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By Tim Going

Like most Mandalorian children (hey if Rachel Dolezal can identify as black, then I can identify as Mando, cin vhetin ner vod), I began accompanying my father to the battlefield at the age of eight. And by battlefield, I mean the deer woods. At the time, I remember there being nothing in the world as cool as dad’s Remington 700 in .30/06. It was the epitome of a deer rifle, after all, on the third day God created the Remington bolt-action rifle, so that Man could fight the dinosaurs. (And the homosexuals). But, like many middle-lower class families, times got tough and the rifle was sold to help make ends meet . . .

The greatest gun ever made?

For many years, dad borrowed rifles for hunting season, a 6mm Woodsman, a Model 70 .243, and a few others depending on what he could get. So when I became old enough, and financially stable enough to buy guns, one of the first I bought was a new rifle for him. Ya see kids, my father had never owned a new gun. In his day, you bought used guns, and you took them hunting in the snow, uphill both ways. So when I decided to surprise him with a new rifle, I wanted it to be NEW. Granted, I wasn’t the fattest cat in the land, so I had a small budget. But there were plenty of options out there.

The biggest problem though was my father himself. You see, my father struggled with many health issues. Vision problems, heart trouble, difficulty walking, arthritis. The typical issues that an older man with many logging accidents in his past faces. I had watched him begin to struggle more and more with even simple outdoors activities like threading a hook, setting up his blind, and manipulating his weapons. Thusly, the single biggest thing I was looking for in a rifle was something that was easy to use, and easy to carry.

Armed with that knowledge, and $250 dollars, I walked into the LGS and walked out $215 poorer, but one rifle richer. Of course, I would never knowingly break state and federal law by purchasing a weapon for someone else (hey there David! How’s the NSA these days?), so I waited til his anniversary and sold it to him for a $1.00. And he loved it, and just as importantly he successfully used it for four years in the deer woods.

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My father passed away in February of this year, and so this gun has come back into my possession. Obviously, its sentimental value far surpasses its physical value, but nevertheless it is a worthy and potent weapon. Now, to the meat of the review:

First for some technical specs about the gun. The Rossi Wizard is actually a weapons system that features interchangeable barrels. Rossi’s website lists approximately 10 centerfire calibers, 3 rimfire calibers, as well as shotgun and muzzleloader barrels. It is a tip-up single-shot, hammer fired weapon, with a synthetic stock (wood available) blued carbon steel barrel, and….. Well really that’s as technical as it gets.

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For the purpose of this review, we are going to focus on the .308 model, which features a 23” barrel, 1-in-12” twist, and features a Monte Carlo stock riser and fiber optic sights. For those of you who are interested in the multi-barrel feature of this weapon, I’m sorry, but this article will be lacking on in depth details. What I do know about it is from a friend who had one with a .50 Muzzleloader and 12 GA barrel. And having shot it a few times, I can say those barrels behaved as you would expect a muzzleloader and single shot shotgun to behave. And as of writing, he has had no issues with either in the three years he has owned them, with the exception of some barrel fouling due to failure to clean the muzzleloader.

Now before we go any further, I should point out that the Rossi Wizard is no longer in production. However, there are apparently still many of them out there for sale, with at least three new versions still at local gun stores in my area. Some of of you may balk at that and I wouldn’t blame you, but that does mean that they are often available at rates even further discounted from when I purchased mine. Now let’s breakdown some key features.

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Reliability

People, it’s a freaking hammer-fired single shot rifle. It really can’t get more simple than that. It has a thumb release to the right of the hammer to open the action, and even to change to barrel even to change barrels you only have to take off the forearm and lift the barrel away. Now granted, it does sport way too many safety features.

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It has a traditional transfer bar safety (necessary), a manual S/F safety on the left side (unnecessary), and Taurus’ keyed security system behind the hammer, (what the shab?). But considering that you will probably not use two of those, there shouldn’t be any issue with them breaking. It’s far from a torture test, but as you can see, this rifle hasn’t been babied, and over it’s life and the course of my testing, it’s probably had about 300 rounds through it.

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So if an end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine…..) situation is what you are prepping for, rest assured this rifle will probably outlast you. Stuff a matched set in the trunk of your car and you’re prepared for ba’slan shev’la (that’s a Mando bug out for you aruetti).

Size
One of the best features of a single shot rifle is the short overall size. Turns out, when you take that whole “means to load and unload rounds into the barrel” thing out of the way, you can make a gun a lot shorter. Even with a 23” barrel, this little baby measures in at only 38 ¾” and that’s with a pretty hefty recoil pad factored in. Even with a 22” barrel, the beloved Model 70 Featherweight is 42 ¾”. However, the Wizard much like Ashley Graham, is a curvy gal, weighing in 6.5 lbs (listed by Rossi at 6.25, but my fish scale rarely lies). With scope and sans Monte Carlo riser, she is about 6 ¾ lbs, not awful, which is only a quarter pound less than that same Model 70.But also like Ashley Graham, she carries it well, is pretty easy on the eyes, and balances nicely on the shoulder….okay the Ashley Graham metaphor may have gone slightly off track there at the end.

Cost
Here is the icing on the cake, I bought mine for $199 plus tax. In local stores now, they are running from $159-189 depending on caliber. Even a full set with barrels (.22, .243., .50) comes in at less than $500 when you can find them. So it definitely is easy on the wallet. There are of course many rifles out there that are cheaper, such as the used market (tip for all you new hunters, buy your used deer rifles during January-March, prices are much lower), or military surplus. But at least with buying new the odds are better that you won’t get a rifle that is complete osik. (I love my Mosin, but I do good to keep three rounds inside a large Domino’s pepperoni.)

Accuracy
A well-crafted single shot rifle is (probably) theoretically the most accurate weapon that can be made. Unfortunately, this one was made by Rossi, so you won’t be shooting coyotes with the Quigley anytime soon. I won’t claim to be a world-class rifleman, but I know my way around a range. And this isn’t a top of the line scope either, its a Bass Pro special 4X32 that cost me about $50. Some sample images from a 100-yard shooting session below.

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No, that is not earth-shattering accuracy. But it’s pretty reasonable, especially with Wolf brand FMJ and Hornady Whitetail softpoints. It is definitely helped by an excellent single-stage trigger. It breaks cleanly with almost no discernible take-up. It’s not the best trigger I’ve ever pulled (Baconmaker suckers!…sorry, couldn’t help myself), but if you miss a deer you can’t blame the go-pedal. Standard the rifle comes with fiber optic sights that are adjustable for elevation and windage. I would be lying if I said I have ever used them, but they are bright and contrasty if you are into that sort of thing.

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The Fatal Flaw
So all these great features and the gun was still discontinued? Curse you Obamacare! No..wait…actually that’s not to blame this time. I would probably blame that on the fact that it is a single-shot rifle. There is no way around it, this is not a rifle built for speed. You aren’t going to be mowing down hogs with this one, and personally I don’t have the gett’se to stare down anything that could be considered dangerous game with one shot.

When that meant it was much cheaper than other hunting rifles it was excusable, but I see Ruger American Rifles at gun stores for $300 or so, and it’s a pretty top notch gun. So why therefore, should one go about purchasing this gun? Well for those of you who read the whole story, you know why…

The Perfect Match
The ideal audience for this gun to me (**and I’m sure I’ll see plenty of arguments to the contrary in the comments**) are those hunters who are elderly or have physical ailments that make it difficult to manipulate weapons. Because let’s look at the steps to go from completely unloaded to firing this rifle, vs the Ruger American Rifle:

Rossi Wizard
1. Press thumb button to open action.
2. Put pointy end of bullet into hole.
3. Close action firmly with two hands (or snap vigorously with one hand if you’re a cool person)
4. Thumb back hammer (gun includes a thumb extension for use with optics)
5. Pull trigger

Now for the Ruger:
1. Eject magazine.
2. Load rounds into the rotary magazine.
3. Reinsert magazine into bottom of gun.
4. Throw bolt up and back.
5. Push bolt forward then down.
6. Pull trigger.

Granted, for most of us that’s not a difficult task, but if you have difficulty with your fine motor skills as my father did, it can be a real struggle. Add in a solid ejector to the Rossi and it’s fairly easy to do no matter how hard it is to get your digits to cooperate. My dad never had an issue with it, and he struggled to load and pump a Mossberg 500.

Reason number two I would suggest it for older, disabled shooters is the length and the handiness of the gun. The last two seasons my father hunted, it was very difficult for him to walk. Many days, he would just sit in the truck or side-by-side where we parked and hope for the best. Having a gun that is relatively short made it easy to swap from window to window, and he was in fact able to take a deer from the passenger seat of his old Ford. (Also useful if you are a planning on any drive-bys, although you would have to be a bad mama-jamma to use a single shot rifle for a drive-by). One piece of advice for that, wear hearing protection. Big gun plus small space equals bye bye hearing.

For beginning shooters, the single shot also has an appeal, as it reinforces the fundamentals of accuracy and proper trigger control. Although, I would recommend a lower caliber for a new shooter. While recoil is fairly well tamed by the rubber pad, noise is not, and it is a loud sucker.

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So yes, there are better guns that are still in production out there, that offer many of the same benefits. But, I still recommend a good single shot rifle to a lot of my fellow hunters. And if that’s what you’re in the market for, the Rossi ain’t a bad choice.

Specifications – Rossi Wizard .308
Caliber: .308 Winchester
Barrel: 23” 1-in-12 twist
Size: 38 ¾” Overall
Weight: 6.5 lbs unloaded/no optics
Operation: Hammer-fired, tip-up, single-shot
Capacity: 1 (I feel like that should be a given)
MSRP: Discontinued, but street price of approximately $200 depending on caliber

Ratings (Out of Five Stars)
Remember, ratings are completely subjective, and I reserve the right to rate how I darn well please. That being said, I will try not to let my personal bias affect my opinions:

Accuracy  * * *
It’s fair. Plenty accurate enough for deer sized targets at hunting distances, though an Olympic competition rifle this ain’t. That being said, the trigger is solid, and with good glass and better ammunition trials, you could make this thing really hum.

Ergonomics * * *
The pistol grip is nice, and the checkering offers a good grip in wet conditions. The Monte Carlo riser is a nice addition, but makes using irons impossible. Control wise, everything is laid out well and easy to operate while shouldered.

Reliability * * * *
Barring freak failure, I can’t imagine an issue that would make this system not work. Simplicity is a virtue.

Customization * *
If you consider barrel swapping a customization option then it could be rated higher. If not, well it’s a discontinued single shot rifle, so short of additional sights or slings its limited.

Ease of Use * * * * *
I put this in as an extra because I feel like it is such an important piece to the gun. All the controls are big, smooth to operate, and easy to understand. Whether it’s physical ailment or inexperience, there are few rifles out there that can be operated easier.

Overall Rating * * * *
I’m torn on this gun. In the end, it’s a niche weapon. With so many quality budget guns out there it really only makes sense if you have problems operating other rifles. So rated on a chart for deer rifles in general, it gets only two stars. But for that niche it’s a great option that won’t let you down when Buckzilla crosses your path. And isn’t that the essence of a good deer rifle?

72 Responses to Gun Review: Rossi Wizard .308 Rifle [Content Contest]

    • Form 4473 explicitly states this down in the instructions (the part that nobody bothers to read). Giving a gift does not make you a straw purchase. They don’t even have to be a relative. You can gift to anyone that is not a prohibited person.

      The problem with gifting to a non-relative is that the onus is on YOU to verify they aren’t a prohibited person.

      EDIT: Adding that this is the ATF’s stance, and therefore the Federal stance. State laws apply.

      • The reason Ambramski got into trouble is because he didn’t buy the gun as a gift for his father; he bought the gun FOR his father using HIS police discount so that his dad could get the discount. It doesn’t seem like a big difference, but it was enough.

    • And ironically he is much more likely to have BROKEN federal law by “selling it” to the intended owner rather than just giving it

      Derp

      • Probably, though it would be hard for someone to argue that you are “in the business” of buying/selling guns when you have a 99.5% loss on every (the only) item you sold in a calendar year.

  1. I stopped reading after the unnecessary homophobic comment. Perhaps the editors should read the submissions before posting them.

    • I’m not sure it’s a homophobic comment or a comment on the creation story of genesis and the books of the law. Seems way out of place though. Too bad, because the first line was solid gold.

      • Well I guess I was wrong too, kinda? I’m guessing that is a joke I would have gotten if I 1. had owed a TV, 2. was under 40. JWT

        • I understand why no testosterone producing American would ever willingly subject himself to the knowledge of such chick flickery, but a high school girlfriend convinced me it was an enjoyable family comedy, so I caved and actually laughed a few times. Participation also got me spontaneously laid during the credits, so I’m obviously biased.

    • It’s a joke from the “Mean Girls” movie. If anything, he’s mocking ignorance and prejudice with it.

    • I caught the movie reference and it made me smile. Feel free to Youtube that short clip from Mean Girls and see that it makes fun of backwater hillbillies like me, not gays.

        • OFWG stereotype is alive and well. 😀 😀 😀

          Great write up Tim.

          ETA: Not directed at anyone specifically. 😉

        • I’m in the same boat, not up on TV, most current movies, etc, so I had to wonder about that quote. I was guessing it was not what it looked like, but you never can tell…

  2. You lost me when you casually mentioned hunting homosexuals. Some of the most ardent 2ND Amendment supporters are gay, and for good reason. They understand that only the right to keep and bear arms will protect them from rabid homophobes like you.

  3. The rust on that breach makes me cringe.

    And I was already cringing after the gratuitous homosexual comment.

      • Lube? What’s lube? My father was one of those who shot the gun three times a year, twice to check the sights, and a third to shoot a deer. Then it was back behind the seat of the truck for 10 more months.

    • Yeah, I would go after that rust with a piece of steel wool and then wipe some oil on it. A gun with that much sentimental value deserves to be properly cared for.

  4. Apologies everyone on the homosexual comment. As other commenters have noted it is a line from the movie Mean Girls and was meant in a humorous was that mocks the ignorance typically associated with gun owners (and homeschooled children.) But, with no context I could see how it would be misinterpreted.

    • No apologies required for mine, and others’ cultural ignorance. But now I’m actually really glad you put that line in there. RF probably edited this article. Which means he is a man over 50 that has probably seen Mean Girls. Which I can use to make fun of him. Thank you.

        • I’m a busy dude, so I limit myself to movies with the words “Blood” or “Hell” in the title.

        • Coming this summer, the newest horror movie….”Hellblood, Vol. II” Starring Halle Berry, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Garner, and Sylvester Stallone.

      • This happened to me in an online argument. My opponent gave the line “That’s a separate issue.” And I replied,
        “I consider them linked. As long as your soldiers attack civilians, I will order the shooting of your officers at the outset of every engagement. And my men are excellent marksmen.” Which, of course, is from The Patriot, with Mel Gibson. He lost his mind and accused me of making weird threats. Apparently not a MG fan.

  5. Folks, correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t Tim just admit to a felony?

    1) Buy a gun as a gift.
    ok

    2) Buy a gun and decide you don’t like it and sell for $1.
    ok

    3) Buy a gun and decide you don’t like it and sell for a profit.
    Just barely ok as long as the Guv doesn’t decide that you are “engaged in the business of selling firearms” — courts have upheld convictions for dealing without a license when as few as two firearms were sold or when only one or two transactions took place.

    4) Buy a gun listing yourself as the buyer with the INTENTION of transferring/selling/giving it to another person.
    FELONY!

    • I don’t know about his state, but on the federal side, this is perfectly legal, assuming his father is not a prohibited person.

      • I just actually READ the 4473 for the first time. I guess I always assumed that there was a box to check if the firearm was being purchased as a gift.

      • If he had just given it as a gift, sure, but by taking money in exchange for it and having purchased the weapon in order to transfer it, one could very well make the argument that he did indeed engage in straw-purchasing. One need not be transferring to a prohibited person for that to take place.

        Again: if he had just given it as a gift, it would be fine.

    • Tony, there is no way for a normal human to determine whether a given action is or is not a horrendous felony requiring instant immolation, but there is also nearly zero chance that anybody will be able to prosecute, unless you are doing it daily for years. The laws are stupid, and largely unenforceable, as well as unfair to everyone.

  6. Coincidentally, I just picked up a Rossi about 2 hours ago. My first non-American made
    firearm ever, but it is a replica of the old Winchester Model 92, but in Stainless to match
    a S&W pre-model 10 that is nickel plated.

    I am not real happy with the “over saftification” of the Rossi, and hope they don’t fail at
    a crucial time. It should, however, be a fun gun, which I hope to assess this weekend.

    These single-shots were on my radar, but never interested me enough fire, let alone buy
    one, but I can see where it could be useful. Good write-up…

  7. I just actually READ the 4473 for the first time. I guess I always assumed that there was a box to check if the firearm was being purchased as a gift.

    • The Notices, Instructions and Definitions attached to the Form 4473 clears this up. “You are [for purposes of Question 11.a] the actual transferee/buyer if you are legitimately purchasing the firearm as a gift for a third party.”

      But, if you buy a firearm for a third party with their money, it is a straw purchase even if the third party is not a prohibited party and even if he clears a background check when he receives the gun. Abramski v. United States.

      When Tim bought a gun as gift for his Dad, that was perfectly legal (as long as Dad wasn’t a prohibited person).

      When Tim “sold” the gun to his Dad for $1.00, the very act of the subsequent “sale” negated the idea that the gun was intended from the beginning as a gift — because you don’t sell a gift to the giftee, you grant it outright.

      The passage of time between the purchase and the resale is irrelevant. There is no time limit. So I’m afraid that Tim’s stratagem actually was harmful, not helpful.

        • Tim, the “right” way to go about things (there’s more than one right way) would have been to give your Dad the gun, full stop. If you so desired, you could also have given him a transfer certificate — simply for his records and yours — that conveys the rifle as a gift. No dollar amount is needed.

          A transfer certificate isn’t a requirement under Federal law (state law may vary), but it would be helpful to show ownership and possession in the event that the rifle was subsequently stolen. If that had been the case, Dad would have been able to assert his claim to the recovered property and would have the serial number on the cert to back up his claim.

        • Jesus, you guys are scaring me. I have given my son multiple firearms, with no paperwork whatsoever, and any jackasses reading this can come and get me, I can afford the lawyers until the NRA arrives. I will NOT play that sort of stupid game, this discussion is idiotic. There is some magic way a normal person, not an FFL, is supposed to *KNOW* this shit? I sold a man a gun in 1966. I bought and sold several more between then and now, the paperwork was precisely the same for each. None. The idea that *anyone* can force me to search out and understand, much less obey, unconstitutional dictates from agencies in violation (!) of expressed congressional dictates is, in a word, ridiculous, and anyone who pays the least attention defines a coward. Come and get me.

  8. A year ago, the leftover orphan single shot rifles were H&R/NEF.
    I assumed that ROC pulling the plug on H&R would be a boon for Rossi.
    I guess I was wrong.

  9. For the record Rachel Dolezal can BE Black if Bruce can BE Caitlyn. Consequently you can be who you want…

  10. I think this was one of my favorite reviews on TTAG I’ve read so far this year!

    Tim, I sincerely hope you will be back with a repeat performance for almost every gun in your library!

    Not every gun, obviously. We wouldn’t want to let Eric know the entire story…

  11. How is Joe public supposed to get this stuff right when FFL’s can’t? I bought my 1st handgun at age 18 from my LGS. Indiana issues LTCs at 18 and doesn’t (or didn’t ?) require background checks for LTC holders.

    How many FFL’s have a license revoking (or worse) mistake buried in their paperwork? How many people like Tim have bought themselves a felony for $1?

    • Abramski bought himself a felony for zero, and he went out of his way to be legal. He was trying to help his uncle, who was not prohibited. Abramski bought the gun and passed a background check, sent the gun to an FFL in his uncle’s state, and then the uncle passed a background check when he picked up the gun from the local FFL.

      Is that really what the law was intended to prohibit?

      So yes, the firearms laws are traps for the unwary. And that’s their intention.

      • If you fill out *no* paperwork, instead of trying some manner of tricky shit, how does anyone detect what you did?

  12. A good friend of mine has one of these, along with .22, 30-06, and .410 barrels. He bought them altogether used for under $400, IIRC. It is his only rifle; he’s never considered replacing it due to the utility of having multiple caliber barrels, and more importantly, his physical limitations make longer/heavier/more complex rifles very difficult to use. I’ve thought about picking one up too…. and it certainly makes a box of .22 last longer.

  13. Great post. Top 2 to me. Your love for your dad is obvious. All this sturm and drang about NOTHING. And I’m an OFWG. Lighten up weenies… he did not break the law.

  14. Kandosii, ner vod!

    I’ve got a few Rossi break-opens sitting about. Taught both of my ad’ika with a youth .22LR/.410 version. I’ve got a .223/20ga as well. They are not the most accurate things out there, but they are not osik, either. Wish they made a BBL in 7.62×39.

    Ke nu jurkad sha Mando’ade, burc’ya!

  15. Yeah. I’m getting old. I’ve left my heavier pump guns home on a few hunts this past year in favor of my H&R single shots. Lighter, easier to carry and I tend to carry fewer shells, cause, hey, single shot.

    And if the condition the breech of that rossi is in gives you pause you won’t want to look at my 12 bore mossberg 500. That thing gets rode hard and put up wet. But, hey, it’s a mossberg. If it can’t take it I’ll just get a pardner pump.

    PS. Dad looked like a real American. Maybe his folks were waiting on the beach when the Northern European Honkey tribe landed.

    • Somebody correct me if I’m wrong, but I think a 12 gauge and a 12 bore are vastly different things. A Mossy 500 is a 12 gauge.

  16. Redo the accuracy test with bullets under 150grain. That 1in12 twist barrel is on the slow side for 168grain and up. 1in10 is much better suited for them.

    • New rifle is 1 in 10. Does that shoot under 150 g equally well? If so, why do we have 1 in 12, 1 in 14, whatever?

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