Plenty of people I talk to are familiar with the now famous bottom-cylinder revolvers, the Chiappa RHINO. Novelty aside, I’ve always known Chiappa Firearms for their primary business; they’ve been reproducing classic muzzle-loading and western style firearms for over 50 years.
Some of them are true reproductions of the originals, some of them are true in style only, but are still quality firearms. The 1892 Taylor’s Huntsman Carbine, manufactured by Chiappa, is based of the classic, historic Winchester 1892, with a more modern caliber, shorter barrel, and exceptional sights.
For those of you unfamiliar with the Winchester 1892, it’s worth a little Google time to educate yourself. There’s no way I can do it justice here in this short review; the rifle is one of the most famous firearms ever created. If you ever saw, “The Rifleman“, you saw the ’92.
If you’ve ever watched John Wayne (no relation) yell out “Fill your hand, you son of a bitch!” you watched him ready the ’92 as he did it. Of course, John Moses Browning invented it. By 1932, a full one million of them had been made and sold. It’s an American classic.
For Chiappa’s Italian version, distributed here by Taylor’s & Company who hand inspects every one and offers additional ‘smithing on many models, modern materials make the already great design even better, allowing for higher pressure cartridges to be chambered in the little rifle.
For those of you unaware of the capabilities of the .357 Magnum cartridge from a carbine, that same 158gr JHP bullet that’s an absolute man-stopper from a six-inch revolver moves an additional 300+ fps with even moderate loads when launched from a 16-inch barrel.
When using hotter commercial loads, or your own hand loads, muzzle energy in the 1,000 ft/lbs range is possible. A great wild hog round, .357 will take deer reliably to 75 yards, and further for the capable marksman.
Although the caliber isn’t traditional, most of Chiappa’s rifle is as good as or actually better-made than many of the more original guns. On the outside, we find a quality straight grained walnut stock and fore-end. There’s no figure or burl to the wood, but it’s still far better than most of the wooden stocked rifles you’ll find produced today.
Wood-to-metal fit is good, but not great. The stock is fit well to the receiver, but the fore-end could use a little more blending in. It’s certainly a better fit than I’d expect at this price point. The finish is a satin grey blueing. It’s even and well done throughout. No tool marks or rough edges. In fact, all of the lines on the gun are crisp, every curve rounded, every edge straight, but not sharp. The trigger is highly polished, and breaks cleanly at 4.5lbs.
Opening the action was a little rough on the first try out of the box, but the gun was bone dry. A shot of Rem Oil and a few cycles improved it greatly. The action had the same catch points that I was familiar with from previous Winchester 92s (and 94s) that I’ve owned, but was by no means difficult to cycle.
It didn’t spring open like some of the recent Henry’s I’ve reviewed, but the action was easy to cycle, opening with a tug, closing soundly and with confidence. Inside the action, you’ll find nothing but clean lines and a continuation of solid workmanship.
Six pounds isn’t much for a rifle. The 1892 Taylor’s Huntsman Carbine feels like it weighs even less than that. Everyone who picked it up was surprised at how light it was, and how well it handled.
Perhaps due to the short receiver required for the pistol caliber cartridge, the weight of the gun is very much in your hands, not out in front of you. It moves fast, with so little recoil that even the most sensitive shooters can handle it with ease. My eight-year-old daughter can comfortably take game out to 50 yards with it and practice without flinching.
At the 25 yard line, standing in fast fire, this gun is just fantastic. The large, bright red fiber optic sight and its light weight made for a full magazine worth of groups that fit inside the palm of my hand. And that was as fast as I could work the lever and pull the trigger.
That’s really where magnum pistol caliber carbines like this really shine. With a well built stock, good geometry, and a fairly thin rubber recoil pad, there’s very little recoil at all. Even in fast fire, there’s no real jump at the muzzle.
The rear sight is a fully adjustable Skinner peep sight. The front is a bright red, fairly large, fiber optic rod. That front sight absolutely pops out at you in any light at all, making it easy to find and follow. If your goal is fast follow-up shots on a sounder of pigs in the brush, this is an ideal little lever gun for the job.
The ’92’s accuracy was good, but not great. At the 50 yard mark, I was getting regular three-inch five-round groups off bags from both Sellier and Bellot as well as Magtech 158gr soft point rounds. In fact, the pattern was so close to identical that I’m wondering if both loads are the same recipe.
The Hornady 125gr FTX Critical Defense scored slightly better, at 2.8 inches. I had some difficulty at the 100 yard mark. At that range, I was putting every round just inside an eight-inch circle. I would bet that the action and bore are capable of better, but the front sight isn’t.
That big bright front sight that I absolutely love in fast fire is just too big for distance work. At 100 yards, you’re still in coyote killing range and the rifle is accurate enough for that work. But that’s a little far for deer. The .357 magnum cartridge can, and certainly has taken deer at that range, but precision placement is required at that range and it just isn’t there with this little rifle, at least not in my hands.
As far as reliability, the gun isn’t listed as .357 Magnum/.38SPL, so I only ran the magnum loads through it. I put 300 rounds of 158gr and 125gr cartridges through the little carbine with completely boring reliability. Nothing hung up, nothing failed to feed or eject. I’d stake my hunt, my livestock, or my life on this one.
All in all, this is good looking, great handling rifle. It’s ideal the hands of new shooters, who will get a thrill out of its ease of use and lack of recoil, as well as the experienced marksman who can take advantage of that bright front sight to take running shots in the brush and still get a round into the vitals of a deer at range.
I’ve seen plenty of Chiappa’s reproduction offerings in the past, so I wasn’t surprised by the quality of this gun. In fact, I expected it — especially with Taylor’s apparent hand inspections. The 1892 Carbine didn’t disappoint.
Specifications: 1892 Taylor’s Huntsman Carbine
Caliber: .357 Magnum
Barrel Length: 16 inches
Capacity: 8 rounds
Front sight: Red fiber optic
Rear sight: Adjustable Skinner peep
Weight: 6 pounds
Length: 38 inches
Finish: Matte blue
MSRP: $ 1,273
Ratings (out of five stars):
Appearance and Style * * * *
The wood is good, if not excellent, without figure or burl. Metal finish is great, well done and even throughout. This is a working gun aesthetic from a time when a rifle was something you (and sometimes had to) could bet your life on.
Reliability * * * * *
Perfect with every round tested.
Accuracy * * *
This was my only are of disappointment with the little gun, but really, you can’t have it both ways. The fast acquisition big fiber optic front sight that’s perfect for the brush is less than ideal at 100 yards on deer. Dealing with Coyotes or pigs is another story.
Overall * * * *
A good looking, great handling gun. Plenty of caliber for most of the things people use a rifle for inside 75 yards. This is a great import from a manufacturer I’ve come to expect quality from.