Legacy 92 .454
by Paco Kelly

photography by Paco Kelly

December 15th, 2002



Would you like a 45-70 in a light, easy to carry carbine lever gun? Say six pounds...a working gun...a truck gun...a gun which is extremely versatile, unlike the 45-70?   I am not knocking the 45-70...wouldnít trade mine or its brother 45-90, for any other gun or cash!  But even the Marlin 45-70 is a good size lever gun and the Winchester/Browning 1886  45-70 lever actions are very fine, but expensive, and extra large and heavy.  So what is this light, compact, and powerful, wonder lever action? 

It is the Legacy 92 chambered for the Freedom Arms 454 mega magnum handgun cartridge. Legacy also markets Howa bolt action rifles and other products. The Legacy lever actions are the basic John Browning 1892 design...which I have been writing about for years, especially about their strength...since they are basically a Winchester model 71 but scaled down in size, which was chambered for the very high pressure .348 cartridge (A 1930s reworked Browning 1886 design in modern steel).  The 1892 was the action John Browning developed, actually scaling down the 1886 design which fired the long and powerful 40 and 45 calibers on cartridge cases that held from 60 or so to over a 100 grains of black powder.  Scaled down for the old black powder 44-40/38-40/and 32-20 cartridges, the model 71/.348 came in the 1930s and was a modern high pressure, flat shooting lever action rifle.  The design is sound and strong. 

It was discovered when smokeless powder was introduced to the public, how strong these designs really were.  As steel became better and better, stronger and more resistive to pressure, the 92 became an eventual mini-powerhouse.  In the late 1970s a company called Rossi, had been reproducing the 1892 designs in many calibers and for a number of cartridges...like the .357 magnum and the 44 magnum.  And for Christmas 1998 my wife bought me a Rossi rifle model Ď92 in 45 Colt, with a 24 inch barrel.  Which I have been running 50,000 psi pressures in ever since.  Nary a problem except one....the loading tube kept cutting the retaining screw off at the muzzle from recoil generated by the heavy loads.

I guess I am big enough to admit that I didnít think the 92 design would take the 62,000 psi+ pressures of the Freedom Arms/Casull 454 cartridge over a sustained amount of shooting at that pressure.  And I have stated that many times in print.

But so far my Legacy Puma 454 is still tight after 500+ rounds of 60 to 65,000 psi pressures, and another 250 rounds of my heavy handloads.  This 92 is a little different than the others Rossi used to manufacture, now Legacy.  The biggest change is what they did to the loading tube.  No more screw cutting!  Like the 22RF rifles that have a loading tube that has a spring rod that goes over the cartridges into the tube to give the rounds tension, so the cartridges will cycle, a scaled up version of this is on the new 454 Legacy.  It opens at the muzzle with a twist and the rod is withdrawn to the loading port cut into the tube itself, so you can just drop the rounds in.  I was able to get 10 .45 long Colt rounds in the tube and still close it, and it allowed nine .454 rounds. But short of getting into a war,  nine rounds is certainly enough.

Also the rifle has the normal loading gate in the side of the action for loading, that way if you like the traditional approach...you have it.  Obviously this is the same action Rossi used and Legacy uses now in their model 92s in other calibers, like the 357s and 44 magnums and such. Otherwise they would have left the side loading port off.  Thatís extra machining and cost you donít engage in. Unless of course the actions for all calibers are made at the same time on auto-cutting machines.  Also the 454 action comes from the same injection molds as the other calibers.  I hear there is a special, extra heat treating, done on the 454sí steel.  But I donít believe that either.  All I can say for sure is...the gun withstood 500 very heavy loads (much better than my shoulder over 4 days).  And more handloads in the 454 and heavy 45 Colt class.

It is well built...the wood is the same dark South American alter ego walnut-finished type Rossi used...and the bluing on the 454 is very, very nice.  But so is it on my Legacy 357 magnum, 24" octagon barreled mod.92, with the case colored action. After all the shooting over a week and a half, we re-measured the locking lug mortises in the bolt with a 10,000ths digital capability readout, and it was absolutely the same, as with the lugs themselves. The trigger is too heavy, but if I keep it (buy it) thatís easily changed, as is slicking it up.  Lets face it, this is no Browning 92!  But itís price is less than half what the last Browning I purchased in a model 92, (a .32-20). A check of the gun stores in the Tucson and Phoenix areas gave an average price for the 92/20" plain Jane 454 carbine at $400. I couldnít find a store with the 24" mod. 454 Legacy, though the Legacy book states it has them on the market.

Overall this is a fine little carbine...it uses a cartridge that uses 30 grains of powder and under, can give on the low side power, or the power of a well handloaded 45-70 from a modern rifle. It is short, with a 13 Ĺ ď stock, 20 inch barrel, and a needed shock eating rubber recoil pad. It has a 2+ inch drop at the heel. And overall length is only 2 inches longer than a yard stick.  Short, very powerful...it would take any thin-skinned animal on earth with the right load, and since every heavy skinned animal has been taken with the 454 pistol loads, the rifle will do the same and better....with the right bullet for those animals.  It is fast reloading, a fast action for the second, and third, and so on shots.  It fits very well in the hidden overhead in my Ranger.  Mayhaps I just talked myself into keeping it.

Paco Kelly

Loading Notes

NOTE: All load data posted on this web site are for educational purposes only. Neither the author nor GunBlast.com assume any responsibility for the use or misuse of this data. The data indicated were arrived at using specialized equipment under conditions not necessarily comparable to those encountered by the potential user of this data.  Always use data from respected loading manuals and begin working up loads at least 10% below the loads indicated in the source manual.


VELOCITY CHECKED IN 24" BARREL - .45 Starline/Colt cases, W/W standard/magnum primers.

Recoil????? AB-SO-LUTE-LY!

Bullet Powder Pressure/Velocity
260 Keith 23.5/296 22,000 CUP 1599 fps
260 Keith 25/296 25,000 CUP 1710 fps
260 Keith 26/296 30,000 CUP 1850 fps
260 Keith 27/296 32,000 CUP 1940 fps
260 Keith 29/296 38,900 CUP 2112 fps
260 Keith 26 H110 29,900 CUP 1855 fps
260 Keith 27/H110 32,500 CUP 1965 fps
260 Keith 29/H110 41,900 CUP 2205 fps
260 Keith 22/H4227 29,000 CUP 1710 fps
260 Keith 25/H4227 31,000 CUP 1880 fps
260 Keith 28/H4227 40,100 CUP 2160 fps
300 grain WFN/LBT 15/HS7 32,000 CUP 1610 fps
300 grain WFN/LBT 24/H110 32,500 CUP 1705 fps
300 grain Lyman 191 (sized .451) 20/2400 31,900 CUP 1650 fps
300 grain Lyman 191 25/H110 32,900 CUP 1710 fps
300 grain Lyman 191 27/H110 46,000 CUP 2110 fps
300 WFN LBT  27/H110 49,800 CUP 1960 fps
340 SSK/WFN 24/H110 33,000 CUP 1680 fps
340 SSK/WFN 27/H110 51,500 CUP 1940 fps
335 WFN (CAST PERFORMANCE) 27/H110 52,000 CUP 2010 fps
325 JHP / JSP 23/H110 31,500 CUP 1715 fps
325 JHP / JSP 20/2400 33,000 CUP 1675 fps
NEI/Keith 325gr 29/H110 54,000 CUP 2221 fps
350 grain WFN/LBT (CAST PERFORMANCE) 16.5/2400 30,000 CUP 1590 fps
350 grain WFN/LBT (CAST PERFORMANCE) 24/H110 48,000 CUP 1610 fps
350 grain WFN/LBT (CAST PERFORMANCE) 26/H110 53,000 CUP 1715 fps




HEAVY LOADED 45 COLT/MAG +P (Buffalo Boreís ammo for heavy 45 Colt loads are marked this way for modern rifles and strong handguns)

Note: BBís 325 gr LBT bullet IS LOADED both IN 45 COLT BRASS AND 454 BRASS.

Load Handgun Velocity Rifle Velocity Notes
325gr LBT/45 Colt/Mag+P 1350 fps 1710fps  
325gr LBT/454 Case 1525 fps 1880fps Heavy recoil
300gr Speer SN/45 Colt +P 1300fps 1660fps Mild recoil
260gr JSP/454 case 1450fps 1855fps Medium recoil
360gr LFN/454 case 1425fps 1785fps Heavy push


(Cor-Bonís heavy ammo also marked for strong guns only)

Load Handgun Velocity Rifle Velocity Notes
265 gr HP/45 Colt +P 1410fps 1790fps Mild recoil
300 gr JSP/45 Colt +P 1340fps 1655fps Mild (great deer/black bear/elk load)
335 gr LFN/45 Colt+P 1075fps 1360fps Very mild



Load Handgun Velocity Rifle Velocity Notes
Winchester 250JHP/454 cases 1313fps 1660fps Mild/medium
Black Hills 250SN/454 cases 1470fps 1797fps Mild/medium
Freedom Arms 300JSN/454 cases 1660fps 2085fps Heavy snap/not unpleasant. Best accuracy...deadly bullet.
Freedom Arms 260 JSN/454 cases 1805fps 2210fps Very accurate, best all around power load.

Note: Freedom Arms no longer manufactures its own ammo.

Black Hills Scofield loads... 558 fps (these are for cowboy shooting and repro S&W break top revolvers, and they make excellent rabbit type fun loads in the Legacy).

Black Hills 45/255 gr lead... 986 fps

PMC 45/250 gr lead... 945 fps

Cor-Bon 45/255 gr lead... 816 fps (surprisingly accurate)

Winchester 45/255 gr lead... 777 fps (surprisingly inaccurate in rifle and handgun)

Cor-Bon 45/200 JHP... 1412fps (by lowering bullet weight, they were able to up velocity - this is a very effective load, 1100 fps in handguns.. I use it my Colt S/Aís, took a small meat doe with it one year)

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Click pictures for a larger version.





Legacy's Model 92 in .454 is a fine little carbine chambered in a fine cartridge...Freedom Arms' .454 Casull.







Legacy's newly-redesigned loading tube is a great improvement over earlier versions.