Rossi Ranch Hand
Pat Cascio 04.25.14
OK, I admit it, I’m getting old–old enough to remember the TV series Wanted: Dead Or Alive starring the King of Cool, Steve McQueen. McQueen played bounty hunter Josh Randall. The gun he carried was called a Mare’s Leg (or Mares Leg), and it was a cut down 44-40 lever-action Winchester Model 1892 rifle. Everyone wanted one when I was a kid, even the adults, but they were expensive. I never forgot wanting a gun just like Josh Randall carried in a custom-made holster on his right leg. The funny thing was, Josh Randall carried 45-70 ammo on his gun belt, but the gun was chambered in 44-40–but let’s not get too technical here, it was still a good show to watch.
Like every kid, and many adults who watched Wanted: Dead Or Alive, we all wanted a Mare’s Leg like Randall carried. However, it was a custom-made gun, and then there was the red tape to jump through because it was considered a shot-barreled rifle.
A few years ago, Rossi USA came out with their Ranch Hand in .357 Mag, .44 Mag, or .45 Colt. I got one in .357 Mag, and you can shoot .38 Spl through it. The Ranch Hand is not a cut down rifle; it was designed from the start as a handgun and has been approved by the ATF as a handgun, so no special permits are needed.
What we have with the Ranch Hand is a 6+1 shot handgun that has a tubular magazine, and it loads through a loading gate on the right side of the receiver much like a good ol’ 30-30 lever action rifle does. The barrel is 12 inches long, and the butt stock is shortened so it can’t really be shouldered. The Ranch Hand is meant to be fired as a handgun without shouldering the gun. The gun has a nice blue finish on it, and the wood is some kind of nicely finished hardwood. The front sight has a gold-bead, but I don’t think it’s real gold, and the rear sight is a buck horn style. The gun weighs 4 lb. empty, too. I also love the over-sized lever loop, which is really cool looking. There is a safety on the top rear of the ejection port.
I had ammo from Buffalo Bore Ammunition and Black Hills Ammunition in both .38 Spl and .357 Mag. The Ranch Hand had no problems at all during my testing, function-wise. I like to test for accuracy out of a handgun at 25 yd., and the Ranch Hand was easily putting all the rounds inside of 3-4 in., resting the gun over a sleeping bag over the hood of my car. However, the rounds were hitting about 6 in. high–not good! I moved the target out to 50 yd., and the rounds came down lower, but still not hitting the bullseye. I suspect the sights are zeroed for 100 yd. I had the buck horn rear sight as low as it would go, and it still hit too high. This is something Rossi needs to work on.
So where does the Ranch Hand fit into the scheme of things? It’s a lot of fun to shoot and own. I was able to twirl the Ranch Hand–unloaded, of course, and work the action. I felt like a cross between John Wayne and Josh Randall, but I wouldn’t attempt twirling a loaded gun like that.
The gun would make a dandy trail-gun if you had it in your backpack with a concealed weapon permit, of course. Or strap it on with a leg holster (there are several companies making leg holsters for it). It would also make a dandy trunk gun, too. It’s not my first choice for a survival weapon, but it would work so long as Rossi gets the sights set so the guns don’t shoot too high. And the gun would sure look cool mounted on a holder, on your desk, or hanging on a wall. Pride in ownership!
With the 12 in. barrel, you could sure reach out there, a lot farther, and hit a target, than you could with a 4 in. or 6 in. barrel revolver. There is a lot more velocity and knock-down power coming from that 12 in. barrel, too.
You don’t really need an excuse to buy a Rossi Ranch Hand. If you grew-up in the 1950s and 1960s like I did, and you watched Wanted: Dead Or Alive, that’s the only excuse you need to get one of these cool handguns.
So, if you want something a little bit different in your next handgun purchase, take a close look at the Rossi Ranch Hand. It might be just what you’re looking for–and it would sure look great hanging on the wall of your office, too.