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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Rossi Model 461-03 3 inch .357 Magnum

Edit at bottom.

One of the things I got for myself this year was a firearm type I've wanted for a VERY long time.

I've wanted a 6 shot 3 inch barrel .357 Magnum Revolver for many years.  IAMMO had one.  A Rossi Model 461, for $279.00.  So I jumped on it, and with shipping it cost me $307.00.

After picking it up at my Sooper Sekrit Gunstore, after filling out my Form 4473, getting my NICS Background check and paying my paperwork fee, I brought it home and closely examined it.

This is a preliminary inspection.  Granted this is an inexpensive revolver compared to Smith & Wesson, Colt or Dan Wesson, but there are a few issues, which while not a deal breaker, make this particular pistol less appealing to me.




The issues:

a.)  It does NOT have a full length ejector rod.  That is one of the reasons I wanted a 3 inch barrel.  S&W, Colt, Dan Wesson, those have a full length ejector rod on their 3 inch barreled revolvers.




b.)  The cylinder pawl is very rough, giving the trigger on double action a gritty feeling, and you can feel the grittiness when hand cocking it for single action.



c.)  The Ejector lips for the case rim in 2 of the chambers was so rough that a cartridge could not be fully loaded nor easily ejected.



d.)  The hard rubber grips are a bit too small and smooth.  I'm concerned about maintaining proper control under full recoil with Magnum loads.

e.)  The "Hammer Nose" firing pin.  It does have a hammer blocking bar to the prevent the hammer from striking the primer, but I'd prefer the "Transfer Bar" firing pin.



f.)  The cylinder release is smaller and angled.  It's just a tad small for my liking.  I can imagine if my hands are sweaty, my thumb wouldn't fully depress the release fully to open the cylinder.



g.)  Hammer safety lock and it's "Key"



The assets:

a.)  It IS a 3 inch revolver with a round butt and Pachmayr does make their gripper grips for it.  Pachmayr grips are a little "tackier" feeling and should be just a little bit larger than the factory grips.

b.) After working the action a few hundred times after marking the pawl up with a sharpie marker, I was able to smooth the bad parts of the pawl, making the trigger much better and removing most of the grittiness.  It will only get better with use.

c.)  The ejector lips were smoothed by simply using some fired nickle plated cases, and forcing them in and ejecting them a few dozen times.  The fired cases will still slightly stick in those two chambers, but loaded rounds now just fall right out.

d.) Other than it being just a little wider than my Charter Arms Undercover (About 1/8th inch) and having the 3 inch barrel instead of two, it is just about the same size as the Charter Arms.

e.)  The cylinder lock up is very tight on all chambers.

A quick comparison to my old Taurus Model 82 that I've carried since 1992.


You can see the difference in the ejector rod lengths.  The Rossi ejector rod is 1", the Taurus' is 1 5/16ths".  That extra 5/16ths is enough to fully kick out the shells from the cylinder.



The Taurus cylinder release is much larger, not angled and feels much better under my thumb.


You can look at the hammer and see the main and most important difference.  The transfer bar firing pin.  The trigger must be pulled completely to the rear to raise the transfer bar up so it can be struck by the hammer transferring the force of the hammer to the internal firing pin.

For a 23 year old revolver with over 10 thousand rounds through it, my Taurus still looks pretty good.  I've only had to replace the firing pin and it's spring about 4 years ago, and it's still locks up tight and is accurate.  It's been carried in leather holsters in rain, humidity, and it and I once got dunked in the Missouri River during the flood of '93 up in West Alton, just north of St. Louis Mo.  I just wished the satin nickle finish was a regularly available option on more firearms.

Next on the agenda for this revolver is to get it to the range and put at least 50 rounds of full power .357 Magnum ammo through it and a hundred or so of .38 Special.  Most of the time, this revolver will have .38 Special run through it, but I've always wanted a smaller .357 than my fathers 6 inch Astra .357. Some Pachmayr's and some whiteout to the sights to make them a little easier to pickup in lower light conditions.  And removing the "Safety Lock"

I DO realize that Rossi and Taurus don't have the best reputation for quality, however with my own gunsmithing experience, unless it's something radical, I can do most of my own work on this revolver, even making some of the parts.

I will probably look into replacing the cylinder release after I get a set of Pachmayr's on it, and then see how it goes from there.

ETA: to the people asking "Why not just save up and buy a S&W or a Dan Wesson?"  Find me one that costs less than $700.00, in good condition, and then we will talk. And I DO NOT want a Large L or N Frame, I specifically wanted a K Frame size.  Some people always have to offer up the negatives instead of focusing on the positives.  And we wonder why there are flame wars on the Forums.

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