Puma Model 92 “Bounty Hunter” Lever Action .45 Colt Pistol from Legacy Sports


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

July 6th, 2009

UPDATED September 3rd, s009




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Like many of you, I grew up watching a variety of television Westerns, along with a rare visit to a picture show to see how people lived and died in the Old West. It mattered not whether the characters in those shows were true depictions of life on the frontier, to me, those shows told a true tale of the everyday life of cowboys, storekeepers, lawmen, and thugs, trying to scratch out a living in the Old West. I feel sorry for kids today. The TV is full of decrepit mutated monsters and machines which transform into other decrepit mutated monsters and machines, flying all over creation, shooting laser beams which are about as accurate as a poorly-thrown hedge apple. Makes no sense to me. Used to be, things were simpler for a boy watching the TV. Good guys fought the bad guys, and it was easy to tell which was which. Shows like Gunsmoke, The Rifleman, Wagon Train, and Rawhide were Saturday staples. I greatly preferred these realistic shows to the “singing cowboy” type of show. Too many rhinestones and frilly girls in those shows for me. The serious type of Western was what I liked, where every week, somebody needed a good thumping, and there was always a good guy ready to apply a bullet or a hard fist to solve whatever problem needed solving. Life was good. In most of those old shows, the bounty hunter was always a bad guy, except for one short-lived TV series which ran for about three years, called “Wanted: Dead or Alive”. In that series, the bounty hunter was the good guy. The supposed star of that show was Steve McQueen, but to me, and many others, the real star was his Mare’s Leg; a cut-down Winchester Model 92 levergun. Carried in a leg holster, that sawed-off levergun could do anything. Quick into action, it was always ready to apply justice when needed.

While Winchester did make some short-barreled “Trapper” models of their leverguns, the rifle that McQueen carried was built just for the show, with a shortened barrel and buttstock. It also had an enlarged loop lever for quick handling with one hand. While chambered for the .44 WCF cartridge, McQueen carried the larger .45-70 cartridges in his belt for effect.

McQueen’s Mare’s Leg has been replicated before, and cutting down a rifle to this configuration requires permission from the government and a $200 tax to do it legally. Manufacturing the Mare’s Leg as a pistol avoids that legal pitfall, and it has been done on a small scale just a few years ago. Now however, Legacy Sports is marketing the Mare’s Leg shown here as a Puma 92 Bounty Hunter pistol, and doing so by placing the 92 pistol among its already extensive lineup of Model 92 rifles and carbines. The Puma rifles are now made by Chiappa in Italy, and no longer wear a manual safety atop the bolt, as they did when they were built by Rossi in Brazil. The new 92 Pumas have very smooth actions, excellent workmanship, and are well-fitted.

The Puma 92 pistol shown here displays very good craftsmanship. The walnut is finished with a satin sheen. The bluing is a deep blue-black, and exhibits flawless polishing. The case colors on the receiver, hammer, lever, trigger, buttplate, and barrel bands are very well done. The barrel is of round configuration, twelve inches long, and wears a set of rugged and reliable sights. The wood is very well-fitted to the receiver. On the left side is a blued saddle ring and ring stud, which is a nice touch. The lever loop is plenty large for a gloved hand, or for spinning the pistol to work the action, if desired. Loading the pistol is accomplished by sliding the cartridges through the loading gate on the right side, just like with a 92 rifle or carbine. The magazine tube holds six cartridges, for a total loaded capacity of seven. The hammer has the traditional half-cock notch to safely carry the pistol with a round in the chamber. The 92 pistol weighs in at four pounds, six ounces, and has an overall length of twenty-three and one-eighth inches. The trigger pull weight measured a crisp two pounds, seven ounces.

Shooting the Puma 92 pistol was a lot of fun, whether horsing around and shooting from the hip, and hitting almost nothing at which I aimed, or when accuracy testing from the bench. The sample pistol shown here is chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge, but chamberings of .44 WCF (.44-40) and .44 Magnum are also available. Most of my shooting of the pistol was using one of my favorite handloads, which has a Mt. Baldy 270 SAA bullet atop 6.6 grains of Trail Boss powder. This is a fun plinking load, but is plenty accurate for more serious purposes as well. The cartridges fed smoothly from the magazine, and there were no failures to fire nor to eject. With this bullet, the cartridge overall length has to be carefully maintained to not exceed the length that will cycle through the action, but that is no problem, as the bullet’s crimping groove will allow that length to be maintained. The Bounty Hunter pistol would cluster this load tightly at twenty-five yards, firing from a hand-held rested position. If I could see better, I think that they would all go into the same hole, and the elevation was dead on at that range with that load also. The rear sight can be drift-adjusted for windage correction, if needed.

Legacy Sports also sells a couple of different holsters for the Puma pistol, made by Bob Mernickle. I did not have the holster here for review, but if Bob Mernickle makes it, it will definitely be a quality rig, built from the best materials, and crafted to perfection. They sell both right and left-handed rigs, along with a pack holster, and one of these Mernickle rigs would be a needed accessory to complete this nostalgic package.

The Puma 92 Bounty Hunter pistol offers a nostalgic trip back to the Old West, whether the way it was, or the way it should have been. It is more than just a replica of a TV gun, but could also serve well as a gun to carry on a backpack, or as a compact camp gun. Smaller than any rifle, but easier to shoot well than many handguns, the Bounty Hunter is a unique, reliable, powerful, and accurate pistol that is different than anything currently available.

Check out the entire line of Puma rifles, carbines, pistols, and shotguns online at www.legacysports.com.

To order Puma firearms online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

Jeff Quinn



The Mernickle holster rig arrived from Legacy Sports, and as anticipated, it is a first class rig all the way. While strapping it on, I realized that I was putting it on over a Mernickle belt that I have been wearing everyday for about seven years, and it is as sturdy and useful today as it was the first day that I put it on. Bob Mernickle's holsters and belts are built to last, and this one certainly has held up perfectly. Anyway, the rig built for this Bounty Hunter is expertly crafted, and really completes this nostalgic package. The cartridge loops are spaced correctly, and just for the heck of it, in addition to the .45 Colt cartridges placed in the loops, I stuck in a few .45-70 cartridges as well, like McQueen did into his rig. This is a very high quality leather rig, and I highly recommend it to anyone who buys this dandy little sawed-off '92.

Click Here to order the Puma gun leather for the Bounty Hunter pistol.



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Puma Model 92 "Bounty Hunter" lever-action .45 Colt pistol.