden rest that was not properly padded. However, there are several internet threads addressing the problem of cracked wooden fore stocks on Puma carbines. It does seem to be a common flaw. Otherwise, my Rossi Puma has held up to occasional shooting over a decade of ownership.
Overall, I recommend the Rossi M92 Puma Carbine for anyone who wants to get into cowboy action shooting on a tight budget.
“2009 Annual Buyers Guide,” Guns and Ammo Magazine. 2009.
Shooter’s Forum Thread. http://shootersforum.com/showthread.htm?t=12615