For at least a couple of decades, the issue sights on 16” Rossi 92’s consisted of an odd semi-buckhorn rear and a large brass bead front sight. With the gun’s 12 ½” sight radius, that bead looks like a brass hubcap. At 0.650” high, it’s also just waiting to get hooked on something. The rear sight’s ‘horns’ interfere with your peripheral vision of the target. In short, they hinder precise shooting.
Rossi’s rear sight dovetails have changed some over the years, ranging between 0.385 and 0.400 inch; and those are just the ones I’ve encountered. Rossi’s dovetails also seem to be substantially deeper than the typical US dovetail, which complicates matters more.
It’s possible to use the 0.385 rear sight in the 0.400 dovetail, by installing a strip of steel shim to a close fit in the bottom of the larger dovetail. I’d read of this procedure and had my reservations; but it facilitated a tight, secure fit on the Puma 45 Colt mentioned later in this article. I had an old set of carbon steel feeler gauges and a strip cut from the 0.010″ worked perfectly. It even took cold blue and now, you’d need a magnifying glass to tell it’s in there.
Marbles has reportedly offered sights just for the Rossi dovetail, but I find they often do not ‘bottom out’ as they should. I put a Marbles No 95 rear on my 45 Puma, waaay back, but it’s not an ideal sight. Its only elevation adjustment is that little sliding insert and its always shown some light under the dovetail- and I don’t like that. Steves Gunz also offers rear sights for the Rossi dovetail, at about twice the price of similar sights from Brownells. Most aftermarket Rossi 92 rear sights use an elevator that straddles the rear blade. I like the easy-quick elevation adjustment of a conventional elevator, especially with a punkin’ roller like the 45 Colt. I usually file the bottom step on for 100 yards, the second one for 200 and the third for 300.
I’ve always liked the flat-top sights on pre-64, ‘94 Winchesters. Coupled with a fine bead, I shoot them better than any other iron sight. I’ve used flat-top, barrel-mounted rear sights since I was about five and despite the passing years, they still work for me. There’s another factor at work here and it just might apply to you. At my core I am a pistol shooter and my brain is geared for a flattop sight picture. Fortunately my vision is still good enough that I can hit well to about hundred yards without corrective lenses. With them, 300 yards is well within range for various lever actions equipped with this type of sights. Yes, I have a great optometrist.
These factors led me to modify the Rossi’s OEM rear sight, with three goals in mind-
1. Simulate the Winchester sight picture
2. Lower the sighting plane substantially
3. Field unobtrusive sights, with no sharp edges.
The initial effort was on a 16” Rossi Model 92 in .357 Magnum. Armed with a belt sander, files and a Dremel tool, I was a force to be reckoned with. I lowered the rear sight enough that it was necessary to cut a new notch with a cutoff wheel. After little dehorning and a baptism in cold blue, it looks like this:
I had a spare Marbles 450W with the 1/16” white bead, which fits Rossi’s front dovetail better than most. It’s also infinitely sturdier (and 0.200 shorter) than the factory offering.
These sights were essentially ‘on’ where I centered them and using the 140 XTP 357 load, anything you put the bead on at 100 meters grew a 35 caliber hole through it. Low-effort, rested 3 shot groups hovered at two inches, a half inch better than I was doing with the OEM sights.
The .357 sight modification worked so well, old 16” Puma in 45 Colt got the same treatment.
On this rifle, the front-to-rear sight height worked perfectly after I flat-topped the rear sight; and I did not have to alter the factory notch. The end result looks like this.
Again, I won the lottery on eyeball sight alignment. On the lowest notch, the first shot of my basic 45 Colt load landed in the tiny center ring of a 25 yard pistol target, at that distance. Using the second notch at 100 yards, I planted three more in the black all around it. I jacked the sight up another notch and from 200 yards, fired one round at an 11×17 steel plate, placed halfway up my logpile backstop. The bullet caught the bottom-center of it and sent it somersaulting to the ground. Think I said “Hot Damn!!” out loud.
So don’t be afraid to go hammer & tongs on your Rossi’s OEM sights. I’m two for two in the ‘substantial improvement’ department- and I didn’t have to Send Money to Anybody.