Rossi Matched Set: Muzzleloader, Shotgun, & Centerfire Rifle All In One Package

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn

August 13th, 2007

 

 

 

Rossi firearms have always represented a good value. Usually, they are nothing fancy, but are good, solid, reliable firearms, especially those made in the last few years. Now, Rossi has combined their trim little muzzleloader, shotgun, and centerfire rifle into one handy little package. The gun comes boxed with a soft-sided case that carries all three barrels and the receiver/buttstock easily and handily. The best part is the price. The suggested retail at the time of this writing is only $322 on this package, but I saw them at Wal Mart about a week ago for under 220 bucks for the whole three-barrel set!

There are a few configurations available, but the one reviewed here has a .50 caliber inline muzzleloader barrel, a .243 Winchester rifle barrel, and a twelve gauge modified-choke shotgun barrel, along with the padded case, one receiver and buttstock, and two forearms. The rifle barrel wears a ramped front sight, and came with a scope base attached at the rear. The shotgun barrel has a bead front sight, and the muzzleloader barrel has a set of adjustable fiber-optic sights, but is also drilled for a scope base.  The straight-grained hardwood has a  walnut-colored satin stained finished, and the receiver and barrels are a matte blued finish. The buttstock has a soft ventilated recoil pad attached.  The buttstock and forearms have a loop sling swivels attached, which is a nice touch. Every hunting rifle should come from the factory with sling attachments, yet many rifles costing several times the price of this Rossi do not have any provision for mounting a sling. Thanks, Rossi. The trigger guard is made of a hard black plastic. To keep the design compact, the muzzleloader barrel has a brass and wood telescoping ramrod that fits underneath the barrel. It telescopes easily, and works very well.  The action is opened for loading by simply pushing down on a latch that rides beside the hammer. Pressing the latch opens the action, and the action cannot be opened or closed if the hammer is cocked as a safety feature. In addition to the manual safety, the Rossi has an internal transfer bar safety, and a hammer-mounted key lock safety. 

Wearing the muzzleloader barrel, the Rossi weighs in at seven pounds and five ounces, and the weight is about the same with the other barrels attached. The two rifle barrels measure twenty-three inches in length, and the shotgun barrel is twenty-eight inches. The overall length with the rifle barrels attached is 38.5 inches. The trigger pull measures three and one-quarter pounds on the sample rifle. The Rossi is short, relatively light, and balances very well.

This is a very versatile package, allowing a hunter to use the one gun for hunting squirrels, rabbits, and upland birds with the twelve gauge shotgun barrel in the fall, switch to the muzzleloader barrel for the special deer seasons, attach the .243 Winchester barrel for the main deer hunting season, switch back to the shotgun barrel for waterfowl season, pop the .243 barrel back on for groundhogs in early spring, and again attach the shotgun barrel for turkey season. After a Fall, Winter, and Spring of hunting game, the .243 barrel can serve perfectly for varmint hunting all Summer long. That is a lot of versatility for such a meager sum of money!

Letís look at this Rossi as three different guns, as essentially, thatís what you get.  First, the shotgun.  What can I say? Itís a basic single barrel shotgun, like most of us grew up with. You break it open, insert a shell, pull back the hammer, and fire. The dern things work, and work well. Back when I was a kid, everybody had a single shot shotgun. It was the gun that was the workhorse around the farm, reliable as an anvil. The Rossi is no different. It works, throws a good pattern that was right on target for me, and would do nicely as an all-around, do everything, no-frills shotgun.  A well-heeled hunter might look better in his Filson jacket and matching field pants with a European double over his shoulder, but he wonít necessarily bag any more game than you can with this Rossi. It works.

Next, we will examine the .243 Winchester. The .243 is a darn good deer and antelope cartridge, especially with the good bullets available today as either handloading components or in factory ammunition. The .243 is also a superb varmint cartridge, shooting flat and hitting hard at long range.  With factory Remington Core-Lokt ammo, the kind that you can buy almost anywhere that sells ammo, the little Rossi would group into less than one and one-quarter inches at 100 yards. That was with an inexpensive Simmons 3 to 9 power scope attached. Realizing that most likely purchasers of the Rossi will also want to mount an affordable scope, I chose the Simmons. It works well. The optics are not nearly as good as on a better scope, but it will serve the purpose, and costs less than forty bucks. One and one-quarter inches is darn good accuracy for a deer rifle using standard factory ammunition. I know that buyers of this gun most likely wonít be buying fifty dollar per box ammo, and it isnít necessary. For hunting medium game, the standard Core-Lokt and Powerpoint ammo has worked just fine for decades, and still does the job. Some hunters might feel handicapped using a single shot rifle. There is no need to. Really, one good shot is usually all that is ever needed. However, should you need a second shot, it takes but a few seconds to extract the fired case and load a fresh cartridge. Too many times hunters rely too heavily upon a magazine full of cartridges, and shoot too quickly and inaccurately. A hunter with a single shot tends to make each shot count, and becomes a better hunter in the process.

On to the muzzleloader barrel. The Rossi is a very handy fifty caliber inline that uses a shotgun primer for ignition. With such a muzzleloader, a hunter can make things as complicated or as simple as he likes. Letís keep it simple here. Using a commercial bullet in a sabot, pelleted powder, and a shotgun primer, muzzleloading doesnít get any simpler. No need for casting, measuring, lubing, or carrying loose powder in a container of some sort. You drop in two pellets, seat the bullet, pop in the primer, and you are ready to shoot. I used Hodgdonís Triple Seven (777) pelleted powder along with the superb Barnes Spit Fire TMZ bullets. The Barnes bullets come packaged with the sabot attached. They load easily into the Rossi without the need of a bullet starter. The ramrod works perfectly to seat the bullet atop the powder in one smooth stroke. Barnes sells a special ramrod tip that will seat the pointed bullets without deformation, and it threads right into the Rossi ramrod. Also, the Hodgdon 777 greatly reduces fouling. I fired over 100 shots from the Rossi using the 777 and Barnes bullets without any need to clean the barrel. The last shot loaded just as easily as the first. After a day of shooting, the Rossi cleaned up easily with just plain cold water on a patch, followed by a patch coated with Break Free CLP to prevent rust. The Rossi comes with a breech plug wrench, or you can use a socket wrench for a bit more leverage.

With any new inline muzzleloader, I like to first remove the breech plug and coat with a good anti-seize lubricant, which is readily available at auto parts stores. This makes the plug much easier to remove later for cleaning.

The Barnes bullets expand perfectly, being of a copper construction that is precut to facilitate expansion. Penetration is deep, and expansion  is good in most any game animal. The fired sabots recovered after shooting showed no deformation and a perfect gas seal, with no indication of leakage.

The accuracy of the Rossi muzzleloader proved good enough for hunting medium game. With the Barnes/777 combo, the Rossi would group five shots into three inches at 100 yards. Playing around with other combinations of powder and bullets might improve the accuracy, and it might not. I did not pursue it, because my intent was to come up with a simple, effective, and accurate muzzleloading hunting load for the Rossi, and the Barnes Spit Fire TMZ with two 50 grain 777 pellets delivers. The accuracy needed to kill deer out to 150 yards is there, and the velocity of the 250 grain Barnes bullet from the Rossiís 23 inch barrel is slightly above 1800 feet-per-second. You could use the 777 Magnum pellets if you want more velocity, but the standard pellets work just  fine. Drop in two pellets, slide the bullet home, cap it, and fire. Simple. During all of the test firing, the Rossi proved to be 100 percent reliable, with never a misfire or hang fire of any kind.

The Rossi Matched Set is probably the best bargain on the market today in a hunting package. Shotgun, high powered centerfire rifle, and inline muzzleloader all in one. Even at the full suggested retail price of $322, it is still a real deal for an all-season hunter, but shop around a bit and I think that you can find it for less.

This three-gun package is available also as a youth model with more compact dimensions for kids and small adults.

Check out the Rossi line of handguns, shotguns, rifles, muzzleloaders, and accessories online at  www.rossiusa.com.

For the location of a Rossi dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER icon at  www.lipseys.com.

For a look at the extensive line of Barnes muzzleloader, handgun, and rifle bullets go to  www.barnesbullets.com.

For more information on Triple Seven and Pyrodex muzzleloader propellants, go to www.hodgdon.com.

Jeff Quinn

To locate a dealer where you can buy this gun, Click on the DEALER FINDER icon at:

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Rossi Matched Set: Muzzleloader, Shotgun, & Centerfire Rifle, all in one package.

 

 

 

 

The Rossi features an automatic transfer bar safety, as well as two manual safeties: a rotating safety (top) and key lock (bottom).

 

 

A button beside the hammer opens the action.

 

 

 

 

Fired cases are extracted for easy removal by hand.

 

 

Barrels change quickly and easily without tools.

 

 

The Rossi comes factory-equipped with sling swivels.

 

 

A welcome feature on a lightweight 12-gauge shotgun or fifty-cal muzzleloader: a nice, soft recoil pad.

 

 

 

 

The muzzleloader's breech plug removes easily, and should be coated with anti-seize compound.

 

 

Muzzleloader barrel has fiber-optic sights.

 

 

Barnes' Spit-Fire TMZ bullets are a great choice for the Rossi.

 

 

Barnes' bullet seater threads nicely onto the Rossi's telescoping ramrod.

 

 

Muzzleloading Simplicity: Triple Seven Pellets, Barnes TMZ, and a shotgun primer.

 

 

Sabots show no sign of powder gas leakage.